The Canadian outsourcing market is showing no signs of slowing – IBM Canada Ltd. recently announced a $200-million, eight-year deal with National Bank Financial, a subsidiary of the National Bank of Canada, to manage its IT operations. Under the deal, IBM said it would design, build and operate processes and IT operation services; manage the bank’s application suite; and improve response times at customer service centres while introducing Web-based offerings and workflow tools.

In addition, 115 National Bank Financial employees will now join IBM’s outsourcing teams in Montreal and Toronto. The two companies have a long-standing relationship – IBM Canada and National Bank of Canada signed a 10-year, US$700 million outsourcing deal back in December 2001. Under that deal, IBM agreed to manage the bank’s IT infrastructure, including its Web environment and call centres.

Redmond operating on Greenwich IM time

Microsoft Corp. is set to make a showing in the enterprise instant messaging (IM) and collaboration market this month with the release of a beta version of its real-time communications server software technology, code-named Greenwich.

Due for commercial release in mid-2003, Greenwich represents the software giant’s push for presence-based applications, which show when users are online and available to communicate. With presence in mind, Greenwich offers companies IM functionality that includes data collaboration, PC-to-PC voice and video and integration with the company’s MSN Messenger Connect for Enterprises service. The Connect service provides authentication and management for business-to-consumer instant messaging. Although presence is most commonly associated with IM, the company predicts that it will soon be the basis for enhanced communications across a variety of enterprise applications, networks and devices.

Antivirus firms reload for Deloder

A new worm on the Internet targets computers running Windows, using easy-to-guess passwords for the Administrator account, according to alerts posted by a number of antivirus companies.

The new worm, W32/Deloder-A (Deloder), appeared on March 9 and is considered a low risk for infection, according to an alert posted by F-Secure Corp. of Helsinki, Finland. Deloder is believed to have originated in China, F-Secure said. The worm attempts to connect to other computers on a network through TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) port 445, randomly generating IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to locate vulnerable machines. Machines running Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000, ME and XP are vulnerable to attack by Deloder, Symantec said. As of press time, most antivirus companies had posted updated virus definitions to detect the new Deloder worm, as well as utilities to remove the worm from infected machines.

Sendmail flaw may pose big problems

A security vulnerability in one of the most commonly used e-mail server software packages could have a wide ranging impact, akin to the Microsoft Corp. SQL Server vulnerability that spawned the recent Slammer worm, according to an advisory published by Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS). The buffer overflow vulnerability was found in a number of versions of the open source Sendmail Mail Transfer Agent (MTA), ranging from the most recent release of that software to versions that first appeared in the late 1980s. The vulnerability could allow a remote attacker to gain “root” (superuser) access to a Sendmail server, according to ISS.

Sendmail is the most popular Unix-based implementation of the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which is used to transmit e-mail messages. Predating the modern Internet itself, Sendmail is used to process incoming e-mail messages. Patches for the vulnerability were available for both open source and commercial Sendmail distributions as of March 10. Information can be found online at

Sun unveils biometric-enabled desktop

Sun Microsystems Inc. recently turned predictions into reality with the release of a Sun Ray thin client device featuring a high-security log-on offering, combining biometrics and Smart Card technologies.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, along with AC Technology Inc., a developer of biometric access control products, and Cross Match Technologies, a forensic-quality fingerprint and palm-print authentication solution maker, said the new solution is designed to prevent identity theft, fraud and cyber terrorism, and is based on Sun’s Solaris Operating system. According to Sun, the solution is among the first in a Unix environment to feature biometric security for Sun’s Smart Card “hot desk,” or virtual desktop architecture, which is available on the Sun Ray system. The Sun Ray system stores no sensitive data locally, virtually eliminating data theft, which the company said makes it an ideal client for a high-security solution.