Increasing Password Leaks, Hacking Reports – Tips and Ideas

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ImageIt’s more than just an annoyance to see the growing number of reports of password files being “leaked” or web based services being compromised by hackers. It is a serious security risk for many people – and we can’t be sure how many might be affected.

What can we think about doing that might reduce the risks? Here’s a few tips and ideas:

  1. Use different passwords everywhere. Even if you just add 3 different characters to the end of an 8-character password it can make it many times more difficult to crack.
  2. Know where you have registered! If you don’t keep bookmarks in your browser for all sites where you register, start doing that now, so that changing passwords is less of a chore in future. Sub folders for critical and less important sites can help prioritise this task.
  3. Thinking about critical sites – banking, personal information, etc – it is far better to have a different email address for these sites than the one you use for a more trivial application like Twitter.
  4. On Twitter – check your settings and revoke permissions for any apps you don’t need, use or trust. And think twice about adding vanity apps – the sort that promise to help get followers or feed your ego in some other way.
  5. On sites where you are encouraged to add “friends” consider removing inactive friends. This way, for example on Twitter, you’ll only have to contend with Direct Message spam from active users! SocialBro or one of these10 apps can help you identify them. When you’re done – revoke those permissions! If you worry about a few who might return, set up a watch using ifttt.com or add them all to a list you can monitor occasionally for activity.
  6. Finally, those sites you signed up for and now can’t be bothered with – go and delete your unused accounts.

#Egypt Overboard with “Loose Lips Sink Ships” Advert?

LooseLips-liveside.net
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Image: liveside.net

The Egyptian government is coming under criticism for a series of television adverts warning against talking to foreigners because they might be spies.

Are they being paranoid, or is there some justification for these warnings?

The Independent says:

The glossy-looking commercials, which last for about 40 seconds, feature a foreign man walking into a café and then sitting down with a group of three young Egyptians.

To a doom-laden soundtrack replete with violin crescendos and plodding drumbeats, a girl at the table starts talking to the English-speaking guest about a reported conspiracy against the army.

The curious visitor nods along, before tapping a message into his mobile phone to an unknown third party. A slogan then appears on screen saying: “Every word has a price; a word can save a nation.”

The adverts, which started appearing on state-owned and private television stations this week, have generated bemusement and anger among Egyptians and foreigners alike.

Read the rest of story here:

http://snup.us/CsA

South Africa’s MTN Group linked to Iran and Syria mobile surveillance

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Bloomberg reports: AdaptiveMobile Security Ltd. ended its contracts with an Iranian phone company following the disclosure that the closely held firm supplied and serviced technology for monitoring and storing text messages. AdaptiveMobile also supplied MTN Syria. Both the Iranian and Syrian networks are part-owned by South Africa’s MTN.

AdaptiveMobile, based in Dublin, stopped doing business with MTN Irancell, Iran’s second-largest mobile provider, as of May 24, according to United Against Nuclear Iran, a New York-based advocacy organization that pressures companies to cut business ties to Iran. The group cited an e-mail from AdaptiveMobile.

Iranian authorities use surveillance technologies to round up and interrogate political activists, according to accounts provided by victims and human rights groups. AdaptiveMobile sold technology for monitoring and storing text messages to Irancell in 2008, Bloomberg News reported last October. The company was still servicing the commercial gear. Police have access to the system, two former MTN Irancell managers said.

“We applaud AdaptiveMobile for ending its business in Iran,” said Kristen Silverberg, president of United Against Nuclear Iran, in a statement. “AdaptiveMobile has made the responsible decision, and we encourage other telecommunications companies to follow suit.”

Three AdaptiveMobile executives didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed or telephoned requests for comment. They are Brian Collins, chief executive officer; Gareth Maclachlan, chief operating officer; and Hannah Summers, who sent the e-mail to the advocacy group.

“AdaptiveMobile formally terminated all contracts with MTN Iran, and no longer has any business in the country,” Summers said in the e-mail to United Against Nuclear Iran.

2008 Transaction

The company said last year that its technologies were for fighting spam, viruses and “inappropriate content” and weren’t designed or sold for law enforcement. The company planned to cease doing business in Iran when the contract was up in late 2012, it said, because continuing the arrangement could damage its reputation.

Johannesburg-based MTN Group owns 49 percent of Irancell and operates the network.

Other authoritarian countries across the Mideast and North Africa also employ Western surveillance tools for political repression, Bloomberg reported last year.

An AdaptiveMobile document detailed the system requirements for the equipment sold in 2008 to Irancell. The technology would be used to analyze all messages in English, Persian or Arabic for keywords or phrases, store them and flag those caught by filters for review.

Syria Sale

While AdaptiveMobile executives confirmed the Irancell deal and an upgrade to the system to handle more messages, they said last year that it was intended only for commercial purposes. They denied any involvement with Iran security or police.

The Irish company told Irancell that “under no circumstances was our technology to be used for law enforcement purposes,” CEO Collins said last year in an interview.

Collins said he believed that one of Bloomberg’s sources was a former employee with an axe to grind, and that at least one of the documents in Bloomberg’s possession had been doctored, without being more specific.

AdaptiveMobile also supplied message-filtering technology to MTN Syria, the country’s second-largest mobile operator, which is 75 percent owned by MTN Group, according to four people familiar with the system, Bloomberg reported earlier this year. Amid a bloody crackdown, the Syrian government ordered blocks on text messages containing politically sensitive terms such as “revolution” or “demonstration,” according to two people familiar with the filtering systems.

At the time, Collins told Bloomberg the information was incorrect but didn’t respond to questions. Following publication of the article, AdaptiveMobile said in a statement that it hadn’t provided upgrades or new releases to Syria since 2008 and that its support agreement ended in 2011.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, during the 2009 Iranian election protests, the Chinese telecom firm Huawei carried out orders from the Iranian government on behalf of its client MTN Irancell to suspend text messaging and Skype, which is popular among political dissidents. As the anti-government protests unfolded, MTN Irancell reportedly grew more interested in acquiring location-based services, which could enable to Iranian government to track users’ locations. In August 2009, the British company Creativity Software in partnership with Huawei announced that it had won a contract to supply MTN Irancell a system with location tracking capabilities.

#Mauritania police just arrested another 3 med students

3 medical school students arrested 9 June 2012
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3 medical school students arrested 9 June 2012

National Union of Students in Mauritania just reported police detained 3 female students from the medical school of Nouakchott University and took them to Zeina 1 police station. Other female students at the scene were beaten, one of them lost consciousness and had to be taken to hospital.

Police have been harassing and detaining medical students for many weeks. They hold the “record” for the number of times their campus has been stormed by police this year – over 100.

Several students have also been expelled under extremely doubtful circumstances.