2001 Chernobyl virus won

Data Recovery Technologies Inc. predicts this year’s Chernobyl computer virus, will not affect the majority of hard drives as in previous years.

Chernobyl is a version of the CIH virus, so named because it strikes on the 26th of April – the same day as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. It infects Windows 95 and 98 executable files. Once those executable files are run, the virus becomes resident in the memory of the computer and then infects other files as they are copied or opened. “It’s not going to hit very hard this year because most of the initial virus spread was eliminated after the first hit two years ago,” says CBL’s Virus Alert Centre manager Jermey Brooks. “Last year, even fewer computers with valuable data were affected because users took precautions beforehand by installing necessary anti-virus software. But non-corporate users such as personal users, students or very small businesses could still be at risk this year if they have not taken safeguards to protect their data.”

Back to school for Microsoft

Microsoft Canada has announced a partnership with the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, which will see Microsoft Canada assist with the design, development, deployment and support of the school’s Web portal project.

Microsoft’s support of the project will comprise a $500,000 sponsorship. The Web portal will be built on Microsoft technology and based on architecture being delivered by Liberty technology Services Ltd. The portal will reflect the business community the school serves and help create a seamless transition for Rotman’s graduates as they enter the business world. Microsoft will also help design a Web presence for the school that will allow students to share information quickly, capture and preserve knowledge and resolve issues from anywhere in the school.

FCC chief proposes competition crackdown

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell recently recommended that Congress increase penalties that can be imposed on incumbent local exchange carriers for violating competition provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 from US$1.2 million per violation to at least US$10 million.

Powell also asked that the FCC be given more time to investigate competition complaints. Currently the agency must complete its investigations within 1 year. Competitive DSL providers and competitive local exchange carriers have complained in the past that the former Baby Bells are not giving them open access to the Bells’ local loops, hindering the CLECs’ ability to compete in the local services arena.

Sprint launches new e-business platform

In an effort to expand its Web hosting business, Sprint Corp. has unveiled an application infrastructure management (AIM) platform that forms the software base for hosting applications at the company’s Internet centres.

Sprint has four centres working now and plans to build nine more by the end of the year and 13 by 2002. The AIM platform ties Sprint’s Internet backbone to the company’s Web hosting centres, so clients can outsource Web-enabled business processes. It also links Sprint’s cellular network to the hosting centres to provide mobile commerce capabilities – business customers can use mobile phones to access the network for client data, e-mail or other purposes. The AIM platform is the product of Sprint’s E-Solutions division, formed in November from the combination of the company’s Internet services and enterprise network services divisions to promote Web hosting in the wake of the failed merger with WorldCom Inc. last year.

Worm attacks Sun and Microsoft

A new Internet worm that can infect Web servers running Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Solaris operating system and Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Information Server (IIS) has been discovered. The worm first attacks the Solaris server and then sets it up to attack the systems running IIS, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said.

The worm takes advantage of known security flaws in both servers’ software to compromise systems and deface Web pages, according to CERT, which has named the malicious code the “sadmind/IIS worm.” CERT, at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, said in a statement it has received reports of the worm, although it didn’t specify whether the worm has been found in the wild. The Solaris system is entered by using a two-year old buffer overflow vulnerability. After that a security hole that was uncovered seven months ago is used to break into the IIS system. Once infected the Solaris system is used to scan and compromise other Solaris systems and IIS systems, CERT said.

Nokia, BT claim success with 3G trial

British Telecommunications PLC (BT) and global handset manufacturer Nokia Corp. have successfully completed its first trial of 3G (third-generation) mobile telecommunication technology, the companies announced recently

The trial included the testing of mobile VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) along with applications such as video telephony, IP multimedia messaging and video streaming, based on the latest 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) International Standards, BT and Nokia said in a joint statement. 3GPP is the main group coordinating the technical standards for current and 3G wireless services. Nokia set up the trial 3G IP network based on standard IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) application servers and is working with BT’s wireless division, BT Wireless, to test and develop the network. Also, Nokia and BT Wireless are developing new services, including System in Package (SiP) products, the companies said.

High-speed wireless service to launch in Taipei

Taiwanese mobile phone service provider First International Telecom Inc. (FITEL) is nearing completion of a network in Taipei, which will offer subscribers data access at speeds up to 64K bps (bits per second), according to an executive at a U.S. company close to the project.

The network is based on PHS (Personal Handyphone System) technology and is likely to be up and running commercially within one month, said Sam Endy, executive vice-president and general manager of operations at ArrayComm Inc. ArrayComm licenses its IntelliCell antennae management software to Kyocera Corp., which manufactured the PHS base stations used in FITEL’s network, said Endy. Wireless bandwidth to be offered by FITEL over its PHS network is comparable with similar services currently on offer from PHS service providers in Japan, such as DDI Corp., Endy said.

LCD shortage hits PlayStation monitor launch

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) has been forced to delay the debut of a new LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor for its PSOne game console because it can’t secure a sufficient supply of LCD panels.

The monitor, which includes a 4-inch LCD panel, clips onto the top of the PSOne and was first unveiled last year by Ken Kutaragi, president and chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment. The monitor was shown at a news conference where the PSOne was launched. PSOne is a smaller version of the company’s original PlayStation console. At the time, Kutaragi said the monitor would be on sale in early 2001. SCEI launched the PSOne in Japan in July last year and followed this with launches in the U.S. and Europe in September.

Australian opposition supports spam ban

Australia’s opposition Labor party has supported moves restricting junk e-mail and mobile phone text messages under draft privacy guidelines released in early May.

However, the guidelines released by the Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton drew criticism from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for creating unnecessary red tape. Crompton is seeking industry input for the draft guidelines that give consumers the power to take their name off mailing lists and to see and correct their personal records. They also require Web site operators to tell users who is collecting their personal information, how it is used, stored and disclosed. Under the guidelines, direct marketing companies and other advertisers will not be able to contact consumers electronically, including via e-mail and text messages, without their permission.

Porn-free Web service

Internet service provider V21 Ltd. has launched what it claims is the first completely porn-free, child-safe service.

The company promises to filter out all pornography and adult content from e-mails, chat rooms and Internet sites, thereby enabling children to enter only sites deemed ‘child-friendly’. “It’s just a shame all ISPs don’t offer this service,” said a spokesperson at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). Of course there are many ISPs out there trying to be family friendly, the daddy of them all being AOL. Unlike filters or switches on a Web site, which can be turned on and off, V21’s software is installed on to a user’s PC and can stop the browser displaying offensive content. V21 claims the filter will recognize what’s safe and what’s not.

MP3 inbetweener

Fans of the MP3 music format have had to put up with either using solid state devices such as the Rio player, which require expensive Flash memory upgrades, or lugging CD player devices such as Waitec’s Tanky. Until now.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV is taking the smaller CD format – 8 cm rather than 12 cm – and making use of it in an MP3 player. The Expanium 401 uses 8cm CD-ROMs, recordable on any CD-RW unit, to store MP3 files. Philips already has an Expanium range, but it’s based on 12cm CDs. A price for the smaller, lighter Expanium 401, due out in August, hasn’t been revealed yet, but as it uses discs that cost around