Archive for July 18th, 2012

Anonymous hackers target energy majors

MOSCOW, July 18 (UPI) — Gazprom and Shell this week were among the targets of the Anonymous computer hacking collective, which protested plans for offshore drilling in the arctic.

The group said Monday it had broken into computer systems of Shell, BP Global, ExxonMobil, Gazprom and Rosneft and posted hundreds of company e-mail addresses and passwords online.

Information from 190 Gazprom accounts and 80 from Rosneft were posted, as well as additional database access details, The Moscow Times reported.

The cyberattack was carried out as the environmental activist group Greenpeace launched a protest action to shut down Shell gas stations in England and Scotland.

In the posting, Anonymous quoted a Greenpeace petition that seeks an end to the “new oil rush” in the arctic. However, it said its cyberattack on the five oil companies was an independent action.

“This Operation is carried out by Anonymous and isn’t anyhow affiliated to GreenPeace! We are just supporting their cause,” the group wrote.

Anonymous said Monday’s attack was “Phase II” of an operation begun June 26 when e-mail addresses and passwords from the five companies were similarly published and used to sign the Greenpeace petition to ban oil drilling in the arctic and establish it as a protected world park.

Greenpeace’s petition in part reads: “We know we’re going up against the most powerful countries and companies in the world. But together we have something stronger than any country’s military or any company’s budget. Our shared concern for the planet we leave our children transcends all the borders that divide us and makes us — together — the most powerful force today.”

The energy companies didn’t comment on the Anonymous cyberattack.

Holding an estimated one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered, recoverable oil and natural gas, the arctic has become the focus of plans by the major oil companies, who are looking to replace dwindling supplies elsewhere.

But environmentalists say an oil spill in the arctic would pose monumental challenges and threaten vast harm to the pristine region.

The cyberattack came as Greenpeace activists shut down 74 Shell gas stations in Edinburgh and London in actions that resulted in 24 arrests, police said. Protesters tried to cut off gasoline supplies to London’s 105 Shell stations and Edinburgh’s 14 stations, The Guardian reported.

As of late Monday, 18 protesters in London and six in Edinburgh had been arrested. Edinburgh police had reportedly parked cars outside all Shell stations across the Scottish capital.

“It’s time to draw a line in the ice and tell Shell to stop,” Greenpeace activist Sara Ayech told the newspaper. “That’s why today we’re going to shut down all of Shell’s petrol stations in the capital cities of London and Edinburgh. We’ve got dozens of people who will hit over 100 Shell garages throughout the day.”

In recent weeks, Anonymous has been active on a number of fronts. This month the group attacked alleged child pornography Web sites, taking down several sites it deemed to be connected to the trading of illegal files and video.

The group also attempted to attack a Japanese government Web site to protest a new law calling for jail time for illegal downloading but ended up crippling the site of small local government water management agency in a case of mistaken identity.

“We made a mistake. We’re sorry. Japanese is difficult,” the group says in a Twitter message.

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Google chief Eric Schmidt declares war on ‘illicit networks’

Google chief Eric Schmidt declared war on international criminals Tuesday, vowing to harness technology to battle “illicit networks” around the world.

At a two-day summit including Interpol, government ministers and victims of forced labor and child slavery, Schmidt said the Internet can help fight traffickers of drugs, sex workers and organs.

International police body Interpol used the conference to unveil a pioneering initiative to crack down on trade in fake goods, using an app developed with the help of search giant Google.

“In a connected world, vulnerable people will be safer, trafficking victims can learn their rights, can find opportunities; organ harvesters can be named and brought to justice,” Schmidt said.

“Connection protects us .. together we can use technology to protect the world,” he told the “Illicit Networks: Forces in Opposition” summit in Thousand Oaks, north of Los Angeles.

Juan Pablo Escobar, the son of infamous former Colombian drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar, joined the conference via Skype.

“The moment I was the most scared was when I realized my country was using my father’s violent methods to fight him,” he told the summit, which will hear Wednesday from Alejandro Proire, interior minister of drug war-torn Mexico.

Indian former child slave Rani Hong, who is now a UN advisor on child trafficking, wept as she recounted her own story. “I was beaten, I was tortured, we are talking about slavery at seven years old,” she said.

“I was treated as a piece of property to be used to make profit… I cried and I cried. They told me to shut up and they said I didn’t have a word and nobody would listen to me.”

In one concrete example of technology fighting crime, the Interpol Global Register (IGR) initiative aims to track illicit goods by verifying products through security features, using the scanning app.

“Right now in special areas (like) pharmaceuticals, tobacco products and household goods, a consumer doesn’t know what’s fake and what’s real,” Interpol chief Ronald Noble told AFP.

“We came up with this idea that will allow a consumer or law enforcement or businesses to scan a code and determine whether or not it can be verified as authentic,” he added.

“It becomes green or red. Green means verified, red means not verified.”

Google designed the application for Android devices, but Interpol plans versions for other platforms, including Apple, Blackberry and Microsoft.

One of the first users of the new system is PharmaSecure, which stamps unique security codes on more than one million packets of pharmaceuticals produced every day in India alone.

Noble explained: “In India what they do is they put unique numbers on packages of pharmaceutical products.

“The goal would be that if the product is supposed to go to country A and it’s somehow in country C, and you scan it, it will come out as non-verified. It means that the consumer should be careful.

“So, the same time it’s being scanned, the country (where it was produced) knows it’s being scanned. So it will be able to map where this illicit traffic goes.”

Schmidt said the global village created by the Internet and technology was a tool that must be harnessed for good.

“The connected community is a stronger community. So today that village will revolt if their mobile devices were seized. That’s how important technology is,” he said.

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Apple vs Samsung: Judge rejects secrecy bids

SAN FRANCISCO: A US judge rejected several requests by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to keep portions of key documents out of public view in their high-stakes patent litigation battle set for trial later this month.

Apple and Samsung, the world’s largest consumer electronics corporations, are waging legal war in several countries, accusing each other of patent violations as they vie for supremacy in a fast-growing market for mobile devices.

In an order issued late on Tuesday, US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, wrote that “it appears that the parties have overdesignated confidential documents and are seeking to seal information that is not truly sealable.”

Koh gave both companies one week to refile their sealing requests. Representatives for Apple and Samsung could not immediately be reached for comment.

Filing documents under seal has become almost standard procedure in intellectual-property cases as companies try to keep their trade secrets and other sensitive business information from coming out during litigation.

Apple sued Samsung last year in the United States and a highly anticipated trial is scheduled to begin July 30. If Apple wins, it could seek to permanently bar the sale of some Samsung phones in the crucial US market.

Koh has already granted pretrial injunctions against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and its Galaxy Nexus phone. Samsung is appealing both of those orders. Samsung’s phones and tablets run on the Android operating system, developed by Google.

Apple and Samsung have filed legal arguments on a range of subjects in recent weeks, including briefs on how broadly some patent claims should be defined and what evidence should be kept out of the trial.

However, portions of those documents are blacked out from public view as both companies argued they contained sensitive information.

Koh’s order on Tuesday came hours after Reuters filed a motion seeking to intervene in the case for the purposes of opposing Apple and Samsung’s document redactions. The judge wrote that “only documents of exceptionally sensitive information that truly deserve protection will be allowed to be redacted or kept from the public.”

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Google search for human traffickers, drug cartels

Forget videos of cute kittens or good deals on iPads. For the past few months, Google has been quietly turning its search capabilities to something far more challenging: Internet crime.

Drug cartels, money launderers and human traffickers run their sophisticated operations online. So Google Ideas, Google’s think tank, is working with the Council on Foreign Relations and others to look for ways to use technology to disrupt international crime.

At a summit in Westlake Village, California, this week, people working to halt illicit networks, from former child soldiers to an assistant defense secretary, will be sharing ideas about cracking down on global crime.

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