Thursday, January 10, 2008

PayPal Comes Out With Anti-Phishing Device

eBay is getting ready to offer its PayPal users a password-generating key fob that promises to increase the security of the online payment service.

The device displays a new one-time password in the form of a six-digit code about every 30 seconds. PayPal clients who opt to use the device will enter this password along with their regular credentials when signing into the service. The key fob is meant as another weapon in the battle on data-thieving phishing scams.

"If a fraudulent party somehow got hold of a person's username and password, they still wouldn't be able to get into the account because they don't have the six-digit code," Sara Bettencourt, a PayPal spokeswoman, said by phone Thursday. "This by no means is a silver bullet that is going to stop fraud. This is just another layer of protection."

The "PayPal Security Key" will cost $5 for personal PayPal accounts, but will be free for business accounts, Bettencourt said. PayPal has been testing the device with employees for a couple of months and plans to start trials with customers in the next month or so, she said. As of September 30, there were nearly 123 million PayPal accounts, eBay has said.

PayPal users in the U.S., Germany and Australia will be able to sign up for the trial through a special Web site, Bettencourt said. "Based on the response, we look forward to eventually rolling it out in other countries," she said.

The password-generating device is based on technology from VeriSign, with which eBay entered into a security partnership in 2005. Such key fobs are also used for added security by large corporations for access to corporate resources, and some banks and brokerage firms offer them to clients with a high net worth. Other companies that supply the password gadgets include RSA and Vasco.

eBay and PayPal are common phishing targets. These prevalent scams typically use fraudulent Web sites made to look like legitimate sites and spam e-mail to trick people into giving up their personal information such as login names and passwords.

In a recent survey of Google's public blacklist of phishing sites, security researcher Michael Sutton found that nearly half of all the active phishing sites targeted either eBay or PayPal. The Google blacklist is used in Google's Toolbar for Firefox and the Firefox 2.0 browser.

Copyright ©1995-2007 CNET Networks, Inc.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Scientists decode honeybee genome

OS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- The honeybee, a species that annually contributes billions of dollars to world's agricultural economy through pollination, originated in Africa and is evolving in surprising ways, a science consortium reported on Wednesday.

Honeybees, the premier pollinators on Earth, play a vital role in world's agriculture. They are also very valuable to scientists as model for allergic disease, development, gerontology, neuroscience, social behavior and venom toxicology.

A genome analysis of the honeybee, or Apis mellifera, has yielded new information about the origins and spread of honeybees throughout Europe, Asia, and North and South America, the scientists said in the journals Nature and Science.

The job of mapping the insect's genome enlisted 112 researchers at 63 different institutions that built up the International Honeybee Genome Consortium. About 10,000 genes were found, 30 percent less than the fruit fly or mosquito, the scientists said.

To sequence a genome, scientists first extract the DNA and break it into tiny pieces. Each of those pieces of genetic material is then sequenced. Lastly, an elaborate computational process puts the pieces back together in correct order.

The genus Apis is composed of 10 species, nine of which are confined to Asia. The one exception, A. mellifera, is distributed from sub-Saharan Africa to Central Asia to Northern Europe, and has more than two dozens distinct geographical subspecies, the scientists found.

"Our analysis indicates that the honeybee, Apis mellifera, originated in Africa and spread into Europe by at least two ancient migrations," said Charles Whitfield, a professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the study.

"The migrations resulted in two European populations that are geographically close, but genetically quite different," Whitfield said. "In fact, the two European populations are more related to honey bees in Africa than to each other."

The first findings appearing in major scientific journals include:

--The honeybee originated in Africa and spread into Europe by at least two ancient migrations. In the New World, introductions of the western and northern European subspecies began in North America as early as 1622.

--Honeybees have many more genes related to smell, compared with fruit flies or mosquitoes, but far fewer genes related to taste.

The enhanced number of odorant receptors underlies the honeybee's remarkable olfactory abilities, including perception of pheromones, kin recognition signals, and social communication within the hive. A large number of odorant receptors also allow the bees to find food and communicate the location of it to other bees.

--Scientists found clues for social cues, a form of bee pressure that can cause nurse bees to become foragers in response to needs of the hive. The job shift involves changes in thousands of genes in the honeybee brain: some genes turn on, while others turn off.

A few "master regulator" genes known to function in the development of fruit flies have been implicated in regulating the activity of these thousands of genes. It appears that master regulator genes involved in nervous-system development in fruit flies are re-used by nature for behavioral functions in adult honeybees.

The findings could have significant implications for honeybee breeding and the crucial role these creatures play in farming worldwide, according to the scientists.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Spanish police embarrassed by porno film

Spanish police officers settling in for a video presentation on how to get promoted to sergeant were instead shown footage from a hard-core pornographic film, officials said Tuesday.

Howling laughter rippled through the auditorium where 120 Madrid city police officers had gathered Monday to see the video on operations at an academy where they are to study, the Madrid regional justice and interior ministry said.

A ministry official said computer technicians have blamed the glitch on a Trojan Horse computer virus that activated when the computer containing the video was turned on.

"It was just bad luck that the virus activated right then," said the official, who could not be named because of department rules.

The person operating the computer stopped the video and turned it back on several times but each time the porno movie came back on, so the operator eventually just shut the computer off altogether, the official said.

Associated Press

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Boss Finds Worker's Blog About Avoiding Work And Fires The Worker

DES MOINES, Iowa -- No work, no pay.Unemployment benefits are being denied to an Iowa hotel worker who was fired for using her employer's computer to keep a journal of her efforts to avoid work.

A supervisor found the journal late last year and fired Emmalee Bauer, 25, for misuse of company time.Bauer wrote a 300-page single-spaced pages, describing her efforts to avoid work. "This typing thing seems to be doing the trick," she wrote. "It just looks like I am hard at work on something very important."

The journal was entered into evidence at a recent state hearing dealing with Bauer's request for unemployment benefits. Bauer testified the journal was intended to help her deal with anxiety and frustration.

Bauer also wrote: "I am only here for the money and, lately, for the printer access. I haven't really accomplished anything in a long while ... and I am still getting paid more than I ever have at a job before, with less to do than I have ever had before. It's actually quite nice when I think of it that way. I can shop online, play games and read message boards and still get paid for it."

Administrative Law Judge Susan Ackerman denied Bauer's request. The judge said the journal demonstrated Bauer's refusal to work, as well as her "amusement at getting away with it."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.

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