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Technology in the News

Technology is constantly changing and providing the casual user with challenges never dreamed of. Technology in the News is provided in an effort to assist you in getting the most out of your computer, while avoiding some of the pitfalls. Your computer really isn't out to get you. Why not learn to be friends?

      
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March 3, 2005

Taxes to be Assessed Based on Miles Driven. A new, smarter than you gas pump will get all intimate with your odometer and tax you, standing right there with the pump still in your hand, for the miles driven.

Taxing by the Green Mile So. You bought some tin-can hybrid econotoy powered by a burble motor, greased with biodegradable, recycled chicken fat. Saving that gas. Doing your thing for the environment. Wearing your greenie baseball cap. Feeling all good about yourself. Traitor! In your typically short-sighted zeal, you may not have realized you were just bollixing everything for your state tax collectivists. Less gas, less tax. Less tax, less spend.

BBC News

by Mark Ward

February 26, 2005

Hackers are relying on Microsoft to help them exploit loopholes in Windows, say [Microsoft] security experts.

In a keynote speech to the E-Crime Congress organised by Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, Mr Aucsmith said the tools that hackers were producing were getting better and shrinking the time between patches being issued and exploits being widely known. "We have never had vulnerabilities exploited before the patch was known," he said. Tools of choice A good example of this phenomenon, he said, was the recent ASN1 "critical vulnerability" that Microsoft produced a patch for in early February. The vulnerability was discovered by Eeye Digital Security in July 2003 but no exploits were produced until three days after Microsoft's patch became available. "Many people reverse engineer the patch and then build the exploit code," said Mr Aucsmith. Malicious hackers were greatly aided by improvements in tools that did a better job of working out what patches did. Firms have less time to react to vulnerabilities He said tools were available that compared patched and unpatched versions of Windows to help vandals and criminals work out what was different. "The guys who write the tools would not consider themselves to be criminals by any measure," he said, "but the tools are also being picked up by people with criminal intent." Mr Aucsmith said he could only think of one instance when a vulnerability was exploited before a patch was available. "It's a myth that hackers find the holes," said Nigel Beighton, who runs a research project for security firm Symantec that attempts to predict which vulnerabilities will be exploited next. He said in many cases the appearance of a patch was the spur that kicked off activity around a particular vulnerability. Many different malicious hackers and hacking groups competed to see who could be the first to produce a virus or other program that could work with the known hole, he said. Mr Aucsmith urged companies to keep up with patches because the time they had to react before hackers released exploits was shrinking. Newer operating systems were also more secure than older programs such as Windows 95 which, when it was first released, had no security features in it at all. "Almost all attacks against our software are against the legacy systems," he said. "If you want more secure software, upgrade."

Schneier.com

by Bruce Schneier

February 15, 2005

On Tuesday, I blogged about a new cryptanalytic result -- the first attack faster than brute-force against SHA-1. I wrote about SHA, and the need to replace it, last September.

Earlier this week, three Chinese cryptographers showed that SHA-1 is not collision-free. That is, they developed an algorithm for finding collisions faster than brute force.

In 1999, a group of cryptographers built a DES cracker. It was able to perform 256 DES operations in 56 hours. The machine cost $250K to build, although duplicates could be made in the $50K-$75K range.

eweek.com

February 10, 2005

Security researchers say they have found the first malware aimed at Microsoft's new anti-spyware software.

Malicious programmers are already sharpening their claws on Microsoft Corp.'s anti-spyware software, even before the application's official release. On Wednesday anti-virus firms said they uncovered the first malware that switches off Microsoft AntiSpyware, along with its other functions. Troj/BankAsh-A, also known as Trojan-Spy.Win32.Banker.jv and PWS-Banker.j, includes a keylogger and attempts to steal credit card details, turn off other anti-virus applications, delete files, install other malicious code and download code from the Internet, according to anti-virus vendor Sophos plc.

In These Times

by Silja J.A. Talvi

February 5, 2005

Keeping litigation costs down is only one way prison corporations profit from incarceration. In addition, for-profit prisons also increase revenues by contracting with other corporations to provide substandard or overpriced services to prisoners.

In some states, companies like Microsoft pay prisons to employ prisoners at wages far below market rates. Taking advantage of the unprecedented prison boom of the late ’80s and ’90s, prison administrators, politicians, lobbying firms and corporate boards created a prison-industrial complex in which everyone benefits except the prisoners.

Visitor Ville Intelligence

January 17, 2005

Need company-specific market information (instead of generalized statistics)? VisitorVille Intelligence (VI) is an information service reporting how employees from 200,000 of the world's top companies...

We collect detailed referrer data on company-level visitors from thousands of web sites in the VisitorVille network, and from this data create 5,000,000 market intelligence reports that you cannot find anywhere else.

Forbes

by Arik Hesseldahl

January 17, 2005

For most people, getting hit by spyware is a time-consuming irritant. But it was much more for Michael Borque. Rogue software brought down his giant company's network.

Borque is technical services manager for Golden State Foods, an Irvine, Calif.-based food processor that is the biggest supplier to McDonald's (nyse: MCD - news - people ). Last March, an opening created by a piece of spyware allowed a nasty worm to wiggle into the company network computer in Georgia. From there, the worm tried to replicate itself across the entire company network, ultimately overwhelming network resources and knocking out e-mail and the companywide payroll system. It took two weeks for technicians at Golden State, which has annual sales of $2.3 billion, to bring the problem to heel.

CNET News

by Jim Hu

January 16, 2005

Continuing cable's tactic of fighting DSL on speed, not price, Comcast hikes data rates by a third.

Comcast will raise its broadband Internet speeds by at least a third later this year--part of its effort to fend off DSL rivals. With Baby Bell local phone providers making inroads with cheaper but slower DSL service, Comcast and other cable companies hope to fight on speed rather than price. Comcast's faster service, added at no extra cost to customers, will begin rolling out this quarter, the company announced on Sunday.

CNET News

by Alorie Gilbert

January 14, 2005

Oracle appears to be adding insult to injury in its merger with PeopleSoft--taking the unusual step of notifying workers of their termination by sending pinks slips via express mail to their homes.

Those spared pink slips will get packages too--containing new Oracle employment contracts. That makes it a nail-biting weekend for many PeopleSoft employees, who number more than 11,000 worldwide. Oracle may cut as many as 6,000 jobs, according to its own earlier estimates. It plans to announce the official number Friday.

CNET News

by Ingrid Marson

January 7, 2005

A vulnerability in Firefox could expose users of the open-source browser to the risk of phishing scams, security experts have warned.

The flaw in Mozilla Firefox 1.0, details of which were published by security company Secunia on Tuesday, could allow hackers to spoof the URL in the download dialog box that pops up when a Firefox user tries to download an item from a Web site. This flaw is caused by the dialog box incorrectly displaying long sub-domains and paths, which can be exploited to conceal the actual source of the download. Mikko Hypponen, director of antivirus research at software maker F-Secure, said this bug could make Firefox users vulnerable to cybercriminals.

      
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