Friday, July 17, 2009

Stolen Goldman Sachs code could be used to manipulate markets unfairly

A former Goldman Sachs computer programmer, Sergey Aleynikov, was arrested and charged with stealing computer code related to the firm's high-speed stock and commodities trading platform. Federal prosecutors allege Aleynikov downloaded the code and then uploaded it to a computer server in Germany. Aleynikov claims he "only intended to collect 'open source' files on which he had worked, but later realized that he had obtained more files than he intended."

Aleynikov was part of a team responsible for developing and improving Goldman Sachs's trading platform. He was required to sign a confidentiality agreement when first employed there. He resigned from the firm to work for a new company that also planned to engage in high-volume automated trading.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told a federal magistrate judge at a bail hearing that, Goldman Sachs "has raised the possibility that there is a danger that somebody who knew how to use this program could use it to manipulate markets in unfair ways.”

See, "Ex-Goldman Employee Charged With Code Theft ," Wall St. Journal, July 6, 2009, at; "Goldman Sachs Loses Grip on Its Doomsday Machine," Bloomberg, July 9, 2009, at; "Steal this code," New York Times, July 16, 2009, at

Quadrillion dollar glitches hit Visa debit card users

A New Hampshire man using his Visa debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes found that his account was charged $23,148,855,308,184,500 for the transaction. Bank of America also added a $15 overdraft charge.

A North Texas man was charged the same when he charged a slice of pizza and a Coke to his Visa card.

Visa Debit Processing Services acknowledged that a programming error impacted about 13,000 transactions.

See, "US shopper charged $23 quadrillion for cigarettes," Guardian, July 16, 2009, at; "The $23 Quadrillion Pack Of Cigarettes," DigitalTrends, July 16, 2009, at; "Pizza And Soda? That'll Be $23 Quadrillion, Please," NPR, July 15, 2009,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hacker rips through Twitter and its business plans

A hacker broke into the email account of a Twitter administrative employee and gained access to the employee’s Google Apps account, where the company shares spreadsheets and documents. The hacker then sent documents about company plans and finances, confidential contracts, and job applicants to two tech news blogs. The disclosed information included personal information about Twitter employees, including credit card numbers. The hacker also broke into the e-mail account of the wife of Twitter’s chief executive and from then accessed several of his personal Internet accounts, including those at Amazon and PayPal.

One of the blogs disclosed that the documents show that Twitter projects that it will reach a billion users and $1.54 billion in revenue by 2013. The documents also show information about potential business models, the competitive threat from Facebook, and when the company might be acquired.

The hacker managed to launch the attacks by correctly answering personal questions that Gmail asks users in order to reset their password. The hacker claims to want to teach people to be more careful.

While Twitter users were not affected, some became victims of a separate attack to have them pay $49.95 for a fake anti-virus software.

See, "Twitter Hack Raises Flags on Security," New York Times, July 15, 2009, at; "Twitter hacked; confidential documents stolen," San Jose Mercury News, July 15, 2009, at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hackers knock off line South Korean banks and government sites

Hackers using a Distributed Denial of Service attack disabled the Web sites in South Korea of several major government agencies and financial institutions, including the office of South Korea’s president, the National Assembly, the defence and foreign ministries, two banks, and the US-South Korea combined forces military command. North Korea is suspected of launching the cyberattack.

See, "North Korea 'launches massive cyber attack on Seoul'," July 8, 2009, Times, at; "South Korea: Authorities Issue Cybersecurity Warning," New York Times, July 8, 2009, at

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Britain's chief spy exposed on Facebook

The wife of the Sir John Sawer, new head of MI6 (the British Secret Intelligence Service), posted on Facebook details of their London apartment, the whereabouts of their three children and of Sir John’s parents, and family photos. She used no privacy protection on the account, making the postings available to Facebook’s 200 million users.

The incident led to warnings to diplomats and civil servants about the dangers of putting details of their family and career on social networking websites.

See, "Farce of the Facebook spy: MI6 chief faces probe after wife exposes their life on Net," Daily Mail, July 6, 2009, at; "Wife of Sir John Sawer, the future head of MI6, in Facebook security alert," July 6, 2009, Times, at