Malicious virus shuttered power plant – introduced by employee


A computer virus attacked a turbine control system at a U.S. power company last fall when a technician unknowingly inserted an infected USB computer drive into the network, keeping a plant off line for three weeks, according to a report posted on a U.S. government website.

The Department of Homeland Security report did not identify the plant but said criminal software, which is used to conduct financial crimes such as identity theft, was behind the incident.

It was introduced by an employee of a third-party contractor that does business with the utility…

In addition to not identifying the plants, a DHS spokesman declined to say where they are located.

Justin W. Clarke, a security researcher…noted that experts believe Stuxnet was delivered to its target in Iran via a USB drive. Attackers use that technique to place malicious software on computer systems that are “air gapped,” or cut off from the public Internet.

“This is yet another stark reminder that even if a true ‘air gap’ is in place on a control network, there are still ways that malicious targeted or unintentional random infection can occur,” he said.

Yes, you can rely on human beings to do something dumb!

Many critical infrastructure control systems run on Windows XP and Windows 2000, operating systems that were designed more than a decade ago. They have “auto run” features enabled by default, which makes them an easy target for infection because malicious software loads as soon as a USB is plugged into the system unless operators change that setting, Clarke said…

A DHS spokesman could not immediately be reached to comment on the report.

The largest single category of so-called hacking attacks – which had nothing to do with hacking, of course – was spearphishing emails sent to specific employees of public utilities. The emails including a suggestion to “click here” for more information. They did.

Pregnant woman hogtied and handcuffed by California coppers during traffic stop gets $250,000

A pregnant woman who was pulled over for talking on her cellphone — and then hurled to the ground and hogtied by CHP officers on the shoulder of the busy Harbor Freeway — has been paid $250,000 in damages.

The 30-year-old woman was charged with resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license, but the charges were dropped after a judge was shown a video of the incident, captured on a camera mounted on the dashboard of a California Highway Patrol cruiser.

In their report, the officers said the incident had escalated because the woman had ignored their orders and appeared to raise her arms in an aggressive manner after hopping out of the van.

Based on the report, Gaglione was charged by the Los Angeles city attorney with misdemeanor evading and resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license.

After the charges were dismissed, Tamara Gaglione pleaded no contest to a simple infraction of using her cellphone while driving.

CHP officials declined to discuss the incident, saying only that both sides concluded that settling the lawsuit for $250,000 was in the best interest of everyone.

Gaglione said she discovered the existence of the dashboard video when the officers later drove her to the hospital, discussing it in play-by-play fashion.

Her attorney, Howard Price, said Hernandez failed to mark a box on the arrest report noting the existence of the dash cam video and a prosecutor initially told him none existed. But Price said his client persisted.

Initially, he said, Price got a video from a backup patrol car and was told the dash cam video could not be copied. He said he went to the CHP and videotaped the original recording himself.

For Gaglione, now the mother of a 9-month old son, the incident on the freeway changed her life, she said. She left Los Angeles, where she worked as nanny and ran a pet care business.

“I will always be scared of police officers because of these knuckleheads,” she said.

Dishonest cops. Dishonest prosecutor. Complicit in covering each other’s buns. One of the most typical examples of the kind of corruption that happens on a day-to-day basis in American society.

I holler a lot about the big guys who commit historic crimes – from Bush’s Wars to Rand Paul’s lies about healthcare, economics and civil rights – but, their corruption is established as acceptable by the least of bureaucrats and civil servants who lie and cheat on the job, every day.

And as usual, it’s the knuckleheads who make life difficult for the good guys and the good cops.

Flu crisis prompts broad redesign in vaccines

With the worst flu outbreak since 2009 gripping the U.S., vaccine makers are determined to do better next season. They’re developing powerful vaccines that hold the promise of cutting incidences of flu by the thousands.

The new immunizations represent the broadest flu treatment update in three decades, while more than 200,000 American are hospitalized yearly with the disease, according to U.S. health officials. Health officials were caught off-guard last month when the flu season started earlier than in past years, with 48 states now reporting widespread disease, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today.

Existing vaccines miss significant quantities of the virus circulating in any given year. This year, for instance, as many as 4 million people may develop influenza from a strain of virus that isn’t included in the current vaccine. Now, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca are each preparing immunizations that for the first time will cover all four main forms of the virus, including both influenza B strains that often infect children…

Because flu is so unpredictable, with different strains becoming dominant year to year, producing a four-in-one vaccine can be a big step forward toward keeping breakouts under control, said John Treanor, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

Still, making changes to vaccines is a lengthy and expensive process. The cost to develop a novel vaccine that goes even further and provides long-lasting umbrella protection in the face of constantly mutating viruses may be at least $1 billion, said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis. That can be a tough sell for a product that brings in little profit for the companies that make them.

Drug makers say the severity of this year’s flu outbreak validates their decision to move forward.

“It’s not by any means a high-margin area, but it is a linchpin, a foundation for what you do as a vaccine company,” said Len Friedland, head of clinical and medical affairs at London-based Glaxo’s vaccine division. “It really is critical to our company in terms of what we can do for public health and responsibility that we have to society.”

Still, the rate of immunization as of last season was less than 40 percent of U.S. adults.

“Prior to this year, we had two mild seasons,” said David Greenberg, senior director of scientific and medical affairs for Sanofi Pasteur. “My impression is that with a couple of mild seasons, people think it’s not so critical to go out and get an immunization. This is a potentially deadly disease. It varies, but tens of thousands of people die each year from influenza. How do you make that relevant?

Americans in general haven’t anymore understanding of science and the products of science than their elected representatives. Sounds like there’s some correlation, eh? Ignorant people electing incompetent politicians.

It’s only been a century or so since vaccines have become the success they are at preventing deadly disease. Yet, religious pundits in the United States are no less criminal than the Taliban at opposing widespread use for the flimsiest of excuses. Their decisions are no less criminal.

Wreckage of Coast Guard rescue plane from 1942 found

Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms

In November 1942, a US Coast Guard plane set forth on a daring rescue over the frozen tundra of Greenland, in search of a US Army Air Forces crew who had crashed during a search mission.

In a single-engine Grumman Duck aircraft, Lieutenant John Pritchard Jr. and his radioman, Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms, a

Massachusetts-based airman, made an unprecedented landing on the forbidding ice cap to rescue two stranded members of the B-17’s crew. But the next day, after trying to save a third man, the plane crashed in whiteout conditions, leaving no survivors. Their bodies were never recovered.

Seven decades later, an ­expedition has discovered debris from the lost plane, buried in a glacier near Greenland’s remote southeast coast, the Coast Guard said Monday.

In August, using ground-penetrating ­radar and metal ­detectors, the 17-member expedition team found black cables consistent with wiring from the aircraft nearly 40 feet below the surface. Additional wreckage was later discovered, confirming the find.

The discovery culminated years of painstaking search for the legendary rescue plane.

“The three men aboard this aircraft were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” said Commander Jim Blow of the Coast Guard Office of Aviation Forces and a member of the expedition. “By finding the aircraft, we have begun to repay our country’s debt to them.”

Read the whole tale. Worth remembering. Worth reflecting upon.

I grew up during that war. It was the last war the United States fought – that I would have volunteered for had I been old enough. Many of my [older] relatives volunteered. My best friend successfully lied about his age – and volunteered.

Global Warming debate is no debate at all

Funny thing happens sometimes when you look at who the witnesses are in a public policy debate . . .

FACT” organizations from Is There a Scientific Consensus on Global Warming?,“FRAUD” organizations are petitioners v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Click the link in the paragraph above to see the comparison. Barry Ritholtz knocks it out of the park, once again.