You have to admire the balls of a group of German hackers who dub themselves XMR Squad.
The outfit spent all last week launching DDoS attacks against German businesses and then contacting the same companies to inform them they had to pay $275 for ‘testing their DDoS protection systems.
Attacks were reported against DHL, Hermes, AldiTalk, Freenet, Snipes.com, the State Bureau of Investigation Lower Saxony, and the website of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The attack against DHL Germany was particularly effective as it shut down the company’s business customer portal and all APIs, prompting eBay Germany to issue an alert regarding possible issues with packages sent via DHL.
While the group advertised on Twitter that its location was in Russia, a German reporter who spoke with the group via telephone said: “The caller had a slight accent, but spoke perfect German.”
Following the attention it got in Germany after the attacks, the group had its website and Twitter account taken down.
Hackers mocked the group for failing to extract any payments from their targets. DDoS extortionists have been particularly active in Germany, among any other countries. Previously, groups named Stealth Ravens and Kadyrovtsy have also extorted German companies, using the same tactics perfected by groups like DD4BC and Armada Collective.
German boffins have turned on what is being billed as “the world’s largest artificial sun,” a device they hope will help shed light on innovative ways of making climate-friendly fuels.
The giant honeycomb-like setup is made of 149 spotlights, dubbed Synlight, in Juelich, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Cologne, and uses xenon short-arc lamps normally found in cinemas to simulate natural sunlight that is often in short supply in Germany at this time of year.
By focusing the entire array on a single 20-by-20 centimeter (8×8 inch) spot, scientists from the German Aerospace Centre, or DLR , will be able to produce the equivalent of 10,000 times the amount of solar radiation that would normally shine on the same surface.
This creates temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Celsius (5,432 Fahrenheit) which could be the key to making hydrogen.
Bernhard Hoffschmidt, the director of DLR’s Institute for Solar Research told the press that hydrogen will be the fuel of the future because it produces no carbon emissions when burned, meaning it doesn’t add to global warming.
But while hydrogen is the most common element in the universe it is rare on Earth. One way to manufacture it is to split water into its two components — the other being oxygen — using electricity in a process called electrolysis.
Researchers hope to bypass the electricity stage by tapping into the enormous amount of energy that reaches Earth in the form of light from the sun.
Hoffschmidt said the dazzling display is designed to take experiments done in smaller labs to the next level, adding that once researchers have mastered hydrogen-making techniques with Synlight’s 350-kilowatt array, the process could be scaled up ten-fold on the way to reaching a level fit for industry. Experts say this could take about a decade, if there is sufficient industry support.
The goal is to eventually use actual sunlight rather than the artificial light produced at the Juelich experiment, which cost $3.8 million to build and requires as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would use in a year.
German industrial robot maker Kuka has flogged off its Systems US-Aerospace-Business to Advanced Integration Technology to satisfy demands from US watchdogs who were unhappy about its takeover by a Chinese buyer.
Home appliance maker Midea launched its offer for Kuka in May, the biggest Chinese deal for a German industrial technology company.
Kuka said its takeover by Midea needed the approval of the US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.
“The sale of the Systems US-Aerospace-Business is a crucial prerequisite to obtain these approvals,” it said.
However there is a wave of hostility in the US over Chinese firms coming over there and buying up their companies particularly if these have strategic technologies abroad without allowing reciprocal transactions at home. The US earlier this month blocked a deal for a Chinese buyer to take over German chip equipment maker Aixtron for this reason.
Kuka’s Systems Aerospace business focuses on tooling and the automation of assembly processes such as drilling and riveting for aircraft manufacturing.
Germany has received a promise from Facebook, Google and Twitter they will delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours.
The move is a step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies.
“When the limits of free speech are trespassed, when it is about criminal expressions, sedition, incitement to carry out criminal offences that threaten people, such content has to be deleted from the net. And we agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.”
Germany last month launched an investigation into the European wing of Facebook over its alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.
Martin Ott, Facebook’s managing director for northern, central and eastern Europe based in Hamburg, may be held responsible for the social platform’s failure to remove hate speech, a spokeswoman for the prosecution said last month.
A Facebook spokesperson said the allegations “lack merit” and there has been no violation of German law by Facebook or its employees.
Facebook has a partnership with a group called FSM, which monitors multimedia service providers on a voluntary basis, and has said it would encourage its users to push back against racism.
Vandals attacked its offices in the northern city of Hamburg at the weekend, damaging the entrance to the building and spraying “Facebook dislike” on a wall.
A particularly nasty bit of malware has infected the hardware and software of the German parliamentary network and the whole lot might need to be replaced because no one can fix it.
The government hasn’t managed to erase the spyware from the system, nearly four weeks after the attack and it is still phoning German secrets to an unknown destination.
Trojans introduced to the Bundestag network are still working and are still sending data from the internal network to an unknown destination, several anonymous parliament sources told German publication Der Spiegel .
In May, parliament IT specialists discovered hackers were trying to infiltrate the network. So far, they have been unable to stop the attack.
People in parliament are already talking about junking the whole system, according to Der Spiegel. In addition to the internal network’s software, the hardware may have to be replaced as well, an operation that would take months and cost millions that the Greek government owes them.
Some Germans suspect that the Russian foreign intelligence service SVR is behind the attack and the parliament is to discuss what to do about it today.
Parliamentarians will have to decide if they want to call in the help of counterintelligence experts from the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), the domestic intelligence service of Germany.
Some members of parliament are worked about using the BfV and others are also refusing help from the foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, because the agency would gain access to the legislative process.
US Telco Verizon, which has spent a fortune lobbying US politicians, must be thoroughly miffed that it has been let down by them.
The Germans have told Verizon to sling its hook and it will not get any more lucrative government contracts in that country because of its close connection to the US government.
Reports based on disclosures by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden alleged Washington had conducted mass surveillance in Germany and had even eavesdropped on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.
Berlin insisted on a “no-spy” deal, but these collapsed after the United States said that since it ruled the world now everyone had to do what they say.
Germany launched an overhaul of its internal communications and secure government networks. Booting out US companies as a security risk seems to have been the result.
Germany’s Interior Ministry said the pressures on networks as well as the risks from highly developed viruses or Trojans are rising.
“Furthermore, the ties revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms in the wake of the US National Security Agency (NSA) affair show that the German government needs a very high level of security for its critical networks.”
Verizon has been providing network infrastructure for the German government’s Berlin-Bonn network, used for communication between ministries, since 2010, the statement said. The contract is set to expire in 2015.
Instead Deutsche Telekom would replace services provided by Verizon. Deutsche Telekom is already responsible for the most sensitive communications between ministries or between the government and German intelligence agencies.
Verizon is the second-biggest US telephone company, but the outfit moaned that Verizon Germany was a German company and we comply with German law.
It said that Verizon did not receive any demands from Washington in 2013 for data stored in other countries and the US government cannot compel us to produce our customers’ data stored in data centres outside the country. If it did, Verizon Germany would challenge that attempt in a court.
Earliers this month the Guardian revealed that the FBI and NSA are collecting all call information from Verizon users in the US. It was forcing Verizon to comply using the Patriot Act.
UK Prime Minister David “one is an ordinary bloke” Cameron has returned from meeting the German Chancellor at SnowBIT and he has in his hand a paper which could mean that the UK has a 5g piece on our time. He met a robot at the Messe in Hangover yesterday.
Apparently David’s glorious vision is that Britain and Germany will team up to work on developing the next super-fast mobile network, 5G.
Cameron said the initiative is one of three areas that he wants Britain and Germany to collaborate on to “pool ideas, share data, innovate, and to lead on the next big ideas” in what he dubbed as being “a world on fast forward.”
Speaking at CeBIT, Cameron said that the future fifth-generation, or 5G, network will enable a full-length film to be downloaded on the internet in one second. At least in London. In rural areas it will take a hundred years and cost a trillion pounds. In Cameron’s Britain the film will have to be fit for a three year old and not contain any sex, swearing, witches, or references to the Tory party being out of touch.
“This is a prize that researchers all over the world are going for,” he said, unveiling the new collaboration between Germany’s Dresden University and Britain’s King’s College University in London and the University of Surrey.
Cameron said he is eyeing closer German-British collaboration on improving Europe’s telecommunications single market and the internet of thongs, or getting everyday objects to talk to each other over the internet.
“This has enormous potential to change our lives,” he said, outlining examples such as health monitors that keep an eye on the heart rate or blood pressure. It will also enable the government to know how many poor people are not sharing their bedrooms.
He evoked the good old Dickensian ideals by saying that the world was on the brink of a new industrial revolution and he wanted us, the UK – including Scotland – and Germany, to lead it.
Big Content trolls have issued bills to Germans who visited a porn website and streamed content.
Like most copyright trolls, the a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube hopes that Germans will be too deeply shocked that it becomes known that they visited a porn site and just pay up before it gets to court.
According to Chip.de the unnamed Swiss company is demanding $344 for each clip watched so you could be in for a stiff bill.
The law firm U+C which has been hired by the company claims to have received a go ahead from a local court, and as many as ten thousand warnings may have been sent to users, for porn shows watched in August.
But German online publication Stern thinks that the court in Cologne may have issued a wrong verdict, and should not have allowed lawyers of to go forward and ask ISPs to disclose names and addresses associated with the IPs which allegedly streamed the porn shows.
Under German law, online streaming is not the same as filesharing. Users streaming shows are simply watching content that is hosted on a different site, whether it is legal or illegal. Users were not aware whether the shows they streamed were obtained legally by Redtube, as the site did not say.
The feeling is that any court will chunk the case, but there will not be many Germans who want to go to court and proudly say, “I saw donkey porn” but I did it legally.
It is not clear how their IPs were actually shared with the law firm sending out the warnings in the first place, but their privacy has clearly been violated in some sort of way.
Chip.de suggests that these users may have been targeted with malware that harvested their IP addresses in order to be later used in such legal proceedings. If that is the case, the Swiss company could find itself on the receiving end of criminal charges.
In the wake of the Snowden leaks, the US has been trying to patch up its relationship with its long running ally Germany.
The German government said it was furious when it discovered US spooks were spying on its government.
Now it seems that the US has verbally committed to enter into a no-spying agreement with Germany. But this will just block government and industrial espionage, so presumably citizens are fair game.
According to IT World, the verbal commitment was given in talks with the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND).
According to the German government, this means that there must be no governmental or industrial espionage between the two countries. Standards for the cooperation of EU intelligence services are being hammered out. While the US has no problems trusting Germany, there are others in the EU it wants to keep an eye on.
The no spying agreement talks were part of an eight-point programme proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germany found that US intelligence services comply with German law. The operators of large German Internet exchanges and the federal government did not find any evidence that the US spies on Germans, the government said. We would have thought that meant that the US was pretty good at it.
The NSA spying revelations should lead to an acceleration of data protection agreement negotiations between the EU and the US, Merkel said in an interview on German radio.
Even while it is spying on its own citizens to help out the glorious US empire, the German government is ordering the former British colony of Virginia to sling its hook.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her backing to controversial data protection reforms in the European Union. Her hand has more or less been forced following the revelations of US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Merkel said internet companies should tell Europeans where their data is going and, we assume, give them a choice if they share it with US spying outfit the NSA.
She said that unified data rules were needed across the EU. The European Commission has proposed fresh data privacy rules, which would see companies fined as much as two percent of their annual turnover for any breach of the law and would entrench the “right to be forgotten” in law.
The plan has predictably been objected to by the US, which would suddenly lose control of EU data bases as a source of intelligence. Meanwhile, the UK, which sees itself as a happy and willing slave to its US overlord, will do anything to get invited to a dinner at the Whitehouse.
US firms, including Facebook and Amazon, are scared witless because they fear they will be asked to ensure the deletion of customers’ information.
Merkel said that Germany will take the strict position that if if the US government is going to spy on German citizens they must stick to German law.
Viviane Reding, the commissioner who has been spearheading European data protection reform, has admitted that the PRISM revelations have given her cause a boost.