Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ehud Tenenbaum at it again???

Israeli hacker suspected of $10m theft

Ehud Tenenbaum, a notorious Israeli hacker arrested in Canada last year in relation to the theft of around $1.5 million, is now suspected of breaking into the systems of four US institutions as part of a global "cashout" conspiracy that resulted in the loss of at least $10 million.

In 1998 Tenenbaum gained notoriety as "The Analyzer" after being arrested following hacks on computer systems used by the Pentagon, Nasa, the Israeli parliament and Hamas.

In August he made the news again as one of four gang members arrested by Canadian police for allegedly stealing C$2 million by hacking the database of a Calgary-based business and loading money onto pre-paid cards.

The gang allegedly compromised the company's computer system and loaded money onto the pre-paid debit cards before withdrawing the cash at ATMs in Canada and several other countries.

He was granted bail by a Canadian court but was detained after US authorities asked for him to be kept in jail while they worked on extradition.

Details of the US allegations have now emerged after Wired magazine obtained an affidavit filed by officials with the Canadian court handling Tenenbaum's extradition case.

According to the affidavit, in January and February 2008 a US Secret Service investigation into a computer hacking "conspiracy" against banks and other firms, uncovered attacks on the systems of Texas-based OmniAmerican Credit Union and pre-paid card distributor Global Cash Card.

The attacker allegedly gained access using a SQL injection before stealing credit and debit card numbers that were then used to withdraw more than $1 million from ATMs around the world.

In April and May 2008, authorities investigated further SQL injection attacks on 1st Source Bank in Indiana, and pre-paid debit card processor Symmetrex, which resulted in losses of over $3 million.

The Secret Service traced the attacks to servers in Virginia acting as a routing point for systems at Dutch Web hosting company LeaseWeb.

Authorities in the Netherlands were asked to track and intercept traffic from three servers, resulting in the discovery of communications thought to be between Tenenbaum - using the e-mail address - and other known criminals discussing the four hacks as well as moves against "many other" financial institutions.

According to the affidavit, in an MSN instant messenger conversation, on 18 April 2008, Tenenbaum revealed that he was responsible for hacking into the network of Global Cash Card, adding "yesterday I rechecked [Global Cash Card] they are still blocking everything. so we cant hack them again."

He also exchanged over 150 compromised card numbers stolen from Symmetrex.

On 20 April, the affidavit says he received updates on a "cashout" operation, where accomplices used stolen card data to withdraw money from ATMs in the US, Russia, Turkey and Canada, among others.

"Tenenbaum stated that after paying his cashers, he earned approximately "350 - 400," which, based on this investigation, most likely refers to 350,000 to 400,000 dollars or euros," says the affidavit.

Authorities say identifying Tenenbaum as was surprisingly easy - he used his real name and date of birth to register for the account.

In addition, someone using an IP address registered to Internet Labs Secure, where he was a director, accessed the hotmail account. The address was also used to access the network of Global Cash Card and check and increase the balances of compromised accounts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

IBM Gets into Thin Clients with Wyse

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As part of the Virtualized Infrastructure Access (VIA) initiative, IBM will resell Wyse Technology thin client devices and software. IBM and Wyse are looking to replace conventional desktop and notebook PCs in certain settings, putting IBM back in the PC business.

In a slim way, IBM is getting back into the personal computing business through a new partnership with Wyse Technology, the market leading provider of thin client systems. Under a new alliance, IBM will resell direct and through partners Wyse thin client technology in service-oriented engagements.

IBM has been focused on building out its Virtualized Infrastructure Access (VIA) initiative, a series of solutions designed to optimize and enable data center driven application delivery and simplified systems management.

Wyse’s desktop and notebook thin client technology fills a critical gap in IBM’s VIA strategy by providing both the software layer and hardware devices for arm business users with thin client computing, streaming applications and virtualized desktop environments.

“IBM is responding to customers’ wishes to deploy thin client technologies, but can afford the data center deployment on something like the Citrix model,” says Jeff McNaught, chief marketing and security officer at Wyse.

In addition to reselling Wyse products, IBM will work with Wyse to develop thin client solutions, application streaming applications and new client hardware that extend the usability and value of thin client architecture.

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Wyse’s thin client operating system and technology provides a useful layer that extends the life of legacy systems while capturing the benefits of thin client economies, says Jan Jackman, vice president of global end users services at IBM Global Technology Services. Virtualization is consolidating and optimizing the data center, but many of the existing applications require modification before they can be streamed to desktops and end points. Wyse’s technology can stream legacy apps, giving users valuable time to make changes to their applications.

“Thirty years of applications have been written for a fat client and they can’t be rewritten overnight,” she says. “Application stream allows for the use of the current applications while legacy apps are rewritten for a SOA [service oriented architecture],” Jackman says.

Over the past 12 months, thin client computing has gained interest among business technology consumers looking to decrease their costs in physical devices, endpoint management and power. Thin clients have a TCO savings of 20 percent to 40 percent on reduced electrical consumption. Additionally, management is simplified and reduced since all maintenance happens in the data center and images are standardized.

Security is an added benefit to thin clients, particularly in financial institutions and health care environments, where privacy and data integrity is enhanced by the lack of disc-drives and USB ports on the thin client end point.

“A lot of clients don’t have the technical capacity and would like to buy computing as a service,” Jackman says. “As this trend evolves and more services move to the cloud, the virtualized client will take on greater interest.”

Ironically, IBM’s partnership with Wyse will pit it against its former PC business unit now owned by Lenovo. IBM and Wyse say their VIA solutions will look to replace PCs in certain environments, such as call centers and banks. While thin clients are experiencing a bit of a renaissance, PC manufacturers are experiencing steep declines in PC sales – both desktop and notebooks – as business consumers extend the life of existing clients. Analyst firm Gartner predicts PC sales will decline nearly 12 percent this year.

“You probably could argue that with the promotion of the desktop thin client model, especially since the beginning of the year, so you have to ask where the thin client market overlaps with the conventional PC market,” says Charles King, an analyst at Pund-IT.

While IBM is targeting PC users with its thin client solutions, it rejects the notion that it’s competing directly with PC manufacturers such as Lenovo.

“We sold the PC business because it’s a commodity business and our desires to move toward business in services and applications,” Jackman says. “The Web has changed everything to be more services oriented.”

She adds, “This isn’t going to replace every PC, but it will replace PC deployments in certain user groups and build out from there.”

Wyse is a leader in thin client devices and software. It competes directly and indirectly with Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sun Microsystems and Lenovo.

“A lot of the vendors believe thin clients is the place to be over the next 12 to 24 months, so they’re looking to embrace it,” King says

IBM will sell Wyse products and jointly developed thin client solutions through its direct sales force as well as channel reseller partners.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

French Police Save Millions With Ubuntu, OpenOffice

A recent report has revealed that France's national police force has saved an estimated 50 million euros since 2004 by adopting open source software and migrating a portion of the organization's workstations to Ubuntu Linux. They plan to roll out the Linux distro to all 90,000 of their workstations by 2015.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

When job seekers invade Facebook. Social Networking.

When job seekers invade Facebook

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The increasing popularity of online social networking is changing not only the way people manage their careers but social networking itself.

MARCH 2009 • Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser

As the downturn continues, millions of corporate managers—gripped by the job jitters—are rushing to join online social networks in a scramble to build their social capital. The popularity of sites such as LinkedIn is soaring: less than a year ago the site had little brand profile and was seen mostly as a venue for corporate suits trolling for professional contacts while plotting their next career move. Facebook, by contrast, has largely attracted individuals seeking a compelling site for fun social networking.

Today LinkedIn’s year-on-year growth is up nearly 200 percent in the United States and it now has more than 35 million members—many of whom were formerly employed within the hard-hit financial sector. And it’s just one of the many sites to which recession-struck managers are flocking: Xing (based in Germany), with its 7 million members and special Lehman Brothers alumni section, and Meet the Boss (based in the United Kingdom), which restricts membership to C-level financial types, are also experiencing burgeoning membership levels.

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