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It was packed full of speeches by jihadi recruiters, diatribes by Neo-Nazis and even leaked US Army manuals on how to conduct warfare in various nasty ways.The laptop apparently also contains fascinating peeks into the 24-year-old owner's pre-jihad life, when his main goal in life was finding a decent recipe for banana mousse and his favourite musician was the afore-mentioned singer of My Heart Will Go On.Sadly, he abandoned his childish ways in 2009 and started compiling all sorts of nasty content, with a particular focus on poisons.All in all, he gathered 146 gigabytes of material amounting to 35,347 files, most of which were not password protected. In one folder marked explosives, he collected a number of charming publications with titles like How to Make Semtex, Chemistry and Technology of Explosives and CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices.In concerning news for anyone following the Scottish independence referendum, this folder also contained a book by William Wallace titled A Guide to Field-Manufactured Explosives.

One text by Abdel Aziz, author of the The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, warned that making poisons is much, much more dangerous than preparing explosives. I know several [jihadists] whose bodies are finished due to poor protection, he warned. On the positive side, you can be confident that the poisons have actually been tried and tested (successfully, he he!).Weather predictions could be thrown into chaos if miscreants exploited a litany of dangerous and years-old holes reported in ground control for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS).The flaws, of which 12,703 are considered high risk, have been detailed in a US Government audit report that examined the state of security of the high impact IT ground control system of the JPSS and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.The JPSS is the latest US polar-orbiting environmental satellite and provides data for weather forecasts and climate monitoring.Allen Crawley, the US Department of Commerce's assistant inspector general for systems acquisition and IT security, found shocking flaws in the NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) ground control station.

As a result, few security controls are fully implemented and many high-risk vulnerabilities exist within the system, Crawley wrote in a report (pdf).Software used by the JPSS system contains vulnerabilities that have been publicly known for several years. Software tools to exploit several of these vulnerabilities are available on the internet.[Since 2012] the number of high-risk vulnerabilities in the system had increased by two-thirds despite recent efforts the program has taken to remediate these vulnerabilities.Some flaws, including nasty ones, have persisted for years due in part to contractors having a four-year reprieve in 2010 from addressing any security flaws while the station was repurposed from a research project to the JPSS.High risk vulnerabilities were defined as relatively easy for attackers to exploit and cause significant disruption to critical data used in weather forecasting and climate monitoring.Only a quarter of National Institute of Standards and Technology security controls were fully implemented at the station between fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

Worse, the majority of the security vulnerabilities identified won't be fixed for a further two years despite policy stating high-risk holes must be fixed within a month of being discovered.In the past, it took up to 14 months for some patches to be applied and more than a year for holes identified in penetration tests to be fixed. Management confessed that IT maintenance in 2011 was suspended for almost a year.Old holes include more than 9100 high risk unpatched vulnerabilities, bad configurations and unnecessary operating system and software privileges. 3600 password and audit settings not in-line with JPSS policy and three holes identified but not fixed in 2012 penetration tests are also present.These holes could be fixed with only minor alteration to the ground control systems, according to the report.Crawley recommended the station bin its failed bi-annual maintenance cycle and fix the high risk holes pronto before meteorologists begin reporting snowfall in the Alice.[High-risk vulnerabilities] could lead to a disruption of NOAA’s ability to command and control the Suomi NPP satellite and to provide data that is used in numerical weather models that support weather predictions and climate monitoring. The importance of remediating these vulnerabilities justifies addressing them outside the regular cycle of maintenance deployments.

NOAA's security slap-down comes after it was revealed in July that a staffer had made off with data contained on their laptop which they refused to hand over. Auditors found insecure access to corporate systems by staff consumer devices and thousands of security vulnerabilities.Worstall on Wednesday One of the great problems within economics is in trying to work out what's a structural change, what's a cyclical change and what's being buggered up just because you're not measuring it properly.For example, we can look at how much companies (or more accurately, non-household entities) are spending on the computing infrastructure they use – investments in software and hardware. We'll stick with the US numbers, where it went from two per cent of GDP (ie, one-fiftieth of the entire economy that year) to nearly five per cent in 2000. It has now has fallen back to around 3.5 per cent.This has some people, like Slate columnist David Autor, worrying that the white hot technology revolution that is computing is running out of steam.

The concern here is that we've done all the heavy investing in information processing that we're ever going to do. We've had a structural change: modern companies must be IT-based. Now that we've managed that, from here on in IT spending will become more of a maintenance item than a breacher of new frontiers. But this development is bad for the future. Why? We're pinning a lot of our hopes of being ever richer in the future on the idea that computing is going to create a goodly part of that wealth.We can also read the rise and fall of the IT budget in a second way, as a cyclical story. There was a vast amount of money wasted in dealing with Y2K, then we splurged way too much on dotcoms and it's hardly surprising that we're investing less in the wake of one of the largest recessions of modern times. In this model, it will all swing back upwards in the near future. Here we're less worried about that GDP growth of the future, instead blaming the current dearth on the vagaries of recent GDP movements.The first scenario doesn't really sound all that likely: what can be done with computers (widely defined) is still roaring ahead and we can do things today that no one was even dreaming of 15 years ago. We really don't think that IT is standing still.

But the second model also seems a little unlikely because investment rates for companies, at least in infrastructure like IT, aren't really thought to be determined by GDP or the general economic situation but rather by interest rates and cash availability within a company. Companies are, in general, flush with cash, and money is, compared to recent times, damn near free for corporations to borrow.It should be said that you can definitely get to either of those conclusions, as you wish, with a judicious reading of the statistics we have available. But neither of them quite taste right – which is another way of saying they don't really meet our instinctive understanding of the underlying theory.We're all aware that different things change prices differently: IT equipment prices for a given performance level fall through the floor over time, while the cost of a haircut (a fixed performance level) increases over time. What's perhaps less well known is that government statisticians desperately try to compensate for the improvement in tech capacity at the same price point. The year 2000's $1,000 laptop is obviously a very different beast to the year 2014's $1,000 laptop.These adjustments are known as “hedonic” in the jargon, but there's quite a lot of people around thinking that the statisticians haven't got them quite right. When we correct for that quality at a price point issue, we can (as the HBR has) state that IT investment is rising over time; that fall is purely a measurement fault.

That's an argument that I have a certain sympathy for as I'm far from certain that those hedonic adjustments are being done right. I do think they are falling short of the performance increases.However, I've a more than sneaking suspicion that we've actually got a different measurement problem here. And it's one that you guys can inform the economics types upon, if you should so wish. Remember your Hayek: all knowledge is local, so this is your chance to get what you know back to the centre.When we measure things in the economy, we've obviously got a number of classes that we stuff spending into. Wages are different from profits, for example, and we've had all sorts of people insisting that the profit share of the UK economy has increased in recent decades.It has, but only from around 1975 to 1980, the reason being that the 1975 profit share simply wasn't sustainable – not even enough to pay for machinery wearing out, or depreciation. It has been around and about the long term level ever since.Yet it's also true that the wage share has been falling. Some look at the falling wage share and conclude that the profit share must be rising, but there's four parts to national income when we measure it this way: wages, profits, self-employed income, subsidies to consumption and taxes on consumption. The number of self-employed workers has risen, as has their aggregate income, and since the early 1970s we've imposed – and then raised a number of times – VAT. You know, another one of those taxes on consumption.


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Wilhelm aidge
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