Seized N Korean ship: Cuban weapons on board

Cuba has admitted being behind a stash of weapons found on board a North Korean ship seized in the Panama Canal.
The Cuban foreign ministry said the ship was carrying obsolete Soviet-era arms from Cuba for repair in North Korea.
The ship was seized by Panama last week after "undeclared military cargo" was found hidden in a shipment of sugar.
United Nations sanctions prohibit the supply of arms to North Korea in the dispute over its nuclear programme.
However, a Cuban foreign ministry statement said Cuba reaffirmed its commitment to "peace, disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, and respect for international law".

Chong Chon Gang's route

  • 17 April: Departs port of Vostochnyy, Nakhodka in Russian Far East (200km east of North Korean border)
  • 31 May: Arrives at Pacific side of Panama Canal
  • 1 June: Passes through Panama Canal, heading for Havana in Cuba
  • 11 July: Arrives back at Panamanian port of Manzanillo
  • 12 July: Ship searched
  • 16 July: Panama announces its discovery
It said the vessel was carrying 240 tonnes of obsolete defensive weapons - two anti-aircraft missile complexes, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG 21-Bis fighter planes and 15 MiG engines.
The Cuban statement said they were all made in the mid-20th Century and were to be repaired and returned to Cuba.
"The agreements subscribed by Cuba in this field are supported by the need to maintain our defensive capacity in order to preserve national sovereignty," the statement went on.
Cuba said the ship was mainly loaded with 10,000 tonnes of sugar.
'Historical ties'
Relations between North Korea and Cuba, both communist countries, are considered close. A high-level military delegation from North Korea visited at the end of June and was received by President Raul Castro.
Cuban media said they discussed "the historical ties that unite the two nations and the common will to continue strengthening them".

US ambassador to UN Rosemary DiCarlo: "Shipments would violate Security Council resolutions"
Announcing the seizure of the vessel on Tuesday, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said it contained suspected "sophisticated missile equipment".
He posted a photo of what looked like a large green object inside a cargo container on his Twitter account.
The president said the 35-strong crew had resisted the search and the captain had tried to kill himself.
Panama's Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said the UN would be sending experts to continue the investigation and examine the issue of charging the crew with illegal weapons smuggling.
The US "commended" Panama for its actions, and said it strongly supported a full inspection of the ship.
The vessel, the Chong Chon Gang, was stopped near Manzanillo on the Atlantic side of the canal last week.
It had left Russia's far east in April and travelled across the Pacific Ocean before entering the canal at the start of June, with Cuba as its stated destination.
The Chong Chon Gang had crossed the Pacific without its automatic tracking system switched on - a move described by the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner as highly suspicious.

Senior Pakistani Taliban leader 'shocked' by Malala attack

A friend of the Yousafzai family told the BBC's Orla Guerin the letter was a confused damage control attempt by the Taliban after Malala's UN speech

Related Stories

A Pakistani Taliban leader has sent a letter to schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, 16, expressing shock that she was shot by Taliban gunmen last year.
The Taliban were universally condemned after gunmen shot Malala in the head.
In his letter to Malala, Adnan Rasheed stops short of apologising but says he wished the attack "had never happened".
He also claims the shooting was not in response to Malala's campaign for girls' education, but because she ran an anti-Taliban "smear campaign".
Malala - who is considered a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize - is credited with bringing the education issue to global attention.
Speaking at UN headquarters in New York last Friday, she said that books and pens scared extremists. She also urged education for all, including "for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists".


Adnan Rasheed's "advice" to Malala Yousafzai comes just days after she held centre stage at the United Nations last Friday.
Even if he has written the letter in personal capacity, it certainly has the sanction of the TTP - the Pakistani Taliban group that admitted it attempted to assassinate the child activist in 2012.
Mr Rasheed is a former non-commissioned officer of the Pakistan Air Force who was sentenced to death for his role in a 2003 attempt on the life of former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf.
In 2012, the TTP attacked a jail in the north-west of the country, freeing him and hundreds of other prisoners. He has since appeared in some high-profile TTP videos.
The letter is apparently an attempt to attract media attention with a view to counter the impact of Malala's speech at the UN, and to further divide a society where the educated middle class is already in disagreement over whether Ms Yousafzai is a hero or an agent of the West.
'Brotherly' emotions
A copy of the letter was obtained by Channel 4 News and other news organisations.
Writing in his "personal capacity", Rasheed said he felt "brotherly" emotions towards Malala because they belong to the "same Yousufzai tribe".
However, he refuses to condemn the attack, saying the judgement on whether it was correct or not should be left to God.
Rasheed says he first heard of Malala's work when he was in prison, when the BBC Urdu service broadcast a diary that she wrote.
He says he wished he had been able to "advise" her before the attack, which he describes as an "accident".
The Taliban leader also says that his group is not "against education of any men or women or girls". Instead he claims Malala was targeted because she campaigned to "malign [the Taliban's] efforts to establish the Islamic system".
"You have said in your speech that the pen is mightier than the sword, so they attacked you for your sword, not for your books or school," he writes.
Rasheed finishes by telling Malala to "come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture and join any female Islamic madrassa [school], use your pen... and reveal the conspiracy of the tiny elite who want to enslave the whole of humanity".
Gordon Brown: "It's taken her to completely put the Taliban on the defensive"
The letter also contains references to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, British philosopher Bertrand Russell and Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.
A friend of the Yousafzai family told the BBC the correspondence was a confused and belated attempt at damage control by the Taliban in light of Malala's UN speech, which received a standing ovation.
Meanwhile the girl's parents said in a statement that they were aware of the letter but had not received it directly and had no wish to comment on it.
Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who serves as the UN's special envoy on global education, said on Wednesday that Malala had clearly had a profound effect on the Taliban.
"It's taken her to put the Taliban completely on the defensive, and that's why they're issuing this statement now," he said.
"But we know that they're still bombing schools, they're still destroying classrooms, they're still murdering teachers, and they're still massacring groups of students."
After the shooting, Malala was flown from Pakistan to the UK for treatment, and now lives in Birmingham, central England.
Her speech on her 16th birthday at UN headquarters in New York was her first public address since last October's attack.
Malala said she was fighting for the rights of women because "they are the ones who suffer the most".
A quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school.

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Samsung disappoints investors despite record $8.3 billion profit

It’s not easy living up to expectations when you are consistently delivering stellar results and competing for the top spot of the market. We’ve seen it happen with Apple’s declining share price, despite the iPhone and iPad still selling like crazy. Now Samsung has apparently let down investors while seeing its highest-ever revenue and profit in a quarter, estimated at $49.9 billion and $8.3 billion respectively in their early guidance numbers.
Such profit represents a 47% year on year rise as well as 54% growth compared to last quarter. But Reutersreports that investors hoped to see profit closer to $8.89 billion, meaning Samsung’s early figures are 6.4% below expectations. Final earnings results should land July 26 but they shouldn’t differ too much from this.
Apparently concerns center on slowing growth and shrinking margins at the high end of the smartphone market. Analysts talking to Reuters and Bloomberg also cite disappointing sales of the Galaxy S 4. Although it easily became the fastest selling Android device ever, the increased expenses in marketing and distribution channels weren’t justified in investors’ eyes as it still wasn’t able to outpace Apple’s iPhone 5 launch figures.
Samsung sells more smartphones than anyone else when adding up the full range of devices it offers, though.
Of course, smartphones are just one part of the picture. Samsung also holds the lead in the memory chip market, which is expected to remain strong, and its component business is also doing well. But Apple’s lessening relianceon the South Korean firm for iPhone and iPad parts should give investors another thing to worry about.

Popular iOS apps, games go free ahead of App Store's 5th anniversary

Update: Apple has made the official announcement now. Although other apps have gone free too, officially the promotion includes five games (Badland, Infinity Blade II, Sword & Sworcery, Tiny Wings, Where's My Water) and five apps (Barefoot World Atlas, Day One, How to Cook Everything, Over, Traktor DJ for iPhone). -- Original story is below --
A number of popular iOS apps and games are currently being offered for free on Apple’s App Store. The Vergewas first to note the coordinated move, and though Apple hasn’t made any official announcement, the site speculates it may be related to the store’s fifth anniversary, which is due this week on July 10.
None of the apps have been given away for free before. Most sold for a few bucks, but there are also a handful more expensive ones on the list, such as Infinity Blade II, How to Cook Everything and Tracktor DJ -- an iPhone and iPad application for pro DJs that has gone from $4.99/$19.99 respectively to zero. Here’s the full list (so far):


TitleOriginal priceNowPlatform
Infinity Blade II$6.99FreeUniversal
Tiny Wings HD$2.99FreeiPad
Tiny Wings$0.99FreeiPhone
Where's my Water$0.99FreeUniversal
Sword & Sworcery$4.99FreeUniversal
The Idiot Test 3$0.99FreeUniversal
Pig Shot$0.99FreeUniversal
Liquid Sketch$1.99FreeiPad
Infinity Blade$5.99$2.99Universal


TitleOriginal priceNowPlatform
Day One Journal$4.99FreeUniversal
Traktor DJ$4.99FreeiPhone
Traktor DJ$19.99FreeiPad
How to Cook Everything$9.99FreeUniversal
Map My Ride+$0.99FreeiPhone
Barefoot World Atlas$4.99FreeUniversal
Knots 3D$1.99FreeUniversal
Aside from its upcoming anniversary, the move comes nearly a month after Apple announced it had hit the 50 billion downloads milestone, and a total of $10 billion paid to developers. There are now 900,000 iOS apps available for download for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, with 375,000 designed specifically for iPad.
Hat tip to Tech Tola and Reddit for compiling the list

Zeus Trojan returns: Facebook being used to spread the infection

The infamous Zeus malware has once again resurfaced, but this time it’s using Facebook to further its crime spree. First detected in 2007, Zeus has infected millions of computers over the past six years. Despite the efforts of numerous security firms to combat the Trojan horse, it has only gotten stronger with age.
Following the initial infection, the virus lays dormant until an online banking site is opened. It then uses keyloggers to steal the unsuspecting victim’s usernames and passwords. Sometimes the Zeus malware goes even further - it replicates the bank's website, using a fake interface to obtain social security numbers, credit card digits, and other sensitive information. Eurograbber, a Trojan that employs similar methods to that of Zeus, reportedly stole $46.5 miillion from European users.
It is for this reason that Zeus is so effective. Even when your bank account is fully drained, the malware continues to search for any tidbits of data that can be sold on the black market. And unlike most malicious software, there are little to no warning signs - the computer will continue to operate normally, as an outright crash was never the intent.
Eric Feinberg, the founder of Fans Against Kounterfeit Enterprise (FAKE), believes that bogus Facebook pages are now being used to spread the malware. One such page was called “Bring the N.F.L to Los Angeles.” After asking a security team to analyze the shady links that were posted throughout the group, Feinberg's theories were proven to be correct.
The big concern is how little Facebook is doing to combat the threat. In response to Feinberg’s outreach to the social media giant, Facebook suggested that users should take matters into their own hands by signing up for scanners that can identify and remove the Trojan. According to The New York Times, Feinberg added, “They’re not listening. We need oversight on this.”

American public deems NSA's phone spying acceptable, says Pew study

For anyone following the recent events regarding the NSA’s surveillance program, the news stories have probably caused you to reflect upon your own beliefs. You might agree that the American government’s mass collection of telephone metadata is warranted, so long as it is being used to combat terrorism efforts. You might also argue that these acts of surveillance are an invasion of privacy and a breach of constitutional rights. Regardless of your personal opinion, you know where you stand on the matter. But what does the public as a whole believe in? A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center aims to answer this very question.
According to MSNBC, the study found that 56 percent of Americans deem the NSA’s access to millions of telephone records “acceptable”. On a similar note, 62 percent of respondents said that the prevention of terrorist attacks was more important than personal privacy. These results can be compared to a similar survey conducted in November 2010, in which 68 percent of survey-takers also took this stance.
One might be led to believe that these results are fairly representative of the entire nation; however, the study identified a major disparity between different age groups.
As much as 45 percent of individuals falling within the ages of 18 and 30 believe that privacy is paramount, “even if that limits the government’s ability to investigate possible terrorist threats”. In stark contrast, fewer than 30 percent of people over the age of 50 agreed with this sentiment.
These results indicate that the younger generation’s dependence on the internet and other communication services might play a larger role than originally expected. In many instances, young individuals have much of their life contained in private accounts hosted on the web, and they are understandably uncomfortable with the government having such open access to their records.
Another interesting finding is that Americans consider spying on emails to be far worse than monitoring phone calls. When asked whether the government should be allowed to riffle through personal emails if it could help combat terrorism attacks, the majority (52 percent) of respondents said no.
Perhaps the question that sparked the biggest concern from civil libertarians was whether the government should be allowed to ramp up surveillance programs even further. The Pew study revealed that 45 percent of Americans would support this decision, as long as the prevention of terrorism was the main goal.

Researchers crack iOS-generated hotspot passwords in 24 seconds

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If you're an iPhone or iPad owner who uses hotspot mode but never bothered to change the seemingly-random password suggested by iOS, now is definitely a good time. German researchers have discovered(pdf) the passwords iOS issues can be easily predicted, allowing them to be cracked in as little as one minute using consumer hardware.
The algorithm iOS uses to generate hotspot keys takes a dictionary word, adds a couple of numbers and voila -- an easily memorable password is born. The problem though, is despite the endless variety of words available in the English language, iOS draws its password inspiration from a narrow selection of just 1,842 words.
The second issue is certain words appear several times more frequently than other words. For example, out of nearly 2,000 words, "suave" had a 1-in-125 chance of being used. Meanwhile, "macaws" -- the tenth most-likely word to be used -- appeared 1-in-345 times. Knowing iOS' preferred word selection allows brute force crackers to start with the most common ones first, further reducing the time needed.
A PC armed with a Radeon HD 6990 GPU was able to crack the average iPhone hotspot in 52 seconds while four Radeon HD 7970s yielded an average of just 24 seconds. GPUs are favored amongst crackers for their ability to perform massively parallell computations.
Although researchers revealed how easily an iOS-generated hotspot password can be brute forced, other exploits like attacking iOS' PSK authentication method help to facilitate the process. Because handheld devices aren't equipped with high-end GPUs, researchers even discussed offloading the computational work to a cloud-based service like CloudCracker for cracking hotspots on-the-go.
Of course, Apple doesn't have a monopoly on devices with easily cracked hotspot passwords. Windows Phone and some Android handsets don't fare much better.
Windows Phone, for example, auto-generates hotspot passwords consisting of eight numbers. This means you already know what the password could be, making Windows Phone susceptible to brute force attacks. More research may reveal an additional weakness though, which could narrow that selection of 10^8 possibilities down to something even more tractable.
Meanwhile, Android's default password generator conjures sufficiently strong passwords, but some vendors have taken the liberty of greatly reducing its effectiveness. "Android-based models of the smartphone and tablet manufacturer HTC are even shipped with constant default passwords consisting of a static string (1234567890)" researchers noted.
When boiled down to its nuts and bolts though, the moral of this story is probably this: always create your own passwords, provided you follow some of the basic principles for creating strong ones.