September 14, 2008
University Brings Charges Against White Hat Hacker
"A university student at Carleton is learning that no good deed goes unpunished. After hacking into what was probably a not-so-secure university network, this guy took the time to write a 16-page paper on his methods and sent it to the system admins. Sounds like White Hat behavior to me. Yes, he should have asked permission before trying, but throwing the book at the guy and wrecking his life with criminal charges (which stick for a long time) seems a little excessive.
The university should spend money on hiring some admins with better computer skills and teaching skills rather than paying lawyers. In the Engineering department at my old university, the unofficial policy was that when you broke in, didn't damage anything, and reported the problem and how you broke in, they didn't charge you (if you maliciously caused damage, you usually faced academic sanctions). In some cases, the students were hired or they 'volunteered' for the summer to help secure the servers or fix the hole they found. The result was that Engineering ended up with one of the most secure systems in the university."
Stimulant Use Surges in Asia, Mideast
emand for amphetamines, ecstasy and other synthetic drugs appears to have stabilized in the West, but the problem is worsening in Asia and spreading to new markets in the Middle East, a U.N. report said Tuesday.
Manufacturing and trafficking of illegal stimulants is also getting more sophisticated, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in a 2008 assessment that pointed to the growing involvement of local and international crime syndicates.
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. agency, warned that amphetamine-type drugs are seen as "a cheap and available tonic for our fast and competitive times."
In North America and Europe, where pill popping is largely recreational, demand has leveled off or even declined in recent years thanks to effective controls on the chemicals used to make them.
But in fast-growing developing countries, where the drugs are often used to boost stamina on assembly lines or to keep drivers awake behind the wheel, use is on the rise.
"The problem has shifted to new markets over the past few years," the U.N. report said, adding that, even so, production appears to have stabilized worldwide at about 551 tons annually.
The market, retail and wholesale, also has remained steady at around $65 billion since 2001.
Asia is still driving demand, with nearly half the region's countries reporting increases in methamphetamine use.
But the most dramatic shift has been in the Middle East, where seizures of amphetamine-type stimulants accounted for a staggering 25 percent of the global total in 2005-2006, up from just 1 percent in 2000-2001, the United Nations said.
The largest market in that region was Saudi Arabia, a trend apparently linked in part to a growing number of migrant workers, with more than 12 tons of amphetamines seized two years ago.
The surge in Middle East busts has resulted in a sharp drop in the global share of seizures in East and Southeast Asia, home to the most amphetamine users in real numbers, with its percentage of total seizures more than halving from 67 to 31 during the same period.
But there have been worrying changes in the type and scale of production in that region.
"A decade ago, synthetic drugs were a cottage industry," said Costa, pointing to recent seizures of industrial-size clandestine laboratories.
"Now they are big business, controlled by organized crime syndicates that are involved in all phases of this illicit trade, from smuggling precursor chemicals to manufacturing the drugs and trafficking."
Countries where law enforcement is weak or where local officials are complicit are most selected as bases for such operations.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
New rules would give FBI more freedom in U.S. operations
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is finalizing rules that would allow FBI agents to solicit informants and use other new techniques to bolster the agency's intelligence-gathering operation in the United States, officials said Friday.
The changes would expand rules the department enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks that permitted the FBI to conduct "assessments" of threats of terrorism and espionage even in instances where little or no proof existed of criminal activity.
Such assessments are separate from formal investigations, which can involve more invasive investigative methods but which require harder evidence.
Justice officials said the FBI had been hamstrung in carrying out the earlier mandate because the agency had been limited to "overt" intelligence-gathering techniques, such as permitting agents to conduct interviews only when they identified themselves.
But the proposed revisions have raised concerns among civil liberties groups that the FBI would have too much latitude to collect information on U.S. residents and would be allowed to track people based on their race or ethnicity. [Mark Godsey]