Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saving Iran's Nukes

How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History
and, incidentally, put Iran's nuke program back into high gear

It was here the researchers found an end-date — June 24, 2012. Each time Stuxnet would start to run on a machine, it would check the date on the machine’s internal clock; if it was later than the date in the configuration file, Stuxnet would shut down. Presumably this was the time frame by which Stuxnet was expected to have achieved all of its goals.

The researchers were stunned. It was the first time anyone had seen digital code in the wild being used to physically destroy something in the real world. Hollywood had imagined such a scenario years earlier in a Die Hard flick. Now reality had caught up with fantasy.

“We were expecting something to be espionage, we were expecting something to steal credit card numbers; that’s what we deal with every single day,” Chien recalls. “But we weren’t expecting this.”

It took three weeks to reach a startling conclusion — Stuxnet wasn’t just aimed at attacking a specific type of Siemens controller, it was a precision weapon bent on sabotaging a specific facility.

Embedded in Stuxnet’s code was a dossier detailing the specific technical configuration of the facility it sought. Any system that didn’t match precisely this configuration would go unharmed: Stuxnet would shut itself down and move on to the next system until it found its victim. It was clear to Langner that Stuxnet was the product of a well-resourced government with precise inside knowledge of the target it was seeking.

“I was expecting some dumb DoS type of attack against any Siemens PLC,” Langner later recalled. “So this was absolutely freaking. To see that somebody built such sophisticated piece of malware — using four zero-day vulnerabilities, using two stolen certificates — to attack one single installation? That’s unbelievable.”

Although the exact facility in Stuxnet’s sights wasn’t spelled out, Langner had no doubts. “This is about taking out Bushehr,” he announced to Rosen and Tim one day, referring to a nuclear power plant in Iran that had been scheduled to begin operation in August 2010 but had been delayed. Langner’s colleagues stared at him dumbfounded. They weren’t eager to follow him down a path of state-sponsored cyberwarfare that seemed likely to lead to Israel and the United States, and possibly even Germany, as the suspected aggressors behind Stuxnet.

Frank Rieger, chief technology officer at German security firm GSMK, agreed with Langner’s assertion that Stuxnet was a targeted attack, but thought a different nuclear facility in Iran made more sense as the target. Natanz ... He also noted that in July 2009 — a month after Stuxnet is believed to have been launched — the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks made an intriguing announcement. WikiLeaks said that an anonymous source claimed that a “serious” nuclear incident had recently occurred at Natanz. The site also pointed out that the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization had recently resigned for unknown reasons.  [Full article]

I found this at Eratosthenes; what a thriller(and I am no computer geek).  My immediate sense of all this is that— had I been in a position, and been aware of what these detectives were dong, and the consequences of their success —  I'd have purchased one of them motorcycles .... you'll have to read it.

What;s his name ...

Search Engines Change How Memory Works

The New Memory

Thanks to search engines, most simple facts don’t need to be remembered. They can be accessed with a few keystrokes, plucked from ubiquitous server-stored external memory — and that may be changing how our own memories are maintained.

A study of 46 college students found lower rates of recall on newly-learned facts when students thought those facts were saved on a computer for later recovery.

If you think a fact is conveniently available online, then, you may be less apt to learn it.

As ominous as that sounds, however, study co-author and Columbia University psychologist Elizabeth Sparrow said it’s just another form of so-called transactive memory, exhibited by people working in groups in which facts and expertise are distributed.

“It’s very similar to how we use people in our lives,” said Sparrow. “The internet is really just an interface with a lot of other people.” [The Full Monty]

When WW III shuts down electricity, Amazon Bushmen will be the smartest people on earth.

There are other dangers too.

Contessa Brewer bitch slap



One of the best put downs of a  pompous ass came when Howard Cosell was returning to NYC on AMTRAK following a Monday Night Football telecast in Philly.  As he walked into the very crowded bar car he ran into an old NYU. classmate who exclaimed—
"Howard Cohen(actual name)!  What are you doing with yourself these days?"

This slapdown of Contessa Brewer is in that league.

According to his Congressional page: "Mo graduated from Duke University in three years with a double major in political science and economics, with highest honors in economics. In 1978, he graduated from the University of Alabama Law School."


Muy Good Idea

Has Dallas , TX got a good idea or what —   true or not?

Recently, the City of Dallas , Texas , passed an ordinance stating that if a driver is pulled over by law enforcement and is not able to provide proof of insurance, the car is towed.

To retrieve the car after being impounded, they must show proof of insurance to have the car released. This has made it easy for the City of Dallas to remove uninsured cars.

Shortly after the “No Insurance” ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound lots began to fill up and were full after only nine days.  80+ % of the impounded cars were driven by illegals.

Not only must they provide proof of insurance to have their car released, they have to pay for the cost of the tow, a $350 fine, and $20 for every day their car is kept in the lot.

Accident rates are going down and… Dallas’ solution gets uninsured drivers off the road WITHOUT making them show proof of nationality.

Wonder how the ACLU or the Justice Department will get around this one.

I can't find a single news source for this, but there are enough Google hits to suggest it's gone viral.  And for good reason; it's a brilliant idea.  And I don't think the results are too fanciful in the telling.  . 


Alan Does Debbie

Dear Debbie:

Wasserman Test

 You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district! You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me! [Rep. Alan West e-Mail to (R FL) to Debbie Wasserman Test (D FL)]

Some long time ago Merrily asked my opinion of Alan West.  I took so long thinking about it, time expired.  But, to answer your question belatedly M, I just love the guy.!  He knows how to be cruel to people who deserve cruel.

Travis Koonce

Barn Army Supply Clerk General R.W. Forsythe
Let's give a big welcome to ...
Barn Army Supply Clerk General R.W. Forsythe's niece who appears here with her future husband Travis Koonce

Nicely done!

THE EPA is killing us

.. a lot of contractors have moved into the home
repair/remodel business, little has been said about new
EPA regulations ... For one, homes built prior
to 1979 will be
required to have lead testing
done before any work
can commence. ....

# posted by Anonymous Cheesy

Dear Barry ....


"When our law punishes words, we must examine the surrounding circumstances to discern the significance of those words’ utterance, but must not distort or embellish their plain meaning so that the law may reach them," said the 2-1 ruling in which Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (Reagan) joined but Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw (Clinton) dissented.

The court may also have considered that presidential assassins are always "progressives."

Steve the Hijacker

Steve the Hijacker

cuzzin ricky

Just poke a hole in the sumbitch


Carnation Ad


Good, Bad, Ugly

Bet Your Sweet Ass Levin
"The Republicans are trying to repeal the second half of the 20th century" - Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan.
Defying a veto threat, the Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened Aug. 2 government default.

The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans, and it stood in contrast to calls at the White House and in the Senate for a late stab at bipartisanship to solve the nation's looming debt crisis. [Huge deficit-cutting bill sails through GOP House]

Senate Gang of Six

 I applaud the House,  but not the plan to raise the debt limit which is key as far as I'm concerned.  If the debt limit is raised, everything else is the same-old lipstick on a pig.  To that end I snipped these take-aways from the article; so smarmy and unctuous that I kept slipping off my chair.  

— Yet there were signs that with Tuesday night's vote behind them, House Republican leaders might pivot swiftly. Even before the vote, Speaker John Boehner told reporters that it also was "responsible to look at what Plan B would look like."And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor issued a statement saying of the Gang of Six proposal: "This bipartisan plan does seem to include some constructive ideas to deal with our debt.

— Boehner played a muted role in public during the day. He did not speak on the House floor on the legislation ... He did not discuss what alternatives he had in mind, although the Senate's top two leaders have been at work on one that would let the president raise the debt limit without prior approval by Congress.

— The [Gang of six] tax overhaul "must be estimated to provide $1 trillion in additional revenue [tax increase] to meet plan targets," according to a summary that circulated in the Capitol.Some [Senate] Republicans noted a claim contained in the summary that congressional bookkeeping rules could actually consider the plan a tax cut of $1.5 trillion. That credits sponsors for retaining income tax cuts enacted at all income levels when George W. Bush was president.

— Even so, in the hours after the Gang of Six¹ briefed other lawmakers on their plan, at least one member of the Republican Senate leadership, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, signed on as a supporter. So, too, did Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

¹ Gang of six = three Democrats, Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Mark Warner of Virginia and Dick Durbin of Illinois, and three Republicans, all conservatives [CINOs], are Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia,