• United States
by Staff Writers

Your weekly wormfest

Sep 22, 20034 mins

Also: Better security through building monitoring; Yawn – Gates tops Forbes list; SBC joins in on Triennial Review appeal; and more

Anti-virus companies are warning Internet users about W32.Swen, a new worm that spreads using e-mail messages, vulnerable network connections, Internet Relay Chat and peer-to-peer networks. Swen exploits a security hole in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and affects all versions of the Windows operating system, says F-Secure of Helsinki, Finland. The worm poses as a software security update from Microsoft prompting users with “Yes” or “No” buttons to agree to install the update. However, the worm code is installed regardless of what users select. Once on an infected system, Swen alters the Windows operating system configuration so the worm is launched whenever Windows is started. The worm also detects and disables anti-virus software or other Windows features that could be used to disable it, according to F-Secure. Like other mass mailing worms, Swen scans an infected machine’s hard drive for e-mail addresses and uses those to send out more copies of itself, skimming Simple Mail Transfer Protocol server addresses and user names from Windows. Infected e-mail messages are formatted to look like official correspondence from Microsoft.

  • Companies can tighten their security by linking their computer networks with their building-monitoring systems as part of a new service IBM and General Electric announced last week. The service, available this fall, will ensure IBM’s enterprise management software can accept security alerts and other data from GE subsidiary Interlogix’s Facility Commander security system. That system collects and manages incoming alerts from multi-vendor badge readers, burglar alarms and surveillance systems. Management of physical security systems – such as badge-based door entry systems, air conditioning monitors and alarm systems – often has been kept separate within corporations from security management of IT-based assets. But that has started to change for many organizations, including the Department of Defense, which is looking to use a common access smart card for building and network entry.

  • Forbes magazine released its list of the 400 wealthiest U.S. citizens last week. No surprise that once again Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates has not only grabbed the top spot but is the world’s richest man, with a net worth of $46 billion. Gates managed to increase his personal fortune by $3 billion over his net worth of $43 billion on the 2002 list. Gates’ financial savvy apparently didn’t rub off on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, however. Ballmer fell from No. 10 on last year’s list to No. 11 with a net worth of $12.2 billion. Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell moved from No. 11 to No. 10 this year with a personal fortune of $13 billion. Meanwhile Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen kept hold of the No. 3 spot, with a net worth of $22 billion. Other wealthy tech players on the list included Oracle Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison, who came in at No. 9 with a net worth of $18 billion; eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who landed No. 29 with $6.9 billion, and CEO Jeff Bezos, who came in at No. 32 with $5.1 billion.

  • SBC became the fourth regional Bell operating company to appeal the recent FCC ruling that, they say, lets competitors use their local access facilities at less than wholesale rates. SBC last week asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., to stop the enactment of the Triennial Review order that the FCC issued late last month, saying the ruling causes “irreparable harm” to its business. SBC joins the U.S. Telecom Association, Verizon, BellSouth and Qwest in filing the motion for a stay with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

  • A software tool from IBM will let users search mountains of data on the Web and find out, for instance, what the buzz is about a new product or discern the reputation of a small business that wants to buy equipment. The WebFountain data mining and discovery tool has been in development for three years at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose. Big Blue has been offering the tool as a customized service. Last week IBM announced that Factiva, a joint venture of Dow Jones and Reuters, will market the tool as a subscription service. IBM says WebFountain will decipher text by searching through the Web and Factiva’s library, which grows by 2 million documents per month from 8,000 different sources.