Sunday, June 13, 2010

"60 Minutes" recycles on June 13

The first story on "60 Minutes" on June 13, 2010 ["Cyber War"] originally appeared on the November 5, 2009 show and included text on social security numbers:

Another case you have probably not heard anything about involves an extortion plot against the state of Virginia. Earlier this year, a hacker got into a medical database and stole millions of patients' prescription records and then followed it up with a ransom note.

"The note said, 'I have your…' - I can't say that word on television - stuff, we'll call it 'in my possession right now,'" Kroft said.

The hacker went on to write, "I've made an encrypted backup and deleted the original. For $10 million, I will gladly send along the password."

The state of Virginia says it was eventually able to restore the system. But the stolen information, including names, Social Security numbers and prescriptions can be used, sold or exploited according to the FBI.

"Did the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program pay the $10 million?" Kroft asked Henry.

"I can't discuss that," he replied.

"But you say this is an active investigation. I mean, this is a matter of public record. I mean, this actually happened," Kroft remarked.

"This is an active investigation that we're still involved in, and we are coordinating with the victim. They're cooperating with us, and we're actively involved with them and other state and local law enforcement agencies," Henry said.

Asked whoever did this is still at large, Henry told Kroft, "I imagine."

The incident happened in May 2009, and FoxNews had reported on May 7, 2009:

The FBI is investigating a $10 million ransom demand by a hacker or hackers who say they have stolen nearly 8.3 million patient records from a Virginia government Web site that tracks prescription drug abuse, an FBI official confirmed Wednesday.

One notes that "60 Minutes" on 13 June 2010 did NOT present any updates on the Virginia story of the hack of confidential information, including theft of social security numbers.

There is an oblique connection in a story titled
IT boss says public-safety agencies data will be secure , which appeared in May 2010:

[ Samuel A. ] Nixon, an IT expert who helped write the legislation that created VITA [Virginia Information Technologies Agency ] in 2003, said the contract revisions make for "more clarity" in what's expected of Northrop Grumman and the agency.

As for Northrop Grumman, which is moving its corporate headquarters from Los Angeles to Northern Virginia, Nixon said, "We want consistent, predictable results from them."

The other story on "60 Minutes" was a repeat of the Bob Ballard (of Titanic fame) story from November 2009. One snippet was about acadamic research and a star system:

He also acknowledged it doesn't hurt to be known as the guy who found the Titanic, but he said that comes with baggage. "Science is a 'we,' not an 'I.' It truly is. I didn't do anything. We did a lot of things. But in our system, in America, we have this star-based system. Star athletes, star news people, star politicians. And stars are 'I.' And the academic world is really, honestly a 'we.'"

"But you're the star quarterback," Logan said.

"I'm the star. But it can get you in trouble in that world that doesn't believe in that star-based system," Ballard said.

One needs to ponder the words -- that world that doesn't believe in that star-based system --.
In some sense, there is a star-based system in science, tho crossing the line into "science by press release" is problematic.
Of actual star systems, recall the Sticklen/Michigan State matter, wherein a more well-known scientist used referee-status to prey upon lessor known scientists. In law, think about Laurence Tribe using Abraham's text. Better known academicians ("stars") can victimize the less-well known. "Stars" can have better credibility. Think way back to the radar/water problem, wherein the better known Van Vleck dominated the (then) less known Townes, even though Townes turned out to be correct.


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