10th > April > 2005 Archive

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Cyber Alert: crime hits the net

Book reviewBook review Cyber Alert sets out to explain how 'traditional' organised crime is waking up to the huge criminal potential of cyber space and how software manufactures and police are responding, after years of paying the issue insufficient attention. Authors Peter Warren and Michael Streeter use the 260 page book to put a different aspects of cyber crime - ranging from the genesis of offences such as phone phreaking to the rise of botnets - under the microscope. The book's nine chapters feature examples from criminal cases and other real-world examples alongside interviews with industry experts, police investigators and cyber criminals themselves. The authors obviously carried out scores of interviews in compiling Cyber Alert and the book is stronger for it. The book is written to be understood by the layman, though information security professionals will find much within its cover of interest. The prose style is lucid and the authors spin a good yarn that makes the book an easy read. However there are some shortcomings which prevent us endorsing it wholeheartedly. The authors supply a clear overview on online paedophilia, detailing the latest techniques perverts are using to evade detection and how police are seeking to stay ahead of the game. They also have fresh insights on how well-known cases (such as Operation Cathedral) were cracked. But the chapter on computer viruses is much less impressive. It simply documents a series of high profile outbreaks (the Morris Worm, Love Bug, NetSky etc) without any context or overview. There's been no attempt to interview virus writers - or anyone else apart from anti-virus vendors - and the chapter is the poorer for it. Mystery science theatre In the intro the authors say an intruder attacked 10 Downing Street in 1999 from a mobile phone located somewhere in Russia. This is exciting stuff, But they have little else to say on the possible motive or mechanism of this "mysterious and sophisticated" hacking attack. The use of such unsourced, eye-catching anecdotes is rare. The book does a good job of explaining the transition of old-style hacking - where people simply wanted to explore systems - to criminality, and the risks that this has created for consumers and business. This forms one of the book's two central themes; the second is an account of the mobilisation of police and the IT industry in response to the migration of old-style crimes such extortion onto the net, via DDoS attacks against online bookies and the like. Hacking is the 'OS of cybercrime' CyberAlert also floats some interesting theories - such as the possibility that officers from the now defunct Russian Federal Government Communications Agency, SAPSI, moonlighted for organised crime groups and corrupt businesses to tap phones on their behalf. In Bulgaria, many hackers and virus writers in Bulgaria were trained by Durzhavna Sigurnost, the secret police; they have moved on to working for Russian gangs such as Solntsevo, according to Vladimir Golubev, a Ukrainian academic. This 'cyber-criminal' is a highlights of the book, along withan extensive interview with a computer hacker called Fungus. The book concludes with some gloomy predictions for the future, particularly about the likelihood of increased fraud on the net. It makesrecommendations for an internet security "cyber manifesto". Overall, CyberAlert is a worthwhile addition to the security canon. Recommended (with caveat over virus section). ® Cyber Alert, by Peter Warren and Michael Streeter Vision Paperbacks Paperback - 262 pages March 2005 - £10.99 Related stories Mitnick sequel fails to hack it Traces of Guilt: computer crime from the front line eCrime cost UK.biz £2.4bn in 2004 Cyber cops foil £220m Sumitomo bank raid Web paedophile jailed for four years
John Leyden, 10 Apr 2005
globalisation

Charles Forsyth - the PC Association verdict

Charles Forsyth, ex-boss of failed PC builder Personal Computer Science (and of some nearly 20 other defunct companies). has admitted fraud and was jailed last week for three years. The Serious Fraud Office's website contains a comprehensive statement here. The Personal Computer Association's Keith Warburton writes: Charles Forsyth is a brilliant marketer and it's sad that his abilities were so misdirected; people who know him believe that such "misdirection" has been a serial issue through many of his companies. He has now been brought to justice, but we know of at least one witness who will be disappointed that they didn't have the opportunity of facing him in the dock, such was the strength of feeling that his activities have engendered. A common view of Forsyth is that he genuinely believed himself to be an honest man ... it was others (employees, customers, suppliers) who were wrong, or incompetent, and he didn't allow falling margins to inhibit his enjoyment of the high life. I sincerely hope that in the several years that he was on the run and in custody and in his time to come in jail, that Charles Forsyth will be able to properly understand and accept that just as he can rightly claim to be the key figure behind some outstandingly successful business, so also was he the one and only author of their downfall. Over several years the PCA has highlighted Charles Forsyth's destructive progress through this industry, making sure that it was able to be a point of reference in the all too short commercial memory of the industry. It would be good if we can now draw a line through the negative elements of his career. ® Related link PC Association Related stories Former PC tycoon jailed for fraud Former PC tycoon faces jail over fraud Personal Computer Science boss loses Oz extradition battle Personal Computer Science boss arrested in Oz Receivers go into PC Science
Team Register, 10 Apr 2005
graph up

Axon buys US SAP consultancy for £12.5m

Axon, the UK-based SAP consultancy, is beefing up its US business through the acquisition of Feanix Corporation for £12.5m in cash and shares. Feanix was formed last year through an MBO of Xansa’s US SAP practice and generated $12.2m revenues in it first year of trading. It has "more than 85" consultants working with the likes of Sikorsky Aircraft, Pratt & Whitney and the Goodrich Corporation. Axon claims a run rate of $20m revenues from the enlarged US business. Press release here. ® Related stories Morse swoops on Diagonal SAP plays down Microsoft threat Linux set for ERP ascendency Market float for reseller consolidator Software AG sells SAP SI stake to SAP
Team Register, 10 Apr 2005
channel

Fujitsu Siemens puts resellers through accreditation mill

Fujitsu Siemens Computers has revamped reseller accreditations - and very elitist it is too. The computer hardware vendor is adding a third lower-level of accreditation through its new Elite programme, which scoops up dealers willing to commit to a minimum of £50,000 a year. Previously, resellers had to shell out at least £150,000 a year with FSC to qualify for partner status, so the new tier doesnt sound very elitist at all. All FSC-approved resellers will have to re-apply for accreditation through Elit, so that they are placed in their proper tier, FSC says. The company is tweaking rebates, citing reseller feedback that they would prefer that “any financial rebate or financial marketing support should be based on merit basis rather than simply accruing MDF”. That doesn’t sound very plausible at all. But FSC presses on: "Therefore Fujitsu Siemens Computers has removed MDF and replaced it with more measurable Tactical Growth Funds (TGF) available to all. Fujitsu Siemens Computers has also introduced performance related rebates and Quarterly Focus Funds (QFF)." Contact the company for a translation into pounds and pennies. Oh, and there’s marketing collateral too. More at www.fujitsu-siemens.co.uk/partnerprogramme. ® Related stories Fujitsu Siemens loses German PC levy case Dell quits 'white box' PC biz Fujitsu Siemens hails H1 growth
Team Register, 10 Apr 2005
graph up

Ingram Micro splits CEO and chairman roles

Kent Foster, Ingram Micro’s chairman and CEO, is retiring as CEO of the distie giant. But he is staying on to supervise the show as non-exec chairman. Separation of chairman and CEO roles is standard corporate governance practice in Europe, but not yet in America, where many bosses have three hats – chairman CEO and president. Ingram has recruited in-house for its new CEO, with president Gregory Spierkel (48), who runs European ops, stepping up to the plate. Kevin Murai (41), a fellow president, now gets to be called chief operating officer too. Both men will join the board, following election at the company’s AGM on 1 June. Spierkel gives an account of himself and goals in a interview with CRN here Foster's valedictory statement is parked here. ® Related stories Ingram confident on Q1 Currency effects boost Ingram Q4 Ingram Micro unites Europe
Team Register, 10 Apr 2005
For Sale sign detail

Unipalm bundles Symantec and Blue Coat

Unipalm is offering dealers five per cent off Symantec email security solution and Blue Coat’s web browser protection applicance, when bought together. the specialist security distie says it got the idea from the “synergy” between the two products. The discount applies to Symantec Mail Security Appliance combined with the following Blue Coat products: 800-0B, 800-1, 800-2, 800-3, All 8000 series appliances. ® www.unipalm.co.uk
Team Register, 10 Apr 2005
globalisation

Dixons mulls The Link sell-off

Dixons, the UK’s biggest PC and electronics retailer, is mulling the disposal of The Link, its mobile phone retail operation, according to the Sunday Times. The group is reviewing the future of the 300-strong chain following what the paper dubs a “torrid Christmas trading period” Chief executive John Clare is said to have contacted Peter Erskine, his counterpart at 02, which owns 40 per cent of the Link. Both parties have pre-emption rights which stop the other from selling to rivals. More here. ® Related stories PC World offers instore collection for web buys Carphone trumpets telecoms success Festive sales boost Dixons
Team Register, 10 Apr 2005