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Condé Nast Victim of US$8 Million Spearfishing Scam

With a single e-mail, a Texas man tricked Condé Nast into paying him US$8 million. In early November, Condé Nast received an e-mail purporting to be from its printing company, Quad/Graphics, requesting that electronic payment be made to a different account. Turns out, the bill was sent via e-mail by Andy Surface, a resident of Alvin, Texas. Court records show that Conde Nast sent payments to a new account under the name of Quad Graph. By late December, the real printer contacted the company saying it had not received any payments. The civil lawsuit was filed, according to Forbes, “extremely quietly last week in Manhattan federal court not by Condé Nast or its parent, Advance Publications, but by the local U.S. Attorney’s Office acting on their behalf.” Most of the funds sent to the account remained in it. Thus far, Surface hasn’t been charged. (MSNBC)(Forbes)

Physicists Report Building Largest Quantum Register

University of Innsbruck physicists have successfully controlled the entanglement of 14 quantum bits (qubits), which they say is the largest quantum register to have been produced. Entangling particles is key to constructing quantum computers as well as building precise atomic clocks. Another group at the university, led by Rainer Blatt, has shown that ions could be entangled by electromagnetic coupling, leading to the possibility of linking several quantum registers. This could serve as a building block in quantum computing. Results have been published in the journal Nature and in Physical Review Letters. (SlashDot)(Nanowerk Nanotechnology News)(“Trapped-ion antennae for the transmission of quantum information,” Nature)(“14-Qubit Entanglement: Creation and Coherence,” Physical Review Letters)(University of Innsbruck)

Two-Step Approach to Strong Password Creation Developed

Researchers based at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany, have developed a new approach for strengthening passwords. The algorithm-based approach splits a longer, stronger password in two. The user memorizes the first portion while the second portion is stored as a CAPTCHA image. The researchers say that the password is protected such “that standard brute-force attacks become ineffective. We expect our approach to have wide applications for authentication and encryption technologies.” (SlashDot)(“The weak password problem: chaos, criticality, and encrypted p-CAPTCHAs,” arXiv)

Scale of LizaMoon Infection Significantly Reduced

Previous estimates quantifying the scale of the SQL injection attack known as LizaMoon have been questioned. Last week Websense reported that more than 1.5 million unique URLs worldwide had been infected. However, a Google engineer says those estimates are flawed. Rather than simply searching for the injected URL, the number of sites with a functioning redirect should be counted to provide a more accurate estimate, he says. Google now estimates the attacks started in September 2010 and hit a peak in October 2010 with 5,600 infected sites.  (eWeek Europe)(BBC)(Websense)

Massive SQL Injection Attack Infects Websites Worldwide

Hundreds of thousands of websites worldwide have been compromised by an SQL injection attack. The attack alerts users visiting the infected site that their computers are infected with a range of malware and redirects them to a site offering fake software that – for a fee – can be used to rid their systems of the malware. Security researchers were able to get the scareware sites quickly shuttered, but since the attack started on 29 March, the number of infected websites has grown more than 10 fold. Websense calls this the LizaMoon attack because that is the first domain to which victims were re-directed, but researchers now say the attackers provided links to at least 21 different infected domains. Websense, which continues to monitor the attack, says 380,000 unique URLs have been compromised to date. (BBC)(ZDNet)(Websense)

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