Many users vulnerable to hackers

Symantec Corp. recently released results of an on-going comparative survey which shows that a large portion of respondents are vulnerable to hackers, only half use leading anti-virus protection and a surprising 82 per cent are open to a common privacy leak.

The survey, launched last March, included responses from more than 220,000 unique users of Symantec’s Security CheckT analysis product. Nearly 40 per cent of survey participants have open ports that could be exploited by hackers. Hackers commonly use automated scanning tools to find vulnerable computers across the Internet. Symantec Security Check runs a series of tests to assess vulnerability to this common hacking activity and provides a detailed report to the user of any potential vulnerabilities discovered, the company said. Broadband users are particularly vulnerable because of their “always-on” connection.

Report lists measures to protect data

Top experts from industry and academia have concluded that existing information security systems – including measures to protect Internet data – are being stretched to the limit by the ever-expanding digital economy, according to a newly-released report from Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting).

Based on a recent two-day “Vision Security Roundtable” attended by 15 of the world’s leading information security experts, the report offers a call to action and examines foreseeable trends over the next decade. The report recommends several steps be taken, including advocating a holistic approach, investing in training and awareness, improving software quality and implementing best practices. The entire report is available at

AOL Canada contributes to SchoolNet

Brian Tobin, Minister of Industry, and Steven McArthur, president and CEO of AOL Canada Inc., have announced AOL Canada as a $1-million founding partner of SchoolNet GrassRoots, a Government of Canada program that funds the creation of on-line learning resources by students in kindergarten through grade 12.

On March 26, 1999, the Prime Minister announced the investment of $15 million in the SchoolNet GrassRoots Program to create 20,000 classroom-based on-line projects to be developed by Canadian schools. Since 1996, more than 10,000 GrassRoots on-line projects have been developed across Canada, involving 2.5 million students and 100,000 classrooms. The Prime Minister also challenged the private sector to match the Government of Canada’s commitment. The SchoolNet GrassRoots Campaign has raised close to $4 million from the private sector. Current sponsors include AOL Canada, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, CN and Imperial Oil. AOL Canada is the first Internet on-line service to contribute to the SchoolNet GrassRoots Program.

Lucent’s Q1 loss brings 10,000 job cuts

Lucent Technologies Inc. bundled its plan to restructure the company with its report of a US$1.02 billion first quarter loss. The restructuring will result in the loss of 10,000 jobs, the company announced recently.

The restructuring plan, which is intended to slash US$2 billion in costs, will result in lay-offs representing about eight per cent of its work force, pegged at around 126,000. Lucent will be taking a one-time restructuring charge of up to US$1.6 billion in its second fiscal quarter, Lucent said. The company hopes to improve its working capital with job cuts, the elimination of product lines and associated write downs, said Henry Schacht, Lucent’s chairman and chief executive officer, during a conference call. He emphasized Lucent’s need to perform in order to dig out of its financial hole, and said that hiring will continue in its high-growth areas. “This is a transition year for Lucent,” he said. The “vast majority” of people losing their jobs at Lucent will be notified by Feb. 15 and all will be notified by early March, he added. “We will eliminate as many jobs as possible by attrition.”

Nortel’s 4,000 job cuts to hit Canada

Nortel Networks will eliminate 4,000 jobs as it refocuses its business strategy away from voice to data communications and a quarter of the job-cuts will come here in Canada.

David Chamberlin, Nortel’s director of global communications based in Dallas, confirmed earlier media reports that 1,000 workers were to receive notices in Ottawa and at the company’s headquarters in Brampton, Ont. Chamberlin refused to comment on speculation in the media that the cuts in Canadian operations were part of a larger restructuring in the company’s global operations. However, in a press release issued recently, Nortel confirmed earlier media reports that the Canadian jobs were to be the first eliminated. Nortel tried to downplay the news in the company’s release by saying they expect the size of their workforce to remain unchanged in 2001 as the number of affected employees would be minimized through normal attrition, including retirement. The company said affected employees will be notified in writing and will be offered appropriate termination arrangements including severance and outplacement services.

AOL Time Warner to shed over 2,400 jobs

AOL Time Warner Inc. will lay off over 2,400 people, or three per cent of the work force of the newly merged company, in an attempt to streamline its operations, the company announced recently.

More than 2,000 employees will be let go or offered early retirement to remove redundancies, “sharpen focus (and) strengthen the integration of the company,” according to a company spokesperson. When added to the 400 cut from CNN, total layoffs top 2,400. Most of the jobs cuts, however, will be in the America Online Inc. (AOL) division of the company in Virginia, which will lose 725 jobs. Warner Music Group Inc. will lose the second highest number of employees, 600, through early retirement and attrition. Cuts to the music division will come from the business side, not the creative, according to the company. There are also plans to sell or close the Warner Brothers retail stores, though no definitive plans were yet available from the company. Daily Variety reported that the closure would result in 3,800 layoffs.

Full cause of massive Internet redirection still unclear

Some security analysts have said it’s still unclear what really happened recently when a technology glitch redirected Internet traffic meant for Web sites run by Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other companies to one owned by a Bermuda-based Web hosting and domain registration firm.

Late last month, an estimated 100,000 Internet users trying to access various Web sites were instead routed to a page operated by, which is part of a Hamilton, Bermuda, company called Global Internet Investments Inc. under an acquisition that was announced last spring. The traffic eventually caused’s Web site to crash. claims to host more than 350,000 Internet domains. Richard Lau, the company’s president, said the redirecting problem started with faulty entries in’s Domain Name System (DNS) table but was then compounded by misconfigured systems being run by different Internet service providers. “Our situation reveals a massive flaw in some DNS resolution server software being used by some ISPs,” Lau said, asserting that the prospect of an incorrect setting at affecting other ISPs on its own “goes against all fundamentals.”

Microsoft Canada launches mentor program

Microsoft Canada recently announced the official launch of the Microsoft Mentor Program, a national teacher training initiative designed to develop and enhance the computer skills of educators in elementary and secondary schools.

Microsoft has recognized that one of the fundamental challenges facing kindergarten to grade 12 teachers is the effective use of information technology to enhance teaching and learning. Canadian schools are rapidly addressing the initial challenge of providing teachers and students with access to information technology. However, using this technology to enhance the education experience is still a significant issue. The Microsoft Mentor Program is designed to address this concern by offering a flexible model in which teachers can develop and enhance their technology skills with an emphasis on solving education problems rather than focusing on the endless features in various software tools, according to Microsoft. Based on successful pilot projects in Ottawa and Toronto, the program will roll out across the country over the next year.

Analysts: Athlon bests Pentium 4

Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s Athlon processor is the best PC processor on the planet – for now.

That was the consensus of analysts at Microprocessor Report, which recently awarded the chip its prestigious Best PC Processor prize. The Athlon’s nod was just the first of several unexpected wins. This is the second year in a row the analysts gave Athlon the prize, but this year it faced competition from Intel Corp.’s Pentium 4 chip, launched in late 2000. The Athlon also defeated its low-cost sibling the Duron and IBM Corp.’s PowerPC 750CX. Despite a radical new design and speeds of up to 1.5 GHz, the early versions of the P4 just haven’t performed that well across the board, said Kevin Krewell, Microprocessor Report senior editor. “The P4 is too unbalanced,” he said after the ceremony. While the chip performs well on multimedia benchmarks, it doesn’t execute noticeably better than the 1GHz Pentium III in office applications. The Athlon, on the other hand, is a very balanced processor with a history of strong benchmark scores that continue to rise as AMD cranks up the frequency and makes other improvements, he said.

Study: CEOs increasingly challenged by ‘net

Chief executive officers in North America, Europe and Asia see dealing with the Internet as a growing challenge, according to a recent study released by consulting organization Accenture, formerly known as Andersen Consulting, and business membership and research body The Conference Board Inc.

The survey polled 506 CEOs during the middle of last year asking them to rate their top three marketplace and management issues for 2001, choosing from a list of 15 concerns in each of the two categories. The number-one marketplace concern chosen by 41 per cent of the CEOs was “changes in the type or level of competition” with the “impact of the Internet” next (38 per cent of CEOs) – up from eighth place last year. Third position was “industry consolidation” (37 per cent). The CEOs viewing the ‘net as a key concern tended to come from non-technology industries. “The Internet will continue to evolve, but at the moment most people are using it as an electronic fax machine,” was a comment the survey quoted from an executive at an unidentified European media company.

Consortium unveils security spec

The Trusted Computing Platform Alliance (TCPA), a trade group representing 145 technology companies, recently released a specification to make computer data more secure. Its efforts are backed by founding members Compaq Computer Corp., Microsoft Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp.

TCPA’s intention with its release of the Trusted Computing Platform Specification 1.0 is to provide the IT industry with a direction that facilitates trust in computing platforms and environments, the organization said in a statement. IBM Corp. was successful in developing the security standard that TCPA adopted at the organization’s January meeting, TCPA said. Companies that adopt the specification will use a security chip and PKI software. A security chip will be used to encrypt data and it will sit on the computer’s motherboard. The security chip will cost about US$2, according to an IBM spokesperson. The technology uses public-key, private-key encryption for developing digital signatures, according to the specification. The actual specification is posted on the TCPA’s Web site at

New Gateway CEO cleans house

Gateway Inc., the PC retailer, has had a management overhaul as it attempts to turn around flagging PC sales.

The first big step came as chairman Ted Waitt was named CEO of the computer retailing company that he and Mike Hammond founded 16 years ago. On his first day back as CEO, Waitt replaced three of the top eight people on his management team. The management shake-up comes almost three weeks after Gateway announced it would cut its workforce of 20,000-plus employees by more than 10 per cent after suffering a US$94.3 million fourth-quarter loss. According to a report released today by International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., PC sales will continue to slump, at least in North America., through 2004. Waitt replaced Jeff Weitzen, who announced his retirement after about a year as Gateway’s CEO.