Cyber Attack!

And it wasn’t from the NorKs nor the ChiComs. It originated from the territory of one of our NATO allies, the Netherlands.

I operate my own mail and web-servers. My systems are probed daily, usually from WesPac or North Korea. I was hit with a DoS attack Monday of this week. It wasn’t a strong attack. I did notice some slowdown of my servers but the real hit came from my Domain Servers. That was a direct attack. My firewalls resisted and foiled the attack as designed.

But there is another method that is popular by cyber-criminals that I cannot block. I don’t have a domain server. I contract with another company to host my domain names and to point callers to my home servers.

The larger attack occurred two weeks ago. It wasn’t to my systems but it affected the domain servers that I used—me and thousands of others. For a period of time, I couldn’t reach,, and numerous other sites. When I tried to connect to them, my browser timed out. My query to the domain servers for the numerical address of those sites, was not returned.

The cyber-attack method used in the earlier attack was a DDoS attack against the primary site used to find spammers. SpamHaus, one of the sites I, and most email providers use to check for spam, was attacked by a spammer based in the Netherlands. It was a concentrated attack by one site, with hundreds of computers, against another single site—and it affected the entire internet, world-wide.

Web slows under ‘biggest attack ever’

Millions of people around the world have been affected by slow internet speeds after an unprecedented attack.

By Matt Warman and agencies, 1:41PM GMT 27 Mar 2013

A Dutch web-hosting company caused disruption and the global slowdown of the internet, according to a not-for-profit anti-spam organization.

The interruptions came after Spamhaus, a spam-fighting group based in Geneva, temporarily added the Dutch firm, CyberBunker, to a blacklist that is used by e-mail providers to weed out spam.

Cyberbunker is housed in a five-story former NATO bunker and famously offers its services to any website “except child porn and anything related to terrorism”. As such it has often been linked to behaviour that anti-spam blacklist compilers have condemend.

It retaliated with a huge ‘denial of service attack’. These work by trying to make a network unavailable to its intended users,overloading a server with coordinated requests to access it. At one point, 300 billion bits per second were being sent by a network of computers, making this the biggest attack ever.

The attack was particularly potent because it exploited the ‘domain name system’, which acts like the telephone directory of the internet and are used every time a web address is entered into a computer.

Patrick Gilmore, of digital content provider Akamai Networks told the New York Times that Cyberbunker did not believe spamming users was wrong. “These guys are just mad. To be frank, they got caught,” he alleged. “They think they should be allowed to spam.”

Calling the disruptions “one of the largest computer attacks on the Internet,” the New York Times reported today that millions of ordinary web users have experienced delays in services such as Netflix video-streaming service or couldn’t reach a certain website for a short time.

“The size of the attack hurt some very large networks and internet exchange points such as the London Internet Exchange,” John Reid, a spokesman for Spamhaus, said in an e-mailed response to questions by Bloomberg News. “It could be thousands, it could be millions. Due to our global infrastructure, the attackers target places all over the world.”

Spamhaus was targeted with a so-called distributed denial of service attack on the evening of March 15, Reid said.

Sven Olaf Kamphuis, an internet activist who told the New York Times he was a spokesman for the attackers, said that Cyberbunker was retaliating against Spamhaus for “abusing their influence” as the gatekeeper of lists of spammers. “Nobody ever deputized Spamhaus to determine what goes and does not go on the Internet,” he claimed. “They worked themselves into that position by pretending to fight spam.”

Such attacks are growing in quantity as well as scale, according to Vitaly Kamluk, chief malware expert of Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team. The two main motives for the disruptions are money through cybercrime and political and social activism, he said.

“This is indeed the largest known DDoS operation,” Kamluk said by e-mail. “Such DDoS attack may affect regular users as well, with network slowdown or total unavailability of certain web resources as typical symptoms.”

Cyberbunker claims that it has resisted a number of ‘attacks’ by Dutch police attempting to make arrests.

Have no doubt, these people, the ones behind the name of Cyberbunker, are criminals and should be behind bars. Cyberbunker has been linked to wiki-Leaks and the Anonymous hacker group. A hundred years ago, they would be bomb-throwing anarchists. Today, they are cyber-anarchists throwing digital bombs.

Another print MSM outlet heading towards extinction

Two items caught my eye this morning. First, Newsweek announced they are going all digital, a new digital newsletter called Newsweek Global. Newsweek is throwing in the towel and is being absorbed into The Daily Beast—a liberal internet outlet. The last print edition of Newsweek will be the December 31, 2012, issue.

Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context. Newsweek Global will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast. — The Daily Beast.

When I was in college living in a dorm, we were provided with discount subscriptions to a number of news magazines from Time, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and others at about 1/3rd of the usual rate. I subscribed to Time for several years. At that time, in the mid-1960s, network news on the TV was only 15 minutes in the evening, usually from 6:00pm to 6:15pm. The news expanded to a half-hour a few years later as the Vietnam war grew. Most of our national, political and world news came from those magazines.

Even at that time, we could see the political bias. Time Magazine was more conservative, the others more “liberal.” Over the years, Time became just another liberal media outlet.

I’ve called the print media, the dinosaur media for a number of reasons. First, they’ve failed to adapt to changing technology. Second, they’ve failed to adapt to the changing political environment—rather they acquired the idea they are the leaders of social and political evolution. Unfortunately for them, evolution takes its own path regardless of the intentions of the MSM.

The MSM has refused to acknowledge that their failure is not solely due to technology. Their failure is their refusal to acknowledge the changing political and social environment. The current generation is NOT that of the ’60s. The current generation is the child and the grandchild of the ’60s and they’ve seen, personally, all the failings of the ’60s generation—including their slavish devotion to Marxism and Socialism.  It is easy for the child to see the failures of the parent.

This new transition by Newsweek to an all-digital mode will end in failure as well. It retains the subscription model and will retain its leftist bias…two of the failings that killed the print version. Failure to learn and adapt is a powerful contributor to evolutionary extinction. It’s the content and management, not solely the media, that is leading Newsweek to join other print news outlets that have closed over the last decade.

The second example is from the UK. The Guardian and the Observer newspapers are about to abandon their print media outlets as well.

Guardian ‘seriously discussing’ end to print edition

The publisher of the Guardian and Observer newspapers is close to axing the print editions of the newspapers, despite the hopes of its editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger to keep them running for several years.

The Guardian and Observer publisher has spent the last few years battling to stem losses of £44m a year. However, it has been slow to make savings and any money that it has clawed back has been spent on expanding its US and online operations.

The drivers toward the extinction of the print paper in the UK includes those of the US media with some additions.  The unions and Britain’s welfare state has sucked the profits from the papers.  The move towards a digital-only media is an attempt to shed significant portions of the paper’s expensive union workforce. Whether that move will be sufficient is unknown at this time. The unions are more powerful in the UK than in the US and in many areas practically own the government.

The idea of content subscription for information is evolving. Some, like Rush Limbaugh’s newsletter, are successful because of their unique content. Limbaugh announced recently that his newsletter will be available digitally at a reduced price. I’m unsure if there will be reduced content. We will know when we compare the printed version next to the digital version.  I would suspect they will be the same. The difference in price will be due to the cost difference between the printed version and the digital version.

However, for most information, people do not need subscription to acquire information. Limbaugh and others like him, survive due to their unique content that is unavailable elsewhere. For the MSM, it’s different. For every subscription MSM news-outlet, there are ten or more free news-outlets with the same information.

I expect within a few years, Newsweek will join the other dinosaur media—like the Rocky Mountain News, et. al., into extinction.

Playing Hookie!

Aluratek Libre Pro

I finally broke down and bought an eReader—the Aluratek Libre Pro.  Borders has a deal going on, $119 + shipping.  The Libre is no Kindle or SONY.  It is not top-of-the-line.  It uses a LCD display instead of the more popular e-Ink technology, it is not a touch-screen, nor does it include wireless 3G connectivity to a proprietary ebook source.  That’s the primary reason it is so cheap.  It’s just a simple eRead using USB to load books from a PC.  It also has a slot for an additional SD/SDHC memory card up to 32GB.  I added a 16GB card to mine and also bought a 16GB flash drive to backup my digital library.

Because my official retirement is coming up in a few months, I had to find a way to continue my reading “fixes.” I normally spend $50 to $90 a month on books.  The biggest portion is hardback books from Amazon. The remainder are paperbacks from local books stores.  That amount will soon be beyond my budget.  However, I noticed that digital copies of those same books costs 50% or more less than their dead-tree versions.

I’ve been collecting eBooks for years.  I have all the books from Baen’s Free Library as well as those provided free via CDs included in the hardback editions of some of the more popular Baen writers.  For example, I have eBook copies of the entire Honor Harrington series by David Weber. The great part about Baen digital books is that they are available in the more popular digital formats—.epub, .lit, .mobi/.prc, .lrf, and .rtf as well as in html for online reading via a browser. 

So, I’ve been busy.  I’m charging the eReader and setting up my digital library. I downloaded some favorite books from such writers as H. Beam Piper and Randall Garrett and many more from the Golden Age of Science Fiction.  The current count so far is 306 books in the library  and as soon as my reader is charged, I’ll load it up.

While eBooks have been around several years, this year is the real beginning of the digital book age. The sales of eBook readers has taken off like a rocket.  As the prices of eBooks and eReaders drop, the demand for eBooks will accelerate. There is still a battle for dominance of which format will be used for eBooks.  Amazon is staying with their proprietary Kindle format which is a variation of the Mobibook format (.mobi/.prc).  The difference is DRM added by Amazon.

Because the Kindle format is proprietary, it will not win the format war.  My personal opinion is that the Epub format will eventually win.  It is, I believe, open source and requires no license nor fees to be used.  All the other formats are patented or copyrighted but anyone can use Epub.

I detest DRM.  DRM means that I do not own the books. DRM means that I’ve only leased the book from the owner who can reclaim the book whenever they owner wishes.  In fact, Amazon has already done that amid widespread complaints from Kindle owners.  That is the reason why I won’t buy a Kindle even though I buy almost all my hardback books from Amazon.  What is worse is that the Kindle can only install eBooks from Amazon.  When I was investigating the different offerings, I could find no way to install an eBooks from any other source than Amazon. SONY makes a nice eReader but it has many of the faults of the Kindle including the use of a proprietary book format.

For Me, I’ll stick with the Libre.  I expect there will be a lot of improvements in eReaders.  I expect more low end readers using e-Ink instead of the cheaper LCD used by Aluratek.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price of eReaders drop below the $100 mark well before Christmas. I also expect a steady progress in the technology—better displays, color and much improvement in battery life. 

BTW, for you FTC folks, I paid for my Aluratek Libre out of my own pocket.