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In brief: Anti-phishing measures aired

Mar 20, 20064 mins
Adobe SystemsCisco SystemsVideo

ISPs and e-commerce sites have more tools to combat phishing scams, including white lists of legitimate Web sites and using false identification information to scam the scammers, according to a report released last week. The report, from a coalition of consumer groups, technology vendors, financial-services organizations and law enforcement agencies, also calls on Internet companies to step up their consumer-education efforts. Among the more novel techniques recommended by the group is for Internet companies and law enforcement agencies to enter false information, such as bogus credit card numbers, into phishing Web sites, allowing police to find phishing scammers by tracking the use of those false numbers. The 57-page report, published by the National Consumers League, came from discussions in September during a three-day retreat on fighting phishing organized by the consumer group.

The U.S. Army has picked seven government contractors to provide computer technology services for a deal worth as much as $19.25 billion over the next 10 years. The contractors are Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI International, Computer Sciences Corp., Lockheed Martin, Sensor Technologies, USfalcon and Viatech. The Army says the contract has a ceiling of $19.25 billion but made no guarantee that all of that would be spent. The agreement lets these vendors compete for an array of services, including systems engineering, R&D, software development, supply-chain management, information security and administrative support. In a statement on its Web site CACI said the contract is the largest in its 44-year history and “positions the company to increase its size and strength as a top-tier information technology provider to the Department of Defense.”

Sun is losing its top software executive to Adobe, the company confirmed last week. John Loiacono, who succeeded Jonathan Schwartz as executive vice president of software at Sun when Schwartz was promoted to president and COO in April 2004, will take on the role of senior vice president of the Creatives Group at Adobe, according to a Sun spokeswoman. Loiacono will be responsible for the development, delivery and marketing of Adobe’s creative software portfolio. Sun’s software products have never matched the commercial success of its hardware, even though the Java technology on which much of its software is based has been a huge licensing success for the company and is widely used by third parties. Sun made much of its software open source, including its Solaris operating system and infrastructure software based on Java, during Loiacono’s stint as head of the software division.

Fresh on the heels of its acquisition of video infrastructure vendor Scientific-Atlanta, Cisco is making big bets on video for enterprises. CEO John Chambers gave a few clues last week about a telepresence system that he said will make videoconferencing more lifelike; the company plans to unveil soon software that lets corporations manage and present video content for employees, partners and the public. The telepresence system will use life-size high-definition video and directional sound technology, Chambers said. Cisco expects the system to be announced later this year and become commercially available in about a year. Videoconferencing has had a rocky history, with expectations of a boom frequently dashed. Previous systems have failed because of complexity, high cost and generally poor quality, according to Cisco.

A virus that encrypts documents and demands a ransom to get them back is circulating on the Internet, but at least one security company has released the password needed to recover the files. The Trojan horse virus encrypts the contents of a user’s Word documents, databases or spreadsheets, and leaves a file demanding $300 in exchange for the password to access the information, says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with security company Sophos. A text file directs victims to transfer money to one of 99 accounts run by e-gold, a company that runs a money transfer site. Similar ransomware schemes have been traced to Russia, and this type of attack appears to be growing, Cluley says. After encrypting the data, the Trojan deletes itself. The password to unlock the data, however, is contained in the Trojan and is used in the process of encrypting the files. Technicians at Sophos extracted the password, which is made to look like a file path name, C:Program FilesMicrosoft Visual StudioVC98.