Gandhi On Mars

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Do you believe?

Mahatma Gandhi’s face etched on Mars

An Italian space buff has claimed to have spotted the face of Mahatma Gandhi etched into the the rocks of Mars while scanning through latest pictures of the Red Planet.

Matteo Lanneo was surveying the amazing pictures sent from Europe’s Mars Orbiter back to Earth when he came across this uncanny resemblance to the father of the Indian nation, Daily Mail reported.

The head appears to have a moustache and shaven head and prominent eyebrows, just like Mahatma Gandhi, it quoted Lanneo as saying.

See also:
‘Face of Gandhi’ Found On Google Mars
It’s Mars-hatma Gandhi! Father of India’s image is spotted on Red Planet
Mahatma Gandhi’s face seen on Mars!
Gandhi’s ‘face’ found on Google Mars
Face of Gandhi Found On Google Mars
The man on Mars is Gandhi!
Mahatma Gandhi’s face seen on Mars!
Is that Mahatma Gandhi’s face on Mars?
Gandhi Living It Up On Mars?

In the old days, people were content to find images of famous people in their food. Now, apparently, the new fad is to find them on Mars. Hey, whatever gets you your fifteen minutes of attention I guess.

/how long before someone finds the holy grail of pareidolia, an image of Jesus on Mars?


Have We Attacked China Yet?

No sooner was it publicly revealed that the United States would now treat damaging cyberattacks by other nations as an act of war, threatening retaliation with conventional weapons, the new, bold, some say foolish, policy, was immediately put to the test.

China Google hackers’ goal: Spying on U.S. Govt.

It’s the second time Google has blamed a major computer hacking scheme on China, reports CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

This time Google says unknown hackers from Jinan, China, a city with a military command center, stole the personal Gmail passwords of hundreds of senior U.S .government officials.

Google said the hackers’ “goal” was to eavesdrop on the officials — “to monitor the content of the users’ emails.”

That suggestion — of spying — rang alarm bells in the Administration.

“These allegations are very serious,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “We take them seriously. We’re looking into them.”

See also:
Clinton: Google’s China Hacking Claims ‘Very Serious’
Hillary Clinton says FBI will probe Gmail hacker attack
US Investigating Google Claim of China Hacking
FBI Investigating Google Claim that China Hacked Them
Google breach gives way to diplomatic, high-tech tensions
China Denies Accessing High Profile Gmail Accounts
Google’s groundless accuses hurt global trust on Internet
The Google-China Saga Continues
Admin: Gmail phishers stalked victims for months
Gmail Hack Targeted White House
Cyber war: Google, China in fresh spat over email hacking
Google, what exactly is the China connection for the phishing scare?
Is Google an agent of the US Government? It certainly gives that impression

So far, the U.S. has uncovered a successful espionage phishing expedition, against top level U.S. Government officials, tracked back to a specific Chinese city. Why aren’t we bombing China, isn’t this a perfect situation to show how our new military policy will treat hacking intrusions like this as acts of war? Unfortunately for us, China denies the attack and, as I pointed out yesterday, it’s extremely difficult to be absolutely sure as to the origins of cyberattacks like this, so we do nothing and our brand new policy looks foolish and radiates national weakness.

/instead of making toothless threats to send missile strikes in response to hack attacks, why don’t we just send the Chinese back a nice Stuxnet worm or take down Baidu with a complimentary DoS attack

Watson Wins!

Okay, so it’s only a practice round but, nonetheless, it’s pretty damn impressive. Just remember, these aren’t ordinary Jeopardy! Champions that Watson is beating like a drum, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are the top two all time Jeopardy! Champions.

Computer beats Jeopardy! champs – is world domination far behind?

IBM recently created a supercomputer named Watson that will compete against humans in the “Jeopardy!: IBM Challenge.”

The other two contestants? Previous “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive matches, and Brad Rutter, who won a record-breaking $3.3 million as a contestant. The televised match will air in February, but today IBM offered a teaser in a three-round test battle.

Watson has been in the works for approximately four years. It is powered by 10 racks of IBM servers and has 15 terabytes of RAM. However, Google or KGB are no help to the machine, as it’s not connected to the Internet. Instead, it gets its information from myriad encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, and other sources of information it has digested. According to IBM, Watson has access to the equivalent of 200 million pages of content.

Watson also works just like a human contestant would: he has a buzzer and answers in the form of a question. Although as a bonus for the audience, the top three answers that Watson believes are correct are projected on a screen, giving insight into its decision-making process.

The results of the today’s match shouldn’t be too surprising. Tech blog
reports that no question went answered incorrectly by any of the contestants, but the computer beat the human champs, as Watson led with $4,400, Jennings was second with $3,400, and Rutter rounded out the scoring with $1,200.

See also:
IBM’s Watson supercomputer destroys all humans in Jeopardy practice round (video!)
IBM’s Jeopardy supercomputer beats humans in practice bout
IBM’s Watson wins Jeopardy practice round: Can humans hang?
Are You Smarter Than A Computer The Size Of 10 Refrigerators?
Machine Bests Man in “Jeopardy!” Practice Round
Domo arigato, Mr. Watson: IBM computer takes on ‘Jeopardy’
Jeopardy! supercomputer: Is the next game show champ a machine?
The computer wore Jeopardy’s buzzer
Computer wins first test against 2 ‘Jeopardy!’ champs
The DeepQA Project
Watson Research Center
I’ll Take Machines That Play Jeopardy For $500, Trebek

Did you watch the way Watson destroyed those two hapless human Jeopardy! champions? Instead of Jeapardy! trivia, they should stuff Watson full of all the known economic, military, scientific, and political knowledge.

/I’d vote for Watson over Obama for President in 2012, America would be a much safer and more prosperous country

I’ll Take Machines That Play Jeopardy For $500, Trebek

What is Watson, Alex?

IBM supercomputer to appear on ‘Jeopardy’

What is the end of the world?

For some, it would be dedicating your life to appear on a TV game show. For others, it would be creating a machine that can prove itself better than anyone who dedicates their life to appear on a TV game show.

For myself, it seems clear that IBM has created something that will be the apogee of appointment television by honing a supercomputer to compete with the finest mailmen, insurance brokers, and nurses to prove that it can, well, find the question in the answer.

Yes, IBM’s Watson is, according to The New York Times, to appear on “Jeopardy!”!

Eric Brown, Watson’s research manager, said on the IBM video here embedded: “A question can be posed in natural language and, having read a whole bunch of information, data, documents, it can come up with a very precise answer to that question.”

This does sound very slightly like a large box of Google with human tendencies.

One of the Watson team members describes it in extremely romantic terms. He posits the “Jeopardy!” appearance as a competition between a human, who is all “carbon and water,” and Watson, rippling with its silicon and its unslippable disk.

See also:
Supercomputer plays ‘Jeopardy’
This supercomputer plans to beat humans on Jeopardy!
VIDEO: IBM’s Supercomputer to go on Jeopardy!
IBM’s Jeopardy! computer plays to win (and does)
There’s Nothing Elementary About IBM’s Remarkable Watson
What Is I.B.M.’s Watson?
IBM invites you to outwit supercomputer
The DeepQA Project
Watson Research Center

Oh sure, it’s a cute publicity stunt, man versus machine and all.

/but can Watson beat Ken Jennings?

Thank You Director Obvious!

Intelligence officials say al-Qaeda will try to attack U.S. in next 6 months

The Obama administration’s top intelligence officials on Tuesday described it as “certain” that al-Qaeda or its allies will try to attack the United States in the next six months, and they called for new flexibility in how U.S. officials detain and question terrorist suspects.

The officials, testifying before the Senate intelligence committee, also warned of increased risk of cyber-attacks in the coming months, saying that the recent China-based hacking of Google’s computers was both a “wake-up call” and a forerunner to future strikes aimed at businesses or intended to cause economic disruption.

“Al-Qaeda maintains its intent to attack the homeland — preferably with a large-scale operation that would cause mass casualties, harm the U.S. economy or both,” Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told the committee in a hearing convened to assess threats against the country.

See also:
Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Intel chief: al-Qaeda likely to attempt attack
Officials Warn al Qaeda ‘Certain’ to Try Attack Soon
Intelligence Officials Warn Attempted Al Qaeda Attack Months Away
Al-Qaeda Likely to Try U.S. Attack Within Six Months (Update2)
Intelligence chiefs: Al Qaeda attack imminent
Al-Qaeda ‘to attempt US attack soon’
Senators Warned of Terrorist Attack on U.S. by July
Concerns grow over Al Qaeda’s group in Yemen
U.S. flying blind as intel chief says terror attack likely within six months

Al Qaeda still wants to launch attacks against the U.S. homeland at the earliest possible opportunity, really? You mean they haven’t given up on their global jihad against Western civilization? I’m shocked I tell you, shocked!

/in other breaking news, water is wet, fire is hot, and [expletive deleted] stinks

The Cyberwar Rages 24/7

Corporations’ cyber security under widespread attack, survey finds

Around the world, corporations’ computer networks and control systems are under “repeated cyberattack, often from high-level adversaries like foreign nation-states,” according to a new global survey of information technology executives.

The attacks include run-of-the-mill viruses and other “malware” that routinely strike corporate defenses, but also actions by “high-level” adversaries such as “organized crime, terrorists, or nation states,” a first-time global survey by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington has found. More than half of the 600 IT managers surveyed, who operate critical infrastructure in 14 countries, reported that their systems have been hit by such “high-level” attacks, the survey concludes.

A large majority, 59 percent, said they believed that foreign governments or their affiliates had already been involved in such attacks or in efforts to infiltrate important infrastructure – such as refineries, electric utilities, and banks – in their countries.

Such attacks, the survey said, include sophisticated denial-of-service attacks, in which an attacker tries to so overwhelm a corporate network with requests that the network grinds to a halt.

But they also include efforts to infiltrate a company. Fifty-four percent of the IT executives said their companies’ networks had been targets of stealth attacks in which infiltration was the intent. In two-thirds of those cases, the IT managers surveyed said company operations had been harmed.

The IT managers also believed that these “stealthy” attacks were conducted by “nation states” targeting their proprietary data, says the survey’s main author, CSIS fellow Stewart Baker, in a phone interview. Mr. Baker is a cybersecurity expert formerly with the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.

“It’s all the same kind of stuff – spear-phishing, malware, taking over the network and downloading-whatever-you-want kind of attack,” he says. “Over half of these executives believe they’ve been attacked with the kind of sophistication you’d expect from a nation state.”

The CSIS report describes such attacks as “stealthy infiltration” of a company’s networks by “a high-level adversary” akin to a “GhostNet,” or large spy ring featuring “individualized malware attacks that enabled hackers to infiltrate, control and download large amounts of data from computer networks.” The GhostNet attacks, which Canadian researchers attributed to Chinese state-run agencies, bear similarities to recent attacks on Google and other high-tech companies, Baker says. Google attributed attacks on it to entities in China.

Read the report:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War

See also:
In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber War
Report: Critical Infrastructures Under Constant Cyberattack Globally
Utilities, Refineries and Banks Are Victims of Cyber Attacks, Report Says
Critical Infrastructure under Siege from Cyber Attacks
Critical Infrastructure Vulnerable To Attack
Critical Infrastructure Security a Mixed Bag, Report Finds
Report shows cyberattacks rampant; execs concerned
Key infrastructure often cyberattack target: survey
Critical infrastructure execs fear China
SCADA system, critical infrastructure security lacking, survey finds

Ironically, the more dependent we become on interconnected network technology, the more vulnerable we become too.

/so keep your fingers crossed and your computers patched against hacking and intrusion, at least you can do your part to avoid being part of the problem

Microsoft Cleans Up After Chinese Hack Of Google, Obama Turns The Other Cheek

Microsoft to release patch for IE hole on Thursday

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it will release on Thursday a patch to fix the latest hole in Internet Explorer that was used in the China-based attack on Google and for which an exploit has been released on the Internet since last week.

The company plans to release the patch as close to 10 a.m. PST on Thursday as possible and host a public Webcast at 1 p.m. PST, according to the security advisory.

Microsoft continues to see limited attacks and has only seen evidence of successful attacks against Internet Explorer 6, according to Jerry Bryant, senior security program manager at Microsoft.

“This is a standard cumulative update, accelerated from our regularly scheduled February release, for Internet Explorer with an aggregate severity rating of Critical,” he said in a statement.

“It addresses the vulnerability related to recent attacks against Google and a small subset of corporations, as well as several other vulnerabilities. Once applied, customers are protected against the known attacks that have been widely publicized,” Bryant said. “We recommend that customers install the update as soon as it is available. For customers using automatic updates, this update will automatically be applied once it is released.”

Vulnerable software is IE 6 on Microsoft Windows 2000 and IE 6, 7, and 8 on supported editions of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft said.

So, while China continues its relentless, covert cyberwar against U.S. and other Western commercial, government, and military targets, stealing information and secrets and causing economic and national security damage to our computer networks, guess what the Obama administration has decided to do, against the advice of U.S. intelligence officials and experts?

China removed as top priority for spies

The White House National Security Council recently directed U.S. spy agencies to lower the priority placed on intelligence collection for China, amid opposition to the policy change from senior intelligence leaders who feared it would hamper efforts to obtain secrets about Beijing’s military and its cyber-attacks.

The downgrading of intelligence gathering on China was challenged by Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta after it was first proposed in interagency memorandums in October, current and former intelligence officials said.

The decision downgrades China from “Priority 1” status, alongside Iran and North Korea, to “Priority 2,” which covers specific events such as the humanitarian crisis after the Haitian earthquake or tensions between India and Pakistan.

The National Security Council staff, in response, pressed ahead with the change and sought to assure Mr. Blair and other intelligence chiefs that the change would not affect the allocation of resources for spying on China or the urgency of focusing on Chinese spying targets, the officials told The Washington Times.

White House National Security Council officials declined to comment on the intelligence issue. Mike Birmingham, a spokesman for Mr. Blair, declined to comment. A CIA spokesman also declined to comment.

But administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the new policy is part of the Obama administration’s larger effort to develop a more cooperative relationship with Beijing.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin Advance Notification for January 2010
New IE hole exploited in attacks on U.S. firms
Microsoft Scrambles to Patch Browser
Microsoft patching “Google hack” flaw in IE tomorrow
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS10-002 Coming Thursday for IE Zero-Day
Microsoft to issue “Google attack” browser patch
Microsoft to issue emergency IE patch Thursday
Microsoft will issue emergency IE patch on Thursday
China removed as top priority for spies
China no longer top priority for intelligence gathering: White House
‘China no longer top priority for intelligence gathering’
China: Still an Intelligence Priority

Relax, don’t worry, the country is in the very best of hands.

/Obama’s NSC, more than a dozen morons stuffed in a four passenger clown car