21st > July > 2004 Archive

Broadband ISPs must wise up to small.biz needs

Broadband service providers need to work a little harder and be more inventive if they want to sign-up small businesses to high-speed Net access. Experts reckon the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) market is largely untapped at the moment, giving broadband service providers a whopping opportunity to attract new business customers. The snag is, according to analysts Frost & Sullivan, that broadband providers simply don't understand the needs of SMEs. If they can crack that and understand the issues that face small businesses, then analysts reckon that a lot more SMEs will migrate to broadband. And once hooked up to high-speed Net access, it gives ISPs the chance to flog other services such as teleworking, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) ecommerce and videoconferencing. Said Frost & Sullivan Research Manager Paul Devine: "For effective targeting of and penetration into the SME sector, service providers will have to focus on promotion, channel management, increased availability of applications and means of alleviating end-user concerns." ® Related stories Small.biz must embrace new technology UK.biz must address broadband Kent pubs win rural broadband award Show me the way to go (for e-biz advice) Watch out for the bogus invoice man
Tim Richardson, 21 Jul 2004

MS makes monster payout

Microsoft is paying a special dividend - giving investors a one-off payment of $3 per share, a total of $32bn. The company delayed getting rid of its cash pile because it was worried about potential costs connected to its anti-trust actions which have now been mainly settled. Microsoft will also spend $30bn on buying back its own shares and is doubling the regular dividend - at a cost of $14bn. Steve Ballmer, chief executive, said: "We are confident in our long-term ability to grow revenue, profits and shareholder value through our innovation and execution. We have been successful in addressing a significant portion of our ongoing legal exposure, and all seven of our businesses are growing." One of the biggest winners from the decision is Bill Gates - he owns about 11 per cent of the company, so will receive about $3bn from the special dividend. He is giving the money to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which works to improve "global health, education, public libraries and supporting at-risk families in Washington state and Oregon". Gates said: "The pledge today is recognition that our world, the nation and our region — now more than ever — can and should dramatically improve equity in health, education, and access to information and human services for vulnerable families." Microsoft employees will also see changes to their shareholdings. These will be increased to make up for the payout - which in theory will reduce the value of the stock. Microsoft shares rose five per cent in after-hours trading on the news. More details on the Microsoft site here. ® Related stories Microsoft settles L-----s dispute Microsoft squares Minnesota class action Microsoft makes peace with Massachusetts
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

Freescale posts Q2 profit on rising sales

Motorola's soon-to-be-independent semiconductor operation, Freescale, saw sale rise five per cent sequentially and 31 per cent year-on-year, allowing the company to post a profit for its second quarter. Sales for the three-month period totalled $1.46bn, up from Q1's $1.4bn and Q2 2003's $1.12bn. The rising sales yielded a quarterly net income of $43m (15 cents a share), rather better than the $174m (63 cents a share) loss it reported this time last year, but down on Q1 2004's $106m (38 cents a share) - and that after $9m in separation expenses was taken into account. Motorola last week announced it had cut Freescale's initial share price from $17.50-19.50 to $13. At that price, the sale will yield $1.58bn, of which $580m will go into Freescale's coffers. The chip company will also gain an opportunity to borrow $1.25bn from its parent. ® Related stories Freescale Q1 income soars Motorola takes a hit on Freescale IPO price Motorola files for Freescale IPO Motorola taps Big Blue talent for chip biz Motorola renames chip division Freescale History repeated as Apple slams CPU supplier
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

Chip biz IPO pushes Motorola into the red

Motorola yesterday reported that it had experienced a big jump in sales during its second quarter. However, the upcoming IPO of its chip division, Freescale, knocked its earnings for six. Sales the for the quarter totalled $8.7bn, up 41 per cent from Q2 2003's $6.2bn and up 1.2 per cent from Q1 2004's $8.6bn. That yielded pre-tax earnings of $800m, up 614 per cent on the year-ago quarter's $112m. However, a one-off charge of $898m, the result of the Freescale spin-off, pushed the group into the red. Tax gains and other expenses offset that a little, taking Motorola's final loss to $203m (nine cents a share). This time last year, the final figure was income of $119m (five cents a share). During Q1 2004, Motorola earned $608m. Like Nokia and Sony Ericsson before it, Motorola reported strong mobile phone sales, up 67 per cent year-on-year to $3.9bn. Handset shipments were up 52 per cent between Q2 2003 and Q2 2004, to 24.1m units. Those sales yielded operational earnings of $394m, up from Q2 2003's $91m. Motorola attributed its gains here to "the success of new products". Essentially, the company finally began to see the results of its very late shift to handsets with integrated - as opposed to plug-on - cameras. Motorola's other operations all yielded solid, double-digit year-on-year gains, most notably its telecoms infrastructure business, which saw sales rise 38 per cent to $1.4bn. The division's operating earnings grew from $19m to $208m over the same period. Motorola ended the quarter with a net cash position of $1.8bn. Looking ahead, the company said it anticipates Q3 sales to come in between $8.4bn and $8.8bn, implying a slight decline over Q2, but still up 25-30 per cent on Q3 2003. Motorola expects to go back into the black, with earnings reaching 15-19 cents a share, with the company taking a further hit on the Freescale IPO. ® Related stories Freescale posts Q2 profit on rising sales Motorola makes hay during Q1 Motorola takes a hit on Freescale IPO price Global mobile phone sales soar Nokia warning send shares falling Sony Ericsson carries on making money
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

French atomic agency sues Samsung

The French government has accused Samsung of infringing patents it holds covering LCD technology and has summoned the South Korean giant to the portentous-sounding Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance to explain itself. The patents are actually held by France's Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA), which has been building up a portfolio of LCD technology intellectual property for over a decade. In this particular case, the CEA believes that Samsung LCDs implement its "vertically aligned high contrast" technique, which improves both image quality and widens a panel's viewing angle, and do so without a licence from the CEA. The agency already has legal action against Samsung pending in the US courts, along with similar cases against Sharp, Sanyo, Fujitsu, Chi Mei and AU Optronics, the last two being Taiwanese LCD makers. The European action was prompted by Samsung's decision to begin shipping the allegedly infringing LCD screens in France. In addition to overseeing France's numerous atomic energy facilities, the CEA is also something of an R&D powerhouse, focusing on microelectronics, nanotech and other fields. Last year, was granted 292 patents. ® Related stories Sony sued in digicam patent clash MS defeated in ergo keyboard patent appeal Gateway reports HP to ITC Software patents under attack Qualcomm claims victory in TI suit Cisco sued in Wi-Fi patent clash Seagate gets litigious with small hard drive rival UK firm patents software downloads Sony settles Walkman patent case PalmOne overturns Xerox Graffiti patent Tech firm seeks $500m for Intel patent 'violation' Intel to pay $225m to settle Itanic patent clash Intel sued for Pentium patent infringement
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

The ATM keypad as security portcullis

Behold the modern automated teller machine, a tiny mechanical fortress in a world of soft targets. But even with all those video cameras, audit trails, and steel reinforced cash vaults, wily thieves armed with social engineering techniques and street technology are still making bank. Now the financial industry is working to close one more chink in the ATM's armor: the humble PIN pad. Last year Visa International formally launched a 50-point security certification process for "PIN entry devices" (PEDs) on ATMs that accept Visa. The review is exhaustive: an independent laboratory opens up the PED and probes its innards; it examines the manufacturing process that produced the device; and it attacks the PED as an adversary might, monitoring it, for example, to ensure that no one can identify which buttons are being pressed by sound or electromagnetic emission. "If we are testing a product that is essentially compliant, we typically figure it's about a four week process," says Ken Kolstad, director of operations at California-based InfoGard, one of three certification labs approved by Visa International worldwide. If that seems like a lot of trouble over a numeric keypad, you haven't cracked open an ATM lately. The modern PED is a physically and logically self contained tamper-resistant unit that encrypts a PIN within milliseconds of its entry, and within centimeters of the customer's fingertips. The plaintext PIN never leaves the unit, never travels over the bank network, isn't even available to the ATM's processor: malicious code running on a fully compromised Windows-based ATM machine might be able to access the cash dispenser and spit out twenties, but in theory it couldn't obtain a customer's unencrypted ATM code. The credit card companies have played a large role in advancing the state of this obscure art. In additional to Visa's certification program, MasterCard has set an 1 April, 2005 deadline for ATMs that accept its card to switch their PIN encryption from DES to the more secure Triple DES algorithm (some large networks negotiated a more lenient deadline of December 2005). But despite these efforts, the financial sector continues to suffer massive losses to increasingly sophisticated ATM fraud artists, who take home some $50m a year in the U.S. alone, according to estimates by the Electronic Funds Transfer Association (EFTA). To make these mega withdrawals, swindlers have developed a variety of methods for cloning or stealing victim's ATM and credit cards. Some techniques are low-tech. In one scam that Visa says is on the rise, a thief inserts a specially-constructed sleeve in an ATM's card reader that physically captures the customer's card. The con artist then lingers near the machine and watches as the frustrated cardholder tries to get his card back by entering his PIN. When the customer walks away, the crook removes the sleeve with the card in it, and makes a withdrawal. At the more sophisticated end, police in Hong Kong and Brazil have found ATMs affixed with a hidden magstripe reader attached to mouth of the machine's real reader, expertly designed to look like part of the machine. The rogue reader skims each customer's card as it slides in. To get the PIN for the card, swindlers have used a wireless pinhole camera hidden in a pamphlet holder and trained on the PED, or attached fake PIN pads affixed over the real thing that store the keystrokes without interfering with the ATM's normal operation. "They'll create a phony card later and use that PIN," says Kurt Helwig, executive director of the EFTA. "They're getting pretty sophisticated on the hardware side, which is where the problem has been." Solenoid fingers Visa's certification requirements try to address that hardware assisted fraud. Under the company's standards, each PED must provide "a means to deter the visual observation of PIN values as they are being entered by the cardholder". And the devices must be sufficiently resistant to physical penetration so that opening one up and bugging it would either cause obvious external damage, cost a thief at least $25,000, or require that the crook take the PIN pad home with him for at least 10 hours to carry out the modification. "There are some mechanisms in place that help protect against some of these attacks... but there's no absolute security," says InfoGard's Kolstad. "We're doing the best we can to protect against it." That balancing approach - accounting for the costs of cracking security, instead of aspiring to be unbreakable - runs the length and breadth of Visa's PED security standards. Under one requirement, any electronics utilizing the encryption key must be confined to a single integrated circuit with a geometry of one micron or less, or be encased in Stycast epoxy. Another requirement posits an attacker with a stolen PED, a cloned ATM card, and knowledge of the cyphertext PIN for that card. To be compliant, the PED must contain some mechanism to prevent this notional villain from brute forcing the PIN with an array of computer-controlled solenoid fingers programmed to try all possible codes while monitoring the output of the PED for the known cyphertext. "In fact, these things are quite reasonable," says Hansup Kwon, CEO of Tranax Technologies, an ATM company that submitted three PEDs for approval to InfoGard. Before its PIN pads could be certified, Tranax had the change the design of the keycaps to eliminate nooks and crannies in which someone might hide a device capable of intercepting a cardholder's keystrokes. "We had to make the keypad completely visible from the outside, so if somebody attacks in between, it's complete visible," says Kwon. Where Visa went wrong, Kwon says, is in setting an unrealistic timetable for certification. When Visa launched the independent testing program last November, it set a 1 July deadline: any ATMs rolling into service after that date would have to have laboratory certified PIN pads, or they simply couldn't accept Visa cards. That put equipment makers in a tight spot, says Kwon. "It's almost a six months long process... If you make any design modification, it takes a minimum of three months or more to implement these changes," he says. "So there was not enough time to implement these things to meet the Visa deadline." Visa International's official position is that they gave manufactures plenty of time - 1 July saw 31 manufacturers with 105 PIN pads listed on the company's webpage of approved PEDs. But in late June, with the deadline less than a week away, Visa suddenly dropped the certification deadline altogether. "I think what we realized was that it was important to work with the other industry players," says spokesperson Sabine Middlemass. Visa says it's now working with rival MasterCard to develop an industry wide standard before setting a new deadline for mandatory compliance. In the meantime, the company is encouraging vendors to submit their PIN pads for certification under the old requirements anyway, voluntarily, for the sake of security. Copyright © 2004, Related stories Bank issues cashpoint warning Thieves ravage Texan ATMs Halifax users locked out of ATMs
Kevin Poulsen, 21 Jul 2004

Shuttle unwraps 'fastest' SFF PC yet

Small form-factor barebones PC maker Shuttle today introduced its first Socket 939 Athlon 64 model, claiming the new machine will out-perform the company's Intel-oriented offerings. The XPC SN95G5 follows the earlier introduction of the Socket 754-based SK83G and SN85G4. Like the latter, the new model is based on an Nvidia chipset, in this case the nForce 3 Ultra, with its 2GHz HyperTransport frontside bus. It also supports AGP 8x, Serial ATA with RAID, Gigabit Ethernet, Firewire, eight USB 2.0 ports and PCI. Shuttle offers an optional add-in Wi-Fi card. The system's host CPU provides access to 400MHz DDR SDRAM in a dual-channel configuration. The SN95G5 features an all-new integrated cooling engine heat-pipe module, including a 92mm fan featuring linear control and advanced airflow mechanics making it one of the coolest, quietest sFF computers, Shuttle claims. The company also reckons it's the fastest: "When matched with an AMD Athlon 64 processor [the SN95G5] is the best-performing SFF PC in the world today - hands down," boasted Shuttle's enthusiastic chairman, David Yu. And that, no doubt, includes Shuttle's own Intel offerings. Shuttle did not disclose pricing. ® Related stories Shuttle shows Socket T SFF PCs Nvidia rejigs nForce 3 for AMD's Socket 939 AMD unveils Socket 939 processors AMD pitches Athlon 64 at Media Center PC makers Related reviews AMD Athlon 64 Socket 939 Biostar iDEQ 200N small form-factor PC case
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

France Telecom must return state aid

The European Commission has ruled that France Telecom did receive "illicit aid" from the French government and ordered the telco to pay the money back. The investigation centred on the tax that the telco paid between 1994 and 2002. The EC believes the French government gave France Telecom an illegal tax break of between €800m and €1.1bn. The Commission will work out exactly how much is owed, plus interest, during the recovery process. Mario Monti, the Competition Commissioner, said: "This decision shows that to be effective and fair the monitoring of state aid must cover all the different – and in some cases highly imaginative – arrangements used by states to support firms by providing aid that is incompatible with the European competition rules.” France Telecom is taking the case to the Luxembourg Court of First Instance to have the decision annulled. In an almost poetic statement France Telcom said: "The Commission appears to have made its decision without precision, in a climate of confusion fuelled by many leaks, rumours and public announcements that have been premature to say the least." Monti also ruled that positive statements by the government between July and December 2002 amounted to illegal state help for the telco. The French government effectively said it would not allow France Telecom to fail and a €9bn credit line would be open to them. The credit line was never used but helped maintain investor confidence. The statement says: "The statements created expectations and confidence on the financial markets and helped maintain France Télécom’s investment rating. If the statements had not been made, no reasonable investor would have offered a shareholder’s advance in these circumstances and assumed alone a very large financial risk." But France Telecom will not be liable for payments for this dubious practise because it is the first time the Commission has investigated this kind of state aid. But the Commission rejected a complaint by Bouygues Telecom that the auction process for 3G licences was unfair. ® Related stories France Telecom faces payback time EC rules against illegal 'subsidy' of France Telecom France Telecom cleared to buy back Wanadoo
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

Virgin Mobile floats!

Virgin Mobile made a successful debut on the London Stock Exchange this morning. Shares are trading at 207p, above the revised offer price of 200p but substantially lower than the original price range of 235p and 285p. Branson decided yesterday to cut the price and reduce the amount of shares on offer. Virgin founder Richard Branson told Reuters: "We are happy that Virgin Mobile is floating on the London Stock Exchange, particularly given the difficult markets, which have seen several other IPOs (initial public offerings) abandoned this year." The money raised will pay of debts and help pay for Virgin's US expansion. ® Related stories Virgin Mobile slashes share prices VirginMobile float price may sink Virgin Mobile prices IPO at up to £713m
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

Judge deems PS2 mod chips illegal in UK

The UK High Court has judged that the sale, advertisement, possession for commercial purposes and use of PlayStation 2 modification chips is illegal in this country. Under the UK's implementation of the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD), Europe's answer to the controversial US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal to bypass copy protection mechanisms. On that basis Mr Justice Laddie ruled that David Ball had acted unlawfully by selling 1500 Messiah 2 mod chips which enabled such circumvention. The Messiah chips were offered as a way to allow UK PS2s not only to play legitimate US and Japanese games, but pirated titles and back-up copies made by users, which Sony forbids in the UK. The UK enacted the EUCD in October 2003. The Directive has similarly been enacted in a number of other EU member states, allowing Sony to pursue mod chip sellers. Recently, it won just such a case in Belgium. That said, there have been setbacks. Earlier this year, the Italian court ruled that mod chips are legal on the basis that it's up to the user, not Sony, how they use their PS2. It even went so far as to name mod chips as crucial tools to "avoid monopolistic positions". And in Spain, it emerged that a loophole in Spanish copyright law legalises mod chips even though they run contrary to the spirit of the country's intellectual property legislation. ® Related stories Spanish judge rules X-Box mods 'legal' Italian court rules mod chips legal Lik-Sang settles mod chip case out of court Sony wins Aussie mod- chip sales ban
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

Oracle judge hears closing arguments

Judge Vaughan Walker heard closing arguments from the US government and from Oracle yesterday - and gave both sides some tough questions. The US government presented its case first but the judge questioned their market definition. Walker asked: "How can this be anything but a global market?" He also asked whether the government definition of "high-function" human resource and financial software had ever been used outside of the case currently being heard. But Oracle got a similar roasting when they gave their closing arguments. Walker noted that "customer witness after customer witness" said that Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP are different from other vendors. Oracle arugues that other suppliers like Lawson Software also provide competition in the market. PeopleSoft chief executive Craig Conway, who was in court, told news.com: "I think the case has been, from the beginning, about harm to the customers and to the industry". He said he hoped a decision was reached quickly. A decision could be announced within two months but European regulators still have to approve the deal, and Oracle and PeopleSoft have separate legal actions against each other. ® Related stories PeopleSoft blames Oracle for losses Ellison takes the stand Oracle trial won't call PeopleSoft boss
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

Parents clueless about kids online

Parents haven't a clue what their kids get up to online. That's just one of the findings of a report out today by the London School of Economics which reveals a gulf between what children do online - and what parents think their children get up to. Of course, any parent knows they will never really know what their children get up to - either online or offline. Nonetheless, the research found that parents need to be more "Web wise" about their kids' activities online. For instance, the research found that 57 per cent of children aged nine to 19 have come into contact with pornography online. Yet, only 16 per cent of parents were aware that their children had seen porn online. Equally, a third of young people admitted that had received "unwanted sexual or nasty comments", while only one in 20 parents were aware of this. Concerned at this gap in knowledge, Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology at LSE, said parents "need to be more aware of the risks their children are facing. However, simply restricting children's Internet access would deny them many of the benefits." John Carr, Internet Adviser to the children’s charity NCH, and who also worked on the UK Children Go Online survey, said: "The gap between what children are actually doing and what their parents think they are doing is a lot larger than many people would have imagined. It is a gap we must try to close." Last month, research from London University's Institute of Education found that parental fears about the Internet mean that children are not being given the information they need to behave safely and sensibly online. Unfounded fears that children are meeting murderers online and that chatrooms lead to sexual abuse mean that real and more frequent dangers of Web use are ignored, leaving children unprepared and unable to protect themselves, it said. ® Related stories BT blocks 230k attempts to access child porn Parental Internet fears put kids at risk Parents worried about 3G phones MSN UK shuts Member Directory over paedo fears Barnardo's calls for greater Net protection for children Fewer children become regular chat users Fewer children become regular chat users
Tim Richardson, 21 Jul 2004

mmo2 numbers are up

mmo2 says subscriber numbers are up and it expects to outperform expectations for the quarter ended 30 June 2004. The mobile operator added 603,000 new customers giving it a total of 21.3m. Of these 261,000 were in the UK and of them 149,000 were contract customers. ARPU (average revenue per user) was also up to £279 in the UK compared to £272 for the last quarter of 2003. UK contract ARPU was £537. Germany, which gained 336,000 customers, saw ARPU rise slightly to €367, from €366 in the last quarter of 2003. mmo2 customers sent 3.22bn text messages - up 33 per cent year-on-year. Data as a proportion of service revenue increased slightly to 20.9 per cent. 24 per cent of mmo2 customers used a non-SMS data service in the period.The company now expects net service revenue growth of between seven and ten per cent. Previous guidance expected growth of between five and eight per cent.® Related stories mmO2 hunts prepaids with German coffee chain Mobile operators push next gen services KPN closes wallet on mmO2 offer
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

Mars rock found in Antarctica

Meteorite hunters, scouring the Antarctic continent for fragments of other worlds, have found a new piece of Mars in amongst the ice, snow and penguins. As is traditional in such cases, it has been given a name that reflects its alien origins and the vast distance it travelled through space: MIL 03346. The 715.2-gram rock was bagged and tagged on December 15th 2003. It was found during a search for rare meteorites, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation with the specific hope of finding new Martian samples. The rock has been confirmed as the seventh "nakhlite" meteorite, a group of Martian rocks named for Nakhla, Egypt, where the first known specimen fell in 1911. Researchers at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History said that the mineralogy, texture and the oxidized nature of the rock are "unmistakably Martian", according to a press statement on the NASA website. Scientists think that nakhlites are fragments of ancient Martian lava flows that solidified around 1.3bn years ago, making them some of the older known pieces of the red planet to have made it to Earth. The theory is that nakhlites are ejecta from a huge impact on Mars 11 million years ago. As it can be studied in detail, MIL 03346 will provide scientists with a point of reference for data sent back from the Mars rovers and Martian satellites. In line with the protocols of the U.S. Antarctic meteorite program, NASA invites scientists from around the world to request samples of the new specimen for their own detailed research. ® Related stories Red Planet serves up blueberries Final report on Beagle 2 Scrap space robots, government urged
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jul 2004

God violates Intel trademark

Those readers who already have the fastest, leanest, boy-racer chip in their PC but still feel the need to "upgrade to the highest power" might consider looking beyond the purely physical. One UK church has rather cheekily swiped Intel's ubiquitous "intel inside" concept and turned it to the service of the Lord, as its poster campaign proves. Worshippers are invited to "upgrade this Sunday" at this Northern place of worship and experience for themselves what one Reg wag called "the new miracle processor". Nicely done. Naturally, we are not going to name the church in question for fear that teams of writ-bearing lawyers descend on the hapless Children of God like a plague of locusts. That said, the prospect of a litigious Clash of Titans between the worlds spiritual and corporeal is a delicious one: Plaintiff: Intel Corporation Domicile: Santa Clara, California Defendant: God Domicile: Omnipresent Claim: That said divine being did violate the trademark of the INTEL CORPORATION (hereafter referred to as the "plaintiff") in the promotion of an earthy place of worship in the name of his co-defendant JESUS CHRIST (hereafter referred to as the "Son of God") and did thereby undermine said trademark and its association with the promotion of high-quality silicon chips. The plaintiff requests that the defendant cease and desist immediately and does - by way of compensation - smite with terrible vengeance the AMD CORPORATION, of Sunnyvale, California. ® Bootnote Top marks to El Reg supremo Linus "Fish Fingers" Birtles for spotting this upgrade opportunity and obtaining the necessary photographic evidence. We'll make a hack of him yet. A heads-up too for all those readers who pointed us in the direction of t-shirt variations on this theme - including the snappy "satan inside" black number. It's clear we haven't spent much time recently window-shopping at Christian - or Satanist - e-commerce outlets. Related stories Miracle cures Berkeley man of Itanic wickedness Analyst sees St.Fister in Itanic wafer I am Centrino, son of Banias Online church smites sinners C of E seeks dynamic cybervicar
Lester Haines, 21 Jul 2004

One.Tel in broadband - telco bundle

Four in ten punters say they would be more likely to switch telephone provider if offered a bundled package of fixed line, broadband and mobile, according to research commission by One.Tel. Which is a spookily amazing coincidence because - can you believe this - One.Tel has announced it is to bundle these products to its punters. For £29.99 a month, One.Tel - which is part of the giant Centrica Telecommunications group - is offering customers uncapped 512k broadband and an all-inclusive UK calls package. For £39.99 a month, One.Tel is chucking in an extra "mobile" call package offering punters 60 free minutes a month to mobile phone networks. In both cases, customers would also have to cough up £10.50 a month for BT line rental. One.Tel says both bundled packages are cheaper than buying the products separately. Don't know about you, but I sill can't get that coincidence out of my mind. Who'd have thought it? ® Related stories One.Tel in free calls offer BT rivals demand Ofcom action BT loses 150,000 customers a month - report
Tim Richardson, 21 Jul 2004

HP extends PDA lead

HP continued to outstrip PalmOne in markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa during Q2, expanding the gap between the two companies' shipments after it took the lead in Q1, according to the latest figures from market watcher Canalys. And the market for mobile devices as a whole saw impressive year-on-year growth, with shipments of both PDAs and smart phones up 52 per cent on Q2 2003. Year on year, PDA shipments were up 43 per cent and smart phone shipments up 57 per cent. While strong, the latter figure represents a slowing of the growth experienced during Q1, when shipments rise 83 per cent year on year. However, the annual growth seen in PDA shipments during Q2 is ten per cent up on Q1's figure of 33 per cent. Sequentially, EMEA PDA shipments were up 5.4 per cent, smart phone shipments up 3.9 per cent, and the device market up overall by 4.4 per cent. In the PDA arena, HP extended its leadership share from 24.6 per cent in Q2 2003 to 28.3 per cent in Q2 2004, though it fell slightly from Q1's 29.5 per cent share, even though unit shipments were up from Q1's 251,530 to Q2's 254,300 and from Q2 2003's 154,600. PalmOne saw Q2 shipments fall 16 per cent year on year, from 211,860 units to 177,690, that figure well down on Q1's 233,560 despite the introduction of two new consumer PDAs, the Zires 31 and 72, during the second quarter. PalmOne's PDA market share fell from 27.4 per cent in Q1 and 33.8 per cent in Q2 2003 to 19.8 per cent in Q2 2004. However, PalmOne was able to ship 23,130 Treo smart phones during the quarter, 39 per cent more than the 16,750 it shipped in Q1, which validates the company's Handspring purchase in order to solidify its smart phone portfolio. Still, those sales leave it well behind other the key smart phone players, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Siemens. That said, both Sony Ericsson and Siemens saw shipments fall sequentially, by 15 and 26 per cent, respectively. Contrast that with PalmOne's 39 per cent gain and Nokia's 13 per cent unit shipment growth. Clearly the P900 and SX1 are losing their popularity. Back in the PDA market, German's Medion pushed past Dell and RIM to take third place, and thanks to Siemens' decline, was able to grab fifth place in the combined mobile devices chart. The company's aggressively priced PocketPC-GPS bundles may not be best-in-class products but they're certainly winning the value fight. ® EMEA Mobile Device Market Vendor Q2 2004 Q2 2003 Growth Shipments Share Shipments Share 1 Nokia 1,351,400 52.4% 838,650 49.5% 61% 2 HP 254,300 9.9% 154,600 9.1% 64% 3 PalmOne 200,920 7.8% 213,700 12.6% -6% 4 Sony Ericsson 149,500 5.8% 164,750 9.7% -9% 5 Medion 96,150 3.7% 47,450 2.8% 103%   Others 527,190 20.4% 276,800 16.3% 90%   Total 2,579,460 100% 1,695,950 100% 52%   EMEA Mobile Data-centric Device Market Vendor Q2 2004 Q2 2003 Growth Shipments Share Shipments Share 1 HP 254,300 28.3% 154,600 24.6% 64% 2 PalmOne 177,790 19.8% 211,860 33.8% -16% 3 Medion 96,150 10.7% 47,450 7.6% 103%   Others 370,010 41.2% 213,610 34% 73%   Total 898,250 100% 627,520 100% 43%   EMEA Mobile Voice-centric Device Market Vendor Q2 2004 Q2 2003 Growth Shipments Share Shipments Share 1 Nokia 1,351,400 80.4% 838,650 78.5% 61% 2 Sony Ericsson 149,500 8.9% 164,750 15.4% -9% 3 Siemens 61,490 3.7% 0 0% N/A   Others 118,820 7.1% 65,030 6.1% 83%   Total 1,681,210 100% 1,068,430 100% 57% You can read Canalys' Q1 EMEA figures here. Related stories PalmOne, HP slog it out over Euro sales PDA, smartphone sales rocket in Europe Camera phone shipments jump 29% Chip biz IPO pushes Motorola into the red Nokia warning send shares falling Sony Ericsson carries on making money Symbian raises £50m in rights issue Symbian owners foil Nokia takeover
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

IBM's £400m Defra IT deal gets the green light

IBM has been confirmed as the IT partner for the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), in a contract worth at least £400m over the next ten years. Three hundred and thirty Defra IT staff will transfer to IBM, but there is disagreement within the department as to whether or not this will save money. According to Marilyn Bayes, the union representative, the shift in personnel will mean a real terms increase in costs: "We've never spent anything like this amount on IT on an annual basis," she told The Register. She says that the deal looks good on paper because of the way budget is allocated: administration costs will be resuced when staff move to IBM, but the budget for the contract comes from a different pot. Official Defra channels disagree. David Myers, Defra's e-business director, said that the contract will lower the department's IT expenditure. Recent analysis of Defra's finances indicate that the department spends, on average, £85m per year on IT, or £850m over a decade, Myers explained. This covers both basic IT sevrices, and application development. On the face of it, the £400m looks like a substantial saving. However, the contract with IBM covers only the basic IT services. Any application development will cost extra, albeit at a discounted rate. Myers said: "It would be wrong to report this as freeing up £450m for application development over the next ten years; we may or may not have planned to spend that money in that way. But it does represent a saving for the taxpayer." He said that even basic services currently cost Defra more than they will under the terms of the deal with Big Blue. He also insists that Defra is not about to cut all its existing partners out of the loop: "This is about creating an internal economy of organisations that carry out development work" he said. Bayes says that the government mantra on technology is that IT should be left to industry, not the civil service. Staff affected by the transfer were told some months ago that the move was coming. Bayes says that most of the terms of transfer have been agreed, and will stay the same as the terms of employment within Defra. "We have no major concerns," she said. "The kinds of things we need to tidy up now are things like dates of pay and annual holiday periods." Although IBM does not officially recognise unions, a spokeswoman for the company said that IBM respected any individual's right to be a member of a union, and said that the company has always sought to have a positive relationship with unions, wherever neccessary. Transferred staff will not count towards the overall headcount reduction required by Gordon Brown's civil service cuts. ® Related stories IBM beats CapGemini to Defra deal IT services vendors bask in sunny quarter Public sector has IT companies over a barrel
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jul 2004

BTG sues Apple and MS over software downloads

A British intellectual property firm is taking Microsoft and Apple to court alleging they have infringed its software patents. British Technology Group (BTG), representing Richard Reisman and Teleshuttle Technologies, claims Apple and Microsoft have infringed patents covering "web-enabled software update technologies". BTG claims Microsoft's and Apple's operating systems, and MS Office products, infringe patented technologies. The suit was filed in the Federal Court of Northern California.It seeks unspecified royalty payments for past infringements and injunction against future uses of its software. A second suit against Microsoft alleges that Active Desktop and parts of its offline browsing technology are in breach of Teleshuttle Technologies patents, according to Reuters. The legal action follows the failure of licensing talks with the firms. BTG is represented by law firm Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, and Dunner. ® Related stories UK firm patents software downloads HP feared MS open source patent offensive Microsoft settles L-----s dispute
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

Garmin preps mid-range integrated GPS PDA

Kit WatchKit Watch Garmin's anticipated revised Palm OS-based integrated GPS handheld looks set to ship in two weeks' time. And Dell is to push further into the PocketPC GPS arena with its first own-brand wireless GPS antenna. We've known for some time that Garmin has been preparing a successor to its iQue 3600. However, Amazon.com recently posted the iQue 3200 on its site, claiming the device would ship on 1 August. According to Amazon, the list price is $461, discounted to $430. The iQue 3600 currently retails for around $590. The e-tailer is offering two versions, one with a European map pack, the other covering North America. Amazon's picture reveals a device not unlike the 3600, bit with a 320 x 320 display in place of the 3600's 320 x 480 panel. The product's specification, however, matches that of the 3600: Palm OS 5.2, 32MB of RAM, Motorola DragonBall MXL ARM9 processor. Garmin's own web site lists the iQue 3200 among the products with an online FAQ available. The relevant FAQ suggests the 3200 does indeed ship with 32MB of RAM, but unlike the 3600 does not support MP3 playback. Meanwhile, Dell this week announced its first Bluetooth GPS antenna. Based on technology from Navteq, which also provides the maps. The navigation software included in the $249 bundle isn't known. Dell already offers a range of GPS bundles centring on its Axim x5, x3 and x30 PocketPC lines, including kit from the likes of TomTom and Pharos. However, this is the first time the company has offered own-brand GPS peripherals in the package. ® Related stories Navman preps PocketPC with GPS Acer brings Bluetooth to PocketPC line PDA makers unveil Wi-Fi, GPRS PDAs Medion brings best-selling GPS PDA to UK PalmOne Treo purchase pays off as HP extends PDA lead Related reviews Medion MDPPC250 PocketPC GPS Bundle Evesham integrated GPS PocketPC Navman GPS 4400 Bluetooth navigator
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

Aurora rattles tin for space exploration

Scientists will today argue the case for UK involvement in Aurora, the European Space Agency's mission to explore space beyond Earth's orbit, aiming first for the moon, and then Mars. The UK has already contributed to the planning phases of the programme - identifying likely missions and so on - through the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council [PPARC]. Now, the ESA has asked for participating nations to commit an extra €39m to keep the programme going over the next 18 months. It has asked for answers by the end of September this year. Professor Ian Halliday, PPARC Chief Executive said that the science case for Aurora is very strong, but that PPARC doesn't have unlimited funds, and would need government help: "Time is not on our side, we need to decide pretty soon, otherwise our expertise will be eroded and we will be overtaken by others." Scientists including Professor John Zarnecki of the Open University, Dr. Sarah Dunkin from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society and Dr. Mike Healy, Director Earth Observation, Navigation and Science at EADS Astrium have all lent their support to the programme. They will make their presentations to a panel of government officials, including representatives of the Parliamentary Space Committee, at this year's International Farnborough Air show. Dr. Dunkin said that unless the UK got involved in exciting space science now, the country could lose a generation of scientists. "There's a real and present danger that our younger scientists will simply up sticks and move to other countries that are involved," she said. Prof. Zarnecki argued that Aurora will deliver world class science, and said that UK scientists had a chance to take a lead role. Dr. Healy agreed: "We have acknowledged leadership in entry, descent and landing systems and these will be key technologies required for Aurora. Not to capitalise on such technology would be a complete waste of all the expertise that went into the Beagle and [Cassini] Huygens Landers." Member states, including the UK, will have to decide whether to participate in the full Aurora programme by the next ESA Ministerial meeting planned for June 2005. ® Related links The PPARC press announcement Ariane 5 powers satellite into orbit Mission to map the Aurorae launches 26 July ESA on mission to surf gravity's waves ESA to probe Earth's magnetic field Final report on Beagle 2
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jul 2004
Cat 5 cable

US Net users want VoIP

One in five Net users in the US wants the opportunity to make cheap calls over the Internet. Even though demand for VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) mainly focuses on cheap calls, punters also want other bolt-on features such as caller ID, voicemail, battery back-up, and call waiting, according to a survey of 1,200 US Net users by Ipsos-Insight. Analysts reckon that VoIP providers entering the market need to offer these "must-have" services if they are to stand out from the increasing large crowd of Internet telephony providers. This is especially true since half of those quizzed said they thought their telephone company would be the best provider for VoIP, while a third said ISPs would be best placed to offer the service. Said Lynne Bartos, Senior VP at US-based Ipsos-Insight: "The cost savings proposition of VoIP will play a major role in drawing new subscribers into trying out Internet-based phone service. "This applies primarily to those with high phone bills. People who spend over $40 a month on their calls are more than twice as likely try to VoIP. Right now, it looks like telephone companies would have the advantage when it comes the ability to capture VoIP market share. "Until consumers become more savvy about VoIP technology and services, most will naturally turn to familiar providers of telephone service, even if the service is Internet-based," she said. ® Related stories BT signs up VoIP with Yahoo! VoIP hackers gut Caller ID US telecomms research in disarray - official US hardcore not interested in the Net Cablevision in triple play promo North Americans confused about VoIP VoIP suffers identity crisis Consumers want big telcos to supply VoIP services
Tim Richardson, 21 Jul 2004

Spam King dodges $20m big stick

Notorious spammer Scott Richter has been slapped on the wrist for the bulk mailing activities of his OptInRealBig business. But the $40,000 fine (plus $10,000 in "investigative costs") Richter will be obliged to pay in settling a lawsuit brought against him by the State of New York is more of a victory for the self-styled "Spam King" than his legal adversaries. NY State initially sought a $20m judgement against Richter but it has settled for peanuts. Richter wasn't even forced into admitting he'd done anything wrong. NY State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer does his best to portray the case as a legal victory against a "deceptive spammer" who allegedly used a network of 500 compromised computers to send millions of junk emails to hapless Hotmail users. Richter (through his lawyer, Steve Richter, who's also his father) denies any such wrongdoing. In return for being let of the hook, Richter Junior has agreed to follow existing laws that ban deceptive email and to keep copies of his bulk mail for inspection by the State of New York. "I'm very pleased," Richter told the New York Times about the settlement, as well he might. The case is further evidence of how difficult it can be to bring spammers to book even if they are accused of cybercrime offences as well as straightforward spamming. Spamming isn't going to be stopped in court although lawsuits might still have some beneficial effects in diverting the energies of bulk mailers away from bombarding us all with crap. Microsoft action against Richter over the same offences remains outstanding. In addition, New York's case against Richter's co-defendants (New York-based Synergy6, Inc., Justin Champion, Delta Seven Communications, Paul Boes, and Denny Cole) is yet to be resolved. ® Related stories 'Spam King' Richter gets legal roasting SpamCop gets gagging order lifted 'Spam King' gets restraining order against SpamCop Spammer prosecutions waste time and money MS sues 200 for spamming Big US ISPs set legal attack dogs on big, bad spammers UUNet tops spammer-hosting super league
John Leyden, 21 Jul 2004

Online ad spend on the up-and-up

Between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2003 Internet advertising in Britain was worth £353.6m, 2.5 per cent of total ad spend. The second half of the year accounted for £202.1m of this total. Year-on-year growth is more than 80 per cent, total online spending in 2002 was £196.7m. Online advertising is now two thirds of the size of radio advertising and is on course to be bigger than radio advertising by January 2007. The research comes from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The IAB found several drivers for this growth. The size of the audience - online surpassed radio in 2003 and the Web is the second most used medium for those with access. Better understanding of the need for a mix of media in any marketing campaign also fuelled growth. Increasing use of search technology by direct marketeers and more standardised products also helped growth. The figures have been collected since 1997 and exclude production costs. Paul Pilkington, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “By talking with the finance departments of each company we are able to gain a deep insight into their actual revenues and the composition between the different advertising products and the industry sectors they service". The IAB is releasing more details from this research on Friday. Their website is here. ® Related stories Search drives US online ad sales Online ad sales slide UK online ad spend: puny but growing fast
John Oates, 21 Jul 2004

ISPA seeks analysis of BT's 'Cleanfeed' stats

ISPA - the trade group for the UK's ISPs - wants to carry out an analysis of BT's "Cleanfeed" Web filtering system because of concerns that the data might be giving a misleading picture of the scale of Internet child abuse. Yesterday, BT said that in the last three weeks it had blocked 230,000 attempts to access child abuse websites. The announcement caused a flurry of media attention raising fears that thousands of people in the UK are trying to access illegal child abuse websites. While ISPA said it "welcomes any developments in the fight against child abuse images appearing on the Internet", it is concerned that the stats could be misleading. It wants to conduct an analysis of the statistics so that it can give "appropriately informed comment on the system and the data that has been published". "Only then will we be in a position to ascertain if and how many people are actually trying to access these websites, and hence understand the true scale of the problem," it said in a statement. BT has seen the ISPA statement and has promised to respond in due course. ISPA's Statement In Full ISPA welcomes new developments in the fight against child abuse images appearing on the Internet. However ISPA feels caution is needed with the information and statistics so far available on Cleanfeed. It is very difficult to comment on the statistics reported by BT regarding Cleanfeed as BT has not passed the data to ISPA. At present there seems to be a significant disparity in the statistics that are being reported. 20,000 URL requests per day reported by [BT Retail chief exec] Pierre Danon on Tuesday morning on BBC Radio 4 does not equate to 230,000 URL requests per day between June 21st and July 13th, which would mean around 10,000 URL requests per day. There is also a need to understand exactly what Cleanfeed is detecting. At present we do not know if Cleanfeed is measuring the number of 'hits' (attempts to download individual files from illegal websites) or 'visits' (number of attempts to visit the website). Also, if the Cleanfeed uses URLs of specific images, then that is likely to have an impact on the statistics. If the database contains URLs of images rather than the pages holding them, one page would cause several 'hits'. Since Cleanfeed gives a "not found" error, people visiting the sites are going to assume that it was an error and probably retry at least once. That could potentially increase the statistics by a factor of at least 2. It would be better if Cleanfeed stated that the website is blocked and cannot be accessed. Cleanfeed could also be detecting URL requests generated by a variety of other methods which would potentially inflate the figures reported. For example people may be mistakenly clicking on URLs whilst looking for legitimate websites, webcrawlers could be requesting the URLs, requests to access URLs could be generated by pop-ups and there are a number of other automated processes that could cause URL requests. ISPA would like to conduct an analysis of the statistics to give appropriately informed comment on the system and the data that has been published. Only then will we be in a position to ascertain if and how many people are actually trying to access these websites, and hence understand the true scale of the problem. Application of Cleanfeed to other ISPs Each ISP has a different infrastructure. This means that there is no 'one size fits' all technical solution to preventing access to web sites offering illegal images in territories outside of the UK. As with any technical solution, care must be taken to ensure blocking web sites offering illegal images does not cause unacceptable levels of collateral damage. Any such technical measures must be evaluated by ISPs over time to judge their success. The Cleanfeed solution now under trial by BT will only prevent "casual" browsing of known web sites. It will not hinder organised distribution of such images. It will not prevent access to new web sites offering illegal content, nor will it prevent children being abused. The very presence of images of child abuse on the Internet is a problem. Preventing access is not a solution to the presence of these websites. UK ISPs are successfully taking responsibility for removing illegal content hosted on their system once they have 'actual knowledge' that the materials are illegal. The UK Internet industry has been running a self-regulatory 'notice and takedown' procedure for criminal content for years. The success of this scheme is borne out by statistics released by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in 2004. In 2003 less than one per cent of illegal images reported to the IWF were hosted on the UK Internet. The majority of illegal content on the Internet originates from the US and Eastern Europe. The Internet industries, law enforcement agencies and Governments in these territories should take action similar to the UK to limit access to illegal content. ® Related stories BT blocks 230k attempts to access child porn Police to monitor chat rooms BT's modest plan to clean up the Net Parents clueless about kids online
Tim Richardson, 21 Jul 2004

iPass touts network access policy devolution

iPass is to take a more active role in supporting customers' network security programmes, a move that will see the company's business ultimately become more akin to facilities management than that of a corporate remote access provider. iPass Policy Orchestration enables customers to devise more flexible security policies rather than work to a 'one size fits all' level of remote access security. Today, employees connecting to the corporate LAN via any of iPass's dial-up, fixed Ethernet, GPRS or Wi-Fi access points go through iPass' own access authorisation procedure as well as that of the corporate, which in turn regulates their level of access to the LAN according to policy. In Q4, iPass hopes to allow customers to defer policy administration to its own initial authorisation phase. The company will control and enforce corporate network access policy on behalf of the customer, which makes for a more flexible and more secure system, it says. According to Ken Greene, UK technical director, Policy Orchestration will allow corporates to provide users with different facilities depending on what connection modes they employ. "A user on a low-bandwidth dial-up might only be delivered with critical software security updates and only be given access to email," he said, "whereas that same user connecting later through a hotel LAN or a public Wi-Fi hotspot, with their greater bandwidth, might be granted access to more corporate LAN facilities and a full range of software updates." Virtual private networks (VPNs), personal firewalls, anti-virus software, assessment and remediation, patch management, and network compliance capabilities will all come under iPass's control, Greene said, the better to protect corporate data. "Users are increasingly connecting to base using not only company-issued and maintained notebooks but home PCs and other devices over which the IT department has no control," said Greene. "Those machines may not be running AV software or a firewall. Even if they are, are they sufficiently configured to prevent unwanted communications being sent out from the PC?" iPass Policy Orchestration, he said, will allow corporates to block access from such 'unauthorised' systems, or at least limit how many facilities they are given access to. However, he maintained that iPass was not in the business of telling customers what security policies to put in place, or what firewall, AV, VPN, authorisation etc. systems to use. Corporate networks of networks The iPass approach looks beyond the provision of remote access of travelling employees to a time when more staffers are, thanks to cheap broadband and more liberal employment regimes, are working from outside the office. At that point, the remote connections become more than short-duration links into the company network to pick up email, but remotely-maintain network peers. And since these users will need greater levels of access than someone making an ad hoc connection might, corporates' attitude to remote access and the network policies around it has to change. Just as the Internet is made from an array of individual but connected LANs, so too can corporate networks. Get enough of these remote yet fully connected workers out there, and your remote access contract becomes more of an infrastructure and network management outsourcing deal, and that's effectively how iPass is increasingly pitching its business. Policy Orchestration has applications beyond the corporate sphere. An ISP connected to a host of subscribers isn't so very different from a corporation connected to a host of remotely working employees. Public pressure - not to mention legislation - could yet force ISPs to take a more active role in enforcing security at the subscriber level. They can offer punters AV software and firewalls, but today they can't enforce or control their use, either to make life easier for non-technical users or to ensure no one can claim their subscriber network contains zombie PCs. Greene said iPass isn't actively targeting ISPs and other service providers, but they could form the basis for a large addition to the company's customer base should it choose to push its technology in that direction. Policy Orchestration provides it with an opportunity to do so. ® Related stories Deutsche Telekom to unite 'half the world's Wi-Fi hotspots' Report raps Wi-Fi providers for 'location inflation' Cometa crash bursts hotspot bubble? European workers take to the streets Wi-Fi biz gears up for roaming offensive iPass aggregates T-Mobile US hotspots iPass aggregates Swisscom hotspots
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

Cybercops seize Russian extortion masterminds

Three men suspected of masterminding a cyber-extortion racket targeting online bookies were arrested yesterday in a joint operation between the UK’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and its counterparts in the Russian Federation. The trio, who investigators reckon netted hundreds of thousands of pounds from the cyber shakedowns, were picked up in a series of raids both in St Petersburg, and in the Saratov and Stavropol regions in southwest Russia. The alleged cyber-extortions took place following Denial of Service (DOS) attacks directed against the websites of many online bookies. These attacks bombarded bookies' servers a tidal wave of spurious and malicious traffic, effectively shutting down their online operations and costing millions of pounds in lost business. The gang followed up the attacks with email demands, asking for money to be handed over in order to prevent further assaults for at least for a year. Bookies in the UK have been subject to attacks and demands for money since October 2003, and officers from the UK’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit have been working closely with their Russian counterparts to track down and arrest the criminals. Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, Head of the NHTCU, said: “The success of this operation is built on the foundation of international partnerships between law enforcement and business. The more we work together in the fight against organised crime, the safer the UK will be for business. “Thanks to the response of all the parties involved, we have helped to dismantle a determined group of organised criminals. The clear message we are sending is that if you attack firms based in the UK, we will find you and stop you,” he said. In Russia, the NHTCU has worked closely over many months with the Investigative Committee attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the MVD’s computer crimes specialist department. Support from HM Customs & Excise’s overseas liaison offices in Russia, the Central Asian Republics and the Baltic States was also crucial to the investigation. This investigation was also assisted by law enforcement and government agencies from Australia, Canada, Estonia and the USA, as well as from businesses in the UK and abroad. As part of the investigation, 10 members of the gang were arrested in Riga, Latvia, in November 2003. Following these arrests, officers were able to identify the financial trail which led to the gangsters arrested yesterday in Russia. ® Related stories MPs demand big stick for hackers European betting sites brace for attack Watch out! Incoming mass hack attack Phatbot arrest throws open trade in zombie PCs The illicit trade in compromised PCs Extortionists attack iBetX.com Extortionists take out UK gambling site (Sporting Options) Online extortionists target Cheltenham DDoS attacks go through the roof
John Leyden, 21 Jul 2004

P2P net iMesh falls in line with RIAA

Israeli P2P network iMesh has agreed to block unauthorised song-swapping and cough up $4.1m to the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA). The RIAA began legal action against iMesh in September 2003. The P2P network claims it has over 10m users around the world. The RIAA alleged many of them were engaged in ripping off its music industry members. iMesh hasn't said why it agreed to settle out of court, but it's likely it found itself seeing defeat in the courts or financial ruin resulting from protracted legal conflict. Whatever, the company was spinning the settlement today as a "pioneering" move in the world of P2P. iMesh will now seek to create a P2P environment in which users can share songs legally - and that means paying for them. "It allows us the opportunity to migrate to a business model that will continue to provide users with the P2P experience that they have come to expect from iMesh," company COO Ofer Shabtai said in a statement. Hardly a new approach - UK digital music provider Wippit has been doing this for ages, using song identification technology to ensure that the songs its subscribers are sharing are ones it is licensed to allow them to share. But Wippit's sharing content comes largely from independent labels, and while this aspect of its business does offer some major label content, most of their tracks are only available through Wippit's other, iTunes-style download business. ® Related stories RIAA praises 'magnificent' P2P RIAA sues 482 more unnamed file-sharers RIAA pushes ahead with suits, sues iMesh, stirs up Senate Aussie judge sets Kazaa trial date File traders put an end to Lollapalooza US music swappers change their tune German fined 8000 for Kazaa uploads Music biz takes P2P jihad to Europe and Canada Is the mood changing towards the legitimate use of P2P networks? KaZaA sues RIAA for copyright infringement
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

Bluesocket punts wireless security kit

Bluesocket, the IT security vendor, is to sell wireless monitoring technology alongside its current line of wireless gateway products. The BlueSecure intrusion detection system includes a server and dedicated sensors, which can monitor traffic on 802.11a, b and g networks. According to Carlos Gomez Gallego, product manager at Bluesocket, the technology gives users visibility over what is happening over the airwaves. This is not possible with conventional (wired) intrusion prevention technology, he said. Bluesecure detects various types of wireless intrusions, including war-driving attacks, denial of service attacks (DoS), impersonation attacks, and the use of automated attack tools. But the main benefits come from giving users the ability to detect rogue access points and for fault-finding work, Gallego said. "If users complain that a network is slow this tool will help detect if there is a problem, such as interference from an adjacent system using the same frequency. BlueSecure will detect problems. Our gateway can enforce policies and permissions, so there's a good match," he said. Several approaches to adding security monitoring function to wireless networks have emerged in recent months. Companies such as AirMagnet supply WLAN analysis product for handhelds and laptops. Other vendors are building intrusion detection technology into access points. Bluesocket hopes to tap into this niche security market with its stand-alone product. Each BlueSecure 802.11 a/b/g RF Sensor is priced at $695 in the US (£550 or the equivalent of $1,015 in the UK) and the BlueSecure Server is $2,995 (£2,495/$4,600 in the UK), with both available from August. Wireless Gateway and Sensor bundles will also be available in August starting at $7,750 in the US (£5,995/$11,050 in the UK). Bluesocket's kit cost approximately 50 per cent more in the UK than the US. Is this a case of rip-off Britain? Martin Cassidy, VP of Bluesocket EMEA, denied this and said its pricing reflects market conditions. Even its higher prices in Europe were highly competitive, he claimed. "We operate a single-tier channel in the US and a two-tier channel in Europe. European channels provide higher technical support which is good for users but there is a cost involved which is reflected in pricing. We're not dissimilar from other vendors in how we look at this," Cassidy said. ® Related stories Beware the rogue access points Switch start-ups turn to WLAN security Why enterprise WLANs need wireless gateways WLAN security is still work in progress Firm adds bandwidth management into the WLAN mix (Bluesocket)
John Leyden, 21 Jul 2004

God to smite Reg hacks

FoTWFoTW Not one, but two flames this week. Both addressed to Mr. Haines, which makes us wonder what it is about the man that inspires your wrath... Anyway, first we have thoughts from, we think, Simon Cowell's lesser known younger brother: Adam DiTomasso. He took exception to a description of Hendrix as 60s "Alt" rock in the survey on IT professionals' musical preferences: Hello, Ok what the hell is "60's Alt Rock". There is no such thing. If you actually knew anything about music you would not have written that. You would know that the Doors were consitered main stream as well as Hendrix and the Dead. Christ the Doors were on Ed Sullivan. They were as main stream in the 60's as Britney is today. You know NOTHING of music and I would apresiate it if you would stick to topics you actually have a clue about. Your a jackass. Adam DiTomasso Individual approach to spelling? Check. Innovative grammar? Check. Random capitalisation? Check. Abusive language? Check. Plus, a bonus point for mentioning Britney Spears in the same breath as The Doors. Just for the record, you will note that the word "Alt" is in inverted commas. That means we're quoting someone else. But anyone who wants to suggest that an appearance on national TV makes a band respectable or mainstream should look up a little group called the Sex Pistols. Moving on: An unnamed church in the North of England is promoting its services with a picture that bears a remarkable resemblance to the Intel swirl. One Gareth Richardson was upset with us for, he thought, exposing said religious establishment to the full legal might of the great Satan of chips. You do realise that you are a muppet don't you ? There is a PHONE NUMBER on the bottom of the poster. If I hear that they have been done over by Intel because of this, you'll be seeing the dark side of the Lord pretty darned soon. Twat. Gareth Well, Gareth, thank you for your concern, but you can rest assured that it is misplaced. That phone number is not on the advertisement, it is on the hoarding, and is actually a non-location-specific UK local rate number for the hoarding company. We'd also like to give you a tip for writing threatening letters: try not to use the word 'darned'. It undermines your credibility somewhat. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jul 2004

Seagate sees red in Q4

Troubled hard drive maker Seagate yesterday reported disappointing results for its fourth quarter and full year. Seagate posted $1.34bn in revenue for the fourth quarter and a net loss of $33m. This is quite a flip from the $1.55bn in revenue and net income of $160m reported in the same period last year. For the full year, Seagate showed $6.22bn in revenue and net income of $529m. Last year, the company managed to pull in $6.49bn in revenue and to post $641m in net income. "The market dynamics in fiscal year 2004 presented many challenges for Seagate and the industry," said Steve Luczo, Seagate's chairman. To deal with a lack of demand for its core server and desktop products, Seagate decided to roll out a new line of product for notebooks and consumer devices such as MP3 players and digital video recorders. Seagate hopes its new line of tiny drives will boost revenue in the coming year and give it a bigger chunk of the overall storage market. In June, Seagate cut 3,000 jobs to deal with the declining 2004 revenue. ® Related stories Seagate targets rival with import ban demand Seagate unveils 'tiny to terabyte' hard drives Seagate axes thousands
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jul 2004

Apple signs key indies to iTunes

UpdatedUpdated Apple today confirmed that it has reached an accord with European independent record labels Beggars Group, Sanctuary Records Group and V2, bringing the likes of Basement Jaxx, The Crystal Method, Interpol, The Libertines, Morrissey, Prodigy, Stereophonics, the Datsuns, Paul Weller and The White Stripes to the iTunes Music Store in the UK, France and Germany. Earlier this week, Apple add a host of indie tracks to ITMS, but none from the acts named above. The deal announced today will see the addition of "tens of thousands" of songs from the three labels' acts added to ITMS' catalogue. Sanctuary, in particular, promised "immediate access to contemporary new releases from Morrissey and The Libertines, as well as vintage catalogues from classic artists, including Bob Marley, Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols". Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the company plans "to add many more independent labels soon". According to the Association of Independent Music (AIM), there is a "standard independent template contract" now available for UK and European Indies. "Several hundred labels across Europe are expected to sign the agreement in the near future, bringing many of the world's most exciting acts to the service," the organisation said. Almost as soon as it emerged that Apple's 15 June European ITMS launch would not included tracks from key independent labels, UK music fans began to use ITMS' iMix public playlist feature to make known their disappointment at this state of affairs. Unhappy with the terms Apple was offering - the "terms initially offered appeared to discriminate against independents", is how AIM puts it - indies refused to sign up to the service. However, discussions between Apple and the indies have continued, and it emerged last week that the parties were close to a deal. ® Related stories Apple 'close' to accord with indie labels iTunes users hijack iMixes to demand indie content Indie labels reject iTunes Apple iTunes Europe shifts 0.8m songs in first week Apple opens iTunes in the UK, France and Germany World to get iPod Mini on 24 July Pixies top UK download chart
Tony Smith, 21 Jul 2004

NASA and Bush battle for budget

President Bush's plans to get to Mars may have run into trouble, courtesy of a move in the US House of Representatives to cut NASA's 2005 budget by $1.1bn. However, according to a Senate subcommittee could yet come charging to the rescue, with a bill that would result in a $866m budget increase for NASA. The vote on the NASA Authorization Act of 2004 is scheduled for Thursday this week, Wired reports. If it passes, it will mean Congress can allocate NASA as much as $17.7bn per year for the next five years. This battle for control of the budget will have huge consequences for NASA: if the Senate bill passes, all is fine and dandy, but if the appropriations bill proposed by the House is accepted, NASA will have to scale back plans drastically. According to Wired the cuts would mean the budget for the Moon / Mars preparations would fall from $910m to just $372m; NASA would also have to scale back Project Prometheus - an ongoing attempt to build a nuclear rocket. Most significant is the suggestion that development of the next generation of Crew Exploration Vehicles (read: new shuttles) would have to be delayed. If these cuts get passed as they stand, this is bad news indeed for Dubya: a Gallup poll shows 68 per cent of Americans are now keen on the idea of getting to Mars. Wired quotes the House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, as saying that the cuts are unacceptable. In a written statement he said: "Yes, we are at war, just as we were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. And yes, the budget is constricted. The president's space vision is my mission, and I am fully prepared to fight for it." ® Related stories Mars rock found in Antarctica Mission to map the Aurorae launches 26 July Astronomers probe star wrapped in comets NASA to grow Brit strawberries on Mars
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Jul 2004

Symbian founder on mobile past, present and future

ExclusiveExclusive Colly Myers has had a pretty low profile since leaving Symbian two years ago.
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jul 2004

What went wrong at Wright State when Napster arrived

OpinionOpinion When the Napster music service arrives at Wright State University this fall, it will bring with it higher IT costs for everyone while delivering almost no gains to half of the student population. Wright State is one of the six universities that agreed this week to test out the Napster service as a way of curbing illegal music downloads and avoiding lawsuits from the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). But behind the enchanting prospect of free music rentals for all is some fine print that Wright State students might find less appealing. This fine print includes a fee that must be paid by every student whether they own a computer or not. Every Wright State student faces a $189 quarterly communications fee, which includes the cost of Internet access, telephone, voicemail, cable TV and now Napster. The school raises this fee every two to three years and expects to hike it if the one-year Napster trial proves valuable to the school, said Paul Hernandez, director of computing and telecommunications at Wright State. At present, the school is subsidizing the cost of the Napster service and the new hardware and software needed to run it. Hernandez, however, estimates that students will end up paying an extra $8 per quarter for Napster once the one-year trial is complete. "With that fee, we expect to break even and maybe even generate revenue," Hernandez said. "If we do make money, we might lower the cost. If we don't make money or lose money, then we probably won't renew the service." For the record, Hernandez allowed us to take up a solid chunk of his time, was very forthcoming about the Napster service and was very pleasant to interview. Still, there is a big problem with his plan. First off, only 70 percent of students arrive at Wright State with their own computers. This means at least 30 percent of the students will have to pay for Napster while only being allowed to use it in public computing labs. Sure, they can carry along some headphones and get jiggy with it while working on a paper, but these students cannot enjoy music while sipping a beer in their dorm room. Secondly, users of Apple's Mac systems are once again left out in the cold by Napster. At Wright State, close to 17 percent of the students use Macs. So, we are talking about at least 42 percent of the students being forced to pay for Napster while having limited access at best to the service. "We do get complaints from the Mac users," Hernandez said. Yes, we all do. But these complaints are warranted. Wright State won't reveal the exact amount it has been forced to shell out for the Napster service but did say the costs include the monthly per student fee, new IBM servers and software and consulting from Napster. One source estimated the cost of all this gear at $250,000, but Hernandez said that figure is much too high. He did, however, confirm our source's claim that a large donation from Sony will help cover the costs. The Wright State students, who have proved very difficult to get a hold of during their vacation, are being taught an interesting lesson in capitalism here. Their school needs all 3,000 students on board to make the cost of Napster feasible, but only 1,500 students will have full, unfettered access to the tethered downloads their administration desires. Apparently, Wright State students are meant to think of each other as Comrades and take care of each others' critical music needs. How did the school officials decide this was a good idea? Well, they based their decision on fiction. "We saw the press with Penn State and Rochester," Hernandez said. Napster signed earlier deals with both Penn State and Rochester, hoping to drag the schools in front of other institutions as proof that renting music could be a cost-effective way of keeping the RIAA off their backs. Both schools, however, have admitted to extremely favorable pricing with Penn State side-stepping questions about whether it pays anything for Napster at all. One of Penn State's trustees Barry Robinson happens to be a lawyer for the RIAA, so we're sure the idea of a sweet deal comes as a big shocker. "Napster seems to be spending a lot of money on a lot of deals to get them a lot of press not to generate a meaningful business," a Real Networks executive told The Register. Unlike Napster, Real has yet to explore the imaginary world of college music subscriptions. The company has instead focused on actual, paying customers who plunk down $10 a month for the Rhapsody service and then 79 cents a song for permanent downloads. You'll find that almost every Napsterized school - all 8 of them - is using dot-com era methodology to justify the service. The schools receive the Napster service either for free or for a massive discount and plan to subsidize whatever costs they do incur in the short term. Then, one day, the students - or more accurately their parents - will wake up and discover they are in fact going to start paying for a service they don't really want and that a huge chunk of students can't even use. "I don't really consider us as being in the music business," Hernandez said. But he is in the music business. Hernandez admits that one of the key motivators in signing up for the Napster service was protection from the RIAA and its lawsuit machine. By targeting college students with legal action, the RIAA has managed to force a number of schools to consider opening a Napster shop. Do the schools really care about solving the long-term problem of music piracy? Not really. They just want the lawyers to go away. The students using Napster will not really learn much about the value of copyrights or compensating artists at all. That's because, when their four years are up, all of their tethered downloads will disappear. That's when they will have to pick between paying $10 per month for the rest of their music loving lives or finding a more practical way of obtaining music. Wouldn't it be smart for the RIAA to promote longer-term solutions to the P2P problem, if the technology is a problem, that see artists receive better compensation and that see all consumers benefit? Pretending P2P does not exist by subsidizing music rental services teaches little to our youth and does even less to put real money back in the pockets of the pigopolists. ® Related stories Duke develops iPod-equipped download army More universities agree to RIAA/Napster 'protection' Microsoft, Apple snub consumer freedom coalition RIAA targets 493 more unnamed file-sharers
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jul 2004

Judge junks most of SCO's complaint against DaimlerChrysler

It looks as if SCO will have to find another automaker to pick on after a judge granted the majority of DaimlerChrysler's motion to dismiss SCO's suit against it. SCO fingered DaimlerChrysler back in March, claiming DC had failed to prove that it was in compliance with a Unix licensing agreement dating back to 1990. DaimlerChrysler later filed documents with the Circuit Court for the County of Oakland, Michigan saying it had since provided SCO with the certification. Given this evidence, Judge Rae Lee Chabot has decided to throw out SCO's complaint except on the issue as to whether or not DaimlerChrysler responded quick enough to SCO's request. This leaves SCO in the position of hounding DaimlerChrysler about the delay or simply letting the matter go. "We're satisfied that DaimlerChrysler did finally certify their compliance with the software agreement, but we are still interested in gaining some information on why they didn't certify within the allotted time," a SCO spokesman told CNET. Groklaw, as always, brought the first word of the dismissal and has some rousing eyewitness accounts of SCO's day in court. "The SCO attorneys all looked rather discomfitted by the Judge's rulings, realizing that she just gutted their case," writes one witness. "I could almost hear the screaming all the way from Utah." The DaimlerChrysler matter is certainly the most nitpicky of all SCO's questionable claims. SCO was essentially looking for a way to trap customers who use Unix and Linux in the same shop. The idea being that a company signs a Unix license for a set number of servers but then potentially violates that license by running Linux that supposedly contains SCO's Unix IP on other servers. ® Related stories SCO trumps Sun's open source Solaris bid SCO makes peace with BayStar Software pirates stole my stealth plane Free software guru speaks on patents 'Not the sharpest of knives' - praise heaped on Linux study author Alien puppet Linus swiped Linux from SCO, says balanced study SCO case doesn't slow Linux take-up
Ashlee Vance, 21 Jul 2004