News: The Power Of The Net

 Pointed out by my old friend Robin Lubbock, here’s an excellent essay by Dan Gillmor on the self-righting Internet community, where one bad turn is usually overwritten by several good ones. He makes some sharp comments on the VeriSign ‘domain-stealing’ controversy, which I haven’t touched on in this blog. The bottom line: there are some pretty awful people out there, but they usually get drowned out by the decent folk. Long may it last.

News: Another Online Music Store

 Riding on the success of Apple’s iTunes, Musicmatch has announced its own digital song-selling business, according to CNET. The service has access to songs from five major labels and more than 30 independents, with pricing set at 99 cents per song and $9.99 for most albums.
 
 
Customers can play tracks on up to three PCs simultaneously and transfer them to Windows Media-supported music players. Songs can be burned to CDs, but a given playlist may be burned no more than five times.

Software: Seriously Useful Freebie

 A wonderful innovation with Opera’s browser was the mouse gesture, where you could, for example, return to a previous page by holding down the mouse button and moving the mouse a little to the left. Intuitive and seriously time-saving. Now Internet Explorers have the same feature, courtesy of a bit of freeware (software you don’t have to pay for) from UnH Solutions.
 
 
Easy Go Back is an Internet Explorer add-on that works with every program based on Internet Explorer, e.g. MSN Explorer, Avant Browser, HTML Help (chm-files), Microsoft Document Explorer, etc.

Update: More On The Spiral of Evil

 Spammers may be using viruses to attack their enemies. Further to my column on how virus writers and spammers may be in cahoots to deliver spam, The Register reports that anti-spam activists have produced fresh evidence that recent assaults — called Distributed Denial of Service attacks, or DDoS, — on their websites have been enabled by the infamous Sobig worm.
 
Two anti-spam services, Monkeys.com and the Compu.Net “block list”, have already closed in the past week.
Spamhaus has been under constant “extremely heavy” DDoS attack since early July, and they believe the attack against his site and others originates from Windows machines infected with the Sobig worm, controlled by spammers over IRC networks.
 
What’s interesting is that, if properly investigated, this may help prove the link between (some) spammers and (some) virus writers. And, of course, get them off the streets and in jail.

Update From The IM Wars Front

 Seems like the IM wars aren’t over yet. Further to my postings about Yahoo and Microsoft Messenger apparently blocking third party chat aggregators like Trillian, seems the latter’s patches don’t seem to be enough to keep folk connected. CNET reports that Yahoo has begun blocking Cerulean Studios’ Trillian software from communicating with its own instant messaging software as part of its plan to limit third parties from piggybacking on its service.
 
On Thursday, some Trillian users began reporting an inability to communicate with their Yahoo Messenger contacts. A Yahoo spokeswoman on Friday morning confirmed that Trillian users’ inability to access Yahoo Messenger was the result of recent policies put in place by the Web giant. A day after last week’s Yahoo announcement, Trillian released software patches that were aimed at allowing it to continue accessing Yahoo and MSN buddy lists. But as of this week, CNET says, those patches do not appear to be working.

Update: Another Blaster Suspect Arrested

 Another Blaster suspect has been arrested. Prosecutors refused to release any information about the suspect, not even the youth’s gender or home state, AP reported. The variant the juvenile allegedly created was known as “RPCSDBOT.”
 
No one yet knows who created the main version. Collectively, different versions of the virus-like worm, alternately called “LovSan” or “Blaster,” hit more than a million computers. It’s interesting the two detainees both appear to be Americans. But it doesn’t mean the author of the original was, nor does it mean their motives were the same.
 

News: More Hacking Woes

 These days the Internet reads like a bad movie script. Reuters reports that security holes in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser have been exploited by hackers to hijack AOL instant messaging accounts and force unsuspecting Web surfers to run up massive phone bills. Some Internet Explorer users are also finding that malicious Web sites are secretly slipping trojan programs onto their computers, according to eEye Digital Security, which discovered the original security vulnerability. Such stealth programs can include keystroke loggers that record everything a person types or software to erase the hard drive, among other things.
 
The attacks are accomplished by leading Internet Explorer users to a malicious Web site, either by sending an e-mail with a link to the Web page or distributing a link through instant messaging. When the Web site appears, it downloads code that can execute commands on its own onto the unsuspecting computer user’s machine, according to Copley. An attacker has written a program that uses a security hole in Internet Explorer to hijack an already running AOL Instant Messenger account, changes the password and send a message to the buddies list with a link to the malicious Web page, according to postings on the Bugtraq security e-mail list.

Software: More Spam Options

 Matterform Media, who make anti-spam software for the Mac, have said that October 1 their Spamfire will be available for Windows. Matterform Media’s Spamfire for Windows is available at a suggested retail price of $39.95, which includes one year of automatic filter updates at no additional charge, and is available for immediate download from the company’s website, www.matterform.com.
Matterform also sell something called SpamVaccine, which converts email addresses on your website to something that the spammers’ little robots can’t recognise, and therefore harvest. (This is how spammers get most of their email addresses.) No mention is made of whether that will be available for Windows.

News: Segway Takes A Tumble

 A blow for Segway, the Human Transporter scooter stand-up thingy, which is being recalled after it was found that riders might fall from the device as the batteries are drained of power. The recall, ITWorld reports, affects about 6,000 two-wheeled units sold between March 2002 and September 2003. The Manchester, New Hampshire, company has received three reports of incidents related to this problem, including one person who endured a head injury requiring stitches after falling off , the CPSC said.
 
 

News: Worming Its Way Into Korea

 Warning of a new computer worm, this time from South Korea. Yonhap reports Friday that W32/Smess.worm, BadTrans, appears attached to an instant message in MSN’s instant messenger service. The worm is a mutant version of another worm called Sinmsn, which was detected last July.
 
MSN’s messenger service, which gives pairs or groups of users the capability to send instantaneous text messages to each other via the Internet, is one of the most popular communication tools in South Korea, where more than 10 million customers are connected to the broadband Internet.