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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Cyber Attacks Force EU to Close Emission Trading System

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Natural science, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Trading software, Uncategorized, Views, commentaries and opinions on 22.01.11 at 03:15

A series of cyber-attacks on national registries, where carbon permits are stored, have forced the EU to close its emissions trading system (ETS) for at least a week. The European Commission posted the announcement on its website on Wednesday after Czech Republic-based firm Blackstone Global Ventures said about €6.8 million of carbon allowances appeared to have disappeared. Thefts on electronic registries in Austria, Greece, Poland and Estonia have also been reported over the last days.

“They will over time undermine the credibility of carbon trading as a policy measure.”

Kjersti Ulset


After discovering unauthorized trading on its account on Wednesday, Blackstone contacted the Czech registry OTE AS, which promptly closed all operations and began an investigation. The Paris-based BlueNext SA, operator of the world’s biggest spot exchange for permits, followed suit, as did registries in Poland and Estonia, before the EU finally imposed a region-wide shutdown.

It’s not the first time cyber criminal have been trading stolen permits at the international ETS market, but never has the activity been so comprehensive that the regulators have been forced to close the whole market.

“Incidents over the last weeks have underlined the urgent need for enhanced security measures,” the EU commission says in its announcement of the closure.

The bloc’s ETS system will be down, at least until 26 January.

Full statement

Q&A’s

A Criminals Market

According to The Guardian, European Authorities estimate that up to 90% of the whole market volume is plain fraudulent activities.

Belgian prosecutors highlighted the massive losses faced by EU governments from VAT fraud today after they charged three Britons and a Dutchman with money-laundering following an investigation into a multimillion-pound scam involving carbon emissions permits.

The three Britons, who were arrested last month in Belgium, were accused of failing to pay VAT worth €3m (£2.7m) on a series of carbon credit transactions.

European authorities believe the EU has lost at least €5bn to carbon-trading VAT fraud in the last 18 months.

Last month, the European police agency Europol reported that the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme had been victim of fraudulent trading activities over the past 18 months, worth €5 billion for several national tax revenues.

Europol, the EU’s law-­enforcement operation, fears the fraud will be used in other areas, especially gas and electricity trading markets, after criminals found VAT fraud was one of the most lucrative financial frauds.

The Most Lucrative Financial Fraud

Wednesday’s announcement and similar cyber-attacks have also damaged the EU initiative, together with reports of tax fraud and the recycling of used credits, the EUobserver.com reports.

“They will over time undermine the credibility of carbon trading as a policy measure,” says Kjersti Ulset, manager at Point Carbon, a company that reports on Europe’s emission trading, carried out in a network of registries across the union.

Despite its pioneering position, Europe’s ETS system has attracted criticism over its six years of operation, with some businesses saying it threatens the bloc’s competitiveness, while NGOs argue emission thresholds have been set too high.

By placing a price on carbon, Europe’s trading system is designed to lower company emissions and therefore protect the environment from global warming. Corporations received emission permits for free under the first phase (2005-2007) of the scheme. Some, however, are forced to pay for a portion of their permits.

The European emission trading system is the world’s largest, as the US plans for a similar cap-and-trade scheme was blocked by the US Senate last year.

Carbon permits are, however, traded as ordinary securities at the Chicago Carbon Exchange.

Brussels wants to see energy companies buy all their permits with their own money from 2013 and onwards, with other heavy industries gradually phased in by 2020.

China experts suggest pilot ETS projects could appear in Beijing’s next five-year plan, set to be approved in March.

Here at The Swapper we have been skeptical to the ETS all along.

It’s an artificial market, created on basis of nice thoughts, without a real supply/demand situation and is regulated in a way the is more similar to a pharmacy than a financial market.

But what is really worrisome, is the sharp increase in this kind of activity.

Just wait till you see the Chicago Board Option Exchange gets hacked!

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Bank of America Sets Up War Room, Hires Army of Lawyers

In Financial Markets, High Frequency Trading, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology on 22.01.11 at 01:18

Wikileaks, and its founder Julian Assange, has certainly stirred up some murky waters releasing confidential documents and emails on government activities. Recently Assange stated that he has a large batch of confidential documents that could lead to problems for a major bank, and in at least one interview he has identified that bank to be Bank of America. And the bank are taking the possible threat serious – deadly serious! So does the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The nation’s largest bank has set up a war room and assembled a S.W.A.T.  team of lawyers.”

FOX Business Network


According to FOX Business, the largest US bank has set up a war room and assembled a S.W.A.T.  team of lawyers and company officials to deal with the matter if anything should arise. And now the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is focusing in on the case too.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is keeping a close eye on Bank of America’s (BAC) Wikileaks dilemma to determine whether anything that the info-leaking website might release should have already been turned over to regulators who have conducted numerous investigations into the bank’s activities, FOX Business Network has learned.

The same goes for WikiLeaks.

It is, in fact, illegal to withhold information about criminal activities.

See also: Wikileaks Obstruction of Justice?

If and when the document dump occurs, the SEC – Wall Street’s top cop –  will be examining the material to determine if Bank of America has failed to include the emails and other documents in demands for information the commission has made as part of its many investigations into BofA activities.

Bank of America has been the subject of several high-profile probes by the commission, including issues surrounding its Countrywide Financial subsidiary, and its ill-fated purchase of Merrill Lynch during the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008.

Countrywide, which was the largest issuer of so-called subprime mortgages, has been accused of issuing mortgages to people with little if any documentation of work history or  means to repay the loans.

Neither SEC’s spokesman or BofA’s spokesman had no immediate comment, FOX reports.

If Bank of America purposely failed to turn over documents involving an investigation, the bank could face possible criminal charges of obstructing justice.

But so far, BofA has said that despite all the talk about it being a target, it has no evidence that Assange’s organization has documents involving the bank.

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MORE:

Bank of America vs. WikiLeaks, the inside story
WikiLeaks should motivate information security managers
Bove: WikiLeaks bluffing about Bank of America
The Most Sued Companies in America

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Yippee! Another European Stress Test Festival!

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 20.01.11 at 04:46

EU finance ministers have Wednesday agreed on the broad outlines of another stress tests on major European financial institutions. I’m not really sure what happens during an European Stress Test, but it seems to make a lot of people happy. Perhaps it’s some kind of big party – like a festival, or something.  Anyway – I’m sure it will be fun.

“The euro zone debt crisis could last another ten years.”

Gyorgy Matolcsy


And this years stress test will be even better than last year, when they somehow forgot to invite the Irish, the prominent people of Brussels promise. But, like last year, the organizers are not sure if they will tell us all about it, or not.

Please forgive the sarcasm, but if the new European Banking Authority is going to be taken just a little bit serious, the stress test has to be conducted with total transparency.

Nothing less will ever be able to restore the lost confidence in this maneuvers.

“We are going to draw the lessons by making the next tests more rigorous and even more credible,” says internal market commissioner, Michel Barnier, at the end of a two-day meeting between Europe’s economy chiefs in Brussels.

The new stress tests will this time also take into account underlying capital, liquidity and exposure to sovereign debt.

In July last year, the financial strength of 91 institutions was tested against potential crisis situations. Only seven failed the examination.

The methodology this time, which will imagine even more severe crisis situation, notably in property markets, has yet to be agreed upon, but will be undertaken by the new European Banking Authority, with ministers expecting the tests to be completed by the end of May.

The level of disclosure once the results are concluded however remains a point of division amongst ministers.

The new test comes as Portugal, currently in the euro zone’s sovereign-debt emergency room, sees increased pressure on its bond yields, with rates climbing on 10-year bonds to 6.951 percent, shy of the seven-percent level thought to be the tipping point for the country to request a bail-out.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the Hungarian EU presidency enjoyed renewed opprobrium from other member states when the country’s finance minister made the gaffe of publicly saying the euro zone debt crisis could last another ten years, the EUobserver.com reports.

Mr. Gyorgy Matolcsy made the comments during the public, televised portion of the meeting of EU finance ministers.

There is a likelihood “that the euro is endangered for another decade,” he says.

Well, that’s just what I pointed out in my commentary on New Years Eve.

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Mass Animal Death Mystery Just Got More Mysterious

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Natural science, Philosophy, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 20.01.11 at 02:49

This is now beyond weird – its plain spooky. Reports of mass animal deaths keeps coming in. Any plausible explanations, however, is totally absent. On Tuesday, 200 cows was found death on a farm in Portage County, Wisconsin, USA. Cause of death is yet to be determined. Yesterday a large number of dead, half rotten, fish was found floating in the area around Stjernøya in northern Norway. And here neither fishermen or authorities are able to figure out what kind of fish it is.

“It was a sad sight, and the whole fjord smelled absolutely terrible. It became worse further up the fjord where large amounts of fish was floating, partially disintegrated. All down in the fjord, it looked as if there were large quantities of dead fish at the bottom.”

Tor Mikkola


The Norwegian broadcasting Cooperation (NRK) reports of large amounts of dead fish found in Kjerringfjorden at Stjernøya in northern parts of Norway. At the moment, no ne can say where the fish originally comes from. And even more odd – no one can say for sure what kind of fish it is.

Local resident, Tor Mikkola, who first discovered the dead fish, tells NRK that it looked like herring at first, “but after looking a bit closer on some of them it looked more like saith,” he says.

These parts of Norway is traditionally populated by fishermen who usually knows what there is to know about fish.

Elisabeth Arild at the local FSA in Alta says that she is uncertain about what type of fish it is, based on the pictures she has seen.

“It is difficult to conclude anything just by looking at the pictures. It is perhaps small saith, that are not gutted. It may be from a fishing device that has been left there in where the fish has died,” she says, but points out that this is pure speculation.

The dead fish in the Norwegian fjord would not have been a big deal if it wasn’t for all the other cases of mass animal death being reported at the moment.

It happens from time to time that large amounts of fish gets killed by diseases, or other natural causes.

And there’s a lot of fish farming in the area. Last year one producer of salmon had to clean up 50 tons of fish who allegedly had died of hypoxia – lack of oxygen.

But the ting is; mass fish kills have also been reported in the US, Brazil and New Zealand, along with 40,000 dead crabs that washed ashore on the British beaches.

In addition it’s been reported that thousands of dead birds fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve, following a massive fish kill just 100 miles away days earlier.

In the week following, other mass bird deaths were reported in nearby Louisiana and Kentucky.

Birds were also reported to fall dead from the sky in Italy and Sweden, and more recently similar incidents have been reported in California and Alabama.

And now – cows.

200 Dead Cows

200 cows were found dead Friday on a farm in Portage County, Wisconsin, AP reports.

The dead cows had to be removed with semi-trucks. The rest of the farm has not been quarantined, as officials say no threat is posed toward humans or other animals.

The owner of the dead cows was working with a local veterinarian, who initially believed a virus such as infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) or bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) could be the culprit, according to The Wausau Daily Herald.

WSAW News reports that more recent updates have suggested pneumonia as the cause of the mass cow deaths, though such widespread cases of pneumonia are rare.

Tests are still underway to determine what is responsible.

(WSAW’s full video report here.)

In a recent news report, a veterinarian says he believes the cows died of acute interstitial pneumonia

Investigators are, however, still working to determine what caused the death of 200 steers in Portage County.

Many explanations have been offered for the various mass animal deaths, with everything from fireworks, semi-truck collisions, overeating and cold weather blamed for the birds’ deaths.

Cold weather has also been pinned to likely be the cause of many of the fish and crab deaths, as well.

According to some experts, mass animal deaths are not all that uncommon.

But the fact remains: There has been no exact and plausible explanation in any of these incidents.

As I said, this is now beyond weird.

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Related by The Swapper:

Who Killed The Blackbirds? The Aliens or Al Qaeda?

Low-Oxygen Zones In Oceans Worry Scientists

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface

Norway: Police To Investigate “Monster Fish”

Coldest Winter In 1000 Years; Start Of New Ice Age?

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Cyber Security Is Waste of Money, OECD Advisers Says

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, High Frequency Trading, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 18.01.11 at 16:26

Under the pseudonym “Hugo Cornwall”,Peter Sommer published the infamous “Hacker’s Handbook” in 1985. Since then he has become a noted security researcher and expert witness. Now he has co-authored a report for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which warns governments against swallowing wholesale stories about “cyber-war” and “cyber-weapons”.

“Governments should take a calm, disciplined approach and evaluate the risks of each type of attack very carefully rather than be swayed by scare stories.”

Peter Sommer


According to the report “Reducing Systemic Cybersecurity Risk,” published today, a true cyber-war would have the same destructive effects as a conventional war, only that it will be fought exclusively in cyberspace. However, such a war is “highly unlikely” to occur, the OECD report says.

“Governments should take a calm, disciplined approach and evaluate the risks of each type of attack very carefully rather than be swayed by scare stories,” says Peter Sommer of the London

Peter Sommer

School of Economics, one of the two authors of the just released report on cyber security.

Co-authored with computer scientist Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute, UK, the report says online attacks are unlikely ever to have global significance on the scale of, say, a disease pandemic or a run on the banks.

But they say “localized misery and loss” could be caused by a successful attack on the Internets routing structure, which governments must ensure are defended with investment in cyber-security training.

Jay Abbott, security manager at the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, agrees that the routing structure is indeed vulnerable, new scientist.com writes.

“Short of physically cutting the wires, it’s the best way to take down a country from the internet,” he says.

Analysis of cyber-security issues has been weakened by the lack of agreement on terminology and the use of exaggerated language, the report points out.

“Cyber-espionage is not a few keystrokes away from cyber-war, it is a method of spying,” the authors write.

Controversially, the OECD advises nations against adopting the Pentagon’s idea of setting up a military division – as it has under the auspices of the US air force‘s Space Command – to fight cyber-security threats.

“While vested interests may want to see taxpayers’ money spent on such ventures,” says Sommer, “the military can only defend its own networks, not the private-sector critical networks we all depend on for gas, water, electricity and banking.”

Here’s a copy of the report: “Reducing Systemic Cyber Security Risk”

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I just have one question: Who will decide which hardware, computers and software that is “systemically important,” or not?
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Internet Nuke Bomb Ready To Blow (Update)

In Financial Engeneering, Financial Markets, Health and Environment, High Frequency Trading, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Learning, National Economic Politics, Quantitative Finance, Technology, Trading software, Uncategorized, Views, commentaries and opinions on 16.01.11 at 20:29

The Swapper have been warning about this since last summer when the mysterious Stuxnet worm was discovered at several critical energy and water supply facilities around the world. However, research by Symantec have later reveled that 60% of the infections are found inside Iranian borders. The threat from cyber space has risen to the top of the list over potential global risks in 2011, alongside pandemic diseases and terrorism. The internet, once seen as the solution to all of mans problems, have instead become one of the most severe threats to all of us.

“The primary involvement of states in cyber security, as both protagonists and principal targets, fundamentally changes the nature of the risk.”

Eurasia Group


By the end of 2010 McAfee Security counted 60.000 new pieces of malicious software being released on the internet every day, the hacker attacks on Java platforms (used in practically every security system, including online banks and the Pentagon) rose by 1.200% last year, and for the first time ever the value of theft of digital assets exceeded the theft of physical assets. And for Stuxnet; that’s only the beginning.

More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to break into US networks, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn wrote in the September/October issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Some already have the capacity to disrupt U.S. information infrastructure, he says.

The US government’s main code-making and code-cracking agency now works on the assumption that foes may have pierced even the most sensitive national security computer networks under its guard, Reuters reports.

“There’s no such thing as ‘secure’ any more,” Debora Plunkett of the National Security Agency said last month, amid US anger and embarrassment over disclosure of sensitive diplomatic cables by the web site WikiLeaks.

“The most sophisticated adversaries are going to go unnoticed on our networks,” she said.

Plunkett heads the NSA’s Information Assurance Directorate, which is responsible for protecting national security information and networks from the foxhole to the White House.

“We have to build our systems on the assumption that adversaries will get in,” she told a cyber security forum sponsored by the Atlantic and Government Executive media organizations.

The United States can’t put its trust “in different components of the system that might have already been violated,” Plunkett added in a rare public airing of NSA’s view on the issue.

“We have to, again, assume that all the components of our system are not safe, and make sure we’re adjusting accordingly.”

The NSA must constantly fine tune its approach, she said, adding that there was no such thing as a “static state of security.”


And the US is not the only nation struggling to keep its sensitive data safe.

According to Iain Lobban, head of GCHQ, the UK’s core infrastructure is under constant attack. He says thousands of targeted emails are hitting the systems every month, planting worms that cause “significant disruptions.”

Mr. Lobban’s claims are supported in a national security report, naming cyber attacks as a top threat to the UK, alongside pandemic diseases and terrorism, according to the PC Pro Magazine.

A Global Threat

“Cyberspace is contested every day, every hour, every minute and every second,” the British security expert says.

The international risk analysis company Eurasia Group put cyber security at number 3 amongst the top 10 risks of 2011.

“For the past decade, increasingly technologically capable hackers and organized crime organizations have elevated cyber security as a business risk, but not as a political risk. The centralization of data networks, both in energy distribution (the move to the smart grid) and information technology more broadly (the shift to cloud computing) are now metastasizing the cyber risk, and governments are becoming more directly and actively involved in playing both offense and defense in cyberspace. The primary involvement of states in cyber security, as both protagonists and principal targets, fundamentally changes the nature of the risk. The new roles of governments and their antagonists bring geopolitics and cyber security together in three different ways,” Eurasia writes.

(Link to full report below).

Java Systems Under Heavy Fire

One of the main components in practically every security system today is the Java platform, produced by Oracle.

So it’s no wonder that attacks on the Java system increased by more than thousand percent in 2010.

“The number of attacks against flaws in Java has jumped by 1.000% – even outstripping attacks against vulnerabilities in Adobe PDF’s,” Microsoft says.

The attacks against Java code – not the Java script – rose from 500.000 at the beginning of last year to about 6 million in the last quarter of 2010.

Even if Oracle have manged to patch the vulnerabilities in Java, the have the same problem as Adobe – people forget to update their software.

And on top of that; Java is a piece of software that’s used in almost everything, it runs in the background, making more visible components work, PC Pro Magazine points out.

“How do you know if you have Java installed, or if it is running?” researcher at Microsoft Malware Protection, Holly Stewart rightfully asks.

(If you want to know more about Java, click the link below.)

1 in 3 Companies Exposed To Data Theft

According to the latest issue of Kroll Annual Global Fraud Report, suggest that the theft of digital assets has overtaken that of physical stock for the first time ever in 2010.

A Survey, conducted in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit, indicates that the numbers of companies reporting theft of information has risen sharply – from 18% to 27,3% – in 2010.

“There’s a growing awareness among thieves of the intrinsic value of intellectual property,” Kroll vice president, Robert Brenner explains.

The survey also suggest that 88% of the  participating companies had been victim of some kind of fraud over the past year, nearly half of them are now fearful of expanding globally because of the cyber threat.

The experts emphasize that the numbers probably not are 100% accurate.

However, the message is pretty clear.

(Download the report below)

The Most Scary Thing

I guess most of you have heard about the Stuxnet worm/virus/malware in the news by now, and are familiar with the speculations that the extremely sophisticated malware might be some kind of cyber weapon, developed by government related scientists somewhere.

I sounds like a plot in James Bond movie – but the truth might be even more vicious.

Davey Winder

According to experts is not unlikely to be a prototype of the first ever cyber-weapon-of-mass-destruction.

Davey Winder, award-winning journalist, business consultant and security expert, explains:

“So what do we know about Stuxnet and the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems?  Well, we know that Stuxnet is designed to be disseminated via USB sticks, and that it was developed to exploit specific zero-day vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system. To expand on that a little, Stuxnet actually exploits no fewer than four zero-day Windows vulnerabilities, a statement that alone should set the hair on the back of any security analyst’s neck prickling. Zero-day vulnerabilities are extremely valuable to the shady world of both hackers – where a zero-day is a kudos-generating device – and to criminals where zero-day equals pay-day. It’s relatively rare to see a single exploit being used in a piece of malware, and totally unheard of to see four expended in such a way.”

“Ask yourself, why would anyone waste three highly valuable zero-day exploits in a single piece of code when one would most likely do the job? Security experts recognize that this isn’t the modus operandi of the average hacker, nor the average criminal,” Winder writes in a recent article.

Personally, I believe that Stuxnet 2.0 is already out there – it just hasn’t been discovered yet.

The Internet Nuke Bomb

According to trend analyst, Gerald Celente, CEO and founder of Trends Research Institute, will cyber wars cause stir and come to fore in 2011.

And. as Eurasia, he is concerned about the government’s involvement.

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Here are some of the other highlights in Mr. Celente’s predictions for the year to come:

  • Every citizen in 2011 will realize that we are in the “greatest depression”
  • In 2011, the game’s gonna run out
  • Digital money, not worth the paper it’s not printed on
  • The youth of the world has mountains of debt to climb, and no way to get to the top
  • The greatest fear that governments have is freedom of speech
  • Your growth industries are the gangs
  • Crackdown on crime will lead to crackdown on liberties
  • Drones flying over your city looking in windows
  • The more government loses control, the harder they crack down

You may not take all of Gerald Celente’s forecasts equally serious, but many of the situations he describes is. in fact, common human behavior, observed in times of crisis since the collapse of the Roman empire thousands of years ago and up to our time.

At the latest count by McAfee Security Lab, about 60.000 pieces of malicious software is released on the internet every day.

And here’s how the last six months of 2010 looked like from the security software producer Kaspersky‘s point of view:

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Perhaps it’s time to upgrade?

 

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The EU Files: USA See Norways Military Proposal As Ridiculous

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 16.01.11 at 02:11

First we find that the US Embassy in Oslo for years have been requiting retired police officers to spy on Norwegian citizens, without anyone knowing anything about it, and now we find that the former ambassador to Norway, Benson Whitney, more or less have buried the Norwegian proposals for a future military strategy in the Nordic region. Mr. Whitney right out ridiculed the plans for a renewed Nordic military strategy put forward by former Norwegian foreign minister, Thorvald Stoltenberg, newly leaked documents by WikiLeaks show. The Norwegians are generally very tolerant people, there is a limit.

“The proposals are dreams in polar fog, but may be useful for keeping an eye on polar bears and Russians-”

Benson Whitney


The US ambassadors irrelevant remarks came after the 74-year-old Thorvald Stoltenberg in 2009 put forward 13 ideas for military co-operation. including a NATO-style mutual defense pact among the Nordic countries. Mr. Stoltenberg, highly respected among international politicians, spent several years working on the proposals. But as a result of Mr. Whitney’s mockery, the leaders of  the Nordic and Baltic countries has very little to debate when the meet with the UK prime minister next week to discuss the topic.


Of the 13 proposals, the US ambassador predicted the Nordic mutual defense plan as the most unlikely.

Thorvald Stoltenberg

“Officials including the PM’s foreign policy adviser and the foreign ministry’s political director have privately indicated to us that there is little or no interest in a Nordic solidarity declaration within the Government of Norway,” he reportedly said.

(Despite the fact the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, is Thorvald Stoltenberg’s son.)

On joint surveillance flights in Icelandic airspace, he added: “Surprisingly, Norwegian officials have been very critical of this proposal … expressing strong dislike for this item.”

The former US ambassador seem to know a helluva lot more about what’s going on inside the Norwegian government than most Norwegians do!

On diplomatic and consular co-operation, Mr Whitney said: “Co-operation between foreign services is much more difficult and will likely be limited to countries where none of the Nordics have representation now.”

Benson Whitney

However, in his concluding remarks, Whitney said: “Joint Nordic transport capabilities, medical teams, amphibious units, a stabilization task force and maritime awareness could be important contributions to UN, NATO or US missions.”

(Well, I assume it was the Norwegian military who provided him with transport back to the USA…)

LINK_1_ Oslo

The Swedish Connection

A separate cable, also release Thursday, illustrate the close connection between the US and Sweden at the time WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange was arrested in Stockholm on rape charges.

In the cable, dated July 2009, Swedish diplomat Jonas Wendel told the US charge d’affaires in Stockholm, Robert J. Silverman, about sensitive issues in an upcoming EU foreign ministers meeting.

Mr Wendel spoke in detail about the position of fellow US ally Britain on Iran sanctions, but maintained some discretion.

Speaking of whether or not the EU will use tough language against Russia, he said the move is being opposed by the “usual members,” but did not name them.

LINK 2_Stockholm

The Wendel dispatch comes after Swedish diplomat Johan Frisell in 2008, in a previously leaked US cable, dished up painful details on internal EU divisions on the Georgia-Russia war.

This revelation raised some eyebrows among some senior EU officials because internal EU debates are supposed to be kept secret.

Mr. Wendel indicated that EU countries are capable of sticking together in times of crisis.

Today we may see the ironic in these statements.

LINK 3_Russia

No Knowledge

Commenting on whether EU states might withdraw their ambassadors from Iran after it detained a British embassy worker, the cable said: “Solidarity among EU members is strong, and if the discussion is emotionally charged, then the ministers might agree to a withdrawal.”

And Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, in a dispatch dated December 2009 and published in December 2010, gave a partly upbeat opinion on the newly-minted EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

Mr Bildt said that he “knew and liked” Ms Ashton. He describe her as a “street fighter” with a disciplined mind for bureaucratic battles, competent and intelligent, but says she has “no foreign affairs knowledge.”

Julian Assange

LINK 4. Brussels

This is even more entertaining than the British tabloids. Thank you, Mr. Assange!

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h/t: EUobserver.com

About the links:

Since I’m not sure how long the cables will be online, I’ve made transcripts of the text files and uploaded them a few other places.

At the moment, you’ll find them here:

Link 1. Oslo Cable

Link 2. Stockholm Cable

Link 3. Russian Cable

Link 5. Brussels Cable

Read other EU files here.

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Bank Of America’s Website Crashes – Another Attack?

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Technology, Views, commentaries and opinions on 15.01.11 at 16:57

Bank of America says all customers are now able to use their online banking system. However, the BoA website have been down much of the day for an unknown number of customers. There’s no word on when the site will be fully restored. On Twitter the speculations are buzzing that the site has been taken down by hackers who support WikiLeaks.

“We are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it as fast as possible. Please accept our apologies.”

Bank of America (via Twitter)


The bank is responding to users about the problem on Twitter via @BofA_Help. For some users, the website hasn’t been responding for many hours . A BofA spokeswoman said the problems began for the bank’s website at 4 a.m. PST Friday.

BofA says there is no timetable yet for when the website would be back to normal, but says the online banking outage affects “a small population of its customers.” The BofA spokesperson could not provide the number of customers currently affected, Halah Touryalai at Forbes.com writes.

The message also notes that the problems were not because of malware and customer information was not compromised.

On Twitter there’s a lot of buzz about the BofA website failure right now.

At least one Twitter-user speculates about the possibility of the website being hacked by WikiLeaks’ advocates anonymous:


Last year eBay’s, PayPal and Mastercard were faced with down websites after being targeted by groups supporting WikiLeaks.

However – a Bank of America spokesperson says its outage today is not the result of anything WikiLeaks related.

Last night @BofA_Help began addressing the load of complaints.

The responses from  have been pretty standard so far. Most are along the lines of: “We are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it as fast as possible. Please accept our apologies” and Online Banking Outage: Bank of America is working to restore capability as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

But that’s obviously not stopping the stream of complaints from Twitter users.

Friday is payday for a lot of people, (at least for those lucky enough to be employed these days), and many are probably trying to pay their bills online and check balances.

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LATEST:

It now looks like BoA’s Online Banking Service is up and running again.

But still no information from the bank about what caused their site to crash.