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by CSO Contributor

Cracking the Hacker Underground; Homeland Security CIO Calls for Cybersecurity, Communications Standards; Remote Controlled Donkeys Aid Smugglers; Pharmaceuticals Poisoning Water Species?

Nov 14, 20033 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Cracking the Hacker Underground

A BBC News Online story today looks at efforst to infiltrate the vast underground network of hackers, with its thousands of individuals and groups, ranging from lurkers who are intrigued by hacker chat to “script kiddies” who try out hacker tools for a laugh. Net security companies work to keep an eye on these groups to figure out which weak Net spot they are planning to attack next. TruSecure for example currently tracks more than 11,000 individuals in about 900 different hacking groups and gangs. In addition, the company has an elite group of hacker infiltrators, codename IS/Recon, who try to gain enough trust to get certain individuals in the groups to “blab” and answer questions about who is who and what they are doing. “We refuse to hire hackers, that would be crazy,” Peter Tippett, founder and CTO at TruSecure told the BBC. “We don’t do anything illegal, but we impersonate hackers.” Homeland Security CIO Calls for Cybersecurity, Communications StandardsComputerWorld today, Steven Cooper, the new CIO at the Department of Homeland Security, said he has had “some pretty candid conversations” with Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer and other company officials about software security concerns. He was addressing a gathering of about 150 CIOs at a CIO Symposium put on by the Columbus Technology Council and the Center for Information Technologies in Management. Cooper also said he met with nearly 75 government CIOs earlier this week, most of whom said their departments now have internal cybersecurity plans that include some kind of vulnerability and risk assessment, use third parties for penetration testing and have put in place some type of patch management process, according to Computerworld. Cooper spoke of his agencys work and answered other CIO questions.

According to a story in

Remote Controlled Donkeys Aid SmugglersBBC News Online: donkeys, with tape recorders on their backs. The trained donkeys leave Algeria laden with goods for Morocco and a tape recorder that repeats the command for walk. When they reach Morocco, they are met by smugglers who unload their cargo, and send them on their return journey loaded with different goods bound for the Algerian market. The customs service learned of the ploy and started killing the donkeys. This met with protest from villagers.

Smugglers in Algeria have reportedly come up with a novel way to get their contraband across the closed border into Morocco, reports

Pharmaceuticals Poisoning Water Species? story today. Scientists have evidence that this “cocktail” of pharmaceuticals, in high enough quantities, can lead to problems that may be serious enough to prevent wildlife from reproducing. Sewage treatment plants are not equipped to filter out any of the hundreds of different prescription drugs that are present in wastewater. And it’s not clear just how they would approach the cost or technology of such a challenge. Michael Smith, manager of the R. M. Clayton wastewater treatment plant in Atlanta, which treats about 80 million gallons of water each day, says, “Trying to enhance this facility to remove those items would probably require some reverse osmosis or some kind of further ultra filtration system. It would require a lot more construction and a lot more cost to remove those items,” he said. Researchers are working on several fronts to determine how big the problem is and just what short- and long-term ecological effects there might be on wildlife.

Aquatic and amphibian species are being exposed to small amounts of everything from Prozac to perfume to birth control pills that make their way into U.S. rivers and streams, according to a