October 21, 2005

Data Compromises Across America (102105)

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Economy,Privacy/ID Theft — Tom @ 5:05 pm

Hawaii130,000 Social Security Numbers Lost

The Social Security numbers of 130,000 former and current Wilcox Memorial Hospital patients have been lost due to the disappearance of a back-up computer data drive, a hospital spokesperson said.

The drive was reported missing on Wednesday, Oct. 5, according to Lani Yukimura, marketing director for Wilcox Health (Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Kauai Medical Clinic).

The data refers only to hospital patients, and does not include medical information, but does include names, addresses, medical record numbers and, as mentioned, Social Security numbers.

The data file goes back 12 years, according to Yukimura.

….. Yukimura said the data on the drive was not encrypted, and is readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader.

New Jersey: University error raises risk of identity theft: Social Security numbers were searchable for almost five months

A mistake made by an MSU (Montclair State) employee has put more than 75 percent of the university’s undergraduates at risk for identity theft, a crime in which one’s personal information is stolen by another for financial gain.

For the past five months, the Social Security numbers of 9,100 MSU undergraduates were searchable by Internet search engines such as Google.com. The university was advised of the problem on Oct. 7 when a student, who found his personal information online after an Internet search, contacted MSU’s Information Technology Department.

According to Ann Frechette, MSU’s executive director of communications and marketing, a university employee accidentally stored the Social Security numbers and declared majors of the students on MSU’s Web server. The employee, Frechette said, believed the files were secure, or nonsearchable, because they were not linked onto the university’s Web site.

“But in fact, anything stored on the Web server is searchable by Web engines,” Frechette said. “We have invested heavily to have a secure firewall for the university. You could grow old trying to hack into MSU’s system. But again, within those walls, there is a potential for human error.”

Identity-Stealing Spyware on the Rise–Are Key Logging Programs Operating on 15% of Computers?

Okay, it’s a press release, which is why the item has a question mark. So even if only half-true, it’s sobering:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Oct. 11 /PRNewswire/ — Do you know who’s stealing your identity? Until just a few months ago, the odds were that it was someone in your family or neighborhood. Today, however, there is someone far more savvy and distant stealing your identity. There are currently 26.7 million Americans who are unwittingly transmitting their identity to international hackers and criminals.

In a recent study conducted by the Alladin Knowledge Systems of the top 2,000 known spyware threats, they found that 15 percent of spyware is actually stealing all the information typed on an infected computer, by logging the information the user types and then transmitting it to the spyware’s creator.

This method is called “key logging,” and was the cause for five percent of the identity theft cases last year.

There are currently over 223 million Internet users in the United States (http://www.internetworldstats.com/america.htm). According to the National Cyber Security Alliance 80 to 90 percent of desktops are infected with spyware. At 80 percent, that’s 187.4 million Internet users affected by spyware. With 15 percent of those transmitting the information needed for identity theft, that’s 26.7 million people in the U.S. alone transmitting their identities to international hackers and criminals.

Last year, there were approximately 10 million cases of identity theft in the U.S., resulting in losses of over $50 billion, of which spyware comprised only 5 percent ($2.5 billion). The average identity theft case resulted in $5,000 in damage. If we do not do something to stop the flood of spyware, we could be looking at over $133 billion in losses this year due to spyware alone.

Quote of the Day: On Kelo

Filed under: Economy,Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:58 pm

Actually, it was yesterday, but Jeff’s take is too good to leave in the Comments at the post (his blog’s home page is here):

When Justice Stevens wrote the decision in this travesty, he said “The city has carefully formulated an economic development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community…” Now look what the situation has degenerated to. “Carefully formulated” indeed.

Air America: If They Can’t Make It There, Can They Make It Anywhere?

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 1:15 pm

From The Washington Post (last paragraph; requires registration), on the Metro DC radio market 3rd quarter Arbitrons:

Air America, the liberal talk network carried on WWRC-AM (1260), went from bad to nonexistent. After WWRC recorded a mere fraction of a rating point in the spring with syndicated shows from the likes of lefty talkers Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Stephanie Miller, Arbitron couldn’t detect a measurable listenership for the station this time around.

Wholly Toledo Update: Paramedics Attacked; Pitiful AP Correction to Original “White Supremacists” Headline

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 11:23 am

Rescue workers do not have “surviving attacks” as part of their job description, but two paramedics had to (link also has a video; HT Michelle She’s-Everywhere Malkin):

TOLEDO — It’s one of the most haunting images of Saturday’s riots in North Toledo. Paramedic Aaron Frisch and his partner, Kathy Zeller, were attacked by a mob.

They were on their way to help at the scene when the crowd started running toward them. “They were still quite a distance away when the rocks and bricks started hitting. I was in a momentary state of shock until the rocks continued to hit and continued to hit and continued to break the windshield and break my rig,” says Frisch.

Within seconds, Frisch said he knew he had to get out of there. He had been hit in the arm. His partner had been hit in the head with a brick. He had no choice but to back out. “I looked out and I saw in their eyes that they intended to do bodily harm,” says Frisch.

The male paramedic who was attacked was very forgiving in his interview. He’s probably being sincere, but don’t forget that he may have had to say what he did to stay safe. It could be very dangerous if he vented his anger at those who attacked him now they know his name.

There is no word on how the person who did NOT get rescued or attended to fared.

ABC will be astonished to know that the video contains no sign of rioting white supremacists (It’s Day 6 since the original October 16 story, and the totally wrong ABC headline and sub-headline are still there).

Michelle also notes an AP correction (probably requires registration) that I consider a semi-correction at best:

Correction: Nazi March Story Headline

Thursday, October 20, 2005; 4:57 PM
TOLEDO, Ohio — In an Oct. 16 story about protesters who rioted at a white supremacists’ march, a headline on an Associated Press online story erroneously said, “White Supremacists Riot in Toledo, Ohio.”

As the story itself made clear, the rioting was by the protesters, not the supremacists. Mayor Jack Ford blamed the rioting on gangs taking advantage of a volatile situation.

Oh for cryin’ out loud. The original headline was NOT about a “Nazi March,” it was about who rioted, and it was wrong. And if it was okay to indicate the race of the supremacists in the original headline, why is it apparently not okay to indicate the race of the “gangs,” even in the body of the correction?

Stuck on Stupid has similar concerns.
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UPDATE: Even more absurd: Don’t forget the supposed “march” referred to in the “corrected” headline was cancelled; it didn’t happen.
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Previous Posts:
- Wholly Toledo
- Wholly Toledo Update: ABC and Other Headline Writers Get it Completely Wrong

Possible Money Tip of the Day: Internet Through the Power Grid May Be Coming of Age–Right Here!

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Marvels,Money Tip of the Day — Tom @ 9:05 am

Mark Twain’s disputed quote (the dispute is whether he really said it) about wanting to come to Cincinnati if the world were to end because we’re 20 years behind the times may be turned on its head in this one instance.

That’s because “broadband over power line,” (i.e., through electrical outlets), yet another way to get high-speed Internet service into homes, has gained a lot of traction in (of all places) Greater Cincinnati:

Surfing Through the Power Grid

After years of hype, connecting to the internet over electrical power lines may finally be coming true.

In Cincinnati and surrounding areas, more than 50,000 homes are connecting to the web through power lines. And recently, Manassas, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., became the first city in the nation to offer all its citizens the option of going online over the power network.

First hyped in the mid- to late-’90s, broadband over power line, or BPL, is currently enjoying a big wave of renewed interest.

Mega-ISP EarthLink has been experimenting with it. IBM and CenterPoint Energy, a Texas utility, tested the technology in the Houston area this summer. Earlier this year Google, Goldman Sachs and Hearst jointly invested a reported $100 million into Current Technologies, which is providing BPL in the Cincinnati area together with Midwest utility Cinergy.

….. Customers plug a BPL modem into any electrical wall socket, and send data over the city’s electrical wires to substations. The substations are connected to the net by city-owned fiber-optic cables. Because the data travels at higher frequencies than electrical current, the two do not interfere with each other.

But that doesn’t mean internet traffic doesn’t interfere with other signals. BPL faces continuing criticism that transmitting data over unshielded power lines can interfere with both ham radio broadcasts and police and fire radios.

That’s one of the issues that has slowed BPL adoption, said Joe Laszlo, research director at Jupiter Research who covers broadband.

A number of BPL trials around the country “have been canceled or scaled back because of interference issues,” he said, “or because the cost of deploying was much higher than the utilities expected.”

I spoke with a “Chris” in customer service at Current Communications (apparently the same company as Current Technologies), and he indicated that the following as the service status for various neighborhoods in the Cincinnati area:

  • Fully operational: Hyde Park, East End, Mt. Lookout, Oakley, Pleasant Ridge, Kennedy Heights, Golf Manor (half), Delhi Hills, Silverton, Cheviot, and Madeira.
  • Partial implementations with completion expected between December and March: Price Hill, Westwood, Norwood, Kenwood, Bridgetown.
  • Full Cinergy market saturation in 2-3 years, including service areas in Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

Chris stated that interference issues cited in the article have not been a problem in the Greater Cincinnati area. He also says the company believes they have a better technology pathway to faster speeds (6-8 mbps instead of the current 1-3) than the cable and phone companies.

The Current web site has good links on “how it works (it looks ridiculously easy), residential pricing (businesses will come later after additional interference problems present at many businesses are solved), and even a nationwide lookup for estimated availability.

Consumers who want to see the service brought in to their area can go to the Contact Us link to get the phone number and begin their lobbying campaign. Chris said they are in the early stages of implementations in Honolulu and DC-suburban Maryland.

Based on the players noted above, this is no fly-by-night operation. Bring it on. The more competition, the better.

Positivity: Chinese Doctor Donates Bone Marrow to US Girl

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:10 am

This will be a positive thing, even if it doesn’t work out (But I pray it will; HT HappyNews.com):

(more…)

The Coleman Internet Resolution: Get an Up-or-Down Vote

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:05 am

Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota is on the right track, but needs to go further (HT Atlas Shrugs):

Senator: Keep U.N. away from the Internet

Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota, said his nonbinding resolution would protect the Internet from a takeover by the United Nations that’s scheduled to be discussed at a summit in Tunisia next month.

“The Internet is likely to face a grave threat” at the summit, Coleman said in a statement on Monday. “If we fail to respond appropriately, we risk the freedom and enterprise fostered by this informational marvel and end up sacrificing access to information, privacy and protection of intellectual property we have all depended on.”

If ratified, Coleman’s resolution would assure the Bush administration and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) of political support on Capitol Hill during the negotiations at the World Summit on the Information Society. Similar support has already come from both senior Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Okay, it’s a non-binding resolution. Nevertheless, I’d like to see an up-or-down vote on the resolution, so that any senator who wants to give the Internet away to incompetent, corrupt, kleptocrats will be outed.

More likely, the vote will be unanimous or very close to it, just as the nonbinding resolution on the Kyoto “global warming” Treaty was in the late 1990s. Despite all the subsequent posturing (including Al Gore’s “symbolic signing” noted below–oh, how I DON’T miss them), that vote ended any chance that Kyoto would ever get through a future Senate:

On June 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was to be negotiated, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95-0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Aware of the Senate’s view of the protocol, the Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol for ratification.

A similar unanimous “keep the Internet” vote, though not a treaty situation, will go a long way towards ensuring that future administrations of either party don’t just hand control of Internet governance over without understanding the outcry that will ensue.
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Oct. 21: Outside the Beltway Jammer.