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U.S. Department of Justice

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ebooks are a new frontier, but they look a lot like the old web frontier, with HTML, CSS, and XML underpinning the main ebook standard, ePub. Yet there are key distinctions between ebook publishing’s current problems and what the web standards movement faced. The web was founded without an intent to disrupt any particular industry; it had no precedent, no analogy. E-reading antagonizes a large, powerful industry that’s scared of what this new way of reading brings—and they’re either actively fighting open standards or simply ignoring them. In part one of a two-part series in this issue, Nick Disabato examines the explosion in reading, explores how content is freeing itself from context, and mines the broken ebook landscape in search of business logic and a way out of the present mess.

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Is turnabout fair play? A handful of Anons have found themselves on the wrong end of a hack in the wake of the US government takedown of Megaupload. On January 20, just one day after Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand, an unknown attacker slipped code from the infamous Zeus Trojan into the slowloris tool used by members of Anonymous to carry out DDoS attacks on websites that have drawn their ire. As a result, many of those who participated in DDoS attacks targeted at the US Department of Justice, music label UMG, and also had their own PCs compromised.

Security firm Symantec details how some Anons ended up with Zeus on their systems. After modifying the Slowloris source to include code for the Zeus trojan on January 20, the attacker changed a couple of Pastebin guides used to bring would-be DDoSers up to speed to show a new URL for downloading the Slowloris tool.

Each time Slowloris was downloaded and launched after the 20th of January, a Zeus botnet client was installed too. The Zeus client then stealthily downloaded a "clean" version of Slowloris to replace the modified copy in an attempt to conceal its existence on the infected PC. In the meantime, the Zeus trojan did its usual dirty work: capturing passwords and cookies, as well as banking and webmail credentials, and sending them off to a command-and-control server.

Symantec's research shows the modified version of Slowloris was widely downloaded. "This Anonymous DoS tool on PasteBin has become quite popular among the Anonymous movement with more than 26,000 views and 400 tweets referring to the post," noted Symantec's official blog. 

The compromised version of Slowloris is no longer linked to on Pastebin: it appears that coverage of the shenanigans pulled on Anonymous has resulted in what looks to be a link to the correct verison of Slowloris being restored to the Pastebin guide.

Having Zeus installed on one's PC is absolutely no fun at all, so those who have downloaded the compromised version of Slowloris are going to have their hands full trying to hunt down and eradicate the trojan. Indeed, we see a number of clean OS installs in the immediate future for those who participated in DDoS attacks after the Megaupload takedown.

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The $57-a-night Motel Caswell, a magnet for complaints, police and the unemployed, is the unlikely prize in a high-stakes tug-of-war between conservative legal activists and the government.

All photographs by M. Scott Brauer for The Wall Street Journal.

The sign for Motel Caswell in Tewksbury, Mass. The motel’s owner, Russell Caswell is trying to convince a federal court that the Constitution bars the U.S. Department of Justice from seizing his property, where guests have been found guilty of drug offenses.

Tewksbury city officials say the case was pushed by federal officials and they don’t know how the roadside motel became a target. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston began the seizure proceedings two years ago.

Mr. Caswell on his property last week. The motel has been owned and operated by Mr. Caswell and his family since the 1950s.

Mr. Caswell, here in the motel’s lobby, is not accused of any wrongdoing but stands to lose his business under a law that calls for the forfeiture of properties linked to crimes.

Mr. Caswell said he and his employees try to keep out shady customers. At the front desk he maintains a ‘do not rent’ list with the names of 75 guests who have made trouble. Here, employee Art Love, who has worked in the office of Motel Caswell for six years.

A Justice Department court filing listed seven police investigations from 2001 to 2008 that resulted in at least eight convictions for drug-related crimes, including possession and trafficking. The motel has been the subject of more than 100 drug investigations since 1994, according to the government filing.

Motel guest Sheila Esposito, 50, of nearby Wilmington, Mass., is renting a room while looking for work. ‘This place is $800 a month, with everything included,’ she said. ‘Can you beat that?’

Motel guest Joel Dubeshter, 58 years old, said he had been staying at the motel for long stretches over the past three years after his divorce. The motel is his mailing address and he has furnished the small room with two of his walnut bureaus, along with family photos. ‘It’s definitely home to me,’ he said.

Mr. Caswell said that among his tens of thousands of past customers he could have unknowingly rented rooms to a relative handful of lawbreakers. But that’s a problem faced by many motel owners, he said. The guests who cause problems, he said, are only a ‘tiny percent of the people who stay here.’

The Tewksbury Police Department provided U.S. authorities with evidence for the case, according to a court filing, and could get as much as 80% of the proceeds from sale of the property under a federal forfeiture program known as ‘equitable sharing,’ which pays a portion to state and local agencies that help. The motel and land have no mortgage and are worth about $1 million, Mr. Caswell said.

Mr. Caswell said the legal battle has taken a toll on his family as well as the motel. ‘I haven’t done much maintenance in the last two years,’ he said, since the forfeiture proceedings began.

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