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The New Space Race and Cyberspies

April 16th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

So I have come across a few rather interesting articles over the last few days. One is regarding the newest space race, which is coincidentally between Google and Microsoft. The rest have been regarding computer security in some fashion ranging from the threat of what the article calls cyberspies, which is basically just a term that they are using to include script kiddies to black hat hackers, to a simply ridiculous story from Boston College.

The space race article was really interesting. I cannot wait to see the fruition of the competition between Google and Microsoft. Apparently, Google is working on a program/application to go along with Google Earth called Google Sky which will allow the observation of the sky through the use of the large number of telescopes in orbit around Earth. On the other side is Microsoft announcing that it is going to be broadcasting out to the web the telescope that Bill Gates has funded in South America (in “the world’s Southern Hemisphere space-observatory mecca” according to the article). I cannot wait to get my hands on some of the resulting images!!! Should be awesome!
Source: dailygalaxy.com

The issue with cyberspies is as follows: “Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.”
To me it sounds a little bit like attempt to rouse the public’s interest than anything else, though there is probably some truth to it. The part that is trying to simply rouse the public, from what I can tell, is the part that “the spies came from China, Russia and other countries.” The proof that the newspaper would actually have of both the whereabouts of the supposed threat along with the capabilities of the threat itself does not seem to exist. The one scrap of truth is “the newspaper said, citing current and former U.S. national security officials,” which could just mean more propaganda. Of course, the caveat of the whole thing is that GT predicted this some time ago… well at least the part that hackers would have the potential ability to access the electric power grid. [See the pdf supplied here]
I actually got all of this from gtcomputing on Twitter. Good stuff. Here is the article that is sourced.

For this last little tidbit for this blog post, at least regarding the outside world, I will simply start with a quote from the beginning of the article:
“On Friday, EFF and the law firm of Fish and Richardson filed an emergency motion to quash [pdf] and for the return of seized property on behalf of a Boston College computer science student whose computers, cell phone, and other property were seized as part of an investigation into who sent an e-mail to a school mailing list identifying another student as gay. The problem? Not only is there no indication that any crime was committed, the investigating officer argued that the computer expertise of the student itself supported a finding of probable cause to seize the student’s property.”
The article goes on to even outline parts of the warrant itself and shows how the warrant claims that the student’s computer abilities are what brought him into question. Apparently, he “uses two different operating systems to hide his illegal activities” according to the warrant, going further by stating that “One is the regular B.C. operating system [there is a standard operating system? I will assume they mean windows...] and the other is a black screen with white font which he uses prompt commands on.” From what I can tell, and from what the author of this article can tell, the student was implicated on the simple fact that he could get around a computer. And what precisely was the crime? Besides, a mailing list will typically keep track of the sender of an email. Why not just search that? Seems preposterous to me. I think that this might be a result of our wonderful media making anyone with computer skills look like someone that is a public threat… but it isn’t truly my place to decide if such is the case. I just hope that EFF and Fish and Richardson will get this injustice fixed.
Source: eff.org

On a final note, I actually got ahead with my projects. I am not talking getting it done on time (I always do that), I actually got it done multiple days early, hooray!

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