ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either Gateway Inc. or ACM.
To send comments, please write to [email protected].
Volume 2, Issue 8: Friday, January 21, 2000
- "Computer Hacker Mitnick is Released from Prison Today"
Los Angeles Times (01/21/00) P. C2; Miller, Greg
Computer security experts are warning companies and government agencies to be in a state of high-alert for the next few days with the release of notorious computer hacker Kevin Mitnick from prison. Mitnick was sentenced to five years in prison for what prosecutors claim was the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of software from companies such as Sun Microsystems and Motorola. Although Mitnick is not permitted to use a computer or any other high-tech device for three years under the terms of his release, security experts worry about possible activity by some of his substantial following in the hacker underground, where he is regarded as a hero. Some of Mitnick's followers have launched cyberattacks on various government and corporate Web sites in the last few years, invoking his name. Computer security experts say that networks should be monitored fastidiously for the next several days in case of any celebratory cyberattacks from Mitnick's supporters.
- "Oracle to Offer Disaster-Recovery Systems"
InformationWeek Online (01/19/00); Whiting, Rick
Oracle next week will introduce its E-Business Continuity line, which will provide large businesses with failover and disaster recovery for e-commerce systems. The centerpiece of the new offerings is Oracle's Parallel Failover multiserver software, which directs applications to backup systems during failures and restores Web sites within 30 seconds after they go down. In addition, Oracle will offer failover and disaster recovery features with its Oracle Application Server, Oracle Internet Directory, and Oracle Internet Server. Although the products will be released immediately, they will appear only on HP 9000 systems at first. Hewlett-Packard helped Oracle to develop the Parallel Failover software, and the E-Business Continuity offerings have been bundled with pre-tested HP servers.
- "A Secure Internet Can't Have Secrets"
PC Week Online (01/19/00); Coffee, Peter
Internet security requires the use of open source computer code, says PC Week's Peter Coffee. Coffee cites the German Enigma machine of WWII as an example of placing too much confidence in a secret security system. True Internet security requires the collaboration of multiple industry experts. He says. Speaking at the RSA Conference 2000 Tuesday, IBM's Dr. Jeffrey M. Jaffe says the Internet does a good job of establishing markets as places for buyers and sellers to meet as well as conduct their transactions. What the Internet does not yet do well--and needs to--is provide a secure intermediate layer of qualification between the introduction and transaction layers. IBM's Jim Curtin says this qualification layer should be viewed as an escort to customers rather than a bouncer, in order to establish relationships among consumers and e-commerce firms.
- "Unscrambling Program For DVDs Is Barred From Web by Court"
Wall Street Journal (01/21/00) P. A4
Federal Judge Louis Kaplan ruled yesterday that three programmers who placed software on the Internet capable of unscrambling the encryption protections on DVD disks cannot continue the practice. The ruling was based on a request for a preliminary injunction by eight movie studios that claim that the software violates copyright laws and compromises trade secrets. However, attorneys for the three men say that free speech issues are at stake; they also claim that programmers must have free flow of information about software techniques and methods. This case, which stems from New York, concerns only three Web sites, although there is a different case currently under advisement in California that involves roughly 25 others. No trial date has been set for the New York case.
- "Hackers Access Firms' Credit Card Records"
Los Angeles Times (01/20/00) P. C7
The credit card database of health product suppler Global Health Trax remained open to hackers for several hours on Monday, according to the company. The company says that the account information that was broken into belonged to some of the distributors to whom it sold health products. However, Global Health Trax says that only a few people accessed the credit card numbers, and that it believes that three former employees were responsible for the cyberattack. This latest case comes only weeks after a hacker broke into the credit card database of CD Universe and displayed the credit card numbers on a clandestine Internet site after the company refused to pay him $100,000.
- "90 Percent of Holiday E-Shoppers 'Largely Satisfied'"
E-Commerce Times (01/14/00); Spiegel, Rob
A study released by Jupiter Communications reports that 90 percent of online shoppers were "largely satisfied" with their 1999 holiday season Web experiences, despite problems such as site crashes, online traffic jams, and failed deliveries. Consumer satisfaction jumped from 74 percent in 1998 to 90 percent in 1999, with online buyers totaling $7 billion in purchases this holiday season. Jupiter attributes this season's success to large marketing investments and aggressive price promotions among online retailers. Although the 1999 holiday season's $7 billion in sales dwarfed 1998's sales figures, online sales comprised just a fraction of the 1999 estimate of $3 trillion in holiday sales. Yet Jupiter maintains that this holiday season set the precedent for future sales. "The goal of this holiday season was not about generating impressive sales numbers," says Jupiter analyst Ken Casser, "but rather about developing relationships with new customers and securing long-term relationships." Indeed, 35 percent of holiday Web shoppers said their experience has encouraged them to buy more online in 2000.
- "B-to-B Integration Ready to Go"
Upside Today (01/19/00); Ryan, Vincent
WebMethods is viewed by investors as a leading player in one of the next stages of the business-to-business phenomenon--XML-based integration. With $39 million in private funding and Dell Computer, FBR Technology Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, Mayfield Fund, and SAP among its backers, WebMethods is now readying for an initial public offering, which the company filed last November. What sets WebMethods apart from competitors is that "they are the only emerging XML pure-play vendor to have penned agreements with companies like SAP, where real money has changed hands," says Benoit L'Heureux, director of application integration and middleware strategies at Gartner Group. Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Dun & Bradstreet, and Occidental Chemical are among the customers that will be using the WebMethods B-to-B Integration Server, which will help the systems of corporations communicate with one another for e-commerce. XML is the World Web Consortium standard that will help companies share and exchange data and documents such as purchase orders online. Although WebMethods has the early edge, the company could find itself in stiff competition in an application integration market that is expected to surge from $2.2 billion in 1998 to $11.6 billion by 2003, according to International Data; L'Heureux says XML-based B-to-B will grow 10 times faster than the business-to-consumer market. WebMethods will have to compete with the likes of IBM and enterprise application vendors such as TSI and NEON to bring B-to-B traffic using XML to the Web.
- "Finnish Bank Leonia Launches Wireless Online Banking Services Using Digital Certificates"
Network World Online (01/19/00); Messmer, Ellen
Sixty-two percent of Finnish people use GSM-based mobile phones, so the nation's second-largest bank, Leonia, has decided to make many of its online banking services accessible by wireless handheld devices. However, the bank is concerned about the security of using wireless devices for such activities as online stock trading and mutual fund investment, and has said that it wants to be able to ascertain a user's identity and encrypt transactions. In order to create a secure environment, Leonia has contracted with Finnish mobile telco firm Sonera to help handle its wireless applications. As currently planned, any phone or device that supports the Wireless Application Protocol or Phase II GSM phones containing a Subscriber Identity Module, which is a smart card that keeps information about the device's owner, can use Leonia's new banking services. However, regardless of what kind of phone a customer wants to use, Leonia will require that it be upgraded in order to employ a CyberTrust digital certificate that will identify the user and encrypt any transaction.
- "Above the Cloud"
Twin Cities Business Daily Online (01/14/00); Kieffer, Tom
The move toward free email and Web storage reflect a larger computing trend toward free memory and the widespread availability of information, writes Tom Kieffer. Providers such as Hotmail, Tripod, and GeoCities are able to offer free email and storage because storage costs have dropped so significantly. As the free storage trend grows, free ISPs that use their services to push advertising will have to find new ways to retain users, by offering affiliate marketing programs and e-commerce services, for example, Kieffer says. Free storage marks the beginning of a period of the "information cloud," when all information is accessible on the Internet at any time and from any location, Kieffer says. Kieffer notes that although he used to carry his laptop with him as he went from one place to another, he no longer needs to because Web browsers allow him to work from almost anywhere. Wireless devices will further enable mobile workers to access information. Unlimited storage will allow users to keep personal information such as financial records online, and to transform business by sharing information with customers, partners, and vendors. Although the information cloud offers many advantages, it also poses a threat to businesses that center on providing information. Businesses should therefore focus on saving customers time rather than on offering information, Kieffer says.
- "Son of QUALCOMM?"
Wall Street Journal (01/20/00) P. B6
Geoworks was not successful in marketing its operating system software for its Internet-capable cell phones. However, the company was awarded a patent for WAP-based software, which allows server computers to format content for wireless devices. Like QUALCOMM, Geoworks wants to profit from its software platform and says it should receive user fees from every company who uses WAP in its services. Geoworks CEO Dave Gannan says this could amount to 80 cents to $1 for each WAP wireless handset sold in the U.S. and Japan, or $20,000 from mobile operators who offer WAP-enabled services. Analyst Andrew Cole of Renaissance Worldwide agrees, saying that nearly everyone involved with WAP technology will have to comply with paying royalties to Geoworks. Although potential licensees have not come forth, Geoworks' shares more than doubled in value to $31.5625.
- "Broadband Internet: How Broadly? How Soon?"
New York Times (01/17/00) P. C1; Schiesel, Seth
The quest for a mass rollout of broadband services to American households has at times appeared to be nothing more than a quixotic pursuit, but the AOL and Time Warner deal could finally deliver on long-awaited promises as early as next year. At present, some 1.4 million U.S. households are capable of receiving broadband services, and by the end of the year a considerably larger percentage of U.S. households will likewise have the ability to receive such services. Yet some predict that decades may pass before broadband connections become as ubiquitous as telephone lines. Rural areas will be among the last to receive high-speed Internet service. Competition between cable and telephone companies has quickened the pace to deliver broadband services. Right now, cable companies hold a slight lead over their phone rivals. At the end of last year 1.1 million U.S. households were equipped with cable-based broadband service, compared with only 300,000 households with phone-based broadband service, the Yankee Group says. Yet phone companies claim that the gap will eventually close and that their services will ultimately be more attractive than cable networks. One downside to traditional cable systems is that they only offer one-way data to the home. Cable companies are attempting to pave the way for high-speed access by upgrading their systems for dual-direction service. Cable networks are also less resistant than phone networks to hacker attacks, according to some engineers.
- "Can Notes Fulfill Its Destiny as Leading Edge?"
PC Week Online (01/14/00); O'Regan, Rob
Lotus is expanding its portfolio in an initiative to encourage customers to upgrade to Notes R5, which shipped last February. Lotus plans to entice existing Notes users to upgrade by adding greater features and add-on applications. The company is repositioning Domino as a platform for Web application development and enhanced collaboration, and introducing new technologies such as Raven, a knowledge management suite. Whether this added functionality will actually spur Lotus customers to upgrade is not clear. Many users have refrained from upgrading because they are happy with the version that they have. These sites often employ Notes solely for basic email and database access, and have yet to explore Lotus' advanced functions. Others, particularly large enterprises, have kept their existing versions because upgrading is too hard. "The database component is so pervasive and so widely used, we don't have any viable options" for upgrading, explains Paul von Fange, IT site manager at 3M, which has about 60,000 Notes users worldwide. To provide even greater incentives for customers to upgrade, Lotus is enlisting its partners to introduce Notes applications. IT Factory, for instance, is releasing eComponent Architecture, a platform for integrating XML with Notes and Domino to create applications that leverage Lotus' workflow and real-time messaging capabilities. "Traditionally, organizations brought Notes in to do collaborative applications, but it was hard to get people to sign off on using Notes as a development platform," says IT Factory CEO David Shimberg. "We're just beginning to see that turn."
- "Is Windows Ready to Run E-Business?"
Business Week (01/24/00) No. 3665, P. 154; Hamm, Steve; Burrows, Peter; Reinhardt, Andy
As the Internet increasingly becomes the center of computing, Microsoft plans to make its software as pervasive in the Web market as it is in the PC market. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates plans to conquer the Internet by developing an operating system on which all Web users, from corporations to consumers, will rely. Windows 2000, slated for release on Feb. 17, is the initial phase of Microsoft's strategy. Windows 2000 will facilitate Microsoft's move into the high-end corporate and Web computing markets, although experts believe Unix will continue to dominate these markets. Microsoft's share of server software licenses will rise over the next few years, says International Data, and this is likely to significantly boost the company's revenue. Over the next three years Windows 2000 for PCs and servers together could account for a total of $20 billion in revenues, says Salomon Smith Barney analyst Neil Herman. Beyond Windows 2000, Microsoft is preparing a range of services that will manage a person's computing experiences from anywhere and on any device. These services would perform a huge range of tasks, from storing files and data to setting up business appointments. Despite Microsoft's ambitious goals, analysts say the company will probably not become the force on the Internet that it is on the PC. Possibly the largest obstacle for Microsoft's strategy is the openness of Internet technologies, which are based on standards that provide compatibility regardless of operating system. In the corporate market, Microsoft faces strong competition from Unix vendors Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun, as well as the open source Linux operating system. However, Windows 2000 offers several major improvements over Windows NT. Companies that have tested early versions of Windows 2000 give the operating system favorable reviews.
- "New Options Fuel Growth in Online Procurement"
InformationWeek (01/10/00) No. 768, P. 96; Girishankar, Saroja
Online procurement is growing quickly as companies turn to e-marketplaces, trading hubs, and online auctions to reduce costs and increase access to suppliers. Companies can reduce procurement costs by half and cut order turnaround from weeks to days with online procurement systems, experts say. E-marketplaces are expected to transform online procurement, which was limited in the past to company extranets. "Before, buyers were tied to a single supplier or a handful of suppliers over tightly controlled extranets," says Forrester Research analyst Daniel Garretson. E-marketplaces now allow buyers to compare thousands of suppliers' products and place orders in real time, Garretson says. Business-to-business online procurement will reach $3.17 trillion by 2004, up from this year's $75 billion, Gartner Group estimates. E-marketplaces alone will be worth $35 billion by 2004, according to investment firm Volpe Brown Whelan & Co. Companies will increasingly use e-marketplaces, first for spot-buying and then on an ongoing basis, causing rapid growth of e-marketplaces, Gartner says. Buyers will demand that online procurement providers allow them to move easily from one system to another, which will consolidate the different types of online procurement, Forrester says. Competition will rise among software vendors and e-marketplace, auction, and portal providers, analysts say. To handle increasing competition, online procurement providers are acquiring other businesses and forming partnerships to expand business. For companies looking to establish an e-marketplace, today's third-party vendors, ASPs, and outsourcers make the task much faster and cheaper to complete than in the past.
- "Age of the E-Pliance?"
Business Week (01/17/00) No. 3664, P. 20; Wildstrom, Stephen H.
The first wave of Web appliances is now on the market for consumers who consider computers to be too intimidating to use. Netpliance has released the i-opener, a device with a 10-inch LCD and a full-size keyboard that will allow consumers to access the Web and send and receive email messages. At a cost of $199, in addition to $21.95 a month for Internet access, the i-opener is a device that is simple to use because Web access is available as soon as a user plugs in the device and connects a phone cord. The i-opener is already configured for the account of the buyer. Consumers will be able to dial out and download with the device, which features an opening screen of categories from news to weather. Netpliance's product also features the Web Guide category that allows users to group their favorite Web sites together so that they do not always have to type in their online destination. Although the i-opener can handle RealAudio, the same can not be said for video. Animated features and other Java applets can not run on the device, and the more detailed pages may cause some navigating problems. But there are plans for browser upgrades that should eliminates such problems. The device has a 200 MHz Pentium-class processor but is fast enough for a 56K modem connection. As for email, consumers will be able to send and receive simple text and picture attachments, but not Microsoft Word or Excel documents, and video clips. Several Web appliances are also available for consumers who only want email access. Cidco offers the MailStation, a monochrome LCD that is as simple as the i-opener to use, at a price of $149 with a monthly cost of $9.95, or at a price of $200 with service for a year. The MailStation, which has a small keyboard that may make tough-typing difficult, only offers text messages. The other device is the email PostBox, a $100 Web appliance with a year's service cost of $90. The VTech product may be more difficult to type on, and it has no right shift key.
© Copyright 2000 Information, Inc. This service may be reproduced for internal distribution.