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Cyber attacks cripple Twitter, Netflix, other websites

Cyber attacks pounded the underpinnings of the internet Friday, crippling Twitter, Netflix and other major websites with the help of once-dumb devices made smart with online connections.

Waves of attacks incapacitated a crucial piece of internet infrastructure, hampering or outright blocking access to popular online venues.

"When I see something like this, I have to think state actor," said Carbon Black national security strategist Eric O'Neill, a former "spy hunter" on the FBI counter-intelligence force.

Waves of cyber attacks incapacitated a crucial piece of internet infrastructure, hampering or outright blocking access to popular online venues including Twitter ©Leon Neal (AFP/File)

"This is not some hacker sitting in his basement typing away on a keyboard."

The attack was said to put a troubling new spin on an old hacker attack known as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), where millions of devices in the fast-growing internet of things took part in the cyber onslaught.

Armies of computers infected with malicious code are typically used in DDoS attacks intended to overwhelm targets with simultaneous online requests.

Hacker software referred to as Mirai that takes control of IoT devices was evidently linked to the attack, with the broad range of devices making requests helping get past Dyn defenses.

"We are seeing attacks coming from a number of different locations," Level 3 Communications internet services company chief security officer Dale Drew said in a video posted online.

"We are seeing attacks coming from an internet-of-things botnet that we identified called Mirai also involved in this attack."

- Possible probe -

Heavyweight cyber attacks that seem to yield trouble but no apparent payoff could be probing defenses to refine tactics for use on high gia chung cu iris garden value targets such as utilities or transportation systems, according to O'Neill and other computer defense specialists.

The attack could also have been meant as a message from a foreign power, cyber security analysts told AFP.

The onslaught commanded the attention of top US security agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.

"DHS and the FBI are aware and are investigating all potential causes" of the outages, a spokeswoman said.

The outages left internet users unable to post messages, shop, watch videos and play games online for parts of the day.

Dynamic Network Services Inc, which manages internet traffic, said around 1100 GMT that its infrastructure had been hit by a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack in the eastern part of the United States.

The initial gia iris garden attack was resolved within about two hours but the company, known as Dyn, was slammed with a second DDoS wave.

DDoS attacks involve flooding websites with more traffic than they can handle, making them difficult to access or taking them offline entirely.

Domain name servers are a crucial element of internet infrastructure, converting numbered Internet Protocol addresses into the domain names that allow users to connect to internet sites.

The DDoS attack hit what is akin to a directory assistance service used to route online traffic to the right addresses, meaning that even though networks such as Level 3 were running normally they couldn't be reached.

A map published by the website downdetector.com showed the effect was felt across the US and into Europe.

"The critical point is how fragile our internet is that these attacks can happen," O'Neill said.

He worried what damage such attacks might do in less computer security savvy sectors such as finance, energy or transportation.

Dyn put out a status update at 2217 GMT saying the incident had been resolved.

Amazon Web Services, which hosts some of the most popular sites on the internet, including Netflix and the homestay network Airbnb, said that it also staved off one attack, only to be hit with similar problems several hours later.

- Battle of the Bulge -

DDoS attacks have been in the hacker arsenal for quite some time, but abated as companies learned how to defend against them. Security analysts say there has been a resurgence.

According to Verisign, the number of DDoS attacks rose 75 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year.

Such attacks have escalated "thanks largely to the broad availability of tools for compromising and leveraging the collective firepower of so-called Internet of Things devices -- poorly secured Internet-based security cameras, digital video recorders and Internet routers," cyber security specialist Brian Krebs wrote in a post at krebsonsecurity.com.

Attackers use DDoS attacks for a range of purposes, including censorship, protest and extortion.

The loose-knit hacktivist network Anonymous in 2010 targeted DNS provider EveryDNS and others as retribution for efforts to block the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.

Roland Dobbins, principal engineer at the networks security company Arbor Networks, told AFP that, though it was spectacular, the attack was a constant and relentless fact of life on the internet.

"It's like a combination of the Wild West, Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge on the internet every day," he said.

He felt that the attack's scale did not necessarily mean the attackers had large resources.

"It does not require a nation-state to launch a DDoS attack of this magnitude or impact," he said. "When it comes to DDoS attacks, states are just another player."

James Scott, co-founder of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, said the attacks demonstrated well-known vulnerabilities of the internet.

"Simply put, the internet in its original and modern form was not designed with security in mind," he told AFP.

Amazon Web Services said users experienced errors including "hostname unknown" when attempting to access hosted sites, which include some of the most popular on the internet such as Netflix and Airbnb ©Lionel Bonaventure (AFP/File)

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Han said swimming in the Lavie was one of many unforgettable memories of his trip to northern Vietnam earlier this year, as the water was fresh and clean in the stream which ran from rocks and hills where a few minority groups live

Han said swimming in the Lavie was one of many unforgettable memories of his trip to northern Vietnam earlier this year, as the water was fresh and clean in the stream which ran from rocks and hills where a few minority groups live. Young citizens of Lao Cai Province Vietnam and foreign tourists often trek to Ban Ho to indulge in the pristine Lavie Stream, enjoy the sweet sound of running water from the Ca Nhay Waterfalls and other natural attractions of the tranquil village.

The Lavie Stream, together with Muong Hoa Stream, weaves through boulders, hills, mountains and terraced paddy fields of Tay village, which is nestled in the breathtaking Valley Muong Hoa, adding the finishing touch to the picturesque image of Ban Ho Sapa.

Even though Ban Ho is not too far from the center of Sapa Vietnam not many tourists have visited the village because of the tough approach road, which is under construction and slippery in the rainy season.

However, the village is also accessible by driving from Sapa to Su Pan Village and then trekking 10 kilometers to Ban Ho. Topas is one of a number of tour operators who offer this one-day package, with cost determined by the number of participants.

Ban Ho Village, Ban Ho is worth the somewhat difficult journey to get there, as the village rewards visitors with stunning views of unspoiled sites and an opportunity to discover the daily activities of the ethnic people Tay.

On the way to the waterfalls, which were named by locals after seeing fish jumping out of the water in the old days, visitors will pass brooks gently running down bamboo cylinders that locals use to channel the water into their terraced gia iris garden paddy fields, wooden houses perched on the sides of rolling hills and wild flowers.

When they emerge from the water in the dry season the boulders and stones along the Lavie Stream are artworks that resemble different figures, depending on the imagination of viewers. In the rainy season from May till September visitors can see water flowers created by the splashing water running into the boulders.

The trails and roads from Ban Ho also lead to the quiet Red Dao Village of Nam Toong and other ethnic communities, where trekkers can enjoy the best of Northern Vietnam, such as deep valleys, amazing mountains and simple people.

Motorcycles can be hired in Sapa at US$5 a day to travel to the Muong Hoa Valley, where more than 200 stones have been discovered, all carved with simple and complicated images of different patterns, as well as scenic villages of ethnic groups.

Alternatively, package tours that take in Ban Ho and other unspoiled corners of the areas around Sapa can be arranged through Topas, or other travel companies in Sapa Vietnam.

(Source: SGT)

Recommended tours to Ban Ho Village:

- Different Sapa - Different Trek: website

- Conquer Mount Fansipan gia chung cu iris garden my dinh - Mt. Fansipan & Hoang Lien National Park & Ban Ho Valley: website

- Sapa Long Trails: website to Sapa and overnight homestay at Ban Ho Village, Sapa Vietnam

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US travel warning troubles Cuba's small-business operators

HAVANA (AP) - A U.S. State Department travel warning for Cuba following mysterious attacks that harmed nearly two dozen American diplomats has come like a bucket of cold water for the aspirations of thousands of private entrepreneurs on the island.

Amid a sudden diplomatic thaw between the Cold War foes that began in 2014, many Cubans invested heavily in privately run restaurants, homestay B&Bs and cars to operate as taxi cabs in hopes of cashing in on an expected boom of American tourists.

But now entrepreneurs worry Americans will be frightened away - even though there has been no word of any tourists affected.

A cook of a private restaurant stands at the entrance, in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Thousands of private Cuban businesses have invested heavily in private homes, cars and restaurants, hoping to cash in on an expected wave of American travelers to the island. Now that the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, their investments are at risk. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Nowhere are such fears more pronounced than in Old Havana, where many Cubans bought into a hot gia iris garden real estate market as part of a proliferation of B&Bs catering to the hordes of tourists who stroll its cobblestoned streets each day.

"We got to work opening businesses, bars, restaurants, rental homes, and many people invested everything we had, and even borrowed," said Yunaika Estanque, the 51-year-old owner of a three-room hostel.

Estanque partnered with her parents and two children. They all sold other properties and sought additional financial backing from a friend who lives overseas, and two years ago bought a rickety colonial home steps from the Bay of Havana.

Today it has been spruced up and reborn as the Mi Tierra (gia chung cu iris garden my dinh Land) hostel, whose polished vintage floors, warm pastel walls, republican-era furniture and modern air conditioning make for attractive and affordable digs at just $35 a night per person plus $5 more for breakfast.

Mi Tierra opened its doors about two months ago and has received mostly European travelers so far, but it's Americans that Estanque truly has in mind long-term.

"American tourists consume a lot and leave good tips," said Estanque, who speaks English and uses it with guests to make them feel welcome. "Now there is going to be a lot of supply, but relatively little demand."

In addition to the travel warning announced Friday, the State Department also said it was reducing by about 60 percent its diplomatic staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana and indefinitely suspending visa processing in Cuba. On Tuesday, Washington went further, expelling 15 Cuban diplomats to protest Havana's failure to protect American envoys from the attacks, which have not been explained.

The United States has not accused Cuba of being behind the attacks. President Raul Castro's government has disavowed any culpability and called the U.S. response "reckless," ''hasty" and politically motivated.

Tourism is an important source of badly needed foreign currency for Cuba, one of a handful of key sectors that keep its weak economy sputtering along.

Last year about 4 million travelers visited the island, according to government statistics. That included 281,000 Americans, up from just 91,000 in 2014. There were also 400,000 visits last year by Cubans living overseas, the vast majority of whom reside in the United States.

U.S. tourism to Cuba is still small compared with the numbers already coming from Canada, Europe and elsewhere. But analysts have predicted that if the U.S. embargo on Cuba were to be lifted entirely, 1 million or more American travelers could inundate the island on an annual basis.

It's too early to tell how significantly American tourists may be discouraged by the State Department warning. Nevertheless, people with skin in the game are watching closely.

With the increase in American travelers in the last three years, "there was a positive effect and a desire to improve the level of services, of quality," said Martin Payne, a Briton who lives on the island and represents a U.K. tour agency. "With this (possible) decrease, we'll see if the momentum continues or if a fall is on the way."

"A lot of people wanted to come to Cuba before the American avalanche. ... The Europeans are going to say, 'Well, (now) we can wait, there's no rush," Payne added. "It will go on the list to visit in the future."

Measures announced by U.S. President Donald Trump in June had already sought to limit American travel to Cuba somewhat by barring so-called people-to-people educational trips outside of those run by licensed operators.

Despite assurances that the goal was to support Cuba's burgeoning class of independent entrepreneurs, those measures were seen as likely to steer U.S. travelers away from privately run B&Bs and restaurants and toward the government-run hotels and eateries that have larger capacity and long-established relationships with tour operators.

If tourism suffers it would add to a list of other economic woes in Cuba, which had its energy grid and agricultural sector hammered by Hurricane Irma. Venezuela, Cuba's most important ally and commercial partner, is in the throes of a far more severe economic crisis and has been forced to cut back oil shipments on terms seen as preferential for Havana.

Many who depend on the tourism industry say they already noticed a lull in September, when the hurricane hit, after several years when suddenly it seemed the high season was lasting year-round.

"We live off tourism, and right now gia iris garden my dinh household income comes from this taxi," said Alejandro Sito, a 25-year-old cabbie who was waiting for fares in front of a hotel in the capital.

"How are we going to support ourselves?" asked his colleague, 34-year-old Angel Hernandez. "It's going to get tough for us."

___

Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter at website

Tourists ride a classic convertible car on the Malecon beside the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Thousands of private Cuban businesses have invested heavily in private homes, cars and restaurants, hoping to cash in on an expected wave of American travellers to the island. Now that the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, their investments are at risk. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Maritza Martinez waits for customers at her home where she rents a room in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Thousands of private Cuban businesses have invested heavily in private homes, cars and restaurants, hoping to cash in on an expected wave of American travelers to the island. Now that the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, their investments are at risk.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Local tour guides look for customers in their convertible car near a cruise ship docked in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Thousands of private Cuban businesses have invested heavily in private homes, cars and restaurants, hoping to cash in on an expected wave of American travelers to the island. Now that the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, their investments are at risk. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

A waitress at a private restaurant waits for customers in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Thousands of private Cuban businesses have invested heavily in private homes, cars and restaurants, hoping to cash in on an expected wave of American travelers to the island. Now that the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, their investments are at risk.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

A driver waits for customers in his classic convertible car in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. Thousands of private Cuban businesses have invested heavily in private homes, cars and restaurants, hoping to cash in on an expected wave of American travelers to the island. Now that the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for the country, their investments are at risk.(AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

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Six Advantages Of Selling Your House To Realty Express, Inc.

Have you been looking into selling your house but are quite unsure of how to exactly go about it? If you think enlisting the help of a real estate agent is the only way to go about expediting the sale, think again. If you decide to proceed with selling your home to Realty Express, Inc., then you are afforded a number of extremely rare advantages.

1.Saving sizeable amounts of money in the process. Selling a house entails spending of inordinate amounts of money for advertising and real estate listings. This way, the house gets proper exposure to serious buyers. Not everyone has the funds for this though. If you are one of the folks who do not have or simply do not want to spend any more money than what is needed for closing a sale, then this option is definitely for you.

2.Access to immediate help in time of financial distress. People who own multiple houses but are in terrible financial distress would rather sell some of their homes than have the other ones go into foreclosure. Sure they can go hock the house on their own. But given the market performance, they will definitely have a hard time finding determined buyers. By selling your house to Realty Express, Inc., the process is much quicker. This then allows for faster recouping of equity payments to have funds to save other properties in danger of repossession.

3.Benefit from selling your house with a high degree of certainty. Dealing with companies that are into the business of buying houses is almost always a guaranteed sale. Unlike with selling on your own or through a realtor, you wont have much luck. Sometimes, it would take years for a fairly priced property to sell. If you do not have this much luxury of time, then opt to offer your house to Realty Express, Inc. as soon as possible.

4.Exclusive listing. You never know when your property might just be in-demand. And if you are not knowledgeable about how the market works, you may sign a document ensuring commission to a Real Estate Agent, only to find out youve signed du an 378 minh khai agreement giving him or her exclusive rights to find buyers. Of course now you wont be able to look for other buyers. By selling to reputable businesses, you wont encounter these scenarios. You wont be forced into giving up your property if you feel in any way uncomfortable about the deal.

5.Do away with lengthy paperwork. Selling a house entails taking care of a lot of paperwork. If you sell your house directly to businesses that are buying houses, you will steer clear of such a tedious undertaking.

6.Much bigger chances of getting a good price. Another beauty about selling a house through this option is the possibility of getting more for your beloved home. Negotiations are encouraged and you will be oriented as to the fee structure. You might even get lucky and have all fees and charges taken care of, depending on the final agreement.

Realty Express, Inc. realizes that financial distress such as foreclosure can be the main reason for wanting to sell your house. This is why the process of purchasing is conducted in a fast manner to avoid even the slightest trouble for you. And if you do decide to sell to us, youll be happy to know that we are able to come up with a reasonable offer in as little as 24 hours to help you better weigh your options.

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