Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

China: 60 Minutes Crew Filming Toxic “E-Waste” Operation Jumped By Thugs

November 6, 2008

When 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and his crew went to China to record the black market dismantling of electronic waste, or “e-waste,” the experience was almost as hazardous for the 60 Minutes team as working with the toxic material is for poor Chinese workers.

Jumped by a gang of men overseeing the e-waste operations who tried to take the CBS team’s cameras, Pelley’s crew managed to escape and bring back footage of the hazardous activities. Pelley’s investigation will be broadcast this Sunday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

The Chinese attackers were trying to protect a lucrative business of mining the e-waste-junked computers, televisions and other old electronic products-for valuable components, including gold. “They’re afraid of being found out. This is smuggling. This is illegal,” says Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network, a group working to stop the dumping of toxic materials in poor countries that certifies ethical e-waste recyclers in the United States. “A lot of people are turning a blind eye here. And if somebody makes enough noise, they’re afraid this is all going to dry up.”

E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley’s team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, outlines the e-waste pollutants and their effects. “Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chloride, all of these materials have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage, kidney disease, to mutations, cancers,” he tells Pelley. And there’s no shortage of refuse that contains these hazardous materials. “We throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States…we throw out over 100 million cell phones every year,” says Hershkowitz.

Related:
China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

Read the rest; watch the video:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/06/60minutes/main4579229.shtml

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Wall Street woes has India outsourcing on edge

October 18, 2008

“The main market for us is still the United States. If companies are not doing good there, our job prospects are low,” said Nilesh Raut, of Bangalore, India….
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By ERIKA KINETZ, AP Business Writer
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BANGALORE, India – Bangalore, the capital of Indian outsourcing, is perhaps the closest India comes to Wall Street. In some offices, you can get a U.S. dial tone. Clocks tell you what time it is in New York. Cappuccinos — as well as Subway sandwiches and Carolina Herrera “212” perfume — are easy to come by.

Now that proximity, which has fueled years of growth and transformed the city into one of India’s most cosmopolitan, has put Bangalore on edge.

“The main market for us is still the United States. If companies are not doing good there, our job prospects are low,” said Nilesh Raut, 29, a software engineer at Oracle, which has an office here.

Bangalore is full of young migrants like Raut, who snapped up tech jobs that paid more than their parents could dream of, and who, unlike their parents, made unabashed use of their credit cards. But now, as India’s biggest shopping season, Diwali, kicks off, many say that until they have a better sense of how far and how deep the current crisis will cut, they’ll stick to window shopping.

“We’re just here for the ambiance,” said Raut, strolling through Bangalore’s oldest mall, Forum, foreswearing the iPods, Lee jeans, Reebok shoes and Arrow shirts on offer.

Since it opened four years ago, Forum has seen annual sales growth average 25 percent a year, according to Merveil Varghese, the mall’s marketing manager. This year, she expects sales growth at the mall’s 72 shops to slow to 17 to 18 percent. Rents, which quadrupled during that time, have stabilized, she said.

“Fifty percent of our customers are from the IT crowd,” she said. But these days, “everybody is taking it a little cool. You can’t afford to raise prices.”

The mall was packed, but few people had shopping bags in their hands. Consumers have also been singed by stock market losses.

“It’s not just Wall Street. It’s Dalal Street,” said Mansi Aneja, 30, referring to the Bombay Stock Exchange, which has lost about half its value this year. She said she’s putting off buying a new car.

Dubbed the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore and its environs account for a third of India’s software services ….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081018/
ap_on_bi_ge/as_india_bangalore_on_edge_3

World Bank Under Cyber Siege in ‘Unprecedented Crisis’

October 10, 2008

By Richard Behar
Fox News

The World Bank Group’s computer network — one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation — has been raided repeatedly by outsiders for more than a year, FOX News has learned.

It is still not known how much information was stolen. But sources inside the bank confirm that servers in the institution’s highly-restricted treasury unit were deeply penetrated with spy software last April. Invaders also had full access to the rest of the bank’s network for nearly a month in June and July.

In total, at least six major intrusions — two of them using the same group of IP addresses originating from China — have been detected at the World Bank since the summer of 2007, with the most recent breach occurring just last month.

In a frantic midnight e-mail to colleagues, the bank’s senior technology manager referred to the situation as an “unprecedented crisis.” In fact, it may be the worst security breach ever at a global financial institution. And it has left bank officials scrambling to try to understand the nature of the year-long cyber-assault, while also trying to keep the news from leaking to the public.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,435681,00.html

“Sleeper Spy”: Chinese Man in U.S. Two Decades Before Activation

April 3, 2008

By Joby Warrick and Carrie Johnson 
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 3, 2008; Page A01

Prosecutors called Chi Mak the “perfect sleeper agent,” though he hardly looked the part. For two decades, the bespectacled Chinese-born engineer lived quietly with his wife in a Los Angeles suburb, buying a house and holding a steady job with a U.S. defense contractor, which rewarded him with promotions and a security clearance. Colleagues remembered him as a hard worker who often took paperwork home at night.
Chi Mak was sentenced to 241/2 years to send a message to China. 

Chi Mak was sentenced to 24 1/2 years to send a message to China. (Sketch By Bill Robles For The Associated Press)

Eventually, Mak’s job gave him access to sensitive plans for Navy ships, submarines and weapons. These he secretly copied and sent via courier to China — fulfilling a mission that U.S. officials say he had been planning since the 1970s.

Mak was sentenced last week to 24 1/2 years in prison by a federal judge who described the lengthy term as a warning to China not to “send agents here to steal America’s military secrets.” But it may already be too late: According to U.S. intelligence and Justice Department officials, the Mak case represents only a small facet of an intelligence-gathering operation that has long been in place and is growing in size and sophistication.

The Chinese government, in an enterprise that one senior official likened to an “intellectual vacuum cleaner,” has deployed a diverse network of professional spies, students, scientists and others to systematically collect U.S. know-how, the officials said. Some are trained in modern electronic techniques for snooping on wireless computer transactions. Others, such as Mak, are technical experts who have been in place for years and have blended into their communities.

“Chi Mak acknowledged that he had been placed in the United States more than 20 years earlier, in order to burrow into the defense-industrial establishment to steal secrets,” Joel Brenner, the head of counterintelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in an interview. “It speaks of deep patience,” he said, and is part of a pattern.

Other recent prosecutions illustrate the scale of the problem. Mak, whose sentence capped an 18-month criminal probe, was the second U.S. citizen in the past two weeks to stand before a federal judge after being found guilty on espionage-related charges.

On Monday, former Defense Department analyst Gregg W. Bergersen pleaded guilty in Alexandria to charges that he gave classified information on U.S. weapons sales….

Read the rest:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/02/AR2008040203952.html?hpid=topnews

Vietnam buys 1.4 million computers in 2007

March 23, 2008

VietNamNet Bridge – The market research company IDC announced that Vietnam’s client PC market grew 41 percent to 1.4 million computers in 2007.

Notebooks were one of the hottest segments, posting a 219 percent growth.

For the full year, Hewlett-Packard remained the leader, followed by Acer, both of which recorded strong growths thanks to channel programmes, promotional bundles, and loan support.

In third place, Lenovo showed a much stronger year-on-year unit growth rate of 174 percent compared to HP’s 155 percent and Acer’s 154 percent.

The company also expects its growth to rise by 30 percent this year, but says that currency appreciation and inflation may cut into that.

 

(Source: VNA)

Military to boost cyber-protections

March 19, 2008
By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The military is beefing up efforts to gather intelligence, fend off cyber-attacks and improve relations with other nations as part of a strategy for keeping the U.S. safe while fighting two wars, according to a Pentagon document.

The four-page plan acknowledges there is still a significant risk that the military cannot quickly and fully respond to another outbreak in the world and outlines what must be done to counter that threat.

This undated photo released by the Walter Arts Museum shows ...
This undated photo released by the Walter Arts Museum shows a 1982 schematic of the first Internet, which then consisted of only 88 computers, linked as shown in this diagram-like map titled ‘Joyce Reynolds, ARPANET, the  First Internet.’  
(AP Photo/Private Collection, Virginia)

Sent to Congress by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and obtained by The Associated Press, the plan relies heavily on building partnerships with other countries. It accompanied a classified risk assessment compiled by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, seen ...
Admiral Mike Mullen

Read the rest:
 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080319/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/military_risk_
assessment;_ylt=ApTXlJ78JqiOwPS1CsWM7zWs0NUE

U.S. Navy Missile Destroys Dangerous Satellite

February 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 21, 2008

The United States Navy launched a missile that destroyed a dangerous satellite last night, high over the Pacific Ocean.

One missile; one hit.

Pentagon sources told Peace and Freedom that China requested all data on the event “almost immediately; within a few hours.”

The satellite, USA 193, was passing over the Pacific Ocean at about 17,000 miles per hour and at an altitude of about 130 miles.  It was hit by an SM-3 Missile launched by sailors aboard USS Lake Erie.

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from a guided-missile ...
A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from a guided-missile cruiser in an image courtesy of the U.S. Navy. A missile from a U.S. Navy warship hit a defunct U.S. spy satellite 133 nautical miles (247 km) above the Earth in an attempt to blow apart its tank of toxic fuel, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout 
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From missile launch to satellite destruction the mission time elapsed was only about three minutes.

The Navy announced that various sensors detected a “large explosion.”  Sensor analysts believe the fuel tank of the satellite had been hit as intended because they witnessed that “large explosion” but the Navy said computer analysis to confirm those first impressions would take about 24 hours.

The satellite’s fuel tank contained about 1,000 pounds of toxic hydrazine rocket fuel.

The Bush Administration said the mission was solely to destroy that dangerous hydrazine fuel.  President Bush made the decision to schedule the mission.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the launch decision based upon information provided to him by military advisors last night.
The U.S. Navy may make its first attempt to shoot down an errant ... 

The mission was carried out, a spokesman said, because of the danger posed if some of that hydrazine survived reentry and landed on earth.  The hydrazine could have harmed humans and animals on earth.

“Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days,” a military spokesman said. 

Military analyst John Pike said the satellite, immediately after the missile hit, would be mostly “gravel.”
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“A network of land, air, sea and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite, which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” a Pentagon statement said.

Those same sensors will be used to monitor debris as it enters the earth’s atmosphere.

The SM-3 missile alone cost nearly $10 million, and officials estimated that the total cost of the project was at least $30 million.  The satellite cost about one billion dollars but it failed in 2006 just after it was launched into space.

“But if you kill something dangerous heading for people on earth; what is the right amount to spend?” a military officer asked rhetorically.

Related:

From the Washington Post:
Navy Missile Hits Satellite

From Associated Press Military Writer Robert Burns:
Navy Missile Destroys Dying Satellite

Peace and Freedom Note: People that know me have seen me follow Navy missile evolution for about 30 years.  In 1991, when Saddam Hussein launched SCUD ballistic missiles, we detected and tracked those from U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.  Subsequently, we were involved in the initial concept development for Navy ballistic missile defense.  Last night’s missile destruction of a dangerous satellite was one more step in the development of missile defense, first envisioned by President Ronald Reagan.

On March 23, 1983, President Reagan announced from the Oval Office, “I’ve reached a decision which offers a new hope for our children in the 21st century.” He explained his vision — and his defense budget’s inclusion — of the first funds to go toward this nation’s missile defense effort.
    
Liberals, and most of the media, derided the president’s project as “star wars.” Since 1983, America’s Missile Defense effort has become a multinational, multi-system effort: it has reached into space and it has come down to earth and the sea.

An undated image of Earth as seen from space. The U.S. Navy ...

Air Force trains warriors to defend cyberspace

January 29, 2008
WASHINGTON — Ready. Aim. Click.

The military relies on computers and electronic communication to launch precision weapons, spy on its enemies and communicate with troops in combat.
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The Air Force is revamping its training to prepare its 320,000 airmen to protect its frontlines in cyberspace, Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Schissler said. The battlefield includes the Internet, cellphone calls and signals that trigger roadside bombs.

Read the rest:
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/computersecurity/2008-01-28-cyber_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

China is the World’s E-Waste Dumping Ground

January 5, 2008

By Terry J. Allen
In These Times
January 5, 2008

The highway of poisoned products that runs from China to the United States is not a one-way street. America ships China up to 80 percent of U.S. electronic waste — discarded computers, cell phones, TVs, etc. Last year alone, the United States exported enough e-waste to cover a football field and rise a mile into the sky.

So while the media ride their new lead-painted hobbyhorse — the danger of Chinese wares — spare a thought for Chinese workers dying to dispose of millions of tons of our toxic crap.

Most of the junk ends up in the small port city of Guiyu, a one-industry town four hours from Hong Kong that reeks of acid fumes and burning plastic. Its narrow streets are lined with 5,500 small-scale scavenger enterprises euphemistically called “recyclers.” They employ 80 percent of the town’s families — more than 30,000 people — who recover copper, gold and other valuable materials from 15 million tons of e-waste.

Unmasked and ungloved, Guiyu’s workers dip motherboards into acid baths, shred and grind plastic casings from monitors, and grill components over open coal fires. They expose themselves to brain-damaging, lung-burning, carcinogenic, birth-defect- inducing toxins such as lead, mercury, cadmium and bromated flame retardants (the subject of last month’s column), as well as to dioxin at levels up to 56 times World Health Organization standards. Some 82 percent of children under 6 around Guiyu have lead poisoning.

While workers reap $1 to $3 a day and an early death, the “recycling” industry — in both the United States and China — harvests substantial profits. U.S. exporters not only avoid the cost of environmentally sound disposal at home, but they also turn a buck from selling the waste abroad. After disassembly, one ton of computer scrap yields more gold than 17 tons of gold ore, and circuit boards can be 40 times richer in copper than copper ore. In Guiyu alone, workers extract 5 tons of gold, 1 ton of silver and an estimated $150 million a year.

Many U.S. exporters pose as recyclers rather than dumpers. But a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found that “it is difficult to verify that exported used electronics are actually destined for reuse, or that they are ultimately managed responsibly once they leave U.S. shores.”

This dumping of toxic waste by developed countries onto developing ones is illegal under the Basel Convention, a 1992 international treaty that was ratified by every industrialized nation — except the United States.

Unhindered by international law and unmonitored by Washington, U.S. brokers simply label e-waste “recyclable” and ship it somewhere with lax environmental laws, corrupt officials and desperately poor workers. China has all three. And a packing case with a 100-dollar bill taped to it slips as easily as an eel through Guiyu’s ports.

E-waste fills a neat niche in the U.S.-China trade. America’s insatiable appetite for cheap Chinese goods has created a trade deficit that topped $233 billion last year. While e-waste does little to redress the financial disparity, it helps ensure that the container vessels carrying merchandise to Wal-Mart’s shelves do not return empty to China.

In the 19th century, England faced a similarly massive deficit with China until a different kind of junk — opium — allowed it to complete the lucrative England-India-China trade triangle.

Britain, after destroying India’s indigenous textile industry and impoverishing local weavers, flooded its colony with English textiles carried on English ships. The British East India Company fleet then traveled to China to buy tea, silk and other commodities to sate Europe’s appetites for “exotic” luxuries. But since there was little the Chinese wanted from either India or Europe, the ships traveled light and profitless on the India-China side of the triangle. That is, until England forced Indian peasants to grow opium and, in the process, precipitate mass starvation by diverting cultivable land.

The trade fleet then filled up with opium and pushed it to China through the port of Canton. Since opium was illegal in China, Britain started a war in 1839 to force Peking to accept the drug. By 1905, more than a quarter of China’s male population was addicted.

Now it is Americans who are addicted to Chinese junk. And our own government policies and corporations are the ones stoking the jones. Slick marketing and consumer fetishism push Americans to buy the latest, lightest, biggest, smallest, fastest, trendiest items. And even if you are not hooked on the latest gadgets, repairs or upgrades are impractical. The half billion computers we trashed in the last decade have to go somewhere, and shipping them to China and other poor nations is a win-win solution for Chinese and U.S. industry.

As for the populations of both countries, we can feast on the irony that the same ships that carry toxic toys and food ingredients to Americans return bearing deadly e-waste for the Chinese.

Terry J. Allen is a senior editor of In These Times. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, New Scientist and other publications.

SKorea’s military on alert against overseas hackers

January 3, 2008

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea‘s military has been put on alert against overseas hackers who have gained access to some soldiers’ personal computers, the defence ministry said Thursday.

It did not identify the country where the hackers are based but Chosun Ilbo newspaper said it was China.

The Defence Security Command, which handles counter-intelligence, this week warned all military units to be on the alert against hacking, a ministry spokesman said.

“The alert was issued after the counter-intelligence command found ‘third-nation’ hackers had successfully broken into some soldiers’ computers via e-mails to steal private data,” the spokesman told AFP.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/skoreachinaitmilitaryalert;
_ylt=Ao4sR.MpZpKaNmMpKOiiC4Cs0NUE

North Korean border guards in Panmunjon.  The US State Department ... 

Related:

China repeats denial of military hacking

China denies hacking Pentagon

Part I: U.S. Secretary of Defense in China — U.S. Objectives

French government falls prey to cyber-attacks “involving China”

War By Every Possible Means

China’s Golden Cyber-Shield