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ACM TechNews is published every week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.


ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either AutoChoice Advisor or ACM. To send comments, please write to technews@hq.acm.org.
Volume 7, Issue 777:  Monday, April 11, 2005

  • "Paper Makes a Comeback as Electronic Elections Spur Opposition"
    Bloomberg (04/08/05); Arnold, Laurence

    The last two presidential elections, with their close, highly contested outcomes, have convinced voting-rights organizations and computer scientists that a paper trail must be established to ensure the validity of the final numbers and voters' protection against electoral fraud or technological error. The Help America Vote Act was instituted to upgrade U.S. voting systems in 30 states using $300 million in federal aid, thus eliminating weaknesses highlighted by the punch-card controversy of the 2000 election. The paperless touch-screen machines many states purchased have been criticized by the likes of VerifiedVoting.org founder David Dill and Johns Hopkins University computer science professor Avi Rubin as no guarantee of vote accuracy. Their findings have helped spur a number of states to pass or propose new laws that either reject paperless voting systems outright or require expensive printer add-ons. "If you don't have the paper trail, it's impossible to detect whether the machines are rigged," Rubin argues. Electionline.org reports that a vote-by-vote paper trail is now mandatory in a dozen states, around 20 other state legislatures are considering similar bills, and five proposals for a national paper trail requirement have been introduced in Congress. This has complicated matters for counties that scrambled to buy and deploy paperless voting systems, and Jim Dickson with the American Association of People with Disabilities says the paper ballot requirement makes it impossible for disabled voters to cast ballots "in a private and independent manner," as mandated by the Help America Vote Act. Many states and counties are considering optical-scan machines, which have the advantages of a built-in paper trail and a lower price than touch-screens, according to Dill.
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    For information on ACM's e-voting activities, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "American Universities Fall Way Behind in Programming"
    San Francisco Chronicle (04/09/05) P. C1; Forsberg, Birgitta

    American universities hit an all-time low in the world finals of the ACM's International Collegiate Programming Contest, with the University of Illinois tying for 17th place. The top four spots were captured, in descending order, by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Moscow State University, St. Petersburg Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics, and Ontario's University of Waterloo. Participating American institutions have failed to win the championship for eight years, while Asian and Eastern European schools' rankings have improved. ACM President David Patterson notes that the governments of many high-scoring countries are spearheading tech research, while the U.S. government's research investments have declined dramatically. Patterson says, "When there is more and more competition in the world, the U.S. government is spending less on research than before." Intel's Tracy Koon says K-12 students perform poorly in international math and science tests, and points to a pronounced shortage of students enrolling in math and science degree programs. "The [American] educational system has done a demonstrably poor job of [teaching] technical, scientific and computing,"remarks Georgia Institute of Technology professor and Computing Research Association Chairman Jim Foley. China is experiencing significant growth in its technology skills; South Korea is the world leader in terms of broadband data transmission; and the United States lags behind Europe in online mobile telephone service.
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  • "Sharing the Wealth at IBM"
    New York Times (04/11/05) P. C1; Lohr, Steve

    The business world's eyes are focused on IBM's move to make patents available for free, which the company hopes will be an even more profitable strategy than keeping them to itself. The move started in January when IBM declared that it would freely release 500 software patents for use in open-source projects, and the company announced this month that all its future patent contributions to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards would be free as well. IBM wants to accelerate productivity and profitability via closer collaboration with suppliers, corporate customers, and industry partners through the sharing of patents and other intellectual property. Such an approach can help lead to robust open standards that promote faster industry growth. Adding urgency to the issue is the increase in patent filings and lawsuits, as well as major patent policy decisions that government officials around the world are expected to make in the near future; one U.S. proposal supported by IBM seeks to increase the difficulty of acquiring software patents, while the company is closely watching proposed legislation to bring disparate patent rules throughout the European Union into alignment. IBM VP Irving Wladawsky-Berger notes that Europe's proposal to force patent holders to sometimes share technology shows that government intercession is the price companies will pay for failing to ensure openness in their voluntary standards groups. IBM is being carefully selective in what patents it gives away, releasing the basic tech components for widening the scope of communication across industry networks while reserving its mainframe computer technology, proprietary database software, and other complete products for itself. "The layer of technology that is open is going to steadily decrease, but in going through this transition we're not going to be crazy," assures IBM senior VP John Kelly.
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  • "Rules Aimed at Digital Misdeeds Lack Bite"
    USA Today (04/11/05) P. 1B; Swartz, Jon

    With ongoing cybersecurity breaches at large consumer-oriented firms, federal and state lawmakers are working on new laws that would mete harsher punishments to online criminals and make legal prosecution of online crimes easier. At least a dozen federal and state bills have been proposed recently, reflecting an increase in the number of phishing, spam, and privacy threats, says ITAA President Harris Miller. Experts warn, however, that new legislation is not always effective because responsibilities are not clear, regulations are too difficult for the private sector to implement, and law enforcement lacks necessary resources; for example, the federal Can-Spam Act has not significantly reduced spam activity, and Michigan State University criminal justice professor Judith Collins notes that legislation also does little to actually prevent crimes from taking place. Still, more specific laws would make it easier for prosecutors to bring charges, and experts note the unregulated use of consumer data in the private sector. A Senate bill mimicking a California privacy protection bill would require notification of people exposed to data theft, and could also include requirements for data encryption by all private-sector firms; data brokers see this type of legislation as a threat to their businesses and have significantly more lobbying resources than privacy advocates, says U.S. Public Interest Research Group consumer program director Ed Mierzwinski. Other proposed federal legislation targets spyware but leaves room for Web cookies and embedded pages. Center for Democracy & Technology associate director Ari Schwartz notes that there are already a number of laws covering phishing activity but that they are seldom enforced. Part of the problem is the international nature of cybercrime and the imbalance between good and bad actors on the Internet, says Internet lawyer Pete Wellborn, who authored an anti-spyware law passed in Georgia.
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  • "MIT, Quanta Cook Up Devices of Tomorrow"
    CNet (04/08/05); Hines, Matt

    MIT and Quanta Computer signed a five-year, $20 million agreement on April 8 to develop designs for next-generation computing and communication devices through the integration of research from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Quanta's hardware marketing savvy. CSAIL director and MIT professor Rodney Brooks says the venture, known as TParty, seeks to transcend traditional concepts about continued device convergence and "rethink from the ground up everything from device design to the software models of how applications are written so that they can migrate around from processor to processor in mid-computation." TParty will involve the blending of current hardware designs with innovative ideas on improving information transfer management, device configurations, and security, among other things. Brooks says the effort will involve 30 different CSAIL initiatives supervised by MIT faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates, all of which will focus on improving the adaptability and flexibility of devices through the opening up of people's "virtual computational environment." The TParty group announced its objective to be the creation of "new systems for the development and seamless delivery of information services in a world of smart devices and sensors." TParty said reaching this goal will involve experimentation with re-engineering the "underlying technical infrastructure" of contemporary computers and communications devices, and exploring new techniques of data management and access.
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  • "Database Sea Change Drawing Near"
    InfoWorld (04/08/05); Schwartz, Ephraim

    Database vendors are battling to consolidate transaction and analysis capabilities and offer improved total cost of ownership and the ability to handle unstructured data in a relational database. Vendors are eager to sell database products that will give them leverage to sell other products and services later, says Gartner's Donald Feinberg. On the customer side, the merger of analytics and OLTP dovetails with ongoing consolidation in the datacenter, says Marriott International CTO Barry Shuler. Database technology in general is shifting from a request-response setup to one that provides automatic messages when targeted data events occur; in three to five years' time, databases will send messages to applications as needed, an approach Sybase's Tom Traubitz calls "steams." Microsoft plans to add a "proactive caching" design to its upcoming SQL Server that will group data entering the OLTP system according to standard statistical algorithms, such as those that govern "sum," "deviation," "min and max," and "average" functions. But Feinberg says vendors' claims for simultaneous transaction processing and analysis is currently workable only for small- or medium-sized databases, and will not be available for large databases until about 2010; not only is software a hindrance, but hardware issues are as well, such as memory, processor speed, and I/O rate. The ability to store native XML data is the near-term feature going into new databases, with upcoming products from Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft all supporting the W3C's XQuery standard for native XML access. Native XML support also allows digital signatures to be applied to the entire document so they can be certified as untampered with, says Burton Group analyst Peter Kelly.
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  • "The Battle Between Tinseltown and Techville"
    Washington Post (04/10/05) P. B4; Clark, Drew

    The debate before the Supreme Court over whether file-trading networks such as Grokster and Streamcast should be legally liable for digital piracy brings the battle between the entertainment and tech industries into sharp focus, with the former arguing that the future of creativity is at stake and the latter contending that technological innovation is under threat. The defendants in the case claim that peer-to-peer networks have no responsibility for the actions of their users, an attitude that the entertainment industry describes as "willful blindness." Tech firms cite the Supreme Court's 1984 decision in the case of Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, in which justices ruled that the vendors of the Betamax videocassette recorder could not be accountable for unauthorized copying of programs because the product had "substantial non-infringing uses." Despite rumblings from Hollywood that VCRs would take a huge bite out of movie studios' box office grosses and broadcast syndication revenues, the recorders helped give birth to new markets--cable TV and video rentals--that swelled the studios' coffers. Current Supreme Court judges see some validity in this argument: Justice Stephen Breyer, for one, doubts that other innovative--and profitable--products such as the Xerox machine or the iPod could have been developed under a more restrictive ruling. Digital technology, however, allows copyright law to be superseded easily and conveniently, and digital copies are often superior to analog copies in terms of quality and longevity. Techies are worried that a pro-entertainment ruling from the Supreme Court will take away their freedom to tinker and innovate, by making all engineering decisions and product designs legally auditable. Tech firms think innovation can come to creativity's rescue through the digital scrambling of copyrighted content, writes National Journal technology writer Drew Clark.
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  • "Collar Cultivates Canine Cliques"
    Wired News (04/11/05); Sandhana, Lakshmi

    Dog owners can track their pets' activities, map out their social networks, and network through their pets with a wearable computer system developed by MIT researchers engaged in the Social Networking in Fur (SNIF) project. The scientists have developed a prototype collar and leash equipped with an LED display and sensors that record pet activity levels, climate, and the presence of other dogs wearing SNIF collars; when plugged into a wall-mounted docking station, the leash displays the status of pets' social networks. The system will be connected to a Web-based community featuring data about canine SNIF program participants as well as their owners. The SNIF collar flashes a unique "collar tone" that sends its social network ID to other dogs' SNIF collars during walks; owners can press "positive" or "negative" buttons on the leash to record how their dogs respond to each other, and the pets' interaction and associated activity levels are transmitted onto the leash when it is reattached, and consequently uploaded onto a SNIF server. Owners can then study the profiles of dogs in their pets' social network on the SNIF Web site, and determine whether certain dogs are to be avoided as well as how to set up dog walks when the most mutually compatible dogs are likely to be present. The SNIF technology's ability to allow pet owners to monitor other dogs' activities raises security and privacy issues: "The idea of being alerted when one dog, and their attractive owner, is in the park, with a view to intercepting them for social interaction, could be akin to stalking," argues dog enthusiast Alex Irwin. The MIT researchers counter that the SNIF system cannot monitor the dogs' positions, as they intend to establish infrared beacons at urban dog hot spots rather than employ GPS or cell-phone towers.
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  • "Hoping Girls Get a Kick Out of Computers"
    Baltimore Sun (04/08/05) P. 1F; Burris, Joe

    The University of Maryland, Baltimore County's Center for Women and Information Technology (CWIT) this weekend will hold its annual Computer Mania Day, an event designed to fuel an interest in information technology among young girls. Computer Mania Day is expected to draw more than 600 middle school girls, who will witness demonstrations of how IT impacts their lives each day, and learn about successful women in the IT field. CWIT director Claudia J. Morrell believes that reaching girls at the initial stage when they are dealing with self-esteem issues and thinking about what they want to do when they grow up is one of the keys to dealing with the low number of women in the IT industry. The comments of Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers earlier in the year about why there are so few women in IT has not discouraged the CWIT and Morrell. "He just brought to the forefront something that's been subtly going on in the background for years, the subtle discrimination, lack of belief, lack of support, lack of awareness of the barriers women face," says Morrell.
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    For information on ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, visit http://www.acm.org/women.

  • "UCD Scientist Patents 'Smart' Email"
    Silicon Republic (04/06/05); Skelly, Brian

    Email could become more of a business application if the communications tool had intuitive capabilities, believes Dr. Nicholas Kushmerick, a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at University College Dublin. Kushmerick, also a part-time visiting scientist for IBM's Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) initiative, and IBM researcher Tessa Lau have developed Active Email Manager (AEM), a machine-learning algorithm that is designed to automatically monitor emails associated with different work-related tasks, and establish a workflow for those jobs. "The vision is that rather than come in and download all your emails, you could just call up your to-do list and manage your activities," explains Kushmerick. Moreover, AEM is able to determine which emails are job-related and which messages deal with more personal matters. The two researchers presented AEM at the Intelligent User Interfaces conference in California in January. The paper was voted won of the two best at the conference. Kushmerick says Ireland, since the start of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) program, has become one of the best places in the world to do research. He says, "Most of my work involves taking...unstructured data and somehow massaging into a structured format so that a machine can take some action and make decisions."
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  • "A Law Mandating Music File Compatibility?"
    InternetNews.com (04/06/05); Mark, Roy

    Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) advocate a proposal to establish a national interoperability standard for all online music platforms that was unanimously rejected by music industry and consumer groups at an April 6 congressional hearing. The motivation behind the proposal is the playback problems iPod users experience when they attempt to transfer music files from other platforms to their handhelds, but industry officials at the hearing frowned on the idea of government intervention. Napster CTO William Pence said the government has historically avoided interceding in rivalries between early-stage consumer technologies, noting that federal regulation can impede innovation. He advised the congressional panel to let winning products be determined by market demands. "Marketplace forces will continue to drive innovation in the DRM arena with attendant consumer benefits--new ways to enjoy digital music at a variety of different price points--while gradually solving the interoperability problem," Pence predicted. Progress and Freedom Foundation President Ray Gifford agreed that the government should remain hands-off. "Any call for the government to prefer one standard or model over another must be subject to most exacting skepticism," he declared. Gifford said antitrust and intellectual property laws are equipped to address the interoperability issue.
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  • "Permanent Record"
    CIO Australia (03/29/05); Braue, David

    Government agencies can learn a valuable lesson from the life work of Frenchman Jean-Francois Champollion, who deciphered the markings on the Rosetta Stone, making it possible to finally read Egyptian hieroglyphics. In Australia, the National Archives of Australia (NAA) has taken the initiative to move toward framing data structures that would facilitate operational use in the short term and archiving in the long-term through AGLS, a standardized metadata set that has XML as its foundation and offers 19 descriptive elements as a common vocabulary for describing digital content and online services. AGLS brings credibility to data formats and future archiving by the NAA, and open source tools and open standards will be necessary for building widescale government support for the Digital Recordkeeping Initiative, which is charged with developing standards for long-term preservation of digital content. The NAA is making more progress than its U.S. counterpart, the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA), which has called for a content-agnostic technical framework for retaining digital records, a $100 million project over two years that will be delivered by Lockheed Martin or Harris Corporation. The use of military contractors shows the magnitude of the digital record-keeping system, which will be built in a manner that allows for add-ins for new formats. Government agencies will receive templates this year that they can modify for their archiving formats, but NARA has little power to force departments to maintain records digitally. "We anticipate considerable collaboration, and there are going to be occasions where we're just going to have to help [departments] do it by working with them to get control of their data and record types," says Lewis Bellardo, deputy archivist of the U.S. with NARA.
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  • "Software Agents Give Out PR Advice"
    New Scientist (04/02/05) Vol. 186, No. 2493, P. 24; Graham-Rowe, Duncan

    Corporations and governments constantly monitor Web sites, blogs, and news reports concerning their organizations in order to counter negative views, otherwise known as engaging in media spin. A British software firm says it has created a program that can automatically assess the tone of a document using grammatical structure to identify context and subjects. The software promises to dramatically speed the time it takes to cover news. Previous news reading programs often relied on machine learning techniques where the software was given thousands of human-classified examples to study and use to formulate its rules. Another technique is judging an article by the words used, though words can have different meanings depending on where they are in the sentence or to which subject they apply. Both approaches involve some incorrect assumptions that software firm Corpora believes it can avoid with its Sentiment program that uses algorithms to identify sentence components. Knowing which subjects a verb applies to helps know whether that verb is used in a positive or negative light. The program is not perfect, but even expert readers only agree on the tone of a document 85 percent of the time. Sentiment concurs with the expert majority 80 percent of the time, while non-expert human readers concur with the expert majority about 90 percent of the time. Corpora plans to use Sentiment to augment human readers, not replace them. The software will help prioritize news and provide automated reports that humans can quickly check.
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  • "In the Internet's High-Speed Lane"
    Business Week (04/05/05); Kharif, Olga

    Broadband Internet is changing the social, educational, and economic activity of young people, and savvy companies are exploring how best to take advantage of the new connectivity. Half of U.S. households with teenagers now have broadband Internet connections compared with 35 percent a year ago, according to Teenage Research Unlimited. Some experts have dubbed the under-25 age group super-communicators because they spend more time online and are more likely to adopt new trends, such as instant messaging and blogging. Broadband connections make the Internet a much more engaging experience where people can interact through multiplayer online games, chat, or by sharing photos or media clips. The popularity of broadband applications has dramatically changed the electronics, telecommunications, and other industries, which now think how to adapt their products to the online realm; new companies continue to find untapped demand online, such as social network MySpace.com, which has quickly become the 23rd most visited English-language site in the world, according to traffic research firm Alexa. Minors are also drawing corporate interest: Friendster.com is planning an under-18 version and Neopets.com has garnered advertising revenue from the likes of Disney and McDonald's. Broadband Internet helps children study, according to a report from Grunwald Associates that found 13 percent of parents reported improved grades from their children after getting broadband connections. Microsoft's Michael O'Hara predicts that children in the near future will commonly use multiple broadband-enabled services simultaneously, and Broadband Mechanics CEO Marc Canter expects social networks to also become more popular, with millions of small groups forming.
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  • "If You Build It, Will They Come?"
    CITRIS Newsletter (04/05) Vol. 4, No. 2; Shreve, Jenn

    Undergraduate humanities and social science faculty often do not make use of available digital resources because of the worries technology introduces in the classroom, the time involved, and the lack of technical support, according to an ongoing study at the University of California at Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education. The study found a tremendous number of different digital resources, including online libraries, video collections, image archives, and media Web sites. But the main impediment to using those resources was inadequate classroom equipment and support. One respondent said using technology in the classroom introduced "the fear of breakdown, the suspense, [and] the frequent waste of time." More than 1,200 survey responses were collected from University of California campuses, community colleges, and private liberal arts colleges throughout California. The researchers choose humanities and social science instead of science and engineering because of the comparative lack of technology funding for the former, and the variety of teaching styles and needs among American history professors, for example. The study is meant to guide better funding choices, help digital resource creators focus their efforts, and inform universities on classroom equipment needs. When social and technical barriers to using digital resources in the classroom are better understood, the problems can be addressed and educators can start making use of the abundant digital resources available, says senior researcher Diane Harley.
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  • "Professors Join the Fray as Supreme Court Hears Arguments in File-Sharing Case"
    Chronicle of Higher Education (04/08/05) Vol. 51, No. 31, P. A27; Foster, Andrea L.

    Scholars and technology experts are worried that making peer-to-peer (P2P) file swapping networks accountable for copyright infringement would hurt technological innovation, threaten free speech, and limit scholarship, and they filed legal briefs recommending that the Supreme Court avoid such a ruling in the case of MGM Studios vs. Grokster. Non-infringing P2P applications cited by advocates included sharing of government documents among academic libraries; viewing and analysis of out-of-print images by students; and the development of more powerful and efficient networks based on P2P systems. Professors declared that P2P technology can promote scholarship by allowing institutions that cannot afford to manage a central server or add bandwidth capacity to transfer large files via a decentralized architecture. Computer scientists--many of whom are computer-security experts--filed a brief warning that a pro-entertainment industry ruling would be a major hindrance to technological advancements in computing and the Internet; one project that could suffer is the multi-university Infrastructure for Resilient Internet Systems, an NSF-funded initiative to expedite the retrieval and transfer of online data while obstructing hacker attacks. Harvard University law professor Charles Nesson filed a brief indicating that the Berkman Center for Internet & Society's effort to assemble a digital library for uploading and downloading multimedia content through P2P networks could be impeded, noting in an interview that such libraries might never be built if nonprofit institutions have the fear of an infringement lawsuit hanging over them. However, a group of law and economics professors filed a brief arguing that a lack of liability would only encourage infringement by P2P services, which would otherwise lack an incentive to clamp down on digital piracy. One suggested possible compromise is making P2P networks responsible for inducement.

    For information regarding ACM's activities in the MGM Studios vs. Grokster Case, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm.

  • "Open Source to the Rescue"
    InfoWorld (04/04/05) Vol. 27, No. 14, P. 49; Moore, Cathleen

    Open source software became Friendster's savior when heavy traffic threatened to overwhelm the wildly successful social networking Web site. The service was originally driven by a Java back end running on Apache Tomcat servers with a MySQL database, but this architecture could not deal with the surge of traffic accompanying Friendster's explosive, unexpected growth. Friendster's deployment of LAMP (the Linux operating system, Apache Web server, MySQL database, and PHP scripting language) made the site's architecture scalable enough to accommodate millions of visitors, and raised the LAMP technologies to a new level of performance through innovative configurations. Friendster hired Chris Lunt as its director of engineering to retool the architecture with PHP and Apache; Lunt says open source software such as MySQL was retained to "let us do things [our own] way." Senior Friendster database and software engineer Dathan Pattishall explains that open source clarifies the architecture and makes fixes more controllable: "With open source you can look directly at what is causing a problem, write your own fix, and get up and running in such a fast manner." Friendster's MySQL implementation was re-engineered to optimize the performance of queries against the database, and Pattishall says the MySQL data was compacted to stabilize the site as well as facilitate better page load times and traffic management. Other important elements in the site's stabilization included thin, inexpensive hardware, an automated hardware selection system, and a monitoring system for flagging system or hardware failures using the open source Nagios program. Lunt and Pattishall creatively configured the LAMP components in order to improve hardware management as well as build a tool that provides a real-time view of a cluster and that graphs database statistics.
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  • "Web Mobs"
    Baseline (03/05) Vol. 1, No. 41, P. 28; McCormick, John; Gage, Deborah

    Web mobs are criminal organizations that operate exclusively online, selling stolen and counterfeit credit card numbers, email accounts, and other forms of personal ID. EBay chief security strategist Howard Schmidt warns that Web mobs can destroy the carefully cultivated trust between companies and customers by promoting and expediting identity theft and credit card fraud, undermining confidence in the Internet, and inhibiting the growth of e-commerce. Web mobs consist of young, crafty, and cautious operators who conceal their real identities behind online aliases, and confuse attempts to track their communications by encrypting messages and routing them through multiple servers. But such tactics do not make Web mobs impregnable: One group, Shadowcrew, was busted by the Secret Service with the help of an informant within the organization; the group is said to have had 4,000 members, making it the largest, best organized, and most popular Web mob at the time. The Shadowcrew hierarchy included a handful of top-level "administrators" who managed the group's business operations, while day-to-day operations were handled by moderators who ran information and discussion forums, reviewers who assessed the quality of stolen IDs, vendors who sold the merchandise, and general members who accumulated and shared techniques for committing credit card fraud and other crimes on the Shadowcrew Web site. Combating Web mobs is difficult, as the electronic infrastructure for apprehending these groups is still nonexistent. Technology experts say tech vendors are withholding the tools companies need to thwart cybercriminals, and they recommend better email filtering and email sender authentication schemes, a standardized methodology for reporting attacks to both companies and law enforcement, and the monitoring of domain names by businesses to deter criminals from spoofing Web addresses.
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  • "Open Calendar Sharing and Scheduling With CalDAV"
    Internet Computing (04/05) Vol. 9, No. 2, P. 81; Dusseault, Lisa; Whitehead, Jim

    Open Source Application Foundation development manager Lisa Dusseault and University of California-Santa Cruz computer science professor Jim Whitehead write that the desire for a calendar access protocol supporting standard within-organization meetings, collaborative calendar sharing, and easy conference scheduling across organizations is the impetus behind the Calendaring and Scheduling Extensions to Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (CalDAV) interoperability protocol. CalDAV broadens the scope of the WebDAV protocol to support services for calendar maintenance, queries, and security. A separate draft for providing optional scheduling workflow functionality will be constructed atop the core CalDAV spec. The authors envision CalDAV enabling millions of users to schedule meetings within and across organizations with handheld devices, removing a sizable portion of a conference's "accidental complexity" so that people can devote more time to creative and productive pursuits. CalDAV must clearly establish whether a client can build a new instance of a recurring event by modifying an existing resource or creating a new one, and CalDAV's iCalendar data format almost always renders a recurring event as a single component with a series of recurrence dates or patterns. Even infinitely recurring events can be represented by CalDAV in a finite space by following this pattern. CalDAV's developers intend to condense standardization by rapidly working in a small but open group. "Moreover, because open standards beget open-source implementations, CalDAV promises to bring advanced calendar scheduling capabilities to families, small nonprofits, schools, and many others for whom current calendar technology is too complex and expensive," Dusseault and Whitehead conclude.
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