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 18: Monday, February 14, 2000
- "Leads Narrow List of Suspects in Web Attacks"
Wall Street Journal (02/14/00) P. A3; Hamilton, David P.; Carlton, Jim; Cloud, David S., et al.
Computer security experts have located several of the systems used in last week's cyberattacks on major e-commerce sites, finding evidence that implicates at least two hackers. Investigators are focusing on the two suspects, known only by their hacker names at this point, as a result of information obtained from network traffic analysis, computer-security logs, and monitoring of hackers on Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The individual suspected in the Yahoo! attack was especially skilled, experts say. The suspect, who recently stopped using IRC, is believed to live in the U.S. A second, less-sophisticated hacker, who experts believe lives in Canada and uses the online name "mafiaboy," is being monitored as a potential copycat. Mafiaboy was reportedly recorded in an IRC chat soliciting orders to knock out the CNN and e-Trade Group sites, says Michael Lyle of security firm Recourse Technologies. Meanwhile, experts are watching a German hacker known as "Mixter" who is believed to have written the Tribe Flood Network (TFN) software that was possibly used in the attacks. Mixter has said in email interviews that he is not directly linked to the attacks and that he wrote TFN to point out online security flaws. Investigators have determined that computers at a number of California universities, including Stanford, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of California at Los Angeles were used in the attacks. School officials say their systems were hijacked and used to launch the data that bombarded target sites.
- "Web Abuses Bring Call For a Crackdown"
Washington Post (02/14/00) P. A9; Schwartz, John
The Clinton administration will discuss the recent attacks on the nation's major Web sites--as well as the possibility of greater government policing of the Internet--at a meeting between government officials and representatives of high-tech firms scheduled for tomorrow. The Justice Department is expected to repeat its request for an extra $37 million to patrol the Internet; the money would come from the nearly $2 billion that the White House has asked for in 2001 to combat cyber-terrorism. The administration has already created a plan for the national monitoring of data traffic on federal computer networks, with a matching system that monitors computers in the private sector. The Justice Department has also worked in conjunction with phone companies to facilitate the wiretapping of communications networks, and it has also tried to decrease the amount of encryption software available. However, many civil liberties and electronic privacy advocates are concerned about the new calls for government intervention on the Web, saying that technology already exists for companies to fend off the "denial of service" attacks that took place last week. Civil libertarians say that companies are too cheap to implement the security measures, and are also hesitant because such software may slow down their service. Still, critics contend that companies need to form long-term security strategies rather than short-term tactics.
- "Microsoft and Market Expect Slower Start for Windows 2000 Sales"
Wall Street Journal (02/14/00) P. B8; Bank, David
Microsoft this week will release its long-awaited Windows 2000, the company's first OS for the business market in several years, but experts say Windows 2000 adoption might be slow. The software giant says Windows 2000 adoption will be slower than adoption for consumer-oriented products such as Windows 95 and 98, but adds that large businesses and Internet startups are eager to implement the OS. However, Gartner Group on Friday warned corporate customers to use caution in deploying Windows 2000 for network servers. In addition, Gartner predicts that only between 3 percent and 6 percent of Windows NT users will migrate to Windows 2000 this year, although the number is expected to rise to 50 percent by the end of next year. Meanwhile, some surveys suggest that over 30 percent of IT managers will implement Windows 2000 this year. Microsoft rival Novell on Friday announced that it had discovered a security flaw in Windows 2000's Active Directory that allows unauthorized users to obtain private information such as personnel files. In response to the report, Microsoft said Novell erred in the procedures used to find the flaw and that no flaw actually exists. Although Windows 2000 might not take off quickly, the OS is expected to bring in a large percentage of Microsoft's revenue. Windows 200 server versions will account for over $3.5 billion in revenue this year, while desktop operating system revenue will contribute more than $5 billion, says Thomas Weisel Partners analyst David Readerman.
- "Feeding the Open-Source Hungry"
Wired News (02/11/00); Finley, Michelle
In the tradition of open-source software, Bascom Global Internet Services, a company dealing primarily with Linux-based applications, has created a program known as "Open Source Equipment Exchange" (OSEE) that will allow companies and individuals to donate computer equipment to OS developers who have a need for the equipment. Following the scheduled mid-2000 launch of the OSEE Web site, to be designed and hosted entirely by Bascom, OS developers in need of that extra hard drive or CD-ROM to properly design their software or put the final touches on a project will be able to find exactly what they need to finish the job with a minimum of expense. Bascom CTO Bob DeRosa believes small- to medium-size businesses will emerge as the most generous contributors simply because such organizations typically have fewer bureaucratic hurdles to surmount with regards to making such donations than do larger ones. Presently, a temporary OSEE Web site featuring an email address exists to receive suggestions and process requests for further information.
- "In Wake of Hacks, Banks Called Relatively Safe"
American Banker (02/14/00) P. 7; Weitzman, Jennifer
Last week's "denial of service" attacks on several major commercial Web sites did not affect any online banking operations, according to Keynote Systems, an Internet performance monitor. In fact, technology security experts say that online banks and brokers came out of last week's attacks better than any other sites, mainly because they have better security processing and more sophisticated security software, such as "intrusion-detection" technology. Experts say that banks are also somewhat insulated against denial of service attacks because service interruptions are very common in the industry, even before the advent of online banking. However, banks are still tempting targets for hackers due to their nature, and security professionals warn that banks may be in danger if they have too many links to other Web sites. Therefore, banks need to be very certain that those connecting sites practice good security, such as implementing solid firewalls and creating and enforcing strict security policies and procedures.
- "States Weigh New Rules for E-Commerce"
Washington Post (02/13/00) P. C1; Mosk, Matthew; Timberg, Craig
Software companies such as Microsoft are backing efforts to push through business-friendly e-commerce legislation in several states, but legal analysts are concerned that consumer protections may suffer if the new rules are adopted. Maryland and Virginia are battling to become the first state in the country to adopt the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), which forces consumers to hold to the terms-of-use licensing agreements governing software products. The act gives software companies the right to "repossess" products from users' computers if they are late in making payments. Maryland and Virginia lawmakers see the act as a boost to their efforts at luring more high-tech companies into the region. The governors of both states are giving their full support to the legislation, as are many of the states' more powerful lawmakers. The Virginia House of Delegates will vote on UCITA today. One critic of the act, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curan Jr. (D), says he has serious concerns about the act's ability to protect consumers. Yet Maryland Del. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery) says the bill will not harm consumers because Maryland lawmakers have taken steps to strip the legislation of any provisions that would undermine consumer protection laws.
- "U.S. Insurance Giants: Declare Net a Free-Trade Zone"
E-Commerce Times (02/10/00); Greenberg, Paul A.
A trio of the most powerful U.S. commercial insurance trade associations are lobbying the federal government to keep the Internet free of regulations that would hinder the growth of insurance e-commerce. The American Insurance Association, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, and the Reinsurance Association of America held the Commercial Insurance Legislative Summit in the nation's capital this week to come up with a set of e-commerce guidelines for federal lawmakers to follow. The groups would like the government's help in ensuring that regulations are not being duplicated in differing jurisdictions, but critics say even this type of government involvement could spill over into other industries. A number of the proposed guidelines would prove advantageous to other online industries. The group is against a "unique Internet tax" but was more neutral on the issue of an e-commerce sales tax. The group is also proposing that online fraud and non-electronic fraud be prosecuted the same, that strong encryption be made available to businesses and consumers, and that electronic storage be accepted.
- "IAs, Game Consoles Challenge PCs"
Electronic News (02/07/00) Vol. 46, No. 6, P. 14; Arnold, Bill
The future of legacy hardware and code continues to be an issue of uncertainty for computer makers. Computer companies want to offer more reliable and innovative products but have them remain under $1,000 in cost. Moreover, computer makers want to make more powerful products and add new features, but prevent legacy hardware and code from becoming unmanageable. The dilemmas have Intel and Microsoft talking about building PCs without legacy hardware and code. But some competitors are considering getting rid of the PC altogether. Internet appliances have been the subject of much discussion by such computer companies, primarily because some experts believe these next-generation gadgets could serve as a serious threat to computer makers. Internet appliances are being touted as being more affordable, more attractive, and more user-friendly than computers. However, Microprocessor Report editor Keith Diefendorff, speaking at a recent seminar sponsored by MicroDesign Resources, says some of the talk regarding Internet appliances is part hype, such as the theory that the units will be easier to use. Moreover, he says no one is sure that consumers will want the centralized storage and control that Internet appliances require. With Internet appliances, consumers will have to deal with unreliable networks, slow bandwidth, and the limited expandability of a proprietary solution with proprietary networks. Diefendorff adds that computer companies could face a challenge from consumer electronics companies as well. "Sony and Nintendo have more on their minds than the next generation of game consoles," he says. The latest game consoles offer Internet connectivity, have expansion capability for cable modems and DSL, and have significant processing power. And local storage can be added. Furthermore, consumers are very comfortable performing online shopping, online gaming, and using digital audio via game consoles. Anticipating a drop off in PC sales, Intel intends to become a provider of computing and consumer products and target data and telecommunications.
- "IT at the Speed of Light"
InformationWeek (02/07/00) No. 772, P. 58; Saunders, Stephen; Heywood, Peter
Optical networks that use light streams to send voice, data, and video over fiber cables will significantly change business processes and improve network services in the next few years, experts say. Optical networks provide tremendous amounts of bandwidth, essentially ridding networks of delays. Companies will begin relying more on thin clients, running applications through their own central servers or renting them from ASPs. In addition, video use and e-commerce will explode as a result of increased bandwidth. However, next-generation optical services will not be widely available in the U.S. until 2002, according to Treillage Network Strategies analyst Deb Mielke. Already, optical networking service is available in carrier networks with synchronous optical network (Sonet) and dense wave division multiplexing devices. Optical networking technology is advancing rapidly at this time because of maturing technology, lower costs as a result of standardization, and competition among service providers. Although optical networking vendors have focused mainly on long-distance services until now, new local exchange carriers are now bringing services to the local market. About 12 vendors, ranging from startups such as Chromatis Networks to established firms such as Cisco, are creating multiservice provisioning platforms. Unlike traditional Sonet gear that carries only voice, next-generation optical equipment carries all kinds of traffic, eliminating the need for networks to use ATM or routers. This new equipment lets carriers provide speedier services at a lower cost. Customers benefit from lower prices, improved performance, flexibility, and low latency. Optical networking is expected to boost the ASP market, allowing ASPs to provide quality-of-service guarantees because of increased bandwidth. Furthermore, ASPs will be able to offer a greater range of applications, including ad hoc conferencing and multimedia.
- "RosettaNet Pieces Begin Falling Into Place"
InfoWorld (02/07/00) Vol. 22, No. 6, P. 6; Grygo, Eugene
Business-to-business e-commerce may gain greater standardization due to the efforts of the RosettaNet consortium. The group is developing common online trading methods based on the XML language to provide better collaboration and tighter integration between business partners in the IT industry, according to Giga Information Group analyst Kenneth Vollmer. The consortium recently completed eConcert Readiness Day, a test of XML in a business-to-business production environment. In the event, RosettaNet members Intel, 3Com, and CompUSA ran transactions based on the partner interface processes (PIPs) of the RosettaNet guidelines. Industry observers say that although RosettaNet could be copied for use in any number of vertical markets, the technology's widespread acceptance may be impeded by competition within certain industries. For instance, analyst Geoffrey Bock says the highly competitive health care industry would be unlikely to collaborate on basic business processes.
- "Study Tracks E-Business Investments"
MMR (02/07/00) Vol. 17, No. 6, P. 46
U.S. companies spent an estimated $153 billion last year on e-business infrastructure, developing online strategies across the enterprise, according to a study by Internet Research Group and SRI Consulting. By 2003, U.S. investments in e-business infrastructure could jump to $348 billion, the study says. Last year companies from all industries started implementing Internet strategies aimed at boosting sales, improving customer relationships, refining marketing programs, streamlining internal systems, and integrating supply chains, says Internet Research Group vice president Larry Gordon.
- "Euro Projects Bumped by E-Commerce, ERP"
Computerworld (02/07/00) Vol. 34, No. 6, P. 20; Hoffman, Thomas
For many European businesses converting their internal accounting and back-office systems, handling euro transactions is low on the priority list. Much more important to many are enterprise resource planning (ERP) and e-commerce projects, because they offer more positive reinforcement to the bottom line. The euro--the new currency set to be adopted by the 11 European Monetary Union (EMU) nations by July 2002--provides "no reasons to be concerned," says Bob Rubin, CIO of chemical maker Elf Atochem. He is confident that companies, including his, will tackle the euro-transition successfully at the last minute, just as many did with the Y2K problem. Yet transitioning enterprise systems to the euro promises to be much more complex than fixing the Y2K problem, says analyst Martha Bennett of the Giga Information Group. With Y2K, "you could fix a system without really knowing what it does," she said. Not so in the case of the euro. "No more than one-third of Europe" is ready for the euro, says Nick Jones of the Gartner Group. So far, the consensus is evidently that there is little market pressure to tackle the problem.
- "Big Brands Crashing Party"
Interactive Week (02/07/00) Vol. 7, No. 5, P. 52; Smetannikov, Max
The first wave of free ISPs was led by companies without household names, such as NetZero, but the second wave of free ISPs is being led by companies with established brand names, such as Kmart and General Motors. Offline giants getting into the free ISP business have advantages over ISPs without offline stores; Kmart is able to deliver access information to its 30 million shoppers per week, which means more users will be attracted by ISPs with brand names. Offline retailers are turning to companies such as Spinway, a virtual network operator that purchases modem ports around the country from GTE, ICG Communications, and other companies to resell to businesses looking to become ISPs, to create national infrastructures. Spinway also rakes in funds by selling advertising space to companies interested in advertising on the sites of brand-name service providers. Other companies such as MicroPortal.com are offering companies a sophisticated tool to track their customers' Internet travels and then cater ads specifically to users' interests. Traditional ISPs believe the success of free ISPs will not affect their business; free ISP users are a different demographic than the high-income males traditional ISPs attract. Traditional ISP Earthlink will make $1 billion in revenues this year, and only half of that revenue will come from the $19.95 a month the company charges users. Earthlink has developed many other ways to obtain revenue, such as Web hosting, that Kmart and other free ISPs have yet to provide users.
- "A Friendship Matures"
tele.com (02/07/00) Vol. 5, No. 3, P. 37; Robinson, Brian
Ethernet may adopt a new role if the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has its way. The group was set to commission a task force to define a specification that would establish Ethernet as an end-to-end WAN protocol. The 802.3ae Ethernet standard, which may apply solely to fiber, will have a 10 Gbps rate for the LAN and an OC-192 rate for data over optical fiber. A 1 Gbps standard for copper over distances under 100 meters was cleared in 1999. However, a similar standard for 10 Gbps has not yet been established. The 802.3ae standard is expected to be completed at the start of 2002. But a draft specification may be introduced in September, allowing 10 Gbps Ethernet products to be launched by the end of the year. Demand for faster Ethernet technology has been spurred by the sharp rise in IP traffic. Companies are making network improvements and are shifting fast Ethernet to the desktop. But the market for 10 Gbps Ethernet is uncertain. Price may be the factor that makes 10 Gbps Ethernet stand out from other technologies, according to Matt Glenn, product manager at Alcatel USA.
- "I, Integrator"
Intelligent Enterprise (02/09/00) Vol. 3, No. 3, P. S4; Gilpin, Mike
New types of application integration solutions are emerging to better manage integration projects, says Giga Information Group analyst Mike Gilpin. The application integration market is heavily segmented. Some vendors focus on front-end integration, while others are geared toward back-office technology. Meanwhile, solutions are often based on different platforms, with application servers being used mainly to integrate applications built from scratch and application integration solutions being used to couple packaged applications. Yet the application server platform is now beginning to support the loose integration styles generally required by packaged applications, says Gilpin. Gilpin attributes this evolution to the emergence of technologies such as XML, COM+, and Java Message Service (JMS), as well as added JMS support from vendors. Gilpin says the new technologies make it easier to use application servers to implement looser integration strategies. As a result of this trend, Gilpin predicts an increasing use of application servers as the platform for application integration projects.
- "Security For Broadband Access"
InternetWeek (02/07/00) No. 799, P. 23; Yasin, Rutrell
Security experts say telecommuters who log on to corporate networks via DSL and cable modems usually do not have the protection of a corporate firewall, making the computers vulnerable to security breaches. High-speed Internet access users are also easy prey for hackers, as the systems are basically always on and use the same IP addresses for long periods of time. However, two new business-oriented products aim to remedy this situation. The Zone Alarm 2.0 from Zone Labs allows only authorized traffic onto a computer, and can stonewall illegitimate applications. The software also features an Internet Lock function that turns away all Internet traffic when a computer is not in use. The software can run on Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT, and 2000. WatchGuard Technology recently released its Firebox Telecommuter, which is a tiny hub with four port connections that provide built-in firewall and VPN mechanisms. The company has also released a version of the product geared toward small offices with 50 employees or less, called Firebox SOHO.
- "The Net World Order"
Industry Standard (02/14/00) Vol. 3, No. 5, P. 174; Weber, Jonathan
Although discussion at the recent "Europe in the Internet Economy" conference focused mainly upon how the European Union can remain competitive in an e-commerce industry perceived by many to be dominated by the United States, there is strong reason to believe that Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, may not be that far behind after all. For instance, Europe is superior to the U.S. in its wireless communications technology, and the resources needed to finance Internet-related ventures are beginning to be seen in both the private and the government sectors of the continent. In places such as Asia and Latin America local Internet entrepreneurs have enjoyed greater success than America Online. The European stock exchange is blossoming while the fields of media and retail worldwide are constantly maturing, the former providing an "out" for emerging European Internet financiers and the latter exerting its powerful, targeted-consumer influence around the globe. Based on such strong economic indices, the Internet industry could soon witness the emergence of several new competitors.
- "The Outbreak of Web World II"
U.S. News & World Report (02/14/00) Vol. 128, No. 6, P. 38; Yang, Dori Jones
The emergence of audio and video on the Web is considered to be the next major war to take place involving Internet technology. The first clash centered around browsers. And like that earlier war, Microsoft is involved. However, this time RealNetworks will be the company hoping it can withstand the might of Microsoft. RealNetworks, which was founded by former Microsoft executive Rob Glaser, is by far the market leader in streaming media technology with more than 85 percent of all Web pages offering streaming media files using the technology of RealNetworks. RealNetworks was the first to pursue audio and video clips in real time for the Internet. But now Microsoft wants to be a major force in that market. Microsoft could not come to an agreement with RealNetworks on common standards and formats for streaming media technology, so it has forged ahead with its Windows Media Player, which uses different file formats than RealPlayer. Now, on some sites such as CNN and Fox, Web surfers can choose which player they want to use. Microsoft also wants corporations to be able to use streaming media for videoconferences and meetings over the Internet, so the company is distributing its Windows Media Technologies on Windows 98 and Windows 2000 at no extra charge. RealNetworks is targeting these companies but charges for an enhanced version of its basic Webcasting technologies; it also offers consulting and outsource broadcasting as added services. RealNetworks obtains 40 percent of its revenue from big companies and 45 percent from consumers. Both companies appear to be moving in different directions to stay ahead of the other. Microsoft is pursuing content providers and has developed digital rights management software to protect the copyrights of musicians and recording companies. RealNetworks has countered by offering its version of online TV guide for finding audio and video content on the Web and software that lets you organize downloaded music or music recorded on CDs. Some observers say content developers want two formats, and this will force the companies to improve the technology. Others say ultimately only one will win.
© Copyright 2000 Information, Inc. This service may be reproduced for internal distribution.