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    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Reuter site - Stratfor relaunches website in wake of attack

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    Stratfor relaunches website in wake of attack

    Wed, Jan 11 13:30 PM EST

    By Jim Finkle

    (Reuters) - Intelligence analysis firm Strategic Forecasting Inc (Stratfor) relaunched its website more than two weeks after an attack by hackers who had stolen data of clients including Henry Kissinger and former Vice President Dan Quayle.

    As the Austin, Texas-based firm re-opened the site on Wednesday, it disclosed that the hackers took credit card data in early December, then returned on Christmas Eve to attack four of its servers, forcing its site offline and crippling its operations.

    "It was deliberate destruction," Stratfor Chief Executive George Friedman said in an interview. "Their only motivation in doing that was to silence us. We don't know why they wanted to silence us."

    Stratfor is a private firm that publishes research about international affairs. Prior to the attack it had more than 300,000 paying customers including politicians, military officers, government officials and business executives.

    Friedman said that the company had drawn on its savings to stay in business because it had lost a month's work of subscriptions due to the attacks.

    "As you can see, we are readily capable of not having revenue for a month and our plan is to not have revenue for another month, so we clearly have the resources to survive this and we will," Friedman said.

    Hackers affiliated with the group Anonymous who have claimed responsibility for the attack have said they possess email correspondence of Stratfor's approximately 100 employees that they intend to release.

    A spokesperson for the hacking group said last month via Twitter that the correspondence would show "Stratfor is not the 'harmless company' it tries to paint itself as."

    Friedman said that he would prefer the emails not be made public, but that there were no smoking guns supporting the claims of the hackers that his company is engaged in nefarious activities.

    "If they come out, it is certainly something we can live with," he told Reuters.

    HICCUPS

    Stratfor put its site back online on Wednesday morning, posting new reports on Lithuania's energy strategy and Iraq's intelligence services.

    A Stratfor spokesman said that some subscribers had trouble accessing the site as the company adjusted its bandwidth to meet demand.

    In late December the hackers released credit card numbers belonging to thousands of Stratfor customers, including former U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger. That prompted security experts to speculate that the company had failed to encrypt the data before storing it on its computer system.

    "This was our failure. As the CEO of Stratfor, I take responsibility," Friedman said in an email to customers.

    Stratfor said it would use an outside company to process credit card transactions in the future. It also said that an Internet security firm, Sec Theory, was rebuilding its website, email system and internal infrastructure.

    It also said that investigators with Verizon Communications Inc conducted a forensic review of the attack on behalf of Stratfor and that it was cooperating with the FBI's investigation into the matter.

    Anonymous is a loose-knit group of activist hackers that became famous for attacking companies and institutions that oppose WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

    Anonymous has also been linked to attacks on the websites of the PlayStation store, the Church of Scientology and governments around the globe that it considered oppressive.

    (Reporting By Jim Finkle, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

    Reuter site - Motorola, Lenovo sign on to first Intel-powered smartphones

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    Motorola, Lenovo sign on to first Intel-powered smartphones

    Wed, Jan 11 01:02 AM EST

    By Noel Randewich

    (Reuters) - Intel announced multi-year pacts with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo to develop smartphones and tablets, and said the first Google Android phones using the top chipmaker's processors would go on sale this year.

    Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said Lenovo would launch a smartphone for the Chinese market using Intel's newest chip in the second quarter of the year, while Motorola will release its phone in the second half.

    The agreements with the U.S. and Chinese consumer electronics makers help shore up Intel's boldest foray into the mobile arena. The company is hoping its new "Medfield" chip conserves enough power to compete with rival smartphones using ARM Holdings' more energy-efficient architecture.

    The world's largest chip maker is also making a concerted push for the likes of Hewlett Packard to go big on super-slim, Apple Macbook Air-like laptops called Ultrabooks, which it hopes will preserve its dominance of the PC market as tablets like the iPad draw consumers away.

    "It is a multi-year, multi-product strategy that will bring both phones and tablets to the (U.S.) marketplace starting with a phone in the second half of 2012," Dave Whalen, a vice president in the Intel Architecture Group, said of the agreement with Motorola.

    "You're going to see us working very closely with them on technologies," Whalen told Reuters in an interview.

    With mobile processors made by the likes of Texas Instruments Inc and Samsung stealing the show, Intel's engineers have been laboring to adapt technology refined over decades for PCs to work better in handheld devices without quickly draining their batteries.

    With its chips so far seen as to power hungry for handheld devices, Intel has found itself left behind in a headlong race to design the brains of tablets and smartphones.

    DANGERS OF IRRELEVANCE

    Intel says Medfield ranks well in benchmark tests against competing chips on the market.

    An ongoing relationship to build smartphones with Motorola could position Intel well in the fast-growing market, even if Motorola continues to make phones using other companies' processors.

    Motorola Mobility has agreed to be bought by Google, which owns the Android platform widely used on smartphones and tablets competing with Apple.

    "We're going to work very closely with Motorola and Google and really figure out what kind of things we can do that are unique and different," Whalen said, mentioning camera and video technology as examples.

    The Lenovo agreement builds on an existing partnership between the two companies focused on personal computers. Lenovo, the world's No. 2 PC maker, has focused its strategy on its home market but on Tuesday, it said it would sell a smartphone for U.S. consumers in time.

    Many on Wall Street deem Intel at a crossroads, where it either has to carve out a share of the mobile market or risk becoming irrelevant in the long run.

    The Santa Clara, California company has made previous attempts at processors for smartphones and tablets that fell short of expectations and were passed over by manufacturers.

    Many Wall Street investors have since taken a "wait and see" attitude toward Intel's efforts in mobile. With the tablet and smartphone market booming -- partly at the expense of personal computers -- investors worry that the chipmaker's setback in mobile could leave it badly positioned for future waves of mobile devices.

    Worldwide smartphone processor sales came to $2.24 billion in the third quarter of last year, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics. That's a pittance compared with Intel's $14.7 billion in revenue in the same quarter.

    But smartphone sales are expected to grow 32 percent in 2012, according to IHS iSuppli, while some experts see marginal PC microprocessor demand growth at best.

    (Editing By Edwin Chan)

    Reuter site - Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media

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    Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media

    Wed, Jan 11 13:37 PM EST

    By Mark Hosenball

    (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.

    A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards."

    The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."

    The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    A DHS official familiar with the monitoring program said that it was intended purely to enable command center officials to keep in touch with various Internet-era media so that they were aware of major, developing events to which the Department or its agencies might have to respond.

    The document outlining the monitoring program says that all the websites which the command center will be monitoring were "publicly available and... all use of data published via social media sites was solely to provide more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating pictures, and more timely information for decision makers..."

    The DHS official said that under the program's rules, the department would not keep permanent copies of the internet traffic it monitors. However, the document outlining the program does say that the operations center "will retain information for no more than five years."

    The monitoring scheme also features a five-page list, attached to the privacy review document, of websites the Department's command center expected to be monitoring.

    CONTROVERSIAL SITES

    These include social networking sites Facebook and My Space - though there is a parenthetical notice that My Space only affords a "limited search" capability - and more than a dozen sites that monitor, aggregate and enable searches of Twitter messages and exchanges.

    Among blogs and aggregators on the list are ABC News' investigative blog "The Blotter;" blogs that cover bird flu; several blogs related to news and activity along U.S. borders (DHS runs border and immigration agencies); blogs that cover drug trafficking and cybercrime; and websites that follow wildfires in Los Angeles and hurricanes.

    News and gossip sites on the monitoring list include popular destinations such as the Drudge Report, Huffington Post and "NY Times Lede Blog", as well as more focused techie fare such as the Wired blogs "Threat Level" and "Danger Room." Numerous blogs related to terrorism and security are also on the list.

    Some of the sites on the list are potentially controversial. WikiLeaks is listed for monitoring, even though officials in some other government agencies were warned against using their official computers to access WikiLeaks material because much of it is still legally classified under U.S. government rules.

    Another blog on the list, Cryptome, also periodically posts leaked documents and was one of the first websites to post information related to the Homeland Security monitoring program.

    Also on the list are JihadWatch and Informed Comment, blogs that cover issues related to Islam through sharp political prisms, which have sometimes led critics to accuse the sites of political bias.

    Also on the list are various video and photo-sharing sites, including Hulu, YouTube and Flickr.

    While a DHS official involved in the monitoring program confirmed the authenticity of the list, officials authorized to speak for the Department did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

    (Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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