Amazon swings into Canada

The long talked-about Canadian version of U.S. online retail giant’s Web site was launched last month, causing some industry watchers to wonder what the move will mean to the online entertainment industry in Canada. (The Canadian online book industry has been dominated by Indigo Books and Music up until now, with no hard competition.) The Web site features Canadian pricing and local shipping through Canada Post Corp. also announced that it selected Assured Logistics, a member of the Canada Post group of companies, to handle the fulfilment services for the Web site. The new site features books, movies and music stores, and offers both English and French. Bilingual customer and original editorial reviews can also be accessed. The site also offers bibliographical information through the National Library of Canada. Visitors may also access the Associates Program, which enables Web site owners to direct their visitors to the site in exchange for referral fees.

No money, honey

A computer error has reportedly delayed the issue of GST rebate cheques reaching Canadians on time, according to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA). Rather than issuing quarterly GST credit payments to recipients, the error caused those credit payments to be applied against the recipients’ debts to the agency or to other external government departments. Reports indicate that the CCRA’s policy is to send the GST credit cheques directly to the recipients, especially when they are low-income – which the majority of recipients are. People affected by the error should have received a letter from the CCRA, which will attempt to ensure payments are issued by the end of this month.

Scammer faces charges

A woman facing civil fraud charges in Massachusetts for selling on auction Web sites at least US$750,000 worth computers that were never delivered has said through her attorney that she intends to pay back everyone who is entitled to a refund. Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly filed suit in Superior Court in Worcester, Mass., early this month against Teresa Smith, alleging that she sold at least US$750,000 worth of Apple Computer Inc. Macintosh computers through her companies Smith/Berkeley LLC and Shadow SB but never delivered the merchandise. The suit calls for Smith to make full restitution and asks for a permanent injunction barring Smith from selling computers both online and off-line in Massachusetts. Smith, who until recently lived in Massachusetts, now resides in Manchester, Conn. Smith allegedly sold computers to at least 260 customers on the eBay and Auctionworks Web sites and took payments through PayPal, wire transfer or certified cheque. While some customers received their computers, most did not. When customers sent e-mails asking Smith where their computers were, they got an automated response telling them that the machines were on their way. Those who called got voicemail messages.

Internet attacks up 28 per cent in 2002

The Internet is an increasingly dangerous place for companies with cyberattacks up 28 per cent for the first half of 2002 over the last half of 2001, according to a new report released by security services company Riptech Inc. The Riptech Internet Security Threat Report tracked security data from the firewalls and intrusion detection systems of over 400 companies in over 30 countries from January 1 to June 30. Seventy-four per cent of the companies in the study have fewer than 1,000 employees, with 14 per cent carrying more than 5,000 workers. The companies that were monitored experienced an average of 32 attacks per week in the period, up from 25 in the previous period, according to the company. The seventh annual Computer Crime and Security Survey conducted by the Computer Security Institute and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation last year found that 90 per cent of responding companies had faced a cyberattack in 2001. Companies involved in critical infrastructure work, such as power and energy companies, were bigger targets for attackers, with 70 per cent of such companies undergoing a severe attack in the six-month period, up from 57 per cent facing such a threat in 2001, Riptech said. Overall, public companies were nearly twice as prone to attack as private companies, non-profit groups and government agencies, the study found.