On April 21, 2010, beginning at approximately 14:00 UTC, millions of computers worldwide running Windows XP Service Pack 3 were affected by an erroneous virus definition file update by McAfee, resulting in the removal of a Windows system file (svchost.exe) on those machines, causing machines to lose network access and, in some cases, enter a reboot loop. Mcafee rectified this by removing and replacing the faulty DAT file, version 5958, with an emergency DAT file, version 5959 and has posted a fix for the affected machines in their consumer knowledge base. The University of Michigan’s medical school reported that 8,000 of its 25,000 computers crashed. Police in Lexington, Ky., resorted to hand-writing reports and turned off their patrol car terminals as a precaution. Some jails canceled visitation, and Rhode Island hospitals turned away non-trauma patients at emergency rooms and postponed some elective surgeries. Australian supermarket behemoth Coles reported that 10 percent (1,100) of its point-of-sales terminals were affected and was forced to shut down stores in both western and southern parts of the country.
The hacks are troubling in that they appear to have rendered useless supposedly sophisticated Defense Department tools and procedures designed to prevent such breaches. The department and its branches spend millions of dollars each year on pricey security and antivirus software and employ legions of experts to deploy and manage the tools.
Equally troubling is the fact that the hacks appear to have originated outside the United States. Turkey is known to harbor significant elements of the al-Qaida network. It was not clear if “m0sted” has links to the terrorist group.
I was writing an assignment for a class on Information Security, when I came across this little gem. As soon as I read it I laughed and thought of all the times my Dad said that he never did anything to the computer, it just broke on its own.
Hushmail, a Canadian company providing email security using PGP, has released to the US government unencrypted email communications. This respresents a violation of users’ trust in the company. I had an account with them, I will delete all my mail, and close that account. I will only trust my own computer for safe email sending/receiving. No longer will I trust the ‘security’ and ‘privacy’ of a third-party.
The DEA agents received three CDs which contained decrypted emails for the targets of the investigation that had been decrypted as part of a mutual legal assistance treaty between the United States and Canada.
The news will be embarrassing to the company, which has made much of its ability to ensure that emails are not read by the authorities.
Typically, when you ‘delete’ a file, you are only detaching the link from your filesystem to the actually binary data on the physical platters of your hard drive. The data aren’t really gone. The filesystem declares this space as ‘free’ or ‘available’, and so only goes away when that space is overwritten by new data.
If you’ve ever desire to truly delete a file, then download file shredder. It allows you you select and right click any file, and it automatically overrights them with random data, stuffs it full of zeros, and then deletes it. This prevents anyone from ever recovering that file with forensic software. Larger files take longer to shred, but are usually shredded in under 1 minute. If I coulf find the author’s email, I’d ask him/her to add a right-click to “shred all files in the recycle bin.”