29 April, 2009

A web of deceit


Firm's managers duped customers as they lined their pockets, says report

NEW DELHI — Managers at India's Satyam Computer Services spun an elaborate web of fraud to attract customers and investors, while using stakes in the company to raise cash for themselves, according to a report by India's top investigation agency.

The deception played out over at least eight years, involved dual accounting books, more than 7,000 forged invoices, dozens of fake bank statements, thousands of unnecessary employees and auditors who received fees several times the market rate, according to a charge sheet filed by the Criminal Bureau of Investigation.

The 77-page document provides details of the scope of the fraud at Satyam, and lays out the bureau's case for charging six company managers, their PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors and an adviser with cheating, forgery and falsification of accounts.

Satyam managers, including the founding brothers B Ramalinga and B Rama Raju, "were able to attract prospective customers and investors by making them believe" that the company was "carrying out huge volumes of business", the report said.

The details of the bureau's investigation could bolster a string of class-action suits pending against Satyam managers and auditors.

Tech Mahindra, a joint venture between the Indian conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra and BT Group, won an auction to take over Satyam on April 13 with a bid valuing the company at US$1.1 billion ($1.66 billion). The deal may still need to clear regulatory hurdles in the United States and Europe.

The Raju family and their friends, which held 19 per cent of Satyam when it went public in 1992, "made hay when the sun was shining" by selling shares as they carried out the fraud, the bureau said.

More than 300 investment companies were started, some of which used loans backed by shares to invest in real estate and agriculture.

Banks issuing the loans included Deutsche Investments India, GE Capital Services and DSP Merrill Lynch.

Like many companies, Satyam had a multi-step process for taking customer orders, calculating what the work would cost and generating invoices.

Managers in different departments checked and crosschecked the figures as they passed through the system.

But employees in the accounts receivable team could also practise "emergency generating of invoices" which bypassed most of the steps, the report said.

From the beginning of April 2003 to the end of 2008, nearly 75,000 of these special invoices were created.

Of these, 7,561 were fraudulent, generated to make Satyam look as if it had more business than it did.

From 2004 until the fraud came to light when Ramalinga confessed in January this year, sales were inflated 18 per cent a quarter on average, for a total of about 42.6 billion rupees ($1.3 billion).

The Raju brothers are accused of forging receipts for bank deposits and destroying the forgeries.


From TODAY, Business – Thursday, 23-April-2009

21 April, 2009

Cyberspies hack into U.S. fighter project: report

Reuters - 1 hour 55 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Computer spies have repeatedly breached the Pentagon's costliest weapons program, the $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper quoted current and former government officials familiar with the matter as saying the intruders were able to copy and siphon data related to design and electronics systems, making it potentially easier to defend against the plane.

The spies could not access the most sensitive material, which is kept on computers that are not connected to the Internet, the paper added.

Citing people briefed on the matter, it said the intruders entered through vulnerabilities in the networks of two or three of the contractors involved in building the fighter jet.

Lockheed Martin Corp is the lead contractor. Northrop Grumman Corp and BAE Systems PLC also have major roles in the project. Lockheed Martin and BAE declined comment and Northrop referred questions to Lockheed, the paper said.

The Journal said Pentagon officials declined to comment directly on the matter, but the paper said the Air Force had begun an investigation.

The identity of the attackers and the amount of damage to the project could not be established, the paper said.

The Journal quoted former U.S. officials as saying the attacks seemed to have originated in China, although it noted it was difficult to determine the origin because of the ease of hiding identities online.

The Chinese Embassy said China "opposes and forbids all forms of cyber crimes," the Journal said.

The officials added there had also been breaches of the U.S. Air Force's air traffic control system in recent months.

From Yahoo! News - Tuesday, 21-April-2009
The original article is

My post sources

While some of my post and news sources are "forever" in the web, majority are not. In fact, they are valid only for one week - at most. On the 8th day, they are removed and replaced with new set of information. That therefore makes my content "non-duplicating".

And though I sometimes post to multiple blogs, whenever I find the information to be relevant to that relevant blog, then I do that. It is my thinking that doing so, and visiting one site, I have the information at hand, withouth having to hunt for it in all of my blog sites.

And with that, hope that you, my reader, finds value and good content in my blogs.

Happy surfing!

17 April, 2009

Email hoax on earthquake, tsunami in Asia on July 22

Channel NewsAsia - Thursday, April 16

SINGAPORE: An email is going around warning about an impending earthquake and tsunami hitting parts of Asia, including Singapore. It claims that disaster will strike on July 22, the same day as a solar eclipse.

The email says that apart from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, the giant wave may also hit countries as far as Japan, Australia and India.

But the credibility of the email is questionable. For one, it is riddled with spelling errors, and two, it does not cite any credible source.

While it is true that a solar eclipse will occur on July 22, experts said there is no connection between an eclipse and an earthquake.

Professor Kerry Sieh, director, Earth Observatory of Singapore, said: "In the last 110 years or so, there have been about 85 really big earthquakes — 8 (on the Richter magnitude scale) or greater. And only two of those occurred on the same day as an eclipse. And even those were a partial eclipse, not a total eclipse. They happened in a different place from where the eclipse happened."

While the professor does not think the email holds water, he warns that research does show that parts of Asia facing the Pacific Ocean could be hit by a tsunami. He said the impact on Singapore will be minimal, but not so for cities further up north.

"It turns out that by the time the wave produced by the underwater disturbance got to Singapore, it would be only about a metre high. But in Macau and Hong Kong, it would about 10 to 15 metres high," said Professor Sieh.

He said more work needs to be done to determine if the fault lines along the Pacific Ocean floor will break in such a way that could see a repeat of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

On July 22, those in Singapore can see a partial eclipse, beginning at about 8.40am till about 9.40am.

From Yahoo! News. Original article here.

16 April, 2009

The little card that can do it all

Advancement of the current technology, something we can all look forward to.




090408-CashCard The new contactless Nets CashCard can also be used on public transport.


COME Sept 1, you can top up your Nets CashCard at a bakery while buying a pastry.

Three local banks, DBS, OCBC and UOB, have teamed up with Nets to roll out a contactless card that combines the functions of a debit card and a cash card.

Nets is making the top-up feature available through multiple channels, such as convenience stores and coffeeshops.

Consumers can choose to top up their card at retail outlets when they make a purchase.

When the stored value of the Nets CashCard component is below the minimum amount at the time of a purchase, a top-up alert will be triggered on the terminal. Drivers can also make use of the “auto top up” feature at car parks and ERP gantries. “This new card embodies everything that we have sought to do, in giving consumers the convenience to make payment and top up anywhere,” said Nets chief executive officer Poh Mui Hoon.

The new card, which will go on trial next month, can also be used to pay for public transport on trains and buses, competing directly with the ez-link card. UOB’s head of personal financial services Eddie Khoo said the bank will be the first to launch the card in the fourth quarter of this year.

From TODAY, Business – Friday, 10-April-2009

15 April, 2009

Singapore firm sues Microsoft

MICROSOFT, the world’s largest software maker, allegedly stole a Singapore company’s patented invention used to deter piracy and should pay more than US$558 million ($847 million) in royalties, a lawyer for the firm told a United States federal court jury yesterday.

Uniloc Singapore and California-based Uniloc USA, claim Microsoft used its security technology to earn billions of dollars. Microsoft saw Uniloc’s patent and used it without permission, their lawyer, Mr Paul Hayes, told jurors yesterday during closing arguments at the District Court in Providence, Rhode Island.

Microsoft had “nothing unique going in” to create its anti-piracy software, claimed Mr Hayes, from Boston law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.

Microsoft contends that it uses a different method to prevent the use of unauthorized copies of its software. It also challenged whether Uniloc’s patent covers a new invention.

“There is no infringement in this case. The technology is fundamentally different,” said Microsoft’s attorney Frank Scherkenbach from Boston’s Fish and Richardson, in his closing argument. Microsoft claims Uniloc’s patent is obvious and should be deemed invalid.

In addition, Mr Scherkenbach said the request for more than half a billion US dollars in damages was “extreme and out of whack.” Between US$3 million and US$7 million would be “generous,” if the jury were to find infringement, he said.

The trial began on March 23 and the jury of six women and four men are scheduled to resume their deliberations today.

Uniloc claims it is entitled to US$2.50 for each of the 223 million activations of a product that has Windows XP, Office XP, Windows Server 2003 and Office 2003 sold since October 2003, when the suit was filed. Microsoft, while challenging the patent and infringement claims, said that if it lost, Uniloc should only get about 5 cents for each US activation.

Uniloc’s lawyer told the jury that such a small royalty would let Microsoft “get away with murder” and would only encourage future infringement.
- Bloomberg

From TODAY, Business – Thursday, 09-April-2009

Cyber spies have infiltrated the US

WASHINGTON — Foreign spies have infiltrated the US electrical grid, leaving behind software programs that could disrupt the system in a time of war, American national security officials have claimed.

The intruders from countries including China and Russia, were believed to be attempting to map the US electrical system and work out how it was controlled, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.

Officials said the cyber spies had not tried to damage the grid, but warned they could during a crisis or war. “The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid,” a senior intelligence official told the paper. “So have the Russians.”

The intrusion spread across the country and did not target any specific companies or regions, a former Department of Homeland Security official said.

Several of the intrusions were detected by US intelligence agencies and not by the companies in charge of the infrastructure, the officials said.

The breaches come as concern grows among the intelligence community over cyber attackers taking control of electrical facilities, a nuclear power plant or financial networks via the Internet.

More worrying was the discovery that the cyber spies had left behind software tools that could be used to destroy infrastructure components, the senior intelligence official said. He told the Wall Street Journal: “If we go to war with them, they will try to turn them on.”

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair recently told politicians: “A number of nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the US information infrastructure.”

The sophisticated cyber intrusions suggest China and Russia, say cyber security specialists. Terrorist groups have yet to mount such an attack, although they could develop the ability to do so. Russian and Chinese officials have denied any involvement.

The Daily Telegraph

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 09-April-2009

14 April, 2009

Hear us out: Academics

Network can help tackle cross-border challenges

Lin Yanqin

AN ALLIANCE of tertiary institutes, which includes the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), wants its voice to be heardby legislators and policymakers before a vote is taken on important issues.

At global summits with world leaders — such as the recently concluded G20 meeting in London and the World Economic Forum in Davos — scientists and researchers want to be represented at the discussions to offer their take on tackling transboundary issues like climate change or global food supply.

Beyond collaborating on research to create solutions to global problems, this is what members of the newly-formed Global Alliance of Technological Universities (Global Tech Alliance), launched yesterday, hope to eventually achieve.

While finance-centred universities and programmes have drawn much of the brightest talents over the last few years, the seven member alliance — California Institute of Technology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Zurich ETH), Georgia Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, NTU and Shanghai Jiao Tong University — hope to help bring the interest back to engineering and the sciences.

“Engineering has the answers to many of the problems ... and I think Global Tech can be the voice to the politicians and we talk with a global voice,” said NTU provost Bertil Andersson.

Added Imperial College director Roy Anderson: “You want to be listened to, and you’d probably be more effective nationally (and internationally) if you are part of a larger group, there’s greater strength in going to a politician and saying this is a view that is not only held in the United Kingdom, it’s held by an international alliance of experts.”

Indeed, other university alliances have made their presence felt, such as the International Alliance of Research Universities, which spoke as a bloc at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen.

For starters, the alliance will focus on creating more opportunities for student exchange, as well as for faculties to work together on research areas.

Joint undergraduate and post-graduate programmes are also on the cards, such as allowing students to take courses across the various universities to earn their degrees.

Such programmes should be interdisciplinary in nature, to more effectively tackle global problems which span more than one discipline, said Sir Roy.

The global nature of the alliance will also help to bring in “mindsets” from different regions in deriving solutions, said Zurich ETH senior vice-president for international institution affairs Gerhard Schmitt.

For instance, in developing sustainable cities in rapidly urbanising countries like China and India, it would be useful to have the perspective of the alliance’s Indian and Chinese partners, which can also more effectively communicate solutions to their respective governments in effecting change.

From TODAY, News - Wednesday, 08-April-2009

Conficker worm active, security experts say

AFP - Friday, April 10

WASHINGTON (AFP) - - The Conficker worm, believed to have burrowed into millions of computers around the world, has sent an encrypted data message to infected machines, according to a computer security firm.

Trend Micro said the purpose of the mysterious update, sent to other infected machines using peer-to-peer (P2P) file transfer software, was not immediately clear.

Ivan Macalintal, a Trend Micro advanced threats researcher, said Conficker began showing activity on Tuesday, nearly a week after the expected April 1 activation date that had computer security experts on alert around the world.

"As expected, the P2P communications of the Downad/Conficker botnet may have just been used to serve an update," Macalintal wrote in a post late Wednesday on the TrendLabs Malware blog. "The Conficker/Downad P2P communications is now running in full swing!"

Macalintal said the worm was connecting to MySpace.com, MSN.com, eBay.com, CNN.com and AOL.com to detect whether a host computer is connected to the Web.

After performing the test, it deletes any traces of itself in the infected machine, he said, adding that it is scheduled to stop running the test on May 3.

"It runs and deletes all traces, no files, no registries etc," he said.
The worm remains present on an infected machine, however, and could be activated at a later date.

Trend Micro is monitoring the worm on an infected computer as part of the Conficker Working Group of security experts.

A task force assembled by Microsoft has been working to stamp out Conficker, also referred to as DownAdUp, and the software colossus has placed a bounty of 250,000 dollars on the heads of those responsible for the threat.

The worm, a self-replicating program, takes advantage of networks or computers that haven't kept up to date with security patches for Windows.

It can infect machines from the Internet or by hiding on USB memory sticks carrying data from one computer to another.

Conficker could be triggered to steal data or turn control of infected computers over to hackers amassing "zombie" machines into "botnet" armies.

Microsoft has modified its free Malicious Software Removal Tool to detect and remove Conficker. Security firms, including Trend Micro, Symantec and F-Secure, provide Conficker removal services at their websites.

The tell-tale signs that a computer is infected includes the worm blocking efforts to connect with websites of security firms providing online tools for removing the virus.

The original article is found here.

Test post using Semagic

I installed Semagic blog post editor in one of my office PCs, and seems like it is working. I wonder why. Anyway, this machine is running XP Prof, while the one at home is running Vista.

I'll also take note of the differences, so I can make a close comparison.

Here is mah second post - if it works, then it works!

10 April, 2009

Test Post once again

Test post. I'm sending from MS Word 2007. Go or no go? We will see!


Hope it works. Really!

In search of a Desktop Blog Post Editor

While there are so many blog post editors out in the web, some for free, and some for a fee, I haven't found one that is completely easy to use. I'm referring to the free versions.

So I'm still using this Small Email Sender to send my posts.

I may be trying Microsoft Word 2007. And while I have read somewhere that there will be some errors introduced, I would like to find out what it really is.

You can say again, "Curiosity killed the cat."

06 April, 2009

Facebook, YouTube at work make better employees: study

Got this from Yahoo! News here...


Reuters - Friday, April 3

MELBOURNE - Caught Twittering or on Facebook at work? It'll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.

The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.

Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said "workplace Internet leisure browsing," or WILB, helped to sharpened workers' concentration.

"People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said on the university's website

"Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days' work, and as a result, increased productivity," he said.

According to the study of 300 workers, 70 percent of people who use the Internet at work engage in WILB.

Among the most popular WILB activities are searching for information about products, reading online news sites, playing online games and watching videos on YouTube.

"Firms spend millions on software to block their employees from watching videos, using social networking sites or shopping online under the pretence that it costs millions in lost productivity," said Coker. "That's not always the case."

However, Coker said the study looked at people who browsed in moderation, or were on the Internet for less than 20 percent of their total time in the office.

"Those who behave with Internet addiction tendencies will have a lower productivity than those without," he said.

04 April, 2009

Blogger 3-column templates

In all of my searching for blogger-compatible blog templates, I've come across many websites, blog pages, and although they look very promising, these are still needing experimentation.

That would go through template change, and viewing in different browsers. Mind you, some display properly in one browser, but not in the other. So while you are already very happy with the new template, the whole structure collapses once again.

Anyway, I've found one good source of such 3-column templates, not to mention a whole lot of them, and for sure, you will surely find one of your liking. I downloaded a ton, but have to make a very wise decision of which one to use.

You can find the website here.

My other blogs are here and here.

See you there!

01 April, 2009

Recession fuels cybercrime

Online fraud rose 33% last year and is surging this year as crisis deepens, says US report


FRAUD on the Internet reported to the authorities in the United States increased by 33 per cent last year, rising for the first time in three years, and is surging this year as the recession deepens, the federal authorities said on Monday.

Internet-fraud losses reported in the US reached a record high of US$264.6 million (S$401.9 million) last year, according to a report released on Monday by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.

Online scams originating from across the globe – mostly from the US, Canada, Britain, Nigeria and China – are gathering steam this year, with a nearly 50 per cent rise in complaints reported to US authorities in last month alone.

“2009 is shaping up to be a very busy year in terms of cybercrime,” the report’s author, Mr John Kane, said.

Last year’s losses slightly exceed the US$239.1 million lost in 2007, but dwarf the US$18 million lost in 2001.

The most common complaint last year was non-delivery of promised merchandise, followed by auction fraud, credit-card fraud and investment scams, according to the report.

Of 275,284 complaints received by the centre last year, about 72,940 were referred to US law-enforcement agencies for prosecution.

Those referrals spiked this year, with 40,000 in the first quarter alone, said Mr Kane, who is managing director of the National White Collar Crime Center in Richmond, Virginia. “Our own research suggests that as few as 15 per cent of cases of cyberfraud are being reported to crime-control agencies,” he said.

Scammers in the US made up 66 per cent of complaints referred to the authorities, followed by Britain at 11 per cent, Nigeria at 7.5 per cent, Canada at 3 per cent and China at 1.6 per cent.

Fraudulent sales on online auction sites like eBay and classified sites like craigslist.com contributed to a 32 per cent rise in the hottest area of online fraud – non-delivery of promised merchandise, the report said.

The report said almost 80 per cent of known perpetrators of online scams are male.

Of those making complaints, nearly half are between the ages of 30 and 50. The median dollar loss was US$931 per complaint, although the median losses for cheque fraud reached US$3,000, and that for investment scams was US$2,000.

From myPaper, My News, WORLD
Wednesday, 01-April-2009

JavaRa, from RaProducts

Today my Secunia PSI detected 5 threats in my office PC, and all about Java. I was clinking on the solution available through the download link, but after the installation of the supposedly 'fix' to the unsecure version, the status remains as a security threat.

After I clicked on the forum link, I went through the posted messages, then somebody suggested running JavaRa, a separate software that will detect the older version of anything that is Java (did I get that right?).

I went to the site as indicated in the post, and I found that there are some other tools, aside from JavaRa, available for free to everyone.

You may need something from that site. Find it here, RaProducts.org.