Lost Packets: January 5th

Hackers have found a new way to deface a Web site: The phony FBI take-down. Late last week a “handful” of Web sites were hacked and then defaced with a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seal as well as an antipiracy warning claiming that the site had been seized by the law enforcement organization, said Paul Bresson, an FBI spokesman. The sites being hacked were mostly gaming sites, he said. Bresson declined to say what Web sites had been hit with the attacks. “I’m not sure if it’s financially motivated,” he said. In some cases, hackers also changed domain name registration information to make it look as if the FBI now owned the Web site, he added. Although these attacks are not widespread, the FBI is concerned any time its name is misused, Bresson said.

Software that can predict would-be killers? The crime rate in Philadelphia may be worse than people thought. The city is working with University of Pennsylvania criminologist Richard Berk to develop software that can forecast who might commit murder. While the software sounds like something straight out of Minority Report, a Philadelphia Inquirer story said using data from the Philadelphia probation department, Berk and three colleagues have built a model for predicting which troublemakers already in the prison system are most likely to kill or attempt a killing or “future lethality,” as Berk calls it. The story reported that initial research suggests the software-based system can make it 40 times more likely for case workers to accurately predict murder than they can using current practices.

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