News Thread

A German research student says that under the right conditions, hackers could steal information off cathode-ray tube (CRT) computer screens by measuring the light reflected from a user’s face.

Markus Kuhn, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge in England said as long as your face is illuminated, from a distance of 50 meters he can collect the photons from your face into a sensor and will have a very good chance of turning it into a readable text. While his research on information leakage from monitor reflections shouldn’t worry the general population of computer users, government agencies and corporations dealing with top secret or confidential materials would probably want to take precautions.

Sun files suit against Microsoft

In a private antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court recently, Sun Microsystems Inc. is seeking more than US$1 billion in damages from Microsoft Corp., as well as a preliminary injunction forcing the software giant to include Sun’s Java Virtual Machine (JVM) in the Windows XP operating system.

The lawsuit “seeks to restrain Microsoft’s anti-competitive behaviour and remedy the damage that has resulted from Microsoft’s illegal monopoly,” Michael Morris, Sun’s general counsel, said recently. The lawsuit asks the court to force Microsoft to distribute JVMs with Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.0 instead of requiring users to download a JVM. It also would force Microsoft to disclose proprietary interfaces and unbundle “tied” products such as Explorer and .Net.

Experts warn of Secure Shell error

Security experts are advising Linux and Unix software users to apply an update for the OpenSSH protocol since this “Secure Shell” protocol for remote administration of software has been found to have a programming error that would let a local authorized user gain superuser root privileges.

The OpenSSH Project, which is run by the OpenBSD, has corrected this vulnerability in Version 3.1 of OpenSSH, which was released on recently.

Judge grants Microsoft one-week delay

Microsoft Corp. recently won a request to delay the set of hearings in its ongoing antitrust case, in which a federal judge could impose remedies that go beyond a proposed settlement to which the company has agreed.

Nine states and the District of Columbia, which did not sign on to the proposed settlement Microsoft forged with the U.S. Department of Justice and nine other states, were scheduled to face off against Microsoft in a set of hearings to begin soon. During a pre-trial conference District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing the case, granted a request by Microsoft to postpone the start of the remedy hearings by one week.

IBM takes Unix server crown from Sun

IBM Corp. has narrowly squeezed past rival Sun Microsystems Inc. to become the world’s top Unix server vendor for the first time since 1998, market research group IDC said recently.

Moving into the top spot from third place last year, IBM accounted for 26.9 per cent of worldwide Unix server sales during the fourth quarter of 2001, compared to 26.8 per cent from second-place Sun, IDC said. Hewlett-Packard Co. came in third, with a market share of 25 per cent.

IT program for disadvantaged women

Dianne Cunningham, minister responsible for Women’s Issues, kicked off International Women’s Week by presenting a cheque for $298,630 to the new Information Technology Training for Women (ITTW).

ITTW is one of the first programs of its kind in Canada. A partnership between the Ontario government, the private and the voluntary sectors, ITTW provides low-income women in Ontario with government-funded specialized training that will help them qualify for entry level jobs in IT. Dixon Hall is a community-based, non-profit centre that offers IT training to low-income women and women who are new immigrants.

Amazon settles dispute with B&N

After more than two years, Inc. has settled its patent-infringement suit against rival Inc. over the use of its one-click system. The U.S. District Court in Seattle officially ended the court case recently according to court records, though details of the settlement were not disclosed.’s one-click system allows repeat online customers to place orders without re-entering credit card or address information. Included in the patent is the technology that stores billing and shipping data., which started offering its one-click feature in September 1997 and received a patent for it in September 1999, sued in October 1999 for patent infringement.

Users cautious HP/Compaq merger

Corporate end users of Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. systems are split almost equally for and against the merger of the two companies. But almost half of the 243 IT managers surveyed said they were undecided and would give the merger the benefit of the doubt, research company Technology Business Research Inc. said recently.

The survey reported that 29.6 per cent of users were in favour of the merger, compared to 24.3 per cent against, with 46.1 per cent saying they were undecided. But reaction to the merger was more favourable with regard to the effect of the merger on IT departments. Almost 60 per cent of respondees said the merger would have a positive or neutral effect on their IT organization, compared to 9.5 per cent who felt there would be a negative impact.

A haul in for the long-haul

Just when you thought the long-haul optical market was being left for dead, a start-up in Ottawa just landed US$55 million in new funding to revive it.

Innovance Networks began operations in mid-2000 with the objective to develop products to automate the core of the optical long-haul network. The company is headed by CEO Peter Allen, who was vice-president of business development and general manager of the optoelectronics organization within Nortel’s Optical Networks division. The Innovance system will launch in the second quarter and will be on display at SuperComm 2002 in Atlanta in June.

Top ten viruses reported

Sophos recently released the latest in a series of monthly charts counting down the ten most frequently occurring viruses. For February 2002, the chart is as follows, with the most frequently occurring virus at number one.

1. W32/MyParty-A (My Party) 18.9%

2. W32/Badtrans-B (Badtrans variant) 15.7%

3. W32/Klez-E (Klez variant) 13.5%

4. W32/Klez-G (Klez variant) 10.0%

5. W32/Magistr-B (Magistr variant) 4.8%

6. W32/Sircam-A (Sircam) 4.5%

7. W32/Magistr-A (Magistr) 3.2%

8. W32/Nimda-A (Nimda) 1.8%

9. W32/Hybris-B (Hybris) 1.5%

10. W32/ElKern-B (ElKern variant) 1.4%