Cyber Ramblings - Jan 9, 2001

9 January 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Yahoo Bans Nazi Goods
Yahoo has announced plans to ban hate-related goods, including Nazi memorabilia, from its US commerce sites. However, the company said the decision is unrelated to its ongoing legal battle in French and American courts regarding the filtering of similar material. Yahoo will continue to fight that case, seeking to reverse a November 20th decision that holds the company liable for fines should it not impose a filtering system on its US site aimed at blocking French users from buying and selling Nazi-related goods. Last month, the company announced it would fight the ruling in a California court on grounds that French courts have no right to impose French national laws on a US company.

China Planning Own Internet
China is moving ahead with plans to build its "very own information superhighway," a second-generation Internet-like network designed for China's government and industry, the government's Xinhua News Agency said. At a signing ceremony Saturday in Beijing, several unidentified companies agreed to form the China C-Net Strategic Alliance, which will develop the new network. China is one of the fastest growing Internet markets in the world. The government estimates that the number of Web users has more than doubled in the last year, to about 20 million from 9 million, the Beijing Evening News reported.

First Virus of 2001 Hits Early
Computer Associates has issued the first virus warning of 2001 to its customers, advising them of a low-to-medium risk e-mail worm called Tqll-A. Also known as VBS/Tqll-A, the virus is said to be the latest MS-Outlook-based e-mail worm threat. CA says that Tqll-A arrives as an e-mail with the subject - "New Year!" with the body of the message reading, "Wow Happy New Year!" and containing an attachment called "happynewyear.txt.vbs." On execution, the worm installs and launches a backdoor Trojan - detected as Backdoor/Psychware.G.Server - on the infected system, then sends itself as an attachment to every address listed in an infected user's MS-Outlook address book.

Malaysian Parliament Site Attacked by Hacker
A hacker attack on the Malaysian parliament's Web site has sparked alarm about what some see as a sloppy approach by government departments to Internet security, despite the country's aim to become an infotech leader. Police said they were seeking a hacker who wiped out the national parliament's Web site on Dec. 29. According to the Star newspaper, the hacker, using the name Topeira, left a statement written in Portuguese, including the lines: "Just hacked by Doormouse. Propaganda so very vile." The hacker's efforts went unnoticed for days by the site's custodians.

Teenage Hackers Helping Police in India
Teenage computer hackers will play cyber policemen to help an Indian panel tackle Internet crimes, a top software industry official said on Wednesday. The National Cyber Cop Committee has been set up by the industry and will be advised by a group of 19 hackers, all between 14 and 19 years of age, based in metro cities. The hackers do not possess a formal engineering background but are innovative, creative and technically very sound with source codes, an Indian official said. The new committee will hold workshops for judicial and police officers to help them learn to distinguish between various Internet-related offences. Last year, India passed a landmark digital law to crack down on Internet crimes and enable e-commerce. But vast sections of police and the bureaucracy in the country, where use of computers in governance is limited, have little knowledge of such crimes.

Tech Related Legislation Dominates Early Going of Congress
It didn’t take the 107th Congress very long to address high-tech issues. In only its first day of work, the House of Representatives passed four tech-related bills and a resolution protecting Internet service providers (ISPs) from liability when its clients commit online crime. New House bills so far deal with unsolicited commercial e-mail, online privacy and caller ID protections. The resolution, H. Res. 12, sponsored by Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., calls for ISPs to be protected from criminal liability when they unknowingly traffic in illegal content or unintentionally aid in criminal acts.

Copy-Protection Feature to be Curb According to IBM Consortium
After an outcry from privacy advocates, a group of leading computer hardware makers has agreed to give consumers the right to turn off a controversial new copy-protection feature on computer hard drives. The technology, developed by an IBM-lead consortium called 4C, would prevent consumers from making copies of music or movies without the permission of the record label or studio that holds the rights. The copy-protection feature could start appearing as early as this spring in portable devices, such as MP3 players, digital cameras and handheld organizers. But fears that it would reach computer hard drives prompted a fierce backlash -- and an agreement last week from the consortium to set curbs on the technology.

UK Workers Lose Jobs Over E-mails
A leading insurance company has sacked 10 people and suspended at least 77 over the distribution of "lewd" e-mails, including one featuring cartoon character Bart Simpson. An internal investigation was launched after a member of staff at the Royal and Sun Alliance in Liverpool complained about an offensive e-mail, reportedly showing the character from the hit US cartoon series The Simpsons in a sexual clinch. It led to the uncovering of other doctored images, which are believed to have included one of Kermit the Frog, star of the Muppets TV program, and another of a donkey.