World Cup is more than just games

Corporate antivirus protection company Sophos warned last month that the popularity of the World Cup competition could have an affect on the increase of viruses, and urged computer users to be extra vigilant against virus threats. The firm said that seemingly harmless things such as World Cup screensavers, electronic wall charts and spreadsheets could in fact provide the “ideal vehicle” for the spread of viruses and worms. With that in mind, the company said that users should not open unsolicited e-mails, download material from the Internet or anything that is not known to for sure be virus-free. In the past, the World Cup competition has been known to be the inspiration for viruses, according to the firm. For example, in 1998, the WM97/ZMK-J asked infected users to gamble on who the winner might be. If the user did not choose the correct team, a warhead was triggered which was capable of wiping all the data off the hard drive.

Sweethearts take a back seat

A recent survey conducted by Media Profile and Toshiba Canada ISG indicates that 55 per cent of Canadians travel with their handheld computers more often than their partner. The Toshiba Pocket PC Etiquette survey, released last month, was conducted as a part of the company’s release of its own e310 pocket PC. More than 400 Canadians were asked a series of questions related to “general handheld computer etiquette,” according to the company. Other findings from the survey revealed that 60 per cent of respondents have used their handheld computers while on the golf course; 51 per cent use them while “schmoozing at social engagements”; and 19 per cent of respondents have used their handheld computer to impress a prospective date. The survey also found that, when asked about the most interesting place they have used their handheld computers, 11 per cent of respondents listed the beach, while an equal number listed the washroom.

New York just says no to spam

The New York state attorney general’s office filed suit against bulk e-mailer MonsterHut Inc. last month, alleging that the company spammed consumers with 500 million e-mails and falsely claimed that consumers asked to receive those messages. Under New York state law, the company could be fined US$500 for each violation. However, attorney general spokesman Brad Mione said no monetary damages have been specified in the suit. “We are seeking to prevent MonsterHut from continuing its fraudulent, deceptive and illegal practices, not just over [Internet service provider] PaeTec’s network, but over any ISP in New York,” Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said in a statement. Spitzer charged that MonsterHut falsely advertised its e-mail services as opt-in, or permission-based, meaning that consumers gave the Niagara Falls, N.Y.-based company permission to send them e-mails. Spitzer said only a portion of the company’s e-mail customers actually gave that permission. tries new tactic

Online retail giant has been facing some stiff competition from the likes of eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc., but has decided to try out a new idea to help boost its site. The company is now in the process of beta testing a new feature which will allow mail-order catalogue companies to list products on its Web site, and will also allow restaurants to list their menus. While in the testing phase, the company is reportedly not charging catalogue companies or restaurants, but the cost of the services should the proceed with the offering is not yet known. The catalogues have been divided into eight categories: car parts, industrial supplies, medical supplies, pet toys, arts and hobbies, home furnishings, and science supplies.

Carnivore glitch exposed

A technical glitch in the e-mail tapping system used by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hampered an investigation apparently linked to Osama bin Laden and raises privacy concerns, a privacy watchdog group said last month. The system, Carnivore, was supposed to capture e-mail from the target of the investigation, but also saved messages from other individuals, according to an FBI memo made public in May by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which obtained the memo under the Freedom of Information Act. “The software was turned on and did not work correctly,” the memo, dated April 5, 2000, states. An “FBI technical person was apparently so upset that he destroyed all” saved e-mail messages, including the ones related to the investigation, according to the memo. The e-mail tap was being used by the FBI’s International Terrorism Operations Section UBL unit, which according to EPIC refers to Osama bin Laden, who is often referred to in government documents as Usama.