Edupage, February 10, 2006

  • From: Educational CyberPlayGround <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 09:57:27 -0500

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Three men have been charged by federal authorities in a botnet scheme
that reportedly netted the three $100,000 and caused $150,000 in
damage. According to the indictment, Christopher Maxwell and two
unnamed conspirators created a network of computers by illegally
accessing networks at California State University at Northridge, the
University of Michigan, and the University of California at Los
Angeles. Using the network of zombie machines, the men installed adware
on users' computers and also launched a denial-of-service attack on
the network of Seattle's Northwest Hospital. The attack on the
hospital resulted in the monetary damages cited in the indictment and
also shut down the facility's intensive care unit. U.S. Attorney John
McKay noted that although botnets are often seen as mere nuisances,
this case shows that the repercussions from them can be deadly. If
convicted, Maxwell could serve 10 years in prison and be fined
CNET, 13 February 2006

Technology / Security

In comments submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the
International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) urges the agency to
identify Russia as a Priority Foreign Country, a designation for
countries considered most threatening to intellectual property. The
IIPA estimates that piracy rates in Russia are as high as 85 percent
for business software, 67 percent for music, 81 percent for movies, and
82 percent for entertainment software. In addition, the Priority
Foreign Country list indicates countries whose antipiracy efforts are
minimal. The IIPA has previously requested that Russia be put on the
list, but only Ukraine is on the highest-priority list. According to
the IIPA, Ukraine should be moved down a step, to the Priority Watch
List, with 15 other countries, including China, Egypt, Thailand, and
Venezuela. The IIPA said countries including Pakistan, Brazil, and
Taiwan had improved efforts during 2005 to address intellectual
property concerns.
ITWorld, 13 February 2006


Microsoft has teamed with Vodafone to challenge BlackBerry in the
portable e-mail market. The Windows Mobile E-mail service will allow
users to send and receive e-mail from portable devices and to access
and edit Microsoft Word and Excel documents. The service will also
allow users to have mail sent to Microsoft Outlook clients forwarded to
handsets. Microsoft's Pieter Knook said, "It's an exciting time for
companies who are now realizing the true business potential of mobile
solutions." Meanwhile, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is
fighting a patent claim by NTP that threatens to shutter the company.
RIM recently unveiled a workaround for the patents in question that it
said would allow the company to continue operating and offering its
services even if the patent case is decided in favor of NTP.
BBC, 13 February 2006


A German research group that developed the MP3 format in the late 1980s
has developed a watermarking technology that it says will help curb
illegal file sharing. Officials from the Fraunhofer Institute said that
their technology is better than digital rights management (DRM) tools
in that it does not require special hardware to play protected files
and is less susceptible to hacking. Instead, the institute has
developed a method of watermarking MP3 files and software to track
those files. The result is that rather than identifying individuals who
download protected files, the application tracks who has uploaded files
that have been marked. According to Michael Kip, a spokesperson for the
institute, "If, for instance, you purchase and download a CD, burn a
copy, and give it to a friend, and that person puts it on a file
sharing network, our system will trace that music back to you." That
scenario, said Kip, could result in legal action against the person who
originally bought the CD, depending on that person's country of
residence and applicable copyright laws.
PCWorld, 9 February 2006,aid,124676,00.asp

Digital Rights Management DRM Explained

EFF RAISES CONCERNS OVER GOOGLE DESKTOP The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is warning users about what it says are privacy concerns with Google's new Desktop Search application. The tool indexes files from a computer, allowing users to search that content from other machines. According to the EFF, this process poses significant risks to personal privacy, particularly in light of recent government demands for access to usage logs from Google and other companies. EFF staff attorney Kevin Bankston said, "Unless you configure Google Desktop very carefully, and few people will, Google will have copies of...whatever...text-based documents the desktop software can index." If federal authorities obtain Google's records, he said, they would have access to all of those files. Officials from Google conceded that the new tool does represent a trade-off of some measure of privacy, but said such a compromise is one that many users will be willing to make. The company also said it would encrypt those files, would place strong limits on who can access the information, and would not store it for more than 30 days. BBC, 10 February 2006

How To Work With Google - What you need to know.

TSA CALLS FOR AUDIT OF SECURE FLIGHT PROGRAM The federal government's Secure Flight program has suffered another setback, this time from Kip Hawley, head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Hawley told Congress that he has ordered a "comprehensive audit" of the program, though he did not say what prompted his decision. The program is intended to increase airline security by checking the names of all passengers against watch lists, a task currently carried out by airlines. Under the Secure Flight program, the federal government would assume that responsibility. Critics of the program point to its cost--$200 million over four years--noting that even last month Hawley said the TSA still was not entirely sure how it would work. They also have complained about privacy concerns of the program and routine mistakes that airlines reportedly make in checking passenger names against watch lists. Wired News, 9 February 2006,70198-0.html

For the second time recently, Yahoo has been accused of helping the
Chinese government identify and prosecute individuals accused of
political crimes. In 2005, Yahoo was criticized for providing
information that helped Chinese authorities prosecute journalist Shi
Tao, who was convicted of revealing state secrets. Reporters Without
Borders said that another case has surfaced in which the ISP provided
information to the Chinese government that led to the conviction of Li
Zhi. According to the group, Li was found guilty of "inciting
subversion" after he posted comments online critical of local officials
and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Mary Osaka, a spokesperson
from Yahoo, said that at the time the company was unaware of the nature
of the investigation. In addition, she reiterated the company's
position that it is better for Yahoo to have a presence in the country,
"providing services we know benefit China's citizens," even if that
requires compliance with local laws that run counter to U.S. beliefs
and values.
Internet News, 9 February 2006

Censorship and learn how to fight it.


Speaking at the annual conference of the Professional/Scholarly
Publishing division of the Association of American Publishers, the
president of the University of Michigan defended her institution's
participation in Google's Book Search program. The program has upset
many publishers and other copyright owners, who contend that the
project violates their intellectual property rights. Mary Sue Coleman
told conference attendees that the program "is about the social good of
promoting and sharing knowledge" and argued that Thomas Jefferson would
have loved it. Insisting that vast numbers of cultural artifacts are at
risk of being lost due to insufficient efforts at conservation,
particularly among libraries, Coleman characterized Google's project
as one of preservation and her institution's participation as central
to the university's mission. She noted that the University of Michigan
had been "digitizing books long before Google knocked on our door, and
we will continue our preservation efforts long after our contract with
Google ends." Coleman's comment also included a clear defense of the
rights of copyright holders. Her institution would not "ignore the law
and distribute [protected material] to people to use in ways not
authorized by copyright."
CNET, 6 February 2006

How To Work With Google - What you need to know.

BILL WOULD FORBID UNNECESSARY STORING OF DATA A bill introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) would require operators of Web sites to delete information about the site's users unless the site had a "legitimate" need to preserve that data. Information covered by the bill includes names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other data, and all Web sites would be subject to the legislation, including those operated by individuals and nonprofits. According to Markey, the Eliminate Warehousing of Consumer Internet Data Act of 2006 is intended to address two issues: identity theft and government subpoenas of Internet data from Web sites including Google and Yahoo. Markey said personal information about Internet users "should not be needlessly stored to await compromise by data thieves or fraudsters, or disclosure through judicial fishing expeditions." ZDNet, 8 February 2006

Internet users in Thailand will not be able to access the Yale
University Press Web site following the government's response to a
biography that presents an unflattering image of the country's king,
Bhumibol Adulyadej. Thai officials in the Ministry of Information and
Communications Technology frequently block access to online materials
that include adult or violent content, criticism of the Thai royal
family, information about the country's national security, or
allegedly false advertising. The book, written by journalist Paul M.
Handley, who reported from Thailand for 13 years, will be released by
the Yale University Press in July. It is also expected to be banned in
the country. Although Handley refused to comment specifically on the
government's decision to censor the press's Web site, saying that the
book will speak for itself, Yale issued a statement defending the book
and the author.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 8 February 2006 (sub. req'd)

McAfee has introduced a new tool designed to defend against bots. Most
distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are carried out by
networks of computers running automated programs, or bots, that are
controlled centrally. So-called botnets typically consist of thousands
of computers hijacked by a hacker who can use them to launch DDoS
attacks. Most attacks involve bots sending thousands of incomplete
packets to the targeted server, which may be overwhelmed by the
traffic. Defending against such attacks is difficult because it is not
easy to distinguish legitimate traffic from DDoS traffic, and system
administrators do not want to inadvertently block legitimate server
requests. McAfee said that its new system, called Advanced Botnet
Protection, is able to identify traffic that consists of incomplete
packets, allowing network operators to separate malicious botnet
traffic and avoid DDoS attacks.
TechWorld, 8 February 2006


MIT has announced plans to deploy a wireless network covering
Cambridge, Mass., where the university is located. Working with Harvard
University and Boston's Museum of Science, MIT will set up the network
using mesh technology, which, although not as fast as commercial
service, is significantly less expensive. With a traditional wireless
network, wireless access points are installed to cover the desired
area, and every access point is hardwired to the network. Mesh
technology eliminates much of the wiring by relying on a small number
of wired antennae and many other antennae that relay signals to the
wired ones. Jerrold M. Grochow, vice president for information services
and technology at MIT, described it as "hopping from antenna to antenna
to antenna." Mary P. Hart, CIO for Cambridge, commented that the
proposed network will allow the city to determine the demand for
wireless access. Other cities have spent large sums developing wireless
coverage without knowing if residents want it, she said. Grochow noted
that unlike the situation in other municipalities, MIT's project has
not run into opposition from commercial Internet providers.
Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 February 2006 (sub. req'd)

In an effort to limit unwanted and fraudulent e-mail, AOL and Yahoo
have announced plans to begin charging "postage" for delivering some
e-mail to their customers. Under the system, companies that pay to have
their e-mail delivered--between 1/4 and 1 cent per message--will
receive preferential service. A third party, Goodmail, will collect the
fees and verify the source of messages. E-mail from nonpaying senders
will still be delivered, but it will be routed through spam filters and
other mechanisms, which could prevent it from reaching its target. The
hope is that the fees will discourage spammers from sending billions of
unsolicited messages every day. A spokesperson from AOL compared the
plan to the current functioning of the postal system. Certified mail,
for example, is guaranteed to be delivered "in a way that is different
from other mail," he said. Some analysts said e-mail postage will only
lead to disagreements between senders and ISPs. Many e-mail marketers
also rejected the idea, saying that there are already mechanisms in
place, such as a service called Bonded Sender, that verify the
legitimacy of e-mail and that cost significantly less than the proposed
New York Times, 5 February 2006 (registration req'd)

HarperCollins has announced a new program that will make book content
available free online, supported by advertiser links that share the
page with the text. Officials from the publisher said the Harper
program will focus on nonfiction and reference books, noting that
advertisers are likely not as interested in paying to support literary
fiction. The first book offered in the program, "Go It Alone! The
Secret to Building a Successful Business on Your Own" by Bruce Judson,
was published in 2004 and later released in paperback. One test of the
program will be whether ad sales offset lost sales, according to
Murray, group president of HarperCollins. Despite the ongoing squabbles
over online access to books, supporters of the idea still believe it
has potential. Author M.J. Rose said that no one wants to read an
entire book online but that if they have easy access to a text on the
Web and they like it, they will be encouraged to buy a copy.
Associated Press, 6 February 2006

Companies that use cell phones to track people have seen significant
increases in business in the past few years. In Britain, firms such as
Followus and Verilocation frequently work with employers who want to
keep tabs on staff, despite concerns that the service infringes on
individuals' civil rights. Kevin Brown of Followus noted that his
company's service requires the consent of those being tracked. Users
must agree to having their cell phones tracked, and periodic messages
are sent randomly to users reminding them that their movements are
being followed. Officials at Verilocation pointed to such events as the
bombings in London last summer as times when being able to locate all
of your employees is highly valuable. Experts on business processes
said being able to track employees can allow companies to provide
better service to customers by, for example, letting them know exactly
where a technician is and when he will arrive at a customer's home.
Officials from Liberty, a civil rights group, were unconvinced, saying
that employees' rights in the workplace have been eroded and that
there is a significant risk that businesses will misuse tracking data.
CNET, 5 February 2006

************************************************************************** Black History Month All Year Long

Classroom resources - slave songs, including stories of the people,
often passed from elders to the next generation, learn through the oral tradition.
Find 2 original Anansi Folktale E-books. Download, read, and hear each
story narrated in both American Virgin Island Creole and Standard English,
plus find out how these stories survived in tact from the original
storyteller. The Virgin Islands Dutch Creole folktale below was collected
by a Dutch anthropologist, J. P. B. de Josselin de Jong, who visited the
Virgin Islands in 1923. De Josselin de Jong does not say who told him this
story. However, we do know that all of the people who told him stories
lived on St. Thomas and St. John and that they spoke both Dutch Creole and
Virgin Islands English.

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  • » Edupage, February 10, 2006