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Archive for November 23rd, 2010

Job Advertisement for a position with the Kenyan Embassy in DC

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

Job Advertisement: Position of Technical StaffThe Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Washington DC invites applications from all suitably qualified men and women for the position of Technical Staff

Description:

The ideal person shall;

Provide technical support to political officers in liaising with the U.S.

Legislature, Executive as well as U.S. Think Tanks;

Assist in extensive research on U.S. foreign policy;

Assist on issues related to Information, Communication and Technology in

the Embassy; and,

May be called upon from time to time to provide any other technical support

as may be deemed necessary.

Qualifications Required:

A minimum of first degree in social sciences; a degree in international

relations or law would be an added advantage;

Working knowledge of information, communication technology;

Thorough understanding of the U.S. Executive and Legislature; Experience

working with both or any of these institutions would be an added advantage;

and,

Good communication skills.

Applications with detailed curriculum vitae and other relevant testimonials should

be clearly marked:

Job Advert/01/11 and addressed directly to:

The Chief of Mission

Embassy of the Republic of Kenya

2249 R Street NW

Washington DC 20008

Not later than

January 15 2011.  

Please note that any attempts to canvass for the position will lead to outright disqualification.

 

For more: http://kenyaembassy.com/documents/Job%20Advert%20for%20technical%20Staff.pdf

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The hacker who went into the cold

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

One night in July 2003, a little before midnight, a plainclothes NYPD detective, investigating a series of car thefts in upper Manhattan, followed a suspicious-looking young man into the ATM lobby of a bank.

The detective watched as the man pulled a debit card from his pocket and withdrew hundreds of dollars in cash.

Then he pulled out another card and did the same thing. Then another, and another. The guy wasn’t stealing cars, but the detective figured he was stealing something.

Indeed, the young man was in the act of “cashing out,” as he would later admit. He had programmed a stack of blank debit cards with stolen card numbers and was withdrawing as much cash as he could from each account.

He was doing this just before 12 am, because that’s when daily withdrawal limits end, and a “casher” can double his take with another withdrawal a few minutes later.

The detective asked his name, and though the man went by many aliases on the Internet, he told the truth. “Albert Gonzalez,” he said.

After Gonzalez was arrested, word quickly made its way to the New Jersey US attorney’s office in Newark, which, along with agents from the Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Force, had been investigating credit- and debit-card fraud involving cashers in the area, without much luck.

Gonzalez was debriefed and soon found to be a rare catch. Not only did he have data on millions of card accounts stored on the computer back in his New Jersey apartment, but he also had a knack for patiently explaining his expertise in online card fraud.

Gonzalez, law-enforcement officials would discover, was a moderator and rising star on Shadowcrew.com, an archetypal criminal cyberbazaar that sprang up during the Internet commerce boom in the early 2000s.

Shadowcrew had hundreds of members across the United States, Europe and Asia. It was, as one federal prosecutor put it to me, “an eBay, Monster.com and MySpace for cybercrime.”

After a couple of interviews, Gonzalez agreed to help the government so he could avoid prosecution. “I was 22 years old and scared,” he’d tell me later.

Gonzalez became one of the most valuable cybercrime informants the government has ever had. After his help enabled officials to indict more than a dozen members of Shadowcrew, Gonzalez’s minders at the Secret Service urged him to move back to his hometown, Miami, for his own safety.

After aiding another investigation, he became a paid informant in the Secret Service field office in Miami in early 2006.

The Secret Service agent who would come to know Gonzalez best, Agent Michael (a nickname derived from his real name), was transferred to Miami, and he worked with Gonzalez on a series of investigations on which Gonzalez did such a good job that the agency asked him to speak at seminars and conferences.

“It seemed he was trying to do the right thing,” Agent Michael said.

He wasn’t. Over the course of several years, during much of which he worked for the government, Gonzalez and his crew of hackers and other affiliates gained access to roughly 180 million payment-card accounts from the customer databases of some of the most well known corporations in America.

At his sentencing hearing in March, where he received two concurrent 20-year terms, the longest sentence ever handed down to an American for computer crimes, the judge said, “What I found most devastating was the fact that you two-timed the government agency that you were cooperating with, and you were essentially like a double agent.”

Gonzalez bought his first PC when he was 12. By the time he was 14 had hacked into NASA, which resulted in a visit by FBI agents to his South Miami high school. Undeterred, Gonzalez formed a cooperative of “black hats” – curiosity-driven hackers with an anti-authoritarian bent – and acquired a reputation.

By the time he dropped out of Miami Dade College during his freshman year, Gonzalez had taught himself, by reading software manuals, how to hack into Internet service providers for free broadband.

He discovered he could go further than that and co-opted the logins and passwords of managers and executives.

Sherlock Holmes quality

Gonzalez’s closest friend, Stephen Watt, who is now serving a two-year prison sentence for coding a software program that helped Gonzalez steal card data, describes Gonzalez as having “a Sherlock Holmes quality to him that is bounded only by his formal education.”

It was after he agreed in 2003 to become an informant that Gonzalez helped the Justice Department and the Secret Service to build, over the course of a year, an ingenious trap for Shadowcrew.

Gonzalez was the linchpin of Operation Firewall. Through him, the government came to, in hacker lingo, “own” Shadowcrew, as undercover buyers infiltrated the network and traced its users around the world; eventually, officials even managed to transfer the site onto a server controlled by the Secret Service.

Gonzalez persuaded Shadowcrew users to communicate through a virtual private network a secure channel that sends encrypted messages between computers, that he introduced onto the site. This VPN came with a special feature: a court-ordered wiretap.

Gonzalez worked alongside the agents for months on end. Most called him Albert. A couple of them who especially liked him called him Soup, after his old screen name soupnazi.

“Spending this much time with an informant this deeply into a cybercrime conspiracy – it was a totally new experience for all of us,” one Justice Department prosecutor says.

“It was kind of a bonding experience.”

On Oct. 26, 2004, Gonzalez was taken to Washington and installed in the Operation Firewall command center at Secret Service headquarters. He corralled the Shadowcrew targets into a chat session.

At 9 pm, agents began knocking down doors. By midnight, 28 people across eight states and six countries had been arrested, most of them mere feet from their computers. Nineteen were eventually indicted.

It was by some estimates the most successful cybercrime case the government had ever carried out.

The day after the raids Secret Service technicians defaced Shadowcrew’s home page with a photograph of a shirtless, tattooed tough slouching in a jail cell. The text said, “Contact your local United States Secret Service field office … before we contact you!”

“I did find the investigation exciting,” Gonzalez told me of turning against Shadowcrew. “The intellectual element. Unmasking them, figuring out their identities. Looking back, it was kind of easy, though. When someone trusts you, they let their guard down.”

He did say, however, that he “actually had a bad conscience” about it. “I had a moral dilemma, unlike most informants.” On another occasion, when he was discussing the same subject, Gonzalez wrote to me in a letter, “This distinction is very important … my loyalty has always been to the black-hat community.”

By the time Gonzalez returned to Miami after Operation Firewall, in late 2004, he was already exploring the vulnerability of corporate wireless networks.

Gonzalez was especially intrigued by the possibilities of a technique known as “war driving”: Hackers would sit in cars or vans in the parking lots of big-box stores with laptops and high-power radio antennae and burrow through companies’ vulnerable Wi-Fi networks.

Gonzalez reconnected with Christopher Scott – an old friend from an Internet relay chat network, EFnet, frequented by black hats_ who was willing to do grunt work. Scott began cruising the commercial stretches of Route 1 in Miami, looking for war-driving targets.

His experiments at BJ’s Wholesale Club and DSW met with success. He stole about 400,000 card accounts from the former, a million from the latter. He described the breaches and passed card numbers to Gonzalez.

The following summer, Scott parked outside a pair of Marshalls stores. He enlisted the help of Jonathan James, a minor celebrity among Miami black hats for being the first American juvenile ever incarcerated for computer crimes.

Scott cracked the Marshalls Wi-Fi network, and he and James started navigating the system: They co-opted logins and passwords and got Gonzalez into the network; they made their way into the corporate servers at the Framingham, Mass., headquarters of Marshalls’ parent company, TJX; and they located the servers that housed old card transactions from stores.

International syndicate

By the end of 2006, Gonzalez, Scott and James had information linked to more than 40 million cards. Using similar methods, they hacked into OfficeMax, Barnes & Noble, Target, Sports Authority and Boston Market, and probably many other companies that never detected a breach or notified the authorities.

At the same time that Gonzalez was stealing bank-card data, he was assembling an international syndicate. His favored fence was a Ukrainian, Maksym Yastremskiy, who would sell sets of card numbers to buyers across the Americas, Europe and Asia and split the proceeds with him.

Gonzalez hired another EFnet friend, Jonathan Williams, to cash out at ATM’s across the country, and a friend of Watt’s in New York would pick up the shipments of cash in bulk sent by Williams and Yastremskiy.

Watt’s friend would then wire the money to Miami or send it to a post office box there set up by James through a proxy. Gonzalez established dummy companies in Europe, and to collect payment and launder money he opened e-gold and WebMoney accounts, which were not strictly regulated.

Finally, he joined up with two Eastern European hackers known to him only by their screen names, Annex and Grig, who were colluding to break into American card-payment processors – the very cash arteries of the retail economy.”I’ve been asking myself, why did I do it?”

Gonzalez told me over the phone from prison recently. “At first I did it for monetary reasons. The service’s salary wasn’t enough, and I needed the money. By then I’d already created the snowball and had to keep doing it. I wanted to quit but couldn’t.”

He claims his intentions were partly admirable. He genuinely wanted to help out Patrick Toey, a close friend and hacker who would later do much of the more sophisticated legwork involved in Gonzalez’s hacking into corporate networks.

Unlike Gonzalez and Watt, Toey, who is 25, had a rough upbringing. After dropping out of high school, he supported his mother and his younger brother and sister by hacking.

Gonzalez invited Toey to live in his condominium in Miami, rent-free. Gonzalez owned it, but he enjoyed living at home with his parents more.

He says he loved his mother’s cooking and playing with his nephew, and he could more easily launder money through his parents’ home-equity line of credit that way.

Gonzalez relished the intellectual challenges of cybercrime too. He is not a gifted programmer, but by all accounts he can understand systems and fillet them with singular grace. I often got the impression that this was computer crime’s main appeal for Gonzalez.

SECOND AND FINAL PART NEXT WEEK
James Verini is a writer in New York.

SOURCE: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/magazine/The%20hacker%20who%20went%20into%20the%20cold/-/434746/1057458/-/a94au1z/-/index.html

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Move over yahoo, google, hotmail; Facebook Messages is here

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks on at a past news conference at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California. He is one of the youngest billionaires Photo/AFP

Since the heyday of Africa Online, America Online and Hotmail’s cheery “You’ve got mail” greeting, e-mail has been central to the online experience for millions of people.
But Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, says e-mail is showing its age. In his view, e-mail is too slow, too formal and too cumbersome, especially for young people who have grown up using text messages and online chats.

Zuckerberg has introduced a new unified messaging system for Facebook that allows people to communicate with one another on the Web and on mobile phones regardless of whether they are using e-mail, text messages or online chat services.

“We don’t think a modern messaging system is going to be e-mail,” he said.
The new service, Facebook Messages, is a bold move by Facebook to expand from a social network into a full-fledged communications system.

It could help the company chip away even more at Internet portals like Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL, which have used e-mail as one of their main draws with consumers.

Americans already spend more time on Facebook than on any other website, and more than 500 million people around the world have signed up for it.

Analysts say that if Facebook Messages proves successful, it could greatly increase the time users spend on the site, making Facebook even more dominant.

But some note that the company will face a number of challenges, like managing spam, getting users to change ingrained habits and persuading some to entrust their confidential e-mail to a company whose privacy practices have often drawn scrutiny.

The new service, which will encourage users to sign up for an e-mail address ending in @facebook.com, has the immediacy of instant messaging and chat built in. Zuckerberg sought to downplay the threat that Facebook Messages would pose to existing e-mail services.

“This is not an e-mail killer,” Zuckerberg said, adding: “We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say they are going to shut down” their current e-mail accounts.

The service is invitation-only for now, and will be rolled out to all users over the next few months.
Some analysts said that over time users were likely to spend more time using Facebook Messages and less with their traditional e-mail services, especially as they communicate with their closest friends and associates.

“They just made it so much more compelling to centre my communications on Facebook rather than anywhere else,” said Charlene Li, an analyst with the Altimeter Group. “Google, Microsoft, Yahoo should all be worried.”

Li said that e-mail was already being “nibbled to death” by services like instant messaging and chat, and that Facebook Messages, if successful, would accelerate that trend.

Still, for more than a decade, technology companies have sought to offer services for “unified communications,” often without much success outside of the business market.

And other e-mail providers, including AOL, Google and Yahoo, have taken steps to make their e-mail services more “social,” by prioritising the messages of friends or integrating text messages.

“Just like it is not easy for traditional e-mail companies to compete in social, it is not going to be easy for social companies to compete with e-mail,” said Brad Garlinghouse, president of consumer applications at AOL, which last week unveiled a service that also allows consumers to consolidate e-mail and other messaging accounts in one place.

Garlinghouse noted that, for example, Facebook’s efforts to use connections between users to prioritise their incoming mail may be fraught with peril.

“I am not friends on Facebook with my accountant, with my doctor, or with United Airlines,” he said, but messages from any one of those sources could be urgent.

Zuckerberg said 350 million Facebook users already use its messaging service, exchanging more than 4 billion messages each day. The new Messages product will not require users to get a facebook.com address, but users who do not will not be able to receive messages from outside of Facebook.

Source: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/business/-/2560/1057408/-/cdcl6lz/-/index.html

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Chandaria wins Sh58m electricity bill refund

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

KPLC employees. The power utility firm will refund Chandaria Sh49.83 million being the total over-billed amount.

KPLC employees. The power utility firm will refund Chandaria Sh49.83 million being the total over-billed amount.

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved a Sh58 million refund to Chandaria Industrial Limited in a long running dispute with the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) over billings.

Chandaria had on November 8, 2007 lodged a compliant with the ERC against KPLC claiming that its power bills had abnormally shot-up since 1998 after the power utility firm replaced electromechanical meters with electronic ones at its factory premises within Nairobi’s Baba Dogo area.

In its application to the regulator, Chandaria claimed that in the eight-year period between 1998 and 2006 it was over-billed by KPLC by between 15 and 24 per cent thanks to suspected erroneous connections when the new meters were fitted.

The average billing over the eight-year window was about Sh5.5 million per month — a figure Chandaria disputed because their check meters installed in 2006 showed massive variations in consumption by up to 24 per cent.

The suspected connection errors were later rectified on October 30, 2006 with meters installed by Chandaria and those fitted by KPLC now recording similar readings. A joint assessment under a dispute resolution panel (DRP) constituted by the regulator visited the factory premises and conducted investigations on the claims by Chandaria before handing over a report to the ERC on August 20 this year.

According to the DRP’s report, an erroneous connection at the factory in Baba Dogo had resulted in KPLC over-billing Chandaria by a total of 57.6 million, which included Sh7.78 million in value added tax (VAT) as well as levies for the defunct Electricity Regulatory Board (ERB) and the Rural Electrification Programme (REP).

“Information supplied by both parties pointed to a mistake in the wiring of the meters and auxiliary current and voltage transformers,” the panel noted in its report, adding that the actual hard copy bills tendered to Chandaria by KPLC we scrutinised and discrepancies realised.

“Test bench simulations established that the blue phase current supply into the meters had been reversed and voltage leads of the yellow and blue phases had been interchanged.” The report was discussed on October 28 during a meeting of the ERC in Nairobi.

“The commission deliberated on the report of the DRP. .. The commission approved the report and its recommendations,” ERC director-general Kaburu Mwirichia said in a gazette notice on Friday, placing the liability on KPLC.

In its ruling, ERC said KPLC will refund Chandaria Sh49.83 million being the total over-billed amount exclusive of the Sh7.79 million VAT deductions, which Chandaria shall claim directly from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

“KPLC shall recover a sum of Sh241,415 from ERC being ERB levy erroneously collected from Chandaria and remitted to ERC,” the regulator stated.

ERC also ruled that KPLC will recover Sh1.7 million from the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) being REP levy erroneously collected from Chandaria and remitted to its predecessor. The landmark ruling is expected to bring into focus the power firm’s metering system that has on many occasions put it at loggerheads with consumers over costing.

A common complaint by consumers is poor meter reading by KPLC staff leading to erroneous billing. The power firm has, on its part, blamed some consumers for allegedly tampering with meters, causing it losses.

Phased migration

To address the challenges, KPLC is betting on pre-paid meters. This is part of a five-year plan that should see the utility company’s 1.3 million domestic, small and medium-sized commercial clients shift to a new system of paying for electricity before actual consumption.

Besides saving huge costs incurred on numerous clerical staff who are sent out to take post-paid meter readings and eventually disconnect defaulting customers, KPLC expects to significantly improve its cash flow position by adopting pre-paid meters as customers will only consume units that they can afford to pay for.

The power utility firm expects to install about 300,000 pre-paid meters in December.

An estimated 100,000 industrial consumers whose core activities require un-interrupted power supply will, however, be allowed to remain on the post-paid system at the end of the phased migration.

aodhiambo@ke.nationmedia.com

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate%20News/Chandaria%20wins%20Sh58m%20electricity%20bill%20refund/-/539550/1057822/-/2hhdlg/-/index.html

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Karua proposes foreign Supreme Court Judges

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

Gichugu MP Martha Karua has proposed that three out of the seven individuals appointed to the Supreme Court should be non-Kenyans to instil confidence in the court November 23, 2010. FILE

Gichugu MP Martha Karua has proposed that three out of the seven individuals appointed to the Supreme Court should be non-Kenyans to instil confidence in the court November 23, 2010. FILE

Three out of the seven individuals appointed to the Supreme Court should be non-Kenyans, Gichugu MP Martha Karua has proposed.

Mrs Karua, the former Justice minister, who was addressing the national convention on the implementation of the new Constitution told participants that such an arrangement would instil confidence in the Superior court of the land.

Part 2 of Chapter 10 in the new Constitution establishes the Supreme Court, which shall consist of the chief justice as its president, deputy chief justice and five other judges.

The court will have exclusive original jurisdiction to settle disputes relating to presidential elections. The Supreme Court also retains appellate jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from Court of Appeal or any other court or tribunal.

According to Mrs Karua, existing ethnic divisions in the country may not allow the court to work independently if only Kenyans occupy the seven places available on the bench.

“The composition should be to have four Kenyans and the other three to come from Commonwealth during the transitional period,” the Gichugu MP told the civil society groups Tuesday at Ufungamano House.

According to Ms Karua, the presence of the three foreign judges would instil a sense of neutrality even if the major political parties engage in horse-trading in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court.

“I believe that if the Waki Commission was made up of only Kenyans we may have had many queries as to which political side or tribe he belongs to but his report was acceptable because other members were non-Kenyans,” she said.

Similarly, the Kriegler Commission was successful on its assignment because of its composition that consisted of foreigners and Kenyans, she added.

“Kriegler Commission was able to point out that both sides took part in rigging the 2007 election. Would we have got a similar report if the commission was made up of all Kenyans?” posed Mrs Karua.

The Waki Commission, officially the Commission of Inquiry on Post Election Violence (CIPEV) was composed of Justice Philip Waki as chairman, Gavin Alistair McFadyen, a former police Assistant Commissioner in New Zealand and Pascal Kambale, a lawyer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The constitution in Article 166 (2 a&b) allows a person from the Commonwealth to serve in the superior courts including Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Courts as long as the person meets the requisite academic, work experience and integrity requirements.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Karua%20proposes%20foreign%20Supreme%20Court%20judges/-/1056/1058872/-/ufti4d/-/index.html

Posted in Kenya | 5 Comments »

Evans Wadongo at the CNN heroes show taping

Posted by Administrator on November 23, 2010

Halle Berry recognized Kenya's Evans Wadongo who invented a way for rural families in Kenya to replace smoky kerosene and firelight with solar powered lanterns. This was during a taping of CNN heroes over the weekend and which will air on Thursday evening on CNN.
Halle Berry recognized Kenya’s Evans Wadongo who invented a way for rural families in Kenya to replace smoky kerosene and firelight with solar powered lanterns. This was during a taping of CNN heroes over the weekend and which will air on Thursday evening on CNN.

Source of photos-http://www.justjared.buzznet.com and http//www.pointemout.com

The taping of the show was done in Los Angeles, CA over the weekend and Evans Wadongo was presented to the audience by Oscar winner Halle Berry. Evans gave his introductory speech with Halle Barre standing behind him to his left. The show will air on Thursday night 8PM EST/5PM PST adn willbe presented by Anderson Cooper. The CNN heroes award however was won by Anuradha Koirala from Nepal who helps fight sex traficking in Nepal and has helped more than 12000 victims of Nepal’s sex trafficking business.

Posted in Diaspora News | 15 Comments »

 
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