Friday, November 04, 2005

Google Print goes live, publishers and authors go ballistic

ars technica: "The controversial Google Print project has now gone live (in the Google universe, 'live' = 'beta'), and the company has begun scanning books again for entry into the massive database. We at Ars have reported on some of the legal wrangling surrounding the project, specifically the lawsuits brought by the Author's Guild and the publishing industry against Google.
In a nutshell, Google Print aims to do for dead tree books what Google has done for the web´┐Żcompile the contents of the world's printed books into a massive, searchable database that allows users to view book excerpts and purchase copies. Currently, you can get through about four pages of a copyrighted book before the application shuts you out, so even though the entire book is indexed it's not (yet) possible to get the entire book through the service.
The publishing industry has rightly identified Google Print as a threat to their control over authors' content, and many authors themselves have correctly percieved that their control over who can economically exploit their work and in what manner has just gotten weaker. "

Alleged Pop-Up Hacker Busted

Wired News: "In the first U.S. prosecution of its kind, FBI agents arrested a 20-year-old Los Angeles man Thursday on charges that he cracked some 400,000 Windows machines and covertly installed pop-up-generating adware on them, in a scheme that allegedly brought in $60,000 in ill-gotten profits.
Jeanson Ancheta faces a 17-count federal indictment charging him with two counts of conspiracy and various forms of computer intrusion and money laundering. The government is also seeking the seizure of more than $60,000 in cash, a used BMW and some computer equipment from the alleged hacker. "

Google touts new features in desktop tool

CNET "Google Desktop 2, a free downloadable application, combines desktop search and the Google Sidebar, a floating tool palette that offers personalized news and other information based on a user's habits.
Dozens of new third-party Sidebar panels are now available, Google said, like iTunes, dictionary Winamp and an American Express panel to track and view credit card transactions in real time. The new software can also display maps related to the sites one visits while surfing the Net. "

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Art of Privacy Invasion

Wired News: "Michelle Teran is the pied piper of wireless networks. Leading a band of followers through the city streets, the Canadian artist drags along a screen embedded in a suitcase that is showing supposedly secret images captured from cameras inside surrounding buildings.
Call it war-driving for video. Although many people assume new surveillance technology that lets cameras transmit footage wirelessly to TVs and computers is private, Teran is on a mission to show them otherwise. "

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Study: IM threats zooming up

CNET "The number of threats targeting instant messaging has soared, according to IMlogic, which tracked a 1,500 per cent increase in the past year.
IMlogic's Threat Center said its data showed that huge increase in malicious code aimed at IM services between October 2004 and October 2005. Of these, 87 percent of unique IM-targeted attacks were worms, 12 percent were viruses and one percent was client vulnerabilities, according to the research.
Very few of the attacks have caused serious damage, according to IMlogic. However, an unlucky 13 companies on the Fortune 50 have been hit with an IM-related security incident in the past six months, said Francis De Souza, CEO of the company, which provides products to protect messaging systems against attacks. He cited one instance in which 10,000 desktops were taken out. "

British teen cleared in 'e-mail bomb' case

CNET "A British teenager has been cleared of launching a denial-of-service attack against his former employer, in a ruling that delivers another blow to the U.K's Computer Misuse Act.
At Wimbledon Magistrates Court in London, District Judge Kenneth Grant ruled Wednesday that the teenager had not broken the CMA, under which he was charged. The defendant, who can't be named for legal reasons, was accused of sending 5 million e-mail messages to his ex-employer that caused the company's e-mail server to crash.
The teenager greeted the news with relief, although an appeal by the prosecution is still possible. 'I feel very happy. This has been going on for two years. At the moment, this is no longer hanging over my head,' the teenager told ZDNet UK.
The CMA, which was introduced in 1990, does not specifically include a denial-of-service attack as a criminal offense, something some members of the U.K. parliament want changed. However, it does explicitly outlaw the 'unauthorized access' and 'unauthorized modification' of computer material. Section 3 of the act, under which the defendant was charged, concerns unauthorized data modification and tampering with systems.
A denial-of-service attack is one in which a flood of information requests is sent to a server, bringing the system to its knees and making it difficult to reach. "

Why are tech gizmos so hard to figure out? "You've just brought home a hot new high-definition TV or digital camcorder. You can't wait to enjoy it. Just one little problem: You're going nuts trying to set up and use the darn thing.

Usability experts point to the iPod as the poster child of good usability.

Today's tech toys throw in goodies we scarcely used to imagine, from cellphones with tiny TV screens to computers that stream video wirelessly through your house. But lots of those features you probably don't want, can't use or don't know exist. "

Cable companies call on Sprint Nextel

CNET "A consortium of U.S. cable companies announced on Wednesday that they will form a joint venture with Sprint Nextel to offer mobile service to their customers.
Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communcations and Advance/Newhouse Communications plan to bundle wireless phone service from the new alliance with their existing high-speed data, voice and video packages. Cable companies have used bundles of service effectively to compete against telephone companies like Verizon Communications and SBC Communications, which are each starting to enter the video market.
The deal with the cable companies will likely differ from other reseller deals that Sprint Nextel has struck with companies like Virgin Mobile, ESPN, and soon-to-launch SK-EarthLink. The cable companies will work with Sprint Nextel to develop new devices and services for customers. For example, they might allow people to use their cell phone to program video recorders."

On the Net, trick or...trick

CNET "The goblins you face this Halloween season may not be costumed children at your front door.
Instead, you very well might be the online victim of viruses, phish, spam or denial-of-service attacks. Tricks, to be sure, these attacks offer no treats.
Worse yet, some of these attacks do not come from the 'outside,' and instead can emanate internally from within a business organization. One common example: computers infected by malicious software that later get used to launch online attacks. This is problematic, given that 45 percent of IT professionals recently surveyed by MailFrontier Research reported that their e-mail security systems do not safeguard their business from such attacks launched internally.
The collective impact of these various attacks can be significant. Some of the possible consequences include business interruption, remediation expenses, loss of critical data, and compromised intellectual property. "

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Seeing No Evil

CIO Magazine: "In a mock courthouse earlier this year, the smack of a gavel opened a case for the ages. Behind one bench, the defendants: Internet service providers, on trial for not providing adequate security to their customers. Behind the other bench, the plaintiffs: fictional companies ravaged by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The jury: hundreds of IT security professionals, packed into a conference room at the Gartner IT Security Summit to watch it all unfold.
The plaintiffs argued that ISPs could do much more to improve security by scanning subscriber computers, monitoring traffic and shutting down suspicious network uses. The defendants claimed that performing such scans would violate user privacy and that it would be impossible to distinguish malicious traffic from legitimate e-mails.
Accusations flew. The plaintiffs equated ISP intransigence to that of a homeowner whose property is dangerous but doesn't buy a fence to keep others out. In response, the defendants said people should stay away from dangerous property; that safety is a responsibility that falls squarely on the individual. Next, in a rhetorical ploy, defense lawyers asked jurors if any of them would be willing to stay at a hotel that offered Internet access in exchange for the right to scan all computers for security vulnerabilities. Not one member of the audience raised a hand."

Technology and the new class divide

CNET "I used to think information technology would change everything.
Like many back in the late 1990s, I was convinced the Internet and the growing use of computers could play a major role in leveling the playing field between the haves and have-nots. Not only were new doors unlocked for more open and democratic participation via the Web, and information made suddenly available to everyone, but unprecedented economic opportunities also emerged from an economy on tech steroids. That's why in 1999 I helped establish a technology training academy that's trained and found IT jobs for hundreds of low-income and underserved individuals in Northern California.
It was a heady, hopeful time. Thanks to then-generous public and private funding support, more than 6,000 community-based technology programs sprang up across the country in less than a decade--with the goal of making sure minorities, low-income individuals, the disabled, seniors and other underserved groups could access and use technology to rapidly traverse the digital divide. Public schools and libraries were quickly wired, and computers landed in people's homes at a breathtaking pace. "

U.S. mulls new digital-signature standard

CNET "GAITHERSBURG, Md.--A team of Chinese scientists shocked the data security world this year by announcing a flaw in a widely used technique used to create and verify digital signatures in e-mail and on the Web.
Now the U.S. government is trying to figure out what to do about it.
The decade-old algorithm, called the Secure Hash Algorithm, or SHA-1, is an official federal standard and is embedded in every modern Web browser and operating system. Any change will be expensive and time-consuming--and a poor choice by the government would mean that the successor standard may not survive another 10 years.
'We're going to have to make a decision fairly soon about where to push people,' said John Kelsey of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which convened a workshop here on the topic Monday. Even though NIST is only technically responsible for government standards-setting, Kelsey noted, 'we're likely to get a lot of other people to head in that direction as well.' "

'05 Proving To Be Worst Newspaper Year Since Recession

MediaPost Publications : "IT'S OFFICIAL: 2005 WILL BE the newspaper industry's worst year since the last ad industry recession. And things aren't looking much better for next year either, according to a top Wall Street firm's report on newspaper publishing. 'Sadly, 2005 is shaping up as the industry's worst year from a revenue growth perspective since the recession impacted 2001-2002 period,' says the report from Goldman Sachs, adding a warning that meaningful growth in 2006 is 'very unlikely.' "

IRC Channel as Startup Incubator

Wired News: "In the past few years, some of the most revolutionary software emerged not from Silicon Valley startups or high-powered universities, but from a humble online chat room.

Many in the tech industry are beginning to recognize that a string of influential concepts can be traced to a single Internet Relay Chat channel called #Winprog. "

- IRC has been doing this since late 1995.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ad dollars for the Star Wars Kid?

CNET "Forget Google. The Internet's real killer app has always been the strange little amateur videos, like the Star Wars Kid or the Numa Numa Dance, that find explosive popularity almost overnight.
A new company launching Monday in Los Angeles, co-founded by Freenet peer-to-peer developer Ian Clarke, aims to give the producers of those videos a way to make money from them at last.
Dubbed Revver, the company has set up a Web site that starts out as a kind of Flickr for videos, allowing anybody to post their videos online, and letting viewers organize them by adding their own descriptive keyword 'tags.' But Revver adds a new touch, inserting code into the video itself that adds a small advertisement every time it is viewed, even if the video is downloaded and distributed from another site. "

Google hiring like it's 1999

CNET "It may take a village to raise a child, as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton likes to say. But it looks like it's going to take quite a bit more than that to fulfill the Google dream of one day indexing all the world's information for that little tyke.
The search giant is on a hiring tear. In its most recent quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Google added 800 employees, bringing its global work force to 4,989. That's more than triple the total from just two years ago.
'For a tech company to do that, we haven't seen that since the bubble,' said Umesh Ramakrishnan, vice chairman at executive search firm Christian & Timbers. "

Google Weighs on Madison Avenue : "It's the big question on Madison Avenue: Is Google a friend or foe?
Ad companies are increasingly jittery about signs that Google is contemplating expanding its online ad-placement business into traditional media. Such a move could threaten Madison Avenue's increasingly important media-buying operations. Media buyers help marketers figure out where to place their ads by analyzing the effectiveness of potential advertising venues -- anything from a TV program to a Web log to a cellphone screen -- and then negotiating terms for the ad's appearance.
Once an industry backwater reserved for wonks, media-buying has become more glamorous -- and crucial for clients. Worried about the effectiveness of traditional TV ads, advertisers are putting more emphasis on new marketing methods including the Internet and mobile devices. Media buyers serve as a guide to this tangled landscape. In recent years, ad companies have poured increasing resources into their media-buying units in an attempt to attract clients."