Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week

1. "Attackers Probing for Vulnerable Windows Servers"

Computerworld, Aug. 23

In a week full of security stories and worries, researchers warned of another potential threat: Attackers are looking for Windows servers running Trend Micro ServerProtect antivirus software, most likely with the aim of exploiting newly disclosed vulnerabilities. A major spike in traffic over TCP port 5168 set off the alarms, followed by suspicious data packets that could contain attack code. Trend Micro also issued a warning, saying "we implore security administrators to apply the latest ServerProtect security soon as possible to protect against any potential attack." When security vendors take to imploring us to patch, it's time to hop to it.

2. " Trojan Recruits 'Money Mules' From Victim Pool"

Computerworld, Aug. 22

"FAQ: The Mess"

Computerworld, Aug. 24 shut down the rogue server used to store personal information stolen from résumés of job seekers, as more information emerged about how the site was targeted by hackers. The Trojan that stole more than 1.6 million personal records from the site also uses that data to create targeted spam offering illegal money-laundering jobs, which turned some victims into unwitting accomplices, according to Symantec. The plot will undoubtedly thicken as security researchers continue to study the Trojan and the aftermath of its use. A helpful FAQ answers the questions that have emerged to this point about the crime and how miscreants used names, e-mail addresses, home addresses and other personal data to create e-mail messages to spread malicious code.

3. "Internet Blackout Caused by Attack by Saw and Gun"

PC World, Aug. 23

"Gunplay Blamed for Internet Slowdown"

IT World, Aug. 21

This IT News of the Weird entry comes to us from near Cleveland, where a cable cut on Sunday night led to a network blackout that slowed Internet connectivity mostly in the Northeastern United States. Initially, the slowdown was said to have been caused when miscreants shot at the cable, but by the end of the week, Cogent Communications was saying that the cable was cut by some dimwits (OK, that's our word, not Cogent's) who thought the cable was made of copper. The alleged would-be copper thieves evidently cut the cable with some sort of saw. Turns out, though, that the replacement cable was damaged by gunshots. Note to future copper seekers: Fiber-optic cables are made from glass fiber.

4. "Microsoft Uses Silverlight for Experimental Search Site"

PC World, Aug. 22

Microsoft launched Tafiti, an experimental website combining its Live Search with an interface built using Silverlight, the company's combo of media player and development technologies meant to help embed multimedia graphics into Web browsers. Tafiti will let users organize and do research at one spot and is aimed at demonstrating how Silverlight will be different from what we're all accustomed to when it comes to the Web search experience. Tafiti, by the way, means "do research" in Swahili. Tafiti runs on Windows Vista and XP SP 2 and can be used with versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

5. "YouTube Vows to Protect Video Makers in InVideo Ads"

InfoWorld, Aug. 24

It probably seemed like a good idea, but fast on the heels of YouTube overlaying video clips with advertisements starting on Wednesday, those who supply content to the wildly popular site became incensed. The flow of negative comments from both content providers and site fans led YouTube owner Google to promise it will give content makers control over the ad overlays. The company is also asking for more feedback on video advertising and undoubtedly will get it; various content providers and users of the site have threatened to abandon it if the overlays aren't improved. Content creators have to sign up for the ads, called inVideo, so most of the videos on the site will not have them, Google said Friday.

6. "Website Auctions Software Vulnerabilities to Highest Bidder"

Network World, Aug. 23

Here's a story guaranteed to cause some of us worry: An auction service called WabiSabiLabi sells vulnerability information to the highest bidder, in an eBay-style auction. Site founders contend that the auction approach is for researchers who discover vulnerabilities, but might not get any pay for their efforts. EBay shut down such auctions at its site 16 months ago, saying that those promoted illegal behavior. WabiSabiLabi founders say the site will discourage vulnerability finders from selling information on the black market to criminals. They also say they check out buyers and sellers before letting them do business, which cannot be transacted anonymously. "The stakes are just too high at this point in history," the site's ethics statement says.

7. "Sun Wants Investors to Recognize It as the Java Company"

InfoWorld, Aug. 23

Starting Monday, if you want to track Sun's stock performance, you'll need to look for the Nasdaq ticker symbol JAVA instead of the old SUNW. The company has decided it wants to be known among investors for the Java brand, with Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz saying on his blog that brand is much better known than the company name. "The number of people who know Java swamps the number of people who know Sun," he wrote. Java, however old the technology is getting (12 years on the market and counting), represents the future, while SUNW represents "nostalgic value" and "the past," he said on the blog. Sun still plans to offer a portfolio of products beyond Java, and the ticker-name change does not indicate a change in product strategy, he said. Those who took the time to respond to the blog message seemed unmoved by any arguments in favor of the change, calling it "a terrible idea," "a joke" and the "worst idea ever," among other things.

8. "How Close is World War 3.0?"

Network World, Aug. 22

U.S. IT and network professionals continue to focus on the denial-of-service attacks that slammed a dozen Estonian government websites earlier this year in what some said was the first incident of modern cyberwarfare. The threat of politically motivated attacks weighs on the minds of CIOs and other IT administrators whose companies do international work, as well as among those in government IT roles. Over time, security researchers determined that the attacks on Estonia were not all-out cyberwar, but were instead a concerted hacking effort. Even so, they still are concerned that an era of more frequent politically motivated cyberattacks has begun. Companies that have employment policies deemed unpopular in some quarters, as well as those that have business practices called into question or that are seen as contributing to climate change, could be targeted, researchers say. But there also could be any number of other motivations for a politically motivated attack, which is why so many in IT saw the Estonian attacks as a wake-up call they are continuing to heed.

9. "Seagate to Offer Solid-State Drives in 2008"

Macworld, Aug. 23

Seagate plans to add solid-state drives based on flash memory chips to its storage line next year. The drives will be offered in a range of products, including desktop and notebook PCs. Solid-state drives, or SSDs, use flash memory instead of magnetic disks for information storage and offer advantages over disk-based drives. They're lighter, they consume less power and they are more rugged, so they're good for laptops and mobile devices.

10. "RealNetworks, MTV Join Forces to Compete with Apple"

InfoWorld, Aug. 21

RealNetworks and MTV combined online music services and also entered an exclusive deal with Verizon Wireless to provide its wireless music service. The new company is meant to compete with Apple's iTunes music service. Marketing of the new service will be tied to the MTV Music Awards on Sept. 9. RealNetworks' Rhapsody music subscription service will take over for MTV's Urge brand, with Verizon's VCast music service becoming the exclusive mobile service for Rhapsody.


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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