22nd > February > 2001 Archive

IBM withdraws CPRM for hard drives proposal

At a much-anticipated meeting in Texas yesterday, IBM withdrew its proposal to put CPRM (Copy Protection for Recordable Media) into ATA hard drives. The proposal before the T.13 committee which administers the ATA standard was in its third revision, and in a significantly changed form. It had been thought that this amended CPRM proposal, made public on January 22, would be passed. Changes included limiting its use to removable media, and references to CPRM were deleted. In the event, IBM withdrew the proposal and no vote was taken. CPRM was backed by the 4C Entity (IBM, Intel, Matsushita and Toshiba), and resulted from research work undertaken by Intel and IBM at its Almaden Research Labs. Since the outcry over plans to put CPRM in the ATA standard used by hard drives, T.13 has published a hundred and twenty pages of emails from users alarmed at the move. "People are not going to buy crippleware," said Stanton McCandish for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose co-founder John Gilmore had called for a boycott of CPRM-compliant hardware. "The goal of hardware manufacturers is to satisfy their customers and the EFF is glad to see them doing that here," said McCandish. The meeting continues today. ® Related Story You can find all our CPRM on ATA stories here ®
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Feb 2001

Open access challenge to Google

Your letters continue to stream in complaining about the loss of service resulting from Google's takeover of Deja's Usenet assets, and calls are spreading to make the archive publicly available. Wired woke up and noticed there was a problem yesterday, too. Its report will be wearily familiar to those of you who depended on the service until Monday last week, but mildly encouraging too. It cites users calling for the Usenet archive to be wrestled away from private ownership, and a new initiative to provide alternative access to the archive. "I challenge Google to provide Deja's code and its oldest archives to the open-source community, and I urge others to echo that challenge," says an anonymous programmer who wishes to be known as "Deja Refugee", and who's planning an open source tools project to give people a better interface onto the database. He (or she) may be bluffing, and he (or she) hadn't responded to our email at publication time. But it may prove to be an effective ploy. Google holds its open source values dear, so an open access movement, using open source tools could well spur the company to provide a user interface that users want, rather one that it thinks is cool. If it's not too late, that is. Wired's Michelle Delio notes that Google has stopped using Deja's article number tagging, so recreating those thread views could now be difficult. And it was with some sense of er, déjà vu, that we read a user cited in the article who suggested the Usenet archive be handed over to the Library of Congress. Where did he get such a whacky idea from? Actually, we floated it last week, although we were taking up a proposal from Netizens author Ronda Hauben who'd been anxious about the fate of the archive before Google took it over. "I'm enraged that it has been taken from me. It's as if a private firm bought and then closed down all of Manhattan's public libraries for a few months simply because they wanted to rearrange the bookshelves," says user who supports the remedy we originally suggested here here last week. From experience, your correspondent believes that Being Nice To Librarians is a mandatory life skill. We'll try and find out if Deja Refugee's alternative - constructive belligerence - is making any headway with Google later today. ® Related Stories Netizens blinded by 'half-assed' Google stunt Deja UI too costly to save, Google boss tells Reg Readers Letters My Google Usenet - wrong or right? Google saves Deja.com Usenet service
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Feb 2001

Taxan to flog Asus mobos

Monitor vendor Taxan has struck a deal to sell Asus motherboards in the UK. The deal marks another attempt by Taxan to grow its UK business after failing to launch a PC business last summer. Taxan sales and marketing director Hugh Chappell said he had struck deals with "a couple of big system builders already" but declined to name them. The company will also supply Asus boards to distributors Ideal Hardware, Micro Peripherals, and Northamber. This kind of distribution deal isn't totally new to Taxan - it also supplies ATI's graphics adaptors. Taxan tried to set up a PC business in August last year and poached Mesh general manager Paul Kinsler to head up the business. But its monitor customers weren't happy about buying their displays from a competitor, so it had scrapped the idea by October. Asus mobos are also sold by SPD, Miniland, and Landmark in the UK. ®
Robert Blincoe, 22 Feb 2001

Apple gets Nvidia GeForce 3 first

UpdatedUpdated Nvidia's affection for Apple is clearly deeper than we previously thought. How else to judge the company's decision to give its next-generation graphics chip, the GeForce 3, to the Mac maker first. That at least is what Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced last night/this morning in Tokyo, during his MacWorld Expo keynote. "We've been working very closely with Nvidia and have developed a great relationship with them," Jobs said. The first fruit of the relationship was Mac support in the GeForce 2 MX chip, followed by the GeForce 2 Go. Mac users lamented the fact that Nvidia's top-end chips weren't Mac-compatible - it is supposed to be a performance graphics platform, after all. The arrival of the GeForce 3 will fix that, but we note that Apple will only be offering it as a build-to-order option on its high-end desktops. And Jobs would only say the chip will be available "soon", but we note the UK AppleStore is offering it already, for an extra £240 ($360) for machines shipping in March. We'd heard separately that the chip is due mid-March, so that sounds about right. We'd also been told that Nvidia was going to launch the GeForce 3 - aka the NV20 - real soon, possibly as early as next week, so we hope Jobbo hasn't jumped the gun on this one. After all, ATI's 'early' notification of new Macs last summer did so much to sour Apple's relationship with that graphics company. We'd hate for Jobs to piss off Nvidia as so early as stage in their partnership... Jobs said the GeForce 3's performance would amount to 76 billion floating point operations per second, which is a little less than the 100Gflops we'd heard. The chip supports 250MHz DDR SDRAM, and is clocked at over 250MHz. ® Related Stories Nvidia NV20 details leak out Apple intros CD-RW, 'technicolor yawn' iMacs
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 2001

Apple intros CD-RW, ‘technicolor yawn’ iMacs

UpdatedUpdated Apple's Steve Jobs unveiled new, CD-RW equipped iMacs at MacWorld Expo Tokyo last night, as expected. He also announced a new Cube, though with the addition of only a CD-RW drive, it's not the consumer-oriented upgrade many Apple watchers had predicted. In addition to CD-RW, the new iMacs get speeds bumps to their CPUs. There are no PowerPC 74xx series chips (aka G4), but the top-end Special Edition gets a 600MHz G3-class CPU, less than the 700MHz we were expecting. The bottom-end iMac ships with a 400MHz G3, the mid-range model runs at 500MHz. The top model only contains 256KB of L2 cache, while the 400MHz and 500MHz machines comes with 512KB, but that's because the 600MHz chips are IBM parts with the L2 cache on the processor die itself, so it runs at the same speed as the CPU core. Note that Apple initially got this wrong: it claimed the 500MHz had 256KB of 500MHz L2, too. It also ships with a regular CD-ROM drive, but that's not entirely surprising given it's mainly a classroom-oriented machine. It comes with 10GB of hard disk space and 64MB RAM. The 500MHz model is the first with a CD-RW drive, and provides 20GB of storage and 64MB of memory. The Special Edition takes those numbers to 40GB and 128MB, respectively. It also boasts an ATI Rage 128 Ultra graphics system. The Rage 128 Ultra simply seems to be the old Rage 128 Pro with an extra 8MB of video memory. Finally, Apple introduced two new 'colours' - the ultra-yuck 'Flower Power' (but at least it'll look good in 1970s retro households, we suppose) and the marginally better 'Blue Dalmatian'. Love 'em or hate 'em, the new flavours do at least mark an impressive use of plastic moulding technology, to retain some degree of translucency. The base iMacs cost $899 (£799 inc. VAT in the UK), the mid-range unit $1199 (£999) and the top-end box $1499 (£1199). The new Cube comes in at $1599 (£1149 exc. VAT) - the current 450MHz Cube's price has been cut to $1299 (£949). ® Related Story Apple gets Nvidia GeForce 3 first
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 2001

Woundup Office XP hits RC1, preview edition looms

Earlier this week Microsoft began sending out Office XP RC1 to testers. This is also dubbed the Office Professional Corporate Preview Beta... or is it? According to a news report at ActiveWin, the Corporate Preview kit was announced in MSDN's Flash magazine for $19.95; only to be used for evaluation purposes, with a time limit. But a Microsoft spokeswoman confirms that this information was inaccurate, and it won't be available for the public until a later date. If you have an MSDN subscription, you can nevertheless find it in March's issue as a full download.
Luis Escalante, 22 Feb 2001

HP mulls dropping WinCE for Palm or Linux

Hewlett-Packard is considering dumping Microsoft and hopping into bed with Palm, the company's incoming Embedded and Personal Systems chief, Iain Morris, has admitted. To be fair, we're not talking a company-wide move to turn its corporate back on Windows here. Morris, who takes up his new post on Monday, will take charge of HP's Journada handheld, and it's that device's OS that he's thinking of changing. Interviewed by CNET, Morris said that Journada has failed to reach its true potential, despite being what he calls a strong product. In short, it hasn't been selling very well. True, Microsoft's Windows CE - the OS Journada is currently based upon - saw its marketshare rise slightly last month (see yesterday's story, PocketPC wins marketshare from Palm), but that's more a sign of Palm's success over the Christmas sales period than growing support for the Microsoft platform. HP's share of the PDA market rose to three per cent between December 2000 and January, according to US retail market watcher PC Data. Palm's dominant marketshare has clearly got Morris thinking. And 23 years spent at Motorola, maker of the Palm platform's Dragonball processor, may well have influenced his decision too. That said, he's also wondering whether Linux might make a better alternative, so he's clearly not pro-Palm so much as anti-CE. Actually, Linux may well prove a better choice for HP, simply because it's both more powerful than the current PalmOS, cheaper and probably easier to port to Journada's existing hardware design. Then again, it lacks the PDA-oriented features and apps that have made Palm so successful. A possible switch of OS for Journada is one part of Morris' wide-ranging examination of all aspects of his divisions' operations, so it's important for Palm fans not to assume it's all done and dusted. However, it does imply that one-time strong Windows CE proponents are willing to look elsewhere if they believe the OS is hindering their sales rather than helping them. ® Related Link CNET's interview with HP's Iain Morris in full
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 2001

Intel settles FIC patent suit

Intel and Taiwanese mobo maker First International Computer have settled their long-running patent clash, the two companies tersely announced yesterday. No settlement terms were revealed - the joint press statement simply said the pair had resolved their dispute, settled up their remaining differences and entered into a licensing agreement "covering certain patents". Licensing agreements are almost always the result of patent infringement cases that run so long that it eventually dawns on both parties that the only winners will be the lawyers. The action began back in October 1999, when Chipzilla's legal lizards sued FIC over its use of VIA chipsets which, the chip giant claimed, infringed its patents. FIC quickly responded, essentially telling its accuser to eff off and come back when its parallel case with VIA was settled in its favour. Until then, said FIC, we'll continue to make VIA-based mobos. The case against VIA has been running even longer. Intel's beef centred on VIA's development of a Pentium chipset that supported 133MHz SDRAM before it released a 133MHz frontside bus chipset of its own. Using SDRAM instead of Rambus RDRAM was also said to be a sticking point. The case initially saw the two companies settle, in late 1998, but Intel soon claimed VIA had broken the terms of their agreement, and the fight continued, with Intel launching a patent infringement action in June 1999. VIA ultimately partnered with Intel's former favourite graphics chip developer, S3, in order to get S3's rights to the technology Chipzilla claimed it was using unlawfully. ® Related Stories FIC responds to Intel's legal action Intel Santa Clarifies Via legal pursuit More Taiwanese mobo makers get jitters after Intel suit Intel sues FIC, Everex as Via legal action mounts
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 2001

Harvard prof in uncrackable crypto claim

A Harvard computer science professor says he has developed a provably unbreakable encryption technique, with a key based on a stream of random numbers. The idea of a disposable key is not new, and was used to great effect during World War II, but according to Dr Michael Rabin, this is the first time it has been made to work electronically. Rabin said that he could also provide mathematical proof of its security. "This is the first provably unbreakable code that is really efficient," Rabin told Cryptome. "We have proved that the adversary is helpless." The key is taken from a continuously generated string of random numbers. Somehow, the sender and recipient agree on which section of the number string they will use to encipher and then decipher the message. The two parties could use any publicly available encryption system to decide on the start time, Rabin says. If someone were to intercept this communication, by the time it was decrypted, the sequence would already have started and the information would be useless. Then, because the numbers are not stored anywhere on either machine, there is no way either party could be forced to hand over the key. However, not everyone is convinced that having an uncrackable code is a guarantee of security. Dr Robert Morris, a former NSA cryptographer, said that there were other methods of revealing the contents of a secure message. "You can still get the message, but maybe not by cryptanalysis. If you're in this business, you go after a reasonably cheap, reliable method. It may be one of the three Bs: burglary, bribery or blackmail," he said. ® Related Link The full story and a discussion of the method is over at Cryptome.
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Feb 2001

VNUNet online experiment fails

VNUNet is to ditch its standalone online news service. Ten staff including admin and journalists have lost their jobs as a result of the action. VNU claims the decision to reintroduce its online news service within the confines of its print stable is part of a strategy to "fully integrate cross media solution allowing clients to precisely target audiences across print, Web, PDA, WAP, CD, email, and direct marketing simultaneously". Critics simply argue that VNUNet's attempt to offer a standalone news service has failed, unable to make the grade in the tough online world. ®
Tim Richardson, 22 Feb 2001

Toshiba gets hacked down under

Toshiba Australian Web site has become the latest high profile victim of Internet vandals. The site, toshiba.com.au, was defaced by a cracker called BL4F who replaced its content with a series of greetings and profane abuse at various members of the digital underground. In part the message, which can be seen in full on defacement site Alldas here, said: "Toshiba Australia / New Zealand got owned, okai, over and out, this is BL4F." Unusually in these cases the site is running Apache 1.3.9 on Red Hat Linux, not a preferred target for crackers, particularly those who target IT industry sites. However an inspection of the site reveals that its protection is inadequate. Paul Rogers, a network security analyst at MIS Corporate Defence, said the site either has "a misconfigured firewall or there isn't one", a conclusion he was able to draw because a number of ports were open that should be closed if proper security procedures were in place. "Toshiba's web servers have a weak security level and there are several avenues that could have been exploited," said Rogers. "On a publicly facing server who can't just run the installation CD and expect it to be secure when you put it on the Internet. Whether you're using NT or Unix, you need to make modifications and go through a hardening procedure to make sure your system is secure as possible." Toshiba admitted the attack to The Melbourne Age and told the paper it was "taking further steps to prevent this occurrence in the future." ® Related stories Intel hacker talks to The Reg New York Times Web site sm0ked Hacker defaces Intel's Web site Microsoft hacked again Microsoft hacker fired Gateway web server flaws exposed Mass hack takes out govt sites
John Leyden, 22 Feb 2001

My Internet love is a corpse-hoarding granny

Trevor Tasker's online romance went from steamy to chilly when he flew to the States to marry his love, only to discover that she was an old age pensioner with a corpse in her freezer. Trevor, 27, met Wynema Shumate in a chat room, and exchanged electronic love notes with her for months. After she sent him photographs of herself in her smalls he decided to up-sticks to the States to be with her. However, the photographs were taken over 35 years ago, and Trevor was met at the airport by a rather larger, and older woman than he expected. Shumate is now 65, and weighs in at an impressive 20 stone, according to a report in The Sun. But fair play to Trevor, he was not to be deterred and resolved to stay for a holiday despite his shock. But worse was to come, because Shumate had kept the dead body of her former flatmate, James O'Neill in her freezer, because she wanted to continue living in his house, and keep drawing money from his account. O'Neill had died of natural causes, but Shumate had tried to cut off one of his legs in order to fit him in the freezer. She has since been sentenced to a year in jail for fraud and unlawfully removing a dead body. Trevor has apparently vowed never to go online again. His mum said that he was very embarrassed about the whole affair. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Feb 2001

Customs arrest 21 in £7m PC component tax fraud probe

Twenty one people have been arrested during a raid by Customs & Excise officers investigating a multi-million pound VAT (value added tax) fraud involving computer components. The 21 people, arrested and released during a raid on 12 addresses in the UK on Tuesday, are suspected on importing computer components worth millions from other European Union states and then disappearing before tax bills on equipment they sold became due. Customs and Excise spokesman Bill O'Learly said the alleged fraud involved the importation of PC processors, motherboards and memory. The scope of the tax evasion was still being determined, he said, but could be as much as £7 million. As well the arrests, customs officers seized assets worth an estimated £500 000 during the operation, which is codenamed Darken, and involved a raid on 12 addresses involving 100 officers. The men arrested have been released on bail without charge, and will be re-interviewed at a later date. ® Related Stories Blueyonder in disarray as thieves nick 23 servers Police urge business to report hi-tech crimes Three people charged with Sun server Police grab DNA from server thieves
John Leyden, 22 Feb 2001

All your base are belong to us

Updated and funnierUpdated and funnier Look closely at the animated gif above because you will see those grammatically disturbed phrases repeated anywhere and everywhere you go. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but some day and soon. It has become, ladies and gentlemen, a cult. A Net-based cult, sure, but there are already T-shirts sporting the key phrase "All your base are belong to us" and if you think that's the end of it, you are sadly deluded. What is it? you cry. Well clearly it's some very badly translated computer game but beyond that, we're really not sure. Of course we tried to find out but it has taken hold, we tell you, and after an hour of trawling we had found merely the manifestations. Do a search and you will find newsgroups posters exclaiming the phrases and leaving puzzled and angry observers. And then, of course, there are the pics, just some of which we have posted below. They're good, you'll like em. Update Okay, you readers, as ever, have been incredibly efficient. Six minutes after we posted this story, we have been informed by no less that sixteen people the origins of the gif. The fact it was called Zero Wing was, of course, a clue. It is an old Sega Megadrive game called Zero Wing. We would like to go into it more but we want this update up as soon as poss. Eighteen readers, 22 readers... Back. Fifty-two readers. And two URLs have come out as the leaders in this saga. They are here (the story) and here (the pics). Enjoy. Actually, this must be the best FAQ on the Net. Funny update Check out the very end of the story for a modern version. Is good. Here then is the transcript: In A.D. 2101 War was beginning Captain: What happen? Operator: Somebody set up us the bomb. Operator: We get signal. Captain: What! Operator: Main screen turn on. Captain: It's You!! Cats: How are you gentlemen!! Cats: All your base are belong to us. Cats: You are on the way to destruction. Captain: What you say!! Cats: You have no chance to survive make your time. Cats: Ha Ha Ha Ha …. Captain: Take off every "zig." Captain: You know what you doing. Captain: Move "zig". Captain: For great justice. You have been warned. ® Related Links More And more And more
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Feb 2001

Nvidia GeForce 3 details emerge

So what's so special about Nvidia's GeForce 3 introduced yesterday at - of all places, given the company's PC gaming background - MacWorld Expo Tokyo? Digging around the Web a bit - which unearthed one or two handily leaked Nvidia slides and specs - and taking the company's official pronouncements, here's what we reckon it can do. The new chip's key feature is its programmable rendering engine, dubbed nfiniteFX. Essentially, it gives games developers the scope to control the way the chip handles the geometry of a 3D scene and then renders it. It's a little like Photoshop's Filters facility. With Nvidia's and other chip makers' previous technologies, games developers were forced to work with a pre-set selection of effects and operations, much as they might select one of the Adobe app's filters from the standard menu. Photoshop has always given users the scope to create their own filter effects. The nfiniteFX engine, with its Vertex Processor (geometry) and Pixel Processor (rendering), both of which control the chip's transform and lighting engines, finally does the same for 3D software developers. Indeed, Nvidia's GeForce 3 software development kit (SDK) will come with over 100 lighting, transform and effects routines. The Vertex Processor will handle procedural animation effects, such as facial movements, while the Pixel Processor is designed for shading effects. The latter can perform up to 36 pixel shading operations per cycle and provides "per pixel Z-connect reflective bump mapping". Golly. Together, they enable the chip to do real-time object shadows. On the PC side, all of this will be made accessible through DirectX 8.0, which was mightily modified by Nvidia as part of the development work on Xbox. DirectX 8.0 and the GeForce 3 are essentially the mainstream versions of the APIs and accelerator technology The GeForce 3 also adds a new anti-aliasing system, dubbed Quincunx, which samples the image at around 3.2 times the rate of the GeForce 2 Ultra. Bandwidth is maximised, we're told, by compressing data on the fly by a factor of four as it moves around the chip's innards. All of which means the chip can run Quake III at 1024x768 in 32-bit colour fully anti-aliased at 71 frames per second; at the same settings, the GeForce 2 Ultra could so 34fps. It has a theoretical fill rate of 3.2 billion texels per second. All of this functionality is produced through 57 million transistors - by comparison the GeForce 2 has 25 million. The chip is capable, says Nvidia, of 700 billion ops per second and 76 billion floating-point ops per second. The chip's core runs at 200MHz, the 64MB (in the Mac card) of memory at 460MHz (230MHz DDR SDRAM). AGP at 2x, 4x and 8x, plus FastWrite, are all supported, as is TV output. The RAMDAC runs at 350MHz. The core's clock speed, incidentally, is less than the GeForce 2 Ultra, which runs at 250MHz. Presumably that's to help counter the added heat-generation of the 128 per cent increase in the number of transistors. We believe the chip will be fabbed at 0.15 micron - step forward, Taiwan Semiconductor - which should help cut the heat output, too. But we'd be very surprised indeed if this part will be one of Nvidia's 'fanless wonders'. Our sources suggest that Nvidia plans to spill the beans on the GeForce 3 real soon now, possibly as early as next week. Certainly, we can't yet confirm many of the finer points of the chip's performance and how it's achieved, but we reckon what we've got here is pretty damn close. We'll see. Whatever, we shouldn't have too long to wait for the official numbers. ® Related Story Apple gets Nvidia GeForce 3 first Nvidia NV20 details leak out
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 2001

AOL France fined for misleading advertising

AOL France has been found guilty of misleading advertising over its flat-rate Internet access service. A court upheld a complaint by the consumer group UCF, acting on behalf of two Net users, which claimed that AOL France's decision to impose restrictions on the service was contrary to the ISP's ads. AOL France was forced to impose 30 minute timeouts when its offer for flat rate unmetered access attracted too many users. UCF claimed this was a breach of contract. AOL France claimed the timers were only a temporary measure until it could increase capacity. The ISP has been ordered to pay damages of FF250,000 (£24,000) and print an apology in four national newspapers. The court also ruled that the ISP should be fined FF50,000 (£4,800) a day for every day the restrictions remain imposed. AOL France has reacted angrily to the ruling made earlier this week and will appeal. In a statement AOL France said that it "strongly disagrees with the ruling" and that the issue is "largely moot since we are lifting the session timers that are at the centre of the case". The statement continued: "AOL has always acted in the best interest of its members, and our flat-rate offer has been a great success in delivering the Internet to a broad new segment of consumers who did not come online before because of the high price of metered Internet access. "We implemented session timers as a fair, equitable and temporary measure that helped us maximise the number of members who could get online while we accelerated expansion of our network in response to high demand for our service. "We invested FF 600 million (£57 million) adding nearly 60,000 new modems and doubling our member service team. As a result, we are able to discontinue the session timers, effective Wednesday," it said. Coincidentally (and it had nothing to do with this court case) it was always AOL France's intention to discontinue the session timers this week. Ho hum. ®
Tim Richardson, 22 Feb 2001

Lucent to probe conduct of dead employee

Lucent has reportedly began an investigation about the activities of a former recruitment executive who was imprisoned for forgery and embezzlement. The probe into the activities of James Baughman, will be unwelcome for the financially-challenged telecommunication equipment manufacturer, whose officers are also in the process of assisting the Securities and Exchange Commission in an probe into Lucent's accounting practices. Michelle Davidson, a Lucent spokeswoman, told The Guardian that the investigation into Baughman, a recruitment director who died last September, was unconnected to the regulatory probe. Baughman's criminal past only came to light after his death, when an unnamed firm complained to Lucent about billing discrepancies. Lucent's investigation will focus on reconciling these billing issues, rather than the wider concerns the case might throw up. According to The Guardian, Baughman spent a year in prison during the 1980s pleading guilty to forgery and grand theft while working as head of a US high school. He joined Lucent when it acquired voice information processing firm Octel in 1997. Lucent said it normally vets prospective employees for criminal backgrounds, but did not do this in the case of employees coming in from acquired companies. Whether this will now be changed remains unclear. ® Related stories SEC probes Lucent accounting practice Battered, bothered, bewildered - Nortel and Lucent shareholders Nortel slashes more jobs Lucent to restate sales and cut 10,000 jobs
John Leyden, 22 Feb 2001

Porno spam too hot for University

Pornographic spam has sparked a litigious rage in Warwick University officials. Some Hotmail users have received junk emails, apparently from Warwick University email addresses, containing links to porn sites. The messages were traced back to an American ISP called Starnet, the university said. None originated from genuine Warwick accounts, and none had been routed through JANET, the UK's academic computer network. A spokesman for the university said that the administration was very "ticked off" about the affair. "We have put the matter in the hands of our lawyers," he told reporters. He said that even though efforts to contact the ISP began several weeks ago, the requests for information had been met with silence until a couple of days ago. He told The Reg: "If there is a case it will be about the defamatory nature of the spam - bringing the reputation of the establishment into disrepute. The response we have had from the ISP is very much a holding response. Basically, they let us know they had kicked the party responsible off the system." Warwick is not the only academic institution to have been impersonated in this way. Apparently, spammers using US ISPs like to appear to be from ac.uk domains as filtering software tends not to catch the emails. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 22 Feb 2001

Dead-baby muncher pic spawns police inquiry

A picture of a man apparently dining with gusto on a roasted baby at the rotten.com Web site has led to a police inquiry by Scotland Yard and the FBI, according to a horrifying story by The Independent. "British detectives are trying to close a Web site showing pictures of a man eating a dismembered baby, further evidence of the extent of child abuse and exploitation published on the Internet," Independent health editor Jeremy Laurance explains. Evidence of child abuse? Evidence of doll's-head-and-duck's-carcass abuse is more like it. "Detective Inspector Clive Driscoll, a specialist in paedophile crimes, said he was working with colleagues in the US to track the origin of the picture of the man eating the baby," the paper says. According to Driscoll, "the pictures are awful. It is your worst nightmare unfolding in front of you. I took them to a very senior forensic pathologist - a man I have a lot of faith in - and he looked me in the eye and said: 'These are the pictures I hoped I would never see.'" "For me it's a murder scene because I don't know how that child died," the so-called detective says. Well, we'll tell you how she died. Someone took a screwdriver and pried her plastic head from her plastic body, basted it with HP brown sauce and stuck it on the remains of a roasted duck carcass. And if that's not enough, consider that the happy diner is drinking orange juice, an impossible combination and clear tip-off that the image is fake. And this guy calls himself a detective? No one in his right mind would dream of enjoying such a rare delicacy without an equally rare and delicate accompaniment, such as a mature Chambertin (we think the characteristically Burgundian lightness of body and refreshing acidity, combined with the extra fruit up front, makes it the ideal roast baby compliment, especially if Junior were stuffed with a mixture of wild rice, foie gras de petit enfant and black walnuts, flavoured, we would suggest, with dried cranberries and fresh rosemary, and a scant splash of Kirschwasser). Interestingly, the rotten.com site admins say they haven't been contacted by anyone in authority. "You can imagine our surprise when we read that rotten.com was being investigated by the FBI, on the front page of the UK newspaper The Independent. Apparently someone at Scotland Yard decided to 'close the Web site' after he saw some pictures that upset him," the admins say. It all makes sense when we learn that "the existence of the Web site was revealed by two patients at the Clinic for Dissociative Studies based in London's Harley Street and run by Valerie Sinason, a psychotherapist who specialises in the treatment of adult survivors of child abuse". Valerie Sinason, we are told, is convinced that child abuse is the dastardly, ritualistic consequence of widespread Satan-worship. The rotten.com site is well worth a visit. They're mirroring Bonsai Kitten for those who missed it, and you can see anti-porn crusader Donna Rice's tits, which aren't half bad. ® Related Story Online baby muncher is an artist
Thomas C Greene, 22 Feb 2001

FBI traitor suspect had mad C skillz

The veteran FBI counterintelligence agent accused this week of spying for Russia is a talented computer programmer who once penetrated a senior agent's office computer to demonstrate the Bureau's vulnerability to hackers, according to newspaper reports Thursday. In 1992 or 1993 Robert Hanssen openly hacked into the office computer of fellow agent Raymond Mislock, then section chief for counterintelligence operations against Russia, according to a story in Thursday's USA Today. The paper, citing 'unnamed former senior intelligence officials', reported that Hanssen didn't attempt to conceal the penetration, but rather brought the computer's vulnerability to the attention of the FBI, which immediately disconnected some systems housing classified information. Adding to the accused spy's growing technical bona fides, the Washington Post reported Thursday that Hansen could program in C and Pascal, and once created a system for automating the teletype at the FBI's Washington field office. Hanssen is accused of betraying some of the US intelligence community's most closely-held secrets to the KGB, and its successor agency the SVR, over a fifteen year period, in exchange for more than $1.4 million in cash and diamonds. A 100-page FBI affidavit in support of Hanssen's arrest, and a subsequent search of his home, portrays an unusually computer-savvy spy. As early as November 1985, after making initial contact with the KGB, Hanssen allegedly began trying to push his Russian handlers into using more high-tech methods to communicate with him. He rejected the KGB's first proposed communications scheme, suggesting instead that they exchange encrypted messages over a computer bulletin board system (BBS), the mid-eighties dial-up version of a modern Web board. In 1991, Hanssen allegedly proposed another scheme, in which he'd establish an office in Washington DC that would house a computer, described vaguely in the FBI affidavit as "specially-equipped with certain advanced technology" that would allow them to communicate securely. And last year, Hanssen allegedly tried to sell the Russians on using handheld Palm VII organizers. According to the FBI affidavit, Hanssen wrote his handlers, "we do need a better form of secure communication -- faster." "The VII version comes with wireless internet capability built in," Hanssen allegedly wrote. "It can allow the rapid transmission of encrypted messages, which if used on an infrequent basis, could be quite effective in preventing confusions if the existence [sic] of the accounts could be appropriately hidden as well as the existance [sic] of the devices themselves. Such a device might even serve for rapid transmittal of substantial material in digital form." The Russians evidently ignored Hanssen's geeky proposals. As detailed in the FBI affidavit, the accused spy's tradecraft never got more hi-tech then passing messages on floppy disks, encrypted with an unspecified algorithm. Hanssen allegedly stashed the disks along with reams of classified papers under two pedestrian bridges, and a wooden podium, in public parks in the Washington DC area, where Russian case officers would later pick them up. Hanssen was arrested Sunday night at once such "dead drop" near his residence in Fairfax County, Virginia. Hanssen's technophilia may have helped his colleagues build a case against him. According to the FBI affidavit, a covert search of Hanssen's Palm III organizer prior to his arrest turned up a reminder of the secret Sunday-night appointment. A search of his office uncovered an 8MB Flash memory card with incriminating copies of some of the notes he sent to, or received from, Russian intelligence. And FBI computer logs showed that Hanssen continuously ego-surfed the Bureau's Automated Case Support System (ACS), performing incriminating searches on his own name, address, and key words like "DEAD DROP AND WASHINGTON." © 2001 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved. Related Story FBI agent sold surveillance/nuke data to Russia
Kevin Poulsen, 22 Feb 2001