Daily TIPs: Chertoff Chats, Scammers Scam Scammers, Cloud Consortium, & More

8/7/08

No Honor Among Internet Thieves

Even phishers—people who fake legitimate-seeming sites to trick people out of their financial information—are subject to phishing attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal. Apparently more seasoned scam artists are targeting newbie hackers and stealing the same credit card numbers they steal. For instance, they’ll sell would-be criminals software to set up a fake bank website, and then get their own copy of all the information the website collects.

Homeland Security Chief Talks of Cyber Threats

Fearing online attacks that could compromise intelligence information or shut down utilities, the government is taking an increased interest in cybersecurity, head of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff says. Wired has a long and varied interview with Chertoff that also touches on the issue, currently percolating in the blogosphere, of border guards seizing laptops from travelers.

Group Promotes Cybersecurity for Next President

A private organization is looking for ways the government can make cyberspace more secure. The Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency, a group organized by a Washington think tank, is working on recommendations it can make to the next president. CNET News reports that four members of the commission discussed some of their work at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas this week.

Ethanol Demand May Pose Health Risk

In a somewhat round-about way, the increasing demand for ethanol from corn may be leading to an increased risk of lead poisoning in children, some researchers warn. An article in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science and Technology points out that ethanol demand, as well as increasing demands for food from emerging economies, are driving the demand for phosphates used in fertilizers. Those same phosphates are added to water supplies to prevent lead pipes from corroding, and a shortage could mean more of the metal in drinking water, where it can harm children’s cognitive development.

California Company Captures Carbon for Concrete

A California company, Calera, has developed a process in which it captures the carbon dioxide emitted by a natural-gas-burning power plant, pumps it through seawater, and produces the materials needed to make cement. Normally the process of making cement releases at least a ton of carbon dioxide for every ton of cement, but the company says it captures half a ton of C02 for each ton of cement it makes, according to Scientific American. Since cement and its sister material, concrete, are widely used in buildings all over the world, such a change could have a significant impact on global warming.

UN Wants to Tighten Carbon Offset Rules

The United Nations wants to make sure its system of trading carbon credits actually results in a reduction of the greenhouse gas. Under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, companies can buy the right to emit more carbon into the atmosphere by purchasing carbon offsets, which fund projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. The International Herald Tribune reports that the UN wants to make sure any reductions are a direct result of the purchasing system, and aren’t just from projects that would have gone ahead without the incentive.

Computer Giants Have Their Heads in the Cloud

The current high-tech flavor of the month is cloud computing, in which applications and computing power run on remote machines that don’t necessarily belong to the user, saving time and expense. Technology Review tells us that Intel, Yahoo, and HP, along with research groups in Illinois, Germany, and Singapore, have formed a cloud computing initiative. The aim is to develop an Internet-based infrastructure that is stable enough to host companies’ more critical data processing tasks.

IKEA to Offer Cleantech Products

It’s not just bookcases and build-it-yourself credenzas for Swedish furniture store IKEA anymore. As the Cleantech Group reports, IKEA plans to invest in clean energy startups over the next five years to the tune of 50 million euros (about $77 million). Its goal is to eventually start selling cleantech technology, including smart meters and solar panels, in its stores. No word on whether solar panel installation requires more than that little wrench thingie.

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