Ramblings & ephemera

Ghost brides in China

From Reuters’ “China arrests men for murdering “ghost” brides” (26 January 2007): BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese police have arrested three men for killing two young women to sell their corpses as “ghost brides” for dead single men, a Chinese newspaper reported, warning the dark custom might have claimed many other victims. Yang Donghai, a 35-year-old […]

Various confidence scams, tricks, & frauds

From “List of confidence tricks” (Wikipedia: 3 July 2009): Get-rich-quick schemes Get-rich-quick schemes are extremely varied. For example, fake franchises, real estate “sure things”, get-rich-quick books, wealth-building seminars, self-help gurus, sure-fire inventions, useless products, chain letters, fortune tellers, quack doctors, miracle pharmaceuticals, Nigerian money scams, charms and talismans are all used to separate the mark […]

Cell phone viruses

From Jim Giles’ “The inside story of the Conficker worm” (New Scientist: 12 June 2009): Earlier this year, smartphone users in China started to get messages promising a “sexy view” if they clicked on a link. The link led to a download. That download was a spam generator which, once installed, sent identical “sexy view” […]

Could Green Dam lead to the largest botnet in history?

From Rob Cottingham’s “From blocking to botnet: Censorship isn’t the only problem with China’s new Internet blocking software” (Social Signal: 10 June 2009): Any blocking software needs to update itself from time to time: at the very least to freshen its database of forbidden content, and more than likely to fix bugs, add features and […]

Green Dam is easily exploitable

From Scott Wolchok, Randy Yao, and J. Alex Halderman’s “Analysis of the Green Dam Censorware System” (The University of Michigan: 11 June 2009): We have discovered remotely-exploitable vulnerabilities in Green Dam, the censorship software reportedly mandated by the Chinese government. Any web site a Green Dam user visits can take control of the PC. According […]

Taxi driver party lines

photo credit: 708718 From Annie Karni’s “Gabbing Taxi Drivers Talking on ‘Party Lines’” (The New York Sun: 11 January 2007): It’s not just wives at home or relatives overseas that keep taxi drivers tied up on their cellular phones during work shifts. Many cabbies say that when they are chatting on duty, it’s often with […]

Totalitarian regimes adopt the trappings of religion for themselves

From Steven Weinberg’s “Without God” (The New York Review of Books: 25 September 2008): It has often been noted that the greatest horrors of the twentieth century were perpetrated by regimes – Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China – that while rejecting some or all of the teachings of religion, copied characteristics of religion at […]

Chemically remove bad memories

From Nicholas Carr’s “Remembering to forget” (Rough Type: 22 October 2008): Slowly but surely, scientists are getting closer to developing a drug that will allow people to eliminate unpleasant memories. The new issue of Neuron features a report from a group of Chinese scientists who were able to use a chemical – the protein alpha-CaM […]

US government makes unsafe RFID-laden passports even less safe through business practices

From Bill Gertz’s “Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security” (The Washington Times: 26 March 2008): The United States has outsourced the manufacturing of its electronic passports to overseas companies — including one in Thailand that was victimized by Chinese espionage — raising concerns that cost savings are being put ahead of national security, […]

Why American car companies are in trouble

From Paul Ingrassia’s “How Detroit Drove Into a Ditch” (The Wall Street Journal: 25 October 2008): This situation doesn’t stem from the recent meltdown in banking and the markets. GM, Ford and Chrysler have been losing billions since 2005, when the U.S. economy was still healthy. The financial crisis does, however, greatly exacerbate Detroit’s woes. […]

Chinese folklore and the colors green, white, red, yellow, and black

From Allen Abel and Madeleine Czigler’s “Ireland, Islam and envy” (National Post: 24 June 2008): According to a Chinese folk tale, there once was a turtle whose wife fell in love with a snake. Too humiliated to watch their pan-reptilian canoodling, the turtle pulled a large green leaf over his eyes. Hence the usage, still […]

The purpose of the Storm botnet? To send spam

From Tim Wilson’s “Researchers Link Storm Botnet to Illegal Pharmaceutical Sales” (DarkReading: 11 June 2008): “Our previous research revealed an extremely sophisticated supply chain behind the illegal pharmacy products shipped after orders were placed on botnet-spammed Canadian pharmacy Websites. But the relationship between the technology-focused botnet masters and the global supply chain organizations was murky […]

Money involved in adware & clicks4hire schemes

From Chapter 2: Botnets Overview of Craig A. Schiller’s Botnets: The Killer Web App (Syngress: 2007): Dollar-Revenue and GimmyCash are two companies that have paid for installation of their Adware programs. Each has a pay rate formula based on the country of installation. Dollar-Revenue pays 30 cents for installing their adware in a U. S. […]

The Chinese Internet threat

From Shane Harris’ “China’s Cyber-Militia” (National Journal: 31 May 2008): Computer hackers in China, including those working on behalf of the Chinese government and military, have penetrated deeply into the information systems of U.S. companies and government agencies, stolen proprietary information from American executives in advance of their business meetings in China, and, in a […]

China’s increasing control over American dollars

From James Fallows’ “The $1.4 Trillion Question” (The Atlantic: January/February 2008): Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplus—$1.4 trillion and […]

MTV’s global reach

From Robert Sam Anson’s “Birth of an MTV Nation” (Vanity Fair: November 2000): Now watched by more than 340 million viewers in 139 countries (among them, Russia, China, and Vietnam) …

1/2 of all bots are in China

From “Report: China’s botnet problems grows” (SecurityFocus: 21 April 2008): Computers infected by Trojan horse programs and bot software are the greatest threat to China’s portion of the Internet, with compromises growing more than 20-fold in the past year, the nation’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT) stated in its 2007 annual report released last week. […]

Chinese attacks on government and business networks

From Foreign Policy‘s interview with Richard A. Clarke, “Seven Questions: Richard Clarke on the Next Cyber Pearl Harbor” (April 2008): I think the Chinese government has been behind many, many attacks—penetrations. “Attacks” sounds like they’re destroying something. They’re penetrations; they’re unauthorized penetrations. And what they are trying to do is espionage. They’re engaged in massive […]

USA owns 74% of IPv4 addresses

From Stephen Ornes’s “Map: What Does the Internet Look Like?” (Discover: October 2006): The United States owns 74 percent of the 4 billion available Internet protocol (IP) addresses. China’s stake amounts to little more than that of an American university. Not surprisingly, China is championing the next wave of the Internet, which would accommodate 340 […]

Living in a cave behind your house

From Reuters’s “Chinese fugitive leaves cave after 8 years” (5 October 2006): A Chinese man wanted by police on gun charges has given himself up after hiding in a cave constructed at the back of his house for eight years, the official Xinhua news agency said. The 35-year-old man from the southeastern city of Fuzhou […]