JULY/AUGUST 2006 (Vol. 8, No. 4) pp. 5-9, 11
1520-9202/06/$31.00 © 2006 IEEE
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
Security: Finnish-Brit Sting Nets Notorious Virus Conglomerate
Computer security firm Sophos ( http://www.sophos.com/ pressoffice/news/articles/2006/06/m00p.html) reports that officials in the UK and Finland have captured members of a group responsible for several computer viruses. Authorities say the group created spyware-spreading viruses such as Dogbot, Santabot, and variants of Rbot. The British Metropolitan Police's Computer Crime Unit, the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation, and the Finnish Pori Police Department arrested a 63-year-old man in Ipswich, a 28-year-old man in the Grampian region of Scotland, and a 19-year-old man in Helsinki, Finland. The men—who are all suspected of being members of the m00p virus-writing gang—have been arrested in connection with a conspiracy to infect computers with malware. Police are now examining computer equipment seized at the residential addresses raided for evidence.
The men arrested in Suffolk and Scotland are not the first to have been arrested in the UK in connection with virus writing. In 2003, Welsh virus writer Simon Vallor received a two-year sentence for malware he had created. And in 1995 Christopher Pile also known as "The Black Baron") spent 18 months in jail for writing and distributing the SMEG viruses.
Security: Researcher Produces Completely Stealthy Malware
According to a report by eWeek.com ("Blue Pill Prototype Creates 100% Undetectable Malware," Ryan Naraine, 28 June 2006), Joanna Rutkowska, a stealth malware researcher at Singapore-based IT security firm Coseinc, has built a prototype new technology that is undetectable even on Vista x64 systems. The "Blue Pill" is purportedly a kernel-mode malware that uses AMD's Pacifica virtualization technology to construct a thin hypervisor that takes over a computer's operating system. (A hypervisor is a software layer that permits a machine to run multiple operating systems.)
Rutkowska explained on her Invisible Things blog that "the idea behind Blue Pill is simple: your operating system swallows the Blue Pill and it awakes inside the Matrix controlled by the ultrathin Blue Pill hypervisor. This all happens on-the-fly (that is, without restarting the system) and there is no performance penalty."
According to Rutkowska, the technology does not rely on any bug in the target operating system, so it should work on other operating systems, such as Linux or BSD. Blue Pill purportedly bypasses Windows Vista's built-in rootkit protection, a capability Rutkowska plans to demonstrate through a "generic method" of insertion at the SyScan conference in Singapore. A similar presentation will occur at the Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas on the same day Microsoft plans to unveil some of Vista's new security features.
Security: Symantec and Intel Collaborate to Change Security Computing Model
Symantec Corp. announced that it is working with Intel Corp. to build security solutions for the new Intel vPro technology, which manages security threats outside the main PC operating system. The idea is that vPro provides an isolated virtual environment within which Symantec's security solutions will be more tamper-resistant and able to remain on at all times.
The security functionality will operate in a secure environment separate from the operating system, where issues with the operating system will not affect it. In the event malware is successful in infecting a desktop environment, Symantec plans to have its virtual security solution contain the threat on that particular desktop, isolating it from other network resources.
Careers: Intel to Slash Management Roster
IDG News service reported that Intel will cut 1,000 management jobs this summer ( http://www.computerworld.com/ action/article.do?command=viewArticle Basic&articleId=9001781& taxonomyId=14).
Concerned with a five-year trend of hiring more managers than regular employees, the world's largest chip-maker decided on the cost-cutting measure as another way to offset its grim 2006 earning estimates, which are nearly $3 billion less than 2005 numbers.
Computerworld quoted Intel spokesperson Bill Calder as saying, "This is one of the first actions of the structure and efficiency project we announced in April. It is designed to reduce cost and improve decision-making." Calder declined to share details on how much money the company would save, or how many managers would still be employed after the cuts. Intel has about 100,000 employees total.
Intel also notified 17 Ethernet component developers at a Glasgow, Scotland, site that it would eliminate their jobs by September. And the company outsourced the jobs at its optical transponder division in Newark, Calif.
Enterprise Search: X1 Extends Enterprise Reach
Enterprise desktop search company X1 Technologies has announced an upgrade of its search tool for businesses that use Yahoo's technology. In addition to a fortified partnership with Yahoo, X1 also announced that it plans to give away its X1 Enterprise client, which previously sold for around $80. The move could signal a long-term relationship with Yahoo, since services such as a Yahoo pop-up toolbar and other options are bundled with the new release.
X1's next step might be an instant-messaging joint venture with the industry's second-leading search engine; X1 executives want to capitalize on IM's job-related functionality. This would bring Yahoo back into a market it backed away from when it abandoned Yahoo Business Messenger in 2004.
In the Computerworld article "Yahoo tests enterprise waters with partner X1," X1 President Josh Jacobs said to expect forthcoming X1 releases to contain features that are designed from an enterprise perspective. The new version can also drag and drop search results, browse Outlook files, and perform real-time document indexing. Yahoo's re-entry into enterprise search coincides with efforts by Google and Microsoft to capture territory in the burgeoning market. X1 also has partnerships with IBM, Qualcomm, and Hewlett-Packard.
Careers: InfoWorld Releases Results of 2006 IT Salary Survey
In a poll of 789 IT professionals, InfoWorld reported that salaries are up 4.8 percent, the largest gain in five years. Senior managers benefited the most, with nearly three out of four reporting increases. The same trend last year applied to mid-level managers.
Middle managers and staff this year saw only slight pay increases. Top-level IT executives say their raises came with increased workload, a fact many link to job satisfaction if they can continue to drive their company's success. The responsibility of hitting project milestones, delivering product out the door, and helping the organization run efficiently often fuels a manager's on-the-job motivation. Two-thirds of all IT professionals' pay increases resulted from merit increases; only one out of 10 came after a job change or promotion. Additionally, the poll revealed a trend toward more pay increases for adding skills.
The survey also noted that hiring freezes and layoffs decreased by double-digit percentages from 2004. This means increased turnover as the job market heats up. One-third of IT executives reported vacancies in staff and management positions, and the survey claims that "employers are three times more likely to be hiring at high salaries than having to lowball new hires."
Other topics in the survey include outsourcing, reasons IT professionals fear job loss, and perceptions of IT professionals in the workplace.
See the complete survey results at http://www.infoworld.com/ pdf/special_report/2006/24SRcomp survey2006.pdf.
Enterprise Communication: Microsoft and Nortel Team Up for New Enterprise Telecom Model
Microsoft and Nortel have agreed to develop a joint business communication solution that takes advantage of each company's strengths, featuring software contributions from both firms ( http://www.internetnews.com/ bus-news/article.php/3620941). Believing that enterprise communication's future will unfold on the Internet, company executives plan to pair Microsoft's software expertise with Nortel's infrastructure in a model that shifts hardware-based communication structures to universally applicable software-based solutions compatible with any hardware.
The move comes as Microsoft and Nortel seek ways to leverage their core competencies by accessing other markets. The software giant and the Toronto-based telecom giant will share many responsibilities in the new venture, including product development, cross-licensing intellectual property, and combining sales forces. They plan for codeveloped products to begin appearing in 2007.
Training: Survey Shows Interest in Mentoring, Management Training
In a recent survey, 50 percent of CIOs said they are actively preparing IT staff for leadership roles at their companies. Commonly cited tactics include mentoring programs (43 percent), management training (42 percent), and soft-skills training (35 percent).
The poll includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of US companies with 100 or more employees. An independent research firm conducted the survey for Robert Half Technology, an IT human resources firm.
Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, said "Leadership training also can be a form of succession planning for businesses facing the impending retirement of baby boomers or anticipating turnover as a result of low unemployment levels."
She further notes that, "To build a deep bench, CIOs are investing—in both real dollars and time away from IT projects—in a variety of preparatory measures. Mentoring programs, management training, and soft-skills training are ways to teach competencies that technology curricula often lack, yet are vital to career success. Through this type of instruction, less-tenured employees also become more knowledgeable about all aspects of operations."
Software: Oracle Releases PeopleSoft Enterprise 9
Oracle announced the delivery of PeopleSoft Enterprise Release 9. This release is intended to further Applications Unlimited, a program designed to deliver ongoing product development. The company has also formed a dedicated PeopleSoft team.
The new release of PeopleSoft Enterprise uses Oracle Fusion Middleware to link Enterprise to Oracle XML Publisher, Business Activity Monitoring, and Customer Data Hub. Oracle intends for these products to work together to expand the use of Web services with PeopleSoft, and has released PeopleTools 8.48 to enable users to tie in legacy and custom applications with PeopleSoft products.
Internet Innovation: China Developing Its Own IPv6-Based Internet
Chinese engineers are busy working on China's Next Generation Internet (CNGI), a faster, more secure, more mobile version of the current Internet ( http://www.cio.com/archive/071506/china.html). Begun in 2001, and now a feature of China's five-year plan, CNGI currently connects 100 research institutions, 100 universities, and 100 companies in 20 cities.
Experts view IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), the heart of CNGI, as the future Internet protocol. China is betting that by moving to the next-generation Internet before the rest of the world, its researchers, academics, and entrepreneurs will be the first to develop applications and services that take advantage of the new capabilities.
Enterprise Communication: The Future Will Work With IM
According to Server Watch ("Instant Messaging and Collaboration Converge," Paul Rubens, 22 June 2006, http://www.serverwatch.com/ tutorials/article.php/3615146), instant messaging will become a staple of workplace communication in the next half-decade, validating what many employees already know: IM is a fast, efficient way to communicate. Research firm Gartner reports that by the end of the decade, corporate adoption will approach 100 percent ( MarketScope for Instant Messaging, Matthew W. Cain, 22 Feb. 2006, Gartner).
The keys to success for enterprise instant messaging (EIM) technologies will be the ease with which they support a company's communication infrastructure, and the real-time possibilities they enable. Calendars, email, and directories are natural fits for IM culture, and collaboration among employees and work groups will benefit as existing programs increasingly include IM capability. Additionally, the real-time element enables employees to always know who is online, a feature insiders refer to as "presence."
Microsoft Live Communication Server and IBM Lotus Instant Messaging are two products for integrating IM into existing workplace productivity tool suites.
Jabber, Inc. has several products with a range of EIM services that connect to existing frameworks. For example, Jabber XCP aims for total presence by bridging applications, devices, multimedia, and protocols.
Zion Software has launched Instant Help, an EIM product that connects Web site customers with sales and support staff. Zion also offers IM developer toolkits that allow users to IM-enable existing enterprise applications.
WiredRed Software produces e/pop Basic, a secure EIM system with a comprehensive suite of tools that covers directory integration, presence management and identity, access, routing, and support for multi-office networks.