Saturday, August 13, 2005

GAC Chairman urges ICANN Board to allow more time for comments on new .XXX TLD

Via the ICANN website.

From: Mohd Sharil Tarmizi
To: ICANN Board of Directors
Cc: Government Advisory Committee
Subject: Concerns about contract for approval of new top level domain
Date: Friday, August 12, 2005

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the Board is scheduled to consider approval of a contract for a new top level domain intended to be used for adult content. I am omitting the specific TLD here because experience shows that some email systems filter out anything containing the three letters associated with the TLD.

You may recall that during the session between the GAC and the Board in Luxembourg that some countries had expressed strong positions to the Board on this issue. In other GAC sessions, a number of other governments also expressed some concern with the potential introduction of this TLD. The views are diverse and wide ranging. Although not necessarily well articulated in Luxembourg; as Chairman, I believe there remains a strong sense of discomfort in the GAC about the TLD, notwithstanding the explanations to date.

I have been approached by some of these governments and I have advised them that apart from the advice given in relation to the creation of new gTLDs in the Luxembourg Communique that implicitly refers to the proposed TLD, sovereign governments are also free to write directly to ICANN about their specific concerns.

In this regard, I would like to bring to the Board's attention the possibility that several governments will choose to take this course of action. I would like to request that in any further debate that we may have with regard to this TLD that we keep this background in mind.

Based on the foregoing, I believe the Board should allow time for additional governmental and public policy concerns to be expressed before reaching a final decision on this TLD.

Thanks and best regards,

Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi
Chairman, GAC

Of course, as gas prices "spike" here in Austin over the weekend, there is at least one handy way to find the lowest gasoline prices in your neck of the woods --

Austin proposes $58.5 million deal to win Samsung plant

Kirk Ladendorf and Kate Alexander write in The Austin American-Statesman (obnoxious, but free, registration required -- or try

The City of Austin is planning to make its largest incentives deal ever — $58.5 million over 20 years — to try to win the biggest economic development project in Central Texas history, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s proposed $3.5 billion chip factory.

The City Council is expected to vote Thursday on the package.

Samsung is considering Austin and several other locations for the factory. The South Korean company has indicated that it will not make its decision until it receives a final package of offers from Austin, Travis County, the Manor school district and the State of Texas.

Monday, the Manor school board received an application for $112 million in tax breaks. The state is expected to ante up about $12 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, the state's job creation fund. Travis County has not disclosed its offer, but the grand total of all four offers is expected to be $210 million to $225 million.

"This is just another step in a several-step process," Samsung spokesman Bill Cryer said Friday.

Oxford English Dictionary adds "phishing" to it's compendium


According to the revised second edition of the OED, published on Wednesday:

phishing•noun, the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online.

The first recorded use of the word was in 1996, when hackers referred in a newsgroup to the hijacking of AOL accounts. Their motivation was free internet access; today, the motivation for phishing is financial gain.

The Guardian profile: Tim Berners-Lee

Bobbie Johnson writes in The Guardian UK:

There are, according to recent figures, more than 35 million web users in the UK today. More than 15 million British homes have internet connections and, thanks to faster broadband technologies, we are living in a radically different world from that which was predicted.

The world wide web has changed millions of lives in little more than a decade. For some it has changed fortunes as well: this week was the 10th anniversary of what is widely acknowledged as the beginning of the dotcom boom - when the web browser firm Netscape floated on the US stock market before ever turning a profit. That sparked a technology goldrush that has transformed modern communication. And while much of the boom was hyperbole, one rock solid fact remains: none of it would have happened if it was not for Tim Berners-Lee.

Sir Tim, named last year as the greatest living Briton, is rightly heralded as the godfather of the web. It was he who, as a physicist working in Switzerland, turned the internet from a disparate collection of academic and military computer systems into an international network. Without his input, arguably, the world would be a far duller place. The global village would still be under construction, technology would still be the preserve of an elite, and revolutionary companies such as Google, Amazon - and even easyJet - would not exist.

Daily fix....

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Phone companies gear up for television rollout

Claudia Grisales writes in The Austin American-Statesman (oboxious, but free, registration required, or try

Starting next spring, Texans will have an alternative to cable, when SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. roll out Internet-based television services, promising new interactive features and aggressive price deals to win customers.

It's the biggest change spurred by new legislation that rewrites the rules of competition for telephone and television services.

The Legislature passed the measure this week, and Gov. Rick Perry could sign it as soon as next week.

One provision ends state control of local phone rates, which will start in big cities in January.

Trojan Website Launches 19 Forms of Malware

Tim Gray writes over on

Security outfit PandaLabs said today a sophisticated "chain" attack, perpetrated through the SpamNet.A Trojan, is at work. The Trojan was discovered on a Web page hosted on a server in the United States but with a domain registered from Moscow.

PandaLabs Director Luis Corrons said the attacks are highly complex and can infect a system with up to 19 different forms of malware. The goal of the coordinated strikes is to send out junk mail. So far, it has compiled more than 3 million e-mail addresses worldwide.

"This attack is far more elaborate than usual," Corrons said in a statement. "Users of TruPrevent Technologies have been protected from the outset, but this is one of the most complex organized attacks that we have ever witnessed at PandaLabs."

PandaLabs said it has contacted the companies that host the files and Web pages that are the main part of this organized attack.

Florida Librarian Suspended over Porn Incident

Thanks to a post over on Slashdot which pointed out this article.

A brief snippet on the American Library Association (ALA) website reports that:

The director of the Valparaiso (Fla.) Community Library was suspended without pay in early August after city officials found that a registered sex offender had used library computers to access pornographic websites.

City Commissioner Robert Billingsley said in the August 12 Gainesville Sun that he would ask the commission to fire VCL Director Sue Martin, but he declined to explain why he thought she had not done enough to prevent the incident, which occurred July 25. Police charged Michael Bushee, 25, with possession of child pornography several days later. Billingsley said police also told him that three male minors had used the VCL computers to look at sites with adult content.

The Sun quoted a letter Martin had written to Billingsley in which she explained, “We continually enforce our policy by monitoring all computers. Any suspicious use is immediately checked by accessing the history of the patrons’ Web use. In addition, the staff monitors the patrons’ use by ‘walkthroughs’ of the computer areas.”

City Attorney Doug Wyckoff said Martin would receive a hearing within 60 days.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Music Industry Worried About CD-Burning

First, it's a Holy Jihad by the RIAA (and, needless to say, the MPAA, re: moving pictures) on file-shaing applications in the Internet. Now it's CD Burners? Give me a break.

This, in my humble opinion, shows the recording industry for what they really are -- money-grubbing media alarmists, who will use every dirty trick available to them to control what you see, hear, and digest.

This crap is getting waaaay out of hand.

An AP newswire article by Alexa Veiga, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Music copied onto blank recordable CDs is becoming a bigger threat to the bottom line of record stores and music labels than online file-sharing, the head of the recording industry's trade group said Friday.

"Burned" CDs accounted for 29 percent of all recorded music obtained by fans in 2004, compared to 16 percent attributed to downloads from online file-sharing networks, said Mitch Bainwol, chief executive for the Recording Industry Association of America.

Internet Storm Center raises threatcon level to "Yellow"

User Friendly: The Apple Mighty Mouse

Click on image for enlargement.

Sprint Nextel Is Here

Via Red Herring.

Sprint Nextel is official. The two carriers completed their union August 12, forming the No. 3 wireless U.S. wireless outfit.

The newly joined company will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “S” on August 15.

While the duo creates a formidable player in the wireless market, Sprint’s $35-billion combination with Nextel may face a tough road ahead.

Sprint’s CEO Gary Forsee said, “Sprint Nextel will win in the market,” as the combined company looks to move up in the ranks to rival the top two cellular companies, Cingular and Verizon Wireless.

But analysts like InStat’s Alan Hall call the merger a “very difficult challenge,” despite its good potential. Both companies have different market advantages, customer bases, and technologies. These assets could all end up working in the merged company’s favor or against it.

Why more women aren't "geeks"

Stefanie Olsen writes in the C|Net News Science Blog:

Where are all the women who forsake social outings to stay up all night writing computer code and read science fiction?

Most of those computer "geeks" (as the stereotype goes) live in countries that mandate math and science courses through the teenage years.

That's one of the conclusions of a new study exploring the gender gap in computer science, a profession dominated by men. Professors of sociology at the University of California at San Diego and Western Washington released a study Friday that showed that women are vastly underrepresented in computer science in 21 nations--Germany, Czech Republic and Belgium being among the top countries with few women in tech.

That is because those as well as most countries are influenced by the notion that men and women are naturally suited to different occupations. But what's different is that their schools do not require curriculum in math and science, and therefore encourage fulfilling those roles, according to the findings.

In South Korea, a nation with the highest number of women in computer science, math must be studied through 12th grade, and science through 11th. Ireland, Sweden, Turkey and the United States were also among nations with the highest penetration of women in technology.

Man convicted in enormous Acxiom data theft

An AP newswire article, via The Mercury News, reports that:

A man who owned an e-mail marketing company was convicted Friday of stealing information from data broker Acxiom Corp. in what prosecutors said was the largest federal computer theft case ever.

The jury convicted Scott Levine, the owner of defunct e-mail marketing contractor, on 120 counts of unauthorized access to data, two counts of access device fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.

Jurors cleared Levine of 14 conspiracy counts and one money-laundering charge.

Prosecutors accused Levine of running Snipermail as a spam factory, devising computer aliases to get around industry blacklisting. He and his company allegedly stole 1.6 billion customer records -- the equivalent of 550 telephone books -- filled with names, e-mail and postal addresses. The government did not charge anyone with identity theft.

H-1B reforms needed as cap set in 2006

Via the EE Times.

The AeA, the nation's largest high-technology trade association, called for reforms in the current immigration laws in reaction to Friday’s (August 12) announcement by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the H-1B visa cap has been met for 2006.

The USCIS (Washington, D.C.) said the deadline for H-1B visa petitions was Aug. 10.

Congress set an annual H-1B visa cap at 65,000. Some 6,800 visas are set aside for the U.S.-Chile and U.S.- Singapore Free Trade Acts. As a result, the total amount of visas available for fiscal 2006 is 58,200.

"Today's announcement by the USCIS further solidifies the fact that we need to take a serious look at immigration reform," said John Palafoutas, AeA's senior vice president for domestic policy, in a statement.

Know your rights on bank account fraud

Bob Sullivan writes on

Marci Horn's three small children needed her attention more than ever. Her husband's sudden death had left her their only caregiver. Suddenly, the 39-year-old Bethesda, Md., woman had to do all the hugging, all the talking, all the earning — and for the first time she had to take care of the family finances.

So when she received an e-mail that appeared to be from SunTrust last November, she was confused. The e-mail asked her to update her account information. She ignored it, and several others.

"But they became more and more urgent," she said.

So finally, to get SunTrust off her back, Horn clicked on the link and filled out the form.

"I was trying to be responsible, trying to take care of everything," she said. Instead, she found herself in an even bigger hole. A few days later, when she went to withdraw money from her checking account, it was $800 overdrawn.

Within one day, Horn said, her account information had made its way all around the former Soviet Union. A Fraud Charge List she received from the bank, which she showed, reveals a remarkable pattern. A $114.04 withdrawal from Obolensk, Russia — then another, the same day, for $380.13. Three days later, there's a $190.21 withdrawal made in Kyiv, Ukraine. Then a $380.09 withdrawal in Domashna, Latvia. Eventually, along with other charges, there are $224 in non-sufficient funds charges. The tab ran up to $3,000.

UT Football Coach Fears Fans With Phones

Carlo, over on, writes:

University of Texas head football coach Mack Brown has asked fans visiting his team's open practices to leave their cell phones at home after "way too many" fans apparently took photos and video of a player limping off the field during a practice this week. According to the AP, "Brown is worried the pictures could hit the Internet before the coaches have a chance to tell players' families about injuries."

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where the idiocy begins here. They're open practices -- anybody that wants to come in and watch, even scouts for opposing teams, can walk right in, and the whole thing's covered by the media anyway. It's also unclear exactly how cell phones are more dangerous than cameras, especially since any images from across a football field taken with a phone aren't likely to turn out real well. And there are plenty of Longhorn fans who'd wish that Brown was as concerned about beating archrival Oklahoma for the first time in 6 years as he is with cell phones. But finally, if he's so worried about notifying players' parents when they get injured, why don't he or his coaches get a phone of their own, and call them when it happens?

Update: Well, that didn't take long. Brown's closed the team's remaining practices citing "the privacy of players and their families".

Hackers Said To Be Close To Windows 2000 Worm

Greg Keizer writes in TechWeb News:

Just three days after Microsoft disclosed multiple critical vulnerabilities in Windows, exploit code for one of the most dangerous has appeared on the Internet. Security firms sent out alerts warning Windows 2000 users to patch ASAP or risk a worm attack in the near future.

"I don't think [Windows 2000] users have an awful lot of time to patch," said Gunter Ollmann, the director of Internet Security Systems' (ISS) X-force research group. "We'll most certainly see a worm using this exploit," he added.

There's also evidence that hackers are trying to develop code that would successfully attack less-vulnerable Windows XP SP1 machines, Ollmann said. In any case, the clock is ticking. "What's out there now puts this on the level of script kiddies," said Ollmann, using the term for less experienced, less technically-astute hackers.

The patch for the Plug and Play bug was issued Tuesday as bulletin MS05-039 by Microsoft. The bulletin outlined how an anonymous user could grab control of a Windows 2000 machine by sending a specially-crafted message. No user interaction would be required, making the bug a potential hole that hackers could use to create a fast-spreading, destructive worm like earlier network attacks by Slammer or MSBlast.

Multiple security vendors rushed to alert customers and others of the new danger.

Game players say Blizzard invades privacy

Daniel Terdiman writes in C|Net News:

A number of "World of Warcraft" players are up in arms over software being used by the game's publisher to scan users' computers for hacks prohibited under its terms of service.

Many publishers of MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) contend regularly with players crafting illegal software hacks that provide some form of game play advantage, such as increased speed, awareness of monsters, or the like.

To that end, some publishers have deployed programs that can peer into players' computers in an attempt to detect the existence of such hacking software. And Blizzard Entertainment, publisher of "World of Warcraft," is one of those companies.

Windows 2000 users: "Patch now or else..."

Ryan Naraine writes in eWeek:

Windows 2000 users, patch now or else...

That's the blunt warning from Microsoft Corp.'s security response center after "detailed exploit code" for a wormable flaw started circulating on underground security Web sites.

The software maker rushed out an advisory late Thursday night to warn that unpatched Windows 2000 users are at the biggest risk of a PC takeover attack.

Ziff Davis Internet News has confirmed the existence of at least five exploits targeting several different vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft earlier this week.

The one that worries Microsoft the most is the exploit for the Plug and Play vulnerability addressed in the MS05-039 bulletin.

Internet phone carriers still seeking 911 replies

An AP newswire article by Jeremy Pelofsky, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Some of the top U.S. Internet phone providers told U.S. regulators this week they are still trying to obtain acknowledgments from customers that they know the limitations of dialing 911 with their service.

Some customers of Internet phone service, known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), have had trouble getting help when dialing the emergency number 911, which prompted the Federal Communications Commission to order changes.

U.S. mass transit threat alert to be lowered

An AP newswire report, via MSNBC:

The Homeland Security Department lowered the terror threat level Friday for the nation’s mass transit systems, effective after the day’s rush hour.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he would end the high alert for city buses, subways and trains after 36 days of being at code orange in response to the deadly July 7 rush-hour bombings in London.

His order — effective at 8 p.m. local time [EDT] Friday — was returning the national mass transit threat level to code yellow, signifying an elevated risk instead of the high-alert orange.

Cisco Power Calculator

My co-worker & network engineering warrior, Peter, pointed this out to me earlier today (must have a valid account on the Cisco web site to access it). Pretty cool.

Tool Overview

The Cisco® Power Calculator enables you to calculate the power supply requirements for a specific Power over Ethernet (PoE) configuration. The results will show output current, output power, and system heat dissipation. The Cisco Power Calculator supports the following Cisco product series: Cisco Catalyst® 6500, Catalyst 4500, Catalyst 3750, and Catalyst 3560 series switches, and the Cisco 7600 Series Router.

The calculator is an educational resource and a starting point in planning your power requirements; it does not provide a final power recommendation from Cisco. To determine the power requirements and software most appropriate for your company, we suggest you work with a Cisco representative, Cisco channel partner, or a solutions provider.

Real fears legal action from Apple over iPod DRM

Thanks to a post over on Slashdot which pointed this out.

Jo Best writes over on

RealNetworks has revealed its attempt to break the DRM that protects iTunes might not only mean a hit on its bottom line but could also land the company in court.

Real introduced its Harmony technology last year. It enabled consumers to buy iPod-compatible tracks from its online music shop. That involved breaking Apple's FairPlay DRM (digital rights management), which ensures that music bought from rival online music sellers won't play on the iPod.

In a recent SEC filing, Real declared that should Apple update FairPlay to lock Harmony out - as it has done once before, only for Real to crack it again - it could affect Real's business.

FBI Extends Use of Business-Intelligence Software

Steven Martin writes in InformationWeek:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has inked an enterprisewide licensing agreement with MicroStrategy Inc., valued at $1.6 million, to use MicroStrategy's business-intelligence software to provide access to data needed for managing day-to-day FBI operations and for investigative and intelligence activities.

The FBI last year implemented MicroStrategy's software in support of its Investigative Data Warehouse, a system that enables law-enforcement personnel to tap into multiple databases. The bureau has decided to standardize on the software for "other current and near-term projects, as well as some longer-term projects," says Gary Monroe, MicroStrategy's director of federal operations.

The Investigative Data Warehouse was developed in early 2004, a short time after the FBI concluded that its Virtual Case File system--a cornerstone of its IT modernization effort--didn't work as planned. The Virtual Case File system was ultimately scrapped and will be replaced by another information-management system called Sentinel, to be based on a services-oriented architecture and which will be developed in phases over the next four years.

Telecom measure on Texas governor's desk

Claudia Grisales writes in The Austin American-Statesman:

Could big phone companies squeeze a win out of a special session that was suppose to be dedicated to school financing and property tax reform?

With a controversial telecommunications overhaul plan now awaiting Gov. Rick Perry's signature, SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. sure hope so. Perry, who has said he wouldn't sign a telecom measure without school finance done first, may be backing off those lofty goals as hopes dim that lawmakers will reach a deal. "The governor is going to keep his options open," Perry spokesman Robert Black said Wednesday.

Perry has 30 days to sign the measure into law. But the Texas Constitution also allows Perry a way out. Even if he doesn't sign the bill, it automatically will become law after 30 days. Perry could veto the legislation, but he has said that he wants telecom changes to move forward.

In a four-minute period Wednesday morning that included no debate or amendments, the state House voted 144 to 1 (Rep. Robert Talton, R-Pasadena, the lone opponent) to send Senate Bill 5 to Perry's desk for his signature. Late Tuesday, the Senate approved the measure.

Daily fix...

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Veritas Backup Exec Windows Agent Remote File Access Exploit

I sure hope that there aren't many of you that have large deployments of older Veritas Backup software anywhere in their networks -- there are several critical problems that have cropped up in the past week, most notably:

Veritas Backup Exec Windows Agent Remote File Access Exploit

Described here:

I've already heard of a couple of cases where hackers have gained unauthorized access to networks using this, and a couple of other recent Veritas vulnerabilities. See also:

Hackers Keep Sniffing For Buggy Veritas Backup Software

Bag open, cat gone: Mac OS X running on x86

John Murrell writes over on Good Morning, Silicon Valley:

Many would say it was bound to happen. Apple's impending move to Intel chips naturally sparked efforts to see if Mac OS X could be made to run on off-the-shelf x86 equipment despite whatever technical hurdles Apple threw in the way. This week, those efforts appear to have succeeded. A tweaked version of the Intel-flavored Mac OS -- one that bypasses a chip, the Trusted Platform Module, that is intended to prevent the system from running on ordinary PCs -- is out in the wild and has been seen running both natively on PCs and with the help of VMware's virtualization software. Not only that, but it appears to be running faster than the Mac OS does on today's Macs.

Bound to happen, right? Or was it meant to happen? PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak sees a brilliant PR scheme at work that would allow Steve Jobs to grudgingly trot out an unrestricted version of OS X because The People have demanded it. This is what Dvorak wrote four days ago: "Here is how this scenario plays out. Apple plays the game with some sort of trusted-computing lockdown. The source code for the exact mechanism is stolen or hacked or both. It's actually weak and meant to be cracked. Soon the crack is on the Net, and with or without a hardware bypass, the code is shown working on a Dell. Apple protests and threatens to sue anyone caught running the code. This results in all sorts of publicity, as the average user wants to know what all the fuss is about." And here we are.

Google Halts Scanning of Copyrighted Books

An AP newswire article by Michael Leidtke, via, reports that:

Stung by a publishing industry backlash, Google Inc. has halted its efforts to scan copyrighted books from some of the nation's largest university libraries so the material can be indexed in its leading Internet search engine.

The company announced the suspension, effective until November, in a notice posted on its Web site just before midnight Thursday by Adam Smith, the manager of its ambitious program to convert millions of books into a digital format.

'Special skills' hurt credit card thief

Declan McCullagh writes the C|Net News "Police Blotter":

A quick investigation revealed that the credit card numbers had been reported as lost or stolen, and Prochner confessed to obtaining them from the Internet. In a written statement, he described altering Web sites' cgi-bin addresses in a way that let him view order logs with credit card numbers.

After his confession, Prochner seemed to realize he had little chance in court. He plead guilty in July 2003 to violating a federal law prohibiting the possession of 15 or more credit card numbers with intent to defraud. He was sentenced to a 25-month prison term and three years of supervised release.

His attorney appealed, saying the sentence, which included $2,610.19 of restitution, was too harsh. Prochner also challenged a requirement barring him from working with children while on supervised release--a condition imposed because entries in his journal talked about wanting to have sex with boys and, in the court's words, indicated that he "may have" done so.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected all of his arguments.

TiVo Tests Internet Download Service

An AP newswire article by Greg Sandoval, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Add TiVo Inc. to the list of companies trying to wed the Internet to television. The digital recording company is preparing to enable customers to download TV shows to their set-top boxes via the Internet — even before the shows air on TV.

TiVo has struck a deal with the Independent Film Channel to transmit several of the cable channel's shows through a broadband connection as part of a trial program. A group of customers were asked to take part in the test and those who chose to participate will begin receiving the IFC shows next week, said Tivo spokesman Elliot Sloane.

Windows AntiSpyware to Remain Free

Nate Mook writes in BetaNews:

Windows enthusiast sites flew into a tizzy this week following a Windows OneCare beta chat session in which a Microsoft employee inferred that Windows AntiSpyware would be dropped at the conclusion of its beta program. There was only one problem with the news: it wasn't true.

While an enterprise version of Windows AntiSpyware will be offered to businesses for a cost and OneCare is also slated include the technology, Microsoft plans to continue making the software available at no charge for end-users.

Cisco to double Catalyst 6500 switch capacity in coming months, report says

Phil Hochmuth writes in NetworkWorld:

Cisco is readying a Catalyst 6500 switch upgrade that will double the bandwidth on the device, allowing for greater support of 10G Ethernet, a report says.

Cisco is planning to launch its Supervisor 1440 module for the Catalyst 6500 in the next two months, according to a report by UBS. The new module will reportedly support 1.4T bit/sec of bandwidth to the switch, doubling the capacity of the previous Supervisor 720 module.

Cisco said it does not comment on unannounced products and would not confirm or provide details on the Supervisor 1440 product.

"Cisco has not done an update for almost two years," says Long Jiang, a UBS Warburg analyst. "And now that they are doing it, it's going to make them more competitive. It's going to create more competitive pressure to a tier 2 vendor. All vendors will feel some increased pressure from Cisco."

U.S. Internet Security Called 'Alarming'

Via NewsFactor Technology News.

The United States' information technology infrastructure is "highly vulnerable to terrorist and criminal attacks," an expert has said.

The I.T. infrastructure includes air traffic control systems, power grids and financial systems.

"The country's problem with cybersecurity is very serious, and is going to get worse in the next five years before it gets any better," Cliff Lau, chairman of the Research and Development Policy Committee of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA, told Today's Engineer.

"I would say the situation not only is alarming, but is almost out of control," Lau said.

Study author Barton Reppert, who interviewed two members of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee, noted that 100,000 known viruses and worms exist, and that some major end-users are throwing out infected systems rather than trying to fix them.

Beer is really good for you, scientists say

Ah, yes. And there's even a technology angle to it. Right on. ;-)

Tamlin McGee writes in The Inquirer:

IT'S GOOD NEWS FOR hacks all over the globe, as a bunch of researchers from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, and the Tokyo University of Science, have found that beer is actually really good for you.

Researchers are hoping that the discovery will lead to a new radiation drug being developed, or at least a more party friendly atmosphere in the hospital wards.

UK: £200K card skimming gang caged

John Leyden writes in The Register:

Four members of an ATM card skimming gang blamed for stealing at least £200,000 were each jailed for four years on Thursday. The unfantastic foursome, all from Eastern Europe, put false facias on cash machines and filmed shoppers entering their PIN numbers.

The London-based gang were caught when staff in a Cardiff hotel became suscipicious and called the police. Investigators arerested the gang and recovered a cache of hi-tech equipment from their hotel and a car including laptop computers, cameras, tape recorders, radio transmitters and a false fascia for an ATM machine. The gang used a wireless link to download card data onto a laptop. Police recovered the card details of 129 accounts leading to charges they might have netted up to £200,000 through the scam.

Prosecutor Nuhu Gobir told the court: "Equipment seized from the defendants showed the defendants were engaged in a well-organised and highly sophisticated operation to defraud banks of thousands of pounds. The false fascia was examined and found to contain an electronic card reader and memory recording for retaining the details of bank cards. This would be done when the cards were put through the fascia. The criminal technique involved in this is known as 'skimming'."

Rulan Ashan, 20, from Chechnya, Ivan Grosu, 23, from Moldova as well as Romanians Lucian Carabgeac, 32 and Vornicu Florin, 26, were sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court after admitting consiracy to steal. Each faces deportation after serving their sentence on the recommendation from Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones. ATM users were urged to be vigilient about using their cards., Sell for $750,000 Apiece

Via Netcraft.

The market for resold domains continued to trend higher with a series of spectacular deals this month. Meanwhile, prices for first-time domain registrations can't get much lower, with pricing unchanged at all major providers this month.

The sales of and for $750,000 apiece set the pace in the resale market. The mid-July sale of was the highest sale price this year, according to auctioneer, topping the $700,000 sale of in March. The buyer, Hub Services Ltd., operates DotEasy, a free hosting service in British Columbia. That price was matched early this month when New Jersey commercial real estate professional Ted Kraus sold for $750,000 in a private sale, with industry veteran Rick Schwartz reported to be the buyer.

Traffic light hackers now criminals under new law

Kevin Poulsen writes in Wired News:

If you've ever been stuck in traffic longing for a magic box that could turn all your red lights to green, beware: Acting on that fantasy became a federal crime this week.

The Safe Intersections Act, part of the transit bill signed Wednesday by President Bush, makes it a misdemeanor for unauthorized users to wield a "traffic signal pre-emption transmitter," a special remote control used by police, firefighters and ambulance drivers to change traffic lights to green as they approach an intersection.

Microsoft's "monkeys" find first zero-day exploit

Robert Lemos writes in SecurityFocus:

Microsoft's experimental Honeymonkey project has found almost 750 Web pages that attempt to load malicious code onto visitors' computers and detected an attack using a vulnerability that had not been publicly disclosed, the software giant said in a paper released this month.

Known more formerly as the Strider Honeymonkey Exploit Detection System, the project uses automated Windows XP clients to surf questionable parts of the Web looking for sites that compromise the systems without any user interaction. In the latest experiments, Microsoft has identified 752 specific addresses owned by 287 Web sites that contain programs able to install themselves on a completely unpatched Windows XP system.

Honeymonkeys, a name coined by Microsoft, modify the concept of honeypots--computers that are placed online and monitored to detect attacks.

Computer Theft Case Shows Database Perils

An AP newwire article by David Hammer, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

On the hunt for a hacker two years ago, security officials at data management company Acxiom Corp. discovered that an Internet address at one of its clients' contractors was taking far more data than it should have.

The e-mail marketing contractor, Florida-based, gathered contact information and sent bulk-email advertisements and sweepstakes offers on behalf of advertisers. But downloading 1.6 billion customer records — the equivalent of 550 telephone books filled with names, e-mail and postal addresses — wasn't part of the job.

Prosecutors say the company and its owner, Scott Levine, were stealing the data from Acxiom servers for its own purposes.

On Friday, a federal jury in Little Rock was continuing its deliberations on 144 federal theft, conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction charges against Levine. Six other Snipermail employees pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and testified against Levine in the case.

The computer theft case is considered the largest the U.S. government has prosecuted to date.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter successfully launches

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A spacecraft blasted off Friday into a golden early morning sky, beginning a mission to Mars to gather more data on the Red Planet than all combined previous missions.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter lifted off on an Atlas V rocket on a seven-month journey to Mars. The booster rocket shut down and dropped off into the Atlantic Ocean minutes into the launch. Seconds later, the second-stage rocket engine ignited.

"Surveying for the deepest insights into the mysterious evolution of Mars!" NASA commentator George Diller said after liftoff. The launch came just three days after space shuttle Discovery completed its mission.

Dogbert on Phishing

Click on image for enlargement.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Talks between Qwest, union head down to the wire

An AP newswire article, via The Mercury News, reports that:

Negotiations between Qwest Communications and its largest union appeared headed down to the wire Thursday as union officials said the two sides have been unable to agree on issues such as health care, wages and a mandatory overtime policy.

Teams for Qwest Communications International Inc. and the Communications Workers of America continued their discussions with the contract set to expire at midnight Saturday.

The company and the union have made standard contingency preparations in the event of a walkout that would involve nearly 25,000 workers in 13 mostly Western states ranging from customer service representatives to technicians. Qwest is negotiating separately with a union representing about 350 workers in Montana.

Union members were readying materials to make picket signs and working on picket-line schedules. Qwest managers would take over for workers in the event of a strike.

Segregated Saudis flirt via Bluetooth

An AP newswire article by Donna Abu-Nasr, via USA Today, reports that:

The restaurant, like all Riyadh eateries, has taken precautions to prevent its male and female diners from seeing or contacting each other. Circular white walls surround each table in the family section, open only to women alone or women accompanied by close male relatives. Other male diners are on lower floors. Yet despite the barriers, the men and women flirt and exchange phone numbers, photos and kisses.

They elude the mores imposed by the kingdom's puritanical Wahhabi version of Islam — formulated in the 18th century — by using a 21st century device in their mobile phones: the wireless Bluetooth technology that permits users to connect without going through the phone company.

New Keylogger Steals Passwords From IE

Gregg Keizer writes in TechWeb News:

The keylogger behind a major identity theft ring is especially invasive, said an anti-spyware vendor Thursday as it prepared to roll out a free detection and deletion tool.

Last week, Florida security company Sunbelt Software said one of its researchers had stumbled on a server that held a file containing a large number of usernames, passwords, telephone numbers, credit card and bank account numbers, and other personal information.

All the information, Sunbelt now says, was gathered with a new, potentially damaging keylogger, a small program which secretly steals information.

The keylogger, which has been dubbed Srv.SSA-KeyLogger, filches data from users' Internet sessions, including logins and passwords from online banking sessions, eBay, PayPal, and other programs that use HTML-based forms to collect information. Intuit's Quicken, for instance, often relies on a Web-based interface to download a user's account statement to the personal finance software's database.

Related to the Dumador/Nibu family of Trojans, this keylogger is especially malevolent, said Eric Sites, the vice president of research and development at Sunbelt. "It doesn't sit and wait around for a password to be typed in," he said, a trait of most keyloggers. "Instead, it steals data from Internet Explorer's Protected Storage area."

Most Spam Sent From Zombies

Via TechWeb News.

For the third straight month, most of the spam sent across the Internet originated on zombie machines, hijacked computers remotely controlled by spammers, a mail security firm said Thursday.

According to Denver-based MX Logic, 56 percent of the spam it tracked during July was sent by zombies infected with a malicious Trojan horse and transformed into a spam-spewing monster. That's down from June's 62 percent, but up slightly from May's 55 percent.

"Hijacked PCs have become not only the preferred distribution tool for spammers, but also a primary source of Internet pollution," said Scott Chasin, the chief technology officer at MX Logic, in a statement.

MX Logic also said that the percentage of unsolicited commercial e-mail complying with the federal anti-spam CAN SPAM Act ticked up a bit in July. Last month, 4 percent of all unsolicited mail met the law's requirements; in June, that figure was 3 percent, also the average since Can Spam went into effect in January 2004.

Hackers Keep Sniffing For Buggy Veritas Backup Software

Via TechWeb News.

Attackers are scanning for system running the vulnerable Veritas Backup Exec software, Symantec warned customers of its DeepSight Threat Management system Thursday.

In late June, Veritas released a slew of security advisories warning customers that its backup software was vulnerable to attack. Shortly after, Symantec noted a spike in scanning for one of the ports used by Backup Exec.

Thursday's alert was a repeat of sorts, although the port being probed is different -- TCP port 6101 -- and is likely caused by a different piece of malicious code.

"The scanning may be associated with a recent rise in infection rates attributed to a variant of Spybot observed by Symantec DeepSight Honeypots," read the alert. " Spybot includes an code targeting vulnerabilities in Veritas Backup Exec in its arsenal of exploits."

Among the evidence Symantec used to back up the alert was a steep rise in the number of IP addresses from which the port probes originated.

Administrators should patch Backup Exec "as soon as possible," advised Symantec, and filtering incoming data for port 6101.

E-mail wiretap case can proceed, court says

Declan McCullagh writes in C|Net News:

In a closely watched case governing Internet privacy, a federal appeals court has reinstated a criminal case against an e-mail provider accused of violating wiretap laws.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 5-2 vote, ruled on Thursday that an e-mail provider who allegedly read correspondence meant for his customers could be tried on federal criminal charges.

That decision reverses a 2-1 vote by a three-judge panel last year that raised alarms among civil libertarians and even sparked a flurry of efforts in Congress to rewrite wiretapping law in response.

The case deals with an indictment of Bradford Councilman, formerly vice president of online bookseller Interloc, which is now part of Alibris.

Microsoft rifles ex-employee's (Windows) trashcan

Gavin Clarke writes in The Register:

Once again, a major industry case involving Microsoft is getting dirty as investigators rifle trashcans. Only this time, it's the trashcan in Windows.

A document recovered from the Recycle Bin of ex-Microsoft vice president Kai Fu-Lee's PC has apparently revealed a belief that Microsoft could sue over Google's decision to hire Lee.

According to a report, the discarded document said Google would place Lee on a leave of absence or give him a consulting position for up to a year should Microsoft try to prevent Lee from working at Google because of his noncompete agreement.

Lee, who founded Microsoft's China R&D operation and who is an expert in natural language interfaces, was hired by internet search giant Google last month. Microsoft promptly filed against Google and Lee citing "egregious violation" of the noncompete clause in his Microsoft contract.

Boing Boing: Gallery of Star Trek business cards

I almost wet myself when I saw this. :-)

Thanks to Xeni for posting it!

This most excellent collection of Star Trek business cards includes Spock, Kirk, and other universally familiar names -- but I was delighted to find less frequently seen characters like Harold Mudd, too. "Mudd's Women" is one of my all-time favorite episodes.

The calling card for Kang, Klingon High Commander, reads, "WARS ARRANGED / PLANETS CONQUERED / NO WAR TOO SMALL."

Link to business card images. (Thanks, Christophe)

C|Net "apologizes" to Google...

Ed Oswald writes in BetaNews:

British CNET subsidiary ZDNet UK issued what appeared to be a sarcastic apology to Google this week, calling into question the search giant's decision not to talk with CNET reporters until July 2006. The open letter was not signed by anyone, only "Leader" whose email directed to the site's general mailbox.

Acting under the mistaken impression that Google's search engine was intended to help research public data, we have in the past enthusiastically abused the system to conduct exactly the kind of journalism that Google finds so objectionable," the site says in its letter.

'Largest' communication satellite launched

Via CNN.

A Thai-owned communications satellite was launched early Thursday off French Guiana, officials said. Billed as the world's largest, the satellite will provide Internet access and multimedia services for the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and New Zealand.

The launch of the satellite was set for 6:39 GMT Thursday (2:39 a.m. ET), but was more than an hour and a half late after the countdown was halted at the 7-minute mark.

The Web site of Arianespace, the company that conducted the launch, said the delay was called during the two-hour launch window to verify telemetry readings from the Ariane 5 launcher.

The satellite, called Thaicom 4, will be operated by Shin Satellite, a company owned by the family of Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and is the fourth satellite launched by the company. It weighs more than 7 tons and cost $400 million, and was built by Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California

The satellite has bandwidth capacity of 45 gigabytes [sic] per second and will route data through 18 gateways. Settles Patent Lawsuit for $40M

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that: Inc. Thursday said it paid $40 million to Soverain Software LLC to settle a patent-infringement lawsuit.

Soverain, a small Chicago-based company, had alleged that Amazon's Web site infringed several Soverain patents on network sales systems and Internet server access control and monitoring systems.

Seattle-based Amazon said in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects to record a previously unanticipated charge of up to $40 million in third quarter.

The suit was originally filed in January 2004 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

An amended lawsuit filed in October 2004 by Soverain alleged that infringed on two additional patents.

Spanish Police Shut Down Movie Web Site

An AP newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

A Web site that let users exchange pirated moves has been shut down and its four creators have been arrested, Spanish police said Thursday.

The association representing Spain's recording industry estimated that the site,, attracted 11.2 million visitors between its February 2004 launch and May this year. That gave its owners an opportunity to raise "substantial" sums in advertising revenue, police said.

The site featured illegal copies of newly released movies, some of them illicitly recorded in movie theaters.

Earlier this year, the Spanish government approved a plan aimed at curbing the country's thriving trade in bootleg video and music recordings, setting up a special police unit.

Sullivan gets five years for WorldCom fraud

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Former WorldCom finance chief Scott Sullivan was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for his high-ranking role in the largest accounting fraud in U.S. history.

Sullivan became the fifth WorldCom executive to be sentenced to prison in the $11 billion scandal. His sentence is topped only by that of ex-CEO Bernard Ebbers, who got 25 years.

Sullivan, 43, was the star witness at Ebbers’ trial earlier this year, testifying the CEO repeatedly instructed him to “hit the numbers” — or adjust WorldCom’s books to meet Wall Street expectations.

Google Outsmarts MS at LinuxWorld

Nate Mook writes in BetaNews:

Engineers from Google and Microsoft faced off at LinuxWorld in New York last week to see which company could answer the most tech-related trivia. The search engine rivals took part in the Golden Penguin Bowl, which was heralded as a battle of good against evil - or Google's "Geeks" against Microsoft's "Nerds."

Attired in Star Wars regalia, Microsoft took an early lead with a question about the Apple Lisa, but missed one on the year Windows 1.0 was released to the public: 1985. Google answered its fare share of open source questions and eventually won the competition 19,000 to 18,750.

Canada: Glitch rectified after entire graduating class fails

From Thursday's Globe and Mail:

The Ministry of Education appears to have rectified a computer error that led to more than 300 graduating students at North Peace Secondary School receiving transcripts saying they failed.

The ministry sent out new high school transcripts to students this week, said district school superintendent Ron Samborski, and universities and the district office will also receive updated marks for the students.

Last week, official transcripts of high school marks said that every student had not met the requirements for graduation, with grades for non-examinable courses not appearing on the document.

The glitch likely occurred when data were sent from the high school to the ministry, but what exactly occurred remains unknown.

NASA postpones launch of Mars orbiter

An AP newswire article by Mike Schneider, via USA Today, reports that:

NASA postponed the launch of a spacecraft to Mars on Thursday after a glitch popped up in the computer software used for monitoring the fueling of the rocket used for liftoff.

The problem with sensors and software that measure the amount of fuel being loaded into the rocket appeared with just minutes left until liftoff. The launch was rescheduled for Friday morning, three days after the shuttle Discovery returned to Earth.

Before the glitch, the only problem NASA faced was with an early morning thunderstorm that had delayed fueling. But NASA officials couldn't explain why sensors were reading "dry" when other data showed that the rocket was being filled with propellant.

"We weren't quite sure what the cause was and we felt we didn't have enough time left ... to pursue it any further," said Chuck Dovale, NASA launch director.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, equipped with the largest telescopic camera ever sent to another planet, was expected to spend at least four years circling Mars, collecting information that will help NASA plan where to land two robotic explorers later this decade.

Qualcomm to buy Flarion for about $600 million

Via Reuters.

Qualcomm Inc. said on Thursday it would buy privately held wireless broadband technology supplier Flarion Technologies for about $600 million in stock and cash in a bid to expand its wireless technology.

Qualcomm, a wireless technology license and chip supplier, said it may pay an additional $205 million in cash and stock over the next few years depending on certain milestones.

Qualcomm said it expects the deal to dilute its fiscal 2006 earnings per share by about 3 cents. Upon closing the deal it expects $10 million in one-off charges related to in-process research and development.

It plans to issue $267 million of stock and assume existing Flarion options and warrants valued at about $128 million, and pay about $205 million in cash, net of Flarion's projected cash balance at the close of the deal.

Within eight years of the close Qualcomm plans to issue another $35 million of stock and pay another $170 million in cash.

Qualcomm expects to close the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, later this year. Flarion was advised by Evercore Partners and Qualcomm was advised by Morgan Stanley.

Verizon Wireless Personal Data Advisory



Verizon Wireless customers in the east may have had limited personal information about their account viewed by other Verizon Wireless customers up until early August 11, 2005, when the problem was corrected by Verizon Wireless' Security Response Team.

The problem appears to have been localized to the systems containing information about Verizon Wireless customers in the east, or approximately one third of the customer base. Therefore, only customers living in the east were at risk for having any personal information leaked.

The problem was confirmed fixed on August 11 at 2AM EST by a Verizon Wireless Information Security Team member, and tested and confirmed fixed by Nuclear Elephant.

About the Vulnerability:

A sanity check failed to exist in ebillpay's unbilled-usage modules to to correlate phone numbers with accounts. This could have been used by a malicious user to mine data through Verizon Wireless' website about other Verizon Wireless customers. The data available included statement activity such as current balance and last payment made, and usage information. It may have also been possible at one point to activate a handset on another customers' phone number (this, however, remained unconfirmed due to the entire activation tool being unavailable at the time the vulnerability was discovered; Verizon Wireless has not commented on whether this particular vulnerability existed).

UK: Telewest announces 10 meg broadband

Tim Richardson writes in The Register:

Telewest is following the lead of NTL by increasing broadband access speeds to 10 meg.

From next month, the cable company is to begin work upgrading its network on a region-by-region basis. The work is expected to be completed early next year.

Once completed, punters currently hooked up to Telewest's entry-level 512K service will see their speed increased to 2 meg. Those currently hooked up to 1 meg will see their speed accelerate to to 4 meg while the rest will get the full 10 meg.

Prices will remain the same, which means a 10 meg service should cost around £35 a month.

AOL Wins Judgment Against Spammers

Mike Musgrove writes in The Washington Post:

America Online Inc. won a $13 million judgment yesterday against a prominent spam gang in its first case filed under a law allowing seizure of spammers' assets.

Following the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, AOL said it does not know how much of the $13 million award it will be able to recover.

One spammer, Braden M. Bourneval, a 20-year-old chess champion from New Hampshire, cooperated with AOL in the investigation and agreed to surrender gold, cash and a 2003 Hummer H2 to the company.

The company has been unable to locate the other main spammer named in the suit, Davis Wolfgang Hawke, who has been associated with neo-Nazi groups.

Yahoo takes 40% stake in China's Alibaba

Scott Hillis writes for Reuters:

Yahoo Inc. will pay $1 billion for 40 percent of Chinese Web auctioneer, taking on eBay and search firm as it extends its reach in the world's second-biggest Internet market. The highly anticipated cash deal announced on Thursday also merges Yahoo's search operations -- China's second-largest after Baidu -- and Alibaba's business-to-business and consumer Web auction operations, which trail only eBay's.

Yahoo will also fold its Chinese mail, messaging and other operations into Alibaba.

The newly merged entity is valued at $4 billion, and will be headed by Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma. Yahoo gets 35 percent voting rights, with co-founder Jerry Yang taking a seat on a new four-member board.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Kansas Schools OK Scrutiny of Evolution

"Scrutiny of evolution?"

My head is getting ready to exlpode....

This strikes as being similar to saying "Fergie okays scrutiny of Happy Hour"...

The fact that it exists never seems to faze some people when their rationale -- or rather, their determination to legitimize their own beliefs -- seems to get in the way of the facts.

An AP newswire article, via ABC News, alarms us with this:

The Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 Tuesday to include greater criticism of evolution in its school science standards, but it decided to send the standards to an outside academic for review before taking a final vote.

The Kansas school system was ridiculed around the country in 1999 when the board deleted most references to evolution. The system later reversed course, but the language favored by the board Tuesday comes from advocates of intelligent design.

The intelligent design concept holds that some features of the natural world are best explained by an unspecified intelligent cause. Evolution is a fundamental scientific theory that species evolved over millions of years through natural selection.

Jumpline, Domicile and Pair Networks Most Reliable Hosting Company Site during July

Via Netcraft.

Jumpline, France Telecom and Pair Networks share the top slot as as the most reliable hosting company sites this month.

Pair, a Pittsburgh, Pa. shared hosting company, is a regular in our survey, with numerous top 10 appearances in addition to being the most reliable provider in February 2005, July 2004 and February 2004. Jumpline was previously the most reliable provider in April 2004. The Columbus, Ohio provider specializes in virtual private servers. France Telecom made its first appearance in our reliability survey in May.

This month Linux, Windows and FreeBSD all have 3 sites each in the top 10, with one running Solaris.

Netcraft measures and makes available the response times of fifty leading hosting providers' sites. The performance measurements are made at fifteen minute intervals from eight separate points around the internet, and averages are calculated over the immediately preceding 24 hour period.

Slashdot: Google Gives Reason Why it is Built on Linux

Over on Slashdot, Rob writes:

"A common reason why more governments and enterprises around the world are moving to open source software is unhappiness, it was revealed during a panel discussion at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco yesterday. Google Inc open source programs manager Chris DiBona said the search giant has stuck with Linux throughout the company's life, in part, because it was unhappy with the terms of another software company. Which borgware company is he referring to?"

New York law now requires notification of data breaches

Declan McCullagh writes in C|Net News:

New York Governor George Pataki on Wednesday signed a bill that requires businesses and state government agencies to notify consumers if sensitive data is nabbed in a security breach. This places New York on the list of states such as California that have adopted similar rules--while many other states and the federal government are considering them.

New York's new law, A.4254, applies only to sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers, or credit card numbers that are not encrypted. It requires written notice, electronic notice if the account holder "expressly" consented to it, or notification through the media if the cost would exceed $250,000.

Copyright Office poll: IE-only OK?

What?!? Insanity...

Paul Festa writes in C|Net News:

Signaling a new addition to the list of browser-specific Web sites, the U.S. Copyright Office solicited opinions on a planned Internet Explorer-only zone.

The office, a division of the Library of Congress, invited comments through Aug. 22 on an upcoming Web service for prospective copyright owners that may launch with support for only limited browsers.

"At this point in the process of developing the Copyright Office's system for online preregistration, it is not entirely clear whether the system will be compatible with Web browsers other than Microsoft Internet Explorer versions 5.1 and higher," the office said in its notice. "In order to ensure that preregistration can be implemented in a smoothly functioning and timely manner, the office now seeks comments that will assist it in determining whether any eligible parties will be prevented from preregistering a claim due to browser requirements of the preregistration system."

The Copyright Office's request for comments goes to the heart of the battle over Web market share and Web standards. Web standards advocates have long argued that inconsistencies in the way browser makers implement standards--that is, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) recommendations--force Web developers to write different pages for individual browsers. Another concern is that Web page and application developers have to perform quality assurance testing multiple times for different browsers.

Reminder: Blogger database mainatenance tonight

Reminder: The Blogger folks are going to be doing some "major" database maintenance tonight at 20:00 CDT (GMT -05:00). They tell me that it will only take an hour or so.... - ferg

Ameritrade Is Accused of Delaying Trades

An AP newswire article by Kevin O'Hanlon, via, reports that:

Online broker Ameritrade is being accused of costing investors $100 million by delaying orders to buy and sell stock.

A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleges that Omaha-based Ameritrade Holding Corp. in one instance took more than an hour to execute a trade, costing an investor more than $26,000.

"Some of the trades ... were delayed hours," said attorney Max Folkenflik, who filed the lawsuit for Telco Group, Inc., a telecommunications company based in Flushing, N.Y., on behalf of all Ameritrade customers since April 2000.

Ameritrade spokeswoman Kim Hillyer declined comment on the lawsuit.

TSA: Developing "Shoe Weapons Inspection Systems"

Brock N. Meeks writes on

If the Transportation Security Administration has its way, wearing flip flops through airport security checkpoints will once again be a lifestyle choice instead of an attempt to avoid the podiatric strip tease now associated with airline travel in the post-9/11 era.

According to a federal business opportunities web site, the TSA is inviting companies to voluntarily participate in a test program to develop technologies for “Shoe Weapons Inspection Systems (SWIS) that can inspect footwear for weapons without passengers having to remove or divest them from their feet.”

UK: Union calls for halt to RFID tracking of workers

Thanks to Declan McCullagh for pointing this out in his PoliTech Blog.

An article in reveals that:

The GMB is calling on the European Commission to legislate to outlaw the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) and GPS satellite linked wearable computers to tag and track workers in the workplace.

Retailers including Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Tesco were faced with the charge of "dehumanising their workforce" in June, after research from the GMB union claimed the use of electronic tagging for staff was on the rise.

The report by Michael Blakemore, a professor at Durham University, found that companies - predominately those supplying goods to supermarkets - were increasingly requiring staff to wear devices on their wrists and fingers that tell them which goods to pick in different areas of warehouses.

However, the GMB claims the devices also register how long it takes workers to go from one part of the warehouse to another, what breaks the workers require, and how long they need to go to the toilet. "Any deviation from these times is not tolerated," it said.

The companies vehemently denied this was the case.

Jury Deliberates Trial of Accused Hacker

An AP newswire article by David Hammer, via ABC News, reports that:

A federal jury began deliberations Wednesday in the trial of an accused computer hacker in one of the largest federal computer theft cases.

Scott Levine, former chief executive of the bulk e-mail firm Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., faces 144 counts from a July 2004 indictment in what prosecutors described as one of the largest computer crime cases ever. Levine is accused of stealing 8.2 gigabytes of information from Little Rock-based Acxiom Corp., one of the world's largest database companies. The violations occurred from around April 2002 to August 2003.

The 1.6 billion records included names, home addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, bank and credit card numbers involving millions of individuals. But prosecutors determined that no identity fraud was committed. There was, however, a sale of information to a marketing company, prosecutors say.

Groups Slam FCC on Internet Phone Tap Rule

An AP newswire article by Jennifer C. Kerr, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

New regulations making it easier for law enforcement to tap Internet phone calls will also make computer systems more vulnerable to hackers, digital privacy and civil liberties groups say.

While the groups don't want the Internet to be a safe haven for terrorists and criminals, they complain that expanding wiretapping laws to cover Internet calls — or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — will create additional points of attack and security holes that hackers can exploit.

"Once you enable third-party access to Internet-based communication, you create a vulnerability that didn't previously exist," Marc Rotenberg, executive director at the Electronic Privacy Information Center said in an interview Wednesday. "It will put at risk the stability and security of the Internet."

Tucows Receives .EU Registrar Accreditation

Via Tucows website.

Tucows Inc. announces that it has received accreditation from EurID, operator of the .EU registry, to provide its network of global service providers with access to resell .EU, the official domain name of the European Community.

Tucows is currently accredited with a number of European national registries and provides wholesale domain name registration services for .UK (United Kingdom), .DE (Germany), .IT (Italy), .NL (Netherlands), .FR (France), .BE (Belgium), .AT (Austria) and .CH (Switzerland). It plans to add .ES (Spain), .DK (Denmark) and .PL (Poland) to its inventory of country code domain names it is authorized to sell.

Tucows will be prepared to offer the .EU domain name at the time of the registry's pre-launch period in late 2005.