New search engine looks to unseat Google


A former Google employee has launched Cuil, a new search engine, which claims to have indexed roughly 120 billion Web pages to Google’s 40 billion Web pages. Cuil (pronounced “cool”) assigns priority to pages based on content, whereas Google prioritizes content based on inbound links (its PageRank algorithm). Cuil sorts search results into categories and displays the results in different tabs. It also displays images related to search terms. Pages are displayed in two- or three-column format based on user preference. Other features include roll-over definitions, navigation suggestions, and drilldown panels that suggest search refinements. (Computerworld)

DNS attack code released


Security researchers released attack code that exploits the Domain Name System (DNS) vulnerability discovered by Dan Kaminsky. HD Moore and a hacker that goes by “l)ruid” released attack code for two exploits. The first exploit poisons a DNS server’s cache with a single malicious entry. The second lets attackers poison several domains in one attack. HD Moore, creator of the Metasploit open source security project, noted that the first exploit gives attackers more anonymity, whereas the second requires attackers to use real DNS servers that host providers could trace back to them. (Computerworld)

Google makes Gmail encryption easier


Google announced on its blog that it’s now easier for Gmail users to encrypt their emails. The company has added an option that always uses HTTPS. Previously, Gmail users wanting to encrypt their email would have to type in, rather than The new option will automatically add the HTTPS. Google is pushing out the new option to all Gmail and Google Apps users. If users don’t have the option yet available when they login, the company says they can continue to go to Google points out that encryption adds extra security from prying eyes but also might make mail delivery slower. (Google)

Leaner MySQL coming


The Drizzle project, an offshoot of the open source MySQL community, will attempt to build a leaner version of MySQL for Web applications. The project is a response to the developer community’s call for a lightweight database system that recalls MySQL’s earlier days. Drizzle will use a micro-kernel architecture and move higher-end features to modules that developers can add or remove as needed. Features that will be modularized include triggers, views, stored procedures, access control lists, and some data types. According to Brian Aker, MySQL director of architecture, the Drizzle project will be mostly independent from Sun, which purchased MySQL in April 2008. The code will be available under the GPL v2 license. A timetable for Drizzle’s release has yet to be decided, but developers interested in contributing to the project can find instructions on Drizzle’s wiki. (InfoWorld)

UK ISPs to send file sharers warning letters


Six of the UK’s largest ISPs—BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Tiscali, Sky, and Orange—have agreed to send warning letters to customers who share copyrighted material. The country’s record label association, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), will identify the illegal file sharers by scouring illegal file-sharing sites and tracing IP addresses back to specific users. On behalf of UK record companies, the BPI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ISPs; the MOU wasn’t signed by ISPs O2/Be and Thus/Demon, however. As it stands, users who receive warning letters won’t face further legal penalties. However, the BPI has outlined a procedure to combat illegal file sharing. Under the BPI’s plan, illegal file sharers would first receive a warning letter. Their accounts would be suspended if they continued their activities and then cancelled if they still continued to share copyrighted material. (ZDNet UK)

Analysis technique uses security metrics to assign risk of network attacks


Computer scientists at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and George Mason University have developed a new network analysis technique that uses security metrics to determine the risk and probability of network attacks. Using attack graphs and NIST’s National Vulnerability Database (NVD), researchers evaluate attack routes into networks and assign risk factors to them based on how challenging the routes are to attackers. The model analyzes the probability of attack against each route’s components—firewall, router, and FTP server, for instance—and determines the overall risk to the network. The researchers plan to expand their technique to large-scale enterprise networks. The researchers presented the analysis technique at the Working Conference on Data and Applications Security in early July. (Science Daily)

Researcher finds iPhone vulnerable to email scams


A security researcher has reported three flaws in the iPhone that could leave users open to phishing and spam attacks. Aviv Raff identified the vulnerabilities in the iPhone’s Mail and Safari applications. Raff is withholding the technical details until Apple releases fixes. Raff suggests that users avoid clicking on embedded links and instead type Web sites’ URLs into the Safari browser. (Aviv Raff on .NET)

Consumer electronics companies back wireless high-definition technology


Consumer electronics (CE) companies, including Sony, Samsung, Motorola, Sharp, and Hitachi, have thrown their weight behind Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) technology. The wireless technology operates in the 6 GHz spectrum, has a range of roughly 100 feet, and sends uncompressed high-definition signals at up to three Gbits per second. A standard for WHDI has yet to be approved, but Amimon, the company that created the technology, and its CE partners are working toward that end. WHDI faces competition from WirelessHD, which is backed by Toshiba, Sony, LG, and Intel. (BetaNews)

Google’s Knol ready for contributions


Google has opened up Knol, its online community-based encyclopedia, to contributors. A knol is a unit of knowledge; in Google’s setup, it refers to an individual article on a subject. Each knol will contain the author’s name, a contrast to the anonymous postings on Wikipedia. Readers can submit suggestions to knols, which the author can accept, modify, or reject. Community tools let readers comment, rate, or write reviews. Google has also integrated its AdSense program into Knol. On its blog, Google said, “At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads from our AdSense program.” Authors will share in the revenue generated by including ads in their knols. Additionally, Google has an agreement in place with New Yorker magazine, which will let knol authors insert one New Yorker cartoon into each of their knols. (BetaNews)

CherryPal “Cloud computer” announced


CherryPal announced its two-watt mini desktop that relies heavily on cloud computing rather than an operating system. Applications are run through a modified FireFox browser, and the company takes care of application upgrading or installing new software to the Debian GNU/Linux core that runs underneath the browser. The computer, which will retail for US$249, comes pre-equipped with OpenOffice, iTunes, a FireFox-based Web browser, and a CherryPal media player and IM client. Users can store their files online in their CherryPalCloud account, which offers 50 Gbytes of free storage. The device runs on Freescale’s MPC5121e mobileGT processor running at 400 MHz and includes, among other things, 256 MB DDR2 DRAM, a 4-Gbyte solid state drive, two USB 2.0 ports, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, and one 10/100 Ethernet jack. A keyboard and monitor aren’t included, however. The company says the desktop uses 80 percent fewer hardware components than standard desktops. The company is taking preorders for the device and expects to begin shipping it at the end of July. (CherryPal)

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