World and Nation

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Researchers Exploit DRAM Vulnerability

A group led by a Princeton University computer security researcher has developed a simple method to steal encrypted information stored on computer hard disks.

The technique, which could undermine security software protecting critical data on computers, is as easy as chilling a computer memory chip with a blast of frigid air from a can of dust remover. Encryption software is widely used by companies and government agencies, especially in portable computers that are especially susceptible to being stolen.

The development, which was described on the group’s Web site on Thursday, could also have implications for the protection of encrypted personal data from prosecutors. The move, which cannot be carried out remotely, exploits a little-known vulnerability of the dynamic random access, or DRAM, chip. Those chips temporarily hold data, including the keys to modern data-scrambling algorithms. When the computer’s electrical power is shut off, the data, including the keys, is supposed to disappear.

New Charges of Cheating Emerge Against the Patriots

The Patriots’ pattern of illicitly videotaping the signals of opposing NFL coaches began in coach Bill Belichick’s first preseason with the team in 2000, a former Patriots player said. The information was then put to use in that year’s regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Belichick’s debut as New England’s head coach.

The habit of secretly taping signals, which is against league rules, continued at least through three championship seasons to the 2007 season opener against the Jets, when the Patriots were caught and subsequently sanctioned by the league.

But it was not the first time the Patriots had been spotted taping another team’s defensive coaches at the Meadowlands. In the final preseason game of 2006, the Patriots were caught taping a Giants defensive assistant coach giving signals, several executives within the league said.

The incident prompted a letter addressed to all teams seven days later from the NFL vice president Ray Anderson that detailed the league’s interpretation of the rules.

Security Council Weighs New Sanctions on Iran

The Security Council on Thursday began formal consideration of a new resolution on Iran’s nuclear program that imposes restrictions on cargo to and from Iran, travel bans, the freezing of assets for people involved in the program and tightened monitoring of Iranian financial institutions.

Britain and France introduced the measure but said they would leave it open for “further substantive comments” from other council members next week before pushing for a vote in March.

The tactic was adopted to meet objections from council members Indonesia, Libya, South Africa and Vietnam, who said they wanted to await the conclusions of a report by Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to be made public in Vienna on Friday before committing themselves to a final text.

The measure’s backers argue that the ElBaradei inquiry is about Iran’s atomic past, not its current activities, and should have no bearing on the draft. But they agreed to the continued consideration in the interests of obtaining unanimity among the 15 council members.