Archive for July, 2012

Interrupting the Wash Cycle

Between February 2008 and June 2011, Pedro Navarro, Jr., 36, of Zapata, Texas, was involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy in which he helped a Mexican cartel arrange for the distribution of its marijuana and methamphetamine loads in the United States. Navarro pleaded guilty to these offenses in December, along with admitting to conspiring with others to launder the proceeds of his drug trafficking, putting the money from the drug sales back into the cartel’s hands. The case, the result of a three-plus-year investigation led by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS in conjunction with other agencies, is just one example of how money laundering fuels crime. Unfortunately, most such efforts go undetected.

Money laundering is exactly what it sounds like—a way to clean money by transferring it around so that its dirty beginnings become obscure and less traceable. The money can be from any illicit activity, from tax evasion to illegal trading to drug dealing and everything in between, and it can fund anything from legitimate business to terrorism. Law and regulations designed to catch money laundering have become more stringent since 9-11. For example, the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) anti-money-laundering provisions were strengthened and the U.S.A. Patriot Act included anti-money-laundering sections. Other countries, such as Mexico, and international governance bodies, have also made efforts to crack down on these schemes. But criminals continue to launder money every day using methods both old and new.

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50% Job leavers steal confidential company data

New details from Iron Mountain show the extent to which employees leaving employment will take confidential company data with them when they go.

Iron Mountain surveyed 2000 French, German, British and Spanish office workers across all business sectors. They wanted to learn staff attitudes to company data when either moving on to a different job – or getting fired. The clear implication is that workers have a feeling of personal ownership when they are involved with the collection of that data.

Across Europe, more than half of office workers (51%) will take data with them when the switch jobs. It’s slightly less in the UK at 44%. The main reason is not malice, but a belief that they have a right to the data they helped create, and a belief that it will help in any future job.

It’s not just databases. Of those who do take information, 46% walk off with presentations, 21% with company proposals, 18% with strategic plans, and another 18% with product/service roadmaps – all of which, says Iron Mountain, represents highly sensitive and valuable information that is critical to a company’s competitive advantage, brand reputation and customer trust.

“As businesses across Europe rush to tighten up their data protection policies in advance of new EU legislation,” comments senior vice president Patrick Keddy, “it is extremely worrying to see that employees are leaving jobs with highly sensitive information.” The problem is that the standard company security model is based on stopping electronic malware getting in, rather than documents getting out. “Companies concerned about information security tend to focus on building a fortress around their digital data and then forget about the paper and the people,” he added.

It’s a problem that just gets worse in difficult economic times. If an employee is sacked or laid off, the survey showed that as many as 31% would deliberately remove and share confidential information. These findings, said Keddy, “highlight the need for information management policies to be developed closely with Human Resources as part of a Corporate Information Responsibility program.”

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10 Warning Signs Of Financial Infidelity

Are you lying to your partner about money?

When most people think of being unfaithful to their partner, they think it means having an affair. However, there are several ways you can be unfaithful to your partner: emotionally, physically and financially. The financial aspect is often overlooked as a problem because the one who is withholding the information thinks they are protecting their partner.

There are two types of lies: commission and omission. Lies of commission are knowing what you are doing, and justifying your actions in your own mind. (see items 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10). Lies of omission, on the hand, means you’re leaving out some of the vital information about a financial transaction (see items 1, 4, 6, 7). There are warning signs to look out for, as in any brand of infidelity, and it’s up to you to decide if you want to confront yourself and share with your partner.

If you are unsure about telling your partner, then ask for help. Sorting out the problems with a therapist could do a world of difference for your relationship. Here are ten warning signs you are committing financial infidelity: Financial Infidelity: 5 Steps To Coming Clean [EXPERT]

1. “Oh, it only cost…” Sometimes, there is nothing underhanded about saying “it only cost …” when it was more or less than the stated amount. However, if you find you are saying “it only cost …” because you had agreed to only spend a certain amount and you went over by a substantial amount, then it’s definitely a problem. This is one way to go down the slippery slope to bigger issues.

2. Opening accounts (credit, bank, and loan). Opening an account without your partner knowing could be no big deal in your relationship, or it can be a very big deal. Some couples decide it’s best to keep their money separate. If that is the case, having a new account without your partner knowing may mean nothing. It can become a big deal, however, if you are divorcing.

3. Taking money out of your retirement fund. If you are taking money out of your retirement fund and your partner is not part of the decision making process, then this is a breach of trust. However, if you have a pre-nuptial that clearly states that it’s your money no matter what, then this is not a problem. The next questions to consider is: Why are you needing to cash out early and willing to pay penalties?

This sounds like something you would want to talk with your partner about before doing it, just to get another point of view. Or, if you have a gambling problem or some other kind of addiction that you are ashamed of, consult a therapist.

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Rules to implement legislation mandating that canine handlers be licensed by the State have taken effect. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation began accepting applications from qualified canine handlers today.

To qualify for a canine handler authorization card or canine trainer authorization card, an applicant must be at least 18 years old, posses a valid private detective license, private security contractor license or a permanent employee registration card (PERC) and work for a licensed private detective agency or private security contractor agency.

The Department has also begun the approval process for all canine handler training courses and canine instructor training courses training and instruction programs. Once a program has been authorized by the State, graduates of those programs will be able to apply for a handler authorization card.

The new regulations and applications are posted on the Department’s website at Questions regarding licensing of canine handlers may be directed to the Division’s Technical Assistance Unit at 217-782-8556 in the Springfield office.

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Online scams targeting renters

When Lynnea Hamatake needed to locate a house to rent, she did what many people might do — peruse online ads for available properties. She felt pretty excited when she saw a listing for a place in West Jordan priced well below other comparable rentals, and emailed the contact listed in the ad.

After a more careful review of the online listing, she noticed some things that “raised red flags.”

“(It) said, ‘I have the keys with me … I won’t be able to get them to you until you send me the deposit, then I’ll mail you the keys,’” Hamatake said. “I just thought, ‘Oh boy, that does not sound right.’”

She contacted a Realtor connected to the home, who told her that the listing was not correct.

“I haven’t been in the rental market for a long time,” Hamatake said. “This was my first experience … very shocking!”

She said the Realtor was helpful in contacting local authorities and explained that such scams are becoming more commonplace.

Here’s how it works: Fraudsters target occupied or unoccupied listings, create an ad and urge the potential renter to avoid calling the agent. Sometimes they’ll invite a potential target to drive by the home and see if they like it. Then the “mail-me-a-portion-of-the-deposit pitch ensues, with the promise of a key.

Hamatake advises potential renters to beware.

“Never give money without meeting in person at the property,” she said. “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

How to spot a fraudulent ad,
Some of the common elements found in these fake rental ads were:

• Poorly written ads … as if someone used a translation program to generate the language in the ad.

• The property could not be inspected or shown in person because the “landlord” in charge of renting the property claims to be in another state or country for work or is serving a mission.

• The telephone numbers listed in the ads or emails are for out of state numbers, or are international numbers. Also, the names used in the ads have used prior property owners as the contact person.

• The person claiming to have authority to rent the property requests a deposit via wire transfer.

Realtor Larry Larsen of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage said this kind of scam has occurred recently on this and other properties at his office.

“The prudent thing to do is call the Realtor (to verify) the listing,” he said.

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It’s no secret that it can be pretty hard to sell a home these days, but a woman in Oregon is using a very personal story to win over buyers.

She’s openly advertising the fact that her husband cheated on her and then left her with the home!

Elle Zober’s sign says “Husband left us for a 22-year-old” and goes on to read, “For sale by scorned, slightly bitter, newly-single owner.”

Before you think this is an act of revenge, Zober says her ex-husband was actually on board with the idea and even helped her with the sign.

She says they both need to move on and to do that, they have to sell the house.

“I’m certainly not the first person to be cheated on and I won’t be the last.”

Zober says she needs every competitive edge she can get in this housing market.

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We learn to lie around age two or three. By the time we’re adults, we do it a lot-at least once a day, and perhaps more like 2.92 lies in 10 minutes, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Psychology. It’s no wonder we’ve been chasing after an accurate lie detector for so long.

In fact, we’ve been aiming at ways to expose the lies and the liars who tell them for a long time, and it’s never been easy.
Two thousand years ago in India, someone suspected of lying was asked to chew a grain of rice. If, after some directed mastication, the subject could spit the rice back out, the truth teller was in the clear. If they couldn’t reproduce the grain, it was assumed that the accused’s mouth went dry from fear of being found out and he chomped the rice to dust.

As far as fib-finding devices go, we’ve come a long way. The first machine-powered lie detector was the “systolic blood pressure test” created by the Harvard psychologist William Mouton Marston in 1913. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Marston’s best-known creation is actually Wonder Woman. But Marston’s real-life lie-detector was not just a lasso that made you tell the truth. It worked like this: While asking a series of questions-What is your favorite color? What did you eat this morning? Did you murder your coworker?-Marston would take a subject’s blood pressure. An elevated reading associated with an answer pointed to the subject’s guilt. With just a rubber tube and that cuff a doctor inflates around your arm, Marston claimed to be able to tell the truth tellers nearly 100-percent of the time. Riiiight. And you have an invisible plane too…

By 1921, the PhD forensic scientist and police officer John Larson found a way to take the question, blood pressure recording, question, blood pressure recording system up a notch by making the process continuous. Instead of measuring blood pressure piecemeal as subjects answered yes or no, a reading could be taken the entire time, which is more like what we think of when we think of polygraphs today: little seismic readings dictated by our own guilt and deception.

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Magical Spy Sneakers

It’s a bit of a wonder that communism hasn’t fallen to its knees, screaming, “You win!” at Nike. Since 2006, the company has implanted tracking sensors into its line of Nike+ sneakers, a practice you would think certainly has political implications. A couple of weeks ago, the Hyperdunk (basketball) and Lunar (training) both received the Nike+ treatment with an updated “pressure sensor,” becoming the Hyperdunk+ and Lunar TR1+ respectively with glow-in-the-dark details. Both shoes boast sensors embedded in the “corners” of the sole and a processor in the middle that uploads all its information wirelessly to an app in your phone. This information includes how fast you’re going, your reps, and how high you’re jumping. It also calibrates your capacity for greatness based on ability and comparative effort. In other words, it knows how hard you’re trying. Drop a thousand crates of them on North Korea and it’s curtains for their labor camps.

On one hand, it’s a little scary: these shoes are kind of spying on you. Especially since the app also encourages you to upload showoff videos, and compete against others. Embed a GPS in these sneakers and suddenly you have a device that effectively puts you in jail while making you feel like you’re free. We don’t really know where all this information is going, do we? But whatever, honestly, that dark paranoia melted away after I put them on. I am used to wearing heels every day. It was extremely foreign to me to buckle down and purchase flat sandals this summer, so to wear actual sneakers is like an epiphany for my feet. These shoes were incredible (and disclaimer: no one at VICE or at Nike harassed me to write about the experience, by the way, which is extremely rare)—light, springy, insanely comfortable, and somehow exciting. They felt like I was wearing a space-age fish. I have no idea what that actually means, as up until this point I had been legitimately terrified of fish. Yes, somehow this sneaker not only lazered through my conspiracy fantasies, it also cured a phobia. Powerful.

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How secure are your Internet communications and phone calls? How private are your travels with a cellphone in your pocket or purse?

“Privacy is dead” earned the status of an Internet meme long before Facebook and other social media showed how willingly some of us would sacrifice our personal information for connection, celebrity, or even just the lure of free stuff.

But commercial intrusions such as ads based on our Web surfing aren’t the only risks we face in the age of the Internet, cellphones, and ubiquitous electronics. Or even the most important ones.

Just this week, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) announced that U.S. wireless carriers had received more than 1.3 million demands last year for subscriber data — including subpoenas or orders seeking text messages or subscribers’ whereabouts — from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Verizon, the largest carrier, told Markey that such requests were rising about 15 percent a year.

Nothing to worry about for the law abiding, right? But abroad, some such requests come from authoritarian regimes — and our own hands may not be totally clean. As a new Pew Internet study on the role of technology companies noted last week, Bloomberg recently reported that Western companies had provided surveillance systems to governments such as Iran and Syria with abysmal human-rights records.

Especially since the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials and the high-tech community have struggled for a balance between two undeniable concerns: our common interest in security and law enforcement vs. our individual interests in privacy and autonomy — what Justice Louis Brandeis famously called “the right to be let alone.”

Later this month, the Senate is likely to begin debate on the latest focus of that struggle: the proposed Cybersecurity Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent.

Lieberman’s bill is narrower than Sen. John McCain’s competing proposal, the Secure IT Act, according to Greg Nojeim, who follows the debate closely as senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, an advocacy group.

Nojeim said both bills share the same goal — and an aim he shares, as well: helping those who run the nation’s information networks and critical infrastructure avoid cyberattacks. But Nojeim worries that in the quest for an impossible goal — perfect security — we risk tipping the balance too far toward what he calls a “surveillance state.” He says both proposals allow too much personal information to be shared and “used for reasons unrelated to cybersecurity.”

Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer scientist, shares Nojeim’s concern that we might be missing that elusive balance.

As a researcher in cryptography and computer security, Blaze spends much of his time trying to improve network security. Last year, he drew national attention — and aided law enforcement — when he identified a major security flaw in radio systems used by federal agents to communicate.

But Blaze also worries about the unintended consequences of too much data collected and stored in systems that are inherently insecure — a result, he says, not of anyone’s design, but simply of the way technology has progressed.

Ironically, some efforts to fight crime electronically may have made crime easier. One example occurred in Greece, after officials pushed to install wiretapping interfaces in new phone networks.

“Someone discovered a few years ago that one of the main cellphone networks in Athens had been thoroughly compromised by somebody,” Blaze says. “They never solved it — they never figured out who. But somebody was using the interface to tap about 100 top officials, including U.S. embassy officials.”

It’s also hard for laws to keep up with technology. For instance, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act protects the privacy of e-mail for 180 days — plenty long when the law was enacted in 1986 but inadequate today.

“Storage was expensive, and no providers saved it that long,” Nojeim says. “Now they can and do save it for years, and users expect them to.” Yet when Internet companies and groups such as CDT pushed last year to lengthen the protection, Congress balked.

Blaze says that every time new technology is introduced, law enforcement worries that it will be outgunned — that their “surveillance systems are going dark.”

But he says a fairer reading of recent history, and the explosion of new technologies with inherent insecurities, shows that the eavesdroppers are way ahead — whether they’re good guys or bad guys.

“Thirty years ago, if I wanted to bug your phone I might have attached alligator clips or installed a microphone,” he says. “Today, I can do that with a software virus.”

Above all, Blaze warns against the trap of believing “there’s a stark, zero-sum trade-off between privacy and security.” It’s a more complex calculus, and a constant challenge to policymakers as well as technologists.

But this much is clear: “Once data is collected,” he says, “it will be used in ways you didn’t expect.”

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Mark Zuckerberg Awarded CIA Surveillance Medal

Well, now it is official. Mark Zuckerberg was not so smart after all, but just fronting for the CIA in one of the biggest Intelligence coups of all times.

But there remains one small problem, the CIA is not supposed to monitor Americans. I guess we will hear more on that soon from the lawyers once the litigation gets cranked up.

Personally I will be more interested in how this is going to effect the stock offering and shares as all Americans should own the entity that has been spying on them.

And then there are the SEC full disclosure regulations and penalties. It’s bonanza time for the lawyers.

Could the loophole the CIA used be that, ‘you aren’t being spied on if you are willingly posting everything a repressive regime would love to have on your Facebook account, with no threats, no family hostages, no dirty movies or photos that could be released?

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