Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chinese schools linked to hack attacks on Google...

National emblem of the People's Republic of ChinaImage via Wikipedia

Chinese schools deny links to hack attacks on Google...

Two days after a New York Times report linked two Chinese schools to hack attacks on Google and other Silicon Valley companies, both schools are denying those claims.

Security experts traced the attacks to computers at Shanghai Jiaotong University and Lanxiang Vocational School, The New York Times reported Thursday. But on Saturday, according to the Associated Press, China's official Xinhua News Agency cited a representative of the university calling the accusations "baseless" and an official from the vocational school saying its investigation turned up no evidence the intrusions originated on school machines.

Shanghai Jiaotong University is known for its computer science program. The Lanxiang Vocational School was established with military support, according to the Times, and trains computer scientists for the military.

Google announced January 12 that e-mail accounts belonging to human rights activists in China had been compromised in "a highly sophisticated and targeted attack" probably originating in China. The company said it discovered the attacks in mid-December.

The revelations led the search giant to announce that it would stop censoring search results in China and possibly back out of the Chinese market altogether--a proclamation that underscored the troubled history, and uncertain future, for Internet companies doing business in China.

After warning of strained U.S.-China relations, China denied involvement in the attacks, and investigations by experts including the National Security Agency have only led to servers in Taiwan, the Times says. Findings implicating the Chinese schools in the intrusions could be a breakthrough in the case, though they don't automatically mean the attacks came from the Chinese government (sources have said it is typically difficult to find evidence specifically leading back to Chinese officials in computer attacks)--or even from Chinese sources.

Li Zixiang, the Communist party official speaking for Lanxiang school, disputed the Times report that evidence linked the attacks to a specific computer science class taught by a Ukrainian. "We have never employed any foreign staff," Xinhua quoted Li as saying. Another school official challenged the Times' statement that Lanxiang has close ties to the military, saying that students may join the military after graduating but are not required to.
Leslie Katz, senior editor of CNET's Crave, covers gadgets, games, and most other digital distractions. As a co-host of the CNET News Daily Podcast, she sometimes tries to channel Terry

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Lowering the drinking age down to 18 years in New Zealand was a mistake...

Some typical alcoholic beverages.Image via Wikipedia

Most New Zealanders think lowering the drinking age to 18 a decade ago has had a negative impact on society, a Research New Zealand poll has found.

Three-quarters of the poll's 500 respondents said changing the drinking age had had a negative effect, five percent said it had a positive effect, and 17 percent said it had no effect at all.

Older people and higher income households were most likely to say lowering the drinking age had a negative effect.

Respondents were split down the middle on whether they agreed with the recommendation of a report by the Law Commission in July of a split purchasing age, where 18-year-olds could buy alcohol at bars and restaurants but had to be 20 to buy it at stores.

Fifty-one percent agreed with the recommendation while 46 percent disagreed.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents agreed with another commission recommendation – that anyone found drunk in a public place should receive an instant fine.

The drinking age was controversially lowered from 20 to 18 in 1999 and since then attempts to reverse the decision have failed.

Commission president Sir Geoffrey Palmer released a discussion paper in late July with a raft of recommendations for liquor law reform to be studied by ministers.

"New Zealand has some serious problems with the use of alcohol," he said.

"Not everyone drinks in a manner that is harmful but the consequences of harmful drinking affect us all."

Sir Geoffrey said the evidence indicated heavy drinking and drunkenness were generating the most acute harm.

He wanted public submissions on the discussion paper over the next three months.

The commission's recommendations would have a significant impact on liquor laws if the Government decided to implement some or all of them.

They include:

* Increase excise tax overall on alcohol or reduce it for low-alcohol products;

* Set a minimum price below which alcohol products can't be sold – a measure being developed in Scotland;

* Splitting the purchase age, leaving it at 18 for on-licence and raising it to 20 for off-licence;

* Making it an offence for an adult to supply liquor to a young person unless it is at a private social gathering, and the adult has the consent of the young person's parent or guardian;

* Putting the Liquor Licensing Authority under a District Court judge and increasing its powers to monitor trends and obtain data;

* Strengthen law enforcement by giving senior police officers the power to close bars; and

* Consider making it an infringement offence to drink in a public place

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