Picture/Poem Icon April 2001:              
suggested link

Cuba Not So

With the Net

A news report from

"Internet and e-mail access in Cuba
is as jealously guarded as Fidel Castro's
chokehold on power. But that hasn't
stopped enterprising Cubans from finding
ways to flout government restrictions."

A report from wired.com [the website of Wired magazine]

Cuba Not So Libre With the Net
by Julia Scheeres

"The Cuban government controls the country's only Internet gateway and
four national ISPs. Out of 11 million Cubans, only about 40,000 academics
and government workers are permitted to have Internet and e-mail accounts.
[...] The official reason for the island's low connectivity is economic. The U.S.
trade embargo forces Cuba to use an expensive, sluggish satellite connection and
bandwidth must be doled out carefully, Fernandez said.

"Cubans are very inventive, despite all the ways the regime tries to control
information." Laptops donated by foreign friends are secretly plugged into phone
jacks at work; Internet passwords are traded on a burgeoning black market; blocked
Web pages are sent as text attachments; free Web-based e-mail accounts allow free
speech; used components are pieced together with hacked software to create what
locals call "Frankenstein" computers."

Links to related reports...

Feds Say Fidel Is Hacker Threat
by Declan McCullagh

"WASHINGTON -- These must be jittery times for anyone in the
military who uses the Internet. Not only do they have to guard against
Love Bug worms and security holes in Microsoft Outlook -- now they've
got to worry about Fidel Castro hacking into their computers." [...]

"Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the committee's hawkish chairman,
said that the classified hearing later in the day would "explore the
challenges posed by, among others, the proliferation of encryption
technology, the increasing sophistication of denial and deception
techniques, the need to modernize and to recapitalize the National
Security Agency, and other shortfalls in intelligence funding." [...]

Inside Russia's Hacking Culture
by Michelle Delio

"Security experts were not surprised by the FBI's warning last week
that more than 1 million credit card numbers have been stolen from
e-commerce websites in the last 12 months by crackers who took
advantage of a hole that could have been patched with software that
was made available three years ago. But a bit of intrigue was added
to that report: Most of the dirty work was being done by "organized
hacking" groups in Russia and the Ukraine." [...]

"We don't download the tools so much, as you maybe would in other
countries, because our connections to the Internet are slow and the
phone service goes bad a lot," he said. "So we trade by CD at the
markets. The police come often and take the CDs away. But new
copies are easy to make."

Badkhen said a copy of Microsoft's Windows 2000 was available
at the market on Monday for about 60 rubles (US $2.09); along
with Office 2000, priced at 55 rubles.But he prefers to focus on the
homemade CDs, which have bright labels advertising their wares.
"Hackers Toolkit," "All You Need to Start Hacking," and "Hack the
World" are some of the titles Badkhen remembers seeing recently.
[...] Badkhen said that he can also buy pirated software at some
newsstands, along with "snacks and vodka -– so you go home, eat,
drink and play with your computer. What could be a better night?"

The Internet: It's Full of Holes
by Michelle Delio

"An invisible snoop may be virtually peering over your shoulder
right now. Computer crackers can read your e-mail, collect your credit
card data, intercept the information you send wirelessly or pry into
your private files.

The Internet is riddled with security holes. And those holes are
multiplying as quickly as supposedly impenetrable security programs
are being written by people and firms with a vested interest in the
safety of the Internet. Just Monday, three reports detailing new and
major flaws in wireless security, secure Internet transaction protocols
and e-mail were released." [...]

"Security is a matter of degree," said Tepes, another self-described
cracker. "The best that you can do is make it harder to get access to
your information. But there is simply no way to keep everyone out
all of the time. As far as security systems go, my buzzword is: If
you can make it, we can break it."


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