Internet Happenings -- November 15th, 2001
More Protection from Visa
Visa, the credit card company, is starting to offer more security for your on-line purchases. It is called Verified by Visa. Check it out at http://www.usa.visa.com/personal/secure_with_visa/verified_by_visa.html. The deal here is that you normally enter you credit card info on pages that use SSL (don't you?) and the transaction is secure. However, the merchant may or may not have good security on their site. So, you will be able to sign up for the new service and when you do you will be prompted to enter a password. So, when you go to a participating merchant, you will be prompted for your password. The password is stored on a third party server away from the merchant and in fact the merchant has no way of knowing the password. The third party server checks everything out to make sure you are who you say you are and then issues a certificate to the merchant so they know that all is OK.
Big Pixie Drives from IBM
IBM has announced that it is using its Pixie Dust technology to create an IDE drive at 120 GB running at 7200 RPM. Pixie Dust is the name IBM uses for its antiferromagnetically coupled (AFC) media. Now you can program and play all those cool games while saving off huge video files all on the same drive.
HP and Compaq on the Rocks??
Well, it looked like smooth sailing ahead with the HP and Compaq merger. That's until the kids got involved. Several members of the Hewlett family are opposed to the merger and have stated that they will oppose it if it comes to the stockholders for a vote. Now I see where Packard's son, David, is also opposed to the merger.
SAP on the Java Bandwagon
The European software company SAP says that its strategy is to allow companies to build applications using Java or its own proprietary technology, but not .NET. SAP will be allowing connectivity to .NET applications through its web services, but won't support the direct building of such applications. Supposedly, this strategy is based on its customer's desires.
National ID Cards?
Probably not in the near future; at least as a mandatory step. The idea has some merit; especially with the way the world is changing for the worst. However, I have some reservations about being forced to carry something that identifies me. I would have to know who has compiled that information and what kind of protections are in place in case it gets lost or stolen. So all you privacy folks can breath a sigh of relief for the moment as the Bush administration doesn't seem too interested in it as a mandatory policy. There has been some talk about creating the cards and letting folks choose to use them on a voluntary basis. This might speed up things like boarding a plane.
You know, we all need a laugh once in a while. Try this web site expounding on a new feature of Windows XP that lets you fly without any mechanical help: http://www.bbspot.com/News/2001/11/flight.html.
Another MS Security Hole
Well another hole has arisen in IE. There is a hole that can be exploited by a properly built URL. This hole allows access to the user's cookies and also allows them to be modified potentially giving the hacker access to private information. There is a patch available at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS01-055.asp. Until you get the patch, you can protect your system by turning off active scripting.
How about some serious power from IBM
IBM is holding onto being the king of the supercomputer hill with its new Blue Gene/L system. The system will have 65,000 processors and 16 trillion bytes of memory. It will be able to perform 200 trillion calculations per second. This system is a part of their Blue Gene program whose stated goal is to build a supercomputer by 2005 or 2006 that is capable of a quadrillion calculations per second. WOW! IBM also feathered its supercomputer cap with a couple of contracts for some big systems to model the weather and to help do nuclear research.
Prepare for Instant Messaging Viruses
Instant Messaging, from a number of vendors, is becoming a hot technology even within the corporate firewall. So far, there have not been many worms targeted at this system. However, as it spreads, pundits think that the use of worms using IM type systems for delivery will only increase. You obviously need to take precautions against this kind of attack. Unfortunately, there is not the well-developed protection against IM type viruses as there is against the email delivered ones.
Some Unix Systems Under Attack
The Common Desktop Environment of some Unix systems has a "hole" that could allow a remote hacker access to the system with root privileges. Several vendors systems are affected including Caldera, HP, and Sun. For more info, check out http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-2001-31.html.
Interested in Star Office? Then go to http://www.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/6.0beta/ to check out the 6.0 Beta product.
Jon Yiesla is an independent reporter for Developer.com
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