Thursday, August 18, 2005

Light blogging: Phishing, Seven Phases, and Working Out

Click here for AmazonThe small, hardy band of subscribers to this blog may have noticed the extremely light blogging of late. Truth be told: vacation time is here. The family -- that is, the entire extended family, sans my brother and his wife, who are visiting Japan -- are on an island off South Carolina. Hot-spots and broadband connections here on the isle are about as common as hit movies starring Mickey Rourke.

Thus, I've had to resort to my old school AT&T Worldnet dialup connection. Speeds average around 50 kilobits per second, which is actually pretty good for dialup. I feel like I've time-warped back to 1995 when I used GNN (Global Network Navigator), only now I have a much better browser (Firefox, if you must know).

Even with limited bandwidth, a couple of articles caught my eye over the past few days:

On Phishing: From the Stanford School of Engineering comes an article entitled, "Stanford security experts unveil defenses against ‘phishing’ attacks." I eagerly devoured the article, hoping for some sort of unique solution for the phishing scourge. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find the proposed defenses were standard fare: another "boil-the-ocean" approach:

[The Stanford research group] has developed an extension to popular Web browsers that completely overhauls the security of passwords with only the slightest change in the daily Web-surfing experience—one or two keystrokes before entering a password activates their software...

Guys, it's a neat idea, but requiring everyone in the world to 'fix their browser' to defeat phishing is about as practical as requiring all web surfers to change their home page to -- and just as likely to happen.

How about a solution that can be implemented strictly on a financial institution's servers, like the anti-phishing captcha I wrote about a while back?

The aims of Al Qaeda - the seven phases of the base: Bill Roggio's Fourth Rail analyzes a fascinating article in Spiegel Online by Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein. The article describes the seven phases of Al Qaeda's plans, which extend out for decades. The source of the articles was Saif al-Adel, an AQ military leader, who is reportedly operating in Iran (hmmm).

Greatly abbreviated, the seven phases are:

The First Phase Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims...

The Second Phase "Opening Eyes" is... the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community." Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement...

The Third Phase... "Arising and Standing Up"... should last from 2007 to 2010. "There will be a focus on Syria," prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and -- even more explosive -- in Israel are predicted... countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.

The Fourth Phase [2010-2013]... will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments... At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.

The Fifth Phase... will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.

The Sixth Phase... from 2016 onwards... will a period of "total confrontation." As soon as the caliphate has been declared the "Islamic army" it will instigate the "fight between the believers and the non-believers" which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.

The Seventh Phase... [the] final stage is described as "definitive victory."... the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the "one-and-a-half million Muslims," the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than two years.

Roggio concludes with some ominously frank assessments:

[if the US] ...loses its political will and pursues a policy of isolation from the Muslim world, an inevitable showdown with al Qaeda would ensue. Open confrontation with the West, as well as the possibility of a nuclear armed Caliphate, would bring the full military might of the Western World... The current operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Southeast and Central Asia and within the borders of Western nations would be tame in comparison to what would come...

The West would basically have two options: (1) blitzkrieg 21st Century style - the full mobilization of its military and an accompanying sweep of the Islamic crescent, without regards for Politically Correct warfare; (2) nuclear war. Both campaigns would be designed to fully eliminate the Islamist threat, and the Muslim infrastructure, which allowed for the rise of al Qaeda's ideology.

Anoint yourself in the sacred oil of wisdom and read the whole thing.

Vacation workouts: my Dad rented some bikes for us while we're on the island. A couple of times a day I've been blasting down the beach, ten to twelve miles round-trip. It usually takes about 40 minutes. Not a great pace, but wet sand and a stiff wind make it -- ahem -- quite challenging. Good workout. And one I can't get back home.

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