INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from AP News
As people return to work after summer vacations, it’s a good time to make sure everyone in the organization is sensitive to the need for computer security. Here are some basics that bosses should emphasize to their staffers:
Start with creating a strong password. It’s probably a good idea for the company to have minimum requirements for passwords used to access its systems. Those requirements should include a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Many businesses are using two-factor authentication, which requires people to enter a code in addition to the login/password combination. They may also require staffers to periodically change their passwords.
The IRS has guidelines for creating passwords on its website, www.irs.gov ; search for “Tax Tip 2018-129.” While the information is intended for tax professionals, it is useful for anyone.
Bosses should remind everyone to be vigilant about phishing scams, which can plant malicious software on a computer or phone. Everyone should understand that they shouldn’t click on any link or attachment in an email unless they’re sure it’s legitimate. It should be standard operating procedure to check a sender’s email address to be sure it’s correct and not suspicious, and the body of an email should be checked for any oddities that can be hallmarks of phishing scams.
As new staffers are trained, they should learn about the kinds of emails they can expect to receive. The more familiar they are with a company’s customers, vendors and other contacts, the better they’ll be at spotting suspicious emails.
LOCKING PHONES AND LAPTOPS
Staffers who can access the company’s systems including its email via smartphones and laptops — whether they’re personal or company-provided — should be required to lock their devices with codes or passwords.
If the company has an information technology staffer or department, it should be aware of security and other updates issued by Microsoft and other companies. Each company device should be updated. If there isn’t a dedicated IT staffer, the owner or another manager needs to be sure that all updates are downloaded.
THE OWNER’S RESPONSIBILITY
A survey issued earlier this year by insurer Hiscox found that only half of small businesses said they had a clear cybersecurity strategy. Making systems as secure as possible often gets put on the back burner while an owner works with customers and staffers.
Companies without IT staffers should consider bringing in a consultant who can assess what’s needed to increase security. Among the items companies need are anti-virus and anti-malware software, firewalls, encryption software and offsite storage that continually creates new versions of all of a company’s data. Those versions will be critical if a company’s computers are victims of ransomware attacks that render files and documents unusable.
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Reposted from ArtNet
The ancient city of Palmyra, which has been badly damaged by ISIS, could reopen to tourists as early as next summer, the Syrian government has announced. The historic site, located in Syria’s Homs Governate province, was once among the country’s top attractions, with as many as 150,000 visitors a year.
“The authorities now have a project to repair all the damage caused to Palmyra’s Old City,” Talal Barazi, the provincial governor of Homs, told Sputnik News. “This is the world history and it belongs not only to Syria,” he added noting that UNESCO, Russia, Poland, and Italy are among the countries and institutions which have pledged to offer assistance in Syria’s efforts “to restore the artifacts and historical value of Palmyra.”
Once called the “Pearl of the desert,” Palmyra, famous for its well-preserved Greco-Roman ruins, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, renowned for its unique blend of Greek, Roman, Persian, and Islamic cultures. In 2013, following the 2011 outbreak of the Syrian Civil War and the rise of ISIS, it was added to the list of endangered world heritage sites.
Since that time, ISIS has twice occupied Palmyra, first beginning in May 2015. The government expelled the terrorist group from the ancient city in March 2016, only to lose it again in December of that year. After two years of protracted battles, the Syrian Army retook the site for good in March of 2017—but not before the terrorist group had destroyed some of the city’s most historic treasures.
While it controlled the historic site, ISIS publicly beheaded Palmyra’s 82-year-old head of antiquities, Khalid al-As’ad, when he refused to reveal where he had hidden important statue. The group destroyed such ancient wonders as the Temple of Bel, the Temple of Baal Shamin, the Arch of Triumph, and columns in the Valley of the Tombs. (The terrorist group has wrought similar cultural destruction throughout Syria and Iraq, a cultural cleansing effort to eliminate evidence of non-Islamic history.)
Since the city was retaken, UNESCO has been leading the charge for its restoration and recovery, with a $150,000 “Emergency Safeguarding” project for the Portico of the Temple of Bel. The organization has deplored “the destruction of Syria’s exceptional archaeological, urban, and architectural heritage,” which includes five other World Heritage Sites.
The nearby city of Homs is also being restored at an estimated cost of $2 billion, reports the Art Newspaper. The reconstruction of its 2,000-year-old central market, which began three years ago, should be complete by spring 2019.
In October, the National Museum of Damascus successfully completed restoration work on the 2,000-year old limestone Lion of Al-lāt statue, a 15-ton piece sculpture that had been broken into pieces by ISIS. Two funerary statues secreted out of the city by Al-As’ad were restored last year by Italian experts, who reconstructed broken fragments using 3-D printing and nylon powder.
“When I saw the destruction for the first time, I was hit with such distress,” Daria Montemaggiori, part of the restoration team at Rome’s Central Restoration Institute, told CNN. “The work of restoration allows us to erase the act of violence.”
Additional restoration work on statues and sculptures recovered from Palmyra is taking place in Damascus, with the assistance of specialists from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. The terrorist group smashed large-scale artworks from the Museum of Palmyra that workers were unable to remove for safekeeping ahead of the occupation.
“The work is very complicated; the terrorists have broken the sculptures into many pieces,” Maher al-Jubari, the director of the laboratory of national museums in Syria, told the Telegraph. “We collected everything in one box and marked the parts. Now my task is to glue them together with a special solution.”
Reposted from The Boston Globe
Why, 28 years later, is the mystery of the Gardner art heist still so irresistible? With a $10 million reward on offer, how hasn’t a single piece of the half-billion-dollar haul surfaced? Gone in 81 minutes, how have the Gardner thieves escaped capture for so long?
With first-ever interviews, unprecedented access and over a year of investigative reporting, “Last Seen” takes us inside the ongoing effort to bring back the jewels of the Gardner collection.
Persons featured in the first episodes:
Anthony Amore has worked as security director for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum since 2005. In his role at the museum, he also is responsible for assisting the FBI in solving the heist. By his own account, Amore still speaks at least daily with Geoffrey Kelly, the top FBI agent on the case, and works with him to pursue leads, conduct interviews, communicate with reporters, art investigators and even members of the public about the case. He has even accompanied federal agents on the numerous searches of homes and other properties.
Over the years, he has become a consultant specializing in art theft and museum security. He has written two books: “Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Story of Notorious Art Heists” (with reporter Tom Mashberg) in 2011 and “The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds and Forgeries in the Art World” in 2015. In 2018, he ran on the Republican ticket for the office of Secretary of State in Massachusetts.
Amore says he will not rest until the paintings are found. While maintaining confidentiality of the criminal investigation, Amore has said publicly he believes the heist was the work of a local criminal gang, with assistance from someone inside the museum. He believes the artwork has been stashed somewhere nearby.
Anne Hawley was the director of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum when it was robbed in 1990. She had only been on the job for a matter of months when the theft occurred. The fourth director since Gardner died in 1924, Hawley’s mission was to restore vitality to the museum, which had begun to fray because of inadequate fundraising. Haunted by the loss of the masterworks and concerned that the FBI wasn’t giving the case adequate attention, Hawley took an active role in the probe. She hired a private investigative firm, encouraged Boston’s business and political leaders to get involved and even pursued leads herself. Before retiring in 2015, Hawley led a $118 million fundraising campaign that built an extension to the museum designed by famed architect Renzo Piano.
Born in 1840, Isabella Stewart Gardner became a force of nature in Boston society and a leading American art collector. A Boston newspaper in 1875 called her “one of the seven wonders of Boston.” The newspaper noted: “There is nobody like her in any city in this country. Everything she does is novel and original. She is as brilliant as her own diamonds and is as attractive. Boston is divided into two parts of which one follows science and the other, Mrs. Jack Gardner.” As a young woman, she spent her time cultivating fascinating people -- mostly young, beautiful, creative men -- and was a philanthropic force in the city. She inherited her father’s fortune and collected art. Toward the end of her life, Gardner wrote to a friend: “Years ago, I decided that the greatest need in our country was art.” And that is what she left behind in the Renaissance-style Venetian palazzo known as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Richard (Rick) Abath, 23, worked as a night watchman and made the grievous error of allowing the thieves into the museum. Authorities have long suspected that Abath, who now lives and works as a teacher’s aide in Vermont, may have been complicit. He’s cooperated fully with investigators throughout the process and claims he has passed FBI lie detector tests. However, suspicions around Abath’s possible involvement in the robbery arose again when investigators discovered the museum’s motion detector equipment had not picked up the presence of the two thieves in the museum’s Blue Room, where a Manet portrait was snatched. The last movement detected that night had been Abath’s footsteps on his initial patrol rounds.
Randy was the second security guard working on the night of the heist. This podcast is the first time he has spoken publicly about what happened that night, and has asked us to not use his last name. In 1990, he was working to land gigs as a musician, but worked at the museum to make ends meet. He had recently earned a masters in performance from the New England Conservatory of Music and had a passion for symphonic music. On the night of the heist, he wasn’t scheduled to work, but was called in because another guard called out sick. Today, he makes his money playing music, mostly on cruise ships.
Follow this link to listen to the podcast and to see the original post.
Founding Director, Stevan P. Layne, CPP, CIPM, CIPI, was honored as one of Security Magazine’s Most Influential People in Security this month.
“In 1999, I recognized the need for a positive training source for security officers, supervisors and managers,” Layne says. “Together with my son and other leaders in the industry, we formed the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection. We continue to train candidates for certification at leading institutions throughout the U.S. and abroad, and are recognized as setting the standard for best practices in protecting cultural properties and public institutions.”
Layne is the author of “Safeguarding Cultural Properties,” “The Cultural Property Protection Manual” and co-author of “Suggested Guidelines in Museum Security.” He has authored national certification programs for security officers, supervisors, managers and instructors, and he presents seminars, workshops and keynotes for state, regional and national associations.
He has served as protection adviser to more than 500 institutions, crime prevention coordinator for several law enforcement agencies, and special instructor for the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy, among others.
Layne is a graduate of Missouri Military Academy, the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Candidate School, Career Officer Military Police Program, and the FBI Police Management Program.
For future security and law enforcement professionals, Layne says: “There is considerable competition for leading roles in both security and law enforcement management. It is strongly recommended for those wishing to advance in this field to gain a positive combination of field experience and academic achievement. Many excellent opportunities are lost in the interview process. Learn about the positive traits interviewers look for, and be prepared to make a positive impression. This includes what you wear, your personal hygiene and your ability to directly answer questions.”
Reposted from The Washington Post
Around midday on April 15, 1958, New York’s Museum of Modern Art erupted in flames. The three-alarm fire spread rapidly, threatening the world’s preeminent collection of 20th-century paintings and leaving nearly 200 people stranded on the building’s roof.
In the end, firefighters controlled the blaze and — thanks to heroic efforts by museum staff — the collection was largely unscathed. Staffers carried a group of major Georges Seurat paintings, including his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” on a rare loan from the Art Institute of Chicago, to safety in an adjacent building. Nonetheless, one of Claude Monet’s largest “Water Lilies” paintings was destroyed and several other works severely damaged.
In the days since a horrific fire engulfed the National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, the world has reacted with outrage and horror at the gutting of the largest treasure house of natural history in Latin America. Brazilians have been quick to blame the devastation on government mismanagement, drastic budget cuts and a general neglect of the country’s cultural heritage.
Yet as the 1958 MoMA conflagration reminds us, fires and other natural hazards have long posed as much a threat to leading museums in the United States and Europe as they have to their less wealthy counterparts in other parts of the world. In the United States, the long history of fires goes back to the early years of museum-building — and continues to the present day.
In 1865, the American Museum — a popular New York City collection of historic artifacts, taxidermied animals and live animals owned by showman P.T. Barnum — caught fire and burned down so quickly that two whales were boiled alive in their tanks. In June, a fire destroyed the Aberdeen Museum of History in Aberdeen, Wash., which contained thousands of local artifacts.
Already in the early 20th century, there was widespread demand for “fireproof” museum buildings, but sprinkler systems can pose risks of their own. In the MoMA fire, some of the damage was caused by water from the building’s own firefighting standpipes. (Paradoxically, the MoMA fire was caused by workers trying to install a better air-conditioning system, another step aimed at protecting the art.)
Today there is also the growing menace of climate change. In recent years, art capitals ranging from Miami to Los Angeles have faced hurricanes, floods and wildfires, with art museums often perilously close to the front lines.
Consider the Netherlands. The country has long been known for state-of-the-art sea barriers and flood-fighting expertise. But in Rotterdam, where 90 percent of the city is below sea level, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which houses a world-renowned collection of Old Masters and modern European art, has faced five floods in the past 14 years that have threatened the collection.
During a flood in 2013, torrential rain short-circuited the water pumps in the Boijmans’s art storage area and water began streaming in. Sjarel Ex, the museum’s director, faced a terrible decision: Emergency workers could divert the water away from the rooms with the paintings. But this would likely sacrifice the museum’s collection of historic books.
At the last minute, museum staff were able to use enormous extension cords to reconnect the pumps and save the collection. But the near-calamity was galvanizing. Now, the museum is building a $70 million-plus , aboveground art “depot” by Dutch architectural firm MVRDV to store 145,000 museum works in a totally floodproof environment. (Shaped like a giant reflective sugar bowl, it will be open to the public.)
For the most deep-pocketed museums, special measures can help stave off the worst threats. The Getty Center in Los Angeles sits on a hilltop in an area of frequent earthquakes and wildfires. But with an endowment of nearly $7 billion, it has been able to invest extensively in protective technologies. Its billion-dollar campus features thick walls of fire-resistant travertine stone, a million-gallon water tank and a system of irrigation pipes that can soak the perimeter if needed. It has also developed display cases that isolate artworks from seismic activity.
Today the Getty is considered one of the safer places for art in Los Angeles. When a devastating fire seared the surrounding hillsides last winter, firefighters used the Getty as a base for monitoring the area.
Other museums are starting to take note. Completed in 2015, the new, $422 million Whitney Museum of American Art, which is close to the Hudson River, has been called one of the most flood-proof buildings in New York.
Most museum buildings, however, predate recent innovations, and, in the face of growing operating expenses and shrinking budgets, few are prepared to allocate scarce resources for disaster preparation. As J. Andrew Wilson, a museum adviser and former head of the Smithsonian’s fire protection program, has observed, “There exists a cavalier attitude in this country that ‘fire won’t happen to me.’ ”
As we witness the Brazil tragedy, it may be all too easy to conclude that this is a poor-country problem. It’s not. It is a warning for all of us.
Until we begin to address the critical man-made and environmental threats to our own national treasures, we, too, are in danger of watching hundreds of years of art and history go up in smoke.
Reposted from Smithsonian.com
It’s been just under a week since an inferno blazed through Brazil’s 200-year-old National Museum, razing the historic institution and reducing the majority of its collection to ashes. Researchers are still awaiting permission to enter the building’s smoldering remains to assess the extent of the damage, but the Associated Press’ Marcelo Silva de Sousa and Mauricio Savarese report that firefighters have begun the arduous task of sifting through the rubble and identifying fragments of salvageable artifacts. While the cause of the fire and exact fate of the museum’s more than 20 million artifacts—including Luiza, the oldest human fossil in the Americas, and the reconstructed skeleton of a Maxakalisaurus topai dinosaur—remain unclear, here’s what we’ve learned in the wake of the unprecedented loss.
Shortly after the blaze broke out around 7:30 p.m. on September 2, a group of museum staff, technicians and students entered the burning building and rescued a small selection of items. Zoologist Paulo Buckup told BBC Brasil’s Julia Carneiro that he managed to escape with “a few thousand” mollusk specimens, including 80 percent of the museum’s holotypes, or original examples of given species. As Buckup explained to Globo News, the team “decided to select the material of greatest scientific and irreplaceable value.”
The museum’s prized Bendegó meteorite, a 5.8-ton space rock discovered in the Brazilian state of Bahia in 1784, survived the flames largely unscathed, Hanneke Weitering reports for Space.com. Video footage posted on Twitter by local station Rádio BandNews FM shows that a second, smaller meteorite also survived the fire.
The Atlantic’s Ed Yong reports that the museum’s herbarium, main library and portions of its vertebrate collection were kept in a separate building and therefore not affected by the fire. A series of centuries-old Torah scrolls believed to be some of the world’s oldest Judaic documents were similarly moved to a separate location prior to the fire per Pregaman and de Sousa of the AP.
Federal University of Espírito Santo paleontologist Taissa Rodrigues tells National Geographic’s Michael Greshko that some of the metal cabinets housing fossils may have survived, although it’s unclear whether the artifacts inside could have withstood the fire. According to the AP, firefighters excavating the scene have found various bone fragments, triggering hopes that the 11,500-year-old skull of an early hominin named Luiza may still be recovered. All materials collected from the scene will be examined by federal law enforcement, who are working to determine the cause of the fire, before being sent on to experts for identification.
Preliminary reports list the institution’s entomology and arachnology collections, roughly 700 Egyptian artifacts and a Royal Hawaiian feather cloak gifted to emperor Dom Pedro I in 1824 amongst the items feared lost. Artnet News’ Henri Neuendorf has a more comprehensive list of the museum’s prized treasures, most of which were likely damaged or completely destroyed.
According to Brazilian culture minister Sérgio Leitão, an electrical short circuit or a paper hot-air balloon that landed on the museum’s roof was the likely cause of the fire. The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts, Dom Phillips and Sam Jones report, however, that the underlying factors at play were severe budget cuts and outdated fire prevention systems.
National Geographic’s Greshko notes that the National Museum hasn’t received its full annual budget of $128,000 since 2014. This year, it received just $13,000. In late 2017, curators were so strapped for cash they had to crowdfund repairs of a popular exhibition hall that had been infested with termites.
Museum vice director Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte told Brazilian television that staff members knew the building was in critical condition. Before leaving at the end of each day, he unplugged all of the items in his office to minimize fire risk. Duarte further argued that even a quarter of the money budgeted for a single 2014 World Cup stadium (the Foundation for Economic Education’s David Youngberg reports that Rio spent $15 billion on the Cup and $13.1 billion on the 2016 Olympics) “would have been enough to make this museum safe and resplendent.”
The day after the fire, protestors gathered outside of the museum’s gates, demanding that authorities reveal the extent of the damage and pledge to rebuild. According to the AP’s Peter Prengaman and Sarah DiLorenzo, when the protestors attempted to see the damage, police held them back using pepper spray, tear gas and batons.
Soon after the fire, a group of students at UNIRIO, the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, put out a global request for photographs and video clips taken at the museum. Atlas Obscura’s Sarah Laskow reports that the students have already received thousands of contributions, which they hope to eventually compile into a “virtual museum or a memory space of some sort.” As Laskow notes, these images “preserve, at least in some form, what remains of the history the museum was meant to protect.” Relevant photos or videos should be emailed to email@example.com.
On Tuesday, Wikipedia posted a similar Twitter announcement calling for users to upload their personal snapshots of the museum to Wikimedia Commons, its open access repository of images.
Other efforts are forthcoming. According to Forbes’ Kristina Killgrove, Thomas Flynn, cultural heritage lead at 3D modeling website Sketchfab, has posted 25 virtual renderings of museum artifacts to his profile page. All models are available to the public.
Jorge Lopes dos Santos, a 3D modeling expert at the museum, tells Killgrove that prior to the fire, the digital modeling team successfully completed “hundreds of scans of several important artifacts of the collection, including fossils, Egyptian mummies, the Luzia skull and others, and Greek and Roman artifacts.” As recovery efforts move forward, he says that the team will “discuss how the files will be used.”
The Rio fire has brought much-needed attention to the risks faced by cultural institutions across the globe. In addition to receiving increasingly scarce financial support, museums are more susceptible to natural hazards than one might think.
As Hugh Eakin notes for the Washington Post, New York’s Museum of Modern Art burst into flames back in April 1958, destroying one of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” paintings but leaving most of the collection unscathed. In more recent examples, Rotterdam’s world-class Old Masters and modern European art gallery, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, experienced five floods over the past 14 years and is currently constructing an estimated $70 million flood-proof storage facility. In 2016, an inferno gutted India’s National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi, and the year before that, another Brazilian institution, the Museum of the Portuguese Language in Sao Paulo, suffered a similar fate.
Some museums are readily attuned to these dangers: Los Angeles’ Getty Center and New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art are both equipped with lavish protective systems. But most institutions can’t afford such expensive tools. Brazil’s National Museum, for example, had no working sprinkler system, and the two hydrants closest to the building malfunctioned when firefighters arrived at the scene.
Popular Science’s Eleanor Cummins points out that natural disasters aren’t the only threat to museums: “Museum science is a race against time,” she writes, “and budget cuts, staff reductions, and declining visitation in countries around the world, the United States included, aren’t making anyone’s job any easier.”
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, government officials pledged $2.4 million for the extensive rebuilding process that lies ahead. Museum director Alexander Kellner tells Scientific American’s Richard Conniff that initial funds will go toward stabilizing what remains of the building and recovering all that “can be recovered.” Another $1.2 million may be allocated for making the structure “habitable,” and officials are discussing the “possibility for next year” of granting an additional $19.2 million for the actual rebuilding of the museum.
“What we mostly need is a strong commitment from the Brazil government, or even private enterprise, to provide the means for scientists to be restored to minimal working conditions,” Buckup says. “We have lost lots of history. What we cannot afford to lose is the future of science in this institution.”
On Wednesday, the directors of 12 of the world’s most prominent natural history museums released a statement of solidarity highlighting the importance of such institutions and promising to support Brazilian colleagues in the coming “weeks, months and years.” Kirk Johnson, head of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who was one of the signatories, further stated that curators were working “on a larger Smithsonian effort as well.”
Much of the chaos wrought by the inferno is irreversible. Researchers whose life’s work drew on specimens held within the museum now find themselves “lost,” as entomologist Marcus Guidoti tells National Geographic’s Greshko. Funds and support offered by Brazil’s government and outside institutions may help to soften the blow, but the fact remains that a priceless repository of Latin American cultural heritage has vanished overnight.
Still, Brazilians remain cautiously optimistic about the arduous journey that lies ahead. Curator Débora Pires notes that the museum still has its team of dedicated researchers, adding, “The brains did not burn. We are working with a positive agenda.” Anthropologist Antonio Carlos de Souza Lima tells NPR’s Ari Shapiro that the loss of his 38 years of research on indigenous cultures is “very, very small” compared to what Brazilians have lost as a country and intellectual community.
It would be easy to yield to depression, Souza Lima says, but he and his colleagues plan on fighting for their country’s future instead.
Reposted from ZDNet
Threat actors from Iran have been targeting universities and educational institutions across 14 countries in a bid to steal intellectual property.
The Secureworks Counter Threat Unit (CTU) said on Friday that the campaign is likely the work of who they call Cobalt Dickens, an Iranian advanced persistent threat (APT) group.
The researchers have connected Cobalt Dickens to the Iranian government and in March nine apparent members of the group were indicted for conducting a series of attacks on universities and companies on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Mabna Institute, working as part of Cobalt Dickens, allegedly stole information from 76 universities across 21 countries, as well as 47 US and foreign private sector companies, including the US Department of Labor and the United Nations.
In the latest wave of attacks, a total of 76 universities in 14 countries have been targeted including institutions in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, China, and Switzerland.
After discovering a spoof website which masqueraded as one of the target universities, CTU uncovered a wider campaign designed to steal credentials from academic staff.
In total, 16 domains have been used by the threat actors to host over 300 spoofed websites, including university login pages and online libraries.
Targets are sent links to the fraudulent domains through phishing emails. If victims fall for the messages and enter their credentials into the spoofed pages, they are then sent onwards to the real service while this information is saved by the cyberattackers to gain access to legitimate systems.
"Numerous spoofed domains referenced the targeted universities' online library systems, indicating the threat actors' intent to gain access to these resources," CTU says.
The majority of the domains were registered between May and August 2018. The campaign appears to be ongoing, as the latest domain registration took place on August 19.
Universities are a constant target for cyberattackers due to heavy involvement in academia and research projects. Intellectual property can be extremely valuable, especially when research is involved in areas such as technology and defense.
The research team has contacted global partners to warn them of the latest phishing scheme.
"This widespread spoofing of login pages to steal credentials reinforces the need for organizations to incorporate multi-factor authentication using secure protocols and implement complex password requirements on publicly accessible systems," the researchers said.
Reposted from PennLive
Harrisburg artist Sean Matthews worked for nearly two years to design and create his exhibit titled, "Recycled Play," which features children's playthings transformed into conceptual art.
His main piece, called "Fair and Square," featured a life-sized swing set and required 60 hours of welding alone, to suspend two chains in mid-air simulating the scales of justice. The piece inspired by his own four daughters was insured for $5,000.
But ten minutes into the grand opening of the exhibit Aug. 17 at the Susquehanna Art Museum, a mother and daughter dismantled the piece in mere seconds.
The women walked under the swing set, grabbed the swings, and pulled them down, ruining the installation.
"I looked away for a moment and then, boom, it's down," said Alice Anne Schwab, the museum director. "The swings were swinging...We were just devastated. The visitors mistakenly assumed they were supposed to play on the swings that were suspended."
Schwab said she told the women they could not touch the art, but the women then strolled to the back of the museum, where they picked up an "hourglass" sand clock, which was part of a different sculpture, even though that exhibit also had a "no-touch" label on the wall.
Although museum officials posted labels and printed an informative guide that explained the meaning behind the exhibit, the women apparently didn't see the signs. And it's clear from video surveillance that the women didn't pick up the available guides.
The women reportedly told Schwab that they believed they were supposed to touch everything.
At least one national expert said he could see where the exhibit could be confusing to visitors. A combination of factors culminated in this accident, said Wayne LaBar, the executive director at Powerhouse Science Center in Durango, Colorado, who has 30 years of experience in exhibition design and development. He watched a 15-minute video that showed the women entering the museum, touching the sculptures, then leaving.
"The artist has used items in his work that are very suggestive of interaction in normal, everyday use," LaBar said. "So they're semi-enticing to go up and use. I'm not surprised this happened."
In addition, LaBar said, some of the pieces did encourage touching, including two small vending machines that gave unique wood and ceramic "prizes," in exchange for four quarters.
Overall, LaBar said, the exhibit was set up in the museum space in a way that seemed to encourage physical engagement.
"That message was being somewhat sent to visitors," he said. "That's some of the power of the art as well. But it's a double-edged sword."
To discourage touching, the museum should have used barriers or other undeniable signals, because "there is documented evidence that people don't read signs. Depending on signs would not be the thing to do," he said. "I didn't see any physical things that messaged to me that things are hands-off. If you see enough velvet ropes, you get the idea that you're not allowed in there."
There was one set of ropes restricting access to another of Matthew's pieces staged in the former bank vault at the museum. In at least two instances, someone climbed over the rope and rearranged items that were carefully arranged to create the "art," Matthews said.
Part of the problem with the mishaps were staffing levels, according to Matthews and Schwab. If someone from the museum had been paying more attention to the women at the swing set, they could have been stopped before the installation was ruined, Matthews said.
Scwhab noted the women arrived shortly after the exhibit opened at 5 p.m. for a Third in the Burg free event at the museum. The museum typically doesn't get busy until later, Schwab said, so two volunteers who normally would have been at the front of the museum to greet guests had not yet arrived.
"Had it been 15 minutes later, we would have been more proactive," she said. "It was a fluke moment where we didn't have anyone standing at the door."
Schwab was so stunned at the damage, because nothing like it had occurred at the museum before, she didn't even get the names of the women for possible restitution. They abruptly left after being scolded a second time.
After Matthews posted the video on his Facebook page, however, a woman reached out to him and said it was her and her daughter. She asked him to take the video down and said it was an accident.
PennLive could not reach the woman for comment or to confirm the age of her daughter, who appeared to be in her late teens or early 20s.
The installation could not be repaired back to its original state. When Matthews tried to reset the chains, one set snapped in half and the other set collapsed in sections back into individual chain links instead of the taut strands.
Matthews said he had to stand by his sculpture for the next three hours explaining to other guests who had come out to see his show how the installation was supposed to look.
Since the exhibit was still scheduled for display through Nov. 4, Matthews quickly repurposed the installation into a memorial, complete with a steel fence gate, a photo of the original sculpture, and an array of tiny stuffed animals.
Matthews is now waiting to hear whether the museum's insurance company will reimburse him for his partial loss of the original sculpture. Schwab said the insurance company was still investigating, as the situation "is a tricky matter ... they could look at this like it was just sets of chains purchased from Lowe's that were soldered or a piece of art that can't be put back together."
Schwab said better communication between her and Matthews prior to the exhibit opening could have helped. As it happened, she and the artist were trying to balance protecting the exhibit with public access to the installations and the artist's vision.
Matthews said he wanted people to be able to walk under the swing set, but "never in my wildest dreams did I think that two people would get on either side of it and yank down the swings simultaneously."
Even though his vending machine installations were interactive, Matthews said, the rest of the exhibit was not.
"If you had a station where people could paint a brush stroke on a canvas, that wouldn't mean they could walk through the rest of the museum painting on every single painting," he said.
Museum visitors should treat all items in a museum as if they are owned by someone else, because they are, LaBar said.
"How would you like it if a stranger was going into your house? How would you like them to react to your stuff? Would you want them to sit on everything and touch everything and start the toaster?" he said. "Instead, look for permission to do that."
The incident in Harrisburg was the latest in a series of art mishaps at museums, convention centers and national monuments across the world.
Increasingly, people have taken to desecrating art and national monuments due to a "degradation" in the idea that things are "hands-off," LaBar said.
"Everything seems more interactive in our lives and we're more likely to involve ourselves in everything and taking selfies and that whole side of the equation," he said. "It's just a change in the culture."
A change that museum directors should take close note of, he said.
"In general," he said, "museums probably need to be more conscious of sending consistent messages to visitors."
Most people try to stay far away from hissing cockroaches, desert hairy scorpions, and venomous, six-eyed sand spiders. Not the team of thieves that hit the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion over four days in late August.
They made off with those critters and nearly 7,000 other insects, spiders and lizards — more than 80 percent of the institution’s collection.
John Cambridge, the facility’s owner and chief executive, said he and his colleagues first noticed that the animals were missing from their enclosures. Then they discovered that a backroom used for storing scores of off-display animals contained empty shelves. At that point, Cambridge and his employees checked security camera footage.
“And then [we] just put our head in our hands for the next 12 hours as we put the pieces together,” he said.
In video from Aug. 22, five uniformed employees can be seen milling about the firelegged tarantula exhibit. One man, a museum director, opens the tank, scoops the spider into a small container, and walks away. Less than a minute later, a group of visitors enters the frame, and the remaining four staffers return to work.
Other security cameras captured the employees loading some boxes into their personal vehicles and removing others via a fire escape. Philadelphia police have not named any suspects or filed charges, but Cambridge said the footage left little doubt that the heist was an inside job.
“Movement of creatures throughout the facility is quite common,” Cambridge said. “We’re always taking things for education programs, doing maintenance, cage exchanges, and so they just walked straight out the front door with them.”
But why? Who would want 7,000 very creepy crawlies?
Plenty of people, it turns out. Cambridge said the exotic pet industry is “absolutely bursting with buyers right now” — and not just for furry foxes or lemurs, but for insects, too. Some of the stolen animals are known to fetch a pretty penny.
A healthy adult Gooty sapphire tarantula can cost more than $350, while Mexican fireleg tarantulas go for $250. Rhinoceros cockroaches are worth $500 per mating pair. According to a police report, the entire theft is estimated to be worth between $30,000 and $50,000.
“This is the largest living insect heist we’ve been able to find,” Cambridge said.
Zoos, museums, researchers and private collectors must possess permits for many of the pilfered species, and few want to risk losing their permits by getting involved in trafficking. But the fact that insects and arachnids are generally easy to transport and care for is part of what makes illicit trade in these animals so difficult to curb. These species can easily be sent in the mail, Verderame said.
“If you’re trying to ship a monkey, that’s a whole other story, right? But an insect, you can put it in a box with insulation and claim that it’s something else,” said Verderame. “Unless they have reason to open up that parcel, for all they know it’s what you say it is. It’s that easy.”
Sales of regulated and banned insects take place online as well as at legal trade shows, Verderame said.
Such creatures require permits for a reason. Some, such as hissing cockroaches, are restricted because they could establish breeding populations if released in hospitable environments, such as Florida. Others, including many tarantula species, are restricted because they’re becoming rare in their home ranges. Unfortunately, scarcity can also drive demand.
“I think that’s sometimes some of the lure for them. They’re a unique specimen, and they are fascinating,” Verderame said. “A lot of people have never gotten to see one alive.”
The exotic insect industry is particularly lucrative in Asia, where scarab beetles are traded like show dogs, she said — some for their beauty, others for their ability to fight.
“The males have horns they use to wrestle other males for a mate,” she said. The insects can even be encouraged to square off by the introduction of a little bit of a female’s pheromone into the ring.
The FBI joined the investigation in Philadelphia over the weekend. This may be because one of the former employees — all have since been fired — suspected of taking part in the theft lives in New Jersey, Cambridge said; if animals were moved across state lines, federal charges might also apply.
Cambridge said he almost hopes some have been sold, because he doubts their captors would be able to adequately care for all of them for this long.
“If they haven’t sold, they’ve probably died,” he said.
While part of the building is closed, the team is acquiring thousands of new insects, rebuilding exhibits and planning to host a grand reopening in early November.
It will celebrate hard-to-love animals that are among the most abundant, and resilient, life-forms on the planet. What better, Cambridge said, to inspire the next incarnation of the museum?
“Humanity has managed to name roughly 1.9 million organisms in the world. And of that number 1.1 million are insects,” Cambridge said. “We plan to come back even stronger.”
Reposted from The Asian Age
Two men involved in the sensational Nizam museum theft were caught by the Hyderabad police on Monday night and the stolen artifacts -- a gold tiffin box inlaid with diamonds, a cup studded with rubies, diamonds and emeralds, a saucer and a spoon, belonging to the seventh Nizam, were recovered from them.
The two arrested were identified as Mohd Ghouse Pasha alias Khooni Ghouse, 23, a centring worker in Rajendranagar and Mohd Mubeen, 24, a welding worker also from Rajendranagar, police said.
According to the Police Commissioner of Hyderabad, Anjani Kumar, the duo recced the place 45 days prior to the date of offence so that they won't get recorded in the CCTVs installed inside the premises as its memory is set to erase itself every 30 days.
The two were childhood friends and distant relatives. They were also habitual property offenders.
"They slipped in via the ventilator that they have marked 4 to 5 days before the offence. The whole plan was the brainchild of Mubeen, who went inside the museum about 45 days before as a visitor and noticed the poor security. He talked Ghouse into his plan and the duo hatched an elaborate, nearly perfect plan to steal the priceless artifacts" said the official, adding that they tied 30 knots on the 10 meter rope to get in and out with ease.
While Mubeen held the rope back, Ghouse slipped in, broke the lock of the wardrobe and got out with the Nizam's gifts.
The only clues police had were the marks made around the ventilator by the men before the offence.
They immediately changed their clothes and deliberately roamed in the vicinity to avert the cops, as a criminal would escape the place as early as possible.
"They took onto the highway road on Muthangi towards Zaheerabad and slyly came back via a service road, to create an alibi in the CCTVs on highway that they left the city. They then went to Mumbai via bus with the stolen golden spoon as a sample to strike a deal in the international markets through their contacts there. When they could not get a good offer, they came back to the city and waited for an offer," added Kumar.
According to a report in NDTV, the three-tier tiffin box worth several crores may not have been used by the Nizam, but one of the thieves used it every day to have food, the Hyderabad police said.
Another interesting thing in the case, as confessed by the men, was that they had planned to decamp with a holy book in the museum as well, along with the actual stolen lot.
"While they were at the museum at the time of offence and were about to take the holy book, they suddenly heard the evening prayer in the nearby mosque and feared the act of taking the book. They left only with the Tiffin box, cup saucer and spoon" said the official.
Based on a tip-off following Mubeen's missing report, the police cracked the case after rounding up the usual suspects and recovered the stolen lot.
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