Microsoft trying to patch security flaw encompassing Internet Explorer 6 through Internet Explorer 11 — WTF? — UPDATED


Microsoft is rushing to fix a bug in its widely used Internet Explorer web browser after a computer security firm disclosed the flaw over the weekend, saying hackers have already exploited it in attacks on some U.S. companies.

PCs running Windows XP will not receive any updates fixing that bug when they are released, however, because Microsoft stopped supporting the 13-year-old operating system earlier this month. Security firms estimate that between 15 and 25 percent of the world’s PCs still run Windows XP.

Microsoft disclosed on Saturday its plans to fix the bug in an advisory to its customers posted on its security website, which it said is present in Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11. Those versions dominate desktop browsing, accounting for 55 percent of the PC browser market…

Cybersecurity software maker FireEye Inc said that a sophisticated group of hackers have been exploiting the bug in a campaign dubbed “Operation Clandestine Fox…”

“It’s a campaign of targeted attacks seemingly against U.S.-based firms, currently tied to defense and financial sectors,” FireEye spokesman Vitor De Souza said via email…

He declined to elaborate, though he said one way to protect against them would be to switch to another browser.

Microsoft said in the advisory that the vulnerability could allow a hacker to take complete control of an affected system, then do things such as viewing changing, or deleting data, installing malicious programs, or creating accounts that would give hackers full user rights.

Gee, is that all? Is there anything left to steal or compromise?

When Apple introduced the Mini, I took that as the occasion to experiment for the first time with Apple’s operating system OS X. After 22 years in the IBM and Microsoft environments.

Never looked back.

UPDATE: Homeland Insecurity now advises all Americans to stop using Internet Explorer till a Microsoft fix!

Former Prime Minister says get US forces out of Oz and close down Pine Gap spy center

Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has made a radical call for Australia to break its alliance with the United States and become a “strategically independent” country.

In his new book Dangerous Allies, released today, Fraser warns that the ANZUS treaty – as now interpreted – might be the biggest threat to Australia’s security, rather than its major protector.

Strategic independence would mean ending the US presence in northern Australia, part of the American “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, and closing the Pine Gap facility, which he says nowadays could be used almost in real time to target weapons systems…

Fraser was a strong advocate of the alliance when he was prime minister between 1975 and 1983, but argues that the end of the Cold War has transformed the international situation and also that American values have changed with the growth of its view of “American exceptionalism”.

Fraser’s bottom line is that if conflicts break out Australia should be in a situation where it has a totally open choice about whether it goes to war.

He believes the alliance took Australia into costly wars, including Vietnam (when the US did not share some vital information with Australia), and especially Iraq, where the result “is, and was always going to be, disastrous”…

Fraser admits the US would take “the strongest possible exception” to moves such as closing Pine Gap within five years.

“Every pressure would be exercised on an Australian government so that the United States would maintain strategic control. We would need to resist such pressures and make it clear that, in our view, the risks of a strategic alliance with the United States, of being forced into a war that was not in our interest, were so great that we had to cut the ties.”

Another old ally tires of being subservient to the imperial interests and demands of the United States.

Fraser suggests the possible need to spend more on defense as a result of splitting from Uncle Sugar My answer to my mates in Oz is the same I offer to neighbors here in the southern Rockies. Or – rather – a question:

When was the last time “defense” forces had to fight off an invasion? Or do you simply like to give money away to subsidize a welfare program for arms traders?

Odds of storm tides overflowing NYC seawall up 20-fold

After Hurricane Irene passed by

The newly recognized storm-tide increase means that New York is at risk of more frequent and extensive flooding than was expected due to sea-level rise alone, said Stefan Talke, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University in Portland, Ore. He is lead author of the new study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters…The research also confirms that the New York harbor storm tide produced by Hurricane Sandy was the largest since at least 1821.

Tide gauge data analyzed in the study show that a major, “10-year” storm hitting New York City today causes bigger storm tides and potentially more damage than the identical storm would have in the mid-1800s. Specifically, Talke explained, there’s a 10 percent chance today that, in any given year, a storm tide in New York harbor will reach a maximum height of nearly two meters…the so-called “10-year storm.” In the mid-19th century, however, that maximum height was about 1.7 meters…or nearly a foot lower than it is today, according to tide gauge data going back to 1844, he noted.

“What we are finding is that the 10-year storm tide of your great-, great-grandparents is not the same as the 10-year storm tide of today,” Talke said…

The storm tide is the amount that water levels rise during a storm. It includes both the storm surge — the abnormal rise in water generated by the storm above the sea level — and the predicted astronomical tide. The rise in storm tide outlined in the recent study is in addition to the .44 meter…rise in local sea level that has occurred since the mid-19th century in New York harbor.

Combining the newly calculated rise in storm tide with the rise in sea level that has taken place since the mid-1800s, the researchers found that today, waters can be expected to overtop the lower Manhattan seawall — 1.75 meters high — once every four to five years. In the 19th century, when both sea levels and storm tides were lower, water was expected to overtop the Manhattan seawall only once every 100 to 400 years, according to the paper.

New York just needs to do what politicians in Virginia have done. Make it illegal to use words describing increases in the ocean’s elevation and the likelihood of seawalls being overtopped. Then your problem goes away, right?

It’s the new Republican solution to climate change.

Thanks, Mike

Volcano, ash and lightning

Volcano, Stefnisson
Click to enlargeSigurður Stefnisson

Ash and Lightning above an Icelandic Volcano

Why did a picturesque 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well-populated areas.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland began erupting on 2010 March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on 2010 April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume. Pictured above during the second eruption, lightning bolts illuminate ash pouring out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

Thanks, Ursarodinia