January 16, 2007

A New Tool for the Phishermen

Filed under: Business Moves,Money Tip of the Day,Privacy/ID Theft — Tom @ 3:05 pm

This is not good:

RSA Catches Financial Phishing Kit
January 10, 2007

RSA, The Security Division of EMC, announced Jan. 10 that it has identified a new phishing kit that was being sold and used online by hackers to target users’ personal information in real time.

The phishing kit, known as a Universal Man-in-the-Middle Phishing Kit, is meant to help online hackers create attacks involving financial organizations by enabling the hacker to create a fake URL through a user-friendly online interface. The fraudulent URL communicates with the legitimate Web site of the targeted organization in real time.

The target receives a standard phishing e-mail, and if the target clicks on the link, he or she is sent to the fake URL. The target thinks that he or she is working with content from the legitimate Web site, but in fact, the fake URL allows hackers to access the targets’ personal information, RSA said.

Until this came out, phishers were forced to use web domain names that were similar to the target company’s official domain (e.g., paypal.org instead of paypal.com, gopayal.com instead of paypal.com). The tool described will rig the address bar to look like it has the correct official domain while the real domain operates in the background.

I may be wrong (tell me if I am), but the legit URL appearance, plus the communication with the legitimate web site described above (will it even snag the SSL seal and info? If yes, yikes), mean that the “brilliant” red-yellow-green-white address bar color-coding built into Internet Explorer 7 for the express purpose of flagging phishing sites will be useless against this new trick.

The advice never to click through from an e-mail that claims to be from a financial web site is more relevant than ever.

Kucinich Gone Wild in the Name of ‘Fairness’

Dennis the Menace was dense in Memphis:

Over the weekend, the National Conference for Media Reform was held in Memphis, TN, with a number of notable speakers on hand for the event. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made an surprise appearance at the convention to announce that he would be heading up a new House subcommittee which will focus on issues surrounding the Federal Communications Commission.

Kucinich said in his speech that “We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda” and added “we are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible.”

Two points:

  • “Progressives” (read far-left Democrats) who aren’t satisfied having taxpayer-subsidized NPR, the three agenda-setting newspapers, the wire services, and every major TV network except Fox getting their message out virtually unfiltered every single day, are offended that conservative programming is winning in the arena of ideas in talk radio and on Fox News. Boo freaking hoo.
  • Even if some kind of convoluted case could be made that “progressives” aren’t getting a fair shake, the fact is that technology has made the complaint irrelevant. There is nothing preventing a zillion Internet broadcasts like Wide Awakes Radio, Hot Air, Crooks & Liars, etc. from launching — except the expectation that the government will give people who can’t get an audience the old-fashioned way (by earning it) a mechanism to force us to listen to them when they’re not welcome.

Despite the fact that anyone who wants a soapbox and has something interesting to say has the opportunity to get people’s attention and to be heard as never before in human history, you can rest assured that “progressives” would like nothing better than to push the absurd “equal time” concept down as far as possible — even to the blogs and the forums if they can.

“Fairness,” schmairness.

This Is Really Ignorant, Even by AP Standards

In an article (HT Instapundit) decrying the alleged environmental waste in the United Arab Emirates, Associated Press writer Jim Krane gave voice to the environmental strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome when he claimed:

But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.

Uh, no (from Instapundit’s entry that links to Wiki; see third paratraph at this OpinionJournal.com link for additional support of its historical accuracy):

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98),[40] 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.

Bush can’t reject something that has only been “symbolically” signed, even if the “symbolic” signer is Mr. “Inconvenient Truth” himself. Bush can only reject it when the Senate gets it to him. That never happened, and the AP is dead wrong.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

You Mess with Life, You Pay a Price

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:17 am

From the BBC:

China will have 30 million more men of marriageable age than women by 2020, making it difficult for them to find wives, according to a national report.

The gender imbalance could lead to social instability, the report by the State Population and Family Planning Commission warned.

It found that around 118 boys were born to every 100 girls in 2005.

There’s a word for this: Unsustainable.

Bottom Story of the Year

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:12 am

From Reuters Alertnet’s list of New York Times headline from January 12:

Duke accuser contradicts herself

‘Bubble, Schmubble’ in Gotham

Filed under: Biz Weak,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:07 am

From the New York Times on January 12 (link may require registration):

New York City Property Values Jump 19 Percent

For the Record Books, Hopefully Never to Be Repeated

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:02 am

What was already reported as bad just got worse in Cincinnati in 2006:

CINCINNATI (AP) — The city’s record year for homicides jumped to 89 after three cases were reviewed and reclassified, a coroner said.

The revisions include a woman whose body was found floating in the Ohio River, a man who was shot during a robbery at his home and an elderly woman whose death at first was believed to have been from natural causes, Hamilton County Coroner O’dell Owens said Friday.

The city said previously that it closed out 2006 with 86 homicides, four more than anytime since police began keeping consistent records in 1950.

That total of 89 represents roughly 27 per 100,000, based on the city’s upwardly revised population of 331,130. For fans of this previous post, that’s within striking distance of the worst year in New York City’s history (1990, at 30.7 per 100,000), and just a shade less than half of the violent death rate last year in Iraq of 56.49 per 100,000, based on high-end estimates reported earlier this month.

Positivity: Turning shale and asphalt into oil

Filed under: Business Moves,Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

An Israeli company has come up with a way to use shale and by-products of current production processes to produce oil economically (HT Yid with Lid via Writes Like She Talks; excerpt is less than 1/3 of full article, so read the whole thing):

An Israeli company intends to revolutionize oil production by recycling oil shale rock into high quality fuel.

Haifa-based A.F.S.K Hom Tov recently demonstrated its patented method of extracting high quality oil and natural gas from a mixture of bitumen and oil shale rock. Bitumen – or asphalt – is the residue obtained by distillation of crude oil.

Experts predict the process will return oil at just $25 dollars a barrel and the additional natural gas produced would further boost the financial feasibility. With crude oil prices currently floating over the $50 a barrel mark, this proposed method is generating interest around the world.

“The world is looking for a replacement for oil supplies,” says attorney Moshe Shahal, a former Israeli energy minister and today the legal representative for Hom Tov.

The Hom-Tov process uses oil shale as a catalyst to extract combustible organic material from the residual bitumen byproduct of crude oil refineries. The end product from the process can easily be refined into high-grade petroleum and other fuels.

At present, oil refineries produce countless tons of bitumen residue every year that have little practical use or economic benefit and are an environmental hazard.

As a further bonus, the process converts the oil shale rock into a dry fuel in which the inorganic rock structure traps dangerous gases, such as sulfurous materials, preventing pollutant emissions to the atmosphere. The dry fuel byproduct could be burnt to power the Hom-Tov process itself as well provide additional electricity for the national grid.

“The Hom-Tov process is energy self-sustained,” says Professor Zeev Aizenshtat, an energy resource expert and professor of chemistry and applied chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Aizenshtat has followed the development of the Hom-Tov process for more than a decade and now acts as an expert consultant for the company.

Oil refineries separate crude oil into different grades of fuels and oils. Petroleum and diesel are a higher grade than heavy fuels used in power plants, and those are higher than oils used for plastics and lubricants. At the very bottom is the bitumen residue which is difficult to rectify further into a useful fuel.

The volume of bitumen residue left over from each barrel of crude oil depends on the quality of the crude, but ranges from 10 percent and upwards. …..