Saturday, June 10, 2006

Dr. Fun: NSA Tracking Devices

Click for larger image.

(Thanks to Bruce Schneier!)

Programming Note: Week of June 12, 2006

Blogging will probably be a little light next week, since I'm kind of "between laptops" and traveling to San Jose tomorrow to start a new job on Monday with Trend Micro. If I get issued a new laptop while I'm there, I'll try to blog a bit here & there, but my primary attention will be throwing myself into my new position.

I'll be out in San Jose all week, so apologies in advance for the scarcity of blog posts.

Wish me "good luck". :-)

- ferg

Gapingvoid: A Load of Old Wank

Via Enjoy!

British Expert Nixes Bosnia Pyramid Claim

An AP newswire article by Aida Cerkez-Robinson, via CBS News, reports that:

British archaeologist on Friday rejected claims that a hill in central Bosnia is a man-made structure that many local residents insist is a pyramid.

Professor Anthony Harding, who is president of the European Association of Archaeologists, visited Visocica hill and said the formation was natural.

"Not any evidence at all has been found" to support the claim the site would be an archaeological site, he said.

No pyramids are known in Europe, and there are no records of any ancient civilization on the continent ever attempting to build one.

The pyramid theory was launched by an amateur researcher last year but it has been disputed by a number of local and international experts, who claim that at no time in Bosnia's history did the region have a civilization able to build monumental structures. They say the hill is simply a strange natural formation.

More here.

Data Breach Reported at U.S. National Nuclear Safety Administration

Chris Baltimore writes for Reuters:

A computer hacker got into the U.S. agency that guards the country's nuclear weapons stockpile and stole the personal records of at least 1,500 employees and contractors, a senior U.S. lawmaker said on Friday.

The target of the hacker, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, is the latest agency to reveal that sensitive private information about government workers was stolen.

The incident happened last September but top Energy Department officials were not told about it until this week, prompting the chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee to demand the resignation of the head of the NNSA.

An NNSA spokesman was not available for comment.

More here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

10 June 2003: The Spirit Rover is Launched


Artist's Concept of Rover on Mars
Image source: Wikipedia / Maas Digital LLC

Via Wikipedia.

Spirit (official designation: MER-A) is the first of the two Mars Exploration Rover missions. She successfully landed on Mars at 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004 and has operated successfully for over one full Martian year or two Earth years.

Her twin Opportunity landed successfully on Mars on January 24, 2004. (Mission members decided to reference both rovers using the feminine gender.) Spirit was named by a winning entry in a student essay competition—see Naming of Spirit and Opportunity.

More here.

Pentagon Sets its Sights on Social Networking Sites

Paul Marks writes on NewScientist:

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Americans are still reeling from last month's revelations that the NSA has been logging phone calls since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. The Congressional Research Service, which advises the US legislature, says phone companies that surrendered call records may have acted illegally. However, the White House insists that the terrorist threat makes existing wire-tapping legislation out of date and is urging Congress not to investigate the NSA's action.

More here.

U.S. Agencies Tap Lockheed, General Dynamics for Wireless Contracts

Wilson P. Dizard III writes on

The three departments that jointly run the Integrated Wireless Network project to build out the next-generation interoperable voice and data radio network for federal agencies today announced that they had chosen General Dynamics C4 Systems of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions of Gaithersburg, Md., as contractors for the acquisition’s second phase.

The two contract winners bested Motorola Inc. of Schaumberg, Ill., and Raytheon Co. for the contracts. IWN spending could amount to $3 billion to $30 billion over the life of the contract, which could stretch longer than 10 years.

General Dynamics and Lockheed now will compete to win the final phase of the contract.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Three Score and Ten

I think this is one of my favorites.

Via Enjoy!

U.S. Court Upholds Government Broadband Wiretap Access

A Reuters newswire article by Peter Kaplan, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld the government's authority to force high-speed Internet service providers to give law enforcement authorities access for surveillance purposes.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a petition aimed at overturning a decision by regulators requiring facilities-based broadband providers and those that offer Internet telephone service to comply with U.S. wiretap laws.

The court concluded that the FCC requirement was a "reasonable policy choice" even though information services are exempted from the government's wiretapping authority.

The FCC has set a May 14, 2007 deadline for compliance.

More here.

Cisco to Acquire Two VoIP Application Development Firms

Paula Musich writes on eWeek:

Cisco Systems on June 9 will put more meat behind its unified communications strategy when it announces the acquisition of two privately held companies.

In two separate deals, Cisco agreed to acquire Metreos of Austin, Texas, for $19.8 million and Audium of New York for $28 million. Both are cash deals.

Metreos brings to table a network-based application development environment and run-time platform for IP telephony, while Audium adds similar technology for IP Contact Centers.

More here.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

9 June 1959: USS George Washington is the First Submarine to Carry Ballistic Missiles


USS George Washington (SSBN-598)
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

USS George Washington (SSBN-598), the lead ship of her class of ballistic missile submarines, was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for George Washington, first President of the United States.

Her keel was laid down at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, Connecticut on 1 November 1957. The first boat of the her class, she was launched on 9 June 1959 sponsored by Mrs. Robert B. Anderson, and commissioned on 30 December 1959 with Commander James B. Osborn in command of the Blue crew and Commander John L. From, Jr. in command of the Gold crew.

George Washington was originally named USS Scorpion (SSN-589). During construction, she was lengthened by the insertion of a 130-foot-long missile section and renamed (another hull under construction at the time received both the older name and hull number and became the ill-fated USS Scorpion), but inside the forward escape hatch remained a plaque bearing the name USS Scorpion. Because the missile compartment design of the George Washington would be reused in later ship classes, that section which was inserted into George Washington was designed with a deeper test depth rating than the rest of the boat.

More here.

House Rejects Net Neutrality

The best government money can buy.

We're screwed until we get these bums out of office.

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 152-269 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.

Of the 421 House members who participated in the vote that took place around 6:30 p.m. PT, the vast majority of Net neutrality supporters were Democrats. Republicans represented most of the opposition.

The vote on the amendment came after nearly a full day of debate on the topic, which prominent Democrats predicted would come to represent a turning point in the history of the Internet.

More here.

Cablevision Suspends Network DVR Experiment

An AP newswire article by Seth Sutel, via USA Today, reports that:

Cablevision Systems, a New York-area cable TV provider, on Thursday said it would suspend a test of a new video recording service pending the result of a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by several entertainment companies.

Cablevision, the nation's sixth-largest cable provider, had planned to begin testing a new service this month that would allow viewers to record and play back TV shows much in the same way people use digital video recorders, or DVRs.

More here.

Canadian Terror Suspect Enrolled in Flight School

Via UPI.

One of the 17 suspected terrorists arrested last week by Canadian police had enrolled for flight lessons, it was reported Thursday.

The Canadian Broadcasting Company, in an exclusive report citing prosecution documents, revealed that one of the alleged plotters, 19 year-old Amin Mohamed Durani, had enrolled in an aviation course at Toronto's Centennial College, though he never attended classes.

It is the first indication that the plotters -- Canadian Muslims, mostly of South Asian origin -- may have had plans to use airplanes in one of their attacks.

More here (registration may be required, sorry).

Patch Tuesday: Microsoft to Patch 12 Security Vulnerabilities

Ed Oswald writes on BetaNews:

Microsoft plans to release twelve updates as part of its monthly Patch Tuesday program, its largest since February of last year and second largest overall. Of the dozen patches, nine are intended for Windows issues, two for Office, and one for Exchange.

At least one of the Windows updates has a severity rating of "critical," as does one of the updates for Microsoft Office. The Exchange flaw has a rating of "important."

More here.

Senate Committee Approves Bill to Authorize NSA Snooping

Our elected representatives have sold us out.

Get out and vote these bums out office in November!

Via The Center for Democracy and Technology.

In a grave threat to civil liberties, the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation that would gut the historic Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allowing the President to carry out wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court order.

The bill -- sponsored by Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), but radically altered by his Republican colleagues -- would make judicial review for electronic surveillance optional.

More here.

Programming Note: Continual Critical Blogger Problems

...and it makes me want to scream.

Apologies -- I had a whole list of things to post this afternoon, and now most of them are lost. Blogger has been having severe problems the past couple of days -- and today's outage is perhaps the worst I've ever seen. And it just keeps getting worse, and longer.

I certainly hope this is not an indication of future service interruptions, or else I will be forced to consider moving the blog elsewhere -- this is just unacceptable. Not only do the Blogger people keep you in the dark about the status, but they usually just leave you hanging, with no status at all, and when status is finally posted -- it's posted late and with very little explanation or estimated time of repair. !%*^#$#

This is just infuriating. But I guess that's what you can expect from a free service.

Another unfortunate issue is that these Google Blogger folks don't offer any method to export my blog archives, so I'm kind of screwed in that regard.

I'm so disappointed.

Thanks for bearing with me.


- ferg

Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, to Take on Chairman Duties

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

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. said Chief Executive John T. Chambers will become chairman of the company when current Chairman John P. Morgridge steps aside on Nov. 15.

Chambers, 56, will retain the CEO post, while Morgridge will become chairman emeritus. The president post is not being filled at the moment, the company said Thursday

Morgridge, 72, has worked at Cisco for more than 18 years, initially as CEO. He oversaw the company's initial public offering in 1990 and was named chairman in 1995.

More here.

CipherTrust: Two-Thirds of Spam Relays are Located in Taiwan

René Millman writes on SC Magazine Online:

The study, carried out by messaging security firm CipherTrust, found that 64 percent of servers spewing out spam were based in Taiwan, the U.S. is second at 23 percent and China is third at three percent.

Researchers also found that during the past month, there was a 21 percent increase in the number of new zombie computers and a 20 percent increase in overall unwanted e-mail traffic. According to the information gathered, this significant jump may coincide with the sharp rise in the use of randomised image-based stock spam in which spammers use more challenging graphics-based messages to avert traditional anti-spam deployments.

More here.

House Floor Vote on Network Neutrality Expected Friday

Tom Abate writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

The debate over network neutrality is heating up as House and Senate lawmakers weigh a variety of proposals that seek to balance the need to preserve the free flow of content over the Internet with the desire to give network builders, especially phone companies, incentives to beef up their wires to the home.

The House is poised for a floor vote Friday on HR5252, a bill that would help phone companies deliver television through their wires to compete with cable.

But Internet firms, led by Google, hope to amend that bill to strengthen so-called net neutrality rules to preserve the first-come, first-served status quo when it comes to delivering content on the Internet.

More here.

UK: Cable & Wireless Pulls Out of Residential Broadband

Tim Richardson writes on The Register:

Cable & Wireless (C&W) is pulling out of the residential broadband market to concentrate instead on wholesale internet services.

From 1 July, Bulldog will stop trying to sign up new punters although it insists that current customers will be supported, parent telco C&W announced today.

In an email to customers this morning, Bulldog insisted it was "business as usual" for existing users. "I would like to reassure you personally that we will carry on providing you with the same high level of service," wrote Bulldog chief exec Emanuele Angelidis.

More here.

U.S. Government to Ask Courts to Toss Phone Suits

A Bloomberg News article by Andrew Harris, via The Washington Post, reports that:

The government will seek dismissal of 20 lawsuits accusing the biggest telecommunications companies of providing customer call data to the National Security Agency, claiming that "military and state secrets" might be divulged were the lawsuits to proceed.

The Justice Department said it will not ask for the dismissal until all the lawsuits are consolidated before a single judge, according to papers filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, where a complaint is pending against AT&T Inc.

More here.

Vonage Founder Stands To Profit Despite IPO Flop

A Bloomberg News article by Ari Levy and Miles Weiss, via The Washington Post, reports that:

Vonage Holdings Corp. chairman and founder Jeffrey Citron has a paper profit of almost a half-billion dollars -- six times his initial investment in the company -- from shares he bought before the company's initial public offering.

Meanwhile, the value of stock held by new shareholders has fallen 29 percent since the company's IPO on May 23.

More here.

Southwest Sues Web Site Aiding Boarders

Meredith Cohn writes in The Baltimore Sun:

With more and more Web sites offering to help passengers buck Southwest Airlines' first-come, first-serve boarding process to lock in a coveted window or aisle seat for a fee, the discount carrier has turned to the courts to protect its one-of-a-kind system.

The carrier has written to about a dozen sites asking them to shut down, and last month sued one that refused to close,, in federal District Court in Dallas.

The online sites charge passengers about $5 to check in 24 hours before a flight, when the airline first permits it. The first 45 passengers in line -- a third of a plane's load -- get an "A" pass that gets them to the front of the line to board. Passengers can check in themselves online, but the sites effectively do it for them.

The lawsuit caught the founder of BoardFirst off guard.

More here.

Anonymity in the Age of Full Disclosure

Elizabeth Daley writes on AlterNet:

Two new recent bills introduced to the [New Jersey] state assembly require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to disclose user information in any claim of defamation. If these bills were to pass, individuals who are accused of online bad-talk in New Jersey would face instant disclosure of their identities to their accusers.

While it may seem that having one's identity revealed may not be that serious, Paul Levy, an attorney who deals with cases of online defamation for the Center for the Public Citizen Litigation has seen just how serious it can be. Levy is currently representing one person who was identified as having criticized another person in his community. After his identity was fully revealed, he was forced to move out of his hometown.

However being identified doesn't just mean you suffer humiliation or threats, being identified also means a formal lawsuit may be brought against you, costing time and money.

To make matters worse, the other New Jersey bill (A2623) would require ISPs to remove any "inappropriate" content when notified by a user of material that is defamatory or offensive. This means that ISPs, who will not have time, resources or legal expertise to determine if something is or is not defamatory, will erase anything that may be considered offensive or illegal.

More here.

Success for Task Force 145 -- Now What About Bin Laden?

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this small victory will not stem the rising tide of increasing violence in Iraq.

Brian Ross writes on ABC News' "The Blotter":

The death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the result of more than two years of tracking and surveillance by a U.S. military special forces group known as Task Force 145, the same team assigned the job of finding Osama bin Laden.

Many of the task force’s resources, including unmanned predator aircraft, had been diverted from the bin Laden search in Afghanistan to go after Zarqawi, who came to be seen as a more immediate and deadly threat than bin Laden.

With the hunt for al-Zarqawi over, officials say it is likely the hunt for bin Laden will see a new intensity. Pakistani intelligence officials have told ABC News there are new and significant leads about bin Laden’s general whereabouts.

More here.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

8 June 1949: Nineteen Eighty-Four is Published


Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is a political novel which George Orwell wrote in opposition to totalitarianism. It tells a story set in a nightmarish dystopia in which an omnipresent state wields total control.

It has remained one of the most influential books, and possibly the most influential work of science fiction, of the 20th century.

Along with Yevgeny Zamyatin's We and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the most famous and most cited works of dystopian fiction in literature. The book has been translated into many languages. Nineteen Eighty-Four and its terminology have become a byword in discussions of privacy issues. The term "Orwellian" has come to describe actions or organizations that are thought to be reminiscent of the society depicted in the novel.

Originally, Orwell titled the book The Last Man in Europe, but his publisher, Frederic Warburg, suggested the change. (Crick, Bernard. "Introduction," to George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984)). First published on June 8, 1949, the bulk of the novel was written by Orwell on the island of Jura, Scotland in 1948, although Orwell had been writing small parts of it since 1945. The book begins approximately on April 4, 1984 at 13:00 ("It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen...").

More here.

Honorable mention: 8 June 1789 -- James Madison introduces a proposed Bill of Rights in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Specter's Uneasy Relationship With White House Is Revealed in a Letter to Cheney

Carl Hulse and Jim Rutenberg writes in The New York Times:

A senior Republican lawmaker went public on Wednesday about his often tense and complicated relationship with the Bush White House in a remarkable display of the strains within the party.

The lawmaker, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, accused Vice President Dick Cheney of meddling behind his back in the committee's business, bringing into the open a conflict that has simmered for months.

In a letter to Mr. Cheney that the senator released to the news media, Mr. Specter said the vice president had cut him out of discussions with all the other Republicans on his own committee about oversight of the administration's eavesdropping programs, a subject on which Mr. Specter has often been at odds with the White House.

The trigger for Mr. Specter's anger was a deal made by Mr. Cheney with the other Republicans on the committee to block testimony from phone companies that reportedly cooperated in providing call records to the National Security Agency.

More here.

Web Terror Ring Exposed

Via Australian IT.

An Internet trail has led investigators to an intricate terror network spreading from the back streets of Baghdad through cells of young militants living in European capitals to Islamic extremists plotting car bomb attacks in North America.

For nine months, Operation Mazhar's police and intelligence agents in eight countries have patiently worked through a mass of emails and intercepted telephone calls that have so far led to the arrest of up to 30 males.

Most of these suspects have never met. They had no need. They were recruited, groomed by propagandists and schooled in bombmaking via the internet.

The arrest of 17 suspects, many of them teenagers, picked up in the suburbs of Toronto at the weekend is said to be the latest stage in dismantling this terrorist nexus that has its links with one of the world's most wanted men - Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qa'ida in Iraq.

More here.

Austin, San Antonio in Running for Massive Microsoft Data Center

Sanford Nowlin writes in The San Antonio Express-News:

Microsoft Corp. is considering San Antonio for a $600 million data center that would bring the tech industry's best-recognized name to the city and generate up to 100 jobs, said two local officials close to the negotiations.

The software giant based in Redmond, Wash., is looking at San Antonio and at least one other city — Austin — for the center, which would store company data on scores of computer servers, said the officials, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.

More here.

Follow-Up: Jack Cafferty Calls Arlen Specter 'A Gutless Republican Worm'

Image source: Crooks and Liars

As a follow-up to yesterday's blog post entitled "Senate Won't Question Telecoms About NSA Spying", I found this transcript and video of Jack Cafferty's timely and appropriate dialogue over on CNN yesterday afternoon.

Via Crooks and Liars.

What an idiot I am. I actually thought at the time Senator Specter was going to exercise his responsibility to provide some congressional oversight of the executive branch, you know, see if the White House is playing by the rules. Silly me.

In the end, Senator Specter has turned out to be yet another gutless Republican worm cowering in the face of pressure from the administration and fellow Republicans. There are not going to be any hearings. Americans won't find out if their privacy is being illegally invaded.

You know what the Senate Judiciary Committee settled for instead? Senator Orrin Hatch said he has won assurances from Vice President Dick Cheney that the White House will review proposed changes to the law that would restrict certain aspects of the NSA program.

Dick Cheney is going to decide if it's OK to spy on American citizens without a warrant. And this worthless bunch senators has agreed to let him do it. It's a disgrace.

I hear ya, Jack. I hear ya.


More here.

Police 'Search' of Cell Phone May Doom Baltimore Murder Case

Julie Bykowicz writes in The Baltimore Sun:

To city prosecutors, the problem with the West Baltimore double murder case was laid out in the charging documents:

A police officer asked Davon David Temple, the 17-year-old suspect, "if he could have a look at his phone to see if there were any gang members [listed] in the phone. Davon gave Lt. [William] Davis permission to look in his phone. While Lt. Davis was looking at the contacts of the phone, he found a text message."

It was a potentially a powerful piece of evidence. "I killed 2 white people around my way 2day & 1 of them was a woman," the message read.

But prosecutors said that the officer might have exceeded the consent that Temple had given. Prosecutors said the officer was wrong to delve into all the contents of Temple's phone without a search warrant, and Wednesday they dropped charges against him, including two counts of first-degree murder.

More here.

Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage Tool 'Phones Home' Daily

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

Microsoft has vowed to better disclose the actions of its antipiracy tool once it is installed on Windows PCs.

The tool, called Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications, is designed to validate whether a copy of Windows has been legitimately acquired. However, it also checks in with Microsoft on a daily basis, the company confirmed Wednesday.

This has alarmed some people, such as Lauren Weinstein, a civil liberties activist, who likened it to spyware in a blog posting.

Microsoft disputes that notion. It said that WGA's regular call home is innocent and done for necessary maintenance purposes.

More here.

House OKs New FCC Indecency Fines

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Congress gave notice to broadcasters Wednesday that they will pay dearly for crossing the line with offensive material like Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction,” passing legislation that would multiply indecency fines 10 times.

The 379-35 House vote on the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act sends the bill to President Bush for his signature. The bill, which already passed the Senate, increases the top indecency fine the Federal Communications Commission can levy from $32,500 to $325,000 per incident.

More here.

Defense Tech: The Pentagon's Space Spies

Via Defense Tech.

You can't protect what you can't see. And, right now, America's military has a really, really hard time seeing into space. Which means U.S. satellites could be at risk.

So it makes sense that the Air Force is spending a whole lot of money on "space situational awareness" -- getting a better picture of what's in orbit -- before the service starts investing big in the more outlandish tools of space war. Air Force magazine breaks down the programs.

More here.

Cablevision Claims 'Fair Use' in Hollywood Studio Lawsuit

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

U.S. cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp. on Wednesday said its planned network-based digital video recorder is protected by "fair use" legal precedents established in the famous Sony Betamax video case.

In an 18-page counterclaim filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the company defended itself against a lawsuit filed by four Hollywood movie studios and five cable television networks that charged the planned service would violate U.S. copyright laws if launched.

More here.

Gapingvoid: One Percent Market Share

Via Enjoy!

Man Carged With Selling Hacked VoIP Services

Ingenious, but (obviously, and needless to say) illegal.

Robert McMillan writes on InfoWorld:

A Miami man was charged Wednesday with stealing more than 10 million minutes of VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone service and then selling them to unsuspecting customers for as little as US$0.004 per minute.

Edwin Pena paid a Washington State computer hacker named Robert Moore about $20,000 to help him illegally route Internet telephone calls through the networks of more than 15 unnamed VOIP companies, according to criminal complaints made available by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Pena presented himself as a legitimate telecommunications wholesaler, while at the same time using hacking techniques to steal networking services valued at as much as $300,000 from each of the carriers.

"They had hoped they had engineered a brilliant toll-free calling network for themselves," said Newark FBI Special Agent Charge Leslie Wiser Jr. in the statement. "They hoped wrong."

More here.

Judge Will Review Secret Spy Docs

Ryan Singel writes on 27B Stroke 6:

District Court Judge Vaughn Walker delivered what may be the death blow to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against AT&T today, ruling that he will look at the government's secret evidence supporting its motion to dismiss the anti-secret surveillance lawsuit since it might disclose national security secrets.

The EFF had argued that the judge could order AT&T to stop its alleged complicity in warrantless government surveillance based solely on government admissions and the sealed, but unclassified, evidence provided by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein.

The online civil liberties group also counseled Judge Walker to only look at the documents little by little and disclose what he could to the EFF, so they could counter the secret arguments backing the government’s assertion of a power known as the state secrets privilege.

More here.

MPAA Takes Aim at Another BitTorrent Search Site

Tobias van der Wal writes on The Inquirer:

The MPAA continues to reach out and send armies of lawyers to the owners of any website making use of BitTorrent and or other file-sharing systems.

The latest victim is Canadian-owned search engine website, which has been sued and labelled a pirate by the association.

More here.

Alcatel Forming Cable Group

Ray Le Maistre writes on Light Reading:

Alcatel is in the early stages of building a new group focused on selling its optical and Ethernet gear into the North American cable market, Light Reading has learned.

Alcatel has been focused on North America's traditional telecom operators to date, but now it has the cable operators such as Cox Communications Inc., Cablevision Systems Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., and Time Warner Cable Inc. in its sights.

More here.

Nortel, Huawei Kill Joint Venture

Ray Le Maistre and R. Scott Raynovich write on Light Reading:

Nortel and Huawei have abruptly ended their joint venture to develop broadband products, Nortel has confirmed.

The agreement, announced in February, had the companies forming a joint venture company to develop "ultra broadband access solutions" for the global service provider market.

The end of the partnership was disclosed in a 10-Q statement filed by Nortel with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday.

More here.

14 Countries Part of CIA's Global 'Spider Web' Says Investigator

Maddy Sauer writes on ABC News' "The Blotter":

Fourteen European countries were part of the global "spider web" used by the CIA to secretly transfer terrorism suspects, according to a new report released today.

Dick Marty, the Swiss investigator for the Council of Europe, said in his report that seven council member states could be held responsible for human rights violations.

"It is now clear… that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities. Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know," said. Mr. Marty who released his findings in Paris earlier today.

More here.

Google: Don't Not Be Evil

Lore Sjöberg writes on Wired News:

Google's mantra is "Don't be evil," which as corporate mottoes go is the equivalent of "Build an eternal bonfire in the parking lot and fuel it with thousand-dollar bills and the occasional Gutenberg Bible."

The worldwide market for evil is stratospheric, and Google is uniquely positioned to take advantage of it. They've made some halting inroads in China, but economists -- many of whom are themselves evil -- estimate that if Google abandoned its inefficient policy completely, it could capture 38 percent of the evil market. That's more than Microsoft and Lindsey Lohan combined. Here are just a few of the many ways Google could provide cutting-edge, convenient and extremely evil services.

More here.

Toon: More Defenses?

Click for larger image.

U.S. Air Force Officer Court-Martialed for Sexually Explicit Online Chat

An Air Force Print News article, via, reports that:

An officer here pleaded guilty at a general court-martial to two specifications of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman under Article 133, Uniform Code of Military Justice.

While on temporary duty at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Maj. Paul McNeme engaged in a sexually explicit online chat with someone he believed was a 14-year-old girl. During their online chat, he also discussed plans to meet with and have sex with this girl. The person he was really conversing with was an adult from a sting operation, who turned a copy of the chat log over to law enforcement authorities after the incident.

Major McNeme was convicted and sentenced to a dismissal from the Air Force and three months confinement. The dismissal of an officer is equivalent to a dishonorable discharge for an enlisted member.

More here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More of the Truth: VA Data Theft Hit 80% Of Active Military

Ann Scott Tyson and Christopher Lee write in The Washington Post:

Social Security numbers and other personal information for as many as 2.2 million U.S. military personnel -- including nearly 80 percent of the active-duty force -- were among the data stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs analyst last month, federal officials said yesterday, raising concerns about national security as well as identity theft.

The department announced that personal data for as many as 1.1 million active-duty military personnel, 430,000 National Guard members and 645,000 reserve members may have been included on an electronic file stolen May 3 from a department employee's house in Aspen Hill. The stolen data include names, birth dates and Social Security numbers, VA spokesman Matt Burns said.

Defense officials said the loss is unprecedented and raises concerns about the safety of U.S. military forces. But they cautioned that law enforcement agencies investigating the incident have not found evidence that the stolen information has been used to commit identity theft.

More here.

7 June 1971: Vulgar Writing is Protected Under the First Amendment


Image source:

Via The History Channel Online.

The Supreme Court overturns the conviction of Paul Cohen for disturbing the peace. Cohen, who wore a jacket that read "Fuck the Draft" as he entered into a courtroom on April 26, 1968, had been charged with violating a California law that made it illegal to "use any vulgar, profane, or indecent language within the presence or hearing of women or children, in a loud and boisterous manner."

Cohen actually took off the jacket and folded it over his arm once inside the courthouse. However, a police officer in the building had seen it and sent the presiding judge a note suggesting that Cohen be held in contempt of court. When the judge declined, the officer arrested Cohen as he left the courtroom.

Cohen was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He described the jacket as his way of informing the public of the depth of his feelings against the Vietnam War and the draft. On appeal, and by a narrow vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court held that Cohen's jacket was protected by the First Amendment, despite the argument that it was so inflammatory that it "was certainly reasonably foreseeable that such conduct might cause others to rise up to commit a violent act against [Cohen] or attempt to forcibly remove his jacket."

The majority of the justices rejected this notion. They noted that when people go out in public they will occasionally see and hear things that they don't like. Justice Hugo Black, usually a stalwart defender of the First Amendment, was one of the dissenting judges, claiming that Cohen's act of wearing the jacket wasn't speech at all, but conduct that could be punished. However, according to the final decision, "those in the Los Angeles courthouse could effectively avoid further bombardment of their sensibilities simply by averting their eyes."


Australia: Juniper Handed Key Part of Telstra Network

Michael Sainsbury writes on Australian IT:

Telstra's bid to slash the roll-call of vendors for its $11 billion transformation project appears to be faltering, with Cisco Systems rival Juniper Networks handed a key part of the telco's internet network, and fresh talks in train with sidelined billing software vendor Amdocs.

The Australian has learned that Juniper, though distribution partner Siemens Communications, has renewed and expanded its contract to supply equipment for the so-called edge internet protocol network, despite Cisco being interested in the deal.

Cisco was one of three strategic network suppliers for Telstra's networks, along with Alcatel and Ericsson.

More here.

The Great Firewall of China Tightens Even Further

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the current unprecedented level of Internet filtering in China, which means the search engine can no longer be accessed in most provinces - although the censored Chinese version,, is still accessible - and software designed in the United States to get round censorship now only works with great difficulty.

The organisation also deplored the fact that the 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June has been used to tighten the vice on Chinese Internet users.

More here.

U.S. Legal Situation 'Untenable' After SCOTUS Refuses to Rule on Protection of Journalists' Sources

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the US supreme court’s refusal yesterday to rule on the cases of five journalists who were held by a judge to be in contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources for reports about Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear scientist formerly suspected of spying.

Noting that the supreme court refused in June last year to rule on the cases of Judith Miller, then a staff writer with the New York Times, and Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, who were held in contempt of court for similar reasons, Reporters Without Borders described the legal status quo as “untenable.” Miller spent 12 weeks in prison before consenting to reveal her sources.

More here.

DHS Doesn't Take Cyberattack Threats Seriously

Christopher J. Dorobek writes on

The United States and the Homeland Security Department are “manifestly and woefully unprepared” for a cyberattack, the former DHS inspector general said.

Al Qaeda is training people and focusing on launching cyberattacks, but DHS has “failed to make this a priority,” said Clark Ervin, the director of the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Initiative and former DHS IG, speaking at the American Council for Technology's Management of Change conference here.

DHS is on its fifth cybersecurity leader. That is an indication of the department’s lack of focus on this issue, he said, and it is an illustration of how unprepared the agency is to serve as a model for how cybersecurity should be handled.

Ervin, who has written a book, “Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack,” said terrorists are keenly aware of where the country’s weaknesses are and will work to take advantage of those weaknesses.

More here.

Google Co-Founder Lobbies for Net Neutrality

A Reuters newswire article by Joel Rothstein, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Google Inc. co-founder and President Sergey Brin met with U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday to press for legislation that would prevent Internet access providers from charging Web sites more for faster content delivery.

"The only way you can have a fast lane that is useful -- that people will pay a premium for -- is if there are slow lanes," Brin told reporters after meeting with Republican John McCain, a member of the Senate committee that oversees telecommunications issues.

More here.

Judge Defers U.S. Government Claims of State Secrets

Ryan Singel writes over on 27B Stroke 6:

While the EFF lawsuit against AT&T for allegedly helping the government spy on American's without warrants is mired in the thicket of the state secrets privilege, the ACLU's lawsuit against the government has managed to find a relatively bramble free path to a potential judgment on the legality of at least a portion of the warrantless surveillance.

The lawsuit is taking on both the confirmed NSA eavesdropping on certain overseas phone calls and emails and the alleged data-mining of Americans' domestic and foreign phone records.

US District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has postponed the government's request to dismiss the case on state secrets grounds, until after a Monday hearing on the legality of the eavesdropping portion of the case.

More here.

Senate Won't Question Telecoms About NSA Spying

How very disappointing.

When Jack Cafferty said on CNN:

"We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans."

I thanked my lucky stars that there seemed to be some integrity on Capitol Hill. Now, I'm sorely disappointed.

Anne Broache writes on C|Net News:

A prominent Republican senator on Tuesday backed away from his pledge to question executives from telecommunications companies that have allegedly been cooperating with the government's secret wiretapping program.

Arlen Specter said that after discussions with the Bush administration and Senate Intelligence Committee colleagues who had been more fully briefed on the National Security Agency program, he was "prepared to defer on a temporary basis" requiring representatives from AT&T, Verizon Communications and BellSouth to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he leads.

More here.

How Tucows Helps A Spammer Cover His Tracks

More attention to this sort of mess needs to be brought to the forefront & discussed. Some of these registrars are in it simply for the money and care nothing about the "health" of the Internet.

Shame, shame.

Via eMail Battles.

These days, it seems everybody complains about spammers, but few have noticed how key players allow spammers to ply their trade. Email Battles takes you on safari, tracking a big one, then shows you how a well-known and respected registrar makes the tracks vanish.

Think about that next time you hear ICANN-types whine about the impossibility of stopping spam. You're either part of the solution, or part of the problem.

More here.

U.S. Army, DataPath Link Up for Satellite Network Support

Dawn S. Onley writes on

The Army Communications-Electronics Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J., has awarded a $72.9 million contract to DataPath Inc. of Duluth, Ga., to continue supporting its Joint Network Node program.

DataPath will deliver 92 portable satellite Earth terminals and provide support services as part of the JNN initiative. The contract includes the 92 DataPath ET 3000 Portables, which the Army calls satellite communications transportable terminals, and two DataPath DKET 4530Ku Mobiles, known by Army officials as unit hub SATCOM trucks.

Last fall, CECOM ordered 157 of the terminals from DataPath under a $96 million contract.

More here.

Veterans' Groups Sue Over Data Theft

An AP newswire article by Hope Yen, via MSNBC, reports that:

A coalition of veterans' groups charged in a lawsuit Tuesday that their privacy rights were violated after thieves stole personal data on 26.5 million military personnel from a Veterans Affairs employee.

The class-action lawsuit against the federal government, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, is the second suit since the VA disclosed the May 3 burglary two weeks ago.

It demands that the VA fully disclose which military personnel are affected by the data theft and seeks $1,000 in damages to each person — up to $26.5 billion total. The veterans are also asking for a court order barring VA employees from using sensitive data until independent experts determine proper safeguards.

More here.

U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Cingular’s Move to block California Lawsuits

Kelly Hill writes on RCR Wireless News:

Cingular Wireless L.L.C. lost its chance to block several class-action lawsuits in California as the U.S. Supreme Court opted to allow the suits to proceed in state court.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied Cingular’s request that it hear the case. The suits involve Cingular’s early termination fees and also accuse the carrier of locking handsets so that they cannot be used on other GSM networks. According to the Los Angeles Times, the refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the case means that a series of California court decisions will stand.

More here.

Sunbelt: 'PornMagPass' -- Your Passport to Hell!

Image source: Sunbelt Software

Alex Eckelberry writes over on the Sunbelt Blog:

There’s a new trojan on the loose, undetected by almost all AV engines: Pornmagpass, from pornmagpass(dot)com.

Install it as a “free” ticket to porn. After all, the FAQ says “It is 100% free. No catch.”

Install it, and this trojan will install rogue security app SpywareQuake and adds a new IE Toolbar called “Safety Bar.”

More here.

CellularVision Files Patent Suit Against Alltel

Via UPI.

CellularVision Technology & Telecommunications announced Monday it filed suit June 2 against wireless provider Alltel Corp.

The suit from CT&T, a unit of Speedus Corp., addresses "technologies now used by Alltel to transmit television to wireless users over cellular networks and the simultaneous transmission of analog and digital signals within the same bandwidth," according to Speedus.

More here.

U.S. DoJ: Reporters May be Prosecuted for Leaks

The Freedom of The Press under attack.

Via UPI.

A top Justice department official refused to tell a Senate panel Tuesday if it is considering prosecuting any journalists for leaked national security information.

But Matthew Friedrich, chief of staff for the criminal division in the Justice Department, confirmed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the DOJ believes reporters can be prosecuted for printing classified information.

Friedrich said the Justice Department would not support legislation that protects journalists from prosecution for printing classified information, despite the exception provided for information that directly impacts national security.

He said the legislation would shift the decision-making power over whether a subpoena is needed from the executive branch to the judicial branch.

More here.

AT&T Readies 40-Gig Backbone

Craig Matsumoto writes on Light Reading:

AT&T Inc. is gearing up for its OC768 (40 Gbit/s) backbone expansion starting next year, CTO John Stankey told Globalcomm attendees this morning.

Delivering the second-day keynote to a packed room, Stankey outlined AT&T's overall plan following on the completed merger with SBC and the pending BellSouth Corp. acquisition. Most of his talk involved lots of big numbers -- 5.6 petabytes of traffic per day traversing AT&T's network, for instance -- and breathless proclamations about the cornucopia of cool but really vague "converged" services coming for consumers and businesses.

All that -- plus Project Lightspeed, AT&T's initiative to bring broadband to the home -- translates to massive network growth. Hence the OC768 buildout, which Stankey said will be placed "in key routes between 31 cities throughout AT&T's U.S. backbone network."

More here.

Global Crossing Picks Juniper Backbone Routers

Via UPI.

Global Crossing has picked Juniper Networks to provide core routing platforms for its next-generation world data network backbone.

Juniper said Tuesday the project would use its T-series platforms to help meet increasing consumer demand for 10-Gigabit Ethernet in a scalable format.

Global Crossing provides large-scale data transmission services for major business customers and other data carriers.

More here.

Qwest to Offer Windows Live Services

Ed Oswald writes on BetaNews:

Qwest said Tuesday that it had signed a new contract with Microsoft that would make it the first company to offer co-branded Windows Live services to its customers.

Several Windows Live services would be made available, including Windows Live OneCare, and a co-branded Windows Live home page, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger. Qwest had previously offered a branded version of MSN Premium to its customers.

More here.

New Law Will Exempt Spies From Privacy Act

Shaun Waterman writes for UPI:

A little-noticed proposal from the Senate Intelligence Committee would exempt federal agencies from important provisions of the Privacy Act in the name of the war against terrorism.

The committee's annual authorization bill, unanimously reported to the full Senate last month, would initiate a three-year "pilot program" during which U.S. intelligence agencies would be able to access personal information about Americans held by other federal departments or agencies if it is believed relevant to counter-terrorism or counter-proliferation.

In the wake of recent revelations about the administration's use of data-mining and warrantless surveillance of telephone and internet communications in pursuit of the nation's terrorist enemies, the provision seems certain to be controversial.

"If this is enacted, the Privacy Act will look like Swiss cheese," ACLU legislative counsel Tim Sparapani told United Press International.

More here.

Gapingvoid: Trying to Figure Out What to Do...

Via Enjoy!

UK: Teen Web Site Moves to Block Photos

Via The BBC.

A website aimed at young people says it is moving to block explicit photographs from being downloaded onto its site.

Sarah Gavin from Bebo UK was responding to an investigation by BBC NI over privacy and child safety issues.

Bebo has become one of the most popular social networking websites with schoolchildren in Northern Ireland.

The move follows concerns from parents and teachers about young people downloading photographs and having inappropriate conversations online.

More here.

French Publisher Sues Google for Piracy

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

A French publishing group is suing the US search engine Google for piracy over its controversial effort to digitise millions of books for online viewing.

La Martiniere, which owns publishers Le Seuil in France, Delachaux and Niestle in Switzerland and Harry N. Abrams in the United States, accuses Google of "counterfeiting and breach of intellectual property rights".

The lawsuit, to be filed in a Paris court, targets both Google France and its parent company, the US group Google Inc.

More here.

Teen Charged with Threatening School Official on MySpace

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

A suburban Chicago teenager is facing felony harassment charges for threatening the life of a school official on, police say.

The 14-year-old allegedly posted the threat on the social-networking Internet site at the beginning of the school year, but it wasn’t discovered by school officials until Monday, said Dan Ferrelli, spokesman for the Aurora Police Department.

The teen was charged with felony harassment through electronic communications, referred to the juvenile court system and released into his parents’ custody, Ferrelli said. The school district is also investigating.

More here.

FCC chairman sounds off on Net Neutrality and National Franchises

Marguerite Reardon writes on the C|Net Broadband Blog:

Kevin Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, sat down with Matthew Flanigan, president of the Telecommunications Industry Association on Monday at the GlobalComm tradeshow in Chicago to discuss several issues currently being debated on Capital Hill, including Network Neutrality and a national video franchise law.

Net Neutrality, or the concept that all traffic on the Internet should be able to traverse the network freely without carriers giving special priority to certain traffic, has been a hot topic for several months. During the question-and-answer session, the FCC chairman said that enacting new laws protecting Net neutrality would be premature. He said that the commission has already adopted a set of principles, which he feels are sufficient to address the issue.

"Consumers need to be able to access content on the Internet unimpeded," he said. "But at the same time, we understand network operators may offer differentiated tiers and differentiated speeds."

He added that the commission hasn't seen any widespread abuse that would justify making new laws.

More here.

ACLU Raises Surveillance as Issue in Big Phone Merger

Ken Belson writes in The New York Times:

The American Civil Liberties Union asked the Federal Communications Commission yesterday to withhold approval of AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth until it reviews allegations that the companies gave customer records to the government without warrants.

In its filing, the A.C.L.U. cited a provision in the Telecommunications Act that says that in considering a merger, the commission must "weigh the public-interest harms of the proposed transaction against the potential public-interest benefits."

The group said the F.C.C. should determine if AT&T and BellSouth handed over phone records to the National Security Agency's surveillance program and, if so, whether that violated any privacy laws.

More here.

Vonage Shareholders File Lawsuit Over IPO

Yuki Noguchi writes in The Washington Post:

Shareholders of Vonage Holdings Corp. have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Internet telephone company, compounding the troubles stemming from Vonage's initial public offering last month.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey on behalf of purchasers of Vonage's stock, alleges the company's executives violated securities laws by making "false and misleading" statements about the company's financial condition in its prospectus.

More here.

McAfee Acquires Preventsys

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

McAfee Inc., a provider of computer security software and services, said on Tuesday that it has acquired closely held Preventsys Inc.

McAfee spokeswoman Siobhan MacDermott said that the transaction was valued "in the low millions." She declined to elaborate.

Preventsys is a developer of so-called security risk management software, which companies use to identify security problems as they seek to demonstrate and monitor compliance with internal auditing procedures and government regulations.

More here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

IPv6 Day: The 6Bone is Dead, Long Live the 6Bone!


In March 2003, the IETF decided that was the right time to start the phase-out of the IPv6 experimental network (6Bone), which started in 1996. This included a phase-out plan that defined that on 6 of June of 2006, no 6Bone prefixes will be used on the Internet in any form.

Moreover, the IETF IPv6 working group has started the process to advance the core IPv6 specifications to the last step in the IETF standardisation Process (e.g., Standard). IETF protocols are elevated to the Internet Standard level when significant implementation and successful operational experience has been obtained. Vendors with IPv6 products are encouraged to participate in this process by identifying their IPv6-enabled products at the IPv6-to-Standard site.

This event want to acknowledge the efforts of all the 6Bone participants, the IETF community which developed IPv6, other organizations engaged in the IPv6 promotion, and operators and end-users that have been early adopters. All them have been key contributors for the success of IPv6. Service Providers and other organisations that provide on-line IPv6 services are encouraged to register those services in the IPv6 Day website.

On June 6, 2006, end-users will be able to connect to the above web site to learn about issues like how to turn-on IPv6 in their operating systems, how to obtain IPv6 connectivity and how to try some of the available services.

More here.

6 June 1944: Operation Overlord -- D-Day in Normandy

A United States Navy LCVP disembarks troops at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.
Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

The Battle of Normandy was fought in 1944 between the German forces occupying Western Europe and the invading Allied forces as part of the larger conflict of World War II. Over sixty years later, the Normandy invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord, still remains the largest seaborne invasion in history, involving almost three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy in then German-occupied France.

The majority of the Allied forces were composed of American, British, Canadian, and French units. Other countries including Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Poland also took a major part.

The Normandy invasion began with overnight airborne paratrooper and glider landings, massive air attacks and naval bombardments, and an early morning amphibious assault on June 6, "D-Day". The battle for Normandy continued for more than two months, with campaigns to establish, expand, and eventually break out of the Allied beachheads. It concluded with the liberation of Paris and the fall of the Falaise Pocket.

You Are Not Forgotten.

More here.

South Park Wins Coveted Peabody Award

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

With Jon Stewart hosting and "South Park" as one of the honorees, the 65th annual Peabody Awards ceremony Monday had a comedic bent.

Stewart called the ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria "less entertaining than the Emmys," and said the honorees were "good, but not Latin Grammys good." He also quipped that he didn’t want to see the statuettes being handed out ending up on eBay.

The biggest cheers went to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-creators of Comedy Central’s "South Park." In introducing them, Stewart said he marveled at "at their ability to keep the show fresh and hilarious" after nearly 10 years on the air. The two, though, kept their remarks brief and irreverent, with Parker throwing a swear word into a joke about their "artistic responsibility" and Stone spending his time praising fellow honorees "Battlestar Galactica."

More here.

Finjan Files Patent Lawsuit Against Secure Computing

Grant Gross writes on InfoWorld:

Cybersecurity vendor Finjan Software Ltd. has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against competitor Secure Computing Corp., Finjan announced Monday.

The lawsuit, filed against Secure Computing and subsidiaries CyberGuard and Webwasher, says the companies are infringing Finjan's patents related to Web security, going back to 1996. Secure Computing is infringing on patents related to "systems and methods for protecting a computer and a network from hostile downloadables and/or malicious code," Finjan said in a press release.

More here.

Google to Introduce Spreadsheet Program

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

Google Inc. will introduce a spreadsheet program Tuesday, continuing the Internet search leader's expansion into territory long dominated by Microsoft Corp.

To avoid swamping the company's computers, Google's spreadsheet initially will be distributed to a limited audience. Google also wants more time to smooth out any possible kinks and develop more features, said Jonathan Rochelle, the product manager of the new application.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company planned to begin accepting sign-ups for the spreadsheet at 9 a.m. EDT Tuesday through the "labs" section of its Web site. Rochelle wouldn't specify how many people will be granted access to the spreadsheet application.

More here.

IRS Laptop Containing Employee Fingerprint Images Lost

Bob Sullivan writes on MSNBC:

A laptop computer containing fingerprints of Internal Revenue Service employees is missing, has learned.

The computer was lost during transit on an airline flight in the western United States, IRS spokesman Terry Lemon said. No taxpayer information was on the lost laptop, Lemon said.

In all, the IRS believes the computer contained information on 291 employees and job applicants, including fingerprints, names, Social Security numbers, and dates of birth. The fingerprints had been collected as part of a normal background screening process. Some job applicants’ information also was also on the computer.

More here.