26 December 2008

School Choices - Stress Increases

As reported in the NY Times: Middle School Scramble - New York has created hundreds of new schools and centralized the admission process but noe of thsi has diminshed every parents fear that "picking the wrong school could dash their children's chances for a top high school"

The downturn will likely add to the anxiety and fear and it remains a high stakes activity that is for many parents myself included a stressful and difficult exercise

23 December 2008

Space is Weaponized

In an thoughtful piece from Stratfor they review the history of space and weaponization and specifically the "Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies” (better known as the Outer Space Treaty) which loosely restricted the miltarization of space and prohibited nuclear weapons in outer space

As they state
Today, it is a cornerstone of global military communications and navigation....... Imagery from space-based surveillance platforms has become commonplace and the Defense Support Program constellation continually monitors the surface of the earth for the launch plume of a ballistic missile. It is an incredibly valuable military domain. And just as it has become more valuable, the United States has become increasingly dependent on it.
They argue and I would agree at this point in time space is weaponized and there is a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system in place (albeit launched from earth). At some point in the future we will see a more complete weaponization and space based weapons:
The Pentagon intends to dominate space the same way it dominates the world’s oceans: largely passively, allowing the free flow of international traffic, but with overwhelming and unchallenged military superiority. That will include not only defending assets in space, but holding those of a potential adversary at risk. Currently, Washington can do much of this from the ground; it is not only able to
destroy a satellite with a BMD interceptor, it is also honing the technology to deny and disrupt access to space systems.

08 December 2008

School Teacher Risking Hard Time for School Computer Infected with Malware

If you ever wonder why I get worked up about computer security it is stories of the authorities with little or no understanding chasing after poor innocents stuck with poor software and unprotected computer systems

Cringley posted a couple of clogs - the first here and then a follow up here on the Connecticut Julia Amero case where they went after a school teacher after the PC she was using exploded with pop ups of porn.
Amero's "crime": In October 2004, the substitute teacher from Norwich, Conn., was surfing the Net on a computer inside a middle school classroom when porn ads began popping up all over the screen. She didn't turn the computer off, because school officials expressly told her not to. Someone reported the incident, and Amero was charged with four counts of endangering minors. In January 2007, a jury convicted Amero of surfing XXX sites in the classroom.
You can see the summary here (pdf) which details the findings from a group of volunteer security experts reviewing a Disk Image (but refused access to the firewall server logs)

The PC itself was described as:
Windows 98 PC described by another security wonk as a "pile of living dog **** with absolutely no protection on it"
Familiar story.......thanks to Sunbelt software and their CEO Alex Eckelberry she had the charge "reduced" and just paid a fine but the state refused to admit any wrongdoing.

Be warned even if the company or school or office advice is to leave the PC on it might just be better to turn it off rather than have exploding pop up windows appearing on the PC that are deemed to be your fault. I wonder who it was that originally complained. I have seen this on friends PC's, on home PC's and elsewhere and even with skilled technical resources it can be next to impossible to get rid of this level of infection.