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Activist Indicted on Data Theft Charges

Aaron Swartz, an online political activist and programmer, was indicted last week on charges that he stole more than four million documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and JSTOR, a digital archive of scientific journals and academic papers. The federal indictment was unsealed Tuesday. He was ultimately arraigned in Boston and entered not-guilty pleas. The government alleges Swartz broke into a restricted area at MIT and ultimately accessed the university’s computer network and downloaded millions of documents from JSTOR. Swartz created Infogami, a website that merged with the social news site Reddit, and founded Demand Progress, an Internet policy group. David Segal, Demand Progress’ executive director, said the charges made “no sense … [I]t’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library.” Segal says that JSTOR has settled its claims with Swartz and, because it suffered no loss or damage, asked the government not to prosecute. Swartz has been released on a US$100,000 unsecured bond and is scheduled to appear in court 9 September 2011. The various charges could result in up to 35 years in prison and a US$1 million fine. (SlashDot)(The New York Times)(Demand Progress)

Arrests Made of Anonymous Collective Suspects

At least 14 people thought to be members of the Anonymous hacking collective were arrested in the US as part of an ongoing investigation into the group’s activities, federal law enforcement announced Tuesday. At least five more individuals linked to the group have been arrested in Europe. Anonymous has been linked to attacks on numerous websites, but these individuals were specifically arrested on charges stemming from a December 2010 attack on the PayPal website to avenge the company’s suspension of a WikiLeaks’ fundraising account. The arrests were reportedly made in states including Alabama, California, the District of Columbia, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio. The defendants are expected to soon make initial court appearances, according to CNET.  (CNN)(CNET)

Google Issues Malware Warning

Those using Google for web searches since Tuesday might have recently seen a huge, yellow malware notification with their returned results. The search giant began notifying its users that malware is installed on their computers. The malware reportedly hijacks search results in order to send unsuspecting users toward websites that use pay-per-click schemes. “Some forms of malicious software will alter your computer settings to redirect some or all of your traffic through a proxy controlled by the attacker,” Google stated. “When you use Google, the proxy forwards your query to the real Google servers to fetch the search results. If our system detects that a search came through one of these proxies, we display the warning.” Google suspects users might have been infected through a social engineering ploy that lured them to download fake anti-virus software. (SlashDot)(Help Net Security)(Google)

Study: NAND Poses Threat to DRAM

A new study shows that NAND flash memory can improve a PC’s performance more than DRAM. Objective Analysis says it examined various DRAM and NAND configurations and benchmarks before concluding that a dollar's worth of NAND flash improves PC performance more than adding a dollar's worth of DRAM. The study’s authors expect the price-performance difference to increase over time, leaving NAND as the go-to memory type in the market, which will weaken DRAM’s position. The DRAM market has already seen significant consolidation -- from roughly 17 key manufacturers to seven – with even more consolidation anticipated. iSuppli reportedly expects global DRAM revenue for 2011 to decrease US$40.3 billion in 2010 to US$35.5 billion in 2011. (SlashDot)(Computerworld)(PR Newswire)(Objective Analysis)

Microsoft Issues Bounty for Individuals Responsible for Botnet

Microsoft has offered a US$250,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the hackers behind the Rustock botnet. The offer is reportedly the first time since February 2009 that the company has used its malware bounty program.  Richard Boscovich, a senior attorney with the company's digital crimes unit, made the announcement in a blog posting. Microsoft and the US Marshals damaged the botnet’s operation in a March seizure of the botnet’s command-and-control servers in the US. Other command-and-control servers were taken down by various international policing agencies.  “While the primary goal for our legal and technical operation has been to stop and disrupt the threat that Rustock has posed for everyone affected by it, we also believe the Rustock bot-herders should be held accountable for their actions,” noted Boscovich. At its height, the spam botnet sent an estimated 30 billion pieces of spam daily. Despite the elimination of the command-and-control servers, the Rustock malware still resides on computers worldwide. (Computerworld)(PC Magazine)(The Official Microsoft Blog)

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