Headline, February07, 2014



The  ''underground-market''  minimum price that provides with control over   Internet Explorer is  $500,000.

For  Windows 8 around $250,000; For iPhone 5 around $200,000. For Chrome around  $200.

THIS IS a type of software sometimes described  as ''absolute power'' or ''God''. 

Small wonder its sales are zooming. Packets of computer code, known as  ''exploits'' , allows hackers to infiltrate or even control computers running software: In which a design flaw called, ''vulnerability''  has been discovered.

Criminal and,  to a lesser extent, terror groups purchase exploits on more than two illicit online forums or through at least a dozen clandestine brokers, says Venkatramana Subrahmanian, a University of Maryland expert in these black markets.

He likens the transactions to  ''selling a gun to a criminal''.

Just a dozen years ago the buying and selling of illicit exploits was so rare that India's  Central Bureau of Investigation  had not yet identified any criminal syndicates involved in the trade, says R.K.Raghavan, a former director of the bureau.

Underground markets are now widespread, he says. Exploits empower criminals to steal data and money.

Worse still, they provide  ''cyber-firepower''  to hostile governments that would otherwise lack the expertise to attack an advanced country's computer systems, worries Colonel John Adams, head of Marine Corps Intelligence Integration Division at Quantico, Virginia.

Exploits themselves are generally legal. Several legitimate businesses sell them. A Massachusetts firm called Netragard last year sold more than 50 exploits to businesses and government agencies in America for prices ranging from:

$20,000 to more than $250,000. Adriel Desautels, Netragard's founder describes some of the exploits sold as  '''weaponised'''. The firm buys a lot from three dozen independent  hackers  who, like clients......

Are carefully screened to make sure they are not selling code to anyone else, and especially not to a criminal group or unfriendly government.

More than half of exploits sold are now bought from bona fide firms rather than from freelance hackers, says Roy Lindelauf, a researcher at the Netherlands Defence Academy.

He declines to say if Dutch army or intelligence agencies buy exploits, noting that his government is still figuring out ''what we're allowed to do offensively''.

Laws to ban trade in exploits are being mooted. Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, is spearheading an effort to pass export control laws for exploits.

It is gathering support, she says, because they can be used as ''digital weapons''  by despotic regimes.

For example, they could be used to monitor traffic on a dissident's smartphone. However, for a handful of reasons, new laws are unlikely to be effective.

'''Exploits are a form of knowledge, expressed in computer code. 

Attempting to stop people from generating and spreading knowledge is futile, says Dave Aitel, a former computer scientist at America's National Security Agency.

Dr Dave went on to found Immunity, a computer-security firm in Florida. He says that legal systems would not even agree which code is good and which is bad.

The Post continues but now back to ASER survey on the state of affairs  of Pakistani students:

On Infrastructure the Punjab province is ahead of KP, Sindh, GB and Balochistan in terms of infrastructure facilities in schools  -classrooms, useable drinking water and toilets, boundary walls, library and computer labs in public schools.

Though a primary school should have six classrooms ideally, GB and Punjab 3.4 and 3.0 classrooms on an average.

KP, Sindh and Balochistan have 3.3, 2.3 and 2.0 classrooms on average.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Libya. See Ya all  on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

'''The defining Landmark Of These Times'''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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