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Showing posts from March, 2005

Born to be Wild

29-03-2005 13-38-33_0029
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
It was a metaphor for the political situation in the Middle-east today. I was sitting, with my family, smoking a Shisha pipe and drinking Turkish coffee in the peaceful evening setting of one of the Intercontinental hotel's shisha garden, complete with tents and cushions, when the quiet rhythm of the Arabic background music was broken by several strident megawatts of "Born to be Wild" from the hotel's ballroom and conference centre.

Did you ever see the Stephen Seagall and Tommie Lee Jones film, "Under Siege", where a wild party is staged upon a US battleship? Well this is exactly what happened in Oman last evening.

We had wondered why so many local police were in the hotel carrying machine guns and the rock and rap music of a US Forces military party gave us the answer. Whether these cheering troops were based locally or flown down for R&R from Iraq, I don't know but forget the heavy artillery, …

Sea Views

Silicon Clip
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
I'm not so sure I want to be reminded of this association. Just back from the Middle-east, it's come back to haunt me and I'm about as far way from New Labour and it's policies as one can be these days!
Tony Says

I'm just watching the Sky News interview with Tony Blair as I prepare to catch my midnight flight back to a very different-looking seaside town in Thanet, from the view over the beach here in Muscat.

Why I wonder, is there so little crime, is everything so neat and tidy, the people astonishingly polite and I can let my small daughter roam away from sight at will, knowing that she's safer here than anywhere in Europe?

In 2001, on the evening before a visit to the region, representing the Cabinet Office, one of the Prime Minister's advisors called me at home asking what I was up to. He told me that "We have nothing to learn from a bunch of Arabs", when I explained there were some useful lessons to learn from the experiences of some of the smaller Gulf States. I disagreed quite strongly with this rather jaded view because I believed there were all kinds of things we learn. Among them of course, is a stong sense of national identity and pride, very little alco…

No - Still in Oman

Moores - Coastguard Flight
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
It's so hot here in Oman that Last week's two hundred foot run along the Kent coast in the rain and low cloud feels almost nostalgic. Mind you, if your'e reading this over a wet British Eater holiday, your'e going to have absolutetely no sympathy with my sunburn!

From reading the front page of the local newspaper this morning, it appears that local police have arrested members of a "Banned Group". It doesn't say which group such people may be members of but reading between the lines, one has to speculate that the may be associated with Al Queda, a forbidden word in this country.

Anyway, the Omanis are so friendly and pro-western that they aren't going to take any risks. It's a lovely place and well worth the visit if you ever find the chance.

So there I was then, sitting in a bedouin tent, drinking coffee and puffing on a "Shisha" pipe, one of my favourite activities, when my cellphone rang and a client asked if I had the contact details of the Deputy Director of the US Secret Service.

Old Photos 088
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

"It's a secret", I said but was forced to part with his email address. The voice at the other end seemed a little surprised when I told him where I was and what I was doing.

Thanks to Vodafone's ability to "reach-out" and touch me, I'm just as available here, at the edge of the Desert with a four hour time zone difference, than I am, sitting on the seafront at home in the UK. You can run of course but you can't hide. From Vodafone that is and the same is probably true of the US Secret Service too!

I'm trying to write this entry from the hotel in Oman on a dial-up link. For some reason only one PC in the Club Lounge is giving Internet access a…
Coastguard over Margate

Coastguard Islander Margate Harbour
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
The Coastguard Islander seen over Margate this afternoon. An interesting challenge to fly, very enjoyable and thanks to the very professional team at Air Atlantic who operate these aircraft for the Coastguard. Pilots Adam Hunt and Richard Baker, based at Manston and keeping an eye on the waters around Thanet.
Coastguard Cessna 406-1
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Along for the ride, taking photos and keeping us company in the Cessna 406.Select any photo to see more shots from today.
Scammers Snag Money on Net Phones
Using caller ID spoofing, electronic grifters can take not only your identity, but they can also transfer your money directly out of an account. The low security level in voice over internet protocol, or VOIP, makes it possible.Internet phone services have drawn millions of users looking for rock-bottom rates. Now they're attracting identity thieves who want to turn stolen credit cards into cash. Some internet phone services allow scam artists to make it appear that they are calling from another phone number -- a useful trick that enables them to drain credit accounts and pose as banks or other trusted authorities, online fraud experts  [via Wired News]
Brazilian cops net 'phishing kingpin'Brazilian police last week arrested the suspected kingpin of a gang which looted an estimated $37m from online banking accounts. Valdir Paulo de Almeida allegedly masterminded a scam to raid accounts using a Trojan horse sent by email to thousands of victims, mostly Brazilian. This commonly used ploy enables crooks to capture security credentials of victims through keystroke logging. Using this information, criminals can transfer to themselves the money held in compromised accounts. Typically, the money is washed through the accounts of a number of middlemen to make tracing more difficult. [via The Register]
Britain Tops Zombie PC Charts

Didn't I warn the Government about this two years ago in a meeting at the Cabinet Office?

Britain has the largest zombie PC population of any country on the planet, according to the latest Symantec Internet Security Threat Report.

The UK has more than a quarter (25.2 per cent) of all bots – virus-infected, zombie PCs under the control of crackers and used for malicious purposes like identity theft and online fraud – with the US (24.6 per cent) and China (7.8 per cent) in second and third place. The statistics, taken from Symantec’s Global Internet Threat Report for the period July to December 2004, are based on the number of PCs worldwide that are known to be infected with bot agents, such as the infamous Agobot worm. The Register
Businesses Warned of e-terror Threat

I'd rather have my letters arrive on time or at all and worry over cyberterrorism later! Warnings like this have very little substance but make great headlines!

The world is likely to face a major cyber terrorism attack within the next two years, David Lacey, director of security at the Post Office has warned.

Lacey said developments in network technology, coupled with the growth of organised crime, pointed to a major global incident by 2006.

Computer Weekly

Say No to 1984

Say No to 1984-2
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Just in case anyone should forget what a Labour government has achieved in a few short years. In a society lacking the protection of a constitution, undoing a thousand years of liberties that started with Magna Carta.
Smash and Grab

When the news of last week’s £240 million attempted robbery of Sumitomo Mitsui bank first broke, I was, by coincidence, on my way to the office of our National Hi-tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) at a secret address, behind a Chinese laundry in London’s Docklands. In fact, I was there to discuss the programme for next month’s eCrime Congress and it wasn’t long before those of us around the table started commenting on the remarkable similarity between the Sumitomo attempt and the first workshop scenario for the congress.

"He looks suspicious to me"

Meanwhile, back in the world of television news, speculation was rife as journalists attempted to tease-out the true details of the case, which haven’t been released for operational reasons, with a firm “No Comment” from the NHTCU. Elsewhere, security companies were busy leaping on the bandwagon, offering TV interviews and alarmist ammunition to the press. My favourite is from Mi2G, which swiftly described, “The global economic …
Back to Oman

I'm back to Oman next week and taking my family along with me. Any Easter eggs are best left in the fridge at home until we return as Southern Arabia isn't chocolate-friendly unless you happen to carry an air-conditioned suitcase.

In fact, the biggest problem in getting to Oman isn't the flight but the journey from my home on the Kent coast to Heathrow in time to catch the 9:10 flight from Terminal 4. I reckon I'll have to leave home at 4am because my route gradually coincides me with the start of the M25 rush.

When I made the same journey in December, I used my motorcycle on a bitterly cold morning and discovered, to my horror that the motorway had ground to a complete halt by the time I reached the A3/M25 intersection. Without the bike, I might not have made the flight and it seems ridiculous, that I'm sitting here, worrying on a Saturday over how bad the traffic might be on Wednesday morning and whether I can negotiate less than a 100 miles of motorway…

Working from Home

Working from Home
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
One of the benefits of a living a digital existence is that one no longer has to live in the city.

My wireless laptop connection won't quite reach as far as the beach but I'm working on it. Until then and on a glorious warm spring day, the sea is only two hundred metres away or less, depending on whether the tide is in when I take the dog for a lunchtime stroll.
Banks Hit by Cross-Frame Phishing AttacksEven nastier ways of stealing your money! Charter One Bank customers attacked by fraudsters who hosted their data collection forms on the bank's "secure" web site. [via Netcraft]

Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Have hackers recruited your PC?Research shows thousands of home PCs have been hijacked by hackers and criminals. More than one million computers on the net have been hijacked to attack websites and pump out spam and viruses. The huge number was revealed by security researchers who have spent months tracking more than 100 networks of remotely-controlled machines [via BBC News ]
Fifteen Seconds of Fame

That's the standard BBC clip and yesterday I was amazed that the BBC "News at Ten" sent a film crew,the hundred miles down to Kent to interview me at my home. Surely it can't have been worth a four hour drive!

In fact, I was at the National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) office yesterday morning as the Sumitomo "Bank Hack" story broke. As a consequence, I found myself motorcycling into the Millbank TV centre, to do Sky News, ITV News and BBC 24. Thanks to the wonders of Vodafone voicemail, had arrived home,a hundred miles away, before messages from BBC 10' O'clock and Channel 4 news, from the same morning, caught up with my mobile phone. I wasn't riding that quickly, honest!

Add BBC Radio Scotland, Manchester, London, Oxford and German Public Radio interviews from home and I guess it was a busy afternoon and an ego trip gone mad.

Just had time to bury Fluffy the Hamster, with great ceremony, under the rosebushes and between ra…
Obituary for a Hamster - Bye Fluffy

My daughter's Hamster, Fluffy, just passed on and I'm very touched at the way she did.

I've seen countless Hamsters in my time, my own, my sister's and even my ten year old daughter's but Fluffy was the most unusual, more like a small affectionate dog than a rodent, quite docile and would happily watch Disney channel on her lap or shoulder in the evening.

Possibly the world's oldest living Hamster, we knew today the end was near as she could no longer struggle up to the top floor of her three story Hamster "penthouse" for water and needed warming-up by hand , Some thirty minutes ago, my daughter intuitively "knew" there was something wrong. She retrieved Fluffy from her impenetrable nest, called me in and as a "Doctor", I confirmed that the end was near. Cradled gently in her small hands, Fluffy then took two short gasps and was gone.

Most of us won't pass away as easily as this and even though m…
Pharming Out-Scams PhishingA fast-spreading online swindle redirects web users to phony sites where criminals can capture passwords and other data. Unlike phishing, which targets one user at a time, pharming nabs multiple victims at once. [via Wired News]
Apparently, phishers are discovering that they can't get the same bang for the spam when sending out phishing emails pretending to come from various banks, so they're looking to move on to various online retail establishments. Of course, eBay phishing has been around for a while, but it looks like the phishers are expanding their focus to get into various other accounts as well. Either people have learned not to trust these emails from banks, or phishers are just getting even more greedy. It seems like the latter would be a better bet. [via Techdirt]
Virus Authors Switch from Havoc to Profit

The last quarter of 2004 was categorised by a distinct trend of virus writers moving away from merely trying to create disruptions to developing malicious code that could potentially generate revenue. Computing
Paxman vs. John Reid in Living Video
Not to be missed!

Forget Die Hard and Dirty Harry, the video that has shot to the top of the Commons viewing schedule is Attack Dog.

Starring Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman and Health Secretary John Reid, it has been awarded an "Annie's Oscar" - created by customers in the legendary Commons bar - for its realistic portrayal of the continuing class war in Britain.

The video nasty kicks off with Paxo branding Dr John a government "attack dog" , followed by the minister accusing the presenter of being a patronising sophisticate with a posh accent and a PhD who insulted him because he had a Glaswegian accent. BBC NEWS
Microsoft Monopoly Will Wane, Experts SayWhither mighty Microsoft Corp? Don't dump your stocks in the software giant, experts warn. But they also say the "days of Microsoft's hegemony may soon be over," according to a new report. Microsoft's Explorer browser is already losing market share. It recently fell below the 90 percent mark because of competition from such rivals as the Firefox open-source browser. The Massachusetts Institute of Techology's Thomas Malone said he wouldn't predict how much Microsoft's dominance might fall. [via TechNewsWorld]
Build Your Own Bluetooth Sniper RifleThe gun, which is called the BlueSniper rifle, can scan and attack Bluetooth devices from more than a mile away. The first version of the gun showed up at Defcon 2004, a hacker/computer security convention held annually in Las Vegas. You can read about it here.

While the early version was held together with tie-straps and rubber bands, this newest version has a much more professional look. The gun is now bigger, stronger and more durable and the antenna is almost twice a powerful as the older model. It also has a small computer which eliminates the need for lugging around a heavy laptop just to gather data.
Bit Sticky

Everyone else decided to watch me take off first this afternoon, with a crosswind and a muddy runway to contend with. I think I just joined the "Guinea Pig Club". Anyway, not so bad as I trekked over to Lydd to get fuel. It's pretty busy out there for some reason and I could hardly get a word in edgeways on the radio.

With weather like this you might have though that most sensible pilots would have stayed at home!

Really Bad day
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.

Let’s Play Tag

It’s the not too distant future and it might even be tomorrow. Here I am, sitting at home, proudly wearing my electronic tag, the government of the day having decided that the opinions expressed in my subversive, local community Weblog, demands that I be placed under house arrest.

Let Them Come
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
Was it the entry on council tax bills or the mystery of the thousands of dead crabs on our beach, I wonder but it doesn’t matter, “Web Whingeing” was a crime swiftly added to the statute books after the election and following the American lead, Bloggers can make no claim to any form of journalistic privilege and may indeed be closet literary terrorists, or at least that’s what it said on the application to the Judge from the Home Office.

Government is of course confident that house arrest has made me “incommunicado” but technology has come to my rescue. I might no longer have access to a Personal Computer or a telephone but it’s amaz…
Beware Auction sites, Says Citizens Advice

The UK's leading consumer advice charity is warning punters to be careful when buying goods over internet auction sites after seeing a sharp rise in the number of people who've been ripped off by unscrupulous traders.

Citizens Advice (CAB) says that people who use auction sites such as eBay have "very little protection" since sales are based on trust. Not only to do buyers risk losing their money, it warns, sellers may also end up with dodgy or even non-existent goods.

Even people who use escrow services - which act as third party service to ensure both parties receive their goods and cash - are not necessarily safe. The Register
Tory MPs Propose Radical Government IT Overhaul

Just the small matter of having to win the election first...

Conservative MPs are proposing radical changes to government IT that would include the creation of an IT minister, IT contracts being put in the public domain, a new cyber-crime police unit and the creation of a faster national broadband infrastructure capable of delivering interactive video.

The proposals were unveiled today by the Conservative Technology Forum (CTF), a think-tank led by shadow industry and technology minister Michael Fabricant MP and European MP Malcolm Harbour. The plan does not represent official Tory policy but is aimed at outlining a technology strategy for the party in the event it wins the forthcoming general election.

Launch of the Conservative Digital Action Plan

Malcolm Harbour - Simon Moores
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
At the Grand Hotel in Brighton this evening. Malcolm Harbour MEP and I are pictured holding the Party's "Digital Action Plan" now downloadable from here or The Conservative Technology Forum website at . Thanks to Cisco and Nick Penston for supporting the event.

More photos of the event behind this one and all comments welcome.
Say "Ouch" if Your'e a BankOnline Banking Industry Very Vulnerable to Cross-Site Scripting Frauds Well known banks have created an infestation of application bugs and vulnerabilities across the Internet, allowing fraudsters to insert their data collection forms into bona fide banking sites, creating convincing frauds that are undetectable to most customers. [via Netcraft]It's Enough to Make You Hide Your Money Under the BedPhishing operations have begun using DNS wildcards and URL encoding to create email links that display the URLs of legitimate banking sites, which are likelier to lure online banking customers to spoof sites operated by fraudsters. [via Netcraft]In recent weeks wildcard DNS settings have been used in a wave of phishing attacks on Barclays Bank, in which the "bait" email included URLs starting with, followed by a lengthy sequence of letters and symbols. Two examples:…
A Digital Plan

Off to the Conservative Party conference in Brighton today, for the launch of the Plan for a Digital Britain, which along with others in the Conservative Technology Forum, I have edited and co-authored. A link to the PDF is seen above and the document is embargoed until 18:00 tonight, when it will be launched by Michael Fabricant MP and Malcolm Harbour MEP, in Brighton. All comments on the ideas in the document are welcomed.

Meanwhile, I'm having problems with Blogger over the last 24 hours. It keeps "Timing-out" and posting has become a real problem.

Phishing and Key-logging Trojans Cost UK Banks £12m

Phishing scams and Trojan keystroke loggers were behind UK online bank fraud totalling £12m last year, according to the latest official figures.

It is the first year the online fraud figures have been collected but total UK card fraud losses rose 20 per cent to £504.8m in 2004 as revealed in the annual figures by UK payments body APACS.
Tony Blair Tests The Spamming WatersI discussed the issue of "Political Spamming" with the office of a senior Conservative politician this month. Describing it as "Possibly unethical and potentially illegal", I reminded them of the case of Sean Connery and the Scottish National Party over two years ago, where the issue of Spamming for political purposes was negatively recieved. This however does not appear to be stopping Labour and neither, reportedly, are the rules on telephone canvassing.

What is it with politicians and spam? While they all proclaim to hate spam and pass useless laws that pretend to ban spam, they still have no problem sending out spam themselves. While it's normally been used by politicians campaigning for office, it appears that politicians in office are becoming fans of spamming their constituents as well. The latest is British Prime Minister Tony Blair who has spammed a bunch of folks in the UK. The Labour Party claims that the emails only…
Phishers pushing spyware through DNS holes The Internet Storm Center is concerned that online criminals are 'poisoning' the domain name system and redirecting Web users to malicious sites Online thieves looking for personal data may be moving to more active measures by redirecting people from legitimate sites to malicious ones, security experts said this week.

The attacks compromised DNS servers to replace the numeric addresses of popular Web sites with the addresses of malicious sites run by the attackers. Known as DNS poisoning, the scheme redirects Internet users to bogus sites where they may be asked for sensitive information or have spyware installed on their PCs. [via ZDNet]
UK an eGovernment LeaderThe UK is among the EU's best at providing public services online, but Britons need persuading to use them, say researchers. An EC report ranked the UK third out of 28, after Sweden and Austria, in its online public service "sophistication". A year earlier it was eighth. [via BBC News ]Working closely with Simon Moores, The Politics and International Relations Department at the University of Kent at Canterbury, is looking to launch an "eGovernment Leadership" course for Middle Eastern students over the summer months.
Gear Down

Just under two hours to get home again from Leeds this afternoon,with a strong following wind and almost the same miserable weather as yesterday.

I had a presentation to give the Department of Work and Pensions annual conference this morning and quite possibly frightened a great many of those present with my view on how bad the online fraud situation rally is. They have a real challenge to meet. Not only do they have to be able to deliver a transactional service online to many of the neediest people in society but they have to be able to be sure that the person that they happen to be dealing with is actually who he or she claims to be. Of course, on the Internet, nobody know your'e a dog or so the saying goes and if the dog thinks it's entitled to benefit, then the Internet is where it stands the best chance of convincing government that it stands on two legs and not four.

Good thing dogs can't type or at least I don't think mine can!

PS.. the spell checker almos…
North of Doncaster

At Leeds airport... just! Awful weather from Kent almost caused me to turn my little Cessna back. With turbulence and icing predicted in the clouds, I didn't dare climb above the weather and had to skip along at one thousand feet and below with help from the military controllers along the way. Thanks Waddington radar. A great service on such an awful day!

Back at Maypole, it's so wet after the snow, that it took four of us to push the aircraft out of the mud on to drier grass. There was some betting going on as to whether I would actually leave the runway or sink without trace into the mud.

Leeds International, with 1500 feet of cloud and drizzle is almost perfect in contrast with the weather I had to go through at Cambridge.
Yell Cries Foul Over the Cyberspace Copycats

In just three weeks some 7.5 million pages of information were downloaded from the web- site to a computer system near Birmingham. At the peak of this extraordinary operation, which took place early last year and was masterminded by only one person, around 33,000 pages of the online directory were copied each hour, through the day and night.

Independent on Sunday
A proposal of marriage and a desperate escape by two rough-looking characters, disguised as pilots, from Teeside airport.

Edinburgh Airads 13
Originally uploaded by DrMoores.
A long flight to Edinburgh and East Fortune airfield today to tow a marriage proposal for the lucky Anne Gilchrist, watched closely by a BBC Scotland film crew as her boyfriend proposed, with a little help from Captain Romantic and an Airads banner.

While Kent at 07:30 am was locked in ice and snow and we took off into a blizzard, Scotland basked in bright sunshine and you can see all the day's photos if you "click" on the image attached.

Back home to Maypole via Teeside for a refueling stop. Having parked next to all the other aircraft, filled-up and then wandered into the terminal with our bright yellow jackets, getting back out to the aircraft again, even as aircrew, wasn't that easy, as security viewed us with some suspicion and searched us thoroughly. Claiming to have an aircraft parked outside …
Back Soon

Flying aeroplanes between here Edinburgh and Leeds over the next few days, so postings may be subject to temporary interruption. The Coastguard have very kindly agreed to a go on their Islander, from Manston, later this month and you never know, I might be able to give you a pilots-eye view from EUjet, which is presently under discussion.

UK Police Smash £2m Bank ID fraud gang

Scottish police have charged 28 people over a sophisticated ID fraud racket that swindled almost £2m from over 100 private bank accounts.

More than 200 officers from Strathclyde Police raided 42 addresses yesterday after months of investigation into the scam. The number charged is expected to increase as the investigation continues.

The gang used a variety of physical and online ID theft tricks to get access to confidential personal bank account details and PIN numbers. These included collecting documents that had been thrown away, 'shoulder-surfing' for PIN numbers at cash machines and an email phishing campaign.
Google Mystery

One of my websites, "Thanet Life" as well as those of two other people I know, have dropped-off Google and disappeared, while remaining on other search engines, such as Yahoo and Alta Vista with their rankings intact.

This is of course a complete disaster for one of the commercial sites involved and I'm wondering that if I know of three examples, then how many others are involved? What on earth is going on Google?
Arise Sir BillThe long awaited knighting of Bill Gates will be taking place this week. Reuters reported that Mr. Gates will be getting his knighthood, an honorary title as Mr. Gates is not a British subject, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Wednesday. Mr. Gates will be dubbed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. [via E-Commerce Times]Arise Sir Bill
Identity Theft - Truth Stranger than Fiction for TV Star;A dodgy David Brent impression betrayed a gang of identity thieves who bought nearly £200,000 of gold bullion with money stolen from Ricky Gervais's bank account on April Fool's Day, a court heard. [via Guardian Unlimited]
Is E-Commerce Customer Service Going Downhill?It's not just software where people are having support problems these days. One columnist notes (while admitting it's a sample size of one) that he's noticed his customer service experiences with online retailers has been dreadful lately. He claims that back in the 90s he had wonderful experiences, but lately that's not the case at all. What's interesting, of course, is that the early days were when these small firms were supposed to have more trouble delivering the service levels promised. However, it often seems that smaller companies do give better customer service because they really do appreciate the business. It's once companies get larger that they start to treat customers as if they were interfering with more important work. [via Techdirt]
Weblogs – The New Pirate Radio of the 21st Century

Britain hasn’t yet woken-up to the influence of Blogging to the same degree as the Americans have. In fact Weblogs are claimed to have made a significant contribution to the results of the last US Presidential election in the way in which they influenced local and national public opinion and only a week ago, I was having a conversation with one of our political parties, explaining how Weblogs can be enlisted to help shape ideas and opinions in the run-up to a General Election.

Weblogs are the modern equivalent of Pirate Radio Stations in the sixties and seventies. Visit the site now owned by Google and you’ll probably discover that the great majority of Weblogs offer little more than tedious adolescent emotional graffiti or the personal diaries of many thousands of Bridget Jones clones. Like tuning a radio, among the static, can be found commentaries that draw one’s attention and increasingly compete with mainstream news…