Saturday, August 26, 2006

UCLA to Protect Animal Research

Rebecca Trounson and Joe Mozingo write in The Los Angeles Times:

After an attempted firebombing near the home of one UCLA researcher and repeated harassment that pushed another professor to halt his primate research, UCLA's acting chancellor said Friday that he was taking steps to protect the university and its faculty from extremists in the animal rights movement.

Norman Abrams, who became acting chancellor July 1, said animal rights activists in recent months have mounted what he called an escalating campaign against UCLA professors, researchers and their families.

More here.

NASA Scrubs Shuttle Launch Citing Lightning Strike, Weather

Tariq malik writes on

NASA engineers are battling thunderstorms and rain as they struggle to understand the impact of a launch pad lightning strike that scrubbed the planned Sunday liftoff of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Shuttle officials have found at least two anomalies – one on Atlantis’ Pad 39B launch pad and another on the orbiter itself – associated with a powerful lightning strike Friday that led them to postpone the Aug. 27 space shot. But a comprehensive survey of those areas must wait until heavy thunderstorms and a lightning threat pass over NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch site.

“We think it may be the largest lightning strike in terms of the current,” Cain said in a press briefing here after the scrub, adding that the bolt’s strength measured around 100,000 amps. “We know just enough to know that we don’t know enough to be able to press on into a launch countdown tomorrow.”

More here.

Symantec: New Virus Targets AMD Processors

Tom Sanders writes on

Security researchers at Symantec have discovered a new proof of concept virus that targets processors AMD rather than operating systems.

The worm comes in two versions, targeting 32-bit and 64-bit processors from AMD. Symantec refers to the online pests as w32.bounds and w64.bounds. Because it involves proof of concept code, both viruses are rated as low level threats.

Although at this point it concerns harmless proof of concept code, the virus could be used as a starting point for creating malware that affects computers regardless of the operating system that they run, cautioned Vincent Weafer, senior director of Symantec's Security Response Group.

More here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

California Man Gets 3 Years for 'Botnet' Attack

An AP newswire article, via The Boston Globe, reports that:

A man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for launching a computer attack that hit tens of thousands of computers, including some belonging to the Department of Defense, a Seattle hospital and a California school district.

Christopher Maxwell, 21, of Vacaville, Calif., was also sentenced to three years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty in May to federal charges of conspiracy to intentionally cause damage to a protected computer and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman said the crime showed "incredible self-centeredness" with little regard for the impact on others. She said the prison time was needed as "deterrence for all those youth out there who are squirreled away in their basements hacking."

More here.

Sovereign Bank Warns Customers Personal Data May Have Been Breached

An AP newswire article, via The Boston Globe, reports that:

Sovereign Bank is warning thousands of customers that their personal data may have been stolen along with three managers' laptops taken earlier this month in Massachusetts.

Bank officials said fewer than 1 percent of customers in the New England and Mid-Atlantic area may have been affected, the Standard-Times of New Bedford reported.

"There's no information any of the accounts have been compromised," bank spokesman Carl Brown told the newspaper. He would not say how many letters were sent to customers Aug. 21, but said it was in the thousands.

"We do consider this as a serious matter; we want to do everything we can," Brown said. "Police are investigating, and we're conducting our own internal investigation."

More here.

Gapingvoid: Bloggers, Public Radio...

Via Enjoy!

Verizon Gaffe Lets 5,000 Customer Details Slip

Joris Evers writes on C|Net News:

Verizon Wireless this week accidentally distributed a file with limited details on more than 5,000 customers outside the company, potentially giving identity thieves a toehold.

The Microsoft Excel spreadsheet file was e-mailed on Monday and includes names, e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers and cell phone model of 5,210 Verizon Wireless customers, going by a copy of the file obtained by CNET All of the customers have Motorola RAZR phones, according to the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet was inadvertently sent to about 1,800 people, all Verizon Wireless subscribers, according to a follow-up e-mail apologizing for the gaffe that the mobile carrier sent on Thursday. The Excel file was attached to an ad for a Bluetooth wireless headset, instead of the electronic order form that was supposed to be sent.

More here.

BellSouth Drops High-Speed Internet Fee After FCC Threat

Jeremy Pelofsky writes for Reuters:

BellSouth Corp., the No. 3 U.S. local telephone company, on Friday said it will immediately drop a $2.97 monthly fee for high-speed Internet service after U.S. communications regulators threatened to investigate the charge.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission had been poised to send a letter of inquiry to BellSouth asking the carrier to explain the new fee, which replaces a surcharge for a government subsidy program, FCC officials said.

Most customers would see the change on their bills within a week, but it could take up to six weeks, BellSouth said. It added that customers charged the fee dating back to August 16 would receive a credit.

However, the FCC's enforcement bureau on Friday did send a letter to Verizon Communications, the No. 2 U.S. telephone company, for information on its own new charge instituted to replace the fee for the government program.

More here.

U.S. Toll in Iraq

Via The Boston Globe (AP).

As of Friday, Aug. 25, 2006, at least 2,619 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,078 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The AP count is one higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Friday at 10 a.m. EDT.

More here.

IT Execs Feeling the Heat as Security Woes Multiply

Ann Bednarz and Denise Dubie write on NetworkWorld:

With security threats increasing and regulation tightening, companies are demanding greater IT accountability - and that can mean being forced to walk the plank after a breach.

AOL fired a researcher and a manager last week, and CTO Maureen Govern resigned after the Dulles, Va., company posted data on search queries made by 650,000 AOL subscribers. Ohio University dismissed two senior IT people this month following news of five security vulnerabilities that exposed the sensitive records of 137,000 alumni.

More here.

Michigan Man Sentenced Over Computer Attacks

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

A 19-year-old Michigan man who ran an Internet business selling retro sports jerseys was sentenced Friday to 30 months in federal prison for recruiting a New Jersey teen to carry out computer attacks against competitors.

Jason Salah Arabo was also ordered to pay $504,495 to his victims, which included operators of competing Web sites as well as an Internet hosting company.

Arabo, of Southfield, Mich., pleaded guilty in April to a federal conspiracy charge.

More here.

F-Secure: Man-in-the-Middle PayPal Attack in the Works

Dan Kaplan writes on SC Magazine Online:

Researchers at F-Secure are warning about a potential man-in-the-middle attack targeting PayPal users.

According to the security firm's blog today, F-Secure was alerted about a phishing site that is identical to the real PayPal log-in page. The bogus site, which communicates with both the user and the legitimate PayPal site, is designed to steal usernames, passwords and credit card information.

More here.

Toshiba to Make Microsoft's Zune Media Player

Daisuke Wakabayashi writes for Reuters:

Microsoft Corp. said on Friday that Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Corp. will manufacture its upcoming "Zune" portable media player, the software giant's answer to Apple Computer Inc.'s market-leading iPod.

A company spokeswoman confirmed that a filing made by Toshiba for a portable audio player to the Federal Communications Commission is for Zune, due out later this year.

The filing reveals that the device will come with a 3-inch liquid crystal display screen and a 30-gigabyte hard-disk drive and have wireless connectivity.

Microsoft would not disclose any more details, but said more information was coming in the "next couple of weeks." Toshiba was not immediately available for comment.

More here.

Paris Hilton Accused of Phone Phreakiness

Paris Hilton

Brian Krebs writes on Security Fix:

You may have read the story from a while back about how hackers broke into socialite Paris Hilton's cell phone account and posted online racy pictures of the hotel heiress stolen from her mobile device (turns out the perpetrators were the same people accused of hacking into consumer database giant LexisNexis last year). But could it be that Hilton herself has begun using some of the same hacker tactics leveraged against her in personal attacks against others?

So says, a company that offers "spoofing" services that let people fake the number that appears in the recipient's caller ID display. The company's lawyer, Mark Del Bianco, says Hilton was among some 50 customers whose accounts were suspended for allegedly using Spoofcard's service to break into other peoples' voice mail accounts and listen to their private messages or alter their outgoing messages. Spoofcard said it discovered the violation "while reviewing its customer call records for evidence of fraud and other prohibited conduct."

More here.

UK: Broadband Cut Off Over BT Dispute

Via The BBC.

About 5,500 customers have had their broadband internet service cut off amid a row between their supplier and BT.

Euro1Net's service has been suspended after BT Wholesale said the company, based in Ramsgate, Kent, had repeatedly failed to pay off its invoices.

Some customers had paid hundreds of pounds upfront for a two-year broadband connection with Euro1Net.

The firm was not available for comment but said on its website that "action by BT" had seen its service withdrawn.

More here.

Why Stephen Colbert Is Google's Best Friend

Stephen Colbert
Image source: eWeek

Steve Bryant writes on eWeek's Google Watch:

As Marissa Mayer prepares to give her speech to television executives at the Media Guardian TV festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, tomorrow, she would do well to consider how a fake TV news anchor is helping Google's advertising plans, one video mashup at a time.

The 31-year-old will encourage the boob tube brass to consider the Web as a way of increasing its popularity. Internet as friend, not foe. Ad generator, not ad competitor.

"The Internet creates more of an appetite for media--it doesn't replace physical books, radio or TV," she told the Guardian recently. "I don't think it should be a threat to existing business models. It should cause users to consume more."

Enter Stephen Colbert. The faux media maven has made an art of using the Internet--especially online video--to promote his Comedy Central show. After successfully inciting his users to edit Wikipedia entries on his behalf (the traffic uptick may have crashed the server), Colbert exhorted fans to create video mashups of his light-saber antics in front of a green screen. The result: Hundreds of thousands of people watched his show on YouTube. Apparently satisified with the exposure on YouTube, Colbert is now asking participants to upload videos to

More here.

'Minorty Report' Computing Interface Becoming Reality

Image source: Dale Rutter / Donna Rosen Artists

This has got to be one of the most exciting developments in computing technology that I have seen demonstrated in a long time (in addition to Spore).

Go ahead -- take less than 10 minutes and watch this video, and tell me that it isn't very, very cool.

Go ahead -- I dare you. :-)

(Props to Good Morning, Silicon Valley!)

Spammers Manipulate Stock Markets?

Via The BBC.

Spam messages that tout stocks and shares can have real effects on the markets, a study suggests.

E-mails typically promote penny shares in the hope of convincing people to buy into a company to raise its price.

People who respond to the "pump and dump" scam can lose 8% of their investment in two days.

Conversely, the spammers who buy low-priced stock before sending the e-mails, typically see a return of between 4.9% and 6% when they sell.

The study recently published on the Social Science Research Network say their conclusions prove the hypothesis that spammers "buy low and spam high".

More here.

FCC Questions Verizon, BellSouth 'Fee Swapping'

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

Verizon and BellSouth will be asked by regulators to explain a new fee on high-speed Internet customers that replaces a government surcharge that ended this month, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Verizon and BellSouth, the No. 2 and No. 3 telephone carriers respectively, will be sent "letters of inquiry" to see whether the new charge complies with Federal Communications Commission rules that require "truth in billing", the source said on the condition of anonymity.

More here.

Global Crossing Makes Offer for UK's Fibernet

Nicole Willing writes on Light Reading:

Global Crossing Holdings Ltd. has stepped forward with an offer for U.K. corporate services operator Fibernet Group plc, agreeing to shell out $96.1 million in cash.

In response to press speculation, Fibernet said earlier this month that it had received an offer from an unnamed suitor. The operator had previously received a takeover bid last December.

Fibernet Group, in the U.K., is unrelated to the U.S.-based FiberNet Telecom Group Inc., which is also rumored to be in play. But one has to wonder if some investors were confused this morning, as shares in Fibernet Telecom's stock rose 15 percent.

More here.

Trojan Horse Leads to Child Porn Convictions

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net's "Police Blotter":

In early 2000, a computer hacker who used the now-defunct e-mail address seeded a Usenet newsgroup called with a clever bit of malicious Windows software.

The Trojan horse program, called SubSeven or Sub7, can look innocuous. But once installed, it installs a backdoor in the victim's computer and can allow files to be extracted and a keystroke logger to be installed.

SubSeven did its job. On July 16, 2000, "1069" sent e-mail to the Montgomery, Ala., Police Department saying, "I found a child molester on the Net." The e-mail included an attached photograph of what looked like a girl no older than 6 being sexually abused.

At the urging of Montgomery Police Capt. Kevin Murphy, "1069" eventually turned over more and more information that led back to a computer owned by Bradley Joseph Steiger, who had worked as an emergency room physician in Alabama. The hacker's finds included information from Steiger's AT&T WorldNet account, records from his checking account, and a list of directories on his computer's hard drive where sexually explicit photographs were stored.

More here.

Belgacom Buys Vodafone Stake in Mobile Unit for 2B Euros

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

Belgian telecommunications operator Belgacom said it was taking full control of its Proximus mobile phone unit by buying 25-percent stake for two billion euros (2.55 billion dollars).

Proximus and Vodafone have also signed an agreement to maintain commercial cooperation for the next five years, which covered areas such as buying activities, mobile services, mobile products and roaming, Belgacom said in a statement Friday.

More here.

Florida Man Gets 6 Years in Software Piracy Case

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

A Florida man who made millions of dollars selling illegal copies of computer programs was sentenced Friday to six years in prison in one of the nation's largest software piracy cases.

Danny Ferrer, of Lakeland, Fla., pleaded guilty in June to conspiracy and copyright infringement charges after an FBI investigation of his Web site, Ferrer also was ordered to pay more than $4.1 million in restitution to software makers Adobe Systems Inc., Autodesk, and Macromedia Inc.

Ferrer bought numerous airplanes, a fighter-jet simulator, a Lamborghini, a Hummer and other luxury vehicles with his profits. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III ordered the items be sold to pay restitution in the case.

More here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

California Botmaster Faces Prison for PC Attacks

Mike Barber writes in The Seatlle Post-Intelligencer:

A 20-year-old California hacker who created a virus that jeopardized patients at Northwest Hospital in Seattle, damaged computers at U.S. military installations worldwide and affected thousands of others will be sentenced today.

Federal prosecutors will ask U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman to send Christopher Maxwell to prison for six years.

Maxwell's lawyer will argue that only probation and community service is warranted, according to court documents.

Defense attorney Steven Bauer cites Maxwell's lack of a criminal record and maintains that he did not intend such an extensive spread of his robot virus program, or "botnet" software.

More here.

Internet Archive Settles Suit Against Wayback Machine

Elinor Mills writes on the C|Net Search Blog:

The Internet Archive is off the hook in a lawsuit accusing it of negligence for allowing old Web pages to be viewed using the Wayback Machine, which archives pages unless Web site owners specifically ask that they be excluded from the database.

The case involves two patient-advocate groups in the Philadelphia area with similar names--Healthcare Advocates of Philadelphia and Healthcare Advocate, which the former sued for trademark infringement.

More here.

Chinese Rsearcher for New York Times Gets 3 Years

An AP newswire article, via The Boston Chronicle, reports that:

A Chinese researcher for The New York Times was acquitted Friday of state secrets charges but was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years in prison, one of his defense lawyers said.

Zhao Yan, 44, was detained in 2004. The government has not released details of the charges, but the case is believed to stem from a Times report on then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin's plans to relinquish his post as head of the military.

More here.

California State Telecom Price Controls Lifted

Ryan Kim writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

California regulators lifted most price controls for local telecommunications providers Thursday, saying competition from wireless, Internet and cable telephone rivals will maintain competitive prices for consumers.

Over the concerns of some consumer groups, the California Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 to deregulate basic phone service. That will allow companies such as AT&T and Verizon to set prices without regulatory restrictions.

More here.

Photoshop of the Day: Pluto, Pissed Off

Via Boing Boing.

U.S. Army Fears 'Adversary' Probes Computers

Via UPI.

Foreign enemies may have targeted computer networks on at least 15 bases in more than 60 attacks in the last 11 months, an Army official said.

"Our belief is their motivation in Category 1 and Category 2 intrusions is to enable a foreign adversary to deny our president, Joint Chiefs of Staff (and military services) that network-centric warfare option," said Thomas Reardon, chief of the intelligence division with Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command, according to Government Computer News Thursday. "If we are going to bet the farm on network-centric operations and we allow those kinds of intrusions to persist, we're putting it all at risk."

The infamous "Solar Sunrise" computer attack in 1998 that compromised unclassified military networks at least 11 bases was initially assumed to be an adversarial attack from a terrorist group or nation. It was later determined to be carried out by three teenagers - one in Israel and two in Cloverdale, Calif.

More here.

Missouri Man Sends Porn Pics of Ex-Wife, Gets Jail Time

An AP newswire article, via The Boston Globe, reports that:

A southeast Missouri man will go to jail for breaking into his ex-wife's e-mail and sending pornographic pictures of her to her relatives.

Alfred Seals, 47, of Cape Girardeau, pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor tampering with computer data, and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Seals gained access to his wife's e-mail account without her consent, then e-mailed the woman's family a Web site link and message stating, "something nice to see," according to a probable-cause statement.

The link took users to a Web site that contained several pornographic pictures Seals took of the woman when they were married.

The woman immediately suspected her ex-husband and went to police.

More here.

U.S. Court Protects Confidentiality in Piracy Reporting

Grant Gross writes on InfoWorld:

A judge in Washington, D.C. has struck down a defense contractor's efforts to find out the name of a person who reported it for alleged software piracy.

Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia rejected a subpoena seeking the identity of a person who reported Solers Inc. of Arlington, Virginia, for alleged software piracy in 2005. Solers had filed a defamation claim against the unidentified informant and had subpoenaed the name from Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), an antipiracy trade group the informant contacted about the alleged piracy.

When SIIA contacted Solers about the allegation, the company denied wrongdoing. SIIA did not pursue a claim against Solers and did not determine that it had engaged in software piracy, SIIA said.

More here.

DHS Cyber-Czar to Be Named 'Soon'

Wayne Rash writes on eWeek:

The Department of Homeland Security will be naming a new Assistant Secretary for Cyber and Telecommunications in the very near future, a DHS spokesperson has told eWEEK.

According to Vallee Bunting, a spokesperson for Preparedness Directorate of the DHS, the department is close to the final stages of the hiring process, and should have a candidate named soon.

Currently, the functions of the cyber-czar are being handled by Robert Zitz, Deputy Undersecretary for Preparedness.

More here.

Australia: Centrelink Staff Fired for Privacy Breaches

Via ABC News (Australia).

Hundreds of Centrelink staff have been caught inappropriately looking up the records of friends and ex-lovers.

The privacy breaches were uncovered using specially designed spyware software.

As a result of a two-year investigation, Centrelink has uncovered nearly 800 cases of what it has described as inappropriate access by staff to customer records.

Nineteen staff have been sacked and nearly 100 resigned when they were confronted with the allegations.

Five of the cases have also been referred by Centrelink to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

More here.

Two Indonesians Arrested for Cyber Terror Support

Via UPI.

Indonesian authorities have arrested two men for using the Internet and computer technology to support terrorism.

The two, arrested separately in Central Java earlier this month, are being held at the National Police Headquarters in Jakarta.

According to a Jakarta Post report Thursday, authorities identified the two as Mohammad Agung Prabowo, 23, and gung Setyadi, 31.

Prabowo, also known as Max Fiderman on the Internet, allegedly helped register Web sites in Britain and Germany for a man named Abdul Azis, who is on trial in Bali in connection with the 2002 terror attacks there that killed hundreds of people, including Australian tourists.

More here.

Airplane Bombing Plot Spurs 'Targeting' Technology

William P. Dizard III writes on

Technologies for pinpointing risky passengers drew renewed attention from Homeland Security Department officials following the recent terrorist airliner bombing plot. But wrangling over privacy policy remained a pivotal factor in evaluation of the data-mining technology.

DHS secretary Michael Chertoff pledged that security officials would put added emphasis on “targeting tools” at airports, a term generally understood to include applications that finger terrorists by sifting through vast databases about travelers.

Meanwhile, one major vendor of systems that DHS and other federal agencies use to detect threats said the aircraft bombing plot focused attention on software that analyzes security camera images to help security personnel identify risky travelers.

More here.

Toon: Sigmund Freud Bush

Click for larger image.

California's Prop 87 Clean-Fuel Initiative: Mudslinging Over Online Antics

Michael Kanellos writes on C|Net News:

The opponents of a ballot proposal in California to tax oil companies and give the proceeds to alternative-energy entrepreneurs and universities say the clean-tech camp is slinging mud.

Californians Against Higher Taxes, a political-action group funded largely by oil companies and agribusiness, claims that the individuals behind Proposition 87 are skirting California's electoral laws.

Earlier this week, CAHT pointed out that individuals who clicked on links that appeared to be hosted by opponents of the proposal--such as and redirected to the Yes on 87 campaign's Web site.

CAHT asserted that this violated California's Political Cyberfraud Abatement Act, passed in 2001 to prevent cybersquatting and the diverting of voters from certain Web sites.

CAHT filed a lawsuit with a state court in Alameda County on Tuesday over the issue.

More here.

AllPeers to Launch 'Darknet' P2P Application

Jeremy Reimer writes on ARS Technica:

Last December, I wrote about a team that was constructing a plugin for Firefox called AllPeers. Claiming that their product would be "The best thing to happen to Firefox... since Firefox," the AllPeers plugin promised to make file sharing between friends easy and efficient. At the same time, supporters of the service proclaimed that it would protect its users from lawsuits from the RIAA and MPAA due to its darknet architecture.

Now, after many months of development, AllPeers is finally ready to unveil its technology to the world. The application is scheduled to be released later today, albeit in beta form. According to the AllPeers CEO and project leader, Cedric Maloux, the plugin represents more than 200,000 lines of C++ and JavaScript code.

More here.

Hezbollah TV Provider Arrested in New York

Lara Setrakian reports on ABC News' "The Blotter":

A man alleged to have used his HDTV service to provide New York area customers with Hezbollah television broadcasts was arrested yesterday. He's been charged with conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Javed Iqbal is alleged to have provided customers with satellite broadcasts from the Al Manar television station, which is owned and operated by Hezbollah.

More here.

Silicon Insider: The Silent Tech Boom

Michael S. Malone writes on ABC News:

This should be a time for celebration. Yet, nobody seems to be at the table. Instead, they are pacing around in the shadows, muttering nervously.

Interestingly, one reason we haven't noticed the tech boom in particular is that no one is covering it. Most of the big tech business magazines of the '90s died with the bust. The mainstream business magazines, based in New York, came late to the boom, were embarrassed when they failed to predict the downturn, and ever since, have done their best to cover tech companies one at a time and stay away from any sweeping pronouncements.

More here.

Fugitive Exec Nabbed After Skype Call

Eric Bangeman writes on ARS Technica:

Kobi Alexander, the founder of Comverse, was nabbed in Negombo, Sri Lanka yesterday by a private investigator. He is wanted by the US government in connection with financial fraud charges. He is accused of profiting from some very shady stock-option deals, to the detriment of Comverse shareholders. Once the deals became public and he was indicted, he resigned as CEO and fled the US.

Alexander was traced to the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo after he placed a one-minute call using Skype. That was enough to alert authorities to his presence and hunt him down.

The fugitive former CEO may have been convinced that using Skype made him safe from tracking, but he—and everyone else that believes VoIP is inherently more secure than a landline—was wrong. Tracking anonymous peer-to-peer VoIP traffic over the Internet is possible. In fact, it can be done even if the parties have taken some steps to disguise the traffic.

More here.

EarthLink Adds Anonymous E-mailing For Subscribers

Gregg Keizer writes on TechWeb News:

Atlanta-based Internet provider EarthLink on Tuesday added an anonymous e-mail service as another way for its subscribers to steer clear of spam.

The new ProtectionPack, available only to EarthLink members, features Anonymous Email, which gives users five new anonymous addresses that are linked behind the scenes to the customers actual account.

Subscribers can then use those five anonymous e-mail accounts to register at Web sites, for online shopping, and for sending and receiving mail without exposing their identities. To keep mail delivered to the anonymous accounts separate from the personal address, messages are automatically shunted to ProtectionPack folders in the user's Web mail account.

More here.

Consumer Reports: Viruses and Spyware Cost Users $7.8 Billion

Via Newsfactor.

Consumers paid as much $7.8 billion over two years to repair or replace computers that got infected with viruses and spyware, a Consumer Reports survey found.

That figure was down from a similar survey a year ago. Still, it suggests that people are paying large sums to cope with the flood of malicious viruses and other programs that can slow computers or render them inoperable.

"There is a very high national cost to this," said Jeff Fox, technology editor of the consumer magazine. "People think they're invincible, even when this kind of money is involved."

In a nationwide survey, the magazine found that unwanted commercial e-mail, known as spam, is the biggest computer-security problem. But viruses are the most expensive, with people paying $5.2 billion in 2004 and 2005 to repair or replace afflicted machines, the survey found.

More here.

Dutch Cable Firm Loses Court Case Over File Swapping

Via Reuters.

A Dutch judge told cable operator and Internet broadband provider UPC, a unit of Liberty Global, on Thursday to give the name and address of one its clients to an anti-piracy agency.

The result is a breakthrough for Dutch copyright holders interest group Brein, which has long tried to gain access to names and addresses of individuals who it suspects of swapping large numbers of songs, films and other copyrighted material.

Internet lawyers said it is the first time a Dutch internet service provider will have to hand over personal details of file swappers who store copyrighted content on their own computers.

UPC said it had always refused to supply subscriber data because this would be a breach of Dutch privacy laws.

More here.

Apple to Recall 1.8 Million Notebook Batteries

A Reuters newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Apple Computer Inc. will recall 1.8 million lithium-ion notebook batteries after nine devices overheated, causing minor burns in two users, U.S. safety regulators said Thursday.

The recall is the second-biggest in U.S. history involving electronics or computers, after No. 1 PC maker Dell Inc. recalled 4.1 million lithium-ion batteries last week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. In both cases the batteries had power cells made by Sony Corp..

Cupertino, California-based Apple will recall 1.1 million batteries sold with notebooks in the United States and 700,000 abroad, the safety agency said. They were sold with Apple iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 computers from October 2003, through this month, according to the safety commission.

More here.

Schneier: Refuse to be Terrorized

Bruce Schneier writes on Wired News:

I'd like everyone to take a deep breath and listen for a minute.

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics.

The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.

More here.

UK and U.S. Companies Sold Mobile Phone Tapping Equipment to Vietnam

Via Reporters sans Frontières.

Reporters Without Borders has learned that a British company, Silver Bullet, and a US company, Verint Systems (a subsidiary of Comverse Technology), sold equipment for intercepting mobile phone calls to the Vietnamese intelligence services. The source of this information, the UK-based Jane’s Defence Weekly, said a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries acted as intermediary in some of the sales.

The sales were revealed by Robert Karniol in an article headlined “Vietnamese army enhances mobile phone monitoring” in the 31 October 2005 issue of Jane’s Defence Weekly (JDW). He said the London-based Silver Bullet had recently sold two P-GSM stations (portable mobile phone listening devices - see image) to Vietnam for $250,000 each. Elta (a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries) and Aikap Group, another Israeli company, acted as intermediaries in this transaction.

More here.

'Yes, Virginia, You Do Need A Tinfoil Hat'

Ryan Singel writes on 27B Stroke 6:

Though the State Department has only just begun to issue new e-passports with RFID chips in them, one company is already offering a nice accessory for it -- an anti-snooping pouch.

Paraben Forensic Tools, which sells hardware and software for pulling data out of computers and cell phones, is selling the "Passport StrongHold" for $15.

Made from layers of silver, copper and nickel, this portable faraday cage is intended to keep rogue RFID readers from snooping on your passport.

Sadly, this passport equivalent of a tin-foil hat is actually a good idea.

More here.

Scientists Decide Pluto’s No Longer a Planet

Pluto (with Charon in the distance)
Image source: NASA

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

For decades, it’s been confused with a cartoon dog and ridiculed as a puny poser. Now Pluto, the solar system’s consummate cling-on, has suffered its worst humiliation: It’s not even a planet anymore.

After a tumultuous week of clashing over the essence of the cosmos, leading astronomers Thursday stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. The new definition of what is — and isn’t — a planet fills a centuries-old black hole for scientists who have labored since Copernicus without one.

The historic vote by the International Astronomical Union officially shrinks Earth’s neighborhood from the traditional nine planets to eight — forcing future revisions of science textbooks and classroom charts. But the scientists made clear they’re as sentimental as anyone else about the ninth rock from the sun.

More here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

FBI Shares Near-Match DNA with Police

A UPI newswire article, via, reports that:

The FBI has allowed investigators in Denver to use DNA information from convicted criminals to track relatives suspected of other crimes.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said the FBI used information from the Combined DNA Index System to perform a near-match search that found an Oregon man who is likely a relative of a man who sexually assaulted a Denver woman in 2003, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Morrissey said the information, which marks the first time the FBI has shared near-match information between states, could lead to police identifying the suspect.

However, some groups have claimed that near-match searches violate the privacy of innocent relatives of criminals and constitute a form of genetic surveillance.

More here.

NASA Faces Spacecraft Communications Crunch

David Shiga writes on NewScientistSpace:

The ageing satellites that help NASA keep in touch with the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope could have trouble keeping up with communications demands as early as 2010, a new report warns.

The report, from the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), says NASA needs to start planning to replace the satellites or look into commercial satellite services to avoid a communications bottleneck.

NASA has nine satellites in geosynchronous orbit as part of its Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). The satellites help NASA maintain contact with spacecraft in low-Earth orbit, such as the space shuttle.

But several of the satellites have already passed their 10-year design lifetime – the first was launched in 1983 – and some only function in a limited capacity because of onboard equipment failures.

More here.

Titan Rocket Era Nears an End

Titan rocket launch

Christopher Smart writes in The Salt Lake Tribune:

In a huge fireball and a towering cloud of smoke, a great era in American rocketry neared an end.

The second-to-last Titan rocket-motor segment was destroyed here Tuesday afternoon, as part of closing out the 50-year rocket propulsion program that powered everything from intercontinental ballistic missiles to manned space flights.

Shortly before 2:30 p.m., technicians at the Utah Test and Training Range on the western shores of the Great Salt Lake ignited and destroyed an aft segment of a Titan IV-B rocket. Thursday, the last segment will be burned up, the finale of a historic chapter in space flight.

More here.

Big Boost in Zombie PCs Seen From Latest Windows Exploit

Antine Gonsalves writes on TechWeb News:

The virus exploiting a bug disclosed in Microsoft's latest security bulletin has commandeered nearly 50,000 Widows PCs each day in the last week, a security firm said Tuesday.

The average number of new zombie PCs recorded each day by CipherTrust has jumped since Aug. 14 to 263,000 from 214,000, Dmitri Alperovitch, research scientist for the Alpharetta, Ga., company said. The increase has been blamed on the most recent version of Mocbot, also called Wargbot and Graweg, which exploits the Windows flaw patched Aug. 8 by Microsoft.

The increase itself is not a surprise, given that spikes in the number of PCs commandeered by virus writers to spew spam or malware often go up when new worms or vulnerabilities are disclosed. What is unusual in this case, however, is how the machines are being infected.

More here.

Unintentional Password Modification Vulnerability in Cisco Firewall Products

Via Cisco.

Certain versions of the software for the Cisco PIX 500 Series Security Appliances, the Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliances (ASA), and the Firewall Services Module (FWSM) are affected by a software bug that may cause the EXEC password, passwords of locally defined usernames, and the enable password in the startup configuration to be changed without user intervention.

Unauthorized users can take advantage of this bug to try to gain access to a device that has been reloaded after passwords in its startup configuration have been changed. In addition, authorized users can be locked out and lose the ability to manage the affected device.

More here.

ICANN Confirms: Tiered Pricing Not Forbidden in New .BIZ, .INFO and .ORG Contracts

George Kirikos writes on CircleID:

I finally got the “official” word from Vint Cerf of ICANN, “on the record”, who confirmed that my interpretation is correct, that differential/tiered pricing on a domain-by-domain basis would not be forbidden under the .biz/info/org proposed contracts.

This means that the registries could charge $100,000/yr for, $25,000/yr for, etc. if they wanted to—it would not be forbidden the way the proposed contracts are currently written. This would represent a powerful pricing weapon for registries, and a fundamental shift in possible domain name pricing, that could lead them to emulate .tv-style price schedules. It doesn’t mean they will necessarily do it, but it’s not forbidden. When a contract doesn’t forbid something bad, it implicitly allows it.

More here.

Apple in $100M Patent Settlement

Via The BBC.

Apple will pay rival technology firm Creative Technology $100m (£52m) in an out of court settlement which will end litigation over a patent dispute.

The two companies traded lawsuits after Creative accused Apple of infringing its patents in its iPod music player.

Creative launched its own digital music players in 2000 but they have been largely eclipsed by Apple's iPod.

Regulators launched a probe into the dispute, revolving around a navigation menu designed by Creative, in June.

More here.

More Trouble for U.S. Bulletproof Vest Maker

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

A bulletproof vest manufacturer, which has a history of allegations of ineffectiveness and recalls, was dealt yet another blow last week when two of the company's former executives were indicted on securities fraud and insider trading charges. This after a class action lawsuit over similar allegations forced the chief executive to resign.

DHB Industries, along with its founder and former CEO David Brooks, has a rocky history of controversy and complaints over its bulletproof vests which it sells to the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies across the country.

More here.

UK: Youth Sentenced for Mass e-Mail Attack

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

A British teenager has been given a two-month curfew and made subject to electronic tagging after admitting a mass email attack against a major insurance company which had earlier sacked him.

David Lennon admitted sending around five million emails over a five-day period in 2004, leading to the collapse of the Domestic and General Group's mail server, which processed company emails in Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

A youth court in Wimbledon, southwest London, was told the disruption had cost the company around 30,000 pounds (44,000 euros, 57,000 dollars).

The emails purported to come from employees and the head of Microsoft, Bill Gates. They also contained a quote from supernatural film "The Ring".

More here.

AT&T Sues Data Brokers for Stolen Customer Records

Via Reuters.

AT&T Inc. on Wednesday sued 25 unnamed data brokers, accusing them of fraudulently gaining access to about 2,500 customers' calling records.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court division in San Antonio, said the "John Doe" defendants often collected information for use in legal or domestic disputes.

AT&T said they used a method known as "pretexting," or setting up online accounts by using identification data such as Social Security numbers. Through the online accounts, the brokers obtained access to customer information, including calling records.

No driver's license numbers or sensitive financial data were accessible, the company said.

More here.

IBM to Buy ISS for $1.3 Billion

Jim Finkle writes for Reuters:

IBM said on Wednesday it agreed to buy Internet Security Systems Inc. for $1.3 billion to beef up its product line in the rapidly growing business of Internet security.

International Business Machines Corp., continuing an acquisition drive to fuel growth in its software and services businesses, said it will pay $28 a share for Internet Security, a 7.7 percent premium to its Tuesday closing price of $26.

Internet Security runs data centers that remotely protect businesses against Internet-based attacks. It is the only major player in that area, Ives said.

More here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ID Security Company Finds Snags in Fraud Alert System

Tom Zeller Jr. writes in The New York Times:

Consumer advocates have long complained that the fraud alert system mandated by Congress in 2003 as a consumer’s first line of defense against identity theft does not always work properly.

So a company seeking to enter the market for identity theft prevention services recently recruited 54 data security and privacy experts to test the system. They claim to have found some kinks, although the credit reporting agencies beg to differ.

Julie Fergerson, vice president for emerging technologies at Debix, the company that produced the study, said that in 40 percent of the cases she examined, it appeared that fraud alerts had failed to put all the reporting agencies on notice to prevent new credit accounts, loans and other debts from being opened in a consumer’s name without a verifying phone call from the creditor.

The implication, Ms. Fergerson said, is that “you’ve got millions of people who think that they have fraud protection in place when actually they don’t.”

More here.

Leaked AOL Data Creates Dilemma for Academics

A New York Times article by Katie Hafner and Tom Zeller Jr., via The International Herald-Tribune, reports that:

When AOL researchers released three months' worth of users' query logs to a publicly accessible Web site late last month, Jon Kleinberg, a professor of computer science at Cornell University, downloaded the data right away. But when a firestorm over privacy breaches erupted, he decided against using them.

"Now it's sitting there, in cold storage," said Kleinberg, who works on algorithms for understanding the structure of the Web and searching it. "The number of things it reveals about individual people seems much too much. In general, you don't want to do research on tainted data."

After the data were released for academic researchers like Kleinberg to work with, many were torn, loath to conduct research with them as they balanced a chronic need for useful data against concerns over individual privacy.

More here.

Advocacy Group Asks FAA for Cybersecurity Details

Aliya Silverstein writes on

A public interest group wants the Federal Aviation Administration to disclose information on the agency's efforts to protect air safety data from thieves, hackers and cyberterrorists.

Americans for Safer Air Travel (ASAT), a newly formed advocacy group for passengers and air travel employees, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for nonclassified information on steps the FAA has taken to guard information technology systems. The systems of concern contain air traffic control reports, radar analyses and other security-related data, according to ASAT.

The request, which ASAT filed Aug. 16, also seeks records on the number and frequency of attacks into those systems since Sept. 11, 2001.

More here.

Vietnam Censors Use Porn as a Smokescreen

Via NewScientistTech.

The Vietnamese government claims it only wants to deny access to online pornography, but it is actually far more interested in blocking access to political and religious websites.

So says a report into online censorship in Vietnam by the OpenNet Initiative, a group of researchers from Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Toronto universities. The report, published last week, says the government is using increasingly sophisticated filtering techniques to block access to sites that could threaten the country's one-party system, on topics such as political dissidents, democracy and Buddhism.

Sites written in Vietnamese are far more likely to be blocked than those in English. Internet usage in cybercafes, the most common way to access the web in Vietnam, is checked regularly, the report says.

More here.

(Thanks, Valdis!)

Neural Net Makes Eavesdropping Breakthrough

Kevin Poulsen writes on 27B Stroke 6:

Government-funded researchers have discovered a mathematical solution for separating a single voice from a multitude of other sounds and voices -- solving what scientists call the "cocktail party problem," and the rest of us know as Harry Caul's plight in The Conversation.

In research funded by the National Science Foundation and -- big surprise -- the National Security Agency, two math professors from the University of Missouri-Columbia and one from Siemens trained a neural network to reconstruct a voice in a crowd with greater accuracy than existing techniques.

More here.

AT&T Says Cooperation in NSA Spying was Legal

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

An AT&T executive on Tuesday offered a glimpse into how the company appears to have opened its networks to the National Security Agency.

James Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, said there is a "very specific federal statute" that the company followed when cooperating with the NSA that provides "black and white authorization."

More here.

Qwest Calls for Mandatory Data Retention Laws

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

Broadband company Qwest Communications International on Tuesday strongly endorsed federal legislation requiring Internet providers to keep records of their customers' behavior, a move that could accelerate efforts in Congress to enact new laws.

Jennifer Mardosz, Qwest's corporate counsel and chief privacy officer, applauded efforts by politicians to force broadband providers to engage in so-called "data retention," which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said will aid in investigations into terrorism and child exploitation. This appears to be the first time a broadband provider has called for data retention laws.

More here.

Math Geeks Celebrate: The Fry's Castle

The Alhambra at Granada, Spain

An AP newswire article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

Think of it as the ultimate ivory tower for academics: a castle inspired by Spain's Alhambra, lavished with sun-dappled courtyards, artisan-crafted frescoes, grottos, fountains and a patio with 12 marble lions that spit water every hour on the hour.

But instead of housing nobles atop an Iberian hill, the newest fortress will serve as a quiet retreat for mathematicians next to a golf course in suburban Silicon Valley.

The castle, which the Morgan Hill City Council approved last month, will be the new headquarters of the American Institute of Mathematics. It's expected to be complete by 2009.

The institute and castle are the brainchild of electronics retailer John Fry, who owns the nearby links and plans to donate his impressive collection of historical documents — including original math texts and writings of Nobel Prize winners such as Albert Einstein — to the institute's library.

More here.

Researcher: Microsoft Patch Opens Users to Attack

Robert Lemos writes over on SecurityFocus:

Microsoft is rushing to fix a flaw introduced by the company's latest security update to Internet Explorer--a flaw that opens Windows users to attack, a security firm said on Tuesday.

The flaw, initially thought to only crash Internet Explorer, actually allows an attacker to run code on computers running Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 1 that have applied the August cumulative update to Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1, security firm eEye Digital Security asserted. The update, released on August 8, fixed eight security holes but also introduced a bug of its own, according to Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer for the security firm, which notified Microsoft last week that the issue is exploitable.

More here.

Spammers Scam Child Protection Group to Propagate Trojan

Dan Kaplan writes on SC Magazine Online:

Emails that appear sent by an anti-child pornography nonprofit group - but in fact are being delivered by spammers - are trying to use scare tactics to get unsuspecting recipients to download a trojan, a security firm warned today.

The spam claims the recipient's email address was discovered in a "child porn database" discovered by the Los Angeles-based Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP). In the message, the writer tells the recipients that the only way he will know the recipient is not a child porn offender is if they show "good will" and make a donation to the ASACP.

In a statement on its site, the ASACP assures users the bogus emails are not being sent by the organization and promises people a refund if they made a donation as a result of "duress" from receiving the email.

More here.

Microsoft Goes After 'Cybersquatters'

An AFP newswire article, via, reports that:

Microsoft declared war Tuesday against "typosquatters" and "cybersquatters" who stake out website addresses seemingly related to the software giant in order to dupe Internet users into visiting.

"Microsoft has witnessed a virtual land rush for Internet domain names with the goal of driving traffic for profit," said attorney Aaron Kornblum, head of the company's new campaign to stop the practice.

"Placing a high profile or pop culture trademark in your domain name is a tempting but illegal way to generate pay-per-click revenue."

More here.

EU: Security Srvices Will be Given Passenger Data on All European Flights


The vice president of the European Commission wants airlines to provide passenger data to government security services for all flights within Europe. A similar plan for flights to the US was recently vetoed by the European Parliament.

The sharing of passenger data has proved highly controversial. An agreement between the US and the European Commission to force airlines to give US authorities 34 pieces of information per passenger was opposed by the European Parliament and declared illegal by the European Court of Justice.

"The proposal is that European governments have access to the same 34 pieces of information on exactly the same principles as that with the US," said the spokesman for [EC Vice President Franco Frattini]. "The information would be handed to the government of the country a person was flying to and would only be used for anti-terrorism purposes."

More here.

SWIFT: U.S. Authorities had Free Rein over World's Bank Data

Mark Ballard writes on The Register:

The US Treasury programme of snooping on international banking transactions to track terrorist funding had unfettered access to the world's private financial details for anything upto five years.

A spokesman for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) said it had won restrictions on the Treasury's power to see its data, which consists of records of financial transactions between 7,800 of the world's financial institutions, going back 120 days.

But the Treasury's snooping on international financial records, begun by subpoena in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, was being done without oversight while Swift negotiated to protect the privacy of the international data it held.

More here.

Newsweek: How the FBI’s Technological Incompetence is Putting America at Risk

Jonathan Alter writes on Newsweek:

Everyone’s got an Exhibit A of the mind-bending, staggering and almost incomprehensible incompetence of the Bush Era. Iraq. Katrina. Medicare. But let’s add one more. Should, God forbid, we be hit again by terrorists, historians will point an unforgiving finger at the computers of the FBI.

As The Washington Post reported on August 18, five years after 9/11 the FBI’s computer system is still not fixed. How can this be? It’s an ugly story of poor management, contractor abuse and an agency that cannot electronically connect the dots—even though nearly everyone agreed in 2001 that developing that ability should be among the top priorities for the United States. It’s as if after Pearl Harbor President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered that ships and aircraft be built to fight the Japanese, only to discover that five years later the government had built none.

More here.

Reclusive Russian Refuses to Accept Math Prize

An AP newswire article by Daniel Woolls, via CBS News, reports that:

A reclusive Russian won an academic prize Tuesday for work toward solving one of history's toughest math problems, but he refused to accept the award _ a stunning renunciation of accolades from the top minds in his field.

Grigory Perelman, a 40-year-old native of St. Petersburg, was praised for work in the field known as topology, which studies shapes, and for a breakthrough that might help scientists figure out nothing less than the shape of the universe.

But besides shunning the medal, academic colleagues say he also seems uninterested in a separate, $1 million prize he might be awarded for his feat, which proved a theorem about the nature of multidimensional space that has stumped people for 100 years.

The Fields Medal was announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians, an event held every four years, this time in Madrid.

More here.

Officials Seek Broader Access to Airline Data

Eric Lipton writes in The News York Times:

United States and European authorities, looking for more tools to detect terrorist plots, want to expand the screening of international airline passengers by digging deep into a vast repository of airline itineraries, personal information and payment data.

A proposal by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would allow the United States government not only to look for known terrorists on watch lists, but also to search broadly through the passenger itinerary data to identify people who may be linked to terrorists, he said in a recent interview.

Similarly, European leaders are considering seeking access to this same database, which contains not only names and addresses of travelers, but often their credit card information, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and related hotel or car reservations.

More here.

DIY Nuke Detector Patrols SF Bay

Mark Rutherford writes on Wired News:

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to bolster U.S. port defenses with radiation scanners. The program, primarily aimed at detecting nukes smuggled by terrorists in shipping containers, will cost an estimated $1.15 billion, but won't be completed until 2011.

Here on the San Francisco Bay, a group of do-it-yourself volunteer researchers are not waiting for the mushroom cloud. They say they are close to perfecting a portable device that could do much the same thing right now, for total out-of-pocket costs of about $12,000.

More here.

22 August 1901: Happy Birthday, Cadillac


Via Wikipedia.

Cadillac was formed from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company when Henry Ford departed along with several of his key partners. With the intent of liquidating the firm's assets, Ford's financial backers, William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Leland to appraise the plant and equipment prior to selling them. Instead, Leland persuaded them to continue in the automobile business. Henry Ford's departure required a new name, and on August 22, 1902, the company reformed as the Cadillac Automobile Company.

The Cadillac automobile was named after the 17th century French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan in 1701.

More here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Officials Seek Broader Access to Airline Data

Eric Lipton writes in The New York Times:

United States and European authorities, looking for more tools to detect terrorist plots, want to expand the screening of international airline passengers by digging deep into a vast repository of airline itineraries, personal information and payment data.

A proposal by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would allow the United States government not only to look for known terrorists on watch lists, but also to search broadly through the passenger itinerary data to identify people who may be linked to terrorists, he said in a recent interview.

Similarly, European leaders are considering seeking access to this same database, which contains not only names and addresses of travelers, but often their credit card information, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and related hotel or car reservations.

More here.

Cisco Buys Video-on-Demand Start-Up

Marguerite Reardon writes on C|Net News:

Networking equipment maker Cisco Systems is set to announce Tuesday that it will spend $92 million to buy a small software start-up called Arroyo Video Solutions to ready itself for the new age of on-demand TV viewing.

Arroyo, which has facilities in California and Utah, has developed software that aims to help cable operators and phone companies deliver a more flexible video-on-demand service.

More here.

Be Advised!: AOL Active Virus Shield Permits Adware

Paul Laudanski writes over on

I was recently contacted by an America Online (AOL) vice president, Ted Hopper, about our BHO listing of "AOL Security Toolbar" which was described as having adware functionality. That phone call set into motion what ultimately is presented here.

AOL recently launched a new service/product called Active Virus Shield (Security Toolbar) which received some controversial press. It comes with the free Kaspersky AV technology. By all reports the application itself could not be found to serve adware (testing done by external parties). But that is not what this article is about. It is the end user license agreement (EULA) which has raised some eyebrows. We find it treading adware territory, and here is why as we show via the interesting portions from the EULA.

More here.