• United States

In brief: Check Point’s Sourcefire buy on hold

Mar 06, 20064 mins
Check PointWi-Fi

Check Point’s proposed acquisition of intrusion-prevention firm Sourcefire is delayed at least until March 23 while the U.S. government investigates whether the deal should go through. Sourcefire’s technology is used to protect computer assets of the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency, and the question is whether it is in the interest of national security to have that technology owned by a foreign company. Because Check Point is Israeli-owned, the sale falls under the review of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. Sourcefire’s founder, Martin Roesch, was the lead developer of Snort, the open source intrusion-detection and -prevention software on which the bulk of Sourcefire’s technology is based. Sourcefire’s intrusion-prevention software also receives feeds from the Sourcefire RNA vulnerability assessment product, which lets the software prioritize decisions about blocking potential threats. According to published reports, the FBI and the Department of Defense objected to the sale.

Despite CEO Mike Zafirovski’s public statements two weeks ago pledging to do so, Nortel last week did not disclose where and how it will spend its $1.9 billion R&D budget for 2006. A company spokesman last week said no official announcement on the investment had been scheduled, but one might come in the weeks leading up to and/or including Nortel’s fourth-quarter 2005 results. The spokesman did not know when the quarterly results would be released.

The Securities and Exchange Commission this week is expected to issue a warning about “paid autosurfing” schemes on the Internet, noting that offers that sound too good to be true probably are. The SEC also said it is filing securities-fraud charges against the operators of 12 Daily Pro, an autosurfing site that paid people to view ads on the Web but was allegedly bilking them out of money under a huge pyramid scheme. The SEC says the operators raised more than $50 million from more than 300,000 investors worldwide, promising them a 44% ROI in less than two weeks. The commission in its warning about such schemes said the typical system involves getting people to pay to play, using that money to pay others who play. Randall Lee, regional director of the commission’s Pacific regional office, said in a statement, “Paid autosurf programs have become an enormous industry on the Internet. . . . The promise of guaranteed, double-digit returns in a matter of days should raise a red flag.”

The National LambdaRail consortium has announced completion of its 10,000-mile-plus fiber-optic network across the United States to support research on advanced network technologies and applications. The optical, Ethernet and IP network took three years to build and cost about $100 million in funding by members, which include research institutions and vendors, such as Duke University, Internet2 and Cisco. The network supports as many as 40 light paths, each of which handles as much as 10Gbps and can be used to support separate experiments. The National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and other organizations are using the network for assorted projects.

A former IT system auditor for a government agency faces a five-year prison sentence on a computer-hacking charge after secretly monitoring his supervisor’s e-mail and computer use, the Department of Justice said. Kenneth Kwak, 34, of Chantilly, Va., pleaded guilty last week in District Court for the District of Columbia to unauthorized access to a protected computer in furtherance of a criminal act. Kwak was a system auditor working on federal information security-management audits as a member of the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General. Kwak placed software on his supervisor’s computer, enabling him to access the computer’s storage at will. Kwak later used that software on numerous occasions to view his supervisor’s e-mail and Internet activity, as well as other communications, and he shared those communications with others in his office, the Justice Department said. Kwak faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.