Archive for November, 2015

After a decade of court battles, the owner of Calyx Internet Access revealed the breadth of the amount of information the F.B.I. requested about a customer.


In response to a demand for backdoor access to its enterprise messaging products, BlackBerry is completely pulling out of the Pakistan market. The announcement comes as a ban on providing BlackBerry Enterprise Services over mobile networks in Pakistan was due to take effect today.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority’s ban on BlackBerry Enterprise Services (BES) was issued this summer, and it was planned to become effective on November 30, as Ars reported in July. “Security reasons” were cited as the cause of the ban. But just before the restriction was announced, Privacy International issued a report that warned of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s efforts to gain network surveillance capabilities within the country that rival those of the National Security Agency.

While the government has pushed back the effective date of that order to December 30, BlackBerry COO Marty Beard announced today that the company would exit the Pakistani market completely rather than meet government demands for unfettered access to the service’s message traffic.

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On November 25, General John F. Campbell, the commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, announced the findings of an initial investigation into the air strike by an Air Force AC-130 gunship that hit a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 3. The strike—in which the AC-130 attacked using its onboard cannon, killing 30 patients and members of the MSF hospital staff and injuring another 34—lasted nearly a half-hour.

Campbell called the strike “a tragic, but avoidable accident caused primarily by human error.” But among the secondary factors cited in the report, he noted, there were several contributing technical failures, including a networking failure that could have provided information that would have prevented the mistaken targeting of the hospital. Furthermore, information systems available to the command responsible for the aircraft failed to alert those on duty in the operations center that the target selected by the aircraft was on a no-strike list.

Spooky action at a distance

The sensor suite of an AC-130U “Spooky” operating at night. Infrared cameras are a primary part of the targeting system.

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The aircraft responsible for the errant attack on the hospital was an AC-130U “Spooky” gunship, a 20-year-old aircraft that carries a five-barreled 25 millimeter Gatling gun, a 40mm Bofors cannon, and a 105mm howitzer. The airplane is a veritable flying artillery battery that “orbits” its targets while firing upon them with high-explosive rounds. (The Air Force has also deployed the AC-130W “Stinger,” a modified version of the special operations transport the MC-130W “Dragon Spear,” to Afghanistan. These aircraft carry a 30mm automatic cannon and launch tubes for Griffin and Hellfire missiles and laser-guided glide bombs.)

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Enlarge (credit: Malwarebytes)

An active hacking campaign is forcing Reader’s Digest and many other websites to host malicious code that can surreptitiously infect visitors with malware and linger for days or weeks before being cleaned up.

Reader’s Digest has been infected since last week with code originating with Angler, an off-the-shelf hack-by-numbers exploit kit that saves professional criminals the hassle of developing their own attack scripts, researchers from antivirus provider Malwarebytes told Ars. People who visit the site with outdated versions of Adobe Flash, Internet Explorer, and other browsing software are silently infected with malware that gains control over their computers. Malwarebytes researchers said they sent Reader’s Digest operators e-mails and social media alerts last week warning the site was infected but never got a response. The researchers estimate that thousands of other sites have been similarly attacked in recent weeks and that the number continues to grow.

“This campaign is still ongoing and we see dozens of new websites every day being leveraged to distribute malware via the Angler exploit kit,” Malwarebytes Senior Security Researcher Jérôme Segura wrote in an e-mail. “This attack may have been going on for some time but we noticed a dramatic increase in infections via WordPress sites in the past couple of weeks.”

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Amazon’s Drones May Be a Marketing Stunt, But We Kinda Need Them

Prime Air may be marketing fodder today, but any work it can safely and efficiently take into the air is a good thing for all of us on the ground.

The post Amazon’s Drones May Be a Marketing Stunt, But We Kinda Need Them appeared first on WIRED.

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