Friday, June 8, 2007

Judge Denies Demand To Shut Down Spamhaus

By Gregg Keizer

A federal judge has rejected an e-mail marketing company's request that the Internet domain assigned to Spamhaus, a non-profit organization based in the U.K., be suspended, giving the anti-spam group's blacklist a reprieve and avoiding a clash over U.S. rulings against the Internet.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras denied the proposed motion from e360Insight, an Illinois-based company that sued Spamhaus for adding its domain to the blacklist, a database of spammers and suspected spammers that is widely used by spam filtering services and software. Spamhaus did not contest the case, claiming that the U.S. court had no jurisdiction.

With Spamhaus not participating, Kocoras last month was forced to rule for e360Insight, which was granted an $11.7 million judgment. Spamhaus, however, stuck by its contention that e360Insight was a known and egregious spammer, and refused to pay the fine, issue an apology, or remove e360Insight from the blacklist.

This month, e360Insight demanded that Kocoras order the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Tucows, a domain registrar, to strip Spamhaus of its domain name for not complying with the judgment.

Thursday, the judge refused the motion, saying it was too broad and would eliminate all traffic, not just that claimed by the original lawsuit, to

"This relief is still too broad to be warranted in this case," wrote Kocoras in his rejection. "While we will not condone or tolerate noncompliance with a valid order of this court, neither will we impose a sanction that does not correspond to the gravity of the offending conduct."

The decision keeps the group's blacklist in operation, which drew reaction from David Linhardt, the chief executive of e360Insight. "If the court cannot prevent Spamhaus from violating its order, then Spamhaus will continue to censor and control the email messages Americans can receive," Linhardt wrote in a message posted on his company's Web site.

Spamhaus, which claims its blacklist blocks 50 billion spam messages a day sent to some 650 million different e-mail accounts, was unavailable for comment.

Last week, messaging service and software analyst Richi Jennings of Ferris Research said that if Spamhaus and its blacklist were to "go dark," it might fuel arguments by other countries and international organizations who want the U.S. to relinquish control of the Internet. Recent efforts along those lines have included proposals that the United Nations administer the Internet, and have grown out of frustration with some ICANN decisions, such as its May rejection of the .xxx top-level domain.

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Remote-Controlled Toys Are Ideal For Terrorists?

Sri Lanka has banned imports of remote-controlled toy cars, boats and planes because of fears Tamil Tiger rebels could use them as bombs, a senior military official said Tuesday.

"You get remote-controlled planes and cars which can be operated on the road. If it gets into the wrong hands, they can bring a small toy, send it underneath a vehicle and blast it," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"Two to three kilograms (4.4 to 6.6 lb) of explosives can go in one of those cars without any problem," he added. "This can pose a threat. The LTTE are desperate today... There is no telling what they could do. They could make use of some of this equipment."

However, while imports have been banned, existing stocks of remote-controlled toy cars are still readily available on supermarket shelves in central Colombo.

The ban comes during a new chapter of Sri Lanka's two-decade civil war and after a spree of roadside bomb attacks and clashes that have killed hundreds of troops, civilians and rebel fighters since late July.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels were not immediately available for comment on the toy ban, which the official said would be a temporary measure.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fox tries to thwart DVR fast-forwarding

Fox is running a 30-second television spot with just one static image in an effort to reach viewers who fast forward through ads using digital video recorders like TiVos.

U.K. advertisements for Fox's new drama, "Brotherhood," which premieres in Britain in October, simply shows an image of Providence, R.I., where the show is set, and the program's logo. Viewers fast-forwarding through the ad would see the image for a few seconds; those watching it normally would hear dialogue from the show in the background.

Jon Hollett, a Fox International spokesman, said the company was experimenting with ways to get its messages to DVR users who routinely breeze through ads without antagonizing real-time viewers by broadcasting a flat, silent image for thirty seconds.

"This is something that is going to have to be addressed one way or the other," he said. "Making sure that you can get to your viewers when they're fast forwarding ... is of crucial importance."

Television executives fear the new technology could make ad-supported free programming obsolete. In the United States, DVR users could dodge as much as $8 billion of the $74 billion in television ads shown this year, according to Jupiter Research, a technology consulting company.

Some media companies have attempted to fight the trend. One DVR provider, ReplayTV, was driven into bankruptcy in 2003 by a lawsuit over its automatic ad-skipping feature.

Advertisers also have begun experimenting. Earlier this year, KFC Corp. promised coupons at its restaurants to viewers who could identify a secret code only visible when its commercials were replayed in slow motion.

Twentieth Century Fox International Corp., a unit of News Corp., said its ad would begin appearing Friday.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Weird Gadgets, Part II - Cellphone Breathalyzer

Weird gadget number two comes to you curtsey of MobileMagazine. And it's a cellphone breathalyzer.

The world's first sports car phone with alcohol Breathalyzer has gotten tremendous popularity in Korea. The cell phone by LG was a big hit from the beginning mainly because its outward appearance of a sports. Equipped with an alcohol measurement sensor, the LG-SD410, LG-KP4100, and LG-LP4100 have sold over 200,000 in the four months that it has been available, and is still selling around 1500 per day.

Having an alcohol measurement device attached to something like a cell phone is nothing but brilliant, especially among younger crowds who regularly drink after work or school and like to party. To use the sensor an intoxicated individual simply opens the phone and blows on the sensor, the LCD will tell you whether your level of alcohol in your blood is safe to drive.

Besides the alcohol measurement feature of this cell phone it is equipped with an advanced remote control for your TV, DVD and karaoke machine, etc. These two functions make this sports car phone appealing to most youths.

According to the National Center for Injury and Prevention Control, Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes in the US. Maybe, it's time to bring this technology to North America?

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Criminals flock to the Internet, survey finds

Criminals are increasingly trying to trick citizens into giving them their bank account details, according to a survey published on Monday which showed such "phishing" attempts almost doubled in the first six months.

Over 157,000 unique phishing messages were sent out around the world in the first half of 2006, an increase of 81 percent compared with the six-month period to end-December 2005.

Each message can go to thousands or hundreds of thousands of consumers, according to the bi-annual Internet Security Threat Report from security software vendor Symantec.

"Organized crime is here and they are very interested in phishing. They target home users who have become the weakest link," said research scientist Ollie Whitehouse.

Phishers send around emails, pretending to be a financial institution or other legitimate organization, and ask to verify personal information such as account numbers and passwords.

They target their victims much more closely than before, by tracking down full names and personal interests.

"They skim social networking sites and personal websites. Most people, by now, have left a digital footprint which can be mined," Whitehouse said.

Another trend in the first half of the year is that phishers have become more sophisticated, dodging spam filters and other defense mechanisms designed by service providers and software companies to keep out the criminals.

How much financial damage phishers have caused is unclear and usually at an individual level, which is why phishing does not get the same media attention as "denial of service attacks" aimed to take out a specific web site, or email worms which can shut down millions of computers in a digital equivalent of a carpet bombing.

The Internet is still under fire from such attacks, taking about 6,110 different denial of service hits every a day, but unlike a few years ago they cause less damage.

"A successful 'denial of server' attack or worm can have ramifications far beyond phishing. Worms have taken down electricity grids. That's why critical infrastructure is now much more resilient. Information technology managers are better prepared and networks are more robust," Whitehouse said.

Increased focus on security, and a willingness from software companies to own up to their mistakes, has dramatically cut down the time that computers are at risk, Symantec found.

Internet Explorer, the world's most popular browser from Microsoft, has cut the number of days in which hackers can exploit a security flaw to nine days from 25 days six months earlier.

Security holes in browsers from Opera and Mozilla Firefox are patched within two days and one day respectively.

"Vendors are taking this much more seriously," Whitehouse said.

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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