The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Multinationals hit by global wave of cyberattacks

Yahoo – AFP, Oleksandr Savochenko with Maria Antonova in Moscow and AFP bureaus, June 27, 2017

Ukraine's central bank said a cyberattack hit several lenders in the country,
hindering operations and leading the regulator to warn other financial institutions
to tighten security measures (AFP Photo/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Kiev (AFP) - A global wave of cyberattacks that began in Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday wrought havoc on government and corporate computer systems as it spread to Western Europe and across the Atlantic.

Several multinational companies said they were targeted, including US pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russian state oil giant Rosneft, British advertising giant WPP and the French industrial group Saint-Gobain.

The first reports of trouble came from Ukrainian banks, Kiev's main airport and Rosneft, in a major incident reminiscent of the recent WannaCry virus.

Some IT experts identified the virus as "Petrwrap", a modified version of the Petya ransomware which hit last year and demanded money from victims in exchange for the return of their data.

But global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said: "Our preliminary findings suggest that it is not a variant of Petya ransomware as publically reported, but a new ransomware that has not been seen before," which it named "NotPetya".

The cyberattack also recalled a ransomware outbreak last month which hit more than 150 countries and a total of more than 200,000 victims with the WannaCry ransomware.

'Spreading round the world'

The virus is "spreading around the world, a large number of countries are affected," Costin Raiu, a researcher at the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab said in a Twitter post.

In the United States, Merck was hit as was New York law firm of DLA Piper.

"We confirm our company's computer network was compromised today as part of a global hack. Other organizations have also been affected," Merck said on Twitter.

"It seems to be done by professionals criminals, and I think money is the motivation," said Sean Sullivan, a researcher at the Finnish cybersecurity group F-Secure.

He said that unlike the recent WannaCry attack, this "Petrwrap" attack has sophisticated elements that could make it easier to rapidly infect many more systems.

'Powerful' attack

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman wrote on Facebook that the attacks in his country were "unprecedented" but insisted that "important systems were not affected."

However, the radiation monitoring system at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear site has been taken offline after it was targeted in the attack, forcing employees to use hand-held counters to measure levels, officials said Tuesday.

The technological systems were working "as usual" at the plant that exploded in 1986, however.

The attacks started around 2:00 pm Moscow time (1100GMT) and quickly spread to 80 companies in Ukraine and Russia, said cybersecurity company Group IB.

The companies affected were hit by a type of ransomware that locks users out of the computer and demands purchase of a key to reinstate access, Group IB said.

The cryptolocker demands $300 in bitcoins and does not name the encrypting program, which makes finding a solution difficult, Group IB spokesman Evgeny Gukov said.

Ukraine's central bank said several lenders had been hit in the country, hindering operations and leading the regulator to warn other financial institutions to tighten security measures.

Banks were experiencing "difficulty in servicing customers and performing banking operations" due to the attacks, the bank said in a statement.

Rosneft said earlier that its servers suffered a "powerful" cyberattack but thanks to its backup system "the production and extraction of oil were not stopped."

The wave of cyberattacks also impacted Maersk, a global cargo shipping company; Saint-Gobain, a French company producing glass and other construction materials; and British-based WPP.

In Amsterdam, the Dutch parcel delivery company TNT, which operates in 200 countries around the world, said its systems had been affected. "We are assessing the situation and are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible," the company, part of FedEx, said in a statement to AFP.

Signs of sophistication

Experts also said this latest attack could heighten fears that companies may be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than suspected, potentially putting personal data at risk.

"This will undeniably affect trust in these organisations and raise questions of competency," said Louis Rynsard, a director at the corporate communications agency SBC London.

"The long-lasting impact of a cyberattack cannot be overstated," he said.

The fight against cyberattacks has sparked exponential growth in global protection spending, with the cyber security market estimated at $120 billion this year, more than 30 times its size just over a decade ago.

But even that massive figure looks set to be dwarfed within a few years, experts said, after ransomware attacks crippled computers worldwide in the past week.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Nearly 2,000 people fall for ‘Microsoft helpdesk’ scam in 18 months, police say

DutchNews, June 22, 2017

Intelligence agencies are bracing themselves for Brexit hacks. 

Last year 1,100 people filed a police report after being conned out of money by phone callers claiming to work for Microsoft, and 800 have done so already this year, broadcaster NOS said on Thursday. 

Victims are phoned by an English-speaking man or woman, often with a heavy accent, who claim to work for the software giant’s help desk. They then proceed to explain that the victim’s computer has problems. 

In some cases victims are asked to install software which allows the conman or woman to take over their computer. In others they are asked for bank details so that they can empty bank accounts. 

Victims have lost hundreds of thousands of euros to the scammers, police say, and one man lost some €70,000. 

Most victims are over the age of 50. ‘This could be because the scammers use fixed phone lines and older people are more likely than youngsters to have them,’ spokesman Rob van Bree told the broadcaster. 

The police say they think several groups are involved in the different versions of the scam. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

After toppling Apple in China, Oppo eyes world market

Yahoo – AFP, Julien GIRAULT, June 21, 2017

An army of salespeople and 200,000 stores across the country have helped
Oppo overtake giants Apple and Samsung in the Chinese smartphone market
(AFP Photo/Nicolas ASFOURI)

With its army of salespeople and vast network of outlets, a relatively new smartphone maker has exploded in popularity to overtake global giants Apple and Samsung in China’s market -- and now it has its eye on the West.

Oppo began life selling DVD players in the in the southern manufacturing hub of Dongguan a little more than a decade ago and only broke into the handset market in 2011.

But with an aggressive marketing strategy and concentration on bricks-and-mortar stores in small and medium-sized cities -- rather than relying on online customers -- sales have soared.

Last year it had a market share of 16.8 percent making it the China market leader and while a slip in the first three months of 2017 put it just behind local rival Huawei, according to market analyst IDC, it remains well ahead of Apple and Samsung.

Globally it ranks fourth behind Samsung, Apple and Huawei.

While its rivals focus on the premium end of the smartphone market in major cities and online, Oppo makes relatively cheap devices -- its latest model is less than half the price of an iPhone 7.

Oppo also sells them in actual shops. It has 200,000 outlets across China -- less than 10 percent of its purchases are made online -- while retailers are offered generous commissions in exchange for promoting the brand.

"In small cities, consumers unfamiliar with smartphones need to see and touch the devices and to have salespeople there to help them," said Yi Jun, Oppo's international sales director.

At the company's factory in Guangdong province, Oppo handsets are submitted to a series of durability tests including one-metre drops and temperature changes ranging from -40 degrees Celsius to 85 degrees Celsius.

"Technology is essential for meeting consumers' expectations," Yi said, pointing to Oppo's fast-charging ability, high-definition camera lens and sleek design.

Smartphone market share graphic (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

'Brand ambassadors'

Now Oppo's rivals are starting to follow suit.

Chinese brand Xiaomi, which lost significant market share in 2016, has been relying on the web for sales of its top-of-the-range smartphones.

But in February it announced plans to go back to old-fashioned selling techniques with plans to open 1,000 stores by 2020 in the hope of reversing its fortunes.

As competitors play catch up, analysts warn Oppo must maintain its momentum to stay on or near the top.

It needs to continue expanding its sales network and offering competitive products, said Mo Jia, an analyst at technology research firm Canalys.

Oppo has also been boosting its sales abroad, including emerging markets in Southeast Asia where its share more than doubled to 13.2 percent last year -- by far the biggest increase among its rivals, IDC data shows.

In India, it was the fourth-biggest player in the fourth quarter, with 8.6 percent market share, behind Samsung, Xiaomi and Lenovo.

"Its success in these countries comes from frantic marketing," said IDC analyst Tay Xiaohan, noting the use of local celebrities as "brand ambassadors" as it targets millennials.

It is also starting to back high-profile sports teams to increase brand awareness. Earlier this year it forked out more than $160 million to become an official sponsor of the Indian cricket side.

And Oppo is adapting its products to satisfy the "selfie" trend.

"We noticed the craze in Southeast Asia for group selfies and tailored our devices accordingly," Yi said, referring to special camera features that enable users to take better self-portraits.

Next stop is the West.

"We are very interested in entering the US and European markets, we are working on it... but without a precise timeline," Yi said.

It will be challenging.

While Huawei has managed to make a name for itself in US and European smartphone markets, it was already very present in those places as a telecom equipment manufacturer, said Annette Zimmermann, an analyst with technology research company Gartner.

And Oppo's direct sales strategy might not be as successful in markets dominated by mobile network operators that provide handsets with their contracts.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

France and Britain announce anti-terror action plan

Yahoo – AFP, June 13, 2017

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) is greeted by France's President
Emmanuel Macron ahead of a meeting at The Elysee Palace in Paris on
June 13, 2017 (AFP Photo/CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT)

Paris (AFP) - The leaders of France and Britain on Tuesday announced an anti-terror action plan to crack down on radicalisation through social media.

After talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said both countries agreed that social networks were not doing enough to stamp out terror propaganda.

Speaking after terror attacks in Manchester and London, Macron said the two countries had worked on a "very concrete" action plan.

He said one of the key measures would aim at preventing the incitement of "hate and terrorism" on the internet.

May said she and Macron agreed that "more should be done to tackle the terrorist threat online".

She said the British and French campaign was aimed to "ensure the internet cannot... be used to host the radicalising material that leads to so much harm."

May said the British government was already working with social media companies "to halt the spread of extremist material and poisonous propaganda that warps young minds", adding: "But we know they need to do more.

"Today we can announce that the UK and France will work together to encourage organisations to do more and abide by their social responsibility to step up their efforts to remove harmful content from their networks."

The campaign includes exploring the possibility of legal penalties against tech companies if they fail to take the necessary action to remove unacceptable content, May said.

Britain was rocked by a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester on May 22 which killed 22 people, including children, followed two weeks later by a knife and van attack in central London, which left eight dead.

France has been a constant target for jihadist attacks since 2015, with more than 230 people killed.

After their press conference the two leaders headed to the Stade de France to watch a friendly match between the French and English football teams.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dutch spent €1bn buying goods from EU websites in 2016

DutchNews, May 23, 2017


Consumers in the Netherlands spent more than €1bn buying goods from web shops in other European countries  2016, a 25% gain over the previous year, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. 

Clothing and shoes were the most popular items,the CBS said. The figures come from a joint big data project between the CBS and Amsterdam and Leiden universities 

The survey revealed that more than 80% of EU purchases by Dutch consumers were made on German, British, Belgian and Italian websites with German websites accounting for 50%. Britain claimed 12% and Belgium and Italy were each worth 8% of sales.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rare Apple-I fetches less than expected at German auction

The computer was one of just 200 Apple-1 computers marketed by its founders - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The winner of Saturday's auction was a German engineer who collects old computers.

Deutsche Welle, 20 May 2017


 One of the earliest Apple-1 computers, still in working condition after 40 years, sold for $125,000 (110,000 euros) at an auction in Cologne Saturday.

Despite the extraordinary price, it sold for much less than the expected 180,000-300,000 euros - suggesting that the spike in prices following the death of Apple's co-founder in 2011 is over.

"From our point of view we are back at normal levels. Five years after the death of [Apple co-founder] Steve Jobs the 'hype' has settled back," said Uwe Breker, who oversaw the auction in Cologne.

Breker's auction house specializes in selling technical antiques. It was also involved in a 2013 sale of another Apple-I, which fetched 516,000 euros.


A German engineer

The model auctioned off Saturday, whose original owner was a Californian engineer, still had its receipt, its operating manual and other documents.

"[The Apple 1] was one of the first opportunities for someone to possess a real computer. I'd been working with computers for a while but they were huge," original owner John J. Dryden, who bought the Apple in 1976, said Friday.

Dryden admitted that parting with the machine was wrenching, but said the time had come as he had not used it in a long time.

The computer was one of around 200 Apple-1 units marketed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who developed and built it.

bik/jlw (dpa, AFP)
Related Articles:

Global music sales hit high on streaming boom

Music executives said that sales were propped up by the growing popularity,
and competition, of paid streaming services led by Spotify and competitors
including Apple Music, Tidal and Deezer



"...Then there was Steve Jobs. He was a wild card. What he did had little to do with technology, for that would have happened anyway soon enough. Instead, it had to do with the paradigm of the business of music on Earth. He freed it, and the paradigm of how music is obtained and heard will never be the same. However, Steve Jobs did basically one thing for all of you, and then he died. Do you see any kind of connecting of the dots to some of the inventors who come and give you the one thing, then leave? If he had lived, would there be more? Yes, but you’re not ready for it. Consciousness has to support what happens.  ...."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Assange claims victory after Sweden drops rape probe

Yahoo – AFP, May 19, 2017

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of
Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

London (AFP) - Julian Assange claimed victory Friday after Swedish prosecutors dropped a seven-year rape allegation against the WikiLeaks founder, but insisted the "proper war" over his future was only just beginning.

Assange gave a clenched fist salute as he stepped into the daylight on the balcony of Ecuador's London embassy, where he has been holed up since 2012.

But the 45-year-old Australian said the road was "far from over" and declined to reveal whether he would leave the embassy after five years cooped up inside.

British police would arrest him immediately for breaching earlier bail conditions if he left the embassy, while US authorities have warned they regard WikiLeaks as a "hostile intelligence service".

"Today is an important victory," Assange told reporters and a small band of supporters crowded around the tiny balcony, after emerging wearing a black shirt and jacket.

"But it by no means erases seven years of detention without charge. In prison, under house arrest and almost five years here in this embassy without sunlight.

"That is not something that I can forgive. It is not something that I can forget."

Uncertain future

Earlier in Stockholm, Marianne Ny, Sweden's director of public prosecutions, said the rape investigation had been dropped because there was "no reason to believe that the decision to surrender him to Sweden can be executed in the foreseeable future".

"It is no longer proportionate to maintain the arrest of Julian Assange in his absence," she said.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange raises his fist prior to addressing the media on
 the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/
Justin TALLIS)

Despite the probe in Sweden being dropped, Assange would still face arrest if he set foot outside the embassy, a flat located just behind the plush Harrods emporium.

Assange jumped British bail by entering the embassy and claiming asylum, saying he feared he would eventually be extradited to the United States.

US justice authorities have never confirmed that they have Assange under investigation or are seeking his extradition.

But US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that "we will seek to put some people in jail", when asked if arresting Assange was a "priority" for Washington.

US prosecutors have been drafting a memo that looks at charges against Assange and WikiLeaks members that possibly include conspiracy, theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act, according to The Washington Post.

US President Donald Trump's administration has put heat on WikiLeaks after it embarrassed the Central Intelligence Agency in March by releasing files and computer code from the spy agency's top-secret hacking operations.

"While today was an important victory and an important vindication, the road is far from over. The war, the proper war is just commencing," Assange said.

He said his lawyers were in touch with the British authorities and hoped to begin a dialogue about the "best way forward".

And the former computer hacker said that despite the "extremely threatening remarks" emanating from Washington, he was "always ready to engage with the Department of Justice".

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy 
of Ecuador in London on May 19, 2017 (AFP Photo/Adrian DENNIS)

The department said Friday it had no comment "at this point" on Assange.

Asked if London would now support a request to extradite Assange to the United States, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We look at extradition requests on a case-by-case basis."

Assange's Swedish lawyer, Per Samuelsson, said his client plans to move to Ecuador because "it's the only nation where he is safe".

Decision a 'scandal'

In Sweden, Assange's accuser was left stunned by the prosecutors' decision.

"It is a scandal that a suspected rapist can escape justice and thereby avoid the courts," her lawyer, Elisabeth Fritz, told AFP in an email.

"My client is shocked and no decision to (end the case) can make her change (her mind) that Assange exposed her to rape," she said.

The accusation against Assange dates from August 2010 when the alleged victim, who says she met him at a WikiLeaks conference in Stockholm a few days earlier, filed a complaint.

She accused him of having sex with her -- as she slept -- without using a condom despite repeatedly having denied him unprotected sex.

Assange always denied the allegations, which he feared would lead to him being extradited to the United States and facing trial over the leak of hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010, which brought WikiLeaks to prominence.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media holding a printed report
of the judgement of the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on his case
 from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in central London on February 5,
2016 (AFP Photo/Niklas Halle'n)

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Friday, May 19, 2017

EU fines Facebook over 'misleading' WhatsApp info

Yahoo – AFP, May 18, 2017

The European Commission fines US social media giant Facebook $120 million
 for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of
WhatsApp, May 18, 2017 (AFP Photo/LOIC VENANCE)

Brussels (AFP) - The European Commission on Thursday fined US social media giant Facebook 110 million euros ($120 million) for providing incorrect and misleading information on its takeover of WhatsApp, imposing its biggest penalty for such a breach.

"Today's decision sends a clear signal to companies that they must comply with all aspects of EU merger rules, including the obligation to provide correct information," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

"The Commission must be able to take decisions about mergers' effects on competition in full knowledge of accurate facts," Vestager said.

Facebook said in response that it cooperated with the Commission.

"We've acted in good faith since our very first interactions with the Commission and we've sought to provide accurate information at every turn," a Facebook spokesperson said.

"The errors we made in our 2014 filings were not intentional and the Commission has confirmed that they did not impact the outcome of the merger review. Today's announcement brings this matter to a close."

EU regulators cleared the then $19 billion Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp in late 2014, finding no reason to believe it would dampen competition in the burgeoning social media sector.

In its statement Thursday, the Commission recalled that the merger rules require companies to provide regulators with the accurate information essential to any review.

It noted that when Facebook notified the Commission of the acquisition in 2014, the company had said it would "be unable to establish reliable automated matching between Facebook users' accounts and WhatsApp users' accounts".

"However, in August 2016, WhatsApp announced updates to its terms of service and privacy policy, including the possibility of linking WhatsApp users' phone numbers with Facebook users' identities," it said.

After launching a probe last year, the Commission "found that, contrary to Facebook's statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users' identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility."

The Commission said Thursday's decision and the fine would have no impact on its October 2014 clearance of the deal.

Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso said the fine was less than it could have been because Facebook cooperated.

Cardoso added it was nonetheless "the highest fine we have ever imposed for a procedure infringement in a merger case" and would serve as a deterrent to others.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Manhunt for hackers behind global cyberattack

Yahoo – AFP, Robin MILLARD, May 14, 2017

The huge cyberattack wiped out display screens at rail stations in Germany
(AFP Photo/Boris Roessler)

London (AFP) - International investigators hunted Saturday for those behind an unprecedented cyber-attack that affected systems in dozens of countries, including at banks, hospitals and government agencies, as security experts sought to contain the fallout.

The assault, which began Friday and was being described as the biggest-ever cyber ransom attack, struck state agencies and major companies around the world -- from Russian banks and British hospitals to FedEx and European car factories.

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex international investigation to identify the culprits," said Europol, Europe's police agency.

Europol said a special task force at its European Cybercrime Centre was "specially designed to assist in such investigations and will play an important role in supporting the investigation".

The attacks used ransomware that apparently exploited a security flaw in Microsoft operating systems, locking users' files unless they pay the attackers a designated sum in the virtual currency Bitcoin.

Images appeared on victims' screens demanding payment of $300 (275 euros) in Bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!"

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

But experts and government alike warn against ceding to the hackers' demands.

"Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released," the US Department of Homeland Security's computer emergency response team said.

"It only guarantees that the malicious actors receive the victim's money, and in some cases, their banking information."

'Painful'

Experts and officials offered differing estimates of the scope of the attacks, but all agreed it was huge.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cyber security company F-Secure, told AFP it was the biggest ransomware outbreak in history, saying that 130,000 systems in more than 100 countries had been affected.

He said Russia and India were hit particularly hard, largely because Microsoft's Windows XP -- one of the operating systems most at risk -- was still widely used there.

French police said there were "more than 75,000 victims" around the globe, but cautioned that the number could increase "significantly".

The virus spread quickly because the culprits used a digital code believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency -- and subsequently leaked as part of a document dump, according to researchers at the Moscow-based computer security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Microsoft said the situation was "painful" and that it was taking "all possible actions to protect our customers".

It issued guidance for people to protect their systems, while taking the highly unusual step of reissuing security patches first made available in March for Windows XP and other older versions of its operating system.

Europe worst hit

US software firm Symantec said the majority of organisations affected were in Europe, and the attack was believed to be indiscriminate.

The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse.

In the United States, package delivery group FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible," while French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit by a "virus attack" and that efforts were underway to destroy it. The country's banking system was also attacked, although no problems were detected, as was the railway system.

Germany's rail operator Deutsche Bahn said its station display panels were affected. Universities in Greece and Italy also were hit.

China's network information safety working group sent a warning to universities about the cyber-attack and the National Internet Emergency Center suggested that users update Windows security patches.

Shanghai's Fudan University received reports that a large number of school computers were infected with the virus.

Accidental 'kill switch'

Kaspersky said it was "trying to determine whether it is possible to decrypt data locked in the attack -- with the aim of developing a decryption tool as soon as possible."

On Saturday, a cyber security researcher told AFP he had accidentally discovered a "kill switch" that could prevent the spread of the ransomware.

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading, though it cannot help computers already affected.

"If you have anything to patch, patch it," the researcher said in a blog post. "Now I should probably sleep."

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said.

"Unlike most other attacks, this malware is spreading primarily by direct infection from machine to machine on local networks, rather than purely by email," said Lance Cottrell, chief scientist at the US technology group Ntrepid.

G7 finance ministers meeting in Italy vowed to unite against cyber crime, as it represented a growing threat to their economies and should be tackled as a priority. The danger will be discussed at the G7 leaders' summit next month.

In Britain, the attack disrupted care at National Health Service facilities, forcing ambulances to divert and hospitals to postpone operations.

"There will be lessons to learn from what appears to be the biggest criminal cyber-attack in history," Interior minister Amber Rudd said.

"But our immediate priority as a government is to disrupt the attack, restore affected services as soon as possible, and establish who was behind it so we can bring them to justice."

burs-sst/kb

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cuban town hooked on pirate social network

Yahoo – AFP, Alexandre GROSBOIS, May 9, 2017

The small Cuban town of Gaspar is one of the most connected spots in one
of the least wired countries on Earth (AFP Photo/ADALBERTO ROQUE)

Gaspar (Cuba) (AFP) - On a traffic island in a country town, young Cubans are doing what most of their compatriots cannot: surfing an online social network.

In one of the least wired countries on Earth, Gaspar, population 7,500, is one of the most connected towns of all.

Illegally, but with the grudging tolerance of the authorities, four local techies have launched "Gaspar Social" -- rural Cuba's answer to Facebook.

"I think it's wonderful what these lads here in Gaspar have done. It was a healthy change for a town that had rather lost its spark," says Arletty Guerra, 22, one of the locals thumbing her smartphone.

More than that, Gaspar Social's promoters hope it will lead the rest of the communist island to greater connectivity.

Social networking

Most Cubans must pay a $1.50 an hour to connect via state telecom firm Etecsa's wifi points. Users of Gaspar Social do not.

Though they cannot access the world wide web via Gaspar Social, they can share photos and videos with other users in the town.

The four creators of the Gaspar Social network in Cuba hope that it will lead 
the rest of the communist island to greater connectivity (AFP Photo/
ADALBERTO ROQUE)

It opened to the general public in October -- two months before Etecsa installed the town's first official wifi hotspot.

"In the beginning it was a network just for playing video games," says one of its creators, municipal computer technician Osmani Montero, 23.

"Then we opened it to all the people in Gaspar and the number of users grew hugely in just a month."

Extra capacity

Yoandi Alvarez, 30, a medical student, raised money to buy the first aerial and server for the network.

"The antenna was near my house," he recalls. "There were users at two or three o'clock in the morning sitting in the doorway to get online, covered in quilts and blankets."

Some 500 of the town's 7,500 inhabitants have started using Gaspar Social.

The team had to buy four extra relay antennas to handle the large number of users.

To the chat and file-sharing functions it has added a news page -- with state-authorized stories only.

Cuba's Gaspar Social started as a network for playing video games and has 
developed into a local version of Facebook (AFP Photo/ADALBERTO ROQUE)

Not-so-wide web

Cuba's government has been gradually opening up the economy over the past decade. It has said it aims to provide internet access to all Cubans by 2020.

But the online revolution has been slow in coming.

In a country of 11 million people, there are just 317 public wifi hotspots.

Only selected groups such as scientists, journalists and doctors are allowed to have internet access in their homes.

Small-scale local projects like Gaspar's "offer an alternative given Cuba's infrastructure problems," which prevent many homes from getting online, says Yudivian Almeida, a computing specialist at Havana University.

If just one home has an internet cable, using wireless technology "a whole network can be generated" for neighboring homes to get online, he says.

Got a permit?

Gaspar Social is one of about 30 local networks launched by young amateurs in Cuba in recent years.

In a small Cuban town some 500 people from a population of 7,500 use 
"Gaspar Social," an illegal but tolerated answer to Facebook (AFP Photo/
ADALBERTO ROQUE)

They are unlicensed but the communist authorities tolerate them as long as they do not venture into politics or pornography.

Gaspar Social's founders were called in last month after the network's success came to the attention of the ruling Communist Party.

They thought they were going to get shut down -- but the officials gave them instructions on applying for a permit, raising hopes that the state may authorize projects like theirs.

"They made it clear our network was illegal," Alvarez says. "But they said they wouldn't be taking our antennas down."