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02.11.15

EPO Staff to March to British Consulate to Protest Against the Administrative Council (AC)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sean Dennehey
Sean Dennehey
Image credit: UK Patent Office “Technical Contribution” Workshop – London 2005

Summary: Sean Dennehey and John Alty from the Board of the Administrative Council will see their consulate in Germany occupied by EPO staff

FOLLOWING some very large protests against EPO management, including a recent staff protest around the Danish Consulate (about 1,000 people in attendance, yielding mainstream press coverage), there is another protest being organised.

“Actions continue at the European Patent Office,” said a statement today. “On Wednesday 25 February 2015 a demonstration will take place in Munich (Germany) starting from the EPO Isar building (Bob-van-Benthem-Platz 1) at 12.10h and ending at the British consulate (Möhlstrasse 5).

“The United Kingdom is represented in the Administrative Council by Mr John ALTY (Chief Executive and Controller General of the UK IPO) and Mr Sean DENNEHEY (Deputy Chief Executive UK IPO). Mr Dennehey is also member of the Board of the Administrative Council (“Board 28″) which is currently discussing the future of the EPO Boards of Appeal. Mr Dennehey was recently re-elected Chairman of the Patent Law Committee. Mr Dennehey apparently supported the Office in trying to suppress public discussion about the suspension of a Member of the Boards of Appeal while at the same time leaving space for Mr Battistelli to express his view of the events.”

This ought to yield press coverage in English — not Danish — hence it would be readable by a broad audience and raise awareness of the EPO scandals.

We previously published Dennehey's contact details (after the EPO’s management had removed these), so those who wish to be diplomatic about it can eloquently express their concerns about the Administrative Council to him (or to John Alty, who is also in the list). As we have shown over the past half a year, the Administrative Council has become more of an extension of Battistelli’s regime; it’s not independent. The Administrative Council lost credibility not only in the eyes of EPO workers but also outsider who depend on EPO services and pay taxes that EPO receives.

The EPO’s Digital War (Censorship) Against Staff Web Site

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoit Battistelli

Summary: The EPO’s management has been blacklisting dissent and increasingly relying on censorship as means of eliminating opposing voices

A LOT has been happening in the EPO regime in recent weeks, culminating in resignations or firings from one side and protests from the other (up to a third of all staff), resulting in an assault on the press (paid 'articles') from one side and DDOS attacks on the other. There is a war between staff and the crooked managers who attack the staff’s rights, break the rules, and operate a tyranny that betrays principles of scope and even, based on numerous criteria, violates EU law.

Based on an E-mail from the webhost of SUEPO, the attacks on their site is quite serious. Here are some enumerable details:

Subject: Server blocked due to DoS attack

thank you for your request.

The attack appears to be over. We were able to unblock your IP-Addresses.

Your server should be reachable again.
Detailed information about the attack:
Type UDP Packetflood
Traffic: 3,5G with 8MPacket/s
Random external IP Sources
Destination 87.106.183.86 Port 80,5190
Start-Date 2015-02-05 05:18:41+0100

In simple terms, there is no denying that this was a DDOS attack. We would love to know the outcome of the investigation as we too came under heavy DDOS attacks, lasting months (keeping my wife and I awake at night and causing serious financial damage), ever since we started criticising EPO management. We can’t tell if there is a correlation between these attacks (SUEPO and us), but if there is a correlation between those two, then we can deduce something about the motivation (or source).

A source told us that an investigation is underway, citing SUEPO as stating: “By flooding our server with external requests in this manner the attackers rendered it unavailable. As soon as our server was reachable again, the attackers attempted an SSH brute-force attack to take control of the server.

“Such attacks constitute a violation of law and SUEPO has filed criminal charges against unknown and will cooperate with the German and Dutch authorities, who are now investigating the matter.”

Our source further indicated that there had been other oppressive measures against SUEPO, so the above would not be exactly unprecedented. To quote further:

What happened to SUEPO until now?

Communication with our members has become extremely difficult. In particular, we cannot reach our members on their EPO email address because of the measures applied by the Office since 2013, such as:

- The domain name suepo.org is blacklisted in the email server of the EPO since 2013. A sender from @suepo.org cannot reach a recipient @epo.org

- Many colleagues have reported that external emails containing the word “SUEPO” in the subject line or body do not reach a recipient @epo.org. Despite several requests for clarification, the administration has remained silent on the matter.

What next?

Your committee will strive to maintain its communication means with staff and to continue to inform them promptly of what is really happening in the Office. We would like to encourage you to provide your local SUEPO Committee with your private email address if you haven’t done it yet. Given the current context, we think it makes sense.

This in its own right serves to show that the EPO already engages in digital war against SUEPO. It’s a war of censorship. Would the EPO go as far we paying crackers? That’s an important question. Some people deem DDOS attacks “just a sit-in/protest”. Such people rarely (if ever) had to respond to an actual DDOS attack; these can persist for weeks or months.

“Some people deem DDOS attacks “just a sit-in/protest”.”“In the meantime,” said our source, “SUEPO has issued the statement” (above).

“Some people,” our source added, “are currently trying to investigate whether there is any similarity between the recent cyberattacks on the server of the Croatian web portal dnevno.hr.

“An open question here is whether or not EPO funds are being used to finance these attacks.”

As we noted earlier today, Željko Topić is alleged to have covered up for his predecessor/s. Is the EPO now covering up its own misconduct, by covert, subversive or aggressive means also? If so, Topić may have plenty of “work experience” to offer the EPO after all.

Corruption at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office Which Željko Topić Came From: Part XV

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Untold baggage of the EPO’s Vice-President

Ivo Sanader
Ivo Sanader, “convicted felon who served as Prime Minister of Croatia,” based on Wikipedia
Photo licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Summary: European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President Željko Topić was appointed by a corrupt (and convicted) politician for leadership of a corruption-laden institution before joining EPO

WE are deeply disturbed to see possible attempts to silence/scare/unmask critics of the EPO's management. The mostly anonymous comments about Battistelli are getting quite serious and following our article about Ivan Kabalin we are hearing about more suppression of dissent at the EPO. As such, today we unveil another new set of documents, namely:

  1. NAGRADIO-EN [PDF]
  2. KOPCIC-DISMISSAL [PDF]
  3. OPINION-MZOS [PDF]
  4. AIPPI-EXPULSION [PDF]
  5. AIPPI-LETTER-MZOS [PDF]

We have spent quite some time studying these documents, which relate to some documents we already published in here. More sources have since then sent us more documents and somewhat better documents (than the ones we received before) have been handed to us, e.g. KOPCIC-OPINION-EN [PDF], KOPCIC-DISMISSAL-EN [PDF], AIPPI-EXPULSION [PDF]. Today we are going to explain what readers can find therein (in English). It’s really quite revealing and since we provide authentic documents we are pretty much immune from bullying. The translations are quite accurate as native speakers (Croatians) worked on them. They want justice. That’s what they want. It pains them to see thugs prospering in a system that harbours bad behaviour — the type of behaviour that now expands and percolates into the very core of Brussels.

Corruption and conflicts of interest at the Croatian State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) should not be too shocking given the nation’s record; no offence intended to Croatians, many of whom would possibly agree. Here is what we can deduce from the material added above: There are problems which actually predate the appointment of Željko Topić as Director-General of the SIPO. It begins with Mr. Nikola Kopčić who was the first Director-General of the Croatian SIPO from 1992 until January 2002. Kopčić was dismissed from office as a result of an undeclared conflict of interest which was in breach of the applicable statutory regulations as explained in more detail in the above documentation. To give a chronological overview:

AIPPI-LETTER-MZOS is dated 13 June 2001. It is a letter from the Croatian branch of the AIPPI to the Croatian Ministry of Science and Technology (MZOS) drawing the attention of the Ministry to a conflict of interest at the SIPO and requesting the dismissal of Mr. Kopčić as Director-General.

AIPPI-EXPULSION is dated 27 December 2001. That’s the decision of the Croatian branch of the AIPPI to expel Mr. Kopčić from the AIPPI.

OPINION-MZOS is dated 27 December 2001. It shows the opinion of the Croatian Ministry of Science and Technology (MZOS) recommending the dismissal of Kopčić as SIPO Director-General.

KOPCIC-DISMISSAL is dated 10 January 2002 and it is the decision of the Croatian Government to dismiss of Kopčić as SIPO Director-General.

The official decision of the Croatian Government announcing Kopčić’s dismissal was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Croatia (“Narodne Novine”) and the published version can be accessed here (in Croatian). Following Kopčić’s dismissal in January 2002 the position of Director-General of the SIPO was held by Hrvoje Junašević until 2004. In May 2004, Željko Topić was appointed Director-General of the SIPO by the Croatian Government headed by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader. As is generally known, Sanader was convicted on corruption charges by a Croatian court in November 2012 and he received a custodial sentence which was confirmed in June 2014. The official decision of the Croatian Government announcing Topić’s appointment as Director-General of the SIPO was signed by Ivo Sanader and is dated 5th May 2004. It was published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Croatia (“Narodne Novine”) and can be accessed here (in Croatian):

A Croatian press report, which was published by index.hr in April 2012 following Topić’s appointment as EPO Vice-President, claimed that in his capacity as Director-General of the SIPO Topić colluded in the cover-up of a number of irregularities and offences alleged to have been committed by his predecessor Nikola Kopčić.

Original text is available only Croatian from index.hr, but we now have a translation (NAGRADIO-EN above). Here it is in full:

The Pantovčak* rewarded him: Instead of facing prosecution, the Director of the Office responsible for monitoring ZAMP was promoted!

[* Note: Pantovčak = the Office of the Croatian President]

Author: Ilko Ćimić
Date: 10/04/2012

The State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) is the administrative body which is responsible for monitoring the operations of the Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS) and, likewise, its professional royalty collecting service ZAMP. However, the recent handover of responsibility for the supervision of the SIPO from the Ministry of the Economy to the Ministry of Science has revealed that for years the operations of that Office have not been subject to any proper supervision.

The fact is that until December last year, the government department responsible for intellectual property rights – and thus in charge of the supervision of the SIPO – was the Ministry of the Economy, Labor and Entrepreneurship. However, following the formation of the new Government [under Prime Minister Zoran Milanović], this competence was transferred to the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports led by Željko Jovanović.

The Office which should monitor ZAMP was itself without oversight

As “Index” learned, a meeting was held last month at the Ministry of Economy. In addition to representatives of the two aforementioned Ministries, this meeting was also attended by a former employee of the SIPO, Vesna Stilin, who once again, on the occasion of the transfer of competence, endeavoured to draw attention to the many irregularities in the operations of the SIPO, in particular concerning the actions of its Director, and to remind the other participants of the circumstances of her case in which she was dismissed from the position of Assistant Director for Copyright and Related Rights at the SIPO.

The meeting only served to confirm that for years now, the Office has effectively been under the autocratic rule of Mr. Topić and a small clique of his “minions”. The former government appears to have turned a blind eye to everything going on at the Office.

We would like to remind our readers that the highly controversial SIPO Director, Mr. Željko Topić, previously replied to a query from the Ministry of Finance as to whether certain business operations of ZAMP had in fact been carried out by a private company Emporion. At that time, Topić claimed that everything had been done by the book.

However, according to the latest document which “Index” is in possession of, it is clear that the Government, whether intentionally or not, has for years avoided any involvement with what was going on at the SIPO and never bothered to conduct an administrative audit of SIPO’s work and operations.


Instead of looking into the “ZAMP case” and investigating a series of charges against Mr. Topić, the official SIPO website published a news item reporting that Mr. Topić had been appointed to the position of Vice-President of the European Patent Office, and that he was leaving the SIPO! It would appear that Mr. Topić can thank “Croatian diplomacy” for his promotion which has been mostly orchestrated – as you might have guessed – by the President’s office.

A new car for the minister

But let’s get back to the handover. The official minutes of the meeting confirm that no member of the HDZ Government responded adequately to the various allegations of bribery, embezzlement of budgetary funds, irregularities concerning the internal organization of SIPO or the wrongful dismissal of Vesna Stilin. The meeting was attended by Sandro Mustafagić and Darinka Vedrina from the Ministry of Economy and Lean Salamunić Džaja from the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.

Ms. Stilin once again drew the attention of the representatives of the two Ministries to irregularities in the internal organization of the SIPO, implemented in a covert manner by the SIPO Director [i.e. Topić], and the inadequate response of the Ministry of Science on the occasion of her dismissal. Ms. Stilin was dismissed from her duties in 2008. At that time, the Ministry of Science, led by Mr. Dragan Primorac, was responsible for the SIPO. According to Ms. Stilin, her dismissal was carried out with the approval of the Ministry of Science because the SIPO director Mr. Topić was using funds from the SIPO budget to pay for a new Audi 6 for the Ministry of Science which was used by the Minister Primorac.

Topić was paying some 20 thousand HRK to the Ministry of Science every month. At the same time, it was the responsibility of that particular Ministry to propose to the Government the appointment and the dismissal of the SIPO Director. Under such circumstances, transactions of this kind effectively constitute the giving and receiving of bribes.

Embezzlement of budgetary funds, stealing computers and favoritism

The competent Ministries have never specifically addressed the fact that an inspection carried out by the Ministry of Finance in 2008 identified financial wrongdoings on the part of the SIPO Director, Mr. Topić. A budgetary inspection at that time found that he first tried to embezzle 7.5 million HRK and then 9.7 million HRK. Under threat of foreclosure, the SIPO was required to make an immediate reimbursement of these funds to the State budget account. Sanctions were never imposed for these breaches of the regulations, although the Budget Law specifically prescribes what is to be done in such cases.

Neither was anything ever done about the fact that, whether intentionally or not, Mr. Topić effectively colluded in the cover-up of a criminal act by his predecessor, the first SIPO Director Mr. Nikola Kopčić, namely the theft of a computer from the SIPO. Furthermore, Mr. Topić never adopted the Regulation on Protection of Classified Information, which should have been implemented at a state institution such as the SIPO from the very beginning. The former SIPO Director [i.e. Kopčić] had at the same time been registered as a professional representative with the SIPO contrary to the applicable official regulations and the computer was a key piece of evidence that he had access to the official SIPO databases and, thus, unauthorised access to classified information. However, following the disappearance of the computer, no action was taken.


In this way, over a period of years FORINPRO Ltd., a private company, owned by the former SIPO Director, Mr. Nikola Kopčić, managed to avoid paying the costs of searches in the aforementioned SIPO databases thereby causing financial damage to the SIPO and, likewise, to the State budget. Mr. Topić did nothing until a year and a half after the event and by then it was too late for the police to trace the perpetrators of the theft, despite the 38 cameras and two security guards at the entrance to the SIPO.

Topić was also under obligation as a matter of official duty to initiate administrative proceedings to revoke the registration of FORINPRO in the SIPO Register because the owner of the company and former SIPO Director, Mr. Kopčić had been indicted and sentenced in consequence of the disputed registration which amounted to a criminal offence. Topić never took any action to revoke the registration despite a written reminder and a request from two members of the executive committee of the Croatian branch of the International Society for the Protection of Industrial Property (AIPPI).

Although these matters, supported by relevant documentation, have managed to find their way into public awareness, they have for the most part been ignored by the competent official authorities.

The circumstances of Stilin’s dismissal

A particular issue here is the manner in which Vesna Stilin was dismissed from SIPO.

Stilin’s dismissal which was issued with retroactive effect from 10 April 2008, was delivered to her on 24 April. During the period from 14 to 18 April, she was on annual leave which had been previously approved by Topić. Stilin had never received any prior notification of his intention to dismiss her. As confirmed by official records, during the period when she was on leave Topić ordered all of her effects, including those in locked cabinets, to be removed from her office and he allocated a room at the Ministry of Economy for her use, so that upon returning from ‘holiday’ she no longer had any office to go back to [at the SIPO].

According to the minutes of the meeting held at the Ministry of Economy:
“After receiving the decision concerning her dismissal, in May 2008 Ms. Stilin filed an appeal with the Administrative Court which, in September 2008, decided that the Government was entitled to make a discretionary decision. However, it omitted to examine the question as to whether when taking its decision the Government had relied upon the relevant legal provisions which would have given it the right to make such a discretionary decision and which it had not invoked despite the obligation to do so; and why there was no mention of other relevant reasons and circumstances, such as, why other Assistant Directors, who, in accordance with the decision of Mr. Topić in January 2008 received their mandates from the Government, and like Ms. Stilin, were dismissed by the Government but much later than her, i.e. following the enactment of the Ordinance on the Internal Order of the SIPO which included the relevant classification of jobs, whereas Ms. Stilin was dismissed after the adoption of the Regulation on the Internal Organisation of the SIPO and thus contrary to the prescribed procedure. The Croatian Constitutional Court does not, as a rule, examine whether the previous administrative instances and courts have established the facts of the case correctly and completely. Such a practice was adopted in this case, which is why Ms. Stilin filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights”.


Neither Sanader nor Kosor

As we have also learned, Stilin only discovered later on that the SIPO Director, Mr. Topić, had sent an additional submission concerning her dismissal to the Government. This submission contained a series of unfounded allegations about her, in particular in relation to the Public Lending Right, a significant new right for writers, which was her area of special expertise at the SIPO. Topić kept this submission secret, and Ms. Stilin only received a copy of it from the Croatian Government by chance whereupon she initiated criminal proceedings for defamation against Topić which are still ongoing.

In April 2009, Ms. Stilin sent a request to the Government asking for the annulment of the decision to dismiss her, following which Mr. Sanader and his successor as Prime Minister, Jadranka Kosor, requested the Ministry of the Economy to solve the problem with the SIPO Director, Mr. Topić, on three separate occasions. However, Ministry of Economy has so far failed to respond, and each time they indicated they were awaiting the decision of the Constitutional Court, which, according to Stilin, related to an entirely different matter.

The lawsuit originally filed with the Administrative Court in May 2008 which then went to the Constitutional Court whose decision the Ministry of the Economy claimed to be waiting for, is now before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and is a completely separate case from Stilin’s request for the annulment of her dismissal.

According to the minutes of the meeting:
“Stilin recalled that she also filed a request for mediation with the Municipal State Attorney’s Office. This is a step preceding a civil lawsuit, and was pursued because in the three years following the dismissal, the Ministry of the Economy failed to conduct an administrative audit of the SIPO as confirmed in writing by the Ministry in November 2010 and in August 2011.”

With an astronomical salary received from European taxpayers, no wonder Topić fights his critics so hard. He is fearful that people who speak English, German, French etc. may find out about his past. Topić tried to sue for defamation but lost the case. One may therefore assume that bribery allegations (as above) are truthful. Just because something like some statements may be damaging to Topić’s career doesn’t necessarily make them defamatory.

Watch the part in the text above which speaks of bribery. Of particular interest is also the claim that Topić failed to properly investigate the theft of an official computer from the SIPO premises which is alleged to have contained evidence of the improper access to official SIPO databases free of charge by Kopčić’s private company ForInPro Ltd. It is also alleged that Topić failed to take appropriate action to revoke Kopčić’s registration as an authorised representative in the official SIPO register despite requests from the Croatian branch of the AIPPI to do so. According to the press report, Kopčić’s registration should have been revoked following his conviction due to his breach of official regulations as SIPO Director-General.

Despite Kopčić’s expulsion from the Croatian branch of the AIPPI in December 2001, he was subsequently elected as a member of the EPI Council which is the governing body of the Institute of Professional Representatives before the European Patent Office. So apparently being corrupt in Croatia does not rule out/disqualify one from pursuing a career elsewhere.

Kopčić’s most recent election to the EPI Council took place in 2011 and he held a position as an alternate member on the Council until March 2014 [PDF]. He is currently a Deputy Team Leader on an EU-funded project relating to Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement in Bosnia & Hercegovina.

The documents above mostly relate to the expulsion of Mr. Nikola Kopčić from the Croatian branch of the AIPPI in 2001 and his subsequent dismissal as Director-General of the SIPO in January 2002. Part of these documents were shared here before and it ought to set the tone for future discussions about SIPO (we have a lot more to come). The significant part here is the translation of a Croatian press article published by index.hr which claims that Topić colluded in the cover-up of various irregularities and offences alleged to have been committed by his predecessor Nikola Kopčić. Back-rubbing appears to be ‘business as usual’ for these people, so no wonder Battistelli can relate. He seems to be bringing in old buddies to serve as colleagues, expanding his ‘protection’ circle. Battistelli also covers up Topić’s past.

Assuming we are seeing corruption brought into the EPO, which is supposed to have higher standard than Croatia’s, we need to speak out. Judging by the media, the EPO is spreading monopolies of broader scope (e.g. software patents) to the UK and Ireland. Consider last week’s report about the patent court:

Local division of Unified Patent Court will hear intellectual property disputes

[...]

The European Commission has proposed the establishment of a “seamless, integrated single market for intellectual property rights”, which will also include the establishment of a unitary patent for Europe.

This serves multinational corporations, not local companies which will mostly be sued by foreign giants and perhaps even patent trolls.

Cyberattacks on SUEPO Server Raise More Questions

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World Cyber Games 2004

Summary: Several sites that are critical of the EPO’s management seem to have become prominent targets of ‘script kiddies’

Cyberattacks are a tricky thing to tackle. Systems analysis is hard because of the topology of the Internet (hopping possible, no fixed addresses, etc.) and administrations know the absolute limitations because other than pattern spotting not much can be done, especially when it comes to spotting the source of such attacks in a world full of zombies, botnets, and other consequences of back doors in Internet-connected proprietary software.

Last year our multi-layer servers infrastructure came under attacks which targeted both Tux Machines and Techrights. It started around the same time we published the EPO revelations, so when the webhost asked me if I could think of anyone who had the motivation to attack I said that I could think of nothing except the EPO series (although I was very hesitant to assume the EPO would resort to such attacks). These attacks lasted several months, often coinciding or intensifying with our release of EPO-related documents. Tux Machines does not have enemies because it mostly syndicates news.

“Maybe all these attacks are just a mere coincidence without correlation, but the fact remain that many critics of The EPO’s Vice-President Željko Topić suffer one way or another.”Several months went by and another Web site critical of the EPO (especially the Vice-President, Željko Topić) said it had been cracked. Weeks later we learned that another such site, also critical of the EPO’s Vice-President, feared retribution and decided to delete documents relating to the EPO Vice-President (knowing that he not only berates but also bullies his critics using lawsuits and apparent requests for removal/apology). Last week we learned that SUEPO, which is the staff union of the EPO (known for criticism of the EPO’s notorious Vice-President), had been “cracked” based on some sources. That claim may not have been accurate because based on the following text, which appeared yesterday on the SUEPO Web site, it was a DDOS attack combined with/related to brute-force cracking attempts. “We don’t have any more details beyond this,” told us the source who passed us the following text (statement from SUEPO):

“The SUEPO websites were unreachable on Thursday 5 February 2015 because of a cyber attack (of the Denial of Service type). The attackers also attempted an SSH brute-force attack to take control of the server. Such attacks constitute a violation of law and SUEPO has filed criminal charges against unknown and will cooperate with the German and Dutch authorities, who are now investigating the matter.”

Some comments (scroll down) in IPKat say that many of the offending addresses are in Belgium, but many are also in east Asia.

On Sunday we published an important batch of documents about the EPO's notorious Vice-President, whereupon over 50,000 cracking/login attempts were made in just 15 hours, bringing the site down for periods of time. This is not normal. Remember that when the EPO’s management does not waste money 'planting' articles in the media and bullying staff it is paying a Stasi-like unit to conduct surveillance on staff. Such units have no ethics whatsoever, so consider what they’re after (e.g. harvesting of IP addresses).

Maybe all these attacks are just a mere coincidence without correlation, but the fact remain that many critics of The EPO’s Vice-President Željko Topić suffer one way or another. We are not going to be intimidated by legal threats or technical sabotage and as a result of these recent events we are encouraged to actually speed up release of incriminating/damaging documents, irrespective of who’s behind these attacks.

Microsoft’s Mole Strategy Against Free Software Spreads OOXML, Surveillance, Other Malice to the Real, Potent Alternatives

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Microsoft Trojan horse spreads ‘diseases’ like OOXML

Trojan

Summary: Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is being disrupted by Microsoft from the inside, using the same people who used to openly attack FOSS and now keep a lower profile

TECHRIGTHS is distrubed (albeit not entirely surprised) to see that some people still fall for the “Microsoft loves Linux” (or FOSS) nonsense, which has become a hallmark of Microsoft's latest strategy against FOSS. There are many names for such a strategy. “Killing With Kindness” is one such names and it is often used in foreign policy by the occupier (or an occupying army).

“This is an assault disguised as love.”Last night a reader called iophk showed us more of Microsoft’s (strong NSA ally) ambitions to grab hold of people’s RAM, CPU etc., not just software and data. Microsoft is “pushing lock-in on the files themselves, not just their encoding format,” wrote iophk, sharing this report about Bing bribes (Microsoft has offered many bribes to promote Bing over the years). They are trying to get more data stuck in OOXML, which Microsoft bribed and corrupted officials for. There is no altruism here, only crime.

Doug Mahugh, who was part of these crimes for OOXML (we wrote a lot about him around 7 years ago), is now “Lead Technical Evangelist @ Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.” (a Microsoft proxy and mole inside FOSS) based on his Twitter profile. So the same crooks who spent years attacking FOSS are now in “Microsoft Open Technologies”, eh? Watch this timeline of tweets of his. See how Mahugh is promoting the infamous “embrace and extend” of FOSS in various projects, including in Moodle. This is an assault disguised as love. The goal of infiltrating Moodle, for example, is to make teachers and children dependent on OOXML since a relatively young ago. If these teachers and children turn to Google they will at least use OpenDocument Format (ODF), which Google and Android have begun embracing.

Speaking of infiltrations, Cyanogen is a rogue company that is now used by disruptors of Android other than itself, not just Facebook and Nokia but also Amazon, which has disrupted Android since many managers from Microsoft joined its Kindle division (we covered this years ago). Cyanogen is now acting like a Microsoft proxy and one new report says:

Cyanogen, the startup behind the popular aftermarket firmware CyanogenMod, is reportedly seeking investors that are willing to bet on it wresting control of Android from Google.

Rumours have been circulating for months that Yahoo, Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft may be keen on taking a stake in Cyanogen. More recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft was interesting in participating in a $70m funding round that would value Cyanogen at hundreds of millions of dollars, following two rounds last year in which it raised a total of $30m.

Now, a report in Recode has added fuel to the fire, with the publication’s sources saying Cyanogen has talked to “a broad range of companies,” including both Amazon and Microsoft, as it seeks to establish an Android ecosystem that’s not controlled by Google.

Also distrurbing is what happens to Raspberry Pi. In response to what someone wrote about Microsoft influence in Raspberry Pi the official Twitter account pf Raspberry Pi offered nothing but insults and sarcasm, not true reassurance that Microsoft has no influence in Raspberry Pi (foundation) after months of collaboration (and most likely payments).

“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President

Microsoft Back Door in Windows (All Versions) Intentionally Left Open For Over a Year, Existed for 15 Years

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Servers at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: It has become more obvious that Windows back doors are there by design (or knowingly left there by intention) even after Snowden’s NSA leaks

THERE ARE SOME corporate media reports about Microsoft patches, but few realise the significance of it. Microsoft tells the NSA about unpatched holes in Windows and other Microsoft software, which is the equivalent of giving the NSA back door access.

As we noted some weeks ago, evidence shows that Microsoft doesn't care about security and it is evidently the same with Apple. They both sat on known flaws that were critical for longer than 3 months, refusing to patch them. Both proprietary software companies, which together command the lion’s share of laptop and desktop operating systems, simply refused to close back doors and only decided to do something at the very belated end because the public finally knew about them (Google let is be known).

“Both proprietary software companies, which together command the lion’s share of laptop and desktop operating systems, simply refused to close back doors and only decided to do something at the very belated end because the public finally knew about them (Google let is be known).”Dan Goodin, who typically spends his ‘journalism’ career bashing Free software over security, has finally decided to shift some focus and write about a massive Windows flaw. It’s a major one, no doubt; But no name, no “branding”…

In Goodin’s own words:

Microsoft just patched a 15-year-old bug that in some cases allows attackers to take complete control of PCs running all supported versions of Windows. The critical vulnerability will remain unpatched in Windows Server 2003, leaving that version wide open for the remaining five months Microsoft pledged to continue supporting it.

The flaw, which took Microsoft more than 12 months to fix, affects all users who connect to business, corporate, or government networks using the Active Directory service. The database is built into Windows and acts as a combination traffic cop and security guard, granting specific privileges to authorized users and mapping where on a local network various resources are available. The bug—which Microsoft classifies as MS15-011 and the researcher who first reported it calls Jasbug—allows attackers who are in a position to monitor traffic passing between the user and the Active Directory network to launch a man-in-the-middle exploit that executes malicious code on vulnerable machines.

The significant part is in the second paragraph above (“took Microsoft more than 12 months to fix”). We can interpret that as saying that the hole, which NSA used for over a year for back door access (because Mirosoft told the NSA about it), is finally being acknowledged to the public. Therein lies the ‘magic’ of proprietary software. Is the NSA now ‘done’ cracking all the world’s networks that have Windows in them? Is it now ‘safe’ to finally close this back door?

Microsoft Windows is an utter joke when it comes to security, as Microsoft’s own actions serve to show. Back doors surely look like the goal, not an error. Windows was recently used to crack Sony years after the NSA had cracked North Korea’s network. Those who knowingly used an operating system with back doors can’t blame anyone other than themselves and perhaps Microsoft/NSA. Misplaced blame these days typically names China, Russia, or North Korea.

Remember that Microsoft leaves security holes open/in fact anyway, no matter if versions of Windows are supported or not (upgrades are neither simple nor free). As Goodin’s former employer puts it:

What happens six months from now, on 14 July? That’s the date Microsoft issues its last security fix ever for Window Server 2003 – the end of extended support from the server operating system’s maker.

The article states that many servers will basically be left with permanent back doors. Many of them contain customers’ (or patients’) data.

As Robert Pogson put it, “Server 2003, which is due to go without support this summer won’t be fixed for a recent Patch Tuesday revelation of a vulnerability built-in by design a decade ago and impossible to fix without breaking everything…”

He concludes correctly: “Maybe it’s time people switched to GNU/Linux, an operating system not designed by salesmen. It’s not perfect but at least the bugs are fixable.”

Yes, even bugs with special names, logos, and “branding” — those that the corporate media loves to hype up.

Links 11/2/2015: First Ubuntu Phone on Sale Today, Tizen 2.3 Source Code Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Node v0.12.0 (Stable)

    We are excited to announce the availability of Node.js v0.12! It has been a long process, and we want to thank contributors and all of the community who waited patiently for this event. Node.js has such a vibrant and enthusiastic community, and we’re very lucky to have you all supporting us.

  • A Foundation for Node.js as a Community Struggles with Reconciliation

    In a bid to quell an uprising within the Node.js ranks, vendor sponsor Joyent has announced an independent foundation to provide an open governance structure for the project.

    Though big players including IBM, PayPal and Microsoft will be involved, CEO Scott Hammond said the foundation will help ensure all voices are heard.

  • Node.js is getting its own open-source, independent foundation

    Node.js, the popular server-side JavaScript framework, is getting its own open-source foundation and will no longer be governed by Joyent, the cloud-infrastructure provider plans to announce on Tuesday. It should take around two to three months before the foundation is formally established, and until then, Joyent will remain the corporate steward of the Node.js open-source project, according to Joyent.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Making the Case for Open Source Browsers

      In the past, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the go-to Web browser for Internet users. But end-user confidence in Internet Explorer appears to be waning.

      Last summer, Google Chrome passed Internet Explorer in combined U.S. desktop and mobile Internet market share for the first time. Chrome now holds 31.8 percent of total market share compared to Internet Explorer’s 30.9 percent share. Furthermore, Chrome has been growing at a rate of 6 percent year over year from 2008, while Explorer has been decreasing at a rate of 6 percent during the same time frame.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox OS dongle redesign to add quad-core SoC, DRM

        The Firefox OS-based “Matchstick” media player has been delayed a half year to August, and will receive an overhaul to move to a quad-core SoC and add DRM.

      • Outspoken on Open

        One thing I am trying to convince folks though is that working in the open is not so hard that we ignore the principles of working in the open and avoid trying to build a good foundation of open processes. One thing I am finding when I have these discussions though is people do not always feel empowered to speak out about working in the open. Simply put teams and organizations will get in these status quos where they put off this hard work and nobody really comes around often to challenge the status quo because often the debates that pursue of working in the open are filled with disagreement.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • 3D Robotics unveils Tower, its open-source, customizable drone flight-control app

      Are you the kind of drone pilot that wants to do things with your aircraft no one’s thought of before? If so, then Tower, the new open-source flight control app from 3D Robotics, could well be for you.

    • 3D Robotics Opens Its Flight Control App For Drones To Developers

      3D Robotics, the largest U.S.-based drone manufacturer, today announced the launch of its open-source Tower flight control app for drone copters and planes on Android phones and tablets. The app gives users a few new ways to talk to their drones, but far more importantly, it offers developers a new way to build new features for drones into the app without having to reinvent the wheel by starting from scratch.

    • MAGEEC energy reduction – open start-ups column

      Modelling energy usage is not enough, so an energy measurement board (the ‘MAGEEC Wand’) has been created, which can be applied to a range of embedded architectures. MAGEEC was presented at GNU Tools Cauldron – the annual gathering of GNU tools developers (CC- licensed video and slides at gnu.org) – this July in Cambridge, on the Atmel AVR. Since this, further work has completed the “proof of concept” framework, which fits both GCC and LLVM compilers – a working system that currently awaits further optimisations.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Virtual Reality gains 13 more partners, gives away VR kits to universities

        Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR), the initiative from Razer and Sensics to connect multiple VR software and hardware partners together, had a good handful of partners at CES 2015, and 13 more have been announced today. The new partners include Jaunt — a maker of cinematic VR experiences that already has apps for Google Cardboard — plus a few game developers, audio and interface accessory companies.

      • Open Source Virtual Reality grows even bigger with a dozen new partners

        Open Source Virtual Reality, a Razer-spearheaded coalition that was introduced at CES 2015 in January, has announced 12 new partners.

        OSVR aims to build an open source VR platform that developers and hardware makers can use to create virtual reality devices and experiences across multiple operating systems

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • US Healthcare Is So Screwed I Fly to Britain for My Medication

      Every six months, like clockwork, I fly home to the UK for three days for one reason: to pick up my supply of prescription medication.

      I consider myself lucky—drugs are cheap there, where a national health service exists that I can partake of as a UK citizen. The very vast majority of Americans are not as fortunate. John Oliver, fellow Brit, comedian, and host of Last Week Tonight, said Sunday in a skit about Big Pharma that the cost of drug spending in the U.S. last year “works out to be about a thousand dollars per person.”

    • xKoch Cartel Blocking Medicaid Expansion, Denying Hundreds of Thousands Care

      Radical right-wingers in a series of red states are punishing hundreds of thousands of low-income people by blocking efforts by Republican governors to expand Medicaid—state-run health care—by modifying Obamacare to include Republican ideas.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • REPORT: Women Are Underrepresented In Cable News Segments On Foreign Affairs, National Security

      Enormous Gender Disparity Present Across All Three Outlets. Fox News featured women in roughly 25 percent of recorded segments, while MSNBC and CNN each featured female guests in just over 20 percent of segments discussing foreign affairs and national security.

    • The U.S. Media and the 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Burned to Death Last Month by a U.S. Drone

      On January 26, the New York Times claimed that “a CIA drone strike in Yemen. . . . killed three suspected Qaeda fighters on Monday.” How did they know the identity of the dead? As usual, it was in part because “American officials said.” There was not a whiff of skepticism about this claim despite the fact that “a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to confirm the names of the victims” and “a C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.”

      That NYT article did cite what it called “a member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP), who provided the names of the three victims, one of whom was “Mohammed Toiman al-Jahmi, a Yemeni teenager whose father and brother were previously killed in American drone strikes.” The article added that “the Qaeda member did not know Mr. Jahmi’s age but said he was a member of the terrorist group.”

      In fact, as the Guardian reported today, “Mr. Jahmi’s age” was 13 on the day the American drone ended his life. Just months earlier, the Yemeni teenager told that paper that “he lived in constant fear of the ‘death machines’ in the sky that had already killed his father and brother.” It was 2011 when “an unmanned combat drone killed his father and teenage brother as they were out herding the family’s camels.” In the strike two weeks ago, Mohammed was killed along with his brother-in-law and a third man.

    • We dream about drones, said 13-year-old Yemeni before his death in a CIA strike

      Mohammed Tuaiman becomes the third member of his family to be killed by what he called ‘death machines’ in the sky months after Guardian interview

    • Obama’s Christian Right Critics Agree with Islamic State

      At least part of the reason for this is that many American officials have continued in Bush’s tradition of defining the U.S. conflict with extremist Middle Eastern groups as a grand civilizational and religious battle, thus playing in to the same sharply polarizing narrative those groups seek to promote.

    • Ukraine: Artillery Fire, Not ‘Tactical Nuke’ Attack, Sets Off Large Donetsk Explosion

      On Sunday night, a series of YouTube videos appear to show a large explosion in Donetsk, Ukraine (several can be watched here). However, it wasn’t a “tactical nuclear weapon,” as some social media users claimed, but just a big blast–reportedly Ukrainian army artillery fire hitting an ammunition depot held by the rebel Donetsk People’s Republic.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • The Importance of Whistleblowers

      …in-depth look at the vital role of whistleblowers in ensuring public safety and government accountability.

    • Julian Assange ‘sucking police resources’: UK cop

      British police are reviewing the operation to guard WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the UK’s most senior officer has said.

      Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told LBC radio that the force is assessing its options due to the pressure the operation at the Ecuadorian embassy in London is putting on resources.

      “We won’t talk about tactics but we are reviewing what options we have. It is sucking our resources,” he said.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 2015 Could Be The Year Canada Elects A Prime Minister Who Actually Cares About Climate

      Harper, who assumed office in 2006 and who has been a staunch supporter of Canada’s tar sands industry, has tried to silence activists who speak out against the industry. But he hasn’t stopped there: his administration has been accused of muzzling its scientists and meteorologists in an attempt to stop certain information on climate change or environmental issues from reaching the public. Under Harper, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol — which the prime minister once referred to as a “socialist scheme” — in 2011 and cut about 500 jobs from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2013. The government also closed seven scientific libraries in 2014.

  • Finance

    • Billionaire’s Paper Hopes Well-Off Will Identify With Wealthy

      Given this lopsided distribution of income gains, it’s not irrational for people who make quite a bit more than the median income to identify with the middle class and applaud policies that are aimed at curbing the accumulation of wealth by the super-wealthy. But Edsall’s argument for the failure of middle-class populism depends on better-off voters who think of themselves as middle class not really being middle class–and knowing somehow that when politicians talk about the “middle-class,” they aren’t talking about them.

    • HSBC Swiss leaks: Spain’s Podemos party hires whistleblower Falciani to combat tax evasion and fraud
    • Global Capitalism’s Terrifying New Math

      McKinsey, one of the world’s preeminent business consultants, released a sobering new report this week detailing that, worldwide, total debt has risen by 40.1 percent — or $57 trillion — since the financial crisis of 2008. “Debt,” here, can mean many things: debt to other countries and international institutions, as in Greece and Italy, which were bailed out by the troika; it also means debt to financial institutions, or household and personal debt of the kind those of us paying off mortgages, medical debt or student loans here in the states know all too well. It all means bad news for the economy.

    • A game of Chicken

      On Wednesday, the European Central Bank announced that it would no longer accept Greek government debt as collateral for loans. This move, it turns out, was more symbolic than substantive. Still, the moment of truth is clearly approaching.

    • New Evidence That Half of the US Is Broke

      Half of our nation, by all reasonable estimates of human need, is in poverty. The jubilant headlines above speak for people whose view is distorted by growing financial wealth. The argument for a barely surviving half of America has been made before, but important new data is available to strengthen the case.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Brian Powell: New GOP Hearing Will Feature Notorious Right-Wing Media Misinformers

      An upcoming House Oversight Committee hearing features two conservative media darlings infamous for their anti-immigrant rhetoric and peddling misinformation about voter fraud and election law.

    • The New York Times’ Nuclear Uncertainty Principles

      I don’t know that there’s anyone who seriously argues that there’s any actual doubt that Israel has nuclear weapons; if there were any lingering questions, they were resolved by the revelations of Mordechai Vanunu, a whistleblower who exposed details of Israel’s nuclear warhead lab in 1986 and was imprisoned by Israel for 18 years as punishment. Later on in the piece, in fact, the Times notes that “the Arms Control Association, a research group in Washington, says Israel is believed to have 100 to 200 warheads.”But it’s still treated as claim to be attributed to a source rather than a verified fact.

    • Tell Us How You Really Feel About Fast Track Opponents, New York Times

      A hundred and fifty plus 72 is 222 congressmembers, or 51 percent of the House of Representatives. That’s a pretty big “fringe.”

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Is smart technology really a threat to our privacy?

      Fitness trackers and even Samsung televisions are becoming more advanced, and that data can inadvertently reveal sensitive things we never meant to make public

    • Addresses, SSNs, phone numbers released by former Gov. Jeb Bush in e-mail dump

      On Tuesday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush published Volume 1 of an e-book detailing all of his official correspondence while in gubernatorial office. Although the e-book is edited and e-mail addresses have been redacted, the Governor’s Office also published six Outlook files full of all of Bush’s unredacted correspondence—creating a trove of full names connected with personal e-mail addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and even social security numbers, as The Verge first reported.

      [....]

      The scope of the e-mails is vast and includes everything from automated messages to brief summaries of the state of Cuban refugees who arrived on Florida’s shores to oddly personal e-mails from constituents. Some e-mails include correspondence that had not been addressed to Bush originally but showed up when part of an e-mail was forwarded to him. Other e-mails include personal information about people who aren’t involved in the e-mail thread at all. “Did you get this? Eric’s wife is being induced tomorrow a.m. so we’ll be out of town for a while. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!” one cheerily reads.

    • After months of silence from feds on flying phone surveillance, EFF sues

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit Monday in order to learn more about the United States Marshals Service’s use of airborne cell-site simulators.

      The San Francisco-based advocacy group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Justice (DOJ), the USMS’ parent agency, shortly after the revelations came to light in November 2014. However, the DOJ has not produced any responsive documents and has long exceeded the 30-day deadline as defined under the FOIA law.

      In the suit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, DC, the EFF asks the court to compel the DOJ to immediately produce the documents. The DOJ did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

    • No One Can Stop Craigslist, but Facebook Is Trying Again

      Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the only one in Silicon Valley with Craigslist envy. A decade ago, Google tried to meld classified ads with other crowdsourced content in a website called Google Base. The service never took off, and it now redirects to a site soliciting retailers to list on Google’s shopping search engine. Along with the big companies, countless startups have set out to make prettier, more functional versions of Craigslist, only to fail.

    • FBI really doesn’t want anyone to know about “stingray” use by local cops

      If you’ve ever filed a public records request with your local police department to learn more about how cell-site simulators are used in your community—chances are good that the FBI knows about it. And the FBI will attempt to “prevent disclosure” of such information.

      Not only can these devices, commonly known as “stingrays,” be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones. Last fall, Ars reported on how a handful of cities across America are currently upgrading to new hardware that can target 4G LTE phones.

    • NSA Claims Iran Learned from Western Cyberattacks

      The U.S. Government often warns of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks from adversaries, but it may have actually contributed to those capabilities in the case of Iran.

      A top secret National Security Agency document from April 2013 reveals that the U.S. intelligence community is worried that the West’s campaign of aggressive and sophisticated cyberattacks enabled Iran to improve its own capabilities by studying and then replicating those tactics.

      The NSA is specifically concerned that Iran’s cyberweapons will become increasingly potent and sophisticated by virtue of learning from the attacks that have been launched against that country. “Iran’s destructive cyber attack against Saudi Aramco in August 2012, during which data was destroyed on tens of thousands of computers, was the first such attack NSA has observed from this adversary,” the NSA document states. “Iran, having been a victim of a similar cyber attack against its own oil industry in April 2012, has demonstrated a clear ability to learn from the capabilities and actions of others.”

  • Civil Rights

    • Nude body scanner now present on Norwegian airport

      Aftenposten, one of the largest newspapers in Norway, today report that three of the nude body scanners now is put to use at Gardermoen, the main airport in Norway. This way the travelers can have their body photographed without cloths when visiting Norway. Of course this horrible news is presented with a positive spin, stating that “now travelers can move past the security check point faster and more efficiently”, but fail to mention that the machines in question take pictures of their nude bodies and store them internally in the computer, while only presenting sketch figure of the body to the public. The article is written in a way that leave the impression that the new machines do not take these nude pictures and only create the sketch figures. In reality the same nude pictures are still taken, but not presented to everyone. They are still available for the owners of the system and the people doing maintenance of the scanners, as long as they are taken and stored.

    • The Guardian Hires Chelsea Manning

      Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 after being convicted of leaking classified national security documents to WikiLeaks.

    • FBI monitored and critiqued African American writers for decades

      Newly declassified documents from the FBI reveal how the US federal agency under J Edgar Hoover monitored the activities of dozens of prominent African American writers for decades, devoting thousands of pages to detailing their activities and critiquing their work.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Peter Sunde: Pirate Bay Still Has The Right To Defend Itself

        Today it was revealed that a Swedish prosecutor is trying to force the .SE registry, via a court case, to ban ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se from being in use. He even wants to go so far as to claim the domains for the state in order to put up a ‘stop’ logo on them.

      • File-Sharing Icon RapidShare Shuts Down

        RapidShare, once the most popular file-hosting service in the Internet, has announced that it will shut down next month. The company doesn’t cite a reason for the surprising shutdown, but losing the majority of its users in recent years after the implementation of tough anti-piracy measures is likely to be connected.

        [...]

        RapidShare fought many legal battles with entertainment companies seeking to hold the company liable for the actions of its users, and to top it off the site was called out by the U.S. Government as a “notorious market.”

      • Megaupload Programmer Arrested in The U.S.

        Andrus Nomm, one of the seven Megaupload employees indicted by the United States, has been arrested. The U.S. authorities have yet to comment on the arrest of the programmer but Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken believes that he may have cut a deal with the FBI.

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