Archive for November, 2011

Abu Dhabi update

November 30th, 2011

Al Hallab camel competiton returns just before the start of the fifth Al Dhafra festival in Zahyed City Al Gharbi

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) yesterday announced that the ‘Footsteps of Thesiger’ expedition team has now entered the UAE having reached the half way point of their 1,500km trek from Salalah in Oman to Abu Dhabi.

National day – Dubai – Synergy

November 30th, 2011

As the U.A.E. nation clerbrats tis 40th anniversary Synergy also celebrates its 20th anniversary of receiving its first Trade registration in November 1991. We have seen many changes in that time, for example  regional wars,  oil prices below $20 and above $100, surging rents, unprecedented construciotn projects, revoltuionary developments in IT – in those days email and Internet were almost unknown concepts , mobile phones were like  house bricks and no touch screen, no facebook no Twitter no sms text no Google – no Internet city.

For those who have moved to Dubai in the last 2 years – a high percentage of the population – the metro , Festival City, Emirates Mall, the Marina, Burj Kalifa and Downtown Dubai, are established venues that 5 years ago were barely on the planning board and Dubai more or less  stopped at the now shut down and now barely visible Hard Rock cafe .

So like Dubai we have  grown, but had to adapt, and we thank our staff and our customers for helping us reach our own milestone to be here to congratulate the U.A.E. on its 40 th anniversary.  Our own small celebrations are planned for Friday so come an denjoy yourselves -10 a.m  till 1pm.

We offer  a note of caution for those celebrating over the weekend  – avoid drink driving – not only is this a muslin coiuntry but there is zero tolerance and the courts recently handed out the longest prison sentence for drunk driving. There is also bad weeather coming in from the West – so please think carefully  before indulging in water sports in rough seas,  or venturing into the desert or along wadis where there may be flash floods.

Saudi miltant group hack AT&T – penetration testing Dubai

November 29th, 2011

The FBI and Philippine police have arrested four people over a hacking operation on US telecommunications firm AT&T, designed to funnel money to a Saudi-based militant group, according to Reuters.

 The four people arrested last week in Manila were allegedly paid by the same group the FBI accuses of having funded the Mumbai attacks in 2008, according to the Philippines’ Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said.

 AT&T lost approximately $2 million as a result of the hack, the CIDG told Reuters in a statement.  The hackers broke into the AT&T phone system and made calls on customer’s accounts to expensive international premium-rate services.

To esnure your network is secure ask about our advanced pentraiton testing .

National Day 2011

November 28th, 2011

Dubai Rally to run on National Day weekend

Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the UAE and given the full support of the Dubai Ruler’s Court the 33rd Dubai International Rally, the final round of the 2011 FIA Middle East Rally Championship, will be staged on UAE National Day weekend December 1-3. under the patronage of Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture.

The Dubai International Rally has over the years provided many classic and memorable battles between the Middle East’s top drivers, and has special significance as as the first annual sporting event staged in the Emirates and the starting point for today’s multi-discipline motorsport calendar, headlined by the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is controlled by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) on behalf of the FIA, the world governing body.

The rally action begins at 9am the following day from High Colleges of Technology, and after 12 special stages in a route totalling 802km, the event finishes at 4.30pm on Saturday, December 3, back on Emaar Boulevard, Old Town Dubai.

Deira  mall will also be running a Facebook competition where fans are asked to submit UAE-inspired heart photos. Incorporating the UAE colours, pictures that receive the most likes can win shopping sprees at Deira City Centre worth AED 5,000, AED 3,000 and AED 1,000! Dubai’s first-ever mall Deira City Centre, is revealing a news headline exhibition of the UAE’s most memorable stories from nearly 40 years. On display at the mall’s Central Stage, this enlightening exhibition recognizes all aspects of the nation’s life and heritage .

At the Burj Al Arab the  longest, and biggest, UAE flag will be on display in the hotel lobby, and projected onto the hotel’s exterior. A National Day-themed cake will be also be on display within the Sahn Eddar lobby, and each visitor will be provided with a UAE National Day book showcasing the momentous growth and prosperity of this great nation .

Today n the presence of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, Dubai Women’s College has organized a seriers of events in celebration of the UAE 40th National Day. 11:15:00 – 21:00:00 DWC Campus Dubai

The main event marking the National Day celebrations in Dubai will be held at the Heritage Village in Shindaga area

Major Saeed Obaid Bin Aran, director of the traffic department at Umm Al Quwain, said it was decided to reduce the traffic fines 50 per cent on the occasion of the UAE National Day.The offer will take effect from November 27 until the end of December, he said. Obaid urged all motorists to take advantage of this grace period and renew the registration of their vehicles.The discount in fines applies to all traffic fines before November 27 this year, Obaid added.

UAE Ballooning Championship – Thursday, 1 December 2011 to Saturday, 3 December 2011 -17:00:00 – 19:00:00
Dubai There will be specialty flying competition between the pilotsfor the crowds to watch.


30 November 2011 to 3 December 2011 – 5:00 pm – 1:00 am, Abu Dhabi Corniche. Along the shoreline of the famous Abu Dhabi corniche an action packed, thrilling entertainment festival  including

 30 November Armed Forces Air Show 16:00:00 – 17:15:00,

Traditional live show 30 November 2011 to 3 December 2011 – 05:00 PM – 12:00 PM

Emarati Fashion Show

30 November 2011 05:00 PM – 12:00 PM UAE Fashion show for the traditional dresses since the establishment of the United Arab Emirates to the present time

The Global Champions Tour Grand Prix 30 November 2011 16:00 – 17:15, Al Forsan International Sports Resort
The top ranked riders in the world .

Lots lots more in Ajman, Al Ain RAK, Fujeirah and almost every schol and university.See Sega World and Dubai Aquarium and Dubai LAdies Club and so on
Its 40 years this year since my graduation so thanks to everyone for helping me celebrate! –  and I hope you all have a great weekend celebrating the U.A.E.’s 40th in style.

Security, security, security

November 28th, 2011

Fraudulent emails in spam traffic increased by 2000% in Q3 2011, in Q2 2011, fraudulent emails made up 0.1% of spam volume; this has increased to 2% of all spam traffic in Q3.  It may not sound a lot but its one in every 50 mails which is a lot of wasted time and space and bandwidth.

 Spammers use a  social engineering techniques  including; sending email offers on behalf of online games to steal usernames and passwords and fake notifications from major organisations which then link to a phishing resource. Spammers also use multi-stage attacks such as messages inviting recipients to take part in a survey and win money for doing so. . After submitting the survey, they are redirected to a further form asking for their full credit card details in order to process the promised payment. The information is then likely to be used to clean out accounts, rather than pay out cash.

More and more spam comes from developing countries. India (+0.7 percentage points), Indonesia (+4.7 percentage points) and Brazil (+0.8 percentage points) were the top three sources of spam reported by Kasperky labs..

The android platform seems to be the main target for malware.  

The Duqu Trojan captured the attention of the world this month because of its similarities to the first major cyber weapon, the Stuxnet worm. The similarities between the two malicious programs suggest they were both written by the same group of people or the Stuxnet source code was used.  However, instead of directly affecting the uranium enrichment process like Stuxnet, Duqu is more of an industrial espionage tool. Duqu files include an additional Trojan-Spy module capable of intercepting data entered via the keyboard, capturing screenshots and gathering information about the system. New Duqu victims were discovered by Kaspersky, primarily in Iran.

Saudi Arabia remains the most spammed country, both in the Middle East and globally with a spam rate of 84%.

September’s spam levels remained fairly stable, but many spammers took advantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of WordPress blogging software on a large range of websites across the globe. The WordPress blogs themselves appear to not be compromised.

Sumantec figures indcacte:

The automotive industry sector remained as the most spammed industry sector, with a spam rate of 77.8% in September, followed by the education sector at 77.2% and 74.6% for the chemical & pharmaceuticals, 74.4% for IT services, 74.3% for retail, 74.5% for public sector and 74.3% for finance.

 The Public Sector remained the most targeted by phishing activity in September, with one in 125.8 emails comprising a phishing attack. The chemical and pharmaceutical sector had the highest rate of virus attacks at in 104.5.

Ask about our solutions for setting, enforcing and auditing IT policy -even at command line level.

U.K. travel disruption

November 27th, 2011

The UK Border Agency has announced they will be on strike on 30 November,” said a statement on the Emirates Airline website. All Emirates flights to/from the UK on that day may be disrupted or forced to be cancelled.”

Etihad Airways said on its website that the strike would start from 12.01am Wednesday UK time until midnight on Thursday. and will most likely affect operations at all UK border crossings and has the potential to cause disruption at all UK airports.

Other U.K. public sector strikes are also anticipated as a result of the economic austerity.

Makes a change from last year’s volcano and ice and snow.  with the UK being one of the few countries to take firm action to cut costs in line with income and to also introduce quantititive easing to cushion the economy it is disappointing that anyone should think that strikes will somehow make things better. Greece and Egypt are just two   fmany countries that are finding its easy to protest but the result is even less confidence from the financial market  and it does not make it any  easier to come up with solutions.    Dubai weathered a debt crisis but not without pain  , part of its recovery this year is down to the fact that is seen be stable boih politically and economically.

Protesting about a world ecominc crisis iw as effective as protesting about the sun rising.  I hope the U.K does not fall into this trap when it has done much to put it house in order.  Otherwise i will again miss Chirstmas at home.

UAE National Id card – fines

November 27th, 2011

The Emirates ID Authority has seen a surge in applications from UAE residents for ID cards, following the threat of an up to AED20 daily penalty for those not holding a valid card.  Today it is registering more than 17,000 people a day.

Each card contains the holder’s address, photo, date of birth and fingerprints, and can be used as an official source of identification in the Gulf state. In November, EIDA introduced fines for UAE nationals who failed to apply for ID cards before the final deadline of June 30 this year, in a bid to boost the number of card holders.Fines of AED20 per day were issued for late registration, failure to renew cards and failure to update important biographical data, with a maximum fee of AED 1,000.

Expatriates in all emirates except Sharjah and Dubai must have, or have applied for, an ID card to renew their residency visa. Sharjah intends to enforce the same ruling from Dec 1.In July, Dubai ruled that workers in any of Tecom’s 11 free zones would need to register for an ID card before applying to renew to secure their visa.

Fines for late registration and non-renewal among expats are being gradually introduced, with the northern emirates subject to fees from Dec 1, Sharjah from Feb 1, Abu Dhabi from April 1 and Dubai from June 1.

UAE government will  increasingly require expatriates and nationals to present ID cards when dealing with federal agencies . To date, only Ajman has linked all of its government services, including Ministry of Interior services, to the ID card. Abu Dhabi requires emirates ID for car registrations and traffic services, and Dubai requests the document for other transactions, such as monthly metro passes.

Al Khoury said he expected ID cards to be linked with all government processes in all emirates within two years.

“Our strategy assumes that the whole population will be enrolled in the program by the end of 2013.”

Note this also applies to  resident dependents.

Insecure passwords

November 26th, 2011

Users rely on dangerously simple passwords, such as strings of sequential numbers (“123456” or “654321”), series of letters that sit side by side on keyboards (“qwerty” and “qazwsx”), or passwords that demonstrate little to no imagination (“password” and “111111”). Other users avoid overly common words or strings of numbers and letters in favor of proper names, types of animals, interests, or short sentences but  many users think alike, and  rely on passwords such as “michael,” “monkey,” “baseball,” and “iloveyou,” all of which reside on SplashData’s top 25 list.

The complete list, which SplashData compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers, and the top 25 most common passwords indentified by hackers are:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football

Why doe sit matter?

Data from Norway’s oil and defense industries may have been stolen in what is feared to be one of the most extensive data  espionage cases in the country’s history, security  officials from  the Norwegian National Security Authority said last week,. At least 10 different attacks, mostly aimed at the oil, gas, energy and defense industries, were discovered in the past year, but the agency said it has to assume the number is much higher because many victims have yet to realize that their computers have been hacked.

Bringing back memories of the Sony PlayStation hack that compromised thousands of gamer accounts, some British Microsoft  Xbox Live users have been scammed in a phishing attack. Although Microsoft insists its network  has not been hacked, the phishers have nonetheless fooled some gamers into disclosing credit-card information .

The Sun, a paper in the U.K., first reported that online crooks hacked into thousands of Xbox Live accounts to steal millions of dollars. The paper said the average catch was 100 British pounds, or a bit over $150 — but that many suffered losses of more than 200 pounds.

, Microsoft is warning people against opening unsolicited e-mails because the messages may contain spyware or other malware that can access  personal information on their computer  without their knowledge or permission. Microsoft is also reminding all customers that they should be very careful to keep all personal information secure  whenever online and never supply e-mail addresses, passwords or credit card information to strangers.

News reports have suggested the phishers convinced gamers to enter the information in exchange for reward points. Enderle expects most credit card companies will indemnify the victims if they dispute the charges.

A  warning for anyone using the Internet: If someone is representing themselves as the vendor, they already have your password and ID. They don’t have to ask you for it So it should be a red flag if anybody asks you for both your password or ID. Never provide it, even if the site looks to be safe.

Meanwhile in the UAE a recent news article claims in 4 facebook users locally have been targets of various scams.

A less well known privacy debate is brewing around Facebook: What Facebook is learning about those who visit its web site. Facebook officials are now acknowledging that the social-media giant has been able to create a running log of the web pages that each of its 800 million members has visited during the previous 90 days, via tracking cookies. In recent weeks, Facebook has been wrangling with the Federal Trade Commission about whether the social-media Web site is violating users’ privacy by making public too much of their personal information Relevant Products/Services.

Far more quietly, another debate is brewing about a different side of online privacy: what Facebook is learning about those who visit its Web site. the company relies on tracking cookie technologies similar to the controversial systems used by Google, Adobe, Microsoft , Yahoo and others in the online advertising industry, says Arturo Bejar, Facebook’s engineering director.

Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2008 SP2/SP3 are available

November 26th, 2011

 Microsoft has jsut released two new cumulative updates for the SQL Server 2008 platform.
Cumulative Update #7 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2

Cumulative Update #2 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3

Note: These updates are for SQL Server 2008, *NOT* for SQL Server 2008 R2. Check SELECT @@VERSION; if it shows 10.50.xxxx and not 10.00.xxxx, you’re in the wrong place. 🙂

Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2008 SP2/SP3 are available

Very early this morning, Microsoft released two new cumulative updates for the SQL Server 2008 platform.

Cumulative Update #7 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 2

Cumulative Update #2 for SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3

Note: These updates are for SQL Server 2008, *NOT* for SQL Server 2008 R2.

Check SELECT @@VERSION; if it shows 10.50.xxxx and not 10.00.xxxx, then you’re in the wrong place. 🙂

Emirates Winter

November 26th, 2011

Lewis De Mesa  –  time-lapse masterpiece Emirates Winter.

Even if you’re a long time resident of the UAE, you’ll be amazed at the images that Lewis has managed to capture on his journey around the seven Emirates, each one unique and taken from a completely different viewpoint.

Lewis started his project in January 2011 and finally completed shooting in May of this year. Lewis’s incredible journey saw him travel around 4,000 kilometres, visiting Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.