Updated: 5/16/2006; 11:38:04 AM.

Ken Novak's Weblog
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daily link  Friday, April 02, 2004


Industrial control systems seen as 'undeniably vulnerable': "In a hearing yesterday on the security of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems, which are used to manage infrastructure such as the electric power grid and oil and gas pipelines, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) said the lack of a national strategy to deal with SCADA system security makes the nation "undeniably vulnerable" to cyberterrorism. Putnam is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census.

"The more I've learned [about the lack of SCADA system security], the more concerned I've become," said Putnam. "I've learned that today's SCADA systems have been designed with little or no attention to computer security. Data are often sent as clear text; protocols for accepting commands are open, with no authentication required; and communications channels are often wireless, leased lines or the Internet."  ..

Gerald Freese, director of information security at American Electric Power, said SCADA systems remain "open books" to any terrorist organization that wants to learn how to exploit them. In fact, U.S. energy companies assisted Pakistan in developing that country's SCADA and supporting telecommunications infrastructure. Modeling the Pakistani electric power infrastructure on the U.S., these companies used many of the same technologies and many of the same vendors to do the work, Freese said.

Richard Clarke and Howard Schmidt, the two former chairmen of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, acknowledged in interviews that raids conducted during the war on terrorism have uncovered evidence that al-Qaeda has been actively studying vulnerabilities in U.S. SCADA systems
"

  11:04:22 PM  permalink  

Gnews2RSS: "An experimental convertor that takes a Google News search and turns it into RSS" from programmer Julian Bond. Google filed a court order to shut down one service running this code.  10:50:28 PM  permalink  

Nanowrapping cell enzymes:  "To increase [a cell's] enzyme's longevity and versatility, a team at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., has caged single enzymes to create a new class of catalysts called SENs, or single enzyme nanoparticles. The nanostructure protects the catalyst, allowing it to remain active for five months instead of hours.  "The principal concept can be used with many water-soluble enzymes," said Jungbae Kim of PNNL..

Kim and Grate modified a common protein-splitting enzyme called alpha-chymotrypsin. They modified the enzyme surface to make it soluble, then added vinyl reagents to induce the growth of molecular threads, or polymers, from the enzyme surface. A second polymerization step cross-linked silicon chains, forming a basketball-netlike structure a few nanometers thick. What results are SENs that appear in electron microscopic images as hollow enzyme-containing nanostructures about 8 nanometers across. Kim and Grate found that by using less reactive forms of vinyl they could vary the thickness of the nano-netting by half. Thick or thin, the porous netting preserves the shape of the enzyme inside yet allows its active site to interact with a substrate. SENs are also amenable to storage; they have been refrigerated for five months, losing little of their activity.

Among the uses Kim noted for SENs is the breakdown toxic waste--a single treatment could last months. Stabilized enzymes are also a prerequisite for many types of biosensors. And they may be of interest for coating surfaces, with application ranging from medicine (protecting implants from protein plaques) to shipping (keeping barnacles off hulls)."

  10:07:44 PM  permalink  

Mali agricultural pricing radio show:"The farm-pricing radio show comes from an enterprise called the Observatoire du Marché Agricole (Agricultural Market Watch). OMA started out as part of a foreign-aid program. Using an $8.5 million handout from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other donors, a group of Malian and American professors at Michigan State University set out 13 years ago to help deregulate the Mali grain market."  Also, I've seen Indian data on a website run by their ministries of ag and info.  10:38:54 AM  permalink  

BBC NEWS | Technology | Simputer for poor goes on sale: "The Simputer was officially launched on Friday and the basic model costs around $240. .. Branded as the Amida Simputer, the handheld comes in three versions. The basic model has a monochrome screen, a 206MHz processor and 64MB of memory. It also has an internal microphone, speakers and a battery that lasts for six hours."  Its site promotes it as both a personal device and a business application platform.   There are 3 Models, $240/300/480, from stripped down to one with a color screen. Features in the mid and high models:

  • Linux based, with support for a few Indian scripts built in
  • integrated SmartCard reader/writer
  • 3 USB 1.1 ports (eg, for flash memory, or GPS), one as slave (eg, peripheral to a PC, for synching or whatever)
  • infrared interface , serial interface, mic and speakers
  • Amida Alchemy, an application development suite with a text-to-speech engine
  • an accelerometer that senses the wrist motion of the user, so that a flick of the wrist can advance pages in an online book, and rotating the device can change the aspect ratio from portrait to landscape
  • support for CDMA data networks (and bundles that include internet access packages from an Indian ISP)
  8:28:43 AM  permalink  

Gateway Stores to close: "Gateway said all 188 company-operated stores will shut down and approximately 2,500 retail jobs will go with them."  I wonder if that will mean the end of the Gateway Grid computer service.  8:04:45 AM  permalink  

 

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Copyright 2006 © Ken Novak.
Last update: 5/16/2006; 11:38:04 AM.