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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 130268 times)
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11790 on: Nov 20th, 2014, 09:54am »

GOOD MORNING SWAMPRAT, Z & ALL OF OUR UFOCASEBOOKERS grin

STAY WARM SWAMPRAT, NOVEMBER IN WASHINGTON STATE IS ALWAYS RAINY, EXCEPT THIS YEAR. COLD AND NO RAIN. I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO BE HAPPY ABOUT IT OR NOT.


Reuters

Iran nuclear talks stuck, deadline may be extended-officials

By Louis Charbonneau and Parisa Hafezi
VIENNA Thu Nov 20, 2014 10:49am EST

(Reuters) - A deadline for resolving a 12-year-old dispute over Iran's nuclear program may be extended from Monday until March, because of sharp disagreements between Tehran and Western powers, officials close to the talks said on Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Vienna later for what Washington and its allies had hoped would be the culmination of months of difficult diplomacy between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

The aim is to remove sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its atomic program, but the talks have long been deadlocked: the timing for lifting sanctions and future scope of Iran's uranium enrichment are key stumbling blocks.

The U.N. nuclear chief Yukiya Amano on Thursday highlighted another hurdle: Iran has yet to explain suspected atomic bomb research to the U.N. nuclear agency, one of the conditions of the six powers for lifting sanctions.

"Important points of difference remain," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a joint news conference with Kerry, who met him in Paris on his way to Vienna later on Thursday.

The latest round of talks between the six began on Tuesday and are likely to last right up to the self-imposed Nov 24 deadline for a final agreement.

"Some kind of interim agreement at this point is likely, or perhaps at best a framework agreement by Monday that needs to be worked out in the coming weeks and months," a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said this week a comprehensive deal would be difficult, but not impossible to achieve by Monday. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was not optimistic but that there may be a way of extending the deadline.

A senior Iranian official had similar expectations.

"We need more time to resolve technical issues and don’t forget that the time frame for lifting sanctions is still a huge dispute," the Iranian official said, adding that an extension until March was a possibility. Western officials also suggested March was an option, with a resumption of talks in January.

The officials said, however, that Iran and the six were not actively discussing an extension yet and would push for a deal by the deadline, which has already been extended from July.

Officials close to the negotiations, which began in February, say that Iran wants all key sanctions on oil exports and banking terminated almost immediately, not merely suspended as the United States and European officials have said.

Tehran rejects Western allegations it is amassing the capability to produce atomic weapons and has refused to halt its enrichment program.

It has been under international sanctions for eight years and the U.S., European Union and U.N. measures have crippled its economy by slashing its oil exports and causing inflation to soar and the value of its currency to plummet.

TIMING

Western powers say the sanctions can be suspended gradually and in line with moves by Iran to restrain its nuclear activities and terminated only after Tehran has demonstrated full compliance with the terms of any deal.

There is also a dispute over the duration of any deal, with Western powers wanting Iranian restrictions to last for 20 years and Iranians pushing for either months or a small number of years, diplomats say.

There is also a blame game developing about who is responsible for the deadlock in the nuclear talks.

Western officials say Iran also refused to budge on enrichment, despite repeated offers of potential compromises by the six powers, including the United States.

Tehran is willing to consider keeping fewer enrichment centrifuges as long as they are advanced, to keep the volume unchanged, Western officials say, adding that this represents no compromise at all.

Western officials say the West is willing to compromise but Iran is not largely because Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has not given the negotiators the freedom to make real compromises in the talks.

"The ball is in the Iranian camp and to be honest we have a feeling that we're treading water at the moment," a senior Western diplomat said. "The main obstacle is that the decisions have to be made by the Iranian leadership."

The Iranians, however, pin the blame on Western powers, which they accuse of expecting too much from Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran would resist Western pressure to make what it considered to be excessive concessions in the Vienna talks.


(Additional reporting by Fredrik Dahl in Vienna and Jonathan Allen and John Irish in Paris; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/20/us-iran-nuclear-iaea-idUSKCN0J40Z020141120

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« Reply #11791 on: Nov 20th, 2014, 10:02am »

Science Daily

Spooky alignment of quasars across billions of light-years

Date:
November 19, 2014

Source:
European Southern Observatory - ESO

New observations with ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.

Quasars are galaxies with very active supermassive black holes at their centres. These black holes are surrounded by spinning discs of extremely hot material that is often spewed out in long jets along their axes of rotation. Quasars can shine more brightly than all the stars in the rest of their host galaxies put together.

A team led by Damien Hutsemékers from the University of Liège in Belgium used the FORS instrument on the VLT to study 93 quasars that were known to form huge groupings spread over billions of light-years, seen at a time when the Universe was about one third of its current age.

"The first odd thing we noticed was that some of the quasars' rotation axes were aligned with each other -- despite the fact that these quasars are separated by billions of light-years," said Hutsemékers. The team then went further and looked to see if the rotation axes were linked, not just to each other, but also to the structure of the Universe on large scales at that time.

When astronomers look at the distribution of galaxies on scales of billions of light-years they find that they are not evenly distributed. They form a cosmic web of filaments and clumps around huge voids where galaxies are scarce. This intriguing and beautiful arrangement of material is known as large-scale structure.

The new VLT results indicate that the rotation axes of the quasars tend to be parallel to the large-scale structures in which they find themselves. So, if the quasars are in a long filament then the spins of the central black holes will point along the filament. The researchers estimate that the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than 1%.

"A correlation between the orientation of quasars and the structurethey belong to is an important prediction of numerical models of evolution of our Universe. Our data provide the first observational confirmation of this effect, on scales much larger that what had been observed to date for normal galaxies," adds Dominique Sluse of the Argelander-Institut für Astronomie in Bonn, Germany and University of Liège.

The team could not see the rotation axes or the jets of the quasars directly. Instead they measured the polarisation of the light from each quasar and, for 19 of them, found a significantly polarised signal. The direction of this polarisation, combined with other information, could be used to deduce the angle of the accretion disc and hence the direction of the spin axis of the quasar.

"The alignments in the new data, on scales even bigger than current predictions from simulations, may be a hint that there is a missing ingredient in our current models of the cosmos," concludes Dominique Sluse.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141119084506.htm

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11792 on: Nov 20th, 2014, 11:44am »

grin


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« Reply #11793 on: Nov 20th, 2014, 3:45pm »

Printrbot Simple Maker's Kit Model 1405 3D Printer, 4" x 4" x 4" Maximum Build Dimensions, 100 Micron Maximum Resolution, 1.75-mm PLA Filament
________________________________________
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Price: $349.00 & FREE Shipping.
In Stock.

Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.

Product Features

• Aluminum extruder and print bed with 4" x 4" x 4" build volume
• Semi-auto leveling via software
• GT2 belts, GT2 pulleys and aluminum Z coupler for increased rigidity
• Includes LM8UU bearings
• Compatible with the 8mm diameter smooth rod
• Fabricates parts up to 4 x 4 x 4 inches (H x W x D) in size or 64 cubic inches in volume
• Prints layers up to a maximum resolution of 100 microns
• Fabricates parts using 1.75 mm PLA filament (sold separately)
• Automatic leveling probe helps create a level print
• Cooling fan speeds up solidification of the extruded filament

Product Description

The Printrbot Simple Maker's Kit Model 1405 3D fused-filament-fabrication printer kit has a 1/4"-thick laser-cut birch wood construction with open platform for fabricating parts up to 4 x 4 x 4 inches/100 x 100 x 100 mm (H x W x D) using 1.75-mm PLA thermoplastic filament (sold separately). The printer head moves on the Y (backward and forward) and Z (up and down) axes, while the print bed moves on the x (left to right) axis. The printer has a metal print bed includes an auto-leveling probe that works with the user-chosen computer software to calibrate the Z axis to create a level print. The hot end has a maximum resolution of 100 microns and includes a fan to help solidify the molten filament as it is extruded onto the print bed.
The printer uses open source software and connects to the computer using the included mini-USB cable. Using an SD card (sold separately), the printer can be disconnected from the computer after initialization for untethered printing during long print jobs.

The guide rails have an 8-mm diameter for stability. The GT2 belt and aluminum pulley system and the NEMA 17 stepper motor system facilitate precise movement of the print head and bed. The printer includes a sample length of PLA (polylactic acid) filament.

Specifications
Compatible filament material PLA
Filament size 1.75 mm
Maximum hot-end temperature 270 degrees C (518 degrees F)
Maximum resolution 100 microns
Maximum build volume 64 cubic inches
Maximum build dimensions 4 x 4 x 4 inches/100 x 100 x 100 mm (H x W x D)*
Heated or ambient bed Ambient
Connection Micro-USB (included), SD card (sold separately)
Untethered printing Yes. Requires SD card and computer hookup to start print job before untethering.
Supported operating system(s) Windows, Mac, Linux
Software Open source. Repetier-host and Slic3r recommended.
Input format Stl, g-code
Nozzle diameter 0.4 mm
Power requirements 12V (6 amp) laptop power supply (included)
Overall assembled footprint (includes movement) 10 x 11-1/2 x 15 inches (H x W x D)*
Weight 12 lb.

*H is height, the vertical distance from the lowest to highest point; W is width, the horizontal distance from left to right; D is depth, the horizontal distance from front to back.

Fused filament fabrication printers build prototypes and parts directly from computer-aided-design (CAD) data sources by stacking layers upon layers of molten material.

The print material is provided in filament or wire form and is fed through an extruder within the print head, similar to how ink is used in a standard printer. A printer with a single extruder can print using one filament at a time; a printer with dual extruders can print with two different materials or colors at the same time. The thickness of the printed layers can be customized for each print, but the thinnest layer that a printer can lay is called its maximum resolution. Choosing to print using very thin layers will create parts with more detail, but will typically take longer to print. To lay the material in the correct way, the print head and bed typically move in a combination of X-axis (left and right), Y-axis (forward and backward), and Z-axis (up and down) movement.

Printrbot manufactures desktop 3D printers and accessories. The company is headquartered in Lincoln, CA.

What's in the Box?
• Printrbot Simple Maker's Kit Model 1405 3D printer kit (unassembled)
• 12V 6-amp laptop power supply
• Micro-USB cable
• Sample length of 1.75-mm PLA plastic filament
• (2) wood wrenches

Frequently Bought Together

Buy the selected items together
• This item: Printrbot Simple Maker's Kit Model 1405 3D Printer, 4" x 4" x 4" Maximum Build Dimensions, 100 Micron … $349.00
• RioRand 1.75mm PLA Filament 1kg/2.2lb roll for 3D Printrbot $29.95

Sample customer review:

Holy moly I love this thing. I'm brand-spanking new to 3D printing, and this is a great machine for my first go around.

Good stuff:

- First off, you can't beat the price, especially if you're not sure if this is something you really want to get into, or if you've just convinced yourself you really need one (like I did).

- It prints a pretty high resolution (100 microns), which isn't something you'd really expect of a printer in this price range. There are printers twice as much that have half the resolution.

- The manufacturer and community support is outstanding. This is something you'll likely need at some point if you're super-n00b like me.

- Despite the fact it has wood parts (right??), this thing is *solid*. There is nothing flimsy or disposable about it.

- it's got a small form factor. For some reason, I expected some giant machine I would have to clear space for on my desk, but it's got a smaller footprint than my Mac Air.

- You have to put it together. This essentially forces you to be intimately familiar with your printer, which will eventually be handy (trust me on this).

Stuff to think about:

- You have to put it together. This is no joke, and it something you can expect to spend time on - in the neighborhood of about 6 hours. You also need to follow the instructions *carefully*. You're not exactly putting together an Ikea dresser or something - this is serious bidness. This isn't an unpack-and-go rig.

- The free software you'll use to run it is not exactly Microsoft Word - there's a little bit of a curve to it. Nothing too serious, but it's worth mentioning. That said, if you're thinking about printing your own 3D objects, you're probably not too worried about this kind of thing.
- It's got a small print area (4 inches cubed). This might not seem like a thing right now, but you'll mess with this thing and realize the possibilities. If only you had a larger print area, oh the things you could do... (this is the argument I'm using with my wife, but she's not buying it yet)

In summary, if you're thinking about getting into this hobby / addiction / awesomeness, you probably have the time it will take to really use this machine to it's max capacity. The price is great for the 3D printer market, and it's a very solid machine. If you've been on the fence about it, I'd recommend going this route.


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KJ6BU4K/?&tag=livescience01-20 - product-description-iframe
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11794 on: Nov 20th, 2014, 10:25pm »

http://www.mining.com/insane-pictures-of-russian-potash-mine-disaster-96066/
Solikamsk-2 accident first implications: situation could worsen

After a statement made by one of the world’s largest potash producers and exporters Uralkali (MCX:URKA)(LON:URALL), first visual implications of Solikamsk-2 potash mine accident have been revealed.

A sinkhole with a diameter of 30-40 meters has been detected to the east of the Solikamsk-2 production site, at the area packed with summer cottages. There were no casualties reported so far.
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Some experts do believe that producing Solikamsk-1 mine adjacent to flooded Solikamsk-2 mine, likely to be flooded also, but it will not happen soon since there are two safety barriers installed between mines, – a 20 meters concrete wall and a 200 meters pillar, which entirely consists of potassium salt (see picture below).
That is one evil looking hole! shocked
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« Reply #11795 on: Nov 21st, 2014, 08:08am »

GOOD MORNING CRYSTAL ~ CASEBOOK ~ AND THOSE IN PERIL OF THINKING BEYOND YE OLE COMFORT ZONE grin


E.T. ~ PHONE HOME ~ WE NEED AN OBSERVATIONAL STATUS REPORT wink

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« Reply #11796 on: Nov 21st, 2014, 08:32am »

GOOD MORNING ALL cheesy


Science Daily

Imagination, reality flow in opposite directions in the brain

Date:
November 20, 2014

Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison

As real as that daydream may seem, its path through your brain runs opposite reality.

Aiming to discern discrete neural circuits, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have tracked electrical activity in the brains of people who alternately imagined scenes or watched videos.

"A really important problem in brain research is understanding how different parts of the brain are functionally connected. What areas are interacting? What is the direction of communication?" says Barry Van Veen, a UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering. "We know that the brain does not function as a set of independent areas, but as a network of specialized areas that collaborate."

Van Veen, along with Giulio Tononi, a UW-Madison psychiatry professor and neuroscientist, Daniela Dentico, a scientist at UW-Madison's Waisman Center, and collaborators from the University of Liege in Belgium, published results recently in the journal NeuroImage. Their work could lead to the development of new tools to help Tononi untangle what happens in the brain during sleep and dreaming, while Van Veen hopes to apply the study's new methods to understand how the brain uses networks to encode short-term memory.

During imagination, the researchers found an increase in the flow of information from the parietal lobe of the brain to the occipital lobe -- from a higher-order region that combines inputs from several of the senses out to a lower-order region.

In contrast, visual information taken in by the eyes tends to flow from the occipital lobe -- which makes up much of the brain's visual cortex -- "up" to the parietal lobe.

"There seems to be a lot in our brains and animal brains that is directional, that neural signals move in a particular direction, then stop, and start somewhere else," says. "I think this is really a new theme that had not been explored."

The researchers approached the study as an opportunity to test the power of electroencephalography (EEG) -- which uses sensors on the scalp to measure underlying electrical activity -- to discriminate between different parts of the brain's network.

Brains are rarely quiet, though, and EEG tends to record plenty of activity not necessarily related to a particular process researchers want to study.

To zero in on a set of target circuits, the researchers asked their subjects to watch short video clips before trying to replay the action from memory in their heads. Others were asked to imagine traveling on a magic bicycle -- focusing on the details of shapes, colors and textures -- before watching a short video of silent nature scenes.

Using an algorithm Van Veen developed to parse the detailed EEG data, the researchers were able to compile strong evidence of the directional flow of information.

"We were very interested in seeing if our signal-processing methods were sensitive enough to discriminate between these conditions," says Van Veen, whose work is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. "These types of demonstrations are important for gaining confidence in new tools."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141120141442.htm

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« Reply #11797 on: Nov 21st, 2014, 09:37am »

Daily Mail

Ancient Martian civilisation was wiped out by nuclear bomb-wielding aliens - and they could attack Earth next, claims physicist

By Jonathan O'Callaghan for MailOnline

Published: 06:07 EST, 21 November 2014
Updated: 06:31 EST, 21 November 2014

If you're planning to go to the 2014 Annual Fall Meeting of the American Physical Society in Illinois this Saturday, you might be in for a bit of a surprise with the final talk of the day.

Because that's when plasma physicist Dr John Brandenburg will present his theory that an ancient civilisation on Mars was wiped out by a nuclear attack from another alien race.

In his bizarre theory, Dr Brandenburg says ancient Martians known as Cydonians and Utopians were massacred in the attack - and evidence of the genocide can still be seen today.

Back in 2011 the scientist first postulated that the red colour on Mars could have been due to a naturally occurring thermonuclear explosion.

'The Martian surface is covered with a thin layer of radioactive substances including uranium, thorium and radioactive potassium - and this pattern radiates from a hot spot on Mars,' he told Fox News at the time.

'A nuclear explosion could have sent debris all around the planet.'

more after the jump:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2843871/Ancient-Martian-civilisation-wiped-nuclear-bomb-wielding-aliens-attack-Earth-claims-physicist.html

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« Reply #11798 on: Nov 22nd, 2014, 05:54am »

GOOD MORNING CRYSTAL ~ PURR ~ AND THE CASEBOOK KREW cool

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« Reply #11799 on: Nov 22nd, 2014, 08:48am »

GOOD MORNING Z & ALL OF OUR UFOCASEBOOKERS cheesy






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« Reply #11800 on: Nov 23rd, 2014, 07:47am »

GOOD MORNING CRYSTAL ~ CASEBOOK cool

TO MY FRIEND HAL AND INDEED TOMI...ALTHOUGH HAL MAY/MIGHT TAKE EXCEPTION TO THE LAST LINE IN THIS..

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KEEPIN IT FRESH... wink


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« Reply #11801 on: Nov 23rd, 2014, 07:59am »

ZETAR,

NOT IN THE LEAST.
I'M QUITE HAPPY TO SING ALONG WITH MY NATIONAL ANTHEM.

ALSO HAPPY TO SING ALONG WITH 'JERUSALEM' AT THE LAST NIGHT OFF THE PROMS.

WHY SHOULD THE DEVIL HAVE ALL THE GOOD TUNES ?

I DO HAVE TROUBLE AT FUNERALS WITH THE LORD'S PRAYER.

I AM TORN BETWEEN RESPECT FOR THE DECEASED AND MY OWN BELIEVE.

I'M AFRAID HYPOCRISY USUALLY WINS.

HAL
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #11802 on: Nov 23rd, 2014, 09:02am »

GOOD MORNING UFOCASEBOOKERS cheesy

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« Reply #11803 on: Nov 23rd, 2014, 2:49pm »

on Nov 23rd, 2014, 07:59am, INT21 wrote:
ZETAR,

NOT IN THE LEAST.
I'M QUITE HAPPY TO SING ALONG WITH MY NATIONAL ANTHEM.

ALSO HAPPY TO SING ALONG WITH 'JERUSALEM' AT THE LAST NIGHT OFF THE PROMS.

WHY SHOULD THE DEVIL HAVE ALL THE GOOD TUNES ?

I DO HAVE TROUBLE AT FUNERALS WITH THE LORD'S PRAYER.

I AM TORN BETWEEN RESPECT FOR THE DECEASED AND MY OWN BELIEVE.

I'M AFRAID HYPOCRISY USUALLY WINS.

HAL
INT21 smiley


Good Manners will get you far in life. Taming ones own belief is a definite sign of a very wise and sensitive man. That hardly makes you a hippocrite. I personally liked the Klingons screaming outwards together in salute to their fallen brethren. This is far more effective , imo, than a 21 gun salute.
I once went to a ufo cult funeral held at night and we released helium balloons into the air, and then shined our laser pointers at them as they rose, and hummed Ommm. I bet that lit up the Mufon boards that night. I shamelessly admit; Thank goodness I did not have to remember lyrics for that one!
It was lots of fun and I must say really makes for a colorful world.

We can learn a lot from believers, and draw comfort from the positive contributions., and even elicit a little envy at times.

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« Reply #11804 on: Nov 24th, 2014, 09:09am »

GOOD MORNING UFOCASEBOOKERS cheesy

Wired

Researchers Uncover Government Spy Tool Used to Hack Telecoms and Belgian Cryptographer

By Kim Zetter
11.24.14 8:59 am

It was the spring of 2011 when the European Commission discovered it had been hacked. The intrusion into the EU’s legislative body was sophisticated and widespread and used a zero-day exploit to get in. Once the attackers established a stronghold on the network, they were in for the long haul. They scouted the network architecture for additional victims and covered their tracks well. Eventually, they infected numerous systems belonging to the European Commission and the European Council before being discovered.

Two years later another big target was hacked. This time it was Belgacom, the partly state-owned Belgian telecom. In this case, too, the attack was sophisticated and complex. According to published news reports and documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the attackers targeted system administrators working for Belgacom and used their credentials to gain access to routers controlling the telecom’s cellular network. Belgacom publicly acknowledged the hack, but has never provided details about the breach.

Then five months after that announcement, news of another high-profile breach emerged—this one another sophisticated hack targeting prominent Belgian cryptographer Jean-Jacques Quisquater.

Now it appears that security researchers have found the massive digital spy tool used in all three attacks. Dubbed “Regin” by Microsoft, more than a hundred victims have been found to date, but there are likely many others still unknown. That’s because the espionage tool—a malicious platform capable of taking over entire networks and infrastructures—has been around since at least 2008, possibly even earlier, and is built to remain stealth on a system for years.

The threat has been known since at least 2011, around the time the EU was hacked and some of the attack files made their way to Microsoft, who added detection for the component to its security software. Researchers with Kaspersky Lab only began tracking the threat in 2012, collecting bits and pieces of the massive threat. Symantec began investigating it last year after some of its customers were infected. Putting together information from each, it’s clear the platform is highly complex and modulated and can be customized with a wide range of capabilities depending on the target and the attackers’ needs. Researchers have found 50 payloads so far for stealing files and other data, but have evidence that still more exist.

“It’s a threat that everyone has detected for some time, but no one has exposed [until now],” says Eric Chien, technical director of Symantec’s Security Technology and Response division.

The Most Sophisticated Spy Tool Yet

The researchers have no doubt that Regin is a nation-state tool and are calling it the most sophisticated espionage machine uncovered to date—more complex even than the massive Flame platform, uncovered by Kaspersky and Symantec in 2012 and crafted by the same team who created Stuxnet.

“In the world of malware threats, only a few rare examples can truly be considered groundbreaking and almost peerless,” writes Symantec in its report about Regin.

Though no one is willing to speculate on the record about Regin’s source, news reports about the Belgacom and Quisquater hacks pointed a finger at GCHQ and the NSA. Kaspersky confirms that Quisqater was infected with Regin, and other researchers familiar with the Belgacom attack have told WIRED that the description of Regin fits the malware that targeted the telecom, though the malicious files used in that attack were given a different name, based on something investigators found inside the platform’s main file.

Victims are located in multiple countries. Kaspersky has found them in Algeria, Afghanistan, Belgium, Brazil, Fiji, Germany, Iran, India, Malaysia, Syria, Pakistan, Russia and the small Pacific island of Kiribati. The majority of victims Symantec has tracked are located in Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Targets include entire networks, not just individuals, among them telecoms in multiple countries, as well as government agencies, research institutes and academics (particularly those doing advanced mathematics and cryptography, like Quisquater). Symantec has also found hotels infected. These are likely targeted for their reservation systems, which can provide valuable intelligence about visiting guests.

But perhaps the most significant aspect of Regin is its ability to target GSM base stations of cellular networks. The malicious arsenal includes a payload that Kaspersky says was used in 2008 to steal the usernames and passwords of system administrators of a telecom somewhere in the Middle East. Armed with these credentials, the attackers would have been able to access GSM base station controllers—the part of a cellular network that controls transceiver stations—to manipulate the systems or even install malicious code to monitor cellular traffic. They could also conceivably have shut down the cellular network—for example, during an invasion of the country or other unrest.

Kaspersky won’t identify the telecom or country where this GSM attack hack occurred, but it must be either Afghanistan, Iran, Syria or Pakistan, as out of Kaspersky’s list of countries with Regin infections, only those four are in the Middle East.

The Path to Discovery

The Regin platform made its first public appearance in 2009 when someone uploaded components of the tool to the VirusTotal web site. VirusTotal is a free web site that aggregates dozens of anti-virus scanners. Researchers, and anyone else who finds a suspicious file on their system, can upload the file to the site to see if the scanners consider it malicious.

No one apparently noticed this upload in 2009, however. It wasn’t until March 9, 2011 that Microsoft appeared to take note around the time that more files were uploaded to VirusTotal. Microsoft announced it had added detection for a trojan called Regin.A to its security software. The following day, it made the same announcement about a variant called Regin.B. Some in the security community believe the files uploaded to VirusTotal in 2011 might have come from the European Commission or from a security firm hired to investigate its breach.

Guido Vervaet, the EU Commission’s director of security who investigated the breach, wouldn’t discuss it other than to say it was “quite” extensive and very sophisticated, with a “complex architecture.” He says the attackers used a zero-day exploit to get it but wouldn’t say what vulnerability they attacked. The attack was uncovered by system administrators only when certain systems began malfunctioning. Asked if the attackers used the same malware that struck Belgacom, Vervaet couldn’t say for sure. “It was not one piece of software; it was an architecture [that] was not just one component but a series of elements working together. We have analyzed the architecture of the attack, which was quite sophisticated and similar to other cases that we know of in other organizations” but internally they were unable to come to any conclusion “that it was the same attack or the same wrongdoers.”

Vervaet wouldn’t say when the intrusion began or how long the invaders had been in the EU network, but documents released by Snowden last year discussed NSA operations that had targeted the EU Commission and Council. Those documents were dated 2010.

There are currently two known versions of Regin in the wild. Version 1.0 dates back to at least 2008 but disappeared in 2011 the same year Microsoft released signatures to detect its trojan. Version 2.0 popped up in 2013, though it may have been used earlier than this. Researchers have found some Regin files with timestamps dating to 2003 and 2006, though it’s not clear if the timestamps are accurate.

O’Murchu says the threat landscape in 2008 was much different than it is today and this likely contributed to Regin remaining stealth for so long. “I don’t think we realized attackers were working on this level until we saw things like Stuxnet and Duqu and we realized they’d been on this level for quite some time.” Those discoveries prompted researchers to begin looking for threats in different ways.

more after the jump:
http://www.wired.com/2014/11/mysteries-of-the-malware-regin/

Crystal


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