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Jan 10,  · CyberCrime & Doing Time A Blog about Cyber Crime and related Justice issues. Friday, January 31, We learned much more about Gonzalez's crew in the recently unsealed documents from the case against Vladimir Drinkman, Aleksandr Kalinin, Roman Kotov, Mikhail Rytikov, and Dmitriy Smilianets. and Vladislav Anatolievich.

Indeed in 56 AD the coastal area around the city of Tyras was occupied by the Romans and henceforth formed part of the province of Lower Moesia, from nearly four centuries. Tyras enjoyed great development during Roman times: But in the second half of the fourth century the area was continuously attacked by barbarians and the Roman legionaries left Tyras. Migrating from the North, Slavs were present on the shores of the Dniester river from the second half of the 6th century.

Possibly an early part of Kievan Rus' , after the Mongol invasion of Europe in , the territory was briefly under Mongol control yet probably without any permanent settlements , and later under the Crimean Khanate. In a document dated at Bendery mentions the then title of the Mitropolitan of Moldavia as Mitropolitan of Proilavia , of Tamarova , of Hotin, and of all the borders of the Danube, of the Dniester, and the Han's Ukraine , [ 26 ] the latter being a common reference to the then sparsely populated Dniester- Southern Bug -Dniepr area.

Before becoming part of the Russian Empire in southern part and northern part , the largest groups living between the Dniester and the Bug rivers were Moldavian Romanian , Ruthenian Ukrainian , and Tatar peasants. In that year, the general Alexander Suvorov founded modern Tiraspol as a Russian border fortress. Most of the territory which now is Transnistria was part of the larger New Russia region, [ 31 ] hence it saw a strong colonization process, with a multitude of ethnicities being settled: In , after Axis forces invaded the Soviet Union during the Second World War , they defeated the Soviet troops in the region and occupied it.

Romania controlled the entire region between Dniester and Southern Bug rivers, including the city of Odessa as local capital.

The Romanian-administered territory - called the Transnistria Governorate - with an area of The Romanian administration of "Transnistria" attempted to stabilise the situation in the area under Romanian control, implementing a process of Romanianization. Indeed a campaign was directed towards the rich Moldavian peasant families, which were deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia as well.

For instance, in just two days, July 6 and July 7, , a plan named "Operation South" saw the deportation of over 11, Moldavian families by the order of the Moldovian Minister of State Security, I. In the s, Mikhail Gorbachev 's policies of perestroika and glasnost in the Soviet Union allowed political liberalization at a regional level. This led to the creation of various informal movements in the Moldavian SSR, and the resurgence of pro-Romanian nationalism among ethnic Moldovans.

In the spring of , PFM demanded that the Soviet authorities declare Moldovan the only state language, return to the use of the Latin alphabet, and recognize the shared ethnic identity of Moldovans and Romanians. The more radical factions of the Popular Front espoused extreme anti-minority, ethnocentric and chauvinist positions, [ 36 ] [ 37 ] calling for minority populations, particularly the Slavs mainly Russians and Ukrainians and Gagauz , to leave or be expelled from Moldova.

On 31 August , the Supreme Soviet of the Moldavian SSR adopted Moldovan as the only official language with Russian retained only for secondary purposes, returned Moldovan to the Latin alphabet, and declared a shared Moldovan-Romanian linguistic identity.

As plans for major cultural changes in Moldova were made public, tensions rose further. Ethnic minorities felt threatened by the prospects of removing Russian as the official language, the possible future reunification of Moldova and Romania, and the ethnocentric rhetoric of the Popular Front. The Yedinstvo Unity Movement, established by the Slavic population of Moldova, pressed for equal status to be given to both Russian and Moldovan.

The nationalist Popular Front won the first free parliamentary elections in the Moldavian SSR in the spring of , [ 40 ] and its agenda started slowly to be implemented. Violence escalated when in October the Popular Front called for volunteers to form armed militias to stop a Gagauz autonomy referendum. In response, volunteer militias were formed in Transnistria. In April , nationalist mobs attacked ethnic Russian members of parliament, while the Moldovan police refused to intervene or restore order.

In the interest of preserving a unified Moldavian SSR within the USSR and preventing the situation escalating further, then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev , while citing the restriction of civil rights of ethnic minorities by Moldova as the cause of the dispute, declared the Transnistria proclamation to be lacking legal basis and annulled it by presidential decree on 22 December Volunteers, including Cossacks , came from Russia and Ukraine to help the separatist side.

According to the decree of its creation, most of the 14th Soviet Army's military equipment was to be retained by Moldova. Throughout early the fighting intensified. The former Soviet 14 th Guards Army entered the conflict in its final stage, opening fire against Moldovan forces; [ 45 ] since then, Moldova has exercised no effective control or influence on Transnistrian authorities.

A ceasefire agreement was signed on 21 July and has held to the present day. The OSCE is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement. Under OSCE auspices, on 8 May , the Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and the Transnistrian president Igor Smirnov , signed the "Memorandum on the principles of normalizations of the relations between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria", also known as the "Primakov Memorandum", sustaining the establishment of legal and state relations, although the memorandum's provisions were interpreted differently by the governments of Moldova and Transnistria.

In November , Dmitry Kozak , a counselor of the Russian president Vladimir Putin , proposed a memorandum on the creation of an asymmetric federal Moldovan state, with Moldova holding a majority and Transnistria being a minority part of the federation. Vladimir Voronin was initially supportive of the plan, but refused to sign it after internal opposition and international pressure from the OSCE and US, and after Russia had endorsed the Transnistrian demand to maintain a Russian military presence for the next 20 years as a guarantee for the intended federation.

Talks were started in to deal with the problems, but without results for many years. Transnistria is landlocked and borders Bessarabia i. It is a narrow valley stretching in the North-South direction along the bank of the Dniester River, which forms a natural boundary along most of the border with the rest of Moldova. Tiraspol, the capital and largest city of Transnistria, has about , inhabitants.

The territory controlled by the PMR is mostly, but not completely, coincident with the left eastern bank of Dniester. It includes ten cities and towns, and 69 communes, with a totality of localities counting the unincorporated ones as well. The security situation inside it is subject to the Joint Control Commission rulings.

Conflict erupted on several occasions when the PMR prevented the villagers from reaching their farmland east of the road. Transnistria is subdivided into five raions Russian names are listed in parentheses:. Transnistria is recognised by the vast majority of countries as a legal part of the Republic of Moldova. Only the partially recognised states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia recognize it as a sovereign entity after it declared independence from Moldova in with Tiraspol as its declared capital.

Although exercising no direct control over the territory, the Moldovan government passed the "Law on Basic Provisions of the Special Legal Status of Localities from the Left Bank of the Dniester" on 22 July , which established Transnistria as an autonomous territorial unit within the Republic of Moldova.

The law was passed without any prior consultation with Transnistrian authorities, which called it a provocation and has since ignored it. Between , and , Transnistrians the majority of the population acquired Moldovan passports by No country recognizes passports issued by the Transnistrian government. There are unsettled border issues between Transnistria and Moldova. Transnistria's minister of foreign affairs is Vladimir Yastrebchak.

He is the replacement of longtime foreign minister Valeriy Anatolievich Litskai , who was fired on 1 July , [ 56 ] for not showing any progress in advancing Transnistria's still largely unrecognized status. PMR has a multi-party system and a unicameral parliament named the Supreme Council. Its legislature has 43 members elected by Single-member district plurality. Igor Smirnov has been the President of Transnistria since the declaration of independence in , and he is serving his fourth mandate after being reelected in December In the parliamentary election in December , the Renewal movement defeated the Republic movement and won an overall majority, its leader Yevgeni Shevchuk is the speaker of parliament.

According to PMR data, only 15 of the 43 members of its parliament MPs were born in the PMR territory including 12 in Transnistria proper, and 3 in the Bessarabian area in and around the city of Bender , which is controlled by PMR , while 4 others in the rest of Moldova, with the remainder mainly born in Russia or Ukraine.

Most of the MPs who were born elsewhere had moved to the region ten years or more before the conflict erupted. There is disagreement over whether elections in Transnistria are free and fair. The political regime has been described as one of 'super-presidentialism'.

In , in one region it was reported that Igor Smirnov collected The opposition Narodovlastie party and Power to the People movement were outlawed at the beginning of [ 65 ] and eventually dissolved.

A list published by the European Union bans travel to the EU for some members of the Transnistrian leadership. The question remains unanswered: Earlier this month, Microsoft crippled Rustock by convincing a court to let it seize dozens of Rustock control servers that were scattered among several U.

According to interviews with investigators involved in the Rustock takedown, approximately one-third of the control servers were rented from U. A small business in Eastern Europe that specializes in reselling hosting services to shadowy individuals who frequent underground hacker forums. In exchange for the agreement that I not name his operation or his location, he provided payment information about the customer who purchased dozens of servers that were used to manipulate the day-to-day operations of the massive botnet.

The reseller was willing to share information about his client because the customer turned out to be a deadbeat: The reseller also seemed willing to talk to me because I might be able bend the ear of Spamhaus. I found the reseller advertising his services on a Russian-language forum that caters exclusively to spammers, where he describes the hardware, software and connection speed capabilities of the very servers that he would later rent out to the Rustock botmaster. That solicitation, which was posted on a major spammer forum in January , offered prospective clients flexible terms without setting too many boundaries on what they could do with the servers.

A translated version of part of his message:. To the datacenters, we are responsible to ensure that you are our client, and that you will not break the terms of use.

Also, to you we are responsible to make sure that the servers are not going to be closed down because of credit card chargebacks, as it happens with servers funded with stolen credit cards. In conclusion, they do not have an abuse report center, they are suitable for legitimate projects, VPNs and everything else that does not lead to problems and complaints to the data center from active Internet users. Please, take it in consideration, so that nobody is pissed off and there is no bad impression from our partnership.

According to the reseller, the servers he resold to the Rustock botmaster generated just two abuse complaints from the Internet service providers ISPs that hosted those servers. Experts say this makes sense because botnet control servers typically generate few abuse complaints, because they are almost never used for the sort of activity that usually prompts abuse reports, such as sending spam or attacking others online.

Instead, the servers only were used to coordinate the activities of hundreds of thousands of PCs infected with Rustock, periodically sending them program updates and new spamming instructions.

The reseller was paid for the servers from an account at WebMoney , a virtual currency similar to PayPal but more popular among Russian and Eastern European consumers. How do you chronicle the struggle for control of an underground empire when neither combatant wants to admit that he is fighting or even that a war is underway?

The database indicates that Glavmed processed in excess of 1. Despduck first proffered the Glavmed data through a mutual source in the anti-spam community, and claimed that the alleged owner of the pharmacy program, a Russian businessman named Igor Gusev , would soon be charged with illegal business activities. Sure enough, near the end of September , Russian officials announced a criminal investigation into Gusev and his businesses. Shortly after those charges were brought, SpamIt.

Consequently, the volume of spam flowing into inboxes around the world fell precipitously , likely because SpamIt. Gusev is now in exile from Russia; he blames his current predicament— and the leak of the Glavmed data — on his former business partner, fellow Muscovite Pavel Vrublevsky.

The trafficking of numbers of credit and debit cards. The street use of stolen credit and debit card numbers. While the first two kinds of criminals can and often do use compromised card data for their own fraudulent purchases, a large portion of the criminal proceeds occurs by selling data to street-level criminals.

For credit-card information, the end-user criminals will make fraudulent purchases online or re-encode the compromised information onto counterfeit credit cards to use in person at stores, hotels, etc. The layered nature of payment system intrusions and subsequent card fraud means that even a relatively simple theft of credit and debit-card numbers from a small restaurant in Idaho may have connections to large scale transnational organized crime.

Gonzalez was a hacker involved with the Shadow Crew organization, and later developed his own criminal enterprise. The Gonzalez carding organization included individuals from several countries, thus illustrating the international aspect of the stolen card underground. Figure 2 shows the basic organizational chart of the Gonzalez hacking organization. The Albert Gonzalez Carding Organization. The examples in the previous section illustrate that theft of card data from point-of-sale systems is truly an international problem.

State and local law enforcement agencies are generally limited in their reach against these international crime rings, mainly due to jurisdictional restrictions, but also due to funding and other resource problems. Furthermore, the significant number of compromised card accounts, coupled with billions of dollars in fraud losses and other expenses, poses a serious threat to the health of the United States economy, and is therefore a homeland security problem.

Table 1 shows a list of some of the major card breaches in recent U. Gonzalez, ; Cratty, ; Pepitone, Criminals obtain the majority of their stolen card numbers by hacking into point-of-sale systems. In fact, of the three largest card data breaches in U. Gonzalez, ; US v. Gonzalez, ; Krebs, , February Point-of-sale system compromised via cracked WEP keys on While criminals do obtain stolen card data through various hacking methods, including SQL injection, the majority of compromised accounts and the majority of individual intrusions involve attacks against retail point-of-sale systems.

As point-of-sale systems yield the greatest fraud losses and therefore impact on the U. To gain insight into the mechanics of criminal point-of-sale intrusions, we conducted forty-two criminal investigations of point-of-sale breaches by the United States Secret Service. We reviewed all point-of-sale cases opened from January through January In general, Secret Service agents begin a point-of-sale investigation following one of two conditions:. For our research, we read investigative and forensic reports related to point-of-sale investigations.

For each case, we sent a survey to the lead investigative agent to gather specific information about the nature of the intrusion. We attempted to gather the following information:. We collected the data with the following larger questions in mind:. We identified forty-two new cases concerning point-of-sale system intrusions for the period of January through January by reviewing all network-intrusion investigations by the Secret Service specifically focused on point-of-sale systems.

We sent a survey to the case agent in charge of each of the forty-two point-of-sale system investigations. Of the forty-two surveys we submitted, we received responses from forty-one. The survey included seven questions related to the nature of the point-of-sale system compromise, including length of intrusion, method of intrusion, method of card exfiltration, and the method by which the intrusion was discovered.

The table in the appendix summarizes each case. In some instances, specific data was not provided such as duration of the intrusion or specific malicious code used due to one of the following:. If the federal prosecutor declined to prosecute, the Secret Service ceased any further investigation or forensic analysis. The third-party analyses do not always address the specific research questions we pursued.

The table in the appendix provides a summary of each criminal investigation undertaken by the United States Secret Service of point-of-sale system intrusions from January through January The table reveals some interesting statistical trends:.

Other security risks were having no firewall, having missing or out-of-date anti-virus protection, and using point-of-sale system terminals for personal Internet activities. For example, a Secret Service agent may arrest a suspect in a point-of-sale intrusion case who admits to hacking into other, unreported point-of-sale systems. If we use the U. The number of compromised cards will likely grow as financial institutions complete their assessments.

This survey revealed that point-of-sale system intrusions were not sophisticated, because they did not need to be. In most cases, hackers breach the point-of-sale system by scanning for standard port numbers associated with remote desktop environment products or services. Then the hacker generally tries default passwords or easy-to-guess passwords. Point-of-sale system intrusion methods reflect the gamut of the larger world of network intrusions and include a mix of physical attacks, Web-based attacks, and network attacks.

A brief survey of some of the largest point-of-sale system intrusions illustrates this spectrum Berg, Freeman, and Schneider, ; Krebs, ; Krebs, , February 06; US v. While criminals apply a variety of methods against larger retail corporations, they more often attack smaller retail establishments by focusing on remote-desktop remote-access connections.

The statistical data collected in Chapter 4 show that out of thirty cases with a known or suspected method of compromise, sixteen involved remote desktop software. Many small and medium-size retail establishments use simple remote-access software e. If a bar or restaurant experiences point-of-sale system troubles during a busy Saturday night, the establishment wants the system fixed immediately, and the point-of-sale technician wants to avoid a possibly long drive to the restaurant.

Thus, there is sound business logic for remote access. Criminals have learned, however, that many businesses use remote-access products with weak passwords. Therefore, criminals merely need to run a port-scan tool such as Nmap against potential point-of-sale IP addresses, looking for standard port numbers for remote access products.

Once an attacker has collected a list of potential targets, the attacker can try a list of common login names and passwords. In some cases, point-of-sale system components were left configured with standard login name and password combinations e.

Once criminals have entered the point-of-sale network, they usually install malicious code designed to capture payment-card data. In general, this malicious code is either traditional keylogger software e. Perfect Keylogger or random-access memory RAM scrapers. Keylogging software monitors input sources such as keyboards and card readers. Keylogging software such as Perfect Keylogger collects captured card data into a log file. The criminals may retrieve the log file manually using the original intrusion method, often a poorly-secured remote-access application or establish a file transfer protocol FTP or simple mail transfer protocol SMTP service to exfiltrate data from the compromised system.

Malware scrapers are currently the more common method of capturing card track data Trustwave and USSS, When an employee swipes a card, the track data is briefly held in memory before the point-of-sale application encrypts it.

Memory scrapers monitor specific buffers in memory known to be associated with specific point-of-sale processes. When the malicious code identifies new payment-card data, it is copied to a log file on the hard drive of the infected point-of-sale machine. Depending on the specific memory scraper tool being used, the scraper may perform additional actions on the collected data, such as parsing and encryption. Criminals can then retrieve the collected card data manually, repeating the initial intrusion methods Trustwave, In a typical point-of-sale system implementation, employees swipe cards at one or more point-of-sale terminals.

The track data is sent to a buffer in memory, either on the terminals themselves or at the back-of-house server Trustwave, ; Trustwave, The point-of-sale system software reads the card data from the memory buffer and encrypts the cardholder data before it is sent to a financial institution for approval. Memory scrapers target cardholder data inthe brief instant that it is unencrypted in the memory buffer.

To provide insight into potential forensic evidence from a criminal compromise of a point-of-sale system, we examined a back-of-house server from a victim restaurant. The built-in Windows firewall was disabled, as were Windows Automatic Updates for system security patches.

The drive was formatted with the NTFS file system to eliminate possible storage problems e. On the live compromised system, we inserted the thumb drive. After it mounted, we navigated to the drive letter of the thumb drive and ran the program cmd. The last command collected the system-identification value for the current logged-on user. We analyzed the gathered information with a variety of forensic tools, including:.

Used for parsing useful strings e. Used for pulling clear text strings out of a source, including formatted files. Used for analyzing running processes and looking for indications of malicious code and rootkit infections. Used to parse data from Windows Registry hives, including installed software, mounted hardware, entries in the Windows Prefetch file, and more.

Used to extract specific information such as data on running processes from memory-dump files. Volatility is built on a modular framework, which allows an examiner to choose specific plug-ins. Used for exploring imported Windows Registry hives in the native directory structure. Used for importing Windows Event Logs.

Although the native Windows Event Viewer works well for this task, the Event Log Explorer tool offers more export options and can concatenate multiple Windows event logs into one file. In the case of the compromised back-of-house server, forensic analysis revealed that criminals installed a three-part memory scraper tool on the server.

The loader controller file rpcsrv. The loader functioned as the malicious-code installer. It added a service for persistence, pointing to itself, and also loaded the other two files, one for parsing card strings in memory, and the other for data aggregation.

After running the Strings tool against this file, the output revealed the two files this controller file was set to begin:. The second component was the actual memory-scraper tool. Memory scrapers are generally written to monitor specific point-of-sale executable files that process card track data. The memory scraping tool, algsvc.

An analysis of the memory scraper with the Strings tool shows specific references to edcsvr. The third component was a data-aggregation tool, rdpsvc. It monitored data collected from the memory scraper and parsed card data. This data was then obfuscated and sent to dump files, which the criminals would retrieve manually. Non-volatile evidence may be collected via several techniques, including full disk-drive imaging with a write-blocking mechanism and imaging software, or through the collection of specific files or directories.

In some instances an establishment is unable or unwilling to take its point-of-sale system offline for traditional disk imaging in which case non-volatile information can be collected directly from the machine.

Nonvolatile evidence includes persistent malicious code, Windows Registry keys, cache files, and log files. Malicious code in the form of keyloggers, especially common applications like Perfect Keylogger, will likely generate positive hits with anti-virus products.

Point-of-sale specific malicious code may not be included in standard anti-virus signature lists, but Web resources do provide MD5 checksum values and Windows Registry key values for some malware scrapers Visa, ; Trustwave, ; iSight, ; Wilson, Loftus, and Bing, ; Higgins, For example, the security research company iSight published a list of non-volatile forensic indicators for the Kaptoxa point-of-sale malicious code set, which many believe was used in the Target department store intrusion iSight, ; Krebs, January This list includes additions and modifications of fifteen Windows Registry keys e.

Volatile evidence is obtained by deploying specific data collection tools on the live machine. Volatile evidence may include running processes hidden or open , suspicious network ports, volatile Windows Registry key values, temporary files, and memory-only malicious-code activity. An examiner may have prior information that enables them to focus on certain suspicious network ports or running processes.

For the case study of the server, we know that the controller file loaded the memory-scraper program algsvc. Network evidence can be useful to learn how stolen data exited the impacted network, as well as its destination. In some instances, for example zero-day exploits or highly stealthy techniques, network forensics may be the best option for discovering the outbound export of sensitive data. Network forensic evidence is also useful in an investigation, and can come from log files Domain Name Service, mail, Web, Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, etc.

For the latter, the investigator can use a small network tap, a span port on a network switch, or a packet-capture tool such as Windump or Wireshark, although these generally require installation of new software which may violate the principle of making as few changes to the original evidence as possible.

Capturing network packets in real time can be challenging, as the resulting capture files can grow very quickly. Nevertheless, running packet capture tools on traffic of a suspected infected machine may be the best option for determining the methods and destinations of outbound compromised data. Information gathered from criminal investigations of point-of-sale system intrusions and from trend reports from Trustwave demonstrate that criminals often use predictable patterns of attack behavior along with easily identifiable malicious code.

Poorly secured remote access is perhaps the most common entry method for criminals, and we recommend that retailers pay particularly close attention to improving it. If remote access between point-of-sale vendor technicians and the point-of-sale system is a necessary evil, then the point-of-sale system operators must operate it as securely as possible.

We offer the following recommendations:. If commercial remote access products are unavoidable, point-of-sale operators i. Do not allow point-of-sale system vendors to establish user names and passwords. Users should follow best practices for length, expiration, and complexity. Users can check the strength of a given password from a variety of password checking Web sites, including www.

If commercial remote-access products are unavoidable, point-of-sale operators should consider enabling the remote access service only when it is needed.

If an off-site employee or point-of-sale technician requires remote access, require that they call in to request its enablement. Point-of-sale operators should be able to disable the remote-access product when not in use by suspension or shut-off functions within the application, or by stopping the running process at the command line or within Windows Task Manager.

Anti-virus products may not be effective against some types of malicious code that only attacks point-of-sale systems Trustwave, Nevertheless, anti-virus products are still effective in identifying popular keystroke logging tools, such as Perfect Keylogger.

Point-of-sale system users should use an anti-virus product, configure it to receive automatic updates, and run automatic scans. These add an additional layer of security and another opportunity for log file activity. Microsoft Windows includes a built-in firewall with the Windows operating system. Point-of-sale system operators should forbid employees from using point-of-sale system terminals and back-of-house servers for other Internet activities such as visiting Web sites, checking e-mail, etc.

All nodes on the point-of-sale system should be restricted to the business functions of processing sales and card information to limit opportunities for malicious access.

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In addition, the system may include a plurality of client applications 5 such as for example, web-applications, mobile applications, USSD-applications and others , and the back-office module 6 , which gives access to analytical information about the level of liquidity in the system, and also, together with the system management module 2 ensures connection of the system with external partners 7 and their informational systems.

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