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Homophobia is a crime, report it.The Internet Defense LeagueAvast Free Antivirus

Russian hackers use ‘zero-day’ to #hack #NATO, #Ukraine in cyber-spy campaign


Microsoft says it will release a patch on Oct. 14 for the vulnerability that the Russian hackers group has exploited.Microsoft says it will release a patch on Oct. 14 for the vulnerability that the Russian hackers group has exploited. (KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS)

Ellen Nakashima reporting,

A Russian hacking group probably working for the government has been exploiting a previously unknown flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system to spy on NATO, the Ukrainian government, a U.S. university researcher and other national security targets, according to a new report.

The group has been active since at least 2009, according to research by iSight Partners, a cybersecurity firm. Its targets in the recent campaign also included a Polish energy firm, a Western European government agency and a French telecommunications firm.

“This is consistent with espionage activity,” said iSight Senior Director Stephen Ward. “All indicators from a targeting and lures perspective would indicate espionage with Russian national interests.”

There is no indication that the group was behind a recent spate of intrusions into U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase, Ward said.

The Russian government has denied similar allegations of cyber-espionage in the past. Current and former U.S. intelligence officials, nonetheless, say the capabilities of Russian hackers are on par with those of the United States and Israel.

“It’s possible they’ve become more active in response to the Ukrainian situation,” said a former intelligence official. “And when you become more active, you increase your likelihood of getting caught.”

ISight dubbed the recently detected hacking group SandWorm because of references embedded in its code to the science-fiction novel “Dune.” There were various mentions in Russian to the fictional desert planet of Arrakis, for instance.

The Ukrainian government was hacked in late August, in the lead-up to the NATO summit in Wales, where member states discussed Russia’s actions in Ukraine.The Ukrainian government was hacked in late August, in the lead-up to the NATO summit in Wales, where member states discussed Russia’s actions in Ukraine. © AFP

The firm began monitoring the hackers’ activity in late 2013 and discovered the vulnerability — known as a “zero-day” — in August, Ward said. The flaw is pres­ent in every Windows operating system from Vista to 8.1, he said, except Windows XP.

The Ukrainian government was targeted in late August, in the lead-up to the NATO summit in Wales, where member states discussed Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Using a technique called spearphishing, SandWorm sent e-mails to targets that appeared to come from legitimate sources but included attachments that, when opened, enabled the hackers to gain access to their computers, Ward said.

Some of the spearphishing e-mails appeared to concern a global security forum on Russia and a purported list of Russian sympathizers or “terrorists,” the firm said.

ISight technical analyst Drew Robinson said the firm attributed the campaign to Russia partly because of the targets and partly because the command server, located in Germany, had not been properly secured. The server was inadvertently exposing Russian-language computer files that had been uploaded by the hackers.

“They could have closed it off, and they didn’t,” he said of the server. “It was poor operational security.”

ISight was not able to determine how successful the hackers might have been in obtaining information. But Robinson said that by analyzing the malware files, iSight was able to determine that certain targets — including Ukrainian government servers — had been compromised.

SandWorm apparently adapted malware previously used by cybercriminals, probably as a way “to mask” its espionage intents, Ward said.

Microsoft plans to release a patch for the vulnerability Tuesday, as part of the security industry’s monthly “Patch Tuesday” — a coordinated release of fixes to vulnerabilities in software.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the firm’s patch will be released in security bulletin MS14-060.


The Washington Post.

UK premier hosts talks on Scottish voting rights #Cameron #England #Scotland


Prime Minister David CameronBritish Prime Minister David Cameron leaves after giving a statement to the media about Scotland’s referendum results, outside his official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core. The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to the British political establishment. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron sought Monday to limit the divisive political fallout following the Scottish referendum, gathering senior Conservatives at his official country retreat to placate anger over promises made to Scotland to keep it in the United Kingdom.

Britain’s politicians now have the headache of mapping out how to implement the new powers pledged to Scotland and how that impacts the rest of the realm — England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Here is a guide to the issues being discussed.

WHAT IS THE ‘ENGLISH QUESTION?’

Cameron’s main problem is anger over the “English question,” or the “English votes for English laws” issue.

That refers to the question of whether Scottish lawmakers elected to the House of Commons can continue to vote on policies that only affect England — a longstanding grievance in the U.K.’s system.

The Cameron-led Conservative Party is upset that its leader, together with the two main opposition parties, promised to allow the Scottish Parliament to decide on their own tax, spending and welfare issues in a last-minute attempt to encourage voters to reject independence.

The Tories argue that if Scots get that package, then other parts of the U.K. should also be granted similar powers.

Conservative John Redwood said that some party members feel that “we too need our own devolved government to balance the kingdom.”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SCOTLAND?

Cameron has drawn an acrimonious backlash for suggesting that handing power to the Scots should take place “in tandem” with a decision on constitutional reforms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Danny Alexander called Cameron’s position “deeply frustrating.”

Cameron’s office has since stressed that it will honor the promise made last week.

But there is no consensus among the parties on the way forward. That doesn’t bode well for Scotland, which was promised legislation setting out the transfer of powers by mid-2015.

Many say that is an impossible timeline because there is simply no quick fix to constitutional changes that affect the whole of the U.K.

WHO LOSES?

Alex Salmond, the Scottish independence leader, has said Scottish voters are angry and hurt by the political fallout, and claimed they have been “tricked” into voting to stay in the union.

Cameron is now in a bind to calm the rebellion within his own ranks and has to convince the public he hasn’t backtracked on a promise.

But the opposition Labour Party, which is seeking a return to power in next year’s general election, stands to lose the most in the fallout. The party, which has 41 of Scotland’s 59 lawmakers, will suffer from any measures to restrict Scottish voting rights.

Opposition leader Ed Miliband refused to back or reject Cameron’s stance, only saying he would be open to the idea of greater scrutiny by English lawmakers.


The Associated Press.

#NATO says arms supply to #Ukraine up to individual #allies


French President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and US President Barack Obama during the 2014 NATO Summit, in Newport, Wales, on Sept. 4, 2014. © AFPFrench President Francois Hollande, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and US President Barack Obama during the 2014 NATO Summit, in Newport, Wales, on Sept. 4, 2014. © AFP

(Reuters) NEWPORT, Wales, Sept 4 (Reuters) – It is up to individual NATO members to decide whether to supply arms to Ukraine, which is battling an armed revolt by pro-Russian separatists, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.

“NATO as an alliance is not involved in delivery of equipment because we do not possess military capabilities,” Rasmussen told a news conference at a NATO summit.

“These are possessed by individual allies, so such decisions are national decisions and we are not going to interfere with that,” Rasmussen said when asked if NATO would supply arms to Ukraine.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft, writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Paul Taylor).


Reuters.

Scottish opinion poll knocks the British pound #ScottishIndependence #BritishPound


The British pound slipped sharply
LONDON (AP) — The British pound slipped sharply after an opinion poll showed that those advocating Scottish independence from the United Kingdom have gained ground, a little more than two weeks before the vote.

A YouGov poll released Tuesday showed support for Scottish independence running at 47 percent. As a result, the ‘no’ camp — those supporting the continuation of the 307-year union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland — only has a 6 percent lead in the poll.

That represents a significant narrowing in the ‘no’ lead. Less than a month ago, the equivalent poll lead was over 20 points.

The narrowing echoes other findings that the ‘yes’ campaign has gained ground over the past week or so after its leader, Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond was widely judged to have bested Alistair Darling, the head of the “Better Together” campaign, in a televised debate.

“A close finish looks likely, and a ‘yes’ victory is now a real possibility,” said Peter Kellner, YouGov’s president. “Even if ‘no’ finally wins the day, it now looks less likely that it will win by a big enough margin to deliver a knockout blow to supporters of independence.”

The poll, which was based on interviews with 1,063 people, spooked some traders, and the pound traded 0.6 percent lower at $1.6525. The Scottish independence vote takes place Sept. 18.

“With less than three weeks to go until polling day the tide is starting to shift,” said Kathleen Brooks, research director at Forex.com.

The economic impact of a vote in favor of independence remains difficult to quantify as many aspects remain unclear, such as whether a go-it-alone Scotland would be able to use the pound as its currency, as the “yes” campaign advocates. There are also questions as to how the U.K.’s debt mountain would be divvied up.

“We think that the prospect of independence could boost volatility in the pound in the coming weeks,” Brooks added.

Scotland already has a parliament responsible for a wide array of social matters as well as its own legal code. However, economic and defense matters remain the responsibility of Westminster in London, where Scottish lawmakers make up a minority. The main U.K. political parties have indicated that they are prepared to give the Scottish Parliament more powers after the vote.

Vote Yes for Scottish independence


 

Associated Press.

NATO Summit Wales 2014 #NATOSummitUK #NATO


10 Downing Street, LondonOn 4 to 5 September 2014, Wales will host the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain as the UK hosts the NATO summit. President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, and President Hollande are expected to attend along with leaders and senior ministers from around 60 other countries.

The summit comes as NATO draws down from its longest ever mission in Afghanistan and against a backdrop of instability in Ukraine. It is an opportunity to ensure that NATO continues to be at the forefront of building stability in an unpredictable world.

This will be the first NATO Summit since Chicago in 2012, and the first NATO summit in the United Kingdom since Margaret Thatcher welcomed NATO leaders to London in 1990.

During working sessions at the Celtic Manor and more informal events in Cardiff, world leaders will look to address issues which threaten NATO countries’ national security, from fragile states to piracy, from terrorism to cyber attacks.

As a strong player in NATO over the last 65 years, the UK continues to provide forces for NATO operations around the world today. Beyond Afghanistan, there are British service personnel serving in the Baltic Air Police mission and on counter-piracy operations.

Bringing the summit to Wales is an opportunity to shine the global spotlight on this corner of the United Kingdom, highlighting its strong commercial sector – from manufacturing to innovation, life sciences to cyber, and its academic excellence. And showcasing the tremendous potential in Wales for investment and business, tourism and study.

Announcing that Wales would host the NATO Summit 2014, the Prime Minister said:

It’s a great moment for Wales to advertise its modern and economically brilliant face to the world. We are going to have up to 60 world leaders coming to Wales for this vitally important NATO conference, so I think it’s a very good moment for Wales to put its best foot forward.

We had the G8 in Northern Ireland, we had the Olympics in London, we’ve got the Commonwealth Games in Scotland – it is Wales’ turn for one of these big events, a great showcase for Wales and a great opportunity and I’m really pleased that we are going to be doing that.


Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street – GOV.UK.

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