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Digital Public Library of America and Europeana Announce Collaboration

first_img Read Full Story Washington, DC—Two major digital library networks have reached an agreement to collaborate in ways that will make a large part of the world’s cultural heritage available to a large part of the world’s population.  The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which will provide access to digital collections from libraries, museums, and archives in the United States, announced today that it will design its technical structure in a way to promote interoperability with that of Europeana, which has developed a similar system to link the major libraries, museums, and archives of Europe.Robert Darnton, a DPLA Steering Committee member and University Librarian at Harvard, said, “The association between the DPLA and Europeana means that users everywhere will eventually have access to the combined riches of the two systems at a single click. The aggregated databases will include many millions of books, pamphlets, newspapers, manuscripts, images, recordings, videos, and other materials in many formats.”Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana, welcomed the agreement, saying that “Europeana was designed to be open and interoperable, and to be able to collaborate with the DPLA is a validation of that aim. By this combined effort on two continents, Europeana and the DPLA hope to promote the creation of a global network with partners from around the world.”Another outcome of this collaboration will be a virtual exhibition about the migration of Europeans to America. The DPLA and Europeana will demonstrate the potential of their combined collections by digitizing and making freely available material about the journey from the Old World to the New. This pilot project will include text and images about the experience of the uprooted as they abandoned their homes to seek a new life thousands of miles across a treacherous ocean. Letters, photographs, and official records open up unfamiliar views into the harsh world inhabited by Europeans from the shtetl communities of Russia to the peasant villages of Ireland. And equally vivid testimonies illustrate the culture shock and hard lot of the immigrants after their arrival. Everyone in the United States, including Amerindians, descends from immigrants, and nearly everyone in Europe has some connection with migration, either within Europe itself or across the ocean. All will be invited to stroll digitally through this rich exhibition.last_img read more

Español para abogados (Spanish for lawyers)

first_imgThose are actual cases that Harvard Law School (HLS) students practiced in a role-playing exercise in a classroom in Wasserstein Hall. The scene could have taken place in any regular law course that uses simulation drills to give students practical experience in interviewing and counseling clients.But this is not a regular law class.Welcome to “Spanish for Public Interest Lawyers,” where students learn legal terms in Spanish that are critical in their interactions with clients in Greater Boston who speak that language.Open to HLS students with advanced Spanish skills, the course was first offered in 2007 in response to students who wanted a class specifically focused on legal terminology, said Lisa Dealy, assistant dean for clinical and pro bono programs at HLS. “So many of our clinics have Spanish-speaking clients,” she said.For students, the course provides critical skills to establishing better rapport and direct communication with their clients, sometimes getting around interpreters who are often overbooked. In the class, which is entirely in Spanish, students learn legal terms they have never come across in their previous Spanish lessons.Juliana Ratner, who will graduate next year with a J.D., took Spanish as an undergraduate and has traveled to several Spanish-speaking countries, but only this fall learned the Spanish terms for “arraignment,” “dismissal,” and “probation.”“Now I’m able to explain what happens during the trial and what it all means to my clients,” said Ratner. “There are many legal terms that even English speakers aren’t familiar with. When you’re a lawyer, it really matters to get things right.”To do that, students practice the new expressions in imaginary legal scenarios, rehearse the “know your rights” presentation, or go through a subpoena agreement in Spanish, learning a skill set more nuanced and important to their jobs than a vocabulary list. By becoming familiar with such concepts, it’s easier for students to keep their composure, project confidence, and earn clients’ trust, said Dan Lasman, who is in the second year of earning his J.D.“As a lawyer, you should conduct yourself as the expert,” said Lasman, who learned Spanish in college and in Madrid. “You may feel insecure when you’re speaking in a language in which you’re not entirely fluent. But as long as you do your best, you can build trust, which is key for a healthy client-attorney relationship.”The course’s instructor, Joey Michalakes, J.D. ’16, encourages students to feel comfortable making mistakes when speaking Spanish with their clients. The stakes are high, yet the gains are real, he said. “People misspeak in their native language all the time,” he told students. “It’s far worse if you don’t try.”Though the class focuses on legal terminology used in civil and criminal law, Michalakes also occasionally reviews grammar rules. On a recent night, he spoke about the use of the subjunctive and the future conditional.“In this business, someone at some point is going to ask you what’s going to happen,” said Michalakes, who learned Spanish in Chile and worked as a bilingual elementary school teacher before becoming a lawyer. “If you know how to use the subjunctive, you can give legal advice to anyone.”To prove his point, Michalakes asked students to translate sentences using the subjunctive. Some of the sentences dealt with immigration issues, as in, “If you had a criminal record, it would be harder for you to obtain legal status,” “If we do not receive the documents from the border patrol, we will file a motion in court,” and “Where would you live if you were deported?”Every time students gave the right answer, Michalakes said, “Muy bien hecho!” — “Well done!”Clients often react with a mix of surprise and delight when they hear HLS students speak Spanish, and both students and clients recognize that their relationship is better after overcoming the language barrier. Said Michalakes, “It makes us better community partners.”It also allows the cases to move faster, said Ratner, who feels more useful when she doesn’t have to wait for court translators. The bond between the lawyer and the client is immediate because they speak the same language, she said. “Anything you can do to have someone trust you and to help you communicate better is important,” she said. “All the students want to serve the community better.”Lasman shares that sentiment. He relishes seeing his clients’ relief when he speaks Spanish. “Languages builds bridges,” he said, “and allow a more direct interaction and a more real communication.”And although that communication sometimes is fraught with glitches, Lasman said the benefits of speaking a second language allow him to reach a much broader range of client, outweighing the complications.“More often than not, my clients are impressed by my ability to speak Spanish, but they definitely like to make fun of my accent,” said Lasman. “But I can deal with that.” An asylum applicant from El Salvador who was extorted by gangs back home is reluctant to share those stories in court for fear of retaliation against relatives who stayed behind.A divorce client who has suffered physical and emotional abuse needs to be informed about filing restraining orders, child support, and alimony.A wage-and-hour plaintiff is afraid of being questioned by a judge about his immigration status because he could be deported. Related In lives of others, a compass for his own Leadership role in legal aid sharpens student’s sense of purpose last_img read more

Aiteo Cup: 3SC, Heartland, Bendel Insurance Crash Out

first_img*Defending Champions Akwa United through to next roundThe AITEO Federation Cup lived up to its reputation as ‘leveler for all teams’ yesterday as former champions, Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan, Heartland Football Club of Owerri and Bendel Insurance FC of Benin City all crashed out of the competition.Shooting lost to Supreme Court while the Naze Millionaires were caged by Confine FC. Insurance lost to Remo Stars Feeder team. However, Cup holders Akwa United moved into next round of the competition with a comprehensive 7-0 drubbing of amateur club, Hope of Glory in their round of 64 tie.In Port Harcourt, Akwa United showed their form as they completely outclassed Hope of Glory with Aniekeme Asuquo grabbing a hat-trick while the duo of Victor Mbaoma and Ezekiel Bassey scored a brace apiece.Shooting Stars lost 5-4 on penalties to fellow Bet9ja Nigeria National League side, Supreme Court in Benin. The game ended in a 0-0 draw after 90 minutes.Nationwide League one side, Cofine FC created one of the biggest upsets of the round by edging out Heartland 4-2 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 at regulation time.Plateau United sailed into the next round after beating Zabgai FC of Bauchi 2-0 in Kaduna, while Enyimba also defeated Wasiu Alabewewe 3-0.In Abuja, Go Round FC got an easy pass to the Round of 32 as Kebbi-based opponents, Dan Masari failed to show up for their encounter in Abuja.The match commissioner and other officials present made the decision after waiting mandatory time after the game should have kicked off.Team Manager of Go Round FC, Soni Uboh was disappointed the game did not hold but has accepted the situation.“We would have loved to play the fixture to put the boys in match shape ahead of next weekend’s Round of 32.“We took the trouble to come for the fixture from the South South, but is all good as we have made it to another Round of 32 in the club’s history,” Uboh said.Coach of the side Ngozi Elechi said it is still a good one for his team in spite of the easy passage.“It is a good one for my players because you know in football victory is victory and we are glad we have made it to the Round of 32.“In spite of the stress of the journey, we are delighted,” Elechi saidROUND OF 64 RESULTSAkwa United 7 – 0 Hope Of GloryAbia Warriors 2 – 1 Smart City FCCofine FC 1 – 1 Heartland (4-2pen)Kano Pillars 3 – 2 Ngwa FCSunshine Stars 3 – 1 FCIU FeedersNyangsagwang 1 – 5 FC IfeanyiUbahShooting Stars 0 – 0 Supreme Court (4-5pen)Plateau United 2 – 0 Zagbai FCEnyimba 3 – 0 Alabewewe FCDelta Stars 0 – 4 Kogi UnitedOsun United 2 – 1 Minda MakurdiGo Round FC 3 – 0 Dan Masari ( W/O)Niger Tornadoes 3 – 0 Chief Of Staff (W/0)Junior Kano Pillars 0 – 0 Crown FC (4-5pen)Yobe Desert Stars 2 – 1 DMDBendel Insurance 0 – 1 Remo FeedersAll Stars FC 1 – 2 Kwara UnitedKatsina United F. 3 – 1 Jigawa Golden StarsMadagali United 0 – 3 Katsina UnitedFC Ifeanyiubah 5. – 1 NyansagwaShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Palmdale man shot to death at his home

first_imgPALMDALE – A Palmdale man was found shot to death Monday evening in his home, sheriff’s officials said Tuesday. Frank Luna, 50, was found by his wife, dying from a gunshot wound shortly after neighbors called the Palmdale sheriff’s station, reporting that they heard gunfire, officials said. The shooting was at 8 p.m. in the 12000 block of East Avenue Q. Paramedics summoned to the home pronounced Luna dead on the scene. Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating. Assuming that the case is ruled a homicide, it would be the third such reported in the Antelope Valley this year and the first in Palmdale. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

SA, Tanzania strengthen ties

first_img10 April 2006Trade and political relations between South African and Tanzania are set to be strengthened following a meeting between President Thabo Mbeki and newly elected Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.After a closed meeting that lasted nearly two hours, Mbeki said that he and Kikwete had enjoyed a successful discussion that included “widening bilateral relations with Tanzania.”Mbeki explained that the two countries intended to strengthen existing agreements in order to fast-track political and economic development.He said the next meeting of the bilateral Presidential Economic Commission, established in 2005 to encourage regular talks on political, economic and development issues, would take place in Tanzania in June.Kikwete, who is on a working visit to the country, arrived from Botswana, where he held discussions with President Festus Mogae.As a major role player in the African Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East Africa’s development and peacekeeping activities, Tanzania’s relations with South Africa are seen as vital.“Tanzania is also very active in the Great Lakes region, and the South African government will fully support its initiatives to get the Paliphutu-FNL to join the process,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad.Trade and investmentAccording to the Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa and Tanzania enjoy “healthy” trade relations.South Africa’s exports to Tanzania were projected to be worth over R2.4-billion in 2004, while the value of imports were forecast at R206.8-million in the same year.SA’s exports to Tanzania are predominantly in manufacturing: machinery, mechanical appliances, paper, rubber products, vehicles, iron, steel, services, and technology.South Africa, which ranks fourth on the list of foreign investors in Tanzania, also contributes about 10 percent of total investment in that country.About 150 South African companies are actively operating in Tanzania, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.Source: BuaNews Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

New colony for African penguin on the cards

first_imgThe population of African penguins has dwindled drastically over the past three decades, mostly as a result of human activity. Now humans are stepping in to try to save them from extinction. BirdLife South Africa plans to build a new colony for the animals. African penguins are an endangered species and its quickly heading towards extinction. To prevent them from dying out, BirdLife South Africa is looking to build a new colony that will allow them to breed while being safe from harm. BirdLife is looking to the public for aid to establish the colony. Pictured here is an injured penguin. (Image: Grant Peters, Flickr) Shamin ChibbaIn 2001, there were 56 000 pairs of African penguins in South Africa. By 2014, there were just 19 000 pairs. This drastic decline has prompted BirdLife South Africa to try something it has never done before to prevent the penguin from going extinct.Led by Christina Hagen, the Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation at BirdLife South Africa, the organisation wants to establish a new African penguin colony that will help to increase its numbers.The challenge to save the African penguin from extinction is proving to be massive, according to BirdLife South Africa chief executive Mark Anderson. “The penguins need all the help they can get. Establishing new mainland colonies are immensely important management interventions.”If you want to keep the African penguin a part of South Africa’s heritage, donate to the project at Experiment.com.Two major populations of the birds remain, made up of numerous colonies in Western Cape between West Coast National Park and Gansbaai, and of colonies in Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape. The problem for conservationists is the 600km gap between the two populations.Hagen said penguins bred more successfully on islands, where there were no terrestrial predators. But because there was no island between Gansbaai and Port Elizabeth, the gap remained. It was for this reason the new colony would have to be built on the mainland. WATCH: BirdLife South Africa looking to establish a new African penguin colonyBirdLife South Africa was still assessing suitable areas to establish the colony. For now, the choice was between De Hoop in Overberg and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, she said.The choice of location will be based on whether there is an abundance of sardines and anchovies in the area; the fish are the penguins’ two main sources of food. “Our overriding concern is that they should be in a location where there are enough sardines and anchovies in the sea,” said Hagen. “The Western Cape sardine stock is shifting eastwards which is why we are looking in those areas.”Besides having enough fish to feed on, there are numerous other factors that determine the perfect location for penguins. Hagen said the land had to be good enough for penguins to burrow and make a nest, the area must make it easy to protect the birds from predators such as caracals, leopards and mongooses, and it should not be too close to sources of pollution such as oil.BirdLife South Africa wants to relocate specific birds to the new colony. “We’ll be using young birds that have fledged and are ready to go to sea but haven’t bred yet,” said Hagen.It will also relocate chicks that have been abandoned. The area will be monitored remotely and be fenced so that predators and people cannot interfere with the birds. Two African penguin populations currently exist in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. BirdLife South Africa is looking to establish a colony between the two colonies.(Image: BirdLife South Africa)Effects of human activityIn 2010, the African penguin was listed as endangered by BirdLife International, meaning that it had decreased by over 50% in three penguin generations, or approximately 30 years. The decline is expected to continue.The drop in population is largely driven by human activity, according to BirdLife. “First egg-collecting and guano-scraping caused enormous losses. Then overfishing in the 1960s continued to cause decreases.”The biggest concern is a lack of food. Penguins eat mainly sardines and anchovies, which are also the target of the commercial purse seine fishing industry. A purse seine is a large wall of netting that encircles an entire area or school of fish. On average, large purse seine vessels can catch up to 20 tons of fish a day, says the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, with some vessels able to haul more.Today, some penguin colonies have been so drastically reduced that they are now vulnerable to minor events, such as seals preying on adults, gulls taking eggs, or extreme weather causing breeding failure.The project will also help BirdLife South Africa figure out techniques to build future colonies for penguins and other bird species. It will additionally help penguin populations spread across the western and southern coast of South Africa. African penguins prey on sardines and anchovies, but the number of fish available to the birds are dwindling due to their shift eastward and over fishing. This particular penguin was spotted at Boulders Beach near Cape Town.  (Image: Nick Perretti, Flickr)More can be doneHagen said there were continuing attempts to stop the decline but BirdLife South Africa felt more needed to be done. These included attempts to increase recruitment by maintaining and improving nesting habitat, and captive rearing and releasing of orphaned wild chicks.Attempts to decrease mortality include eradicating invasive predators, reducing predation by natural predators around colonies such as seals, rehabilitation and release of oiled and injured penguins, disease control, and changing fishing patterns.Building a new colony is the most drastic step taken so far. “Trying to create a colony is a big step and it hasn’t been done before so people are a bit hesitant to try it,” said Hagen. “But we are working with a number of organisations, including the Nature’s Valley Trust and the African Penguin Population Reinforcement Working Group to help make it happen.”WATCH: AZA SAFE short documentary on the African penguinSardines and anchovies migratingAfrican penguins were a good indicator species for the health of the ecosystem, she added. Their falling numbers meant changes were taking place in the sea.Since the mid-1990s, sardines and anchovies have been moving east to the Agulhas area and the south coast, making it difficult for the birds to reach their prey. “Breeding penguins can’t travel far from their colony to find food as they have to return to feed their chicks. So they can’t go further than 20 or 30 kilometres from their breeding ground.”Hagen believes climate change has forced sardines and anchovies to move. “The change in temperature is thought to have shifted the fish because other species have also shifted.”Additionally, high pressure from fishing on the west coast could have played a role in the fish moving east.Despite the shift, BirdLife South Africa said the two colonies on the south coast, which supposedly should have benefited, had continued to dwindle.Fun facts about the African penguinHeight: approximately 60cm tallWeight: between 2.4 and 3.6 kgsLifespan: about 10 yearsHabitat: Within 40km of the coast, preferring rocky offshore islandsBreeding: Usually breeds for the first time between 4 and 6 years of ageBreeding season: Between March and May in South Africa and November and December in NamibiaMoulting: Between 13 and 40 days. Occurs between November and January in South Africa and April and May in NamibiaChicks: Once hatched, the parents will take it in turns to guard and feed the chicks until they are about 30 days old. Thereafter chicks are left alone in crèches. When they are between 60-130 days old they develop juvenile plumage and are able to venture into the ocean and leave the colony.Each African Penguin has a different pattern of black spots on its white chest and belly, which observers use to identify individual animals.They were previously called Jackass Penguins, due to their call that sounded like the braying of a donkey. The name was changed to African Penguin due to other species of penguin making similar sounds, and in addition to that, S. demersus is the only species of penguin on the African continent.Predators looking down from above struggle to see their black backs against the dark ocean. Predators looking up from the water struggle to see their white bellies against the sky – therefore these animals are almost perfectly camouflaged from predators while swimming.Their name Spheniscus demersus is derived from the Greek word spen, meaning wedge, as a reflection of their shape when swimming. Demersus is a Latin word, meaning plunging.The pink markings above their eyes are glands. When the penguin gets hot, more blood rushes to the glands to be cooled down.– Penguin facts courtesy of BirdLife South Africa.last_img read more

Press release: Brand South Africa saddened at passing of actor Joe Mafela

first_imgSouth African actor Joe Mafela’s contribution to the arts has effectively improved the country’s image says Brand South Africa. (Youtube: Expresso Show)Johannesburg, Wednesday 22 March 2017 – “Joe Mafela will always be remembered as a legendary actor, songwriter, and producer who made momentous contributions to the nations arts and culture sector, and thereby effectively improving a country’s image,” said Brand South Africa’s CEO, Dr Kingsley Makhubela on the passing of Mafela.Renowned actor Joe Mafela died in a car accident on Saturday night. The death of the beloved entertainer in a car crash on Saturday night has continued to prompt great reaction from the nation.Born in 1942 in Sibasa, Limpopo Province Mafela made his acting debut in 1964, when he starred in the feature film “Real News” directed by Peter Hunt, but he is well known for playing the role of Sdumo on SABC 1’s Sgudi ‘Snaysi.Popularly known for his acting and comedy – Mafela has been in the South African entertainment industry for over 50 years. In 1974 Mafela co-starred in South Africa’s first black feature film, “Udeliwe”.With the advent of television in South Africa in 1976, Mafela worked almost continuously in that medium, and 1986 he was cast as the unemployed lodger S’dumo in the Zulu language comedy series ‘Sgudi ‘Snaysi. The success of ‘Sgudi ‘Snaysi (“Is Good, Is Nice”) – which ran to 78 episodes on SABC – led to roles in other series, often produced by Mafela’s own production company Penguin Films.Mafela’s career in the entertainment industry included the release of his debut music album Shebeleza Fela in 1996 with the popular hit “Shebeleza (Congo Mama)”, which became the theme song during the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996.Dr Makhubela concluded: “His presence in the entertainment industry will be sorely missed. We express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr Mafela. We share in your mourning.”last_img read more

How To Build A Botnet In 15 Minutes

first_img3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… The mission is clear: infiltrate the target corporate network in order to obtain corporate data and perhaps even some intellectual property along the way. Tools on hand? Just you, a clean Internet-connected machine and 15 minutes of uninterrupted time.With just a little knowledge, that’s plenty of time to get inside a supposedly unbreachable network—just by building your own botnet.What’s A Botnet, Again?Simply put, a botnet is a network of malware-infected computers that are remote-controlled by a command server. Whoever controls the botnet can make those zombie computers do bad stuff—launching distributed denial-of-service attacks is one favorite pastime—or just exploit them to harvest passwords and to access other private information within, say, a corporate network.See also Does It Really Take A Government To Launch Cloud-Based Cyberattacks?Botnets have been overshadowed recently by criminal phishing expeditions, nation-state hacks and zero-day attacks, but they represent a type of threat no one should dismiss lightly. Botnet zombies are already pervasive inside home and business networks—in part because ordinary security measures often don’t protect against them.But it’s also true that setting up a botnet is ridiculously easy. Simon Mullis, systems engineer at the security vendor FireEye, recently walked me through the process of creating a malware package that would install and infect an end-user system on a target network, turning it into a zombie that would do our bidding.The premise of the exercise was straightforward: Infect a target system that started off completely free of malware. Of course, Mullis wasn’t blasting a hapless PC with zombie malware; he just targeted a clean Window virtual machine he’d set up himself. To control the bot, he created his own command-and-control system by spinning up a LAMP server on Amazon Web Service’s EC2 platform. (He used EC2 simply for its convenience; he could just as easily have run the demonstration from a physical server right there in his office.)How To Build A BotnetOpening his browser, Mullis searched for a botnet builder tool for malware known as Ice IX. Google’s top response to his particular query—which I’m not going to reveal here—yielded a site that offered the tool for free. Ice IX is a nasty little piece of malware that injects a fake Facebook page into a victim’s browser that collects credit card information under false pretenses.Any malware, though, would have done just as well. Using methods and tools that can be found online in minutes, a botnet creator can create a central command and control server and then use social engineering to inject malware onto the victim’s computer—by, say, emailing an innocuous looking but disguised file, or tricking a user into downloading the file from a compromised website.After downloading and installing the Ice IX kit software, Mullis started up its bot builder kit and began to set up the parameters for the malware—specifying, for instance, how often the malware would communicate with the command server, what actions it would undertake and even how it would hide from anti-virus scans. Much of this work was simply a matter of filling in appropriate fields in the Ice IX builder kit’s straightforward Windows interface.Some of the rest required editing the Ice IX kit’s powerful setup.txt script. Individual command lines in that script might direct the malware to take screenshots of pages that were visited by the zombie machine’s browser on a certain domain, such as a bank web site. Or have the malware tell the zombie machine’s browser to block sites (such as anti-virus updating sites) altogether. It can also redirect legitimate site URLs to malevolent sites intended to collect critical information—credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, passwords. You name it.Once he’d set the malware’s specifications, including the location of its controlling command server, Mullis uploaded Ice IX-produced files to his LAMP server. And presto—he had a fully configured botnet command server.Congratulations On Your New Botnet!Constructing the bot and prepping the command server is the first half of the equation. Next up is the task of encrypting and packing the infected file that will deliver containing the bot-installation malware on the target machine. The file is usually a PDF or document file, as those are the ones many users will click without thinking when faced with a phishing email or a malicious website.The malware delivery file is created with a ‘crypter and packer software, and is sent to the target for infection with the aforementioned social engineering practices. At this point, the zombied computer can now be under the author’s control.After delivering the malware package to his Windows virtual machine, Mullis simulated a user double-clicking on the file, packaged to appear as a PDF document. The file suddenly vanished from the desktop of the virtual Windows PC; its malware package was already running invisibly in the background, installing the bot software and seizing control. An unsuspecting user could easily be completely unaware that her system had just been zombified.The Bot Goes To WorkSuppose some unscrupulous individual had just zombified a corporate PC in the real world. What happens next?If the goal is network infiltration, the zombie can now read email and monitor traffic and communications, enabling its overseer to work his way through the organization in hopes of sniffing out passwords, identifying specific databases containing engineering secrets, and fingering users with greater administrative powers. At every opportunity, the botmaster spreads more malware to other computers, bolstering the ranks of his zombie horde within the corporate network and improving the odds that he’ll stumble across something juicy.And if he needs to grant his zombies new powers, all the botmaster has to do is upload new malware packages to the infected computers. This highlights one of the major dangers of botnets—they can be customized to perform just about any type of illicit activity the botmaster wants. It’s is a slower and less flashy method of attack than zero-day attacks that exploit known weaknesses in the software running on PCs and servers. But it can be every bit as effective.Botnet infiltration works so well in part because most people will tend to trust files that appear to have originated with other employees inside the company’s network. People will almost always pass along files from sources they know. And that’s a very large problem: Mullis estimated that “around 95% of the organizations we work with has this type of malware somewhere on their networks.”And while creating a botnet like this isn’t the sort of thing any person off the street could do, it’s uncomfortably close. You need some basic knowledge of how webservers are constructed—in particular, some familiarity with back-end databases like MySQL that have become ubiquitous for managing all the information stored on websites. If you’ve ever run a website, you could do this.See also BotClouds: How Botnets Now Offer Crime-As-A-ServiceThe website Mullis visited to download Ice IX kit in the first place listed the 14 steps for installing and using the software right on the download page. Step 14? “Profit.”Welcome To The Big LeaguesMullis’ point in running this demo was to underscore just how powerful malware-creation tools have become, how simple they are for relatively unsophisticated computer jockeys to use—and just how easy it is to find them. These tools are far beyond the level of sophistication the talented amateurs known as “script kiddies” once used: In just 13 minutes, anyone with a modicum of knowledge can use simplified point-and-click tools to build malware that can steal identities and corporate secrets alike without breaking a (metaphorical) sweat.See also The Hackers Are WinningAnd that’s just what Mullis found with a few Google searches; one can only imagine what tools the big-league hackers have at their disposal. That, Mullis said, is the real problem: Malware creation is frightenly easy to create for nearly all levels of hackers, thanks to the easy availability of these malware builder kits. The really dangerous malware is light-years beyond what prepackaged tools like the Ice IX kit can produce.Complicating this is the fact that anti-virus software is often unaware of this kind of malware. Zombie-type malware can only be detected if the anti-virus vendor has managed to get a signature for the malware in question. This is often difficult, since this malware takes active pains to avoid detection.In the arms race between hackers and users, the hackers are winning. The sheer volume of available malware-building kits makes that clear. Eventually, defenders should be able to catch up, but for now, it’s open season for incautious users. Image courtesy of Shutterstock IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Tags:#botnet#security center_img Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… brian proffitt Related Posts last_img read more