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ICBM launch facility receives comprehensive maintenance

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Researchers See Possible North Korea Link To Global Cyber Attack

Cyber security researchers have found technical evidence they said could link North Korea with the global WannaCry ?ransomware? cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries since Friday.

Symantec (SYMC.O) and Kaspersky Lab said on Monday that some code in an earlier version of the WannaCry software had also appeared in programs used by the Lazarus Group, which researchers from many companies have identified as a North Korea-run hacking operation.

?This is the best clue we have seen to date as to the origins of WannaCry,? Kaspersky Lab researcher Kurt Baumgartner told Reuters.

Both firms said it was too early to tell whether North Korea was involved in the attacks, based on the evidence that was published on Twitter by Google security researcher Neel Mehta. The attacks, which slowed on Monday, are among the fastest-spreading extortion campaigns on record.

The research will be closely followed by law enforcement agencies around the world, including Washington, where President Donald Trump?s homeland security adviser said on Monday that both foreign nations and cyber criminals were possible culprits.

The two security firms said they needed to study the code more and asked for others to help with the analysis. Hackers do reuse code from other operations, so even copied lines fall well short of proof.

U.S. and European security officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that it was too early to say who might be behind the attacks, but they did not rule out North Korea as a suspect.

FireEye Inc (FEYE.O), another large cyber security firm, said it was also investigating a possible link.

?The similarities we see between malware linked to that group and WannaCry are not unique enough to be strongly suggestive of a common operator,? FireEye researcher John Miller said.

The Lazarus hackers, acting for impoverished North Korea, have been more brazen in pursuit of financial gain than others, and have been blamed for the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank, according to some cyber security firms. The North Korean mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment.

Regardless of the source of the attack, investors piled into cyber security stocks on Monday, betting that governments and corporations will spend more to upgrade their defenses.


The perpetrators had raised less than $70,000 from users paying to regain access to their computers, according to Trump homeland security adviser Tom Bossert.

?We are not aware if payments have led to any data recovery,? Bossert said, adding that no U.S. federal government systems had been affected.

WannaCry demanded ransoms starting at $300, in line with many cyber extortion campaigns, which keep pricing low so more victims will pay.

Still, some security experts said they were not sure if the motive of WannaCry was primarily to make money, noting that large cyber extortion campaigns typically generate millions of dollars of revenue.

?I believe that this was spread for the purpose of causing as much damage as possible,? said Matthew Hickey, a co-founder of British cyber consulting firm Hacker House.

The countries most affected by WannaCry to date are Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine and India, according to Czech security firm Avast.

The number of infections has fallen dramatically since Friday?s peak when more than 9,000 computers were being hit per hour. Earlier on Monday, Chinese traffic police and schools reported they had been targeted as the attack rolled into Asia for the new work week, but no there were no major disruptions.

Authorities in Europe and the United States turned their attention to preventing hackers from spreading new versions of the virus.

Shares in firms that provide cyber security services rose sharply, led by Israel?s Cyren Ltd (CYRN.O) and U.S.-based FireEye (FEYE.O).

Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) closed up 2.3 percent and was the second-biggest gainer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as investors focused more on opportunities that the attack presented for technology firms than the risk it posed to corporations.

Morgan Stanley, in upgrading the stock, said Cisco should benefit from network spending driven by security needs.


Beyond the immediate need to shore up computer defenses, the attack turned cyber security into a political topic in Europe and the United States, including discussion of the role national governments play.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) President Brad Smith confirmed what researchers already widely concluded: The attack made use of a hacking tool built by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that had leaked online in April.

He poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

On Monday, Bossert sought to distance the NSA from any blame.

?This was not a tool developed by the NSA to hold ransom data. This was a tool developed by culpable parties, potentially criminals or foreign nation-states, that were put together in such a way as to deliver phishing emails, put it into embedded documents, and cause infection, encryption and locking,? Bossert said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, noting the technology?s link to the U.S. spy service, said it should be ?discussed immediately on a serious political level.?

?Once they?re let out of the lamp, genies of this kind, especially those created by intelligence services, can later do damage to their authors and creators,? he said.

For a graphic on how the cyber attack spread, see: tmsnrt.rs/2qIUckv

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Priming The GOP

President Donald Trump?s actions over the past couple weeks should be particularly alarming for all Americans, even for those who have steadfastly supported him.  His approval ratings are at an historic low for a president this early in their term.  Yet, for the most part, Congressional Republicans remain reticent, although pressure is building on them to show courage.

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson warned, ?Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.?  Tyranny, the cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control, has been a growing characteristic of America?s 45th president, who wants to bring an end to the many investigations into Russia?s ties to the Trump campaign.

The fact that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the man who was leading the FBI investigation, is chilling.  That the president would undercut his surrogates and admit flat out that the Comey firing was in part due to the Russian investigation is stunning and may be obstruction of justice.  Trump told NBC News? Lester Holt last week, ?I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story; it?s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.?  Trump added that the investigation should have been ?over with a long time ago,? and disingenuously continued, ?I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people.?

The president took the trouble to note in his dismissal letter to Comey that the director told him, ?on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.?  But according to those who know the director it is highly unlikely that Comey would give such assurances.  Of course, only an extreme egotist would invite the FBI director over for dinner and then ask if he is personally under investigation.   And only an extreme narcissist would ask Comey for his total loyalty before agreeing to keep him on at the FBI.

The president regularly confuses ethical behavior with his personal interest, as if to say, ?If it?s good for me, it?s ethical.?  He sees no boundaries when it comes to the FBI investigation.  He recognizes no lines when it comes to the many financial conflicts of interest he and his family have in the U.S. and around the world.

Even so, Trump?s supporters still believe he will keep his campaign promises, that his obvious bluster is authenticity, that he truly cares about those left behind.   How?s that working now?  Obamacare is still the law, meaningful tax reform is boxed up behind health care legislation, the North American Free Trade Agreement is still in place, nothing has happened on infrastructure, the national debt continues to explode, job creation is modest, and American taxpayers will pay for whatever wall is ultimately built along the border with Mexico.  Meanwhile, North Korea is out of control, the Iran nuclear deal has not been altered, there is no ?secret strategy? to defeat ISIS, the U.S. Embassy in Israel has not moved to Jerusalem, Trump now says China is not a currency manipulator, and Russians are taking advantage of the president in the Oval Office and in Syria.

Thankfully many of Trump?s campaign promises have not come true.   His replacement for Obamacare would knock 20 million people out of coverage, and give an $800 billion tax break to the wealthy.  His ?tax reform? plan would add trillions to the national debt, and his unconstitutional anti-Muslim travel bans have been blocked by the U.S. courts.   Last month Trump told Reuters, ?This is more work than in my previous life.  I thought it would be easier.?

Of course, Trump blames the the fake media for his failures and problems.  He has even proposed ending the daily White House briefings.  But even some leading Republicans think that?s a bad idea.   In 1776, Jefferson wrote on how to prevent tyranny, ?It is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large.?

Trump ridiculously claimed the other day that he came up with the term, ?priming the pump.?  Apparently they don?t use that phrase at the Wharton School, even though President Franklin Roosevelt began using it in 1937 during the Great Depression.   But this is yet another example of how Trump makes it up as he goes.  And rumors of a massive White House staff shakeup once again highlights the fact that Trump will throw anyone under the bus for his own transgressions and shortcomings.

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans stand silently by as Democrats feel increased optimism about their chances in the 2018 midterm elections.

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


What Will the Courts Decide? Arguments Wrap Up over Trump’s Revised Travel Ban

Judges for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave no indication which way they might rule after hearing arguments Monday regarding President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.


Some schools ‘gaming’ exam system, says senior official

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Barack Obama’s LinkedIn Sadly No Longer Claims He’s Our Current President

Until this weekend, Barack Obama was still the president of the United States.

This was not in an alternate reality, exactly, but on the social network LinkedIn.

Late Friday afternoon, Obama?s official job title on LinkedIn switched from President of the United States of America to a more accurate ? yet depressing ? description: Former President of the United States of America. 

In this confusing world, the protocol for an exiting president is to peacefully cede power to a reality show star, go on vacations with social media-optimized photos/stories, and then update LinkedIn. For the first 100 days of President Donald Trump?s administration, Obama only accomplished two of the three.

Here?s a screenshot taken of the page before the switch:

Obama?s profile picture also changed from the campaign photo he had been using before. 

Here?s what the current page looks like with the ?Former? in his title:

You won?t be able to glean Obama?s next move from the revised LinkedIn page. 

The updated ?Experience? area doesn?t reflect any post-presidency role:

The site is designed for job seekers, but LinkedIn has admitted in the past that the majority of its users do not use the site on a monthly basis. Many users seem to create a profile and then neglect to update their page as often as they would with other social networking sites.

Despite LinkedIn?s efforts to have users regularly post updates to their page, it makes sense that those happy with their current jobs wouldn?t need to spend too much time tweaking their public resumes.

It?s 2017, though, and Obama?s job status has changed.

Now that Obama is officially out of our country?s top gig, perhaps he?s competing for those same open roles at fake-seeming startups that all active LinkedIn users scroll through on the ?Jobs? page.

Or maybe updating LinkedIn is a relatively meaningless action and in the turmoil of exiting the White House, Obama just forgot to make the switch.

In any case, for a short blissful moment, his neglect was the wishful-thinking masses? gain. 

– This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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