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A miscellany

Siemens German digital signature chip hacked

Hackers have succeeded in cracking the Siemens digital signature card used in cashless payment systems and access control systems across the country. The German Digital Signature was ratified by the European Union only a few days ago, after intense lobbying for a secure system for transactions. The serious breach of security means that anyone using the so-called Geldkarte system stands the risk of having money transferred without their knowing it.

For more information see http://www.theregister.co.uk/991201-000021.html

School Security Handbook Available

A new safety handbook is available online to school administrators and law enforcement personnel from the U.S. Energy Department’s nuclear weapons laboratory in Sandia, N.M. The handbook provides tips on how to protect buildings and grounds, offers advice on what kind of video and weapons detection equipment to buy, and gives suggestions concerning entry control and duress alarms. An Energy Department report, available by visiting http://www.doe.gov./schoolsecurity/pdf.htm emphasizes the benefits of video surveillance cameras and closed circuit television systems. Entitled “The Appropriate and Effective Use of Security Technologies in U.S. Schools,” the report underscores the importance of controlling the access of students, parents, employees, and visitors to the school.

High Tech Heists

Austin Business Journal Online (10/18/99); Fowler, Tom

Though forgers, thieves, and other varieties of criminal continue to break the law online, technology continues to be stolen from high-tech firms, and pirates still sell counterfeit software, businesses and authorities are sending the right message. “Criminals are getting the picture that they run a significant risk of getting caught, prosecuted, and put behind bars,” says. Sgt. Robert Pulliam of the High Tech Unit says IT crime has evolved from the days of microprocessor theft, with many thieves now stealing computer systems.

Pirated software processors and software are other popular targets for technologically inclined thieves, Pulliam says. The advent of the Internet has spurred the most significant developments in high tech crime. An annual survey conducted by the Computer Security Institute and the San Francisco bureau of the FBI reports that 30 percent of companies surveyed reported external network break-ins and 55 percent reported instances of unauthorized access within the company. Nonetheless, many businesses are unaware of the scope of network encroachment, which ranges from vandalism to corporate espionage. One challenge facing law enforcement is that companies are often unwilling to report incidents for fear of bad publicity or disruption of their business.

Electromagnetic Pulse Attacks: The Wave of the Future, Panel Says

Federal Computer Week Online (10/12/99); Verton, Daniel

The United States’ high-tech infrastructure could be susceptible to the effects of an electromagnetic pulse or EMP attack. Such an attack would require detonating a small nuclear device in the upper atmosphere, generating an electromagnetic pulse that could disrupt or destroy the integrated circuits of high-tech networks and computers. Electronic computer systems, communications, power grids, transportation systems, and the Defense Department’s ability to wage war could be impacted. Some sources claim that our society could be reduced to a pre-industrial level in a matter of moments. Just how far-reaching damage would be is not known because of the differences in the tolerances in commercial equipment and among system configurations.

NB: This can also be accomplished with any type of High Energy Radio Frequency device also known as a HERF weapon and was described in the November 1999 issue of the ÆGIS e-journal.

HERF does not need to be used on a whole city: It can be directed at a company or a government, and hit one system at a time. It could be especially good for a competitors system to be unscrupulously attacked. Perhaps just before a bid might be due. Hmmmm….

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