Cyber Ramblings - Feb 13, 2001

13 February 2001
Kournikova: Hot, Virus: Rather Harmless
Russian bombshell tennis star Anna Kournikova still may not have a title to her name, but she certainly has another honor to hang on her mantel. The fantasy of nearly every teenage male has received plenty of criticism for her lack of winning a single event on the Women’s Tennis Association tour, but the blonde tennis start/spokes model has been able to capitalize on her good looks in securing plenty of exposure and endorsements. Using that kind of global recognition an e-mail virus was spread throughout the world yesterday promising recipients a .jpg photo of the teenage sensation. The subject line of the e-mail was titled, "Hi" Check This!" and had an attachment named "AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs." Upon clicking on the attachment, the virus would then send itself to all the users in the mailbox or lock the computer up. It is still unknown where the virus originated from, but an estimated 100,000 computers were infected by the e-mail in Australia Computers throughout the United States and Europe were hit as well. Asia, which had time to prepare for the virus, was able to sidestep it by sending out warnings. While the virus was quick to spread throughout the world, not reports of demolishing or crippling computers were reported. Unlike the Love Bug virus that was released last spring, the Ana virus showed little lasting effects once a computer was restarted. The Love Bug virus overwhelmed e-mail systems worldwide and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

The Man Who Sold His Soul
The popular Internet auction site, eBay, continues to give techies plenty to talk about. Ever since its inception the site has been known for its oddball items up for auction, prisoner ID cards, body parts and other unique items have made the site legendary. Last week a user offered his very own soul in arguable what is the most unique item ever to be auctioned off on the site. The soul was put up for auction by Adam Burtle, a 20-year-old University of Washington student, and fetched a high bid of $400. eBay has since suspended Burtle from its site. Burtle admitted later that he had done the auction as a joke and didn’t expect any response. Along with the auction, Burtle posted a message about the condition of his soul. "Please realize, I make no warranties as to the condition of the soul. As of now, it is near mint condition, with only minor scratches," he wrote. "Due to difficulties involved with removing my soul, the winning bidder will either have to settle for a night of yummy Thai food and cool indie flicks, or wait until my natural death." eBay has blocked similar auctions in the past but said Burtle's soul slipped through.

ICANN Issues Go Before Congress
The target date for the newest issue of TLDs (Top Level Domain) on the Internet gets closer, controversy still seems to surround the issue. The chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers was invited to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the way ICANN had selected organizations to sell the new domain names. ICANN’s chair Vint Cerf and eight other witnesses were given five minutes each to speak before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet. Reports indicated that the tone of the event did not favor the way ICANN was doing business. Representatives questioned Cerf as to why ICANN had disallowed new TLDs .kids, which would have allowed parents help in knowing the site was designed for children, and .xxx, which would have created an adult-only section of the Web. Both of these ideas were very popular on Capital Hill and many politicians were disappointed when the two were left off the final list.

Report Claims E-Commerce Layoffs Reach 50,000 For Month
A new report released by Challenger, Gray & Christmas says that e-commerce and technology sector layoffs reached an all-time record high of 44,851 for the month of January. The executive placement firm, which tracks daily job cuts in various sectors, found that layoffs in the combined e-commerce, computer and telecommunications sectors accounted for nearly a third of the 142,208 jobs lost in January. E-commerce alone saw 11,887 layoffs in the month. The January totals surpassed the previous record number of layoffs--133,713 in December--by more than 6 percent, the firm said.

FATF Warns of Organized Crime Online According to a new report released by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering organized criminals are turning to the Internet as a way to launder revenues brought in from criminal activities. The FATF was set up by the G7 group of major industrialized nations and says that online banking and gambling are the areas of greatest activity. The speed of online transactions, worldwide access to the Internet and the reduction in direct contact with the customer are cited as principal factors, which make the Internet attractive to criminals.

IBM Accused of Aiding Nazis
A new lawsuit claims that IBM was an accomplice to the German Nazis during the Holocaust because it knew its machines were being used in Nazi death camps. Although the suit has some strong claims, the lead attorney admitted that he does "not yet" have documentation proving the allegations. "IBM USA implemented, aided, assisted or consciously participated in the commission of crimes against humanity and violations of human rights ... by providing technology, products and service it knew would be used to facilitate persecution and genocide," the suit says. The class action suit, filed by five Holocaust survivors from the United States, the Czech Republic and Ukraine in behalf of other survivors, names International Business Machines, a U.S. corporation, and not IBM in Germany. According to the suit IBM built and serviced punch-card machines which were used to tabulate work assignments and death statistics in concentration camps and to keep track of prisoners’ birth dates, sex, ethnicity and reasons for confinement. Filed Saturday in New York, the action seeks to force IBM to open its archives and pay "any ill-gotten gains ... from its conduct during World War II," roughly estimated at $10 million in 1940s money.

Independent Wireless Firms Mounting Concern Over Auction
The U.S. federal government recently put 422 licenses for wireless operations up for grabs, and nearly 90 percent of them went to AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wirelss, VoiceStream Wireless and Sprint PCS and that has some smaller wireless companies reeling. The government awarded the licenses through an auction, which generated $16.86 billion. The Federal Communications Commission set aside a number of licenses for small companies but almost all of the larger telephone companies struck deals with smaller outfits, which supplemented the bids. The losing bidders and the federal Small Business Administration feel the December auction offered rights to an extremely limited and valuable resource needed by companies eager to serve more cellular telephone customers and expand into wireless Internet service. The licenses allow winners to offer new services, such as wireless Web connections or two-way messaging on mobile phones.

Google Adds More Punch to Search Engine
Google Inc., the company which powers one of the Internet’s most extensive search engines, took over’s online discussion services, adding more than 500 million wide-ranging messages to Google’s search engine. In 1995, Deja--originally known as Dejanews--created a quick and easy way to read and post messages on an online forum, known as Usenet, which doesn't use the same computer code that powers the World Wide Web. The Usenet messages delve into diverse topics, ranging from discussions on rocket science to popular culture. The Deja database is so large that only the past six months of messages are now available through Google at