8th > February > 2005 Archive

Multi-OS Cell CPU tops 4GHz

Technical details of the Cell processor, a joint venture between Sony, IBM and Toshiba, were disclosed in San Francisco today. But the example chip shown to journalists today is likely to be superseded by faster versions when it appears on the market later this year. The Cell has 234m transistors, measures 221mm2 and, as detailed in the patent, has eight execution units, here dubbed "synergistic processors". Cell refers to a piece of software that roams the local machine, a LAN or a WAN looking for execution resources. When the unit appears - in enterprise kit from IBM, and in Sony's PlayStation 3 console - it's likely to clock 4.6GHz and be built on a 65nm process. Today's samples used a 90nm process. Cells will be manufactured at IBM's 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New Yorj and Sony's Nagasaki plant. IBM said the processor is "OS neutral", but it will able to run multiple operating systems concurrently. Sony and IBM dispelled any doubt that in addition to being suitable for technical and commercial IT, the processor is aimed at the heart of the home: with digital TVs and home servers cited as likely vehicles for the processor. Many of your comments on the long-term economic and social impact of the processor focus on technical obstacles to its success. We'll round up the best later today. ® Related stories The Cell Chip - how will MS and Intel face the music? The Cell chip - what it is, and why you should care
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Feb 2005

Napster's Super Bowl ad voted the biggest loser

Napster has been awarded the title of Super Bore by viewers ranking the advertisements from last night's football championship. Napster's ad - which claimed it costs $10,000 to fill Apple's iPod with music and just $14.95 a month to rent as much music as possible via Napster's new To Go service - placed last in a survey taken by USA Today. Companies paid close to $2.4m for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl. Napster's commercial trailed all 54 other spots, according to the people surveyed by the newspaper. Napster last week vowed to spend $30m to promote its To Go service. This package has people paying $14.95 per month to download as much music as they like to their computer or portable device. The customers, however, don't receive permanent downloads for this subscription - only the romantically named tethered downloads that disappear if you stop paying the monthly fee. Consumers are apparently a bit smarter than Napster imagined. They didn't fall for the $10,000 fill-your-iPod claim. Most people fill their digital music players with tracks taken from their existing CD collection and from MP3s already on their computer. An iPod can be filled for less than $5, if you have the right friends. Anheuser-Busch was voted to have the best and third best ads with Ameriquest Mortgage taking the second spot. CareerBuilder.com led the tech companies with an impressive showing - it grabbed the fourth, fifth and sixth slots. The full rankings and ads are available here. ® Related stories Your 'fancy' Napster bashing bites Why Napster will be a fully-integrated flop Napster launches portable player-friendly music service MP3.com founder vows unchained melodies
Ashlee Vance, 08 Feb 2005

Brightview targets broadband for growth

UK ISP Brightview has almost 10,000 broadband punters, up from 3,600 in August. The company has a stable of service providers including Madasafish, Freenetname, and Waitrose.com and has 300,000 net access users in toto. It was bought in August for £25m by communications services outfit Invox Plc Publishing its iresults for six months to the end of December, Invox yesterday said that it's "inevitable that dial-up business will dwindle over the years" as more people ditch narrowband for broadband. This is why execs are making "strenuous efforts" to establish Brightview as a significant presence in the broadband marketplace, helped no doubt by Madasafish's recent brush with the ad police over its "Oi, Churchill, noooooo!" ad. The company is targeting its existing 300,000 dial-up customers to switch over to broadband "as soon as possible" as well as trying to tempt new users to its service. "Our experience to date has been that converting existing dial-up customers to broadband is proving much easier, and more profitable, than recruiting new users from advertising," the company said in a statement. But it warned that "while broadband customers are potentially a very valuable asset in the longer term, in the short term they contribute relatively little to profit, owing to the initial costs of connecting a broadband customer and supplying a modem". In the six months to 31 December 2004 Invox made a profit of £4.45m before goodwill amortisation and tax and includes a £1.26m contribution from Brightview. ® Related stories Madasafish 'Churchill' ad banned VIA NET.WORKS buys PSINet Europe Madasafish in 2Mb ADSL promo Waitrose.com in posh broadband offer
Tim Richardson, 08 Feb 2005

C&W touts wholesale line rental

UK telco Cable & Wireless (C&W) has begun offering its 100,000 business customers the chance to get all their fixed line telco services on one bill. With wholesale line rental (WLR), businesses can pay for their calls and line rental in one single bill as opposed to having to pay for calls (to C&W) and line rental (to BT) separately. C&W reckons its lines and calls package will offer businesses simplified billing and lower call charges by cutting BT out of the billing loop. C&W is also offering the single billing option to its retail telco partners (such as Tesco and the Post Office) so that they, in turn can offer their residential phone customers phone services (Carrier Pre Selection) and line rental in one bill. In December BT appointed a director of WLR to liaise with the industry and regulator Ofcom over the development of a genuine wholesale voice telephony service. The appointment of Rob Sanders, who's been with BT for 11 years, as BT's "WLR Czar" is meant to show that the telco is serious about competition. Critics says that WLR is too costly for rival operators and plagued by administrative difficulties. They claim the service is not yet fully automated and relies too heavily on outdated BT manual processes that sare unable to cope with the mass market adoption of WLR. In its response last week to Ofcom's telecoms review, BT said it would "ensure that WLR is demonstrably fit for purpose with effective operational performance and an increased margin enabling rapid consumer take-up". According to the latest stats from regulator Ofcom, there were 630,000 WLR lines at the end of September 2004, up from 480,000 in June. ® Related stories BT promises to play fair, in Ofcom appeasement BT clobbered in Ofcom probe New JV to flog phone service to the UK Post Office delivers phone service BT appoints phone Czar
Tim Richardson, 08 Feb 2005

Internet Safety Day: promoting safer surfing

European Commission-backed online safety organisation Insafe has named today Safer Internet Day. The aim is to raise awareness of the threats that exist in the online world, particularly those faced by younger people. More than 60 organisations in 30 countries are taking part, with Commissioner Viviane Reding leading the events in the UK. The day will see the launch of several new online safety websites - including a new Insafe portal and a site for Finnish kids to air their views about the web - internet literacy programmes for schools, and a storytelling competition, open to 19 countries. In the UK, there will also be a full day's conference on young people's use of mobile technology, Insafe is operated by European Schoolnet, a partnership of 26 ministries for education across Europe, and enables so-called national safety nodes to pool their experiences about online safety. ® Related stories Kids' blogs a 'paedophile's dream' Police launch site to tackle net pervs EC presses for safer internet
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Feb 2005

UK distie sues MS for libel over $7m grey claims

A UK distributor, ITAC Ltd, is suing Microsoft for libel saying the software giant unfairly labelled it a "rogue trader". ITAC (UK) was served with a $7m civil case in January. Microsoft accused ITAC of "parallel importing" - bringing products into the UK which were originally destined for other markets. It was accused of importing software from an unauthorised reseller in the Middle East. But ITAC is not taking the allegations lying down; it is countersuing and says that accusations made by Microsoft on its website and in a media alert to UK channel papers are libellous. ITAC is also taking action against other unnamed channel firms. William Lister, lawyer at Pannone and Partners which represents ITAC, said: "It is clear that Microsoft's proceedings against ITAC are part of a much-publicised worldwide campaign to thwart alleged grey importers. "ITAC strenuously denies the allegations and is vigorously defending the proceedings." More details at VNUnet. ® Related stories Maximum sentence for SA software pirate Judge blocks Microsoft from banking Utah software piracy winnings Microsoft treads softly on compliance
John Oates, 08 Feb 2005

Fujitsu UK faces national pay claim

Services giant Fujitsu is facing a national pay claim from union Amicus. The union is calling for a six per cent increase in the pay budget and for individual rises of at least 3.5 per cent. Amicus also wants a cut in working hours for staff working 40 hours a week, overnight allowances for staff working away from home and an improved sabbatical scheme. It wants the defined benefit or final salary pension reopened. The union ran an anonymous survey of Fujitsu salaries to support its claim. It was answered by 648 Fujitsu staff and revealed that women at the firm are typically paid £2,500 and £3,000 less than men doing the same jobs. The average salary at Fujitsu was £29,264, ranging between £15,000 and £40,000. The survey found that almost two thirds of Fujitsu employees contribute more than three weeks unpaid work for the firm every year. The union believes that the market for technology jobs is hotting up, justifying the pay claim. It points out that the unemployment rate for ICT workers is very low at 2.9 per cent and that the e-skills UK Quarterly Review found 34 per cent of organisations with IT vacancies were finding them hard to fill. Amicus intends the pay claim to apply from 1 April 2005 and to apply to all 15,000 employees, except those covered by other union arrangements. Amicus is also in talks with the Public and Commercial Services union which is likely to submit the same claim. Fujitsu declined to comment on this story. More details at the Amicus website. ® Related stories Fujitsu in the frame for massive Lloyds TSB deal Fujitsu Siemens loses German PC levy case Walsall signs Fujitsu in £650m deal
John Oates, 08 Feb 2005

T-Mobile to axe 800 UK jobs

T-Mobile is to axe 800 jobs in the UK - one in eight staff. The mobile operator will wield the axe slowly, over two years. But it has not ruled out compulsory redundancies, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) says. The job cuts will hit major sites at Hatfield, Sunbury, Merthyr Tydfyl, Doxford (in the North East), Greenock , Warrington and Solihull. Also, T-Mobile's retail staff across the UK will be severely affected. T-Mobile UK workers have been hit harder than in many other countries: in January the Deutsche Telekom-owned group announced 2,200 job cuts, or one in 10 employees. CWU union official Nick Childs said the UK cuts are an "enormous blow to our hard working members at T-Mobile. They are the ones who have stuck by the company through thick and thin. Now the company is repaying their loyalty and hard work by throwing one in eight of staff on the dole". The union is prepared to take industrial action unless it receives certain assurances from the cellco. No-one at T-Mobile was available for comment at the time of writing. ® Related stories T-Mobile axes 2,200 jobs T-Mobile unveils Sidekick-styled 3G device SBC to axe 13,000 jobs in AT&T merger
Tim Richardson, 08 Feb 2005

EDS back in the black

EDS made a profit for the last quarter of 2004 ended 31 December but saw sales fall slightly. After a loss of $337m in the fourth quarter of last year EDS made a profit of $53m on sales of $5.25bn, down five per cent on the year before. Organic revenue, excluding the impact of currency changes, was down eight per cent. New business was also slightly down. EDS signed contracts worth $3.8bn in the fourth quarter against $4.0bn in the last quarter of 2003. Significant wins included workplace management for Barclays, the British Columbia Ministry of Provincial Revenue and the UK Ministry of Defence. EDS expects to increase sales in Business Process Outsourcing thanks to its deal with Towers Perrin. CEO Mike Jordan said the firm ended the year in a stronger postion than it began but needs to focus on investing in further growth. More here. ® Related stories Final bids in for MoD's £4bn IT project CSA boss falls on sword over £456m IT system fiasco US Navy blows $375m hole in EDS accounts EDS delays results for third time
John Oates, 08 Feb 2005

Things to do online, when you are dead

LettersLetters Life is not fair. Companies happily take advantage of the global market to keep their costs down and their profits up, transferring manufacturing and technical support centres to countries with a surfeit of cheap labour, and so on. But as soon as we start to do the same, they come over all regional, slapping DRM protection on media, designing in hardware incompatibilities, all to make sure we buy where and what they want us to buy. Now, is this fair, we ask you? Will it do them any good in the long run? Do we like it? Astonishingly, the answer is a resounding NO! Well, colour us so surprised. DRM is supposed to keep me honest ? Well I never. To think that all those years before DRM, I was honest and I didn't need to be ! Now that DRM is here, on the other hand, I am starting to feel the urge of being dishonest - just because I'm being told to stay honest. Honestly, regionalization cropped up and what did I do ? I got the crack for my player and put it in. There, I'm a crook, aren't I ? I still buy my DVDs, but now I can buy more since I am bilingual French/English. Seems to me that I am more profitable to Hollywood if I buy more DVDs. I think there is something Mr. Felten has missed: forcing an honest user to stay honest is like having an innocent person followed by a cop all day long. Come Friday morning, said cop is likely to get a punch in the face from a very enraged Mr. Innocent. Regionalization was illegal and immoral when it was implemented - and the best truth of that is that its importance has all but disappeared - and Hollywood has kept its mouth shut. Hollywood is a lot more vocal on DRM, because of file sharing. I understand that it irritates them, but they're just going to have to learn the hard way that honest users do not need to be "kept honest". They are honest because they want to be, and coercion seriously erodes the will to stay honest if applied too brutally. Unfortunately, after breaking young children's piggy banks and mugging old grandma's stockings, the entertainment industry has already moved into accusing dead people of vile acts of piracy. Hopefully, this new market will keep them occupied for long enough for DRM to die an ignominous death without pestering us honest people much more. One can always dream. Pascal. Well, don't know about regionalisation, but Dell do have some tweaks to make you buy their ink. I have a Dell AIO 920 printer/scanner, which is a rebadged Lexmark 1150. Local PC store does Lexmark cartridges for the 1150 that fit the Dell - almost. The cartridge is identical apart from the top cover - it's a recessed 'U' shape on the 'Dell' cartridge, but has a raised diagonal plastic tab on the Lexmark - upshot is, you load it in, close the lid, and all your printing is badly misaligned (colour against black). No way of adjusting it to fit with the supplied software as it is so far out of alignment. Solution? Snap off the diagonal tab - works a treat! Cheers, Peter Some thoughts on other possible reasons for the US/European price differences: First, a disclaimer: I am not a follower of the Mac cult and I do not consider its holy prophet the Jobs to be the only one to show the righteous ones the way to redemption. 1. US has no legislation on mandatory provisions for end-of-life electronics goods. Some states have some wimpy minimal measures, but overall usually the producer is not obliged to take your out-of-fashion gadget away once you are done with it. In Europe they are now. While the consumer usually deals with the retailer, the manufacturer foots the bill. As a result most branded electronic goods currently on market have additional 10-30 pounds worth of a handling fee which will pay for scrapping it when you get rid of it. No-name ones will have that soon as well and Apple is not an exemption. In order to get the best margin it has an incentive to have the goods in a recyclable shape. It also has an incentive to make them different for US and EU. Dunno about Australia though I suspect that it is following EU not US on this one (at least it is with cars). Also, not to worry, Dell will quickly follow suit or it will be squeezed out of its margins. So we are bound to see US and EU only models very soon. 2. As far as the price difference for the iTunes is concerned I suspect that the culprit will end up being the music industry and Apple will have the same markup in both cases. After all the UK music business has different position to negotiate then the DE or FR music business. The continental EU has a provision for tax levy on blank media as well as a provision for fair use and copying within the household. In the UK neither of these exist. As a result the music biz has a "justification" to ask for a higher levy in the UK. So I would not be so quick to brand Apple as the at fault here. It is more likely to be Mr Branson and Co. Anton Commenting on the launch of Napster's To Go music service, we likened the UK's television license to an annual subscription. Oh...we shouldn't have done that. People get very upset about it: Tony says, "...Subscriptions certainly match the way many people are now used to paying for TV content, whether by satellite, cable or terrestrial - what, after all, is the UK TV licence fee, but an annual subscription?" The annual TV licence is not a subscription, it's a tax. If I have my TV receiving equipment electronically modified so it is incapable of receiving BBC programmes, I am still required to pay my TV licence. The BBC should be funded from general taxation - let's be done with the cost of administering it; scrap the staff, the computer systems, the forms, the detector vans, the legal teams and the vast cost of administering it. Let's rid ourselves of one major piece of British red tape. Let's at least call it what it is - it is not a subscription - it's a government tax on entertainment. Steve Or could you call it a small price to pay for having at least one channel not owned by, or trying to emulate one owned by, Rupert Murdoch? Last Friday we asked Is UML past its sell-by date?: While it's an interesting comment to say that UML has resulted in a fragmented modelling market, your view that UML is the baseline is actually one of the key successes of this standardisation. No modelling process would ever be able to fit all requirements from all its users, therefore as a common grounding it is ideal. When recruiting I look for pure UML understanding, knowing I only have to teach any of the extensions we may have added ourselves. The key being if some one can demonstrate good pure UML, then they can almost guarantee they will pick up the additions. No language is static ( well you could consider Latin, but that is a true dead language ), and should not be as it needs to change and expand to accommodate unthought of situations when it was first designed. I can pick up a good software engineering text book and know I can understand 99% of the diagrams. This is true for design documents on projects I might join. Ultimately, UML has been a much greater force for good in IT. Keith UCLA boffins discovered that people can be socially excluded by computers. Mean computers. But it is never that simple, is it? Drawing the conclusion that "computers can cause heartache simply by ignoring the user" from these experiments seems to be far fetched at least, absolutely wrong at most. If I understand the test setup correctly, the "suspects" didn't know that they were playing with a computer, but thought they'd be playing with two other human beings. Therefore, they did not feel ignored/left out by a computer but by other humans. The result may have been totally different had the suspects known that they were merely playing with a machine. Andy 'Scientists at California University in Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered computers can cause heartache simply by ignoring the user.' I'm no professor of psychology but it strikes me that they have discovered nothing of the sort. As the good professor says the subject thinks he's playing a computer mediated game of catch with two real people. Since it's what the subject believed to be true that has the psychological effect, the professor's discovered that people are hurt by being ignored by other people. I think we may have already known that. Phil Norwegian research published last week suggested that dyslexic drivers have slower reaction times than non-dyslexic drivers. If a dyslexic driver passes the driving test then they should be okay. Of course, some jurisdictions have tougher tests than others. And of course it isn't possible to induce or remove dyslexia in a driver temporarily and compare the effect. And of course it's limited to people who have nothing better to do than volunteer for laboratory experiments. And Sir Jackie Stewart OBE is dyslexic. Robert As if American swill-masquerading-as-beer were not enough of an affront to right-minded drinking folks, one brewer (name omitted to protect the guilty) decided to add caffeine to the mix. Seems the results are even better than expected: Regarding Bud Extra a.k.a. BE Some friends and I tried some of this last weekend. The general consensus is that it isn't good. In fact, one of the comments was "it tastes like ass". I'm not sure how he knew to make that comparison, but I'll agree that it is quite bad. I like Red Bull and I like it mixed with vodka, but mixing beer with it is just plain wrong. Eric And finally, an idea for the RIAA. Since the much-loved organisation has now taken to suing dead people, perhaps it can take a leaf out of UCLA's book, you suggested: "The University of California is considering using barcodes and RFID tags to keep track of the bodies donated to medical research" I read this after Andrew Orlowski's report "RIAA sues the dead", and it made me wonder whether the RIAA will now propose RFID tagging of *all* stiffs, to make it easier to track the sneaky buggers down to file suit against them. David Marvellous. With that lovely thought, we'll bid you farewell until Friday. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Feb 2005

Sullivan fingers Ebbers in WorldCom fraud whodunnit

Scott Sullivan fingered Bernie Ebbers in a New York courtroom yesterday linking the former boss of WorldCom to the $11bn (£5.8bn) fraud that brough the giant telco to its knees. The prosecution's star witness and former WorldCom CFO - who has already pleaded guilty for his part in the WorldCom fraud - testified that Ebbers was one of those who helped carry out the fraud. "I falsified financial statements of the company, made adjustments to revenue for the purpose of meeting analyst expectations," Sullivan told the court, the Washington Post reports. Asked who else took part he replied: "Bernie [Ebbers], David Myers, Buddy Yates, Betty Vinson, Troy Normand." This is the first time that Ebbers, who denies the charges, has been linked directly with the fraud. And far from the defence's assertions that Ebbers left accounting matters to Sullivan because he didn't have the necessary financial know-how, Sullivan described Ebbers' grasp of complex financial matters as being even better that some CFOs. "He's not an accountant, but he has a good grasp of accounting concepts," said Sullivan, who also portrayed Ebbers as micromanager obsessed with cost-cutting. In his eagerness to cut cost, Ebbers even began to monitor the amount of coffee being drunk and suspected that some employees were taking it home, reports USA Today. Sullivan, who is expected to testify again today, also revealed that he used cocaine and marijuana while working at WorldCom and was also convicted of drink-driving in 1984. ® Related stories WorldCom directors $54m lawsuit deal unravels Ebbers fortune at risk as share prices slid Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m Ebbers never made 'an accounting decision' - witness Ebbers feared fortune would be 'wiped out' Ebbers knew of financial fiddling Ebbers' financial know-how probed Gloves off in Ebbers WorldCom fraud trial Ebbers fraud trial kicks off Ebbers faces WorldCom court showdown Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m MCI breaks free from Chapter 11 WorldCom gets sums wrong by $74bn Bernie Ebbers faces criminal charges
Tim Richardson, 08 Feb 2005

phpBB forum offline after defacement

The popular phpBB forum has been taken offline after hackers cracked into its server and defaced its website yesterday. The open source project's website was attacked using a vulnerability in a package called AWStats announced 17 January. The same exploit has also been used to attack several popular weblogs in recent days, Netcraft reports. phpBB is a popular bulletin board package, with more than 150,000 registered members on its forum. The attack on the phpBB forum saw its website replaced by an image of that face of US President George Bush grafted onto the body of a baby monkey. It's unclear why defacer simiens picked the forum for attack. The phpBB forum runs off a single server, which is undergoing analysis. This has left phpBB's development team temporarily unable to use the project's primary server. phpBB intends to recover its database from the server and rebuild its website, but this will take time. It hopes to have its website back to something close to normal operation by later today (8 February) or at least the end of the week. In the meantime, users in need of support with phpBB 2.0.x can visit a development board, area51.phpbb.com. An IRC support channel, #phpbb on the irc.freenode.net network, is also available. A holding page on the phpBB forum's web site provides updates on the site's progress back to normal operations. phpBB has been a target for attack before. In December 2004 malware authors created a worm that attacked web servers running the popular phpBB discussion forum software to deface vulnerable systems. The Santy worm hit thousands of sites. ® Related stories Santy worm defaces thousands of sites Root kit surfaces after Jabber attack GNU servers owned by crackers for months
John Leyden, 08 Feb 2005

HTC 'Magician' PocketPC phone

ReviewReview It's not hard to see why Taiwanese manufacturer HTC calls its latest PocketPC-based phone 'Magician'. Its new handset does indeed work magic: it looks and feels like a traditional PDA yet it's no bigger than some of the smallest smart phones around.
Tony Smith, 08 Feb 2005

Marconi sales up, losses narrow

Marconi cut losses and upped sales for the three months ended 31 December, its third quarter. Sales were up to £330m, a five per cent improvement on a year ago. Group operating loss was £21m, down from £66m last year. Broadband routing and switches sales fell to £30m from £43m in the same quarter of last year because US defence spending was diverted to other projects. Major contract wins included a deal with Deutsche Telecom's fixed line business T-Com, a DSL deal with Bulldog Communications and a services contract with Energis. Marconi also won a £150m contract to upgrade Tubes Lines Ltd's communications network. Marconi expects its deal with Chinese firm Huawei to improve the broadband unit's performance. The UK accounted for £119m in sales, 36.1 per cent. Italy provided £37m, Germany £72m and other EMEA countries contributed £46m. Full unaudited results are available for download on Marconi's website here ® Related stories Marconi picks Chinese hardware partner Marconi chief falls on own axe Marconi back in the black
John Oates, 08 Feb 2005

UK unfurls ratings system for adult content on mobiles

The long-awaited classification framework for adult content on mobile phones was launched yesterday by the Independent Mobile Classification Body (IMCB), a subsidiary of ICSTIS. The classification has been designed to be "consistent, as far as is possible" with standards already used in film and game classification, the IMCB says. The onus is now on the content providers to classify all the commercial content they supply according to these guidelines. If they do not, they risk breaching the terms of the contract with their mobile operator client, who is then responsible for enforcing the rules. The new rules outline eight categories under which content might be classified as adult, beginning with general themes. Although no theme is specifically prohibited, IMCB says that to be classed as universally accessible, content must not actively promote or encourage activities like drinking alcohol or gambling. Others are language, sex, nudity, violence, drugs, horror and imitable techniques, such as headbutting or use of weapons, or "detailed descriptions of techniques that could be used in a criminal offence". In layman's terms, that means no descriptions of how to steal a car while high on drugs and listening to illegally downloaded music. The guidelines don't apply to general internet access, but the IMCB adds that there is no reason mobile operators can't put their own filters in place to restrict access to other inappropriate content. IMCB director Paul Whiteing said the guidelines are a positive step forward, but emphasised that parents must still play a role in deciding what kind of content they want their children to be able to access. The classification framework is available here. ® Related stories Porn pumps the wireless net Operators announce mobile classification board Nokia touts content filter for mobiles Vodafone's adult filter is go
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Feb 2005
graph up

Intel confirms 'desktrino' consumer platform plan

An Intel executive has confirmed that the chip maker plans to launch a Centrino-style platform for consumer desktop PCs and that it is due to be launched in Q3. Intel marketing director Jeff Tripaldi didn't provide much more information: the name has yet to be chosen, he said, and it will centre, as anticipated, on the company's dual-core desktop chip 'Smithfield', although Tripaldi didn't mention that codename. Smithfield is due to ship in Q3, according to statements the chip maker has made in the past and its own internal roadmap. The platform in which it will sit has been called 'East Fork', and is expected to comprise not only Smithfield but Intel's next-generation desktop chipsets, 'Lakeport' and 'Glenwood' - to ship as the 945G and 955X, respectively - and possibly a Wi-Fi adaptor as per Centrino. Smithfield is expected to ship as the Pentium 4 8xx series. The 90nm CPUs are believed to be built out of separate dies connected together in the package rather than true dual-core, single-die products. Intel has been talking for some time about a greater focus on platforms than separate chip products, the better to broaden its sales and to ensure vendors buy from Intel not only CPUs but ancillary chips too. To further that goal, the company last month restructured its operations around mobile, desktop and enterprise platforms, in addition to other more platform-centric operations. ® Related stories Intel dual-core Yonah to ship single core too Intel to bring 64-bit to P4, Celerons in Q2 Intel's 65nm desktop CPU to ship Q1 2006 Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule Intel 'Smithfield' dual-core to debut as 8xx series Intel 'Smithfield' to run 130W hot Intel restructures around platforms Intel Smithfield chipsets said to support SATA 2
Tony Smith, 08 Feb 2005

Intel preps Q2 dual-core P4 Extreme Edition launch

Intel's dual-core desktop processor plans will indeed stretch to the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition line, the chip maker has revealed. It also confirmed that 'Smithfield', the dual-core P4 for mainstream applications, will launch in Q2 this year, though volume shipments are not expected to take place until Q3. The announcement clears up a question mark over the company's roadmap, which while highlighting upcoming mainstream dual-core P4s, appeared to ignore the P4EE family. Intel also said would launch chipsets to support the new dual-core processors: the 'Lakeport' and 'Glenwood' products that have been on the roadmap for some time. Intel confirmed the chipsets' official names: 945 and 955, respectively. The 955 family will initially comprise the 955X, shipping alongside the discrete 945P and the integrated 945G. All three chipsets are also styled 'Express' to signify their use of PCI Express technology, following the trend set by the 915PM and 915GM mobile chipsets the company launched last month. ® Related stories Intel confirms 'desktrino' consumer platform plan Intel dual-core Yonah to ship single core too Intel to bring 64-bit to P4, Celerons in Q2 Intel's 65nm desktop CPU to ship Q1 2006 Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule Intel 'Smithfield' dual-core to debut as 8xx series Intel 'Smithfield' to run 130W hot Intel Smithfield chipsets said to support SATA 2
Tony Smith, 08 Feb 2005

Teachers cleared in school porn probe

Forensic computing techniques proved decisive in proving staff at a Buckinghamshire primary school had not been surfing for porn at work. The head of the school called in Disklabs, a computer forensics and data firm, last year, when he discovered web folders with pornographic content on a PC used by pupils. The history of these folders suggested a creation date during lesson time and a modified date on a teacher-training day. Opinion was divided among County ICT staff and the head teachers' union as to whether the images and bookmarks had been made intentionally or if this was due to a malicious program. Faced with the potential risk to pupils, the need to treat staff fairly and responsibilities to the school and its governors, Staffordshire-based Disklabs was asked to conduct an independent forensic analysis of the suspect PC. The analysis showed definitively that the presence of suspect content was caused by a program from the well-known spy and adware family, Istbar Adware. The program downloaded content to infected PCs without users' knowledge or agreement. Disklabs' analysis report cleared the school, staff and pupils of any doubt, and gave vital independent corroboration of the school's position without exposing it to the negative publicity a police inquiry might generate. CSI for PCs Like a conventional crime scene, PCs contain evidence and an audit trail of user activity. After isolating the system to preserve evidence, Disklabs used specialised forensic tools to search hidden folders and unallocated disk space, verifying exactly how the files arrived and whether this was down to human intent or a malicious program. Findings are delivered in a complete procedural report. Disklabs has seen demand for its forensics services grow by over 70 per cent in the last year, driven by the boom in spyware. Many organisations, especially in the public sector, are turning to computer forensics to establish if misuse or an infection is to blame for inappropriate material found on computers. Some types of Spyware and particular viruses are capable of changing users' internet favourites and bookmarks, downloading images to hard disks and stealing information on user activities from infected PCs. Recent research by technology US ISP Earthlink and anti-spyware firm Webroot revealed that Windows PCS harbour 25 separate, malicious programs on average. The audit surveyed over 4.6 million PCs last year, finding more than 116.5m instances of spyware, Trojans and other malicious programs. Incidents of Trojans – the worst category of infection – in PCs submitted to Webroot’s SpyAudit rose from 130,322 in Q1 2004 to 769,330 in Q4 2004. Disklabs director Simon Steggles said: "With so many malicious programs on the web, organisations are realising that PCs with inappropriate images or content may not have been misused by individuals, but unwittingly infected. Forensics can establish beyond doubt whether this is the case, and also presents evidence which can be used to support the chosen course of action." ® Related stories Child porn case highlights browser hijack risks The Giant Wooden Horse Did It! Cybersleuths track Dame Porter s millions Forensic computing uncloaks industrial espionage Traces of Guilt: computer crime from the front line
John Leyden, 08 Feb 2005

VoIP security group goes on the defensive

More than 20 networking and security organisations have formed the voice-over-IP telephony (VoIP) Security Alliance. The group will monitor security risks to VoIP services, work to reduce existing threats, and identify new dangers. Members include 3Com, the SANS Institute, Symantec and Siemens. The group warns that attacks on VoIP systems are inevitable, as the technology becomes more widespread. VoIP is still quite new, and the numbers of people using it are small enough that there is no commercial reason to attack the systems. However, as voice and data networks converge, the security risks of one will apply to the other. Organisations must be ready for spam or phishing attacks on their telephone systems, for instance. VoIPSA's efforts to combat this perceived risk will include running email discussion forums, publishing white papers and funding research into VoIP security, as well as developing tools and methodologies for public use. Ari Takanen, CEO and co-founder of Codenomicon, argues that an active community in VoIP security now, could prevent a descent into the "patch-and-penetrate race" that has afflicted email. Brian Kelly, director of the Giuliani Advanced Security Center at Ernst & Young said: "Despite the advantages of VoIP, if the technology is not implemented properly and securely, we will likely circumvent existing security controls and expose our networks," said Find out more about VoIPSA here. ® Related stories Cisco patches VoIP vuln Pipex gift-wraps VoIP for business Nokia demos mobile IPv6 call
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Feb 2005

Microsoft bolsters email security with Sybari acquisition

Microsoft is strengthening its security expertise with the purchase of Sybari Software for an undisclosed amount. Sybari sells software which protects messaging servers from malware and spam attacks. It claims more than 10,000 business customers, representing more than 10m end users. Financial terms were not revealed. Mike Nash, VP of Microsoft's security business technology unit, said: "Through this acquisition, we're... able to provide customers with a server-level anti-virus solution that delivers advanced file and content-filtering capabilities and the use of multiple scan engines." Microsoft has been using the software for the past eight months - they liked it so much they bought the company. Microsoft CIO Ron Markezich said the software helped Microsoft deal with worm viruses, spoof viruses and viruses hidden in Zip attachments. Sybari's ability to cut costs by working with consolidated Exchange servers was also important. Markezich said the software had helped cut costs and Microsoft: "We haven't had a single email-related infection since adopting Sybari." Press release is here. ® Related stories MS mulls charging for anti-spyware app Microsoft buys anti-spyware firm Giant Mystery of MS's missing AV software Europe drags heels in war on spam
John Oates, 08 Feb 2005

World Cup 2006 'abused for mega-surveillance project'

Germany's football authorities have been accused of Big Brother tactics over their decision to incorporate RFID chips into tickets for World Cup 2006. Around 3.7 million tickets are to be sold in four online sale rounds, the last on 15 April, 2006. In the first sales round,Around 160,000 fans applied for one million tickets covering all 64 matches. To apply for a ticket you have to give your name, address, nationality, which team you want to support and your bank details. You must also supply your ID or passport number and your birth date. Assuming you are successful, you receive a fully personalized ticket containing an RFID chip; this enables authorities to check the ticket against your passport. Very little information resides on the chip: the identity check is conducted against a database at the German Football Association (DFB). "The World Cup will be abused to stage a mega-surveillance project, that allows total control over football fans," warned Thilo Weichert, data protection officer of the Independent Center of Data Protection in Schleswig-Holstein (www.datenschutzzentrum.de). While RFID technology makes good sense for logistics purposes, to use it on people breaks the principles of German data protection; also, the amount of information stored by the DFB is against the law, Weichart argues. He is supported in his analysis by several civil rights and consumer organisations such as Foebud. For example, it is only necessary when selling tickets to know if a person was over or under eighteen. The exact birthday on the other hand is very much appreciated by marketing companies; and opt-in procedures on the online sale questionaires were not clear-cut enough. Data protection rules of the system provider CTS Eventim, are also questionable, Weichart claims. "This is a World cup," says Jens Grittner, spokesman for the Organisation Committee. "We have to address very delicate security concerns," he said. The personalizing of the tickets would help to avoid black market sales and fraud in entering the football stadions. Controls in which RFID number and the set of personal data in the DFB database where matched would only be made at random or in suspicious cases. The ticketing scheme had been presented to the Data Protection Authorities in Darmstadt, the German Ministry of the Interior and even to the European Commission, he said. "Every comment we got has been considered and we are somewhat amazed by the imagination of the critics." According to Grittner, it is "very German" that the World Cup had now gained such attention - for the wrong reasons. Football fans may not care about being tracked - but they are complaining about practical issues. It is impossible to order tickets first and then decide later who you will take to a match, because of personalization. According to BAFF, a Germany-wide fan club, applicants can't buy tickets for different people for different matches. So if you take your husband to one match you have to take him to every match.Clear rules on what happens if he is ill on the day of the match are still lacking. BAFF is calling for an easy-to-use official platform for ticket changes. Said one BAFF spokesperson: "With all the technique in use this shouldn't be a big problem." ® Related stories U2 says soz for online snafu Touts flood eBay with black market tickets Fans rage as U2 ticket sales site falls over Internet fraud is easy, says judge... Anti-RFID outfit deflates Mexican VeriChip hype US lubes passports with RFID snake oil Glastonbury blames BT for ticket sale fiasco German revolt against RFID RFID Chips Are Here
Monika Ermert, 08 Feb 2005

BT gutted at Ofcom's 'prolonged misbehaviour' allegations

BT reckons it's been miscast as the villain of the UK's telcoms sector even though it reckons it has a good track record of regulatory compliance. In a strong defence of its actions, BT criticises Ofcom for failing to project a balanced view of the former monopoly's role in the sector. Writing in its response to the telecoms review BT said: "We are very concerned and disappointed by the allegations of prolonged misbehaviour or unsatisfactory activity of one sort or another being made against BT throughout the Phase 2 [telecoms review] document. We believe that the real picture is far from the one that Ofcom has painted." So, why is BT getting so hot under the collar about Ofcom's remarks made in the review published last November? A quick flick through the Strategic Review of Telecommunications - Phase 2 consolation document throws up one or two examples. Take this from page 14. "We recognise that BT currently applies significant resources to regulatory compliance...yet continued complaints from BT's wholesale customers raise concerns that some types of behaviour by BT - such as inappropriate information sharing, inferior processes, and lack of priority for wholesale customers' product development - are both unfair and commonplace. "The way that BT conducts its internal business creates both the incentive and the means for unfair treatment of this nature. Even where individual allegations are not proven, it is clear from the views of BT's wholesale customers that the current systems do not deliver the transparency and confidence that BT's customers require." According to BT, this is utter tosh. It says Ofcom has failed to heed its own guidelines that all complaints must be backed by evidence. "Under the current regulatory regime, there have been two enforcement notices that have a potential wholesale dimension," maintains BT, and "both concerned in effect the same issue - use of customer data." Indeed BT turns the tables and accuses some operators of lodging "speculative disputes" to try and steal a lead in the sector. "We saw a clear trend of operators negotiating with us and reaching what might be a reasonable position, and then referring the matter to Oftel as a dispute. We believe that other operators were aware of this and sought to exploit this state of affairs to maximise their financial position." Instead, "BT has, however, shown its willingness over the years to work constructively with industry and in the main this has worked extremely well. Indeed, overall, BT does have an excellent track record of compliance with its regulatory obligations." Continual game of bait This may come as a surprise to those in the industry that have battled - and continue to battle - against the stranglehold BT has on the UK's telecoms sector. Curiously, many of those who've spoken to The Register about such issues have done so "off the record". They fear - genuine or otherwise - that going public would jeopardise their commercial relationship with BT on whom many of them rely. Describing BT's approach to regulation one industry insider told us: "BT plays a continual game of bait and switch with its competitors and is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is fair. It behaves like a driver who only slows down when there's a speed camera in sight." Another spoke of BT's approach to regulation as "walking backwards slowly" and that when BT and "the industry" meet face to face, the room is often split between "us and them". "I'd say Ofcom's statement of objections against BT seems to be pretty clear evidence that BT continues to abuse its dominant position. The longer BT sticks its head in the sand and ignores it, the higher the fine and damages claims it will receive," remarked another source. Speaking in 2001, David Edmonds, the then head of Oftel, said that local loop unbundling (LLU) has "not been a success" and that the practicalities surrounding opening up BT's network to competition has been a "painful and often miserable process". Edmonds explained that LLU had been one of the "most complex regulatory interventions that Oftel's ever had to do" made worse by BT's reluctance to open up the last mile to competition. "There is no doubt that the actual practicality of that has been a painful and often miserable process. There is no doubt that in carrying through the strict requirements on them, BT didn't behave in a way that I believed showed that they really wanted to unbundle the local loop to let their competitors into the network. At every stage we've had arguments and we've had disputes." The perception for many in the industry is that BT is an "arrogant organisation" that exploits every inch of its status as the UK's incumbent fixed-line telco to retain its dominant position. It's up to Ofcom to decide whether BT's recent proposals to change the way it does business and open up its networks to competition is enough to appease the regulator. ® Related stories Energis calls for BT break-up BT promises to play fair, in Ofcom appeasement BT DSL price cut undermines LLU competition BT clobbered in Ofcom probe Rivals warn of BT 'delaying tactics'
Tim Richardson, 08 Feb 2005

BT hit by property rule change

Telco behemoth BT might see its bottom line hit by changes to accounting rules relating to leasing or renting property. The change is important because in 2001 BT sold £2.4bn of property to Land Securities Trillium to help it cut its massive debt mountain. BT leases back the 6,700 properties which include call centres, local exchanges, vehicle depots and warehouses. But property must now be accounted for under standard IAS 17 which changes the way leases are defined. Many leases are likely to change from "operating leases" to "finance leases". Finance leases mean that payments to the landlord are considered interest rather than rent and so must be considered an asset and a liability. The change is likely to make it more expensive for BT to borrow money. Land Securities is writing off a massive £659m exceptional charge for the changes. In late January it emerged that the European Commission is to investigate BT and Kingston over allegations that they enjoyed illegal state aid from paying reduced business rates. The government used different methods to judge the rateable value of properties owned by Kingston and BT. The investigation followed complaints from Vtesse Networks. ® Related stories BT bashed in prisoners' call discount row BT clobbered in Ofcom probe BT, Kingston face EC illegal state aid probe
John Oates, 08 Feb 2005

IBM supercharges two-way Unix kit

IBM this month will sweeten the low-end of its Unix server line with a new two-processor box and a new cluster system. The p5 510 goes up against the basic Unix boxes from the likes of Sun Microsystems and HP. It's a 2U, two-processor system that can handle anything from web serving to serious database loads. The box, which starts shipping on Feb. 18, will be available with IBM's latest Power5 chip. At this time, IBM is touting both an Express and standard model of the p5 510. The Express system ships with a single 1.5GHz Power5 chip right now but will be available with two Power5s, in April. The Express gear tends to come in cheaper and is billed as a better option for running Linux. IBM supports both SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 for Power and Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS for Power. The standard p5 510 ships with 1.65GHz Power5 chips - each with 36MB of Level 3 cache. It can support up to 32GB of memory and has dual 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports, dual Ultra320 SCSI controllers, one external SCSI port, hot-swap fans, two USB ports and two HMC ports. IBM is also talking up its p5 575 box that is designed to be part of a server cluster. The system takes up just 2U of rack space but can hold 8 single-core Power5 chips each running at 1.9GHz. IBM is currently offering to help customer links together 16 of these servers to create a 128-processor cluster. By the end of April, it plans to up this configuration in a big way, making it possible to link 128 of the systems to create a stunning 1,024-processor cluster. Each of the Power5 chips has 36MB of Level 3 cache and is surrounded by 8 memory DIMMs. IBM supports both AIX and Linux on the system. ® Related stories Egenera freshens blades with a touch of Opteron Sun opens processor auction house Sun product discovered away from product launch Sun server crushes IBM MP3 player HP sharpens blades with Cisco networking tech
Ashlee Vance, 08 Feb 2005

GPs have no faith in £6bn NHS IT programme

A new poll of doctors has found falling levels of support among GPs and consultants for the NHS's £6.2bn National Programme for IT. Last year, a similar poll found that 56 per cent of GPs, and 75 per cent of consultants in England supported the NPfIT. In January, this dropped to 21 per cent and 51 per cent respectively. Both surveys were carried out by Medix. The Guardian, which sponsored the poll along with Computer Weekly, said the poll revealed a collapse in confidence among doctors that threatens the viability of the project. The NPfIT refutes the suggestion, saying that the sample was very small, and the survey highlights negative responses. A statement from the NPfIT reads: "We know there has been some discontinuity in our clinical engagement. But we have recently adopted a new approach, appointing a number of senior clinicians to lead this engagement work. The Medix survey was conducted in the period after the appointment of these new clinical leads but well before their work has had the chance to penetrate at grass roots level." The National Audit Office also voiced significant concerns about the programme's flagship electronic referrals project last month. It said lack of engagement with GPs, and low levels of support from medical personnel needed to be address very vigorously. The latest Medix poll reveals continuing concern over the security of confidential patient information in the new system. Just two per cent of GPs think electronic records will be more secure than the current system. Many doctors expressed a lack of confidence in the government's ability to make big IT projects work; many more were concerned about patient confidentiality, and increased workload. Others simply said they had not had enough information. Paul Cundy, chairman of the GPs' committee on IT at the British Medical Association, told The Guardian: "It's increasingly difficult to remain optimistic about NPfIT, given the collapse of enthusiasm for it in the profession. It's fallen over a cliff edge." ® The Guardian story is here and the survey results are here (word document). Related stories Flagship NHS project in danger NPfIT must win medical hearts and minds BMA tells doctors: avoid NPfIT's flagship project
Lucy Sherriff, 08 Feb 2005

'Human billboard' craze gets another taker

Online casino GoldenPalace.com has snapped up yet another "human billboard" too carry its logo. This time, though, Londoner Nick Long is to have the GoldenPalace.com logo tattooed permanently on his back following an auction on eBay. "I was inspired by 'The Human Pincushion' Brent Moffatt, who auctioned off his forehead on eBay recently for a permanent tattoo," said Long. "I thought 'well if he can do it, then so can I' - although I wouldn't have done it on my forehead!" Last week GoldenPalace.com coughed up £422 to slap a temporary tattoo on the 42GG breasts of 27-year-old Angel Brammer. Long's fee for a permanent tattoo is £3,100. A spate of copycat "human billboard" stuff has kicked off on eBay recently with pregnant women, among others, offering companies the chance to stick their logos on their bumps. Whatever next? ® Related stories Casino brands eBay cleavage woman eBay backtracks as it cuts some fees eBayers go mental for Burberry-clad Chavmobile Need an African slave? Try eBay
Tim Richardson, 08 Feb 2005

Boffins to decide future of .net domains

ICANN has named the people that will decide who gets to run all .net Internet domains from July. Two weeks after the deadline ended for applications to run all 5.1 million .net addresses, revealing five contendors, telco Telcordia has been revealed as the evaluator. A team of ten from Telcordia, headed by Internet veteran Dr David Sincoskie will now review, analyse and visit the premises of each bidder: Afilias, Core++, Denic, Santan and VeriSign. ICANN has gone to great lengths to make sure that the already heated process is as independent as possible. It stressed the team's credentials, calling it an "international panel of DNS experts [which] possesses 270 years of collective industry experience, with particular emphasis in networks, information databases, security and operations". ICANN has been careful not to name each team member individually - something that would undoubtably have led to intense lobbying and possibly even character assassination. But it has revealed that the evaluation team "includes two IEEE Fellows; a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a multi-cultural/multi-national composition, with nationals ofCroatia, Greece, Pakistan, Taiwan, the UK and the US. In addition, 60 per cent of the team possesses PhDs, spanning CS, EE and Economics." On top of this, it has produced a full disclosure by Telecordia, outlining all possible links, which ICANN's chief lawyer concluded were "highly unlikely to influence any aspect of the evaluation". What ties there are would benefit incumbent operator VeriSign. The disclosure points out that Telcordia was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). It fact its acquisition by Warburg and Providence has only just been approved by the EU and SAIC stills owns it at the moment. Also, the CEO of Telcordia, Matthew Desch, is on SAIC's board. As is William Roper, who appears to be a member of the evaluation team. Roper is also a director of VeriSign. Dr Sincoskie also worked for VeriSign former incarnation, Network Solutions, in 1998-1999. SAIC also owned Network Solutions / VeriSign for a fair time. This is stated in the disclosure: "Prior to 2000, SAIC had an ownership interest in Network Solutions (NSI). In June 2000, NSI merged and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of VeriSign. During 2003, SAIC sold all of its shares of VeriSign and no longer holds equity collars or an investment in VeriSign as a result of these transactions." This statement somewhat simplifies a highly controversial element of net history that often gets the conspiracy theorists going - SAIC's purchase of NSI for a ridiculously cheap sum. SAIC - itself a peculiar organisation with close links to the Pentagon - bought NSI for around $5m in stock in March 1995. Six months later, NSI was given the right by the US government to start charging for domain names - something that began at $100 for two years. Before then all domains were free to the owner and NSI was paid a flat multi-million-dollar by the US government. SAIC picked up the purchase of a lifetime when it acquired a company with a contract over all .com, .net and .org domains for the next five years for less that it was paid in one year. Five years later, NSI was sold for $19.2bn - a value increase of 3,840 per cent. Not that this intriguing bit of Net history will influence the evaluators' decision but it seems very unlikely that VeriSign will complain about the choice made by ICANN. We still believe it's a two-horse race between Denic and VeriSign. ® Related stories The race is on for ownership of .net ICANN goes domain crazy ICANN goes domain crazy Meet Frank Fowlie, ICANN Ombudsman
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Feb 2005

Florida man sues bank over $90K wire fraud

A Miami businessman is suing his bank after $90,000 was lifted from his firm's online banking account following a computer virus attack. Joe Lopez, 42, filed suit against the Bank of America in Miami Circuit Court last week alleging that the bank was negligent in failing to protect his account from compromise through known risks, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The case is thought to be the first time a customer has sued a bank over cybercrime losses in the US. It will test the balance of responsibilities between banks and their users over ensuring the security of online banking transactions. Lopez runs a small printer ink and toner business in Miami. He regularly uses wire transfers both to send and receive money from business contacts in the US and Latin America. But on 6 April he discovered an unauthorised wire transfer of $90,348 to the Parex Bank in Riga, Latvia. Around $20,000 was withdrawn before the account involved was frozen. The remaining $70,000 remains at Parex Bank. Lopez reported the unauthorised transfer to the police. The US Secret Service became involved in the investigation, which featured a forensic examination of PCs used by Lopez and his businesss, Ahlo Inc, that uncovered infection by a Trojan called Coreflood. Coreflood is primarily designed to conduct Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, but the theory is that the backdoor access it enabled criminals to extract banking passwords and account details entered into Lopez's PC. This remains unproven. Lopez's legal case is that Bank of America knew of the risk posed by the Coreflood Trojan but failed to inform customers. There's also the question of whether Bank of America was diligent in so easily allowing the transfer of a large sum to a known centre of cybercrime. Lopez alleges breach of contract, negligence and intentional misrepresentation by Bank of America in a suit aiming to recover his money, plus interest and legal fees. Bank of America has ruled out any breach of its e-banking systems. It denies any responsibility over its customer's losses. Lopez has taken a second mortgage of his home to keep his business afloat. His attempt to recover his funds from Riga is caught in a tangle of legal and bureaucratic red tape. Lopez's lawyer, Ralph Patino, hopes the suit will attain class action status, allowing more fraud victims to sue their banks over cybercrime losses. Lopez has stopped using wire transfers. ® Related stories Trojan targets UK online bank accounts UK banks launch anti-phishing website SA police arrest man in Absa Net bank fraud case Fraudsters recruit phishing middlemen Phishing losses overestimated - survey
John Leyden, 08 Feb 2005
SGI logo hardware close-up

Sun could quell database hunger with Unify buy

Sun Microsystems last week tossed the word "database" in front of numerous financial analysts and triggered a flood of speculation. During Sun's analyst conference, the company hinted that it might be looking to acquire and then possibly open source a database. This move would round out its enterprise software portfolio, helping it compete against the likes of IBM and Microsoft. But what database would Sun buy? And how would this software stack up against similar code from Oracle or open source products such as MySQL and Postgres? Several pundits pointed out that Sun could possibly partner with CA around its Ingres database or develop more finely tuned versions of MySQL or PostgreSQL for Solaris. Another pundit, however, proposed what seems an even better idea in December of last year. The pundit was Paul Murphy, and the database he fingered comes from Unify. Unify has a market cap of just over $15m, making it an easy target for Sun. As Murphy pointed out, its DataServer isn't quite as flashy as Oracle or even Postgres, but it is better than MySQL from an enterprise point of view. It scales and performs well on SMPs. Unify might not seem like the sexiest acquisition target. It doesn't tend to come up terribly often in database discussions despite being around for decades. Its code, however, still holds up remarkably well, according to Murphy. And Unify boasts an impressive customer list. Should Sun go out and acquire a database or partner around one, the move would mark a serious change in course for the company. Two years ago, we asked Sun's CEO Scott McNealy about the database hole. "You know, we haven't decided that is a war we want to go fight," McNealy said at the time. "Why not let them all beat each others' brains in?" Sun has long been one of Oracle's key partners in crime, which makes any database moves uncomfortable. Oracle, however, has not been shy about touting ever-tightening relationships with Dell and other Linux server vendors and has knocked high-end Unix systems. Why can't Sun put some heat on its partner as well and nibble at the low-end of the database market? Sun doesn't need a product to rival Oracle or IBM on massive boxes. It needs a low-cost, low-end option to bundle with its JES (Java Enterprise System) software package on basic x86 servers. Unify could provide just that. ® Related stories Java Application Development on Linux McNealy slaps Oracle over pricing Oracle's data center of the future doesn't include HP or Sun Dude, you're getting a Dell - Oracle bundle
Ashlee Vance, 08 Feb 2005

Charges dropped against 'DDoS Mafia'

US prosecutors have dropped criminal complaints against four of five men accused of offering a denial of service attack for hire. Paul Ashley, the network administrator of CIT/FooNet, a web and IRC hosting company, and three alleged accomplices, Jonathan David Hall, Joshua James Schichtel, and Richard Roby were accused of organising attacks against the websites of rivals of Massachusetts businessman Jay Echouafni. Last month, charges against the group were dismissed at the request of prosecutors the O'Reilly Network reports. But an investigation remains open and charges could still be brought. "This just allows us to talk to defence attorneys and negotiate things before having to bring an indictment against a particular individual," prosecution lawyer Arif Alikhan told the O'Reilly Network. Charges against a fifth suspect in the case, Lee Graham Walker, a British man based in the UK, remain outstanding. Echouafni, former head of Orbit Communication, an online satellite TV retailer, was indicted separately last summer by a grand jury on five charges of aiding and abetting computer intrusion and conspiracy. He fled bail to become a fugitive from justice. His alleged role as a DDoS kingpin has earned him a spot of the FBI's most wanted list. ® Related stories 150+ cuffed in US-led cybercrime crackdown Feds bust DDoS 'Mafia' Alleged DDoS kingpin joins most wanted list Botnets, phishing and spyware
John Leyden, 08 Feb 2005

Scientist looks to clone Little Bo Human

First he brought you Dolly the sheep, now he wants to clone human beings - or at least their gooey embryos. Professor Ian Wilmut has been awarded a license to create stem cells from cloned embryos. The license, granted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), will allow Wilmut and researchers at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh to study Motor Neuron Disease (MND). Thousands of people in the UK suffer from MND - many of whom die 14 months after diagnosis. "We recognise that Motor Neuron Disease is a serious congenital condition," said Angela McNab, chief executive of HFEA. "Following careful review of the medical, scientific, legal and ethical aspects of this application, we felt it was appropriate to grant the Roslin Institute a one-year licence for this research into the disease.” Wilmut garnered much attention a few years ago when he created Dolly the cloned sheep. The celebrity walking sweater died at the tender age of six, when she was put down to stop the effects of a worsening lung disease. Wilmut now plans to take the skin cells of patients suffering from MND and combine them with eggs donated by women. Genetic material will be pulled from the egg and replaced with material from the skin cells. The egg will then be allowed to grow into a 5-6 day old embryo. That embryo will be harvested for its stem cells. "Using these embryonic stem cells researchers can study the development of Motor Neuron Disease in patients who do not have the genes that are currently known to cause the disease," HFEA said. "Whilst these embryonic stem cells would not be used to correct the disease, the study of these cells could help develop future treatments." This experiment with human cloning will no doubt cause quite the squabble between those who abhor the idea of fooling around with embryos and others who see such research as a natural step for science. More information on Wilmut's proposal can be found here. ® Related stories US stem cell research in jeopardy Cloned kitten sold for $50,000 Annan lines up against US-inspired human cloning ban UN to debate embryo cloning
Ashlee Vance, 08 Feb 2005