Quick Hits

Reuters reported in February that Benjamin Curtis, who plays the excitable Dell Computer Corp. spokesman “Steven” in the company’s television commercials, was arrested for marijuana possession. The news agency said New York City police spied Curtis on a street corner holding a plastic bag filled with marijuana on the evening of Feb. 9. The arresting officer said he saw Curtis exchange money for the bag, according to papers filed in Manhattan Criminal Court. Curtis was charged with criminal and unlawful possession of marijuana, as well as two misdemeanour charges. The judge in the case said Curtis could avoid jail time if he promised to be good for the next 12 months. Reuters said Dell would not comment on Curtis or future plans for his character, known for exclaiming, “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!”

Flag-waving hackers beware

To patriotic virus and worm writers bent on making known their pride in the good ol’ US of A through computer havoc, the U.S. government in February issued this warning: don’t do it; it’s not worth the risk. Although some computer-savvy, pro-American netizens might be tempted to unleash digital mayhem on networks based in countries largely considered U.S. adversaries, the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) pointed out that hacktivism “is illegal and punishable as a felony. The U.S. Government does not condone so-called ‘patriot hacking’ on its behalf.” Instead the NIPC advocates increased user awareness of potential Internet threats, updated antivirus software and tight disaster recovery procedures.

A rose by any other name

Valentine’s day is usually a big occasion for flower shops, but nothing was coming up roses for one online petal peddler this year. FTD.com discovered Feb. 13 a flaw in its Web order form that provided easy access to customer information. According to CNET, a user visiting FTD.com’s site had only to manipulate the cookie code slightly to view billing info belonging to other customers, including names, addresses and phone numbers. The article quoted a security expert saying users could even peruse credit card information, although FTD.com said that’s not true and added that it has fixed the problem. CNET reports that Toronto-based Novator Systems Ltd. created FTD.com’s e-commerce system.