In brief: U.S. government seeks bids on huge telecom project

Plus: Indiana man slapped with jail sentence for role in hacking the DoD; Mozilla patches two holes in Firefox; Microsoft and Sun take steps toward single sign-on; and, Microsoft plans simplified licensing terms.

•  The U.S. government is seeking bids on a 10-year, $20 billion telecommunications services program that is believed to be the largest pending network deal in the world - and carriers say they're ready to respond. The Networx program will provide legacy and leading-edge voice, data and video services to all U.S. federal agencies. Most major U.S. telecom carriers - AT&T, MCI, SBC, Sprint, Qwest and Verizon - plan to bid on it. The General Services Administration anticipates awarding multiple contracts under its Networx program, which is divided into two parts: Universal and Enterprise. Networx Universal covers 37 domestic and international telecom services, ranging from older frame relay and ATM to cutting-edge VPNs and VoIP. Likely Universal bidders include AT&T, MCI, Sprint, SBC and Qwest. Networx Enterprise, which is geared toward smaller carriers, includes a core set of IP and wireless services in particular geographic regions. Likely Enterprise bidders include Global Crossing, Verizon, Level 3 Communications, WilTel Communications, IDT and Broadwing Communications.

•  A 21-year-old Indiana man was slapped with a 21-month jail sentence for his role in a hacking attack that compromised computers at the Department of Defense, law enforcement officials recently revealed. The attack, which was launched by international hacking gang Thr34t Krew, took place between October 2002 and March 2003. Former Thr34t Krew member Raymond Paul Steigerwalt was sentenced for one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers and one count of possession of child pornography, officials said. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $12,000 to the Defense Department. Steigerwalt and his gang were accused of creating a worm that infected Internet-connected computers. The worm installed a Trojan, which let them control infected machines. It was unclear what damage was done at the Defense Department.

•  Trend Micro last week announced its intent to acquire privately held InterMute for $15 million. InterMute makes the SpySubtract line of anti-spyware software products. Trend Micro last month released its own line of anti-spyware software - OfficeScan Anti-Spyware Suite, as well as InterScan Anti-Spyware Suite. Trend Micro executives last week sought to assure customers that the company would support the Trend Micro and InterMute products for several months. But Trend Micro said it intends to have an integrated, centrally managed anti-spyware product that includes anti-virus protection by year-end.

•  The Mozilla Foundation has patched two "extremely critical" security holes in its Firefox browser that were reported last week. The flaws have been patched in a Firefox 1.0.4 release, which was posted to the Web site. When used in tandem, the two bugs could let an attacker take control of a user's system by exploiting the way Firefox handles software installations from certain trusted Web sites. The Mozilla Foundation reports 54 million Firefox downloads since the 1.0 release in November. Firefox has 6.8% of the market, according to WebSideStory.

•  More than a year after they buried the hatchet and announced a collaboration agreement, Microsoft and Sun last week said they were taking steps to address what Sun called customers' top request: single sign-on between Microsoft's Windows Server and Sun's Solaris operating system and Java Enterprise System. Sun and Microsoft's initial work together has focused on drafting standards. Last year they jointly worked on two single-sign-on protocols; Web Single Sign-On Metadata Exchange and Web SSO Interoperability Profile, which they plan to support in Windows Server and Java Enterprise System. The protocols are intended to enable single sign-on across domains using two different identity standards, WS-Federation and the Liberty Alliance's Identity Federation Framework.

•  Aiming to make the licensing terms for its products less complex, Microsoft plans to publish in July a shortened and simplified version of its Product Use Rights document. The current licensing document is just more than 100 pages and full of legal jargon. The new document will be about half as long and written in plain language, Microsoft says. The company is not changing its licensing terms. The Product Use Rights document is only for products bought on so-called volume licenses and details how Microsoft licenses its products. It is meant to help Microsoft customers, partners and others such as industry analysts understand what licenses are needed to use Microsoft software. As Microsoft added more products to its volume-licensing program, the document grew and became more complex. It provided information on about 40 products in 2002, and two years later it covered 70 products.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.