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Friday, September 27, 2013

Hacking Ring Targets U.S. Arms Suppliers

Kaspersky Lab published evidence to suggest the existence of an ‘advanced persistent threat’ crime syndicate that has compromised and accessed a number of computer servers belonging to a large number of South Korean and Japanese supply chain companies. Dubbed ‘Icefog’, the attackers have also infiltrated computers belonging to companies in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, the United States, Australia, Canada, the UK, Italy, Germany, Austria, Singapore, Belarus and Malaysia and appear to have an interest in the following sectors: military, shipbuilding and maritime operations, computer and software development, research companies, telecom operators, satellite operators, mass media, and television.

Icefog is novel for the speed of its hacks. “In most cases, attackers maintain a foothold in corporate and governmental networks for years, smuggling out terabytes of sensitive information,” said Costin Raiu, Director, Global Research & Analysis Team. “The ‘hit and run’ nature of the Icefog attacks demonstrate a new emerging trend: smaller hit-and-run gangs that go after information with surgical precision. The attack usually lasts for a few days or weeks and after obtaining what they were looking for, the attackers clean up and leave.”

This past July, deputy director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency David Shedd, suggested foreign intelligence agencies were trying to do exactly this to American military suppliers. Said Shedd, “Our adversaries are very active in trying to introduce material into the supply chain in ways that threaten our security from the standpoint of their abilities to collect [intelligence] and disrupt” U.S. military operations. A number of the firms that appear to have been targeted, according to Kaspersky Lab, are suppliers for weapons companies under contract by the U.S. Department of Defense.

U.S. Rejects Maduro Claim of Threats

The Obama administration rejects claims by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that plots against his life from former U.S. government officials forced him to cancel a trip this week to New York. Citing the unspecified threats, Maduro avoided traveling to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. “The clan — the mafia — of Otto Reich and Roger Noriega once again had planned a crazy, terrible provocation that can’t be described in any other way,” Maduro said, referring to two George W. Bush-era Assistant Secretaries of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, which had roles in deposing Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez. Maduro expressed regret at missing his chance to speak before the General Assembly but he said, “I had to fulfill my maximum objective, to preserve my physical integrity, my life, and Venezuelan honor.”

According to an Obama administration official who asked not to be identified, it’s more likely the Cuban government was concerned that the Ilyushin airplane they had loaned Maduro would be confiscated once it reached the United States. Venezuela’s presidential aircraft is undergoing contentious maintenance issues in France.

Animals in Europe Recovering

According to a report by the ZSL Institute of Zoology, over the past 50 years, a number of Europe’s key species have made significant comebacks. The 19th and 20th centuries were deleterious for the native animals of the continent. But since World War II, curbs on hunting and urbanization have allowed animals like bears, wolves, lynx, eagles, and vultures to become more populous, if not outright thrive.

ZSL director Frans Schepers said, “People have this general picture of Europe that we’ve lost all our nature and our wildlife.” But he added,” I think what the rest of the world can learn from this is that conservation actually works. If we have the resources, a proper strategy, if we use our efforts, it actually works.”

U.N. Scientists Release Dire Climate Report

More than 800 authors and 50 editors from dozens of countries have concluded Earth is getting warmer, the sea is rising, and saliently, neither of these are naturally occurring phenomena. The Intergovernental Panel on Climate Change released a preview of its latest report, six years in the making, that concludes with 95 percent confidence, humans are responsible for at least “half of the observed increase in global average surface temperatures since the 1950s.”

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time,” said Thomas F. Stocker, IPCC chairman. “In short, it threatens our planet, our only home.” Today for the first time, IPCC scientists joined others around the word to formally declare an upper boundary on greenhouse gases; establishing a level at which humanity must stop spewing them into the atmosphere or face irreversible and potentially catastrophic climatic changes. Stocker warned that the target is likely to be exceeded in a matter of decades, unless steps are taken soon to reduce emissions.

Weekend Read: The Honey Launderers

In 2006, a small family-owned German firm commit the largest food fraud in U.S. history. By importing honey. Susan Berfield sorts out the sticky situation in Businessweek.

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