Cyber theft up, expected to climb

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN JOSE – It was the year when cybercriminals targeted everything from MySpace to Wikipedia, and even a Web site maintained by a Kentucky Boy Scout troop wasn’t safe for casual browsing. Computer security experts said 2006 was also the year that hacking stopped being a hobby and became a lucrative profession practiced by an underground of computer developers and software sellers. Like true business people, bad guys not only broadened their reach by attacking popular social networking sites, they also diversified their product line by launching attacks through popular software applications like PowerPoint and Adobe Reader and expanded their activities overseas. Software makers who try to stop online crooks say they are bracing for a new level of nastiness this year, including malicious Web sites that are booby-trapped with software that automatically loads itself onto machines of users who just visit a site. “Hackers realize they have a limited time before their attacks are blocked, so they are opening up their arsenal and trying everything possible,” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer of Finjan Software, an Internet security company headquartered in San Jose. Alex Eckelberry, president of Sunbelt Software, predicts attackers will target Windows Vista, Microsoft’s new operating system. “The problem is Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet and said, `We have a secure operating system,”‘ he said. Eckelberry, whose company is developing software for Vista, said his developers have already found bugs – an indication that the software could be vulnerable. Microsoft has already acknowledged one Vista flaw. Meanwhile, the criminal underground has begun peddling information about Vista’s vulnerabilities – one of the many ways that unscrupulous programmers have found to profit from their expertise. Other scams include combining a traditional pump-and-dump stock scam with the takeover of online brokerage accounts, and renting out vast networks of zombie computers, known as botnets, to other digital desperados. “The first viruses were nothing but mischief,” said David Moll, chief executive of Webroot Software. “Now that there is money to be made, it has changed the game entirely.” “Cybercriminals are now more creative, organized and business-savvy,” according to a recent report from Websense, a San Diego computer-security company. “True `companies’ have emerged, producing and selling toolkits and developing business-partner programs that enable less-technical, `traditional’ criminals to steal data and make money – lots of it.” It used to be that the biggest cyberthreats came from e-mails infected with pernicious worms and viruses. No longer. According to Ben-Itzhak of Finjan Software, the Web itself is spreading infections, thanks to tens of thousands of sites carrying code that is designed to let an outsider steal information from someone’s computer. Some of the code is designed so that it automatically downloads itself the minute a user accesses a Web page. Other sites prompt a user to accept what seems to be legitimate software but is actually a malicious program. Microsoft’s security team removed 10 million pieces of malicious software from nearly 4 million computers during the first half of 2006. last_img

Man United 0-0 Chelsea: Hope for Van Gaal? Improved Red Devils held in entertaining stalemate

first_img Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal 1 Manchester United may have handed under-pressure manager Louis van Gaal a stay of execution as a much improved Red Devils side outplayed Chelsea, although they were unable to end their winless run in another frustrating goalless draw.Having suffered perhaps their lowest point in Van Gaal’s reign with a Boxing Day defeat to Stoke, reports leading into today’s Bank Holiday Monday clash suggested the Dutchman would be sacked if they lost against the below-par Blues at Old Trafford.But The Red Devils bounced back to put in one of their most spirited performances of the season which saw the hosts twice denied by the woodwork from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial, while both goalkeepers pulled off some fine saves in an entertaining encounter.The primary cause of fan unrest under Van Gaal’s regime has been the lack of attacking football, but they were not left wanting this time around in an electric opening period at the Theatre of Dreams.An invigorated United moved the ball well and enjoyed a lot of freedom down the flanks in the early stages which allowed Juan Mata the first sight of goal against his former club.Latching onto Wayne Rooney’s clever dink, the Spaniard’s arrowed effort beat the leaping Thibaut Courtois but thumped against the crossbar.Chelsea – who started without a regonsied striker – were disjointed in midfield but, powered by the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro, proved a real threat on the break, and Ashley Young was in the right place to clear as Chelsea soon hit back on the counter, with David De Gea pulling off a brilliant one-handed save to deny John Terry’s header from the resulting corner.United, meanwhile, were more composed with the ball and a neat sequence of passing on the left saw Anthony Martial run into space and deftly cut in on his favoured right foot, only to see his fizzing low shot also clatter the woodwork. After a lively opening 20 minutes, the game soon transformed into a scrappy battle, with both sides suffering from a lack of creativity in the fina third as the majority of attacks broke down around the box before a chance could be conjured.The forward breaks which did result in a goal attempt either produced a fine save from in-form goalkeepers De Gea and Courtois or saw a good chance escape through wasteful finishing.Chelsea came quickly out of the blocks in the second-half and De Gea was soon forced into a fine double save, first denying Pedro from range with a stretched palm before blocking Cesar Azpilicueta’s quick follow-up.Courtois then did the seemingly impossible at the anther end to deny Ander Herrera what looked a certain goal; the Belgian scrambling back to block on the line as the Spaniard slid in to prod a teasing cross goalward.Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic was then guilty of a howler as he fired wildly over the bar under no pressure after bursting free from another swift Blues counter-attack.But it is captain Rooney who will be kicking himself the most as he missed a gilt-edged chance for the winner late on. The England striker was perfectly placed to nod in 18-year-old substitute Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s whipped cross at the back post, but instead decided to go for the volley and fired inexplicably over from close-range.There was little doubt United’s performance deserved all three points against a poor Chelsea side, but despite their improvement there is an undeniable air that their efforts may just be delaying the inevitable for an out-of-luck Van Gaal.last_img read more