Lost Packets

Two Canadian companies will ensure a piece of our home and native land makes it to Mars in 2007. Toronto-based Optech Inc. and Brampton, Ont.-based MD Robotics, makers of the famous Canadarm, will jointly lend a laser radar (LIDAR) to NASA’s Phoenix mission in 2007. Having already been used by the U.S. government to map debris fields after the fall of the World Trade Centre towers in New York, the LIDAR’s mission for NASA will be to measure current climate and water conditions on the red planet to enable scientists to decipher evidence of ancient climates on Mars. NASA is also planning to launch the Mars Science Laboratory in 2009, which will explore the planet’s surface for one Earth year and hopes the mission will set the stage for human landing.

I’m not a Cisco customer, are you a Cisco customer?

The folks at the Reinsurance Group of America Inc. (RGA) were surprised to learn in August that Cisco Systems Inc.’s Web site featured them in a customer case study under the VPN product section. That’s because RGA doesn’t use Cisco VPN gear. According to Shawn Moyer, RGA’s project lead, information security, his company employs VPN equipment from Avaya Inc. and NetScreen Technologies Inc., not Cisco. So how did RGA’s story come to be on Cisco’s site? The network gear maker said perhaps RGA used a managed VPN service based on Cisco equipment, and maybe the case study is somewhat out of date. Moyer said RGA has no managed VPN service, but pointed out that the firm was spun off from another company that did use Cisco VPNs. Cisco’s rep said the case study would be deleted from the site, adding that Cisco “always gets these case studies approved by the customer.” Moyer said RGA’s marketing people would call Cisco’s marketing people to get things straightened out. “I don’t think it was anything intentional,” he said, noting that although the case study’s location on Cisco’s site might suggest otherwise, “there’s nothing in the article that specifically states we’re a user of Cisco VPNs.”

Women lead in cyber snooping

According to a recent survey by NOP on behalf of Symantec Corp., when it comes to potential infidelity, 40 per cent of women said they would read their spouse’s e-mails if they suspected cheating. In the same survey, only 25 per cent of men that said they would choose this method. However, when it comes to the workplace, the study found that 27 per cent of men are more prone to seek information such as colleagues’ salaries on their boss’s computers if they had the chance, versus only 13 per cent of women who claimed they would do the same. Regarding these findings, Symantec reminded computer users to password-protect documents, keep passwords secret and change them often, and always use a password-protected screensaver, otherwise you may have some explaining to do.