Saturday, December 10, 2005

IEEE Gives WiMax The Green Light

William Eazel writes on

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has quietly ratified the long-awaited 802.16e standard for mobile WiMAX, which is also known as 802.16-2005.

The move was greeted warmly by equipment vendors, which to date have been faced with the dilemma of pushing WiMAX’s fixed wireless predecessor, 802.16d, also known as 802.16-2004, or developing pre-standard variants of the mobile technology.

User Friendly: Going After Wikipedia


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EFF: An Open Letter to SunnComm/MediaMax

Via The EFF.

December 09, 2005

Mr. Kevin M. Clement
President and Chief Executive Officer
MediaMax Technologies, Inc.

Mr. Clement:

As you know, we have already discovered one security concern arising from the MediaMax software, resulting in the patch issued on Tuesday and the revised patch issued yesterday.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) remains concerned that additional security flaws will be discovered in MediaMax software, in both version 5 and version 3. EFF isn't alone in this concern. Indeed, as Professor Ed Felten has noted, "Experience teaches that where there is one bug, there are probably others. That’s doubly true where the basic design of the product is risky. I’d be surprised if there aren’t more security bugs lurking in MediaMax." See

While Sony BMG has taken some steps to address the security vulnerabilities in the MediaMax software, we are very concerned about consumers who purchase "MediaMax'd" CDs from labels other than Sony BMG, such as Cuban Link's "Chain Reaction" by Men of Business Records, Peter Cetera’s “You Just Gotta Love Christmas" by Viastar Records or MediaMax'd releases on KOCH Records. Many of these consumers have not been notified of this security issue, and indeed may be unaware that they even have a security vulnerability.

To ensure that all affected consumer received notice of the problem and to reduce the possibility that such problems will re-occur, we urge SunnComm International, Inc. and MediaMax Technology Corp. to promptly:

  1. Publish a list of every CD, regardless of label, that employs the MediaMax technology, including the version.
  2. Provide every other label using MediaMax with information about the vulnerability, and confirm this to EFF.
  3. Work with those labels to quickly and effectively resolve the security vulnerability.
  4. Pulicly commit to ensuring that MediaMax software does not install when the user clicks "No."
  5. Publicly commit to including true uninstallers in all versions of MediaMax software.
  6. Publicly commit to providing all future MediaMax software to an independent security testing firm, and to the public release of the results of such test.

We look forward to a prompt response affirming your intent to take the above steps and setting forth a timeline for their completion.


Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation

FCC Sets Rules For Some In-Flight Radio Auctions

Stephen Lawson writes in InfoWorld:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Friday took one step closer to introducing competition in the air-to-ground radio band now used for the seatback phones seen on most airplanes.

The agency set rules for a planned auction that should result in at least two service providers competing in the 800MHz band. Services could include voice, data services and broadband Internet access, the FCC has said.

The spectrum at stake, a band 4MHz wide, today is licensed exclusively by Verizon Communications Inc. for its Airfone service, which uses narrowband phones installed in seatbacks. That service has not lived up to expectations because it is expensive, limited to voice and not often used, Commissioner Michael Copps said in a statement last December when the FCC decided to auction off the spectrum. At that time, the agency granted Verizon a five-year, non-renewable extension of its license but ordered the carrier to eventually fit the Airfone service into just 1MHz of the band.

Live Tracking of Mobile Phones Prompts Court Fights on Privacy

Matt Richtel writes in The New York Times:

Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.

In recent years, law enforcement officials have turned to cellular technology as a tool for easily and secretly monitoring the movements of suspects as they occur. But this kind of surveillance - which investigators have been able to conduct with easily obtained court orders - has now come under tougher legal scrutiny.

In the last four months, three federal judges have denied prosecutors the right to get cellphone tracking information from wireless companies without first showing "probable cause" to believe that a crime has been or is being committed. That is the same standard applied to requests for search warrants.

The rulings, issued by magistrate judges in New York, Texas and Maryland, underscore the growing debate over privacy rights and government surveillance in the digital age.

Viacom Acquires DreamWorks SKG for $1.6B

Sharon Waxman and Geraldine Fabrikant write in The New York Times:

Moving swiftly after negotiations bogged down with a rival bidder, Viacom closed a deal on Friday to pay $1.6 billion to acquire DreamWorks SKG, the Hollywood studio founded by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, according to executives involved in the negotiations.

Viacom and its studio division, Paramount Pictures, sealed the acquisition at a meeting on Friday among Mr. Geffen; Mr. Spielberg; Viacom's chief executive, Tom Freston; and Paramount's chairman, Brad Grey.

Court Rules Against Mom in RIAA Download Suit

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

A federal appeals court late Friday upheld the music industry's $22,500 judgment against a Chicago mother caught illegally distributing songs over the Internet.

The court rejected her defense that she was innocently sampling music to find songs she might buy later and compared her downloading and distributing the songs to shoplifting.

The decision against Cecilia Gonzalez, 29, represents one of the earliest appeals court victories by the music industry in copyright lawsuits it has filed against thousands of computer users. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago threw out Gonzalez's arguments that her Internet activities were permitted under U.S. copyright laws.

Gonzalez had rejected a proposed settlement from music companies of about $3,500. A federal judge later filed a summary judgment against her and ordered her to pay $750 for each of 30 songs she was accused of illegally distributing over the Internet.

EFF Sues N.C. for Illegally Certifying Voting Equipment

Via The EFF.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Thursday filed a complaint against the North Carolina Board of Elections and the North Carolina Office of Information Technology Services on behalf of voting integrity advocate Joyce McCloy, asking that the Superior Court void the recent illegal certification of three electronic voting systems.

North Carolina law requires the Board of Elections to rigorously review all voting system code "prior to certification." Ignoring this requirement, the Board of Elections on December 1st certified voting systems offered by Diebold Election Systems, Sequoia Voting Systems, and Election Systems and Software without having first obtained – let alone reviewed – the system code.

"This is about the rule of law," said EFF Staff Attorney Matt Zimmerman. "The Board of Elections has simply ignored its mandatory obligations under North Carolina election law. This statute was enacted to require election officials to investigate the quality and security of voting systems before approval, and only approve those that are safe and secure. By certifying without a full review of all relevant code, the Board of Elections has now opened the door for North Carolina counties to purchase untested and potentially insecure voting equipment."

North Carolina experienced one of the most serious malfunctions of e-voting systems in the 2004 presidential election when over 4,500 ballots were lost in a voting system provided by e-voting vendor UniLect Corp. Electronic voting systems across the country have come under fire during the past several years as unexplained malfunctions combined with efforts by vendors to protect their proprietary systems from meaningful review have left voters with serious questions about the integrity of the voting process.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Former Software Chief Admits Stealing Trade Secrets

Alorie Gilbert writes in C|Net News:

A former software executive's guilty plea to charges of breaking into a rival's computers and stealing trade secrets may give business security experts pause.

John O'Neil, former CEO of Business Engine Software, pled guilty in a San Francisco federal court on Wednesday to conspiracy to download and steal the trade secrets of software competitor Niku over a 10-month period.

O'Neil, 43, is the third former executive of the San Francisco company to admit guilt in a case that the FBI's computer intrusion squad helped to investigate. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduling for next spring.

Japanese Stock Market Thrown Into Chaos by Broker's Typing Error

Via The BBC.

The Japanese government has ordered an inquiry after stock market trading in a newly-listed company was thrown into chaos by a broker's typing error.

Shares in J-Com fell to below their issue price after the broker at Mizuho Securities tried to sell 610,000 shares at 1 yen (0.47 pence; 0.8 cents) each.

They had meant to sell one share for 610,000 yen (£2,893; $5,065).

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he did not want to see similar errors and called for new safety measures.

For Sale: Prodigy

Stefanie Olsen writes in C|Net News:

Prodigy Communications, one of the oldest brands on the Internet and among Net service providers, is up for sale by its parent SBC Communications, now known as AT&T.

The Prodigy brand name and associated 66 registered trademarks in 52 countries are the intellectual property being sold, according to a document and proposal seen by CNET AT&T has contracted Ocean Tomo, an intellectual capital equity firm based in Chicago, to solicit and accept bids starting this month. The sale is expected to be closed by the end of March 2006.

Toon: 'Intelligent Design' in Sheeps Clothing

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Om Malik: BellSouth’s VoIP With Help from Packet 8

Props to Om Malik, who writes in his blog:

Maybe this will put those baseless rumors of BellSouth buying Vonage to rest. The Atlanta-based bell operating company has teamed up with 8×8 Inc and will use Packet8 as a “private label provider” for its BellSouth Digital Phone service. Andy had alluded to this deal earlier. Expectedly, 8×8 stock is up 21.65% for the day. As part of the deal, BellSouth will market the service to its Fast Access broadband customers. I am not sure, what is the long term status of this service, since BellSouth is working with Lucent Technologies and developing its own VoIP offering, that also proposes to link-up BellSouth-and-Cingular in a more meaningful way.

By the way, BellSouth is going to sell this service for $29.95 a month. You can get the same service, from who else, from 8×8 for $10 cheaper.

NTP Offers RIM A Deal At 5.7% Of Revenue

Tom Krazit writes in InfoWorld:

NTP Inc. has offered Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) a new settlement deal that asks for 5.7 percent of RIM's future revenue from U.S. BlackBerry sales, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing an unnamed source.

The two companies announced a $450 million settlement deal earlier this year in their dispute over whether RIM's BlackBerry handhelds and wireless e-mail system infringes upon patents held by NTP. However, that settlement collapsed in June, setting up court hearings that could lead to the reimposition of an injunction on sales of the BlackBerry in the U.S.

A RIM executive confirmed Thursday that the companies have been in talks recently in front of a court-appointed mediator, but did not comment on the substance of those talks. NTP's lead counsel Thursday declined to comment on any talks between the two companies.

Anti-Creationism Professor Quits As Kansas Department Chair

Paul Mirecki resigned as chairman of the religious studies department.
He still teaches at the university.

Image source: CNN / AP

I've posted references to Paul Mirecki before -- just last week when he was assaulted by two men at a bar, and last month over the escalating prominence of the Kansas 'Intelligent Design' debate.

An AP newswire article, via CNN, now reports that:

A University of Kansas professor who drew criticism for e-mails he wrote deriding Christian fundamentalists over creationism has resigned as chairman of the Department of Religious Studies.

Paul Mirecki stepped aside on the recommendation of his colleagues, according to Barbara Romzek, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Contacted by The Associated Press, Mirecki declined to comment about his decision, only saying he was still a member of the university faculty and planned to continue teaching.

Toon: Caught With Pants Down

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eEye To Enter Anti-Virus Biz

Robert McMillan writes in NetworkWorld:

Security vendor eEye Digital Security plans to add anti-virus capabilities to its Blink intrusion prevention product, and will release a beta version of the software early next year, according to a company executive.

"We are developing our own generic anti-virus now," said eEye co-founder and Chief Hacking Officer Marc Maiffret, in an interview.

Ex- Austin Police Detective Gets 10 Years For Child Porn

Steven Kreytak writes in The Austin American-Statesman:

A former Austin police detective who admitted to collecting and e-mailing hundreds of digital images of children engaged in sex acts with each other and with adults was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison today.

Lance McConnell, 34, who had been free on bond, cried before he was taken into custody by U.S. marshals deputies. Under the federal system — in which there is no parole but there is a chance to get credit for good behavior — McConnell will serve a minimum of 8 1/2 years in prison.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons plans to send him outside of Texas to do his time "for his own protection," a probation officer told the court. Prison officials generally consider former police officers and those who commit crimes against children to have a high risk of being assaulted by other inmates.

Airport Passcodes Leaked From Virus-Infected PC

Martyn Williams writes in NetworkWorld:

Passcodes needed to enter secure areas at 16 Japanese airports and one in Guam have appeared on the Internet after a virus infected a computer belonging to a Japan Airlines co-pilot, the airline said Friday.

The codes, which included those for Tokyo's Narita and Haneda airports and an airport in the U.S. territory of Guam, are typically known to scores of airport workers who need to gain access to areas normally off limits to passengers, said Geoff Tudor, a spokesman for JAL in Tokyo.

German Defense Ministry Cancels Large Blackberry Order Over Security Concerns

Greg Sandoval writes in the C|Net Security Blog:

Britain has too much access to BlackBerry e-mail traffic for the liking of Germany's high command.

For the first time, the Bundeswehr will not distribute the e-mail enabled phone and PDA to ranking political and military officers because of concerns that e-mail traffic passes through a data center in Great Britain, according to the German publication, Wirtschaftswoche.

Germany fears that British intelligence could possibly intercept important communications.

Germany's Defense Ministry has canceled a large order with T-Mobile.

Clinton Says Bush Is 'Flat Wrong' on Kyoto Pact

An AP newswire article by Charles J. Hanley, via ABC News, reports that:

Former President Clinton told a global audience of diplomats, environmentalists and others Friday that the Bush administration is "flat wrong" in claiming that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to fight global warming would damage the U.S. economy.

With a "serious disciplined effort" to develop energy-saving technology, he said, "we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies."

Clinton, a champion of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing emissions-controls agreement opposed by the Bush administration, spoke in the final hours of a two-week U.N. climate conference at which Washington has come under heavy criticism for its stand.

Dilbert: When Life Gives You Lemons...

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Just Do It: Zero-Gravity Sports Are Close To Reality

An artist's conception shows zero-gravity players tossing around
a ball as part of space-themed sport.

Image source: MSNBC / Space Island Group

A article by Leonard David, via MSNBC, reports that:

An early look at space sports comes courtesy of the Zero-Gravity Corp. — a space entertainment and tourism company headquartered in Dania Beach, Fla.

Making use of a modified Boeing 727-200 aircraft, Zero-G provides thrill-seekers that free-fall feeling so enjoyed by astronauts. The firm’s "G-Force One" plane makes roller coaster-like maneuvers in the air with dives and pullouts repeated numbers of times for paying customers.

Zero-G has been looking at a variety of weightless sports, said Peter Diamandis, chairman and chief executive officer of the company. The group has been approached by a range of individuals and companies having an array of ideas for space sports, he said.

Katrina Missing Avoiding Being 'Found'?

Brock Meeks writes for MSNBC:

There are more than 6,600 people still missing as a result of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Center for Missing Adults, a group working with the Justice Department on the issue.

The missing are out there, somewhere. Alive or dead or … just plain gone with the wind.

"What a perfect time for someone to disappear," says Gary Hargrove, Harrison County coroner and member of an ad hoc task force working to locate the missing from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, of the circumstances surrounding the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.

Hargrove’s task force has winnowed the missing list from the 1,300s down to just 68. "But really, there are only 12 missing," he says quite matter-of-factly. And frankly, it’s only those 12 he’s really concerned about. "The other 56 are child molesters or other types of criminal" that have likely used the chaos wrought by Katrina to slip into the wind, Hargrove said. "These are people that don’t want to be found, aren’t going to be found."

The dozen remaining missing are likely deceased, Hargrove acknowledged; however, without a body he can’t declare them dead. And so the wait goes on, even if the searching has long since stopped.

Vietnam: No News on Arrested Kiem Street Chat Room Users

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders today asked the Vietnamese authorities for information about three Internet users who were arrested at their home on Nguyen Kiem Street in Ho Chi Minh City on 19 October. Local sources say they were detained for participating in a chat room on the Pal Talk ( website.

“We hope this case can be cleared up quickly,” the press freedom organisation said. “If these Internet users were arrested for taking part in an online discussion forum, we will do everything possible to obtain their release. Vietnam recently said it did not deserve to be on the list of Internet enemies which we published in November so we are waiting for it to show its commitment to free expression.”

Local sources say police established a security perimeter around the Truong home on Nguyen Kiem Street when they made their arrests. A total of four people were originally detained : Truong Quoc Tuan, his two brothers, Truong Quoc Huy and Truong Quoc Nghia, and his fiancee, Lisa Pham, a Vietnamese with US residency.

Yahoo! Buys

Via the blog.

We're proud to announce that has joined the Yahoo! family. Together we'll continue to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet, with a big emphasis on the power of community. We're excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team - they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We're also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)

CD Copy Protection: The Road to Spyware

Ed Felton writes over on Freedom to Tinker:

Advocates of DRM (copy protection) have been keeping their heads down lately, while they try to figure out what went wrong in the SonyBMG DRM spyware fiasco. No doubt they’ll try to explain it away as an anomaly — just a little speed bump on the road to the effective, unobtrusive DRM future that they’re sure will be arriving any day now.

There are some problems with this story. For starters, we’re not talking about a single DRM system — we’re talking about two totally separate systems (XCP and MediaMax), developed by rival companies, both of which turned out to be spyware and to endanger users, in strikingly similar ways. Is this just a coincidence?

Of course it’s not. If we look carefully at CD copy protection as a technical problem, we’ll see why DRM designers are drawn to spyware tactics as their best hope of stopping copying. Let me explain why.

More here., Drugs and a Rocky Road

A Forture article by Matthew Boyle, via CNN/Money, reports that:

The surreal saga of the adult Web portal -- a ten-year tale whose cast of characters includes a convicted felon, a private investigator with a Stanford MBA, a dot-com entrepreneur turned speed addict, a young woman caught with 202 pounds of marijuana, and the operator of a Mexican shrimp farm -- just added another improbable twist.

On December 5 in Santa Clara's Elmwood jail, a man named Stephen Cohen was deposed for nearly seven hours about the location of assets he acquired while he operated, a valuable piece of Web real estate that Cohen hijacked from Gary Kremen, its rightful owner and also the founder of Kremen had registered in 1994, but Cohen stole the site a year later by defrauding the domain registrar. He was later sued by Kremen.

After a lengthy trial, Judge James Ware found in 2001 that Cohen had fraudulently acquired the site, and issued a $65 million ruling against him. Cohen, 57, whose colorful rap sheet includes a two-year stint in a federal pen for posing as a bankruptcy lawyer, then skedaddled south of the border. On Oct. 27, after four years on the lam, Mexican authorities arrested Cohen as he tried to renew his Mexican work visa and handed him over to U.S. marshals.

Patriot Act Rnewal Draws Filibuster Threat

Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache write in C|Net News:

A plan backed by the Bush administration to renew the Patriot Act with minimal changes has run into stiff opposition and filibuster threats in the U.S. Senate.

Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who led the Senate's negotiations when the original law was drafted in 2001, said Thursday that he would not support a four-year renewal unless it included substantial reforms. Sixteen portions of the massive law, including ones relating to electronic and Internet surveillance, expire on Dec. 31.

Yahoo! Ventures Further Down Under

Renai LeMay writes in C|Net News:

Seven Network and Yahoo will combine their online, mobile and Internet Protocol TV businesses in a new joint venture spanning Australia and New Zealand.

The broadcaster and the Internet powerhouse will form a new 50-50 holding company that will own Yahoo Australia and New Zealand, according to a joint statement released Friday. Both companies will combine their online teams to form a 150-person company that will launch with a new name and Web site on Jan. 30.

The agreement mirrors one between Nine Network and Microsoft, which in 1997 formed a similar alliance to create Australia's most popular Web site,

User Friendly: Wikipedia or CNN?


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Nobel Winners Slam Bush On Science

An AP newswire article, via CBS News, reports that:

Two American Nobel Prize winners said Thursday they are worried about President Bush's attitude toward science and accused his administration of ignoring important research findings.

"There is a measure of denial of scientific evidence going on within our administration, and there are many scientists who are not happy about that," said Roy J. Glauber, who shared this year's physics prize with fellow American John L. Hall and Germany's Theodor W. Haensch. Their research on the quantum nature of light has resulted in more precise optical clocks and measuring systems, and is used in today's satellite positioning systems.

Sprint Nextel Launches Enterprise Mobility Consulting


Wireless provider Sprint Nextel has officially launched a consulting arm with its new subsidiary called Sprint Enterprise Mobility. The division will focus on servicing large business and government customers.

The move is seen as a way for Sprint to differentiate its enterprise data services from rival carriers at a time when ever major provider is looking to add more value to their voice and data network services. In this case, Sprint wants to help its customers design, implement and support tailored solutions unique to the requirements of their business. fix

Via Enjoy!

Laser Beams Message Between Satellites

Maggie McKee writes in NewScientist:

Two satellites have become the first to exchange information from different orbits using a laser . The feat may lead to super-fast data-relay systems between spacecraft.

The laser link took place on Friday between two satellites designed to test communications technologies.

One, a Japanese mission called Kirari (Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite), flies at an altitude of 610 kilometres, in low-Earth orbit. The other, a European satellite called ARTEMIS (Advanced Relay and Technology Mission), soars 36,000 kilometres above Earth in geostationary orbit.

Bill Gates Launches Search for Top Indian Technology Students

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

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates launched a talent hunt for India's top technology students and urged software developers to cash in on the digital age.

Addressing over 5,000 developers in the grounds of a historic palace in India's high-tech capital, Gates said the search, dubbed "Code 4 Bill," recognised India's role in nurturing technical talent.

F-Secure: Sober Code Cracked

Via Slashdot.

"The algorithm used by the Sober worm to 'communicate' with its author has been cracked. According to F-Secure, it can now calculate the exact URLs the worm would check on a particular day. Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure, explained that the virus author has not used a constant URL because authorities would easily be able to block it. From the article: "Sober has been using an algorithm to create pseudorandom URLs which will change based on dates. Ninety nine percent of the URLs simply don't exist...however, the virus author can precalculate the URL for any date, and when he wants to run something on all the infected machines, he just registers the right URL, uploads his program and BANG! It's run globally on hundreds of thousands of machines," Hyppönen said. Sober is expected to launch itself again on January 5, 2006."

Time Warner, Comcast Confirm Consideration of Family Tier

David Lieberman writes in USA Today:

Time Warner and Comcast executives confirmed Thursday that they're mulling letting customers who object to violent and risqué programming subscribe just to a collection of "family-friendly" cable channels.

"The cable industry needs to find a creative and appropriate response to the mounting concerns" in Washington about indecency, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons said after speaking at a Credit Suisse First Boston media conference.

If the No. 2 cable operator does alter its subscription offerings, he said, it will be "sooner rather than later, but I can't be more specific."

Verizon Wireless Wins Bans Against Cellphone Solicitations

An AP newswire article via Bonnie Pfister, via USA Today, reports that:

Verizon Wireless has won two legal skirmishes against telemarketers who made unwanted sales calls to its customers, and said it has launched a new offensive against unsolicited text messages.

The Bedminster[New Jersey]-based subsidiary of Verizon Communications announced Friday that judges in New Jersey and California have banned a telemarketer from using autodialers or prerecorded messages in calls to Verizon cellphone users.

Verizon Wireless, with 49.3 million customers nationwide, cited the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and state laws prohibiting such cellphone contacts.

419 Scammers Pose as Diana Trustees

Iain Thomson writes on

Security companies are warning of a new version of the Nigerian 419 scam after the discovery of a rash of emails claiming to be from the Diana Memorial Foundation, which does not exist.

The email tells the recipient that they have been awarded a £2,598,000 grant and urges them to get in touch with the Foundation.

John Gilmore's Challenge to Secret ID Law Goes to Court

Ryan Singel writes in Wired News:

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Thursday on tech entrepreneur and internet freedom fighter John Gilmore's challenge to a secret government order forcing airline passengers to show identification or submit to a pat-down search.

The hearing pitted a matter-of-fact government attorney against Gilmore's impassioned, podium-banging lawyer, James Harrison, in a closely watched legal battle over government secrecy and antiterrorism measures that has federal officials defending a rule whose existence they will not admit in open court.

Microsoft December Advance Notification

Stephen Toulouse writes on the MSRC Blog:

The Advance Notification for the security bulletin release for this month has posted. This coming Tuesday, we’re planning to release two security bulletins affecting Microsoft Windows. The maximum total severity rating for this month is Critical, so please update systems as soon as possible when the bulletins are available this coming Tuesday. The updates can be deployed and detected with MBSA, Windows Update, Microsoft Update, SUS and WSUS etc. There will also be a new version of the Malicious Software Removal Tool.

There are also going to be five NON-SECURITY updates posted to Windows Update and Microsoft update that we want you to be aware of. Non-security updates relate to updates that might address stability or performance aspects of products, and don't relate to software security. But we list those in the advance notification as well so that you know they are coming.

MPAA Pushes for Tougher Bootlegging Laws

An AP newswire article by David B. Caruso, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Every evening rush hour, hustlers lugging bags full of bootlegged movies walk the subway train aisles, calling "two for five dollars!" as brazenly as if they were selling hot dogs at Yankee Stadium. At those prices, the DVDs, often of current Hollywood blockbusters, sell well, despite laughable sound and picture quality. Few customers seem to care the copies were made illegally.

Bootleggers apparently have little to fear. Under state law, people caught videotaping inside a movie theater face a maximum fine of $250.

RIM -- NTP Settlement Talks Continue

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

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. has resumed settlement talks with NTP Inc. through a mediator, bolstering hopes for a truce in a patent battle that has threatened the popular BlackBerry e-mail service.

RIM and NTP have been "communicating with each other through the court-appointed mediator during the last several days," RIM Vice President Mark Guibert said in a statement Thursday without elaborating.

Alltel to Spin Off Wireless Business

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

Alltel Corp., one of the nation's largest telecom service providers to rural areas, said Friday it would spin off its traditional phone division to shareholders and combine it with Valor Communications Group Inc. in a deal valued at $4.9 billion plus debt.

Alltel's move would turn it into a pure wireless company.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Shit of The Day: Microsoft Granted Pizza Delivery Patent

From the "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" Dept.

Mike Mansick posts over on

"Thanks to Microsoft, just ordering a pizza can now constitute patent infringement. Microsoft, who's been publicly whining about low-quality patents, was granted a patent Tuesday for a Method and system for providing service listings in electronic yellow pages, which grants it a 17-year exclusive right to the process of including pizza joints not physically located in a search area in search results if they'll deliver a large pepperoni-with-extra-cheese within the search area."

Virgin Rejects NTL Courtship

Image source:

Tom Sanders writes on

Virgin Mobile's board of directors has rejected the takeover bid by NTL.

The £817m offer "materially undervalues Virgin Mobile", the board stated.

Cable operator NTL on Monday launched a bid for the mobile telephone provider. The firm has said that is considering raising its offer to £834m.

Virgin Mobile is 72 per cent owned by the Virgin Group of Sir Richard Branson. The acquisition would provide the group with a 12-15 per cent stake in NTL. Branson has said that he supports the proposal but Gordon McCallum, the board member representing Virgin Group, abstained from voting on the proposal.

Eygpt: State Security Agents Arrest Website Editor

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the detention of Ahmed Mahmoud Abdallah, the second website or blog editor to be arrested since late October, and called for his immediate release. A former editor of Al-Shaab, an opposition newspaper that was closed down, he was arrested on 5 December in Cairo by members of the Amn-El-Dawla state security agency.

“Website journalists and bloggers should enjoy the same legal protection and respect as journalists working for traditional media,” the press freedom organisation said. “The decision to arrest a journalist or blogger is serious and should only be taken in the course of transparent judicial proceedings, which was not the case with the two arrests of website and blog editors of the past six weeks.”

Abdallah, who is better known as Abu-Islam Ahmed Abdallah, edits the news website Balady Net. He has also written many books and is a member of the Union of Egyptian Journalists. He was arrested while at the Centre for Islamic Enlightenment, which he heads. Before going to his office, the state security agents searched his home, confiscating notes, books and computer disks.

He is being held at the office of a prosecutor attached to the state security agency. His website has been shut down.

Patriot Act May Be Renewed Without Reforms

Declan McCullagh writes in C|Net News:

A frenzy of last-minute negotiations over the Patriot Act, conducted behind closed doors as a Dec. 31 expiration date nears, has yielded a four-year renewal of the law and no substantial reforms.

Sen. Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who has been a point person during this year's debate over the fate of the complex and controversial law, said Wednesday that he and his counterparts in the House of Representatives have agreed to a deal that could pave the way for reauthorization of the Patriot Act by next week.

After reaching an impasse with House Republicans who held out for a longer seven-year renewal, Specter said he asked President Bush to intervene. "The vice president helped out a little yesterday and after a lot of haggling, I signed the conference report at 9:00 p.m.," Specter said in a statement sent to CNET "They brought it to my house."

But a band of six Democratic and Republican senators--who lodged strong objections to the draft conference report prepared last month--is likely to block a vote unless their concerns about privacy and overly broad surveillance are addressed. Sen. Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat and member of the group, said through a spokesman on Wednesday that he had not reviewed the final text.

Public Database Sheds Light on Spy Satellites

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

The United States has 413 satellites in space snooping for the government, checking on the weather and relaying the latest pop music, a new database says. That’s more than the 382 the rest of the world has spinning above the Earth.

The inventory, developed by the Union of Concerned Scientists and released Wednesday, provides details on some of the Pentagon’s most secret satellites, which may gather images in the dark or take high-resolution pictures from 12,000 miles (19,200 kilometers) away.

Peppercoin, MasterCard Join Forces

An AP newswire article by Brian Bergstein, via ABC News, reports that:

A new partnership with MasterCard Inc. marks the evolution of Peppercoin Inc., a company that once sought to spread a "micropayment" system for low-priced content on the Internet.

Peppercoin was founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors Silvio Micali and Ronald Rivest in hopes of creating a way for tiny pieces of online content to be bought and sold without incurring the credit card-processing fees that eat up much of transactions under $1. But few customers opted to set up prepaid accounts with Peppercoin that could be deducted as they bought things online.

So now Peppercoin is working with credit card companies as it tries to facilitate cashless payments online and in the physical world. Peppercoin has a method for aggregating small transactions into larger chunks, cutting out per-transaction fees on individual card purchases. The company also can help merchants track customer loyalty.

Rootkitters Lay in Wait for Vista 2006

Via eMail Battles.

When Microsoft admits that half of all pre-SP2 Windows XPs and a fifth of post-SP2 XPs are infected with rootkits, you can be fairly certain there's a problem.

[But, as it...] Turns out, rootkitters are more excited about Vista than you are.

NASA Signs Technology Agreement With Homeland Security


NASA and the Department of Homeland Security signed a memorandum of understanding today to collaborate and coordinate on appropriate research and development projects.

NASA's Assistant Administrator for Security and Program Protection David Saleeba and Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Charles McQueary signed the agreement for the agencies.

The agreement allows the Science and Technology division and NASA to apply joint expertise and technologies to improve national and homeland security and develop complex systems designed to protect the nation.

MPEG-4 Will Probably Be China's IPTV Coding Standard


Consulting company Analysys says that MPEG-4 will most probably be chosen as China's IPTV encoding and decoding standard, which will be decided in the next few weeks.

China's IPTV industry policy, technology and standard workshop was held on November 24 in Beijing.

Based on information from the workshop, it is understood that the IPTV standard is currently being drafted. The first draft will be issued at the end of year 2005.

'Patently False' Domain Registrations Abound

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

More than 5 percent of Internet address names issued in the United States are registered using "patently false" contact information, making it difficult or impossible to contact the sites' owners, according to report submitted to Congress.

Another 3.7 percent of domain names ending in ".com," ".net" and ".org" contain missing information in required contact fields, the Government Accountability Office said in a report submitted to the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property.

In all, 3.9 million names, or about 8.7 percent, contain contact details that "appeared obviously and intentionally false'' or are incomplete, the report said.

Next IE7 Pre-Release Bumped Into 2006

Elizabeth Montalbano writes in NetworkWorld:

The next pre-release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP browser has been pushed into early next year, the company's IE team said in a blog posting.

According to a posting on IEBlog, the Microsoft blog for its IE team, the company will post "an updated pre-release build of IE 7 for Windows XP publicly -- no MSDN membership required -- during the first calendar quarter of 2006." The posting was written by Dean Hachamovitch, product line manager for IE at Microsoft.

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Atomic-Photon Breakthrough

Will Knight writes in NewScientist:

A trick for transferring quantum information from atoms to photons and back again could be used to create impenetrable global communication networks and computers that work at astounding speeds.

Two research groups, one led by Mikail Lukin at Harvard University and the second headed by Alex Kuzmich of Georgia Institute of Technology, both in the US, separately demonstrated the feat using similar methods.

Both teams employed powerful laser pulses to extract quantum information from a cloud of atoms in the form of a single photon. That photon was then transmitted through a normal optical fibre before its quantum state was transferred to a second atomic cloud.

Big Surprise: Tops List of Domain Name Requests

Simon Taylor writes in InfoWorld: was the most sought after domain name using the European Union’s own TLD (top-level domain) on the opening day for registrations. According to data supplied by EURid, the body responsible for registering .eu domain names, received the highest number of applications.

The next most popular request were: followed by,,,,,, and was in 11th place.

Toon: Homeland Security: Put on a Good Face

Click for larger image.

1st RIAA Trial: Victim to Defend Herself

Image source: p2pnet

p2pnet editorial.

Laws were written to protect people, not to give huge, multi-billion dollar mega-corporations a way to terrorize them.

Will the law work equally well for an ordinary person with no heavyweight legal team and no unimaginably vast financial resources behind her?

Patricia Santangelo will find out as she represents herself in the first of the 17,000 or so Organized Music p2p file sharing cases to actually go to trial.

Read more here.

Scientific Fraud Suspected in Pittsburgh

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

The University of Pittsburgh reportedly has started an inquiry into possible scientific misconduct by stem cell researchers.

University officials announced Monday a "preliminary" inquiry involving the duplication of some stem-cell images in a research paper reporting the creation of stem cells from cloned human embryos, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The study was published by the journal Science.

Telenor Satellite Broadband Operational

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

Telenor Satellite Services global broadband is up and running across much of the world, the company reported Wednesday.

The company's Broadband Global Area Network Service is provided in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with the Americas scheduled to come online in the second quarter of 2006.

BellSouth Teams Up With PDI-SAT

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

BellSouth tied up with DIRECTV operator PDI-SAT Wednesday to market DIRECTV services to residential customers.

Under the agreement, BellSouth and PDI-SAT will offer customized bundles of voice, data and DIRECTV programming packages. Joint BellSouth and PDI-SAT proposals and coordinated deployment of services will provide multi-dwelling unit owners and condominium boards with a full menu of premium residential technology services that will result in time and cost savings to residents.

Yahoo! to Upgrade Instant Messaging Features

An AP newswire article, via CNN, reports that:

Yahoo Inc. is entering a suddenly crowded field, offering Skype-like capabilities through its instant-messaging service that will let people dial regular phone numbers using their computers or receive calls from conventional phones.

The company has not set a firm date for the availability of the new paid features to the mostly free Yahoo Messenger service but indicated the launch was imminent.

Yahoo's addition of computer-to-phone capabilities follows a similar retooling of the rival AOL Instant Messenger service from Time Warner Inc. in October.

Mickey D's to Embed Windows XP

Nate Mook writes in BetaNews:

McDonalds and Microsoft on Wednesday announced a deal to utilize Windows XP Embedded across the fast food giant's stores. Microsoft's componentized version of Windows will take orders and enable Mickey D's to accept new forms of payment such as gift cards, and train employees faster.

Windows XP Embedded has already been deployed across "several thousand" stores in Europe and Asia. Now, McDonalds will roll out the platform worldwide. Microsoft lauded the partnership for bringing an "open technology platform" to the restaurant chain and ensuring "the next generation of customer service innovations."

FBI: Internet Terror Attack Unlikely

A Reuters newswire article by Andy Sullivan, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Terrorist groups lack the capability to launch a damaging Internet-based attack on the United States but foreign governments are probably behind many online spying attempts, FBI officials said on Wednesday.

Al Qaeda and other militant groups do not have the ability to disable power plants, airports and other "critical infrastructure" through the Internet, said FBI Assistant Director Louis Reigel, who heads the enforcement agency's Cyber Division.

Tens of Thousands Mistakenly Matched to Terrorist Watch Lists

Anne Broache writes in C|Net News:

About 30,000 airline passengers have discovered since last November that their names were mistakenly matched with those appearing on federal watch lists, a transportation security official said Tuesday.

Jim Kennedy, director of the Transportation Security Administration's redress office, revealed the errors at a quarterly meeting convened here by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee.

Kennedy said that travelers have had to ask the TSA to clear their identities from watch lists by submitting a "Passenger Identity Verification Form" and three notarized copies of identification documents. On average, he said, it takes officials 45 to 60 days to evaluate the request and make any necessary changes.

Mandatory Breach Notification to be N.Y. Law

Frank Washkuch Jr. writes in SC Magazine Online:

As of Friday, New York state companies no longer have a choice of notifying customers of an identity breach.

The state's Information Security Breach and Notification Act, which goes into effect this week, puts the Empire State in the company of 18 others requiring full disclosure to customers after a breach.

MediaMax Bug Found; Patch Issued; Patch Suffers from Same Bug

Ed Felton writes in Freedom to Tinker:

iSEC, EFF, and SonyBMG issued a joint press release yesterday, announcing yet another serious security bug in the SunnComm MediaMax copy protection software that ships on many SonyBMG compact discs. (SonyBMG has recalled CDs that use another copy protection system, XCP, but they have not yet recalled discs containing MediaMax.)

As we’ve written before, the first time you insert a MediaMax-bearing CD into your Windows computer (assuming you have Windows autorun enabled, as most people do), MediaMax installs some software on your computer. Once this initial software is on your computer, you are vulnerable to the new attack. The gist of the problem is that MediaMax installs itself in a directory that anyone is allowed to modify, even users who otherwise run with heavily restricted security permissions. Any program that comes along can modify your MediaMax files, booby-trapping the files by inserting hostile software that will be run automatically the next time you insert a MediaMax-bearing CD into your computer. And because MediaMax is run with full administrator privileges, the hostile program gets to run with full privileges, allowing it to inflict any mischief it likes on your PC.

Alex Halderman has discovered that the problem is worse than the press release indicates.

Read more here.

March Madness: CBS To Offer Free Online College Hoops

A Reuters newswire article, via C|Net News, reports that:

It's the fourth year that CBS Sports will offer the mostly regional games--ones that wouldn't appear across the whole network. Beginning with the first games March 16, there will be up to 56 NCAA men's tournament games available on the Web through the regional semi-finals. For the first three years, including last year, it was a premium service through the college sports site

This year, CBS has shifted NCAA March Madness on Demand to an ad-supported service in an effort to gain more viewers. The move is in line with CBS' online strategy in news and elsewhere.

6 December 1917: The Halifax Explosion

The Halifax Explosion occurred on December 6, 1917, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, when a French munitions ship, the Mont-Blanc, collided with a Norwegian ship, the Imo, headed for wartime Belgium. The Mont-Blanc caught fire and then exploded, killing 2,000 people and injuring thousands more. The explosion caused a tsunami, and a pressure wave of air so powerful that it snapped trees, bent iron rails, and demolished buildings, carrying the fragments of them for hundreds of metres.

This was the largest man-made explosion until the first atomic bomb test explosion in 1945 and still ranks highly among the largest ever man-made, non-nuclear explosions. Wages Search Engine Legal Battle With Yahoo! China

Via, an online search engine provider in China, has filed a lawsuit against Yahoo! at Beijing's Haidian District People's Court. says in the petition that Yahoo! deliberately eliminated features from Zhongsou's "Network Pig" software when upgrading its own search functions. This removal of features caused many users to complain to Zhongsou. requests that Yahoo! stop the infringement immediately, make a public apology and resume the function of Network Pig.

Yahoo! China claims that it has not received any legal letters from either or the court.

Yahoo!'s operations in China are run by

DIlbert: The Office Sourpuss

Click for larger image.

F-Secure: So -- How Common Are These Rootkits, Anyways?

Mika writes in the F-Secure "News from the Lab" Blog:

Since F-Secure is the first vendor to have a built-in rootkit scanner in its security suite, we are very often asked how many rootkit variants there exist. This question is not that easy to answer with precise numbers, as there are very few malware named "Rootkit.Win32.Something". Most malware that uses rootkit techniques is called "Backdoor.Win32.Something", "Worm.Win32.Something", "Virtool.Win32.Something", etc. However, since our BlackLight rootkit scanner (generic rootkit detection) has now been available for 9 months we have a pretty good feel on what the rootkit menace currently is all about.

In a recent eWeek article Microsoft says that more than 20 percent of all malware it has removed from its Windows XP sp2 customers are rootkits. "The open-source FU rootkit ranks high on the list of malicious software", the article states.

We definitely can agree that FU has been extremely widespread during 2005. There is a simple explanation to this. FU is a very simple rootkit to cut-and-paste into worms and bots. It should be noted that FU only hides processes -- not files or registry keys. Currently worm and bot authors are mainly interested in hiding their processes from Task Manager. They are not that keen on hiding files since most Windows users do not know which files should be in their "System32" folder, anyways.

Read more here.

No Jail Time for 'Dotcomboiz' Spammers

Brian McWilliams writes in the Spam Kings blog:

A judge has ruled against two Florida spammers who called themselves the Dotcomboiz.

Scott J. Filary, 25, and Donald E. Townsend, 34, were sued by the Florida attorney general last April. At the time, AG Charlie Crist said the spammers faced a penalty of $24M for violating Florida's 2004 spam law.

Under the judgment, however, the two men will get off by paying $50,000 to cover the cost of the state's investigation.

That much smaller figure was apparently arrived at based on financial statements provided by the defendants last August. They'll be subject to a $1.1M fine if they fudged the records, or if they break the terms of the permanent injunction, which prohibits them from further violations of the Florida spam law. fix

Via Enjoy!

Inmarsat Fires Up Satellite Broadband Service

Tim Richardson writes in The Register:

Inmarsat has flicked the switch on a new satellite service that gives users access to broadband services almost anywhere in the world.

Six years in development, the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service enables the transmission of voice and broadband data using lightweight satellite terminals - the smallest of which is about half the size of a laptop.

The service is designed for mobile users who want broadband access while working with an "unreliable or non-existent telecoms infrastructure" giving them the opportunity to set up office wherever they are.

BGAN offers speeds of up to 492kbps and is initially available across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. North and South America should come on stream by summer next year giving broadband coverage across 85 per cent of the world's land mass and 98 per cent of the world's population.

Iraq Insurgents Escalate War of Words in Cyberspace

Rick Jervis writes in USA Today:

Insurgents in Iraq have launched a publicity blitz. They increased the number of Web postings to 825 last month from 145 in January, according to the U.S. military. Most postings detail insurgent bombings or attacks on Iraqi and U.S. forces.

The Web postings are also growing more sophisticated and frequently include video, soundtracks and professional editing, Army Maj. Gen. Richard Zahner, the top U.S. military intelligence officer in Iraq, said Tuesday.

US Airways Keeps Laptop Users Plugged In

An Arizona Republic article by Mary Jo Pitzl, via USA Today, reports that:

Pack those power cords, US Airways travelers.

The airline announced Tuesday that it has reversed an earlier decision and will continue to offer power ports on its Airbus fleet.

Computer users will be able to plug in, instead of relying on batteries, on all Airbus planes operated by the old US Airways. The company, which merged with America West Airlines in September, is exploring whether to add the power ports to 92 Airbus planes that belonged to America West.

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

USS Arizona burned for two days after being hit by a Japanese bomb.
Parts of the ship were salvaged, but the wreck remains at Pearl Harbor to this day.

Image source: Wikipedia

You are not forgotten.

On this day in 1941 -- a day that will live in infamy -- the Imperial Japanese Navy made its attack on Pearl Harbor.

The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Corps and Marine air forces. The attack damaged or destroyed twelve U.S. warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and killed 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto planned the raid as the start of the Pacific Campaign of World War II, and it was commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, who lost 64 servicemen. However, the Pacific Fleet's three aircraft carriers were not in port and so were undamaged, as were oil tank farms and machine shops. Using these resources the United States was able to rebound within six months to a year.

The U.S. public saw the attack as a treacherous act and rallied strongly against the Japanese Empire, resulting in its later defeat.

South Korea Antitrust Regulators Fine Microsoft $32M

An AP newswire article by Bo-Mi Lim, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

South Korean antitrust regulators ruled that Microsoft Corp. abused its software market dominance, fined it $32 million and ordered the company to offer alternative versions of its Windows operating system that country within six months. Microsoft said it will fight the decision in court.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission on Wednesday found Microsoft's practice of tying certain software to Windows constitutes an "abuse of market dominant position and unfair trade practices," Kang Chul-kyu, the commission's chairman, told reporters.

Sony BMG and EFF Jointly Disclose New CD Vulnerability

Via The EFF.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and SONY BMG Music Entertainment (SONY BMG) said today that SunnComm is making available a software update to address a security vulnerability with its MediaMax Version 5 content protection software on certain SONY BMG compact discs (CDs). The vulnerability was discovered by the security firm iSEC Partners after EFF requested an examination of the SunnComm software.

"We're pleased that SONY BMG responded quickly and responsibly when we drew their attention to this security problem," said EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Consumers should take immediate steps to protect their computers."

"We're grateful to EFF and iSEC for bringing this to our attention," said Thomas Hesse, president, Global Digital Business, SONY BMG. "We believe that the availability of the update coupled with our campaign to notify customers will appropriately address the CDs with MediaMax Version 5 in the market."

SunnComm as well as independent software security firm NGS Software have determined that the security vulnerability is fully addressed by the update. NGS Director Robert Horton said, "After carefully researching the security vulnerability presented to us by SONY BMG, we have determined that it is not uncommon and, importantly, it is easily fixed by applying a software update."

The security vulnerability on SunnComm MediaMax Version 5 software differs from that reported in early November on First4Internet XCP software contained on certain SONY BMG CDs. A full list of the 27 U.S. SunnComm MediaMax Version 5 titles is included in the link below. Consumers can download the software update that is designed to address this security vulnerability from SunnComm's and Sony BMG's websites at: and

The security issue involves a file folder installed on users' computers by the MediaMax software that could allow malicious third parties who have localized, lower-privilege access to gain control over a consumer's computer running the Windows operating system.

SONY BMG will notify consumers about this vulnerability and the update through the banner functionality included on the player, as well as through an Internet-based advertising campaign. The update is also being provided to major software and Internet security companies. EFF and SONY BMG urge all consumers who receive notice to download and install the patch immediately. In accordance with standard information security practices, EFF and iSEC delayed public disclosure of the details of the exploit to provide SunnComm the opportunity to develop an update.

Full list of titles affected:

Links to patch:

iSEC Partners Report on the Vulnerability:

iSEC Partners:


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Time Warner CEO Says AOL Is Not for Sale

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

Time Warner Inc. is in discussions about finding a partner to boost advertising revenue at its America Online unit — but AOL is not for sale, Chief Executive Dick Parsons said Tuesday.

"We are not interested in selling AOL," Parsons said at a press briefing before a speech in Los Angeles.

Time Warner is negotiating with different parties about a deal that could help AOL's transition from a business that relies on paid subscriptions to one that makes money based on advertising revenue, Parsons said.

He declined to give further details.

Investors Unsubscribing to 'Old Media'

A Fortune article by Adam Lashinsky, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Expect a somber mood Wednesday at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York City: It is newspaper day.

At a confab sprinkled with presentations from executives at cable networks (like Time Warner Cable), advertising agencies (example: Universal McCann), satellite concerns (BSkyB and XM Satellite Radio) and technology hardware providers that make all this media possible (Motorola, for one), Wednesday will be dominated by the biggest newspaper companies in the land.

The chief executives of Tribune, Dow Jones, Gannett, Washington Post, New York Times and McClatchy each will gamely shuffle up to the podium at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and tell investors why newspapers aren't dying. They'll explain how they are embracing the Internet and why the speedy growth in online advertising makes their companies good investments. They'll shout to the rafters that they "get it."

So far, investors aren't buying what they're selling.

Problems Cause Erratic eMail Delivery Around The Globe

Via eMail Battles.

UK's Telewest has been suffering erratic email delivery over the last few days during peak hours. Although Telewest hasn't fessed up, these outages appear to be suspiciously similar to Hotmail's over the last several days. If that's the case, chalk up another win for the Sober worm family.

According to Postini, Sober is largely responsible for the recent 15-fold increase in the number of email-borne viruses intercepted. Sophos claims the latest edition, Sober-Z, is attached to nearly 8% of the messages in circulation.

As if that's not bad enough, separate disasters disrupted service to thousands of email and web clients in the South Pacific yesterday.

An air conditioning failure at Australian web hosting provider Webcentral's Wickham data center in Brisbane Australia triggered soaring temperatures which fried AU$5 million worth of equipment and forced the operation to shut down, knocking out service to tens of thousands of users, including Regional Express Airlines.

News Corp. To Expand Its Online Strategy

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

Ross Levinsohn, the Internet chief at News Corp., told investors Tuesday the company was considering teaming up with a partner in sponsored search as it expands its online strategy.

Levinsohn, speaking at a media conference sponsored by the UBS investment bank, said it was still unclear whether Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate would acquire an Internet search provider or form a partnership with one. He said the company was hearing proposals from several parties, including Quigo Inc.

H5N1 News: China Reports New Human Bird Flu Infection

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A 10-year-old girl has been infected with the bird flu virus, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday, quoting the Ministry of Health.

The girl, surnamed Tang, from southern Guangxi region has been ill with fever and pneumonia since November 23, and has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 virus, the report said.

She has been under emergency treatment in hospital, and people who were in close contact with her are under observation but no abnormal symptoms have been observed in others.

European Publishers: 'Online Content Cannot Remain Free'

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

European publishers warned Tuesday that they cannot keep allowing Internet search engines such as Google Inc. to make money from their content.

"The new models of Google and others reverse the traditional permission-based copyright model of content trading that we have built up over the years," said Francisco Pinto Balsemao, the head of the European Publishers Council, in prepared remarks for a speech at a Brussels conference.

His stance backs French news agency AFP which is suing Google for pulling together photos and story excerpts from thousands of news Web sites.

China's ZTE in Deals WIth France, Egypt Telecoms

Seperate UPI newsbriefs (with France Telecom, Telecom Egypt) via, report that:

France Telecom and ZTE said Tuesday they will work together to research and develop the telecommunications industry.

The French group will be working together with the Chinese telecommunications-equipment manufacturer initially to apply the Linux operating system for third-generation technology smartphone handsets, the companies said.


China's ZTE will play a key role in a 100,000-line CDMA telecom project in Egypt, it was announced Tuesday.

The global telecom-equipment manufacturer said this week that it had joined forces with Telecom Egypt for the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) upgrade slated for Cairo and the Nile Delta.

Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2003 R2 Update

Elizabeth Montalbano writes in NetworkWorld:

Microsoft Tuesday released to manufacturing a long-awaited interim update to the current version of Windows Server operating system, Windows Server 2003 R2.

The update, which will be generally available to customers in about 60 days, should be 100% compatible with applications running on the current release of Windows Server 2003, said Bob Muglia, senior vice president for server and tools at Microsoft, in a webcast Tuesday morning. "If you have deployed Windows 2003 today you can feel confident deploying this without a long test cycle," he said.

Opposition Grows to U.S. USF Rate Hike

A UPI newsbrief, via, reports that:

A Washington group battling a proposed hike in the Universal Service Fund telephone tax says complaints from irate citizens are pouring into the capital.

The Keep USF Fair Coalition said in a release Tuesday that some 563,000 letters and e-mail messages have been sent to government officials voicing opposition to an expected move by the Federal Communications Commission to bump the USF levy higher for an estimated 43 million Americans.