Cyber Ramblings - March 20, 2001

20 March 2001
Compiled by Kevin Smith

Forbes List Gives Hacker Blueprint
According to a report from the New York Post, a hacker used Forbes magazine's list of the wealthiest Americans as a blueprint to steal millions of dollars from some of the country's heaviest hitters. Abraham Abdallah, a 32-year-old high school dropout, is accused of using the Web to steal millions of dollars. The scheme was brought to an end after a transfer request of $10 million was made for Thomas Sielbel’s (founder of Siebel Systems) Merrill Lynch account. The request raised a red flag in which authorities were able to trace and bust the convicted scam artist. The paper said Abdallah breached plenty of bank, brokerage and credit card accounts of high-level Americans such as Steven Spielberg, Martha Stewart, George Lucas, Oprah Winfrey, Ross Perot, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner and Michael Bloomberg. The number of victims could top 200.

AOL Rejects EarthLink E-mails
Software used by American Online has been identified as source behind the blocking and rejecting of hundreds of thousands of e-mails sent to AOL users from EarthLink Inc. customers. An AOL spokesman said software designed to restrict junk e-mail, or spam, was to blame. After conferring Monday, the two companies said the problem had been resolved. The situation was brought to EarthLink's attention after some of its customers complained that e-mail sent to AOL accounts was not reaching intended recipients--and no error message was returned. AOL disputed EarthLink's estimate of how many e-mails were blocked, calling the number too high, and said the system worked correctly.

Microsoft Corp. Unveils Fist Wave of .NET Strategy
Microsoft Corp. unveiled a plan to blend traditional economics and New Economy services to form the first initiative of its .NET strategy. Called HailStorm, it is the first set of services to clearly define what the company plans to do with .NET, Microsoft's system for writing programs for the Internet that work with most other computing devices. Company co-founder Bill Gates has said it is the most important thing to happen to Microsoft since Windows. The initiative will depend on customers willing to pay for Internet-based services. In its final form, HailStorm will keep track of everything a computer user can imagine, from credit card numbers to calendars to address books. From there, the system will provide people with a way to easily make purchases or conduct other transactions online, or to be notified of certain things via a variety of electronic devices. HailStorm also will work with Microsoft competitors, such as Apple and Palm.

Passive Holding of Domain Name Evidence of Bad Faith
The National Arbitration Forum, a body authorized to resolve domain name disputes under the rules of ICANN, ruled that the passive holding of a domain name--where the name has no website--with the knowledge that a competitor has a legitimate interest in the name is an indication of bad faith. The decision was the result of a domain name dispute centering around The dispute was brought to the panel when Minnesota Monthly Publications (MMP) sought possession of the domain name, which was owned by competitor Key Enterprises. MMP owned a registered trademark for the phrase TC TASTE, which it used for a supplement to its food and drink magazine. Key Enterprises registered the domain name in 1998, more than one year after MMP’s first use of the phrase. No use was made of the domain name; attempting to visit the site gave a "page not found" error. Lawyers for MMP wrote to the rival company and demanded transfer of the name, but received no response.

Worm-making Software Gets Upgrade
Anna Kournikova and a naked wife got much attention in the last month with computer users. While the two infamous computer viruses were the result of a Visual Basic Worm, the software that was used to make those files is getting an upgrade. The new version, known as the Visual Basic (VBS) Worm Generator v2.0, began surfacing on several Web sites and Usenet groups late Monday. The software features several user-friendly bells and whistles, including help files, Internet chat clients that allow would-be virus creators to communicate with one another. The upgrade also includes programming hooks into Microsoft's beleaguered Outlook Express e-mail program, which seems to have borne the brunt of the onslaught of virus attacks over the last couple of years.

ICQ Messages Show up on Internet
Sam Jain, CEO of eFront, has learned a hard lesson in computer privacy. ICQ messages between Jain’s computer and other employees at a time when the dot-com company was struggling to stay afloat during a brutal shakeout. Last week, hundreds of pages of the ICQ instant messaging logs were posted on the Web and copied onto various sites, creating the kind of information security breach that has become one of the worst corporate nightmares of the digital age. The logs, which read like transcripts of telephone conversations, include explosive discussions regarding business partners, employees and affiliated websites. Whether the files are authentic or not, they've already exposed eFront to embarrassment and could lead to possible legal troubles.

Internet Addiction Plagues Singapore
Singapore, one of the world’s most wired countries, is seeing an unusual rise in Internet addiction and some of the Asian country's schools are turning to psychiatrists to help with the issue. A group of psychiatrists have been invited to tour some of the top schools in Singapore and then advise teachers and parents on the best way to deal with children who are addicted to the Internet. Around 80 cases of Internet addiction are reported each year in Singapore but the authorities believe that is only the tip of the iceberg. Internet addicts often lose sleep, spend long hours surfing to the point of losing interest in their studies and spending less time with family and friends. They also display similar withdrawal symptoms common to other forms of addiction such as to drugs and gambling.