M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Archive for the ‘Technolog’ Category

Hack or no hack?

with one comment

Over at msnbc.com, I’m tracking the attack on the CIA’s website, allegedly by Anonymous.

There’s an interesting language issue here. Several major news organizations are reporting that Anonymous “hacked” the CIA. Maybe; maybe not. The CIA isn’t commenting.

Initially, it appeared that a straightforward DDoS flood knocked out cia.gov. That’s not a “hack,” which implies some sort of infiltration of the host or its servers. It’s an attack from outside.

(You can read the Wikipedia definition for DDoS here.)

As of this writing, the site has been down more than four hours, which is an unusually long time for a robust agency to recover from a DDoS attack. That raises the possibility that the site remains down for some other reason. It could be some other kind of penetrating operation, which you could call a hack. Or it could yet have been a DDoS assault, and the CIA may be keeping the site down while it investigates and scrubs it for security holes. Not a hack.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

February 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Reporting: U.S. aims to track ‘untraceable’ prepaid cash cards

with 4 comments

Steve Streit, chief executive of prepaid access card firm Green Dot, told CNBC last year how the cards work.

Update: The Network Branded Prepaid Card Association responds here.

Cross-posted from msnbc.com’s Open Channel blog, where it originally appeared. To read it in context, click here.

Right: Steve Streit, chief executive of prepaid access card firm Green Dot, told CNBC last year how the cards work.

By M. Alex Johnson
msnbc.com reporter

As the federal government tells it, the money men behind the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers would never have been identified had they not been lousy bankers:

“The 9/11 hijackers opened U.S. bank accounts, had face-to-face dealings with bank employees, signed signature cards and received wire transfers, all of which left financial footprints. Law enforcement was able to follow the trail, identify the hijackers and trace them back to their terror cells and confederates abroad.”

That’s from a Treasury Department assessment of financial security threats in 2005. It went on to warn that the terrorists could have quietly moved large sums of money into or out of the U.S.:

“Had the 9/11 terrorists used prepaid … cards to cover their expenses, none of these financial footprints would have been available.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alex

September 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers