• United States

IETF looks to streamline work

Nov 25, 20025 mins

Plus: Charles Wang steps down; Lancope to build new security system with NSA; Windows .Net Server shipping date slips; more.

The Internet Engineering Task Force debated the group’s status and future direction last week at a meeting in Atlanta. At issue are concerns that the Internet’s premier standards-setting body is taking too long to develop useful protocols and is not responsive enough to real-world needs. The IETF took five years to develop a set of protocols to support interoperability of instant-messaging systems. IETF members are complaining about the time it takes IETF leaders to approve working group documents and the lack of information about how IETF leaders make decisions to approve or reject these documents. The IETF also has lost some leaders because the workload is so heavy that these volunteer jobs essentially have become full-time positions. No decisions about changing the IETF’s processes were made, but the group is discussing various proposals on its mailing list at

After 25 years with the company, Charles Wang last week stepped down as chairman of Computer Associates. President and CEO Sanjay Kumar will succeed Wang. Wang also left his seat on the board of directors, and the board in return named Wang to the honorary position of chairman emeritus. Wang founded CA in 1976 with a staff of four and one software product, CA-SORT. From there, Wang led the company to become the first software vendor to reach $1 billion in sales in 1989 and to offer more than 1,200 products this year – with its Unicenter network management software remaining within the top five in its market. Kumar joined CA in 1987 and has served as president and CEO since August 2000.

Intrusion-detection system vendor Lancope is investing an undisclosed sum of money in a joint-development project with the nation’s high-tech spy agency, the National Security Agency, to build a new type of IDS appliance. The appliance would make use of visualization technology pioneered at the Naval War College by Dave Ford, special assistant to the Secure Network Technology Office at the NSA in Fort Meade, Md. Code-named Terminator, the appliance will display incoming datastreams in color to indicate anomalies rather than signature-based attacks. Terminator, expected to be available as a prototype in six months, will be used by the government initially and later sold by Lancope commercially.

The final release date of Windows .Net Server 2003 has slipped yet again as Microsoft announced last week that the operating system will be available in April. The second release candidate, which is a test version of the software before final release, will be available next week. The final release was scheduled for year-end, after more than a year delay from its original date. Microsoft said the operating system will be released in conjunction with Visual Studio .Net 2003, the company’s set of development tools to support its .Net Web services initiative. The highlight of Windows .Net Server 2003 is its support of the .Net framework, which is the run-time environment similar to a Java Virtual Machine for Web services created with Visual Studio .Net.

The General Accounting Office last week issued a lengthy report on possible use of biometrics technologies for purposes of border-crossing identification and visa-document processing, two areas where the Patriot Act passed last year by Congress suggested biometrics be used. The report says that of the seven types of biometrics examined, the most promising for border security are fingerprint, facial and iris recognition. The report noted that such a system would cost several billion dollars to implement and run.

A security vulnerability in Alcatel SA’s OmniSwitch 7000 series LAN switches could lead to an attacker gaining full control over the switches. It affects Alcatel OmniSwitch 7700 and 7800 switches running the Alcatel Operating System Version 5.1.1, Alcatel said in a security advisory last week. In the vulnerable systems, a telnet server listens for connections on TCP Port 6778 and accepts connections without requiring a password, creating a back door that provides full administrative control over the switch. The telnet access was used for development of the product, and Alcatel forgot to remove it “due to an oversight,” the company said. Users of vulnerable switches should immediately create an access control list blocking all access to Port 6778 on the switch, Alcatel said. A patch to close the back door also is available.

Research In Motion, which sells the BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, has lost a court case brought by a company called NTP, which alleged that RIM’s products and services infringed on NTP patents. RIM said it will challenge the verdict. A Virginia jury ordered RIM to pay $23 million in damages, a figure that could be increased if it were to be found that RIM “willfully” infringed the patents. NTP filed a complaint in November 2001, alleging that certain RIM products infringed on patents NTP holds covering the use of radio-frequency wireless communications in e-mail systems.