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Volume 2, Issue 65:  Wednesday, June 7, 2000

  • "New Virus Targets Handhelds Devices"
    Associated Press (06/07/00); Hopper, D. Ian

    Three well-known antivirus companies announced on Tuesday that a new virus could threaten cell phones, pagers, and handheld devices. The warning was given after Telefonica's network for mobile communications was attacked recently by a virus similar to the infamous Love Letter virus. The new virus is known as "Timofonica" and can cause substantial damage to computers on which it is activated. Security analysts worry that the virus could be modified to infect Internet-enabled mobile phones. The virus is then sent to each person listed in the victim's address book. And finally, the virus erases the user's hard drive and the basic hardware settings. Antivirus firms F-Secure, Network Associates, and Kaspersky Lab, all of which said they were contacted about the Timofonica virus, have created a software solution to restrain the virus. F-secure says the virus is activated when an email attachment is opened. Telefonica's Ed Holland said the company had not received complaints about the virus from customers.
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  • "Microsoft Files What Could Be Final Response"
    Los Angeles Times (06/07/00) P. C3

    Microsoft yesterday submitted its response to the government's most recent filing, criticizing the government for rejecting significant changes the company suggested in the breakup proposal. The company's lawyers wrote that by refusing to correct the proposal's flaws, the government passed up a chance to minimize the breakup's potential to damage the computer industry. Microsoft repeated its request that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson include language in the proposal that would give the divided company more leverage in forming agreements with software developers and PC makers.

  • "NSA to Turn Over Non-Spy Technology to Private Industry"
    Washington Post (06/07/00) P. A29; Loeb, Vernon

    The National Security Agency (NSA) yesterday announced that it would be taking bids from private companies for a $5 billion, 10-year contract to manage and develop a large portion of the agency's non-classified information technology systems. The surprise move by the NSA, which has traditionally guarded its technology and developed it in-house, will allow it to modernize important espionage technologies that are becoming increasingly ineffective due to fiber-optic cable, digital cell phones, encryption devices, and the Internet. The so-called "Project Groundbreaker" will modernize the agency's desktop computers, servers, computer networks, and other telecommunications systems much more quickly, and could save the government up to $1 billion through the life of the contract. Although the project will cost the agency as many as 1,500 of its employees and 800 contractors, those displaced by the contract are guaranteed jobs by the company that wins the bid. The contract is expected to be granted in April 2001.

  • "GE, Cisco Form Networks Unit for Factories"
    Wall Street Journal (06/07/00) P. B6; Murray, Matt; Thurm, Scott

    General Electric and Cisco Systems have agreed to create GE Cisco International. The new company will manufacture computerized systems for industrial sites. The deal was completed for an undisclosed sum and GE will control over 80 percent of the company. Jeff Pompeo, who is currently the CIO of GE Fanuc, will run GE Cisco. The company plans to create systems that connect industrial sites to other elements of a company, such as corporate offices, suppliers, and customers, using information released by automation mechanisms. At the moment, much of the information exchanged between factories and the other parts of a company has to be written by hand, then typed. GE and Cisco's influence in various markets will connect them to future buyers. Lloyd Trotter of GE Industrial Systems believes that GE Cisco Industrial Networks should have revenues of $100 million within five years. GE has a history of focusing on factory automation issues. Cisco has made a number of recent deals that involve its products and the creation and maintenance capabilities of other companies.

  • "The Next Big Leap? It's Called XML"
    New York Times (06/07/00) P. E4; Markoff, John

    Internet players are embracing XML as a truly universal language that will make it easier to identify and exchange data. Although HTML is widely used by computer users to share documents, the language does not distinguish between the actual data and the presentation of the data. By contrast, XML includes tags that describe the data's meaning. In a Web page containing baseball statistics, for example, XML would describe categories of information such as player, team, and batting average, while HTML would tell the browser to display the information in columns or bold print. XML is now being used to tie together whole industries. For example, PC makers can use XML to connect their suppliers to their factories to make supply chains more efficient. Meanwhile, experts believe that XML is the core of Microsoft's Next Generation Windows Services, an attempt to move applications and services onto the Internet. Already, Microsoft has released XML-based e-commerce tools such as Biztalk. The software giant's use of XML could position the language as the major underlying technology for the next phase of the Internet. XML is also widely supported by software developers, startups, and large companies such as IBM.

  • "Microsoft Angles to Keep Software Developers Loyal"
    Los Angeles Times (06/06/00) P. C1; Holmes, Stanley

    In a move designed to retain its independent software developers, Microsoft yesterday announced plans to devote $2 billion to new tools and training for its developers over the next three years. Threatened by a potential breakup as well as new competition made possible by the Internet, Microsoft must now work harder than ever to keep its developers from deserting Windows in favor of platforms such as Linux or Java. Microsoft's Developers Network now has over 1 million members, and almost 4 million programmers around the world develop Windows applications. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced a number of new software tools that will help developers build applications for Microsoft's Internet-oriented Next Generation Windows Services. The new developer tools include Visual Studio 6.0 and BizTalk Orchestration, both of which make it easier to build Windows applications for the Internet.

  • "Lucent Technologies to Become China Unicom Vendor"
    Reuters (06/06/00)

    Lucent Technologies announce on Monday it finalized an agreement with China Unicom for jointly developing innovative next-generation networking solutions for a variety of uses, including network management, e-commerce, fiber-optics, and wireless, according to Lucent. The deal gives Lucent preferred vendor status with the company. Furthermore, Lucent says the deal will enable China Unicom to quickly deploy the most advanced next-generation network solutions and provide new services for users throughout China. Both companies will also jointly establish an evaluation board to discuss new technologies and services, according to Lucent.

  • "Rise of the Internet Has Revived the Services Sector"
    Financial Times--Information Technology (06/07/00) P. 25; Kavanagh, John

    Twenty years ago, Datasolve marketing director Neilson Kite said that many companies cannot afford to invest the resources it takes to ensure they have sufficient computing capacity and the latest in software applications. Although the technology has certainly advanced in 20 years, Kite's basic premise still holds true: e-business applications place tremendous strain on IT infrastructures, which more and more companies are turning to services firms to maintain. Alliances such as IBM and Progress Software, Computer Associates and Acer, and Microsoft and Cisco are working to deliver the modern equivalent of the computer bureau of a generation past--advanced software running on the latest in powerful hardware accessed by the customer via the Internet. By contracting with a service provider, companies avoid having to devote resources to anything other than their core business, saving money and sharpening their business focus in the process. The demand for IT services will likely only grow stronger as technology continues to become more sophisticated and more companies move all or portions of their business online.

  • "Arraycomm to Test High-Speed Network"
    Associated Press (06/06/00); White, Michael

    Wireless technology developer ArrayComm is expected to announce today plans to offer Internet access via laptops and other small devices on a trial basis to some consumers in San Diego. The testing, which may take place as soon as the summer of next year, will enable a few thousand users to access games, music, video, and other files at a speed of 1 Mbps. However, the technology currently available from Arraycomm is not fully mobile as of yet. For instance, it would not operate in a moving vehicle, according to Arraycomm Chairman Martin Cooper. The service price for those involved in the trials will be roughly equivalent to subscriber costs for dial-up Internet access services. Cooper says the company is collaborating with device makers on specific applications to be used in the testing, which could include music, interactive games, and video downloads. The company says the service will be 400 times faster than other available services offering similar capabilities. Sony's investment in Arraycomm could prove significant since the company is intent on manufacturing Internet devices. But Arraycomm officials declined to comment on any potential impact from Sony's close involvement with the company.

  • "Big Brother on Internet Close to Reality In Britain"
    Los Angeles Times (06/04/00) P. A1

    An Orwellian anti-cybercrime bill in the U.K. Parliament would give the government complete monitoring powers on the Internet, including some that would not require a warrant. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill would force ISPs to develop protected information channels to transfer Internet data to the Government Technical Assistance Center, a $40-million hub for cybermonitoring activity that is being built in the MI5 domestic spy agency. Internet users' Web usage, including email addresses used to communicate and Web sites visited, could be subject to monitoring from government agencies, under terms of the bill. In some selective circumstances, penalties of up to two years in jail could be levied on Internet users who are unable to provide a password and encryption key to authorities. ISPs, businesses, and civil liberties groups are quite unhappy about the legislation. Their concerns are expected to be addressed during a House of Lords standing committee this week. Caspar Bowden, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, says the legislation sets up a "Big Brother" scenario of government monitoring.

  • "Digital Signature Bill Inches Closer to Vote"
    Computerworld Online (06/05/00)

    Digital signature legislation that has been mired in Congress for some time could receive new life, according to several sources close to the situation. The legislation's momentum stalled after conflicts arose in reconciling competing House and Senate versions of the bill. A majority of conference committee members now support a committee report on the bill, the sources say. The Information Technology Association of America gave its support to the report last week. However, Margot Saunders, managing attorney for the Washington-based National Consumer Law Center, says the bill is still lacking in protections. "We're disappointed it's not better, but we're happy it's not worse," she says. Even if the legislation should get back on track, it would need the approval of the House and Senate, as well as the White House, which has previously criticized the bill.
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  • "U.S. To Follow EU Crypto Lead"
    Wired News (06/06/00); McCullagh, Declan

    On June 13 the European Union is scheduled to take a vote on easing encryption regulations. Should the EU decide to relax the controls, the United States will follow suit, Commerce Department Undersecretary William Reinsch said Monday, adding that no changes will come before the EU takes it vote. American companies feel that the current regulations are too restrictive and have been taking their grievances to groups such as Americans for Computer Privacy. High-tech leaders will be in Washington on Wednesday for an annual lobbying event that will focus heavily on encryption issues. Meantime, FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle said yesterday that the Internet industry should be allowed to tackle privacy issues without government interference. Federal privacy legislation "may actually reduce the level of choice of privacy policies available to the consumer," Swindle said.

  • "UK Shapes Up for e-Business"
    VNUNet.com (06/05/00); Stammers, Tim

    The Holway Report, a three-volume report produced annually that examines over 2,000 software and IT service industry companies, predicts upcoming IT trends to include industry consolidation, a reduction in profits, and a need for workers with e-commerce skills. Due to increased spending and the need to replace systems after the millennium bug, there has been a slowdown in the industry. Holway Report author Richard Holway predicts that those with e-commerce skills will be most in demand, while other IT workers may suffer. "At the moment anyone without up-to-date internet and e-services skills is going to find it difficult to get top-rate jobs," says Holway. The Holway Report predicts a turnaround and growth period in the near future complemented by an increase in the number of mergers. The Holway Report also expects services to become a major part of software companies' offerings in an attempt to stabilize their profits as software revenues decline.

  • "More Buyers Heading Online In Europe"
    CyberAtlas (06/01/00)

    The number of European Internet users who make online purchases will jump from 19 million this year to roughly 100 million by 2004, according to the IMPACT survey from Datamonitor. More than one in four Europeans do not own a computer, digital television, game console, or mobile phone. The poor and elderly make up a large portion of this "offline underclass." By 2004, several things will have occurred, says Datamonitor. For one, the offline underclass will shrink to 14 percent of the population. Also, 79 percent of Europeans will be "interactive," connected to the Internet and living in digitally equipped homes, with 76 percent of households owning two or more digital devices. Furthermore, nearly 60 percent of mobile phones will be enabled with WAP technology. Interactive television could get big in Europe. Indeed, 31 percent of the United Kingdom's population and 16 percent of the Spanish population either already have digital TV or will have it within the next half-year. The United Kingdom leads the way in terms of online shopping, with 26 percent of Internet users in the country having conducted a complete electronic transaction.
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  • "Members Score Poorly In New Tech Survey"
    Roll Call (06/05/00) Vol. 45, No. 87, P. 3; Crabtree, Susan

    The Information Technology Industry Council has conducted a new study that shows that 25 percent of Congress members have not yet surfed the Web, which indicates that lawmakers are not as in tune with the tech world as many think. The study by the trade group that includes Microsoft, Gateway, and other industry giants was the ITI's first attempt to look more closely at what Congress members know and how they think about technology. On a scale of one to 10, members of Congress on average gave themselves a rating of 6.5 on their own understanding of technology and the issues that are important to the industry. Members of Congress said they should use the technology more, but added that they often do not have an hour to sit down and go online. Although their skills may be lacking, members of Congress value their high-tech constituents. The ITI survey found that 75 percent had been contacted by an online businessperson in their state or district and 56 percent said they have visited high-tech entrepreneurs. Members of Congress also said taxes are the foremost concern of the industry, followed by access, privacy, and trade. Furthermore, on a scale of one to 10 they gave a rating of 7.1 on how they generally view the high-tech industry. Some members of Congress noted that the survey included just 10 senators and 40 House members. In addition to expanding the survey, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), co-chair of the bicameral Internet Caucus, added that the survey should be broken down along generational lines.

  • "E-Business Skills Shortage Will Eclipse IT Gap"
    Computerworld (06/05/00) Vol. 34, No. 23, P. 36; Gantz, John

    Although the shortage of IT workers is the focus of much publicity, the lack of e-business professionals might be an even larger problem in the next few years. The growth of e-commerce, which is expected to be worth trillions of dollars over the next five years, will depend largely on e-business professionals. Last year the demand for less than 5 million e-business workers was mostly filled. However, if e-commerce grows as predicted, demand will rise to 20 million e-business professionals, surpassing the global number of IT workers. E-business professionals include online marketing executives, content creators, business planners, product line managers, and some IT workers. The demand for e-business workers will bring new opportunities for flexible IT workers, allowing them to influence company strategy. Meanwhile, professionals who continue to focus strictly on IT will find themselves increasingly working with e-business coworkers who either understand the Internet but lack business expertise, or understand business but do not have knowledge of technology.

  • "Retailers Reach for Multichannel Customers"
    InfoWorld (05/29/00) Vol. 22, No. 22, P. 36; Briody, Dan

    As the Internet becomes an important sales channel for many consumers, retailers are striving to combine and analyze customer data collected through online and offline channels to gain a detailed view of customer behavior. "The full view of the customer would be of great value," says Sean McLaughlin, marking director at Specialized Bicycle, which this year launched an online sales initiative. "Right now, we can learn some things in an aggregate sense, like inferring what products are doing well in different channels." A variety of data aggregation firms are developing services to match online data with offline data to gain a full view of the customer. "We want to be able to do this in a real-time fashion, so that when someone is at a store or calling a call center, we can tie their profile in and serve them better," says Andy Griebel, business development leader of the Acxiom AlibiTec group, which offers a service to analyze buying information for individual customers. Retailers hope to eventually gain a 360-degree view of the customer, a goal which analysts view as unrealistic, though useful. "The 360-degree view is something that you probably never actually capture, but you're better off for trying," says Hurwitz Group director of business intelligence Philip Russom. "But there is a conventional wisdom that says that any kind of leading recommendation you can make to a customer will lead to a demonstrable lift in sales."

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