Tuesday, November 9, 2010



1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your
Carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your
Yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my
Return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... And taste means there
Are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me
Wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I
Might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to
Remove it.

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and
Foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm
Company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it
Too easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows
On the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your
Jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock
Your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off
Because of bad weather.

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or
Offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check
Dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you
Keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system.
If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can
Buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of
a real television. (Find it athttp://www.faketv.com/)


1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and
Carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your
Neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear
It again.. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was
Doing. It's human nature.

4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy
Alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home,
And for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk
Through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to
Pick my targets.

6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than
You think to look up your address.

7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to
Let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.

8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the
Jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and
Kentucky ; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs http://www.crimedoctor
Com/ and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of
Missouri-St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars on
The Job

Protection for you and your home:

If you don't have a gun, here's a more humane way to wreck someone's evil
Plans for you. (I guess I can get rid of the baseball bat.):


A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned
About someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were
Counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using
Pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray

The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot
more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to
you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker
until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk
in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of
pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection..
Thought this was interesting and might be of use.


On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo
dead, self defense experts have a tip that could save your life.

Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High
School. For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray
near your door or bed.

Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them."

Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace
or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries
to break into your home, Glinka says, "spray the culprit in the eyes". It's
a tip he's given to students for decades. It's also one he wants everyone to
hear. If you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray.

"That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out."

Maybe even save a life.

Put your car keys beside your bed at night.

Tell your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your parents, your Dr's
office, the check-out girl at the market, everyone you run across. Put your
car keys beside your bed at night.

If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house
just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and
the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car
battery dies. This tip came from a neighborhood watch coordinator. Next
time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys away, think
of this: It's a security alarm system that you probably already have and
requires no installation. Test it. It will go off from most everywhere
inside your house and will keep honking until your battery runs down or
until you reset it with the button on the key fob chain. It works if you
park in your driveway or garage. If your car alarm goes off when someone is
trying to break into your house, odds are the burglar/rapist won't stick

After a few seconds all the neighbors will be looking out their windows to
see who is out there and sure enough the criminal won't want that. And
remember to carry your keys while walking to your car in a parking lot. The
alarm can work the same way there.

This is something that should really be shared with everyone. Maybe it could
save a life or a sexual abuse crime.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

'Pain Beam' to Be Installed in LA Jail

An invisible heat-beam weapon developed in secrecy by the military is set for use in a U.S. jail.

Law enforcement officials recently revealed plans to use the nonlethal device at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Pitchess Detention Center, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. The weapon, which shoots an invisible beam of energy, would be used in the prisoners' dormitory to stop an assault or break up a fight.

Called the Assault Intervention Device, it uses millimeter waves to heat the top layer of skin, causing an intense burning sensation that forces the person being targeted to move away immediately.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video.

"I equate it to opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air, except instead of being all over me, it's more focused," said Bob Osborne, commander of the Sheriff's Department's Technology Exploration Program, according to the Daily News.

The weapon being installed in the jail is a smaller version of a technology originally developed by the military for use on the battlefield. The military's weapon, called the Active Denial System, can be put on a Humvee or truck, and researchers are also working on a aircraft-mounted version.

Raytheon, which makes the Assault Intervention Device, markets several versions of the weapon on its website.

The smaller version of the weapon being installed in the jail creates pain on a single part of the body, rather than all-over heat like the military version. A local news video showing the device being tested features a laughing test subject clutching a single part of the body where he has been hit, and then moving out of the way.

The device's use at the Pitchess Detention Center is part of a six-month evaluation being conducted by the National Institute of Justice to look at possible widespread use of the technology in jails. If that happens, then it will place law enforcement agencies well ahead of the military.

Despite spending years and tens of millions of dollars to develop the nonlethal technology, the military has not yet deployed the Active Denial System, in large part because of concerns of a public relations backlash against using a "microwave weapon." Ironically, a former Air Force secretary even suggested that the weapon should first be used in the United States before being deployed abroad.

The Pentagon this year did send a truck-mounted version of the weapon to Afghanistan for testing, but it was sent home without ever being used.

Monday, August 23, 2010

FBI Alert

It’s back to school time. Time to be more alert of suspicious strangers, unusual or unfamiliar vehicles and abnormal activity in your neighborhood. Talk to your children about strangers. Watch out for school crossing zones; be aware of the speed limits and slow down for our future generation.

EXTRA!! The FBI is warning the public about an ongoing scheme involving jury service. Most of us take that summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out of their civic duty that a new and ominous kind of fraud has surfaced. The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your social security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. If you give out any of this information, bingo; your identity was just stolen!
The fraud has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma, Illinois and Colorado. This scheme is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they are with the court system. The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their websites, warning consumers about the fraud.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New analysis of stolen data brings surprises

By Woody Leonhard

Every year, the highly respected Verizon Business RISK data crime–investigation team publishes an analysis of major online data thefts it's been asked to study.

This year, a first-ever joint report by VBR and the U.S. Secret Service presents a fascinating view into the state of the data-stealing art, with many surprising facts that should interest all consumers.

Throughout 2009, according to the 2010 Data Breach Investigation Report (PDF), Verizon investigated 57 "confirmed breaches" that included data theft. The Secret Service investigated 84 similar cases. That's 141 verified cases covering a total of 143 million data records owned by organizations around the world. Verizon's efforts led to arrests in 15% of its cases; the Secret Service's rate was a more-impressive 66%.

As you might imagine, many of the victimized companies don't want their identities to be known. The report states, "... about two-thirds of the breaches covered herein have either not yet been disclosed or never will be." Nevertheless, this aggregate report is still important: it gives an excellent overview of security problems that could affect you, the consumer.

Who's stealing sensitive data? Surprise!

I always assumed that most people involved in stealing sensitive data from organizations — bank records, credit-card numbers, personal information — were rogues acting alone, selling their booty via clandestine channels to the highest bidder.


An astonishing 85% of all stolen data records can, according to this report, be traced to organized crime. "Banding together allows criminal groups to pool resources, specialize skills, and distribute the work effort." Lone wolves aren't stealing our data. Rather, it's groups of people, acting in concert with one simple motive: profit.

The report quashed many of my other preconceived notions. For example, insiders (employees, executives, programmers) were actively involved in 48% of the cases — which doesn't surprise me — but they were implicated in only 3% of the total number of records stolen. Insiders participate in smaller jobs.

I was also surprised to find that the percentage of pilfering attributable to business partners — a category that includes IT service providers, suppliers, and vendors — has fallen steadily. The report can't pinpoint the reason for the decline in partners' shenanigans, but does point to the possibility that increased awareness of third-party security threats may be a factor.

It also mentions organizations such as hotel, restaurant, and retail companies that hire outsiders to provide IT services: "Organizations that outsource their IT management and support also outsource a great deal of trust to these partners." If your company's thinking about outsourcing, that's a word to the wise.

And, contrary to widespread publicity, no foreign governments were implicated in data thefts, according to this report.

How the bad guys get your personal information

While headlines herald stories about a bank employee losing a notebook with a gazillion account records or a civil servant dropping a disc with Social Security numbers, the report notes that 98% of the stolen data was snatched directly from company servers — mostly by use of malware and direct hacking.

Once again, the Verizon/Secret Service numbers surprised me. More than half of the malware infections came from direct installation (injection) by the attacker, and SQL databases led the list of subverted systems. SQL injections frequently rely on well-known quirks in SQL systems; craftily assembled SQL database queries, for example, can install programs that pluck data and send it to the requester.

Perhaps the best-known SQL-injection attack involved American Albert Gonzalez, who on March 25 was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for stealing more than 90 million credit- and debit-card numbers. (See Wired's March 25 Threat Level post.) As the Verizon report says, "SQL infection vulnerabilities are endemic, and to fix them you have to overhaul all your code."

The second-most-popular method for subverting servers uses drive-by Web infections (where you get an infection without actually clicking anything on a malicious site), followed by infections that require user interaction ("click here to clean your system" come-ons, for example).

Added together, injections and Web infections using malware accounted for 79% of all stolen data — not e-mail, not infected documents, and not zero-day attacks.

Keyloggers — those surreptitiously installed programs that record what you type — made up 36% of all the data breaches but accounted for only 1% of the clandestinely collected data. That's a big change from last year, when keyloggers collected more than 80% of the compromised data. The bad guys have found more efficient ways to take your information.

And what of the never-ending process of receiving and applying security patches to quickly shore up those security vulnerabilities? Not an issue, says the report. "It is very interesting to note that there were no confirmed cases in which malware exploited a system or software vulnerability in 2009 … there wasn't a single confirmed intrusion that exploited a patchable vulnerability."

What companies must do to protect our data

If this is all starting to sound hopeless, it isn't. The authors of the report offer many suggestions that every company with sensitive data should consider. Most of it doesn't stray too far from common sense: give access to sensitive information only to employees who need it, watch your access logs, encourage strong passwords, warn employees about installing rogue antivirus programs, and so on.

Even if you aren't involved with an organization that handles sensitive data, you need to know that the kinds of attacks documented by Verizon are getting larger and more complex.

You can help by regularly checking all of your online information that you can access, reporting any data or activity you see that's out of the ordinary. Immediately tell your bank, your credit card company, and your stock broker if you think something's gone awry.

As the report says, "Third-party fraud detection is still the most common way breach victims come to know of their predicament" — in other words, companies learn of breaches when customers report them.

So if you think your data's been stolen, holler yer head off!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Legal Thievery

The devious slogan for the New York State lottery is "All you need is a dollar and a dream." Such state lotteries are a regressive form of taxation, since the vast majority of lottery consumers are low-income. The statistics are bleak: Twenty percent of Americans are frequent players, spending about $60 billion a year. The spending is also starkly regressive, with lower income households being much more likely to play. A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, or about 9 percent of all income.

A new study by Emily Haisley, Romel Mostafa and George Loewenstein explored some of the reasons why low-income people spend so much money on a product that only returns fifty three cents on the dollar. (Lotteries are such a bad deal that they make slot machines look good.) Here's the abstract:

In two experiments conducted with low-income participants, we examine how implicit comparisons with other income classes increase low-income individuals' desire to play the lottery. In Experiment 1, participants were more likely to purchase lottery tickets when they were primed to perceive that their own income was low relative to an implicit standard. In Experiment 2, participants purchased more tickets when they considered situations in which rich people or poor people receive advantages, implicitly highlighting the fact that everyone has an equal chance of winning the lottery.

The study neatly illuminates the sad positive feedback loop of lotteries. The games naturally appeal to poor people, which causes them to spend disproportionate amounts of their income on lotteries, which helps keep them poor, which keeps them buying tickets. The saddest part is that these destructive games are run by the government.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rat Out a Tax Cheat, Collect a Reward

Rat Out a Tax Cheat, Collect a Reward
by Blake Ellis, Staff Reporter
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

If you knew coworkers, former bosses or exes who cheated on their taxes, would you turn them in? The Internal Revenue Service can make it worth your while.

As tax season nears, we all want to get as much money back from the IRS as possible. And while taking advantage of this year's new tax breaks will put some extra money in your pocket, snitching on a tax cheat could make you rich.

In a recent poll from the IRS Oversight Board, 13% of those surveyed think cheating is acceptable, up from 9% in 2008. As the recession puts the squeeze on household finances, the lure of fudging on a tax return is even greater.

"In a down economy, the temptation to cheat on taxes is much stronger because people are in more desperate situations more often," said Bill Raabe, a tax expert at Ohio State University's business school.

More people may be just as desperate to turn in a business, rat out an ex–spouse or report a colleague to collect a reward.

Small–time crooks: The IRS's informant program has been around for more than 140 years. If you suspect a person is committing tax fraud and report it, you could receive up to 15% of the amount that has been underpaid, with a maximum award of $10 million.

Informants are required to complete a claim, which is available on the IRS Web site, and mail it to the agency or call the IRS tip line at 1–800–829–0433. While you must reveal your identity to the IRS, your name will not be made public.

Because there is no minimum requirement for the amount in question, anyone can file a report in hopes of making an extra buck off of a cheating boyfriend or obnoxious neighbor.

"You probably get a mix of people with the informant program. You'll have spouses –– or ex–spouses probably –– as well as ex–employees turning in their employers," said Raabe. "But you really have to think, 'is it worth my time to report that guy?'"

To weed out the bogus reports from bitter ex–husbands and disgruntled employees, the IRS requires informants to fill out a detailed form and provide intimate information about the tax evader, including the person's social security number, address and date of birth.

"That's a lot of information that I'm not sure the average person has available," said Gagnon. "They're kind of asking the person to be a detective or work for them and go hunt all this information down, and I don't know how comfortable people would feel trying to do that."

Big cheaters: In 2006, the IRS really started cracking down on big time cheaters and introduced a new whistle–blower program, in which informants are paid a minimum of 15% and a maximum of 30% of the amount owed.

But there's a catch: In order to collect a reward, the taxes, penalties and interest in dispute must add up to at least $2 million. And if the suspected tax evader is an individual, his or her annual gross income must exceed $200,000.

So far, the new incentives have been effective. The IRS has received tips from about 476 informants identifying 1,246 taxpayers in fiscal year 2008, the first full year the program was implemented.

"The program is already attracting an enormous number of quality tips," said Paul Scott, a former Department of Justice trial attorney and current owner of law firm Paul D. Scott, where he represents whistle–blowers. "The volume of claims and/or tips they have been receiving with really substantial documentation or support has increased dramatically since the inception of this program."

Scott said that since the new program began, his firm has received claims from whistle–blowers involving billions of dollars in taxes, penalties and interest.

Who snitches?: In this program, the most common informants tend to be dissatisfied middle–ranking employees in big companies, said Tim Gagnon, an academic specialist of accounting at Northeastern University.

"I think it happens more in middle management than upper management," he said. "They're workers in the middle ranks who feel frustrated about what's going on and are not advancing or don't think they have a shot of moving up, because otherwise, it's hard to break loyalty."

Stephen Whitlock, director of the IRS Whistleblower Office, said that informants have had some connection to the taxpayer but they are not always close acquaintances. They have typically been employees, investors or business associates.

He also said many claims are for substantially more than the $2 million threshold and involve businesses or very wealthy individuals.

While the names of informants aren't made public, Gagnon said that a person's identity often becomes obvious based on the proof provided.

"Certain records show up and they can figure out where they're coming from," he said. "It's gotten a lot more anonymous and there's a lot more hiding in the shadows, but can you really stay in the shadows when you come forward to claim your rewards?"

Despite the program's success and generous rewards, the exhaustive information required and fear of retaliation are still huge deterrents in recruiting IRS informants.

"Once you blow the whistle on your employer, yeah, they can't fire you for retaliation, but I'm not sure how many people are going to hire you after that," said Gagnon.

But it's not always just a hefty reward that motivates people, said Scott of his whistle–blowing clients, and not all of them are jilted employees. Some feel angry about other people being above the law and getting away with it. "They want to stop the fat cats from getting rich at the taxpayer's expense," he said.

Others simply feel morally obligated to let someone know what's going on, said Scott. "They really feel like they're doing the right thing," he said. "When they look back on their lives, they will know they made the right move."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Evil is never banal

The Lure of the Dark Side
by Jeanette Friedman and David Gold
Evil is never banal.
Of course I am a doctor and I want to preserve life. And out of respect for human life, I would remove a gangrenous appendix from a diseased body. The Jew is the gangrenous appendix in the body of mankind.
SS Dr. Fritz Klein, a doctor at Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Have you ever asked yourself who educated Mengele, Freisler and the hundreds of well-trained doctors and lawyers who made the Nazi machine work? …They weren’t educated in Nazi universities. They were taught in world-renowned universities in a time when having a degree from a German university was as good as you could get.
Dr. Franklin H. Littell, Department of Religion, Temple University, Methodist minister, Holocaust scholar
Maimonides, the medieval Jewish philosopher and physician, taught that free will means that our moral and spiritual characters are never set in stone. At every moment we are able to renew ourselves and achieve great spiritual heights by doing the right thing and taking responsibility. At the same time, we are at every moment tempted by sin and can destroy a lifetime of good deeds by making even a few bad choices.
There are individuals who choose to go over to the Dark Side, a.k.a. Evil. Like Darth Vader in Star Wars, they can be vengeful, angry and bitter and work for people who use them for their own nefarious purposes. (In the end, Darth Vader sees the error of his ways and redeems himself by destroying the Empire that empowered him.)

Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely. -- Lord Acton

Power is the central attraction of the Dark Side. People enjoy the power of controlling other people, and many times power that can be used for “good” is used instead to commit unethical and immoral acts. Most people who are evil feel that they are above the law, that they are exempt from mainstream societal mores and morals. Their sense of entitlement gives them a sense of superiority.
Hannah Arendt, a philosopher who fled the Nazis, decided during the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, that evil was banal -- ordinary and humdrum because she thought Eichmann was banal.
She was wrong. Evil is never banal; the evildoer may sometimes be banal, if he is the one who is simply following orders. But Eichmann was not following orders. He was evil and led evil men who believed that every Jew on the planet needed to be destroyed.
Based on documents that are now available, historians agree that there was nothing banal about Eichmann and the bureaucracy of which he was a part. In Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil, author Yaacov Lozowick, clearly shows that Eichmann and his team were a group of people who were completely aware of what they were doing. They were people with high ideological motivation, who took the initiative and contributed far beyond what was necessary to achieve their murderous goals.
As he noted, “…there could be no doubt about it: they clearly understood that their deeds were not positive except in the value system of the Third Reich. They hated Jews and thought that getting rid of them would be to Germany’s good. ”
Hans Safrian, another historian (who wrote “Eichmann’s Maenner” in German) described how Eichmann was the man who sent his forces across the continent, to do their work there. He documented the conscious moral dedication that enveloped Eichmann and his men. They were anything but banal. They followed and executed their racist ideology by taking the initiative, using innovation, zeal and dedication. They may have been paper pushers for the most part, but when they made decisions, they were ruthless in condemning the Jews to their fates.
In an email to the authors, Yehuda Bauer wrote, “Eichmann managed to fool her (Hannah Arendt), and many others. He was no cog. He was part of the machine motor. He was an initiator, and a convinced and extreme Nazi ideologist and antisemite. The bureaucratic group he was part of was, the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), was ideologically motivated and was the moving spirit of the Nazi terror machine. The RSHA was responsible only to Himmler and Hitler, and received their full support; it was the center of the terror regime. It was responsible for the Einsatzgruppen, for the Gestapo, for population movements, for the mass murders.”

All of us -- under the wrong circumstances -- have the capacity to do evil if we make the wrong choices.

In many cases the evil doer is a sociopath obsessed with the uses of power. But evil acts are not confined to sociopaths. All of us -- under the wrong circumstances -- have the capacity to do evil if we make the wrong choices.
Power can be defined in many ways. It is the ability to get what you want because you have the talent, method or tools to do so, whether by right or might. The University of Colorado Conflict Research Consortium makes distinctions between three kinds of power—”power over,” “power to” and “power with.”
“Power over” means you control other people. Those in control can attempt to influence the masses with verbal persuasion. But if that doesn’t work, if people don’t want to do what they are told to do, the “controllers” can resort to using the violent tools of power: force, torture or threats. In most cases, when someone abuses his/her power, his/her victims become excessively dependent, and every aspect of their lives is controlled.
In a family dynamic this often manifests itself in domestic violence. In an organization or society, some leaders, usually the most charismatic, are given total power over their followers, who become their “subjects” and do as they are told. In addition to destroying their individuality, this absolves their followers from making choices and taking responsibility for their actions.
“Power to” means you have the ability, resources, and method to do whatever you want; it allows you to do things other people cannot or will not do.
“Power with” means that you bring together other entities or people who will help you accomplish your goals. In a positive world, it would be the equivalent of joining a neighborhood watch group, or founding a committee to build a park, or creating cooperation between groups or individuals to get something accomplished for the benefit of the community.
These same kinds of coalitions can be used to perpetrate evil. In communist and fascist countries, people spy on and report their neighbors for real and imagined acts. In these cases, as in Nazi Germany, children are taught to inform on their own parents and siblings. Family members who resist the party line can land in jail or worse.
The role of a physician, a doctor, is to save life. A positive example of “power with” is Dr. Jonas Salk, who used his power to stop a dread disease, polio, from killing millions of children. Developing the polio vaccine, he used the power of persuasion to convince medical experts and government leaders that his discovery could save millions of lives. He used his power “with” the power of others to make the vaccine available worldwide. Edward R. Murrow the dean of CBS reporters, wanted to know if Salk did it for the money. In 1955, in televised interview, he asked Salk who owned the patent for the vaccine. The image shows Salk was surprised. He said, “Well, the people, I guess. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
On the other hand, even before the establishment of the Third Reich, German doctors were the staunchest supporters of the Nazis. Starting in 1929, they were the first to kill “defective” German babies on Hitler’s orders. By 1942, 45 percent of non-Jewish German doctors were members of the Nazi Party, a higher percentage than any other group of German professionals. These 38,000 Nazi doctors viewed killing as a therapeutic imperative. None of the German doctors who worked on human medical experiments and were tried in Nuremberg ever admitted that what they did was wrong.
What could they have been thinking when they killed all those people?
The Hippocratic Oath, taken by doctors since ancient times, is a promise not to harm patients. During war crimes trials, 23 doctors who worked in Nazi concentration camps were found guilty of breaching the code of medical ethics by performing horrifying medical experiments on prisoners. This led to discussions regarding ethical treatment of human subjects, and outlined the ethics of medical research with regard to the human rights of these subjects.
In Auschwitz and other death and concentration camps, German doctors sold on Nazi ideology chose who would live long enough to be worked to death and who would be gassed, shot or hanged immediately. They also performed medical experiments on human beings without their consent, rarely using anesthetics. Among them were experiments to determine how quickly a poison or disease can kill, how long it takes a human being to freeze, and why twins do or don’t have the same traits. These experiments were mostly about discovering effective ways to kill. Ironically, some of the life-saving techniques used in medicine today came from some of those terrible, terrible experiments.
In the 1930s, when medical experiments based on race were conducted in the United States, no one admitted wrongdoing. On July 25, 1972, Associated Press reporter Jean Heller revealed the top-secret Tuskegee Syphilis Study that allowed a focus group of black men to go untreated for their disease. She wrote: “For 40 years, the U.S. Public Health Service has conducted a study in which human guinea pigs, not given proper treatment, have died of syphilis and its side effects…”
One of the results of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials was the notion of “informed consent.” In the United States, doctors cannot perform a medical service or procedure on you unless they tell you what is going to happen to you, and you must agree, in writing, before they can proceed. You also have the right to stop a procedure or treatment.
Using humans for medical experiments raises ethical issues. We need to consider the ethical dilemmas when we carry out human medical experiments to save lives today. We have to ask ourselves if assisted suicide in cases of terminal illness is acceptable. We need to ask ourselves if abortion is acceptable, and under what circumstances. Should people participate in clinical trials or drug tests, when those tests might cause them harm? Furthermore, is it ethical to suppress negative information? For instance, how do we deal with corporations that refuse to link tobacco inhalation to lung cancer and other diseases or those who “fail” to recognize dioxin as contributing to diseases in Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange? What do we do when the government fails to acknowledge troop exposure to airborne contaminants during the 1990 Gulf War and how this affected 25 percent of Gulf War veterans?7 What do we say to a government that refuses to extend health care benefits to wounded veterans and their families?
Mankind has been given the knowledge and ability to perfect the world. All we have to do is make ethical choices -- and that is not always an easy thing to do. Good and evil co-exist. If there is no sadness, how can we know happiness? If there is no disease, how can we appreciate good health? If there is no war, why would we work toward peace? And if we don’t know the difference between good and evil, how could we make the world a better place? Our responsibility is to resist the lure of the dark side.
Excerpted from: Why Should I Care? Lessons from the Holocaust, By Jeanette Friedman and David Gold
Visit their site at www.whyshouldicareontheweb.com

Friday, January 15, 2010

One-stop shop for cybercrime

Welcome to DarkMarket – global one-stop shop for cybercrime and banking fraud

• Personal data and tutorials in hacking offered online
• Founder of site traced to London internet cafe

Renukanth Subramaniam, 33, is accused of being a key figure in running DarkMarket, a website where criminals exchanged information on stolen credit cards and other data. Photograph: Serious Organised Crime Agency/AP

To the casual observer, there was little to distinguish the Java Bean internet cafe in Wembley from the hundreds of others dotted around the capital. But to surveillance officers staking it out month after month, this unremarkable venue was the key to busting a remarkable and sophisticated network of cyber criminals.

From the bank of computers inside, a former pizza bar worker ran an international cyber "supermarket" selling stolen credit card and account details costing the banking industry tens of millions.

Renukanth Subramaniam, 33, was revealed today as the founder and a major "orchestrator" of the secret ­DarkMarket website, where elite fraudsters bought and sold personal data, after it was infiltrated by the FBI and the US Secret Service.

Membership was strictly by invitation. But once vetted, its 2,000 vendors and buyers traded everything from card details, obtained through hacking, phishing and ATM skimming devices, to viruses with which buyers could extort money by threatening company websites.

The top English language cybercrime site in the world, it offered online tutorials in account takeovers, credit card deception and money laundering. Equipment – including false ATM and pin machines and everything needed to set up a credit card factory – was available.

It even featured breaking-news-style updates on the latest compromised material available, while criminals could buy banner adverts to promote their wares.

So vast was its reach, with members in the UK, Canada, US, Russia, Turkey, Germany and France, the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which helped bust it, said it was "impossible" to put a figure on how much it cost banks worldwide.

Subramaniam, who used the online soubriquet JiLsi, was remanded in custody at his own request at Blackfriars crown court today after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and five counts of furnishing false information. Judge John Hillen warned it was "inevitable" he faced a "substantial custodial sentence".

A Sri Lankan-born British citizen, Subramaniam was a former member of ShadowCrew, DarkMarket's forerunner, which was uncovered by the US Secret Service in 2004. "JiLsi was one of the highest in cybercrime in this country with what he managed to achieve setting up a forum globally. No JiLsi, no DarkMarket," said one Soca investigator.

Its 2,000 members never met in real life. Quality, not quantity, was the key. DarkMarket was fastidious in banning "rippers" who would cheat other criminals. Honour among thieves was paramount.

It operated an "escrow" service, with payments and goods exchanged through a third party – "like a PayPal for criminals", the judge observed, and an arbitration service resolved disputes. To keep off the radar, the rules were strict: no firearms, drugs or counterfeit currency.

Built on a pyramid structure, administrators decided who joined, moderators ran specific site sections, and reviewers vetted wannabes – each demanding 5% or £250 per transaction as a fixer's fee.

To get on, criminals had to present details of 100 compromised cards free of charge - 50 to one reviewer, 50 to another. Reviewers would test the cards and write an online review of customer satisfaction – just like eBay customers. "If the cards did what they were supposed to … they would be recommended. If not they weren't allowed in," said the investigator.

Payment was via accounts on WebMoney, or E-Gold. "It was the QuickTime method of sending money anywhere."

Subramaniam was one of the top administrators. He kept his operating system on memory sticks. But when one was stolen, costing him £100,000 in losses and compromising the site's security, he was downgraded to reviewer. Surveillance officers caught him logging on to the website as JiLsi unaware the fellow criminal MasterSplyntr he was talking to was, in fact, an FBI agent called Keith Mularski.

Considerable money was exchanged, though actual transactions took place away from the site for security reasons. One buyer spent £250,000 on stolen personal information in just six weeks.

Described as "a very quiet man", Subramaniam worked at Pizza Hut and as a dispatch courier. "He owned three houses but was largely itinerant," said Sharon Lemon, Soca deputy director. "The key to investigations of this sort is finding the evidence to connect the online persona with a living, breathing person."

Harendra de Silva QC, defending Subramaniam, said the "evidence was unchallenged" but said the "question of interpretation does arise in certain areas" and there would be submissions on "nuance" of the fraud in so far as it applied to his client. He is charged alongside John McHugh, 66, known as Devilman, also a site reviewer who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and at whose Doncaster home officers found a credit card-making factory. The two will be sentenced later.

But the battle against cybercrime continues. "This was one of the top 10 sites in the world, but there are more than 100 we know of globally, and another 100 we don't yet know of," said the investigators.
In the DarkMarket

DarkMarket price list

Trusted vendors on DarkMarket offered a smorgasbord of personal data, viruses, and card-cloning kits at knockdown prices. Going rates were:

Dumps Data from magnetic stripes on batches of 10 cards. Standard cards: $50. Gold/platinum: $80. Corporate: $180.

Card verification values Information needed for online transactions. $3-$10 depending on quality.

Full information/change of billing Information needed for opening or taking over account details. $150 for account with $10,000 balance. $300 for one with $20,000 balance.

Skimmer Device to read card data. Up to $7,000.

Bank logins 2% of available balance.

Hire of botnet Software robots used in spam attacks. $50 a day.

Credit card images Both sides of card. $30 each.

Embossed card blanks $50 each.

Holograms $5 per 100.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The 'Israelification' of airports: High security, little bother

December 30, 2009

Cathal Kelly

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

"It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He's worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for — not for hours — but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, 'We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport."

That, in a nutshell is "Israelification" - a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

"The first thing you do is to look at who is coming into your airport," said Sela.

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate — what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with play-doh in it and two pens stuck in the play-doh. That is 'Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Ducheneau, 'What would you do?' And he said, 'Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, 'Oh. My. God.'

"Take Pearson. Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic — which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, 'Two days.'"

A screener at Ben-Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain 'bomb boxes'. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

That's the process — six layers, four hard, two soft. The goal at Ben-Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in a maximum of 25 minutes.

This doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Abdulmutallab would not have gotten past Ben Gurion Airport's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, 'So far, so good'. Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable

"But, what can you do? Americans and Canadians are nice people and they will do anything because they were told to do so and because they don't know any different."