Cyber Ramblings - May 8, 2001

8 May 2001
Hacker Attempts Continue On Pentagon Sites

A series of sophisticated attempts to break into Pentagon computers has continued for more than three years, and an extensive investigation has produced "disturbingly few clues" about who is responsible, according to a member of the National Security Agency's advisory board. The NSA consultant, James Adams, says U.S. diplomats lodged a formal protest with the Russian government last year after investigators determined that the cyber attacks, which they code-named "Moonlight Maze," appear to have originated from seven Russian Internet addresses. But, Russian officials replied that the telephone numbers associated with the sites were inactive and denied any prior knowledge of the attacks, according to Adams. Both the FBI and the U.S. Space Command, which has primary responsibility for defending Pentagon computers, declined comment. But, one source close to the case confirmed that the attacks are continuing and said that U.S. investigators know far more about them than Adams indicated, according to the Associated Press.

Aerospace Giant Boeing Venturing Into Airplane Internet Connection

If Seattle-based Boeing has its way, soon passengers will be doing much more than just flying on their planes. The company's aircraft manufacturing arm has developed a group charged with wiring planes for Internet access. "Connexion" by Boeing hopes to take advantage of a growing market by equipping planes with high-speed Internet access. The company did a survey in which 71 percent of respondents said they would switch airline carriers if they could get online and monitor their e-mail while in flight. The problem is securing reliable Internet connections via satellite without interfering with the aircraft's navigation systems. The Connexion unit is working that out and even has its own aircraft flying around to test the technology. The unit plans a significant announcement at the Paris Air Show next month.

Afilias Inks Deal with WIPO

Afilias, the registry consortium formed by about 20 domain name registries, has entered into an exclusive agreement with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to help resolve disputes arising from the newly assigned ".info" top-level domain (TLD) during the early stages of its upcoming rollout. Afilias last week finished negotiations with the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to operate the new ".info" TLDs. To begin the rollout, Afilias is giving trademark and service-mark holders the right to reserve their exact marks in the ".info" domain during the first 30 days--a phase called the "Sunrise" period--before opening the doors to the public.

Online Visitation Becomes an Option for Divorced Parents

The Internet has changed the way businesses get customers, makes sales and even run their workforce. It has also changed the way people communicate with one another, and divorced parents are starting to tap into the Internet to stay in touch with their children. A serious question has arisen regarding the prospect of "virtual visitation"--through e-mail, instant messages and video-conferencing--and whether it makes it easier for a custodial parent to get permission to move. A New Jersey appeals court broached this new legal frontier earlier this year. It ruled that online visiting--along with face-to-face contact--would be a "creative and innovative" way for a father to stay in touch with his nine-year-old daughter if the man's ex-wife moved to California over his objections. The woman later decided against moving, but the ruling intrigued family law specialists and alarmed fathers rights advocates.

3Com Cuts 3,000 Jobs

Beleaguered network equipment maker 3Com Corp. plans to cut another 3,000 jobs, or nearly a third of its work force in its quest return to profitability. The latest reduction comes less than three months after 3Com let go 1,200 full-time and contract workers. In all, the company has shed more than 40 percent of its work force this year in an effort to save $1 billion annually. In recent quarters, 3Com has been constantly reinventing itself amid restructuring, layoffs and red ink. It has not posted a profit since it spun off its Palm handheld computing division last year. In March, it shuttered its Internet appliance business, ending the brief lives of the Audrey Web-surfing device and Kerbango Internet radio.

IBM Acquires Mainspring

IBM announced that it is acquiring Internet business consulting firm Mainspring for approximately $83 million in cash. Under the terms of the agreement, IBM will pay $4 a share in cash for all of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Mainspring's outstanding common stock. The companies said that shareholders owning over 50 percent of Mainspring's stock have agreed that IBM's acquisition of Mainspring comes at a time of turmoil in the Internet consulting sector, affecting some of the largest firms. KPMG Consulting said that it's cutting up to 550 jobs because of a weakened demand for some services. As a result of the layoffs, the company will take a charge of up to $20 million in the current quarter. Also hit hard by the dot-com downturn is PricewaterhouseCoopers, which said last week that it's cutting 750 to 1,000 jobs, or 6 percent to 8 percent of its U.S. consulting unit. The slowdown in technology spending by U.S. firms was blamed for the cut. Last week, Chicago-based Internet consulting firm MarchFirst filed for bankruptcy protection after laying off 1,700 workers and selling a slew of assets to rival Divine and other companies.