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Monday
Nov282011

Cyber Monday: Buyer Beware Counterfeit Goods

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As shoppers began to look for deals on holiday gifts on Cyber Monday, federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Justice Department were busy taking down websites that peddle counterfeit goods on the Internet.

Working together, the two federal organizations executed court-authorized seizure orders against 150 websites -- nearly double the number targeted last year -- that were selling known counterfeit items ranging from professional sporting paraphernalia to pirated movies to high-end Louis Vuitton handbags.

"Through this operation we are aggressively targeting those who are selling counterfeit goods for their own personal gain while costing our economy much-needed revenue and jobs," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. "Intellectual property crimes harm businesses and consumers, alike, threatening economic opportunity and financial stability."

The websites were seized as part of Operation In Our Sites, which has targeted websites that sell counterfeit goods since June 2010. Last year on Cyber Monday, ICE and the Justice Department seized 82 websites that were selling pirated goods.

"For most, the holidays represent a season of goodwill and giving, but for these criminals, it's the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers," said ICE Director John Morton in a statement. "More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, American business profits stolen and American consumers receiving substandard products. And the ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime."

A Justice Department report on intellectual property released in June 2010 noted that "annually, copyright piracy affecting the U.S. motion pictures, sound recordings, business software and entertainment software/video game industries cost the U.S. Economy $58 billion in total output, 373,375 jobs, $16.3 billion in earnings, and $2.6 billion in Federal/state/local tax revenue."

"Most of the counterfeit items are from overseas," Morton said in a conference call with reporters Monday, noting that many of the websites are linked to entities in China.

The websites seized include jerseygreatdeal.com, nfljerseysworlds.com, uggbootsclearanceoutletstores.com, and pumaoutlets.net. Visitors to the websites will now find Justice Department and ICE logos with text noting, "This domain name has been seized by ICE- Homeland Security Investigations."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

CIA and NSA Websites Encourage Childs' Play

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Worried about what your children are getting into while surfing the Web? Well, how about organizations involved in intelligence gathering and espionage?

Despite their very adult missions, both the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency have sections specifically for youngsters.

On the CIA’s site -- the same one that hosts definitions of cannabis, meningococcal meningitis and maternal mortality rate -- children and teens can visit the Kids’ Page where a cubist cartoon spy using her high heel as a phone presides over a “welcome” telling readers they can “learn more about the CIA, our employees, and what we do every day.”

The NSA page is called America’s CryptoKids and looks more like a B-level animated movie than a government organization PR campaign. The NSA has games, puzzles and a cast of animal security officers, including Rosetta Stone the multilingual fox, Crypto Cat, who learned code breaking from an elderly Navajo nanny, and Cy and Cyndi, the cybersecurity twins welcomed into the CryptoKids family last year.

So how do the CryptoKids fit into the NSA’s mission “to protect U.S. national security systems and to produce foreign signals intelligence information?” And why would the CIA offer a word find and coloring book?

Communication expert Joanne Cantor said having games indicates that an organization wants kids to have a positive image of them.

Cantor said companies that see children as a target audience, such as fast-food chains or sweetened cereal producers, “have all sorts of games on their websites to make the kids like them and to sort of recruit them at young ages, and that’s very controversial among people who consider marketing to kids as unfair.”

Cantor did not see the CIA’s and NSA’s websites’ messages as inherently harmful, but said they could be subtle recruiting tactics.

“I think, particularly with character biographies, they want you to feel like you identify with the people who work there. Like this is something you could do,” Cantor said.

But Vanee’ Vines of the NSA Public Affairs Office denied that the agency uses its site as a recruiting tool.

“We’re aiming to raise awareness about cybersecurity, our mission, and how STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] skills are needed in a global society that increasingly relies on information technology,” Vines wrote in an email.

“We realize the importance of helping to educate the nation’s youth and raise awareness about the National Security Agency’s core values, vision, and critical mission.”

All federal agencies are strongly encouraged to have kids’ sections on their websites, thanks to a memo former President Bill Clinton released in 1997, but few are as elaborate as the NSA’s efforts. The memo does not specify how detailed the website must be or how much money should be allocated to the project.

While Vines said the NSA kids’ page has been reviewed frequently since the new design opened in 2005, she would not say how much it costs to keep the page “fresh and relevant.”

Kids can see more from the NSA’s cadre of cartoon characters at the agency’s museum.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec212010

Net Neutrality: FCC Adopts Rules for Open Internet 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A narrowly divided Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved bold new rules Tuesday aimed at preventing broadband service providers from censoring how individuals and organizations can surf the Internet's fastest pipes. 

The so-called "net neutrality" regulations prohibit the suppliers of Internet connections to millions of American homes and offices from blocking access to certain websites, applications or services so long as they are legal.

Companies will also be required to publicly disclose information on their practices, performance characteristics and commercial ties.

But the rules do allow Internet providers to engage in "reasonable network management," meaning they can take steps to regulate traffic and congestion over their connections.

Critics warn those steps could include implementation of usage-based pricing for accessing the Internet at home and preferential treatment for companies that pay extra for "fast-lanes." They say service providers could also begin to pick and choose which websites can run faster than others over their networks.

Opponents of the FCC's new authority also cite that back in April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington D.C. ruled that the agency lacked the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic on their networks.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Wednesday
Nov172010

US Government, Military Websites Redirected to Chinese Servers

Photo Courtesy - Senate [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. government and military Internet traffic was briefly redirected through computer servers in China earlier this year, according to a report that is to be released Wednesday by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

The report says telecommunications companies in China disrupted the Internet for only about 18 minutes -- but they were a big 18 minutes.  They "hijacked" about 15 percent of the world's online traffic, affecting NASA, the U.S. Senate, the four branches of the military and the office of the Secretary of Defense.

A draft copy of the report, obtained by ABC News, said, "For about 18 minutes on April 8, 2010, China Telecom advertised erroneous network traffic routes that instructed U.S. and other foreign Internet traffic to travel through Chinese servers."

While the Internet "hijacking" incident was initially reported on in April, it had not been previously disclosed that the U.S. government was affected by the incident.  The report states, "This incident affected traffic to and from U.S. government (''.gov'') and military (''.mil'') sites, including those for the Senate, the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and many others.  Certain commercial websites were also affected, such as those for Dell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and IBM."

Officials at the State Department and Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the report.

The Commission report does not discuss why the telecommunications firms rerouted the Internet traffic but it does mention the possible security risks.

"Although the Commission has no way to determine what, if anything, Chinese telecommunications firms did to the hijacked data, incidents of this nature could have a number of serious implications.  This level of access could enable surveillance of specific users or sites.  It could disrupt a data transaction and prevent a user from establishing a connection with a site.  It could even allow a diversion of data to somewhere that the user did not intend."´╗┐

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio