Sep 12, 2008 | 13
As the first particles began circulating in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week, a group of hackers calling themselves the "Greek Security Team" penetrated computer systems inside CERN's Geneva, Switzerland, facility, where the world's biggest particle accelerator is housed, the Telegraph.co.uk reported today.
The hackers were reportedly targeting the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment (CMS), a device in Cessy, France, built to monitor a wide range of particles and phenomena produced in high-energy collisions in the LHC. The 12,500-ton detector's different layers (weighing, according to CERN, as much as 30 jumbo jets or 2,500 African elephants) stop and measure the different particles, and use this data to form a picture of events at the heart of the collision. Scientists plan to use the info to help answer questions about what the universe is really made of and what forces act within it.
On Wednesday, as the LHC was revving up, CMS engineers searched computers for half a dozen files uploaded by the hackers. The interlopers accessed the computer that monitors the CMS software system as the CMS collects data during particle collisions.
CERN scientists says no harm was done but that the break-in raises security concerns, given that intruders were able to penetrate so close to the CMS's computer control system, according to the Telegraph.co.uk. In other words, the hackers came this close to being able to switch off some CMS controls.
"We are 2600 - dont mess with us. (sic)," the group warned in a message to CERN engineers. The "2600" refers to a U.S. magazine published quarterly that appeals to the hackers worldwide by publishing technical information about telephone switching systems, the Internet and other technology, as well as computer-related news. The mindset behind the sharing of this information is to find vulnerabilities in the computer systems used by government and industry and force them to improve their security by exploiting their flaws. In fact, 2600 has become a brand in the hacker world: in addition to 2600: The Hacker Quarterly; an organization known as 2600 hosts hacker conferences and there's even a film company of that name that's made a documentary on legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick.
Given the huge interest not to mention the enormity of the LHC's task, it's "highly disturbing" that hackers were able to compromise and change data on its Web site, Graham Cluley, security researcher with Sophos Plc (a security services firm based in both the UK and Burlington, Mass.) wrote in his blog today. "Theoretically," he noted, "hackers could have planted malicious code which could have stolen identities or installed malware onto the computers of millions of web visitors."
Image courtesy of CERN
Sep 9, 2008
The Tech Museum of Innovation today named 25 laureates as winners of its 2008 Tech Award for using technology to "benefit humanity and spark global change." The awards are broken down into five categories (education, equality, environment, economic development and health); Tech Awards executive director Lee Wilkerson says that in November one winner in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during an awards ceremony in San Jose, Calif.
This year's education awards (started in 2000) recognize a technology in India that records classroom lessons and distributes the videos to areas of the country where there are few or no schools; a program that chronicles Arctic expeditions live via the Web; a Web site that delivers art lessons through interactive video conferencing; a site where lesson plans can be shared worldwide; and software that enables a PC to render two-dimensional images written using a special light pen on the computer screen into 3D images in real-time. [see picture]
Aug 27, 2008 | 2
Computer viruses—the scourge of technology on Earth—have now become a problem in space, too. NASA has confirmed that the malevolent programs have also posed problems in computers astronauts bring with them on missions, the latest occurring when laptops infected with the Gammima.AG virus were ferried to the International Space Station (ISS) last month. The possible source, according to SpaceRef.com: a software download, a personal flash card or USB storage device. The site also reports that some laptops used in the ISS lack virus protection and detection software.
Aug 5, 2008 | 9
In a move that could backfire, according to one security expert, Apple pulled out of a prominent hackers' convention taking place this week in Las Vegas.
Apple abruptly canceled what would have been its first appearance at Black Hat, an annual event in Las Vegas that features presentations from the world's most preeminent security researchers – a.k.a. hackers – according to Computerworld. Speakers typically highlight security shortcomings in a number of different technologies, including operating systems, e-mail and the Internet itself. Taking one's lumps at Black Hat is a rite* of passage in a technology's security evolution, as companies like Microsoft and networking equipment maker Cisco will attest.
Jul 18, 2008 | 1
Computer programmers, researchers and students descended on New York City's Hotel Pennsylvania today for the HOPE conference, a forum for all things related to security, including a healthy dose of sessions devoted to breaking security. This year's conference is dubbed the "Last HOPE" because the Hotel Pennsylvania is shutting down. Apparently there aren't any other suitable venues in the whole of Manhattan for dozens of computer whizzes with a penchant for mischief, such as jamming cell phone signals and locking elevator doors. The hotel was a cheap gig for the conference organizers and willing to put up with these high-tech shenanigans.
Turns out, hackers (they don't like to be called "hackers" because it's a cliché and implies they're breaking the law, even though much of what they do is perfectly legal) have lots of questions about how the law applies to their work. This is particularly true when it comes to "botnets," legions of computers that have been turned into obedient zombies and are used by criminals to attack other computers.
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