TBTF for 2/23/98: Schmanthrax

Keith Dawson (dawson@world.std.com)
Wed, 25 Feb 1998 18:11:32 -0600


TBTF for 2/23/98: Schmanthrax

T a s t y B i t s f r o m t h e T e c h n o l o g y F r o n t

Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications
technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994

Your Host: Keith Dawson

This issue: < http://www.tbtf.com/archive/02-23-98.html >

C o n t e n t s

Security firms consolidating
Network Associates acquires Trusted Information Systems
Cisco acquires Wheelgroup
FBI feints toward crypto in anthrax scare
A disagreement over terminology
Spammers' backbone
Another national domain-name registry: .CC
AnyWho puts a reverse phone book on the Net
Two places at once
Not anywhere at all
Intuit's Quicken 98 requires Internet Explorer
The dangers of embedded content
Bus plunges
Quick bits
Justice Department subpoenas ISPs
Mozilla.org opens its doors
Pioneer Awards go to Stallman, Torvalds, Simons

..Security firms consolidating

Two powerhouses emerge that will pressure niche players in the
security market

..Network Associates acquires Trusted Information Systems

NA [1] can now offer one-stop shopping for virus protection (from
McAfee), encryption technology (from PGP), and firewall, intrusion
warning, and consulting services (from TIS). One concern expressed
on the cryptography mailing list is whether TIS will pull Network
Associates back into the key-escrow camp, after NA's last acqui-
sition, PGP Inc., pulled it out [2]. TIS is nine times larger than
PGP was and is heavily invested in key-escrow technology.

[1] http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/daily/980224g.html
[2] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/12-08-97.html#s01

..Cisco acquires Wheelgroup

The Texas company [3] develops software and techniques to detect
attempts at intrusion over the Net, and also offers security con-
sulting and systems integration. The deal is worth $124M. Wheel-
group has 75 employees and most of them will stay in San Antonio.
I hope Wheelgroup will continue to publish, with NetSolve, its
ProWatch Secure intrusion report [4], [5].

[3] http://www.zdnet.com/pcweek/news/0216/19mcisc.html
[4] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/11-24-97.html#s05
[5] http://www.wheelgroup.com/netrangr/PWS_survey.html

..FBI feints toward crypto in anthrax scare

The only threat we haven't yet seen blamed on the Net is
chemical warfare; just wait

Last week the FBI made headlines by capturing two perpetrators in a
plot involving anthrax. Far fewer of the media outlets covered the
followup: that the material seized was harmless anthrax vaccine, in-
capable of infecting anyone with anything. Now the charges have been
dropped. Nonetheless, FBI agent James Kallstrom was on the Today
show on 2/20 and he took the opportunity to link the Internet and
strong cryptography with anthrax, though there was no indication
that crypto had anything to do with this story. The FBI was using
the same scare tactic as long as two years ago [6]. Bruce Sterling
gave a nod to this development in his wrap-up speech [7] at the Com-
puters, Freedom, and Privacy conference in Austin:

> I would also point out that this very week the FBI did us the
> favor of busting a couple of biowar militia freaks. There's
> often some kind of loudly trumpeted FBI action during CFP.
> Usually it's a computer bust. This time it's anthrax. You can
> take that little chunk of data and make of it what you may.

[6] http://www.hotwired.com/netizen/96/37/special3a.html
[7] http://venus.soci.niu.edu/~cudigest/CUDS10/cud1013

..A disagreement over terminology

Not everyone concurs that we should all start saying "Open Source

As Netscape takes the idea of free software mainstream, some of its
proponents have called for a new name -- Open Source Software -- in
order to play better to a corporate audience [8]. Eric Raymond and
others stress that Open Source Software is not a new movement, and
does not represent a schism in the Free Software community -- it is
simply the marketing name for Free Software, a term that has proved
stubbornly unintuitive to many outside the developer community. The
originator of the idea of free software, Richard Stallman, has
argued in favor of keeping the original name [9]. You can follow an
exhaustive discussion here [10].

[8] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/02-16-98.html#s02
[9] http://x8.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=325487940&CONTEXT=887689983.1285685729&hitnum=9

..Spammers' backbone

A second Global Technology Marketing Inc. billboard is sighted and

Another sighting was reported [11] of the backbone network supposed-
ly being put together by veteran spammers Sanford Wallace and Walt
Rines. The first billboard site advertising the spammers' backbone
was hooted off the Net [12] by anti-spammers. A mirror site existed
at this IP address [13], according to ZDNet, but it has been taken
down. (Here you can browse the server log [14] recording those who
stop by to look around; your own hits will be at the bottom.) Ac-
cording to ZDNet, the site listed prices for dedicated T1 connec-
tions for spammers. These undesirables will be paying top dollar for
their access -- from $5,900/mo. per T1. The freight for a T1 is nor-
mally more like $1500/mo., and can go as low as $600/mo. Panix.com
advertises a $1000/mo. T1 in New York City.

[11] http://www.zdnet.com/intweek/daily/980220a.html
[12] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/01-26-98.html#s06

..Another national domain-name registry: .CC

The fifth country domain opens the doors, but its NIC isn't ready
for prime time

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands, country code .CC, seem to be open for
business registering domain names. I have not seen any publicity or
news releases about the service. The registration site [15] is sub-
limely minimalist: it contains, as far as I can see, five pages and
no useful information. A form is provided for you to search for your
desired .CC name, and another (secure) form to register it with a
credit card number. The Submit button does not actually register
anything; instead it simply sends email to someone somewhere, while
you wait to be contacted regarding your application.

I've added .CC to the TBTF Guide to Non-US Domain Name Registries
[16], but I wouldn't recommend rushing to register there just yet --
not until the proprietors reveal a good deal more about who they are
and what they're about. The top page says: "Our friendly staff and
personnel are working to make this site extremely friendly for our
alliance members and patrons." Well, they've got a long old way to

The Cocos Islands [17] total 14 square km and have a population of
670 (predominantly Malay on Home Island and Australian on West
Island). No serial publications emerged from the territory in 1995
through 1997 [18]. The islands boast 50 species of birds [19]. Out-
siders visit mainly for the snorkeling [20]. The islands were dis-
covered by Westerners in 1609 and were uninhabited until 1827, when
Captain John Clunies Ross brought several boats of Malays and estab-
lished coconut plantations [21]. In 1886 Queen Victoria granted the
islands to George Clunies Ross and his heirs in perpetuity. At some
point a Clunies Ross declared himself king of the islands, but
everyone outside ignored this, and the islands were administered as
a British colony from Singapore until 1955, when they became Aus-
tralian territory. In 1993 Australia purchased all of the Clunies
Ross holdings except the mansion on Home Island; John Clunies Ross
was still resident there in 1996 [22]. John's daughter Joy runs a
shipping business from Australia to the island [23]. The Clunies Ross
name seems to be widely known in Australia; one Ian Clunies Ross
distinguished himself in the last century as a veterinarian and now a
science prize is awarded in his name. A number of Australian towns
feature a Clunies Ross street. Among the papers in the National Lib-
rary of Australia is an unpublished manuscript titled "Cocos: a
history of the Clunies Ross Family" [24].

Thanks to Alex Shnitman <lexsh@linux.org.il> for the pointer to the
Cocos registry.

[15] http://nic.cc/
[16] http://www.tbtf.com/resource/nics-non-us.html
[17] http://www.emulateme.com/images/Cocos.gif
[18] http://www.issn.org/cck.html
[19] http://cygnus.uwa.edu.au/~austecol/cocos.html
[20] http://www.bs.ac.cowan.edu.au/IOTO/IOTO_COCOS/NK_Is.htm
[21] http://www.aa.gov.au/AA_WWW/FactSheets/FS103.html
[22] http://www.bs.ac.cowan.edu.au/IOTO/IOTO_COCOS/Home_Is.htm
[23] http://web3.asia1.com.sg/timesnet/data/cna/docs/cna1742.html
[24] http://www.nla.gov.au/1/ms/find_aids/8604.html

..AnyWho puts a reverse phone book on the Net

And personal privacy slips a bit more

If you live in the US and your phone number is listed, visit this
site [25] and type in your number. AT&T's AnyWho will return your
name and address. Is your street name linked? If so, click to see
names and numbers for all of your neighbors. Want a map to your
house? It's one click away. (Like most such maps, however, the
correspondence of street address with map location can be wildly
wrong.) The street proximity search will not show unlisted numbers,
800- or 888- numbers, or "distinctive ring" alternate numbers.

AnyWho is not the first reverse phone book on the Net -- 555-1212
has that distinction [26] -- but it is the most feature-rich. It
has a "sounds like" match for last name lookups. It lets you edit
or delete your entry, and requires confirmation by a telephone call
from the phone number in question. And it combines white and yellow
pages -- 90M and 10M listings respectively -- though their output
remains separate. When you ask for a street proximity listing for a
business listing, you see only other businesses.

[25] http://www.anywho.com:81/telq.html
[26] http://www.555-1212.com/whte_us.htm

..Two places at once

Techniques developed for manufacturable quantum chips

Researchers at Sandia Labs have developed techniques for producing
quantum transistors in bulk circuits using conventional semicon-
ductor vapor deposition techniques [27]. These are the first tunnel-
ing transistors created in a process that could scale outside of
the laboratory. The quantum transistors operate up to 10 times
faster than conventional ones and consume far less power. In addi-
tion, the devices embody three states -- on, off, and tunneling --
as opposed to a conventional transistor's two, so a quantum IC
could do the same work as a conventional one with 2/3 the compon-
ents. The technology is 5 to 10 years from commercialization; one
wrinkle that has to be worked out is how to bring the components
up to room temperature from near absolute zero, where they operate

For perspective, here is a story [28] from the forefront of conven-
tional chip production, where incremental improvements in photo-
resist and photomask technology promise a reduction in path size
from .25 microns down to 0.08 microns, with no expensive changes to
existing processes.

[27] http://www.sjmercury.com/business/center/quantm021898.htm
[28] http://www1.sjmercury.com/business/center/chips022598.htm

..Not anywhere at all

Visualizing cyberspace

Cyberspace is not about geography. When William Gibson coined the
term in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer" [29] he invented a visual
analog for the Net, which he called a "consensual hallucination."
No such single visualization has emerged, but not for want of
researchers poking at the problem. Martin Dodge at the City
University of London has collected illustrations from the best
visualizations of cyberspace [30] and categorized them as Con-
ceptual, Geographic, ISP Maps, Info Spaces, etc. Thanks to Greg-
ory Alan Bolcer <gbolcer@gambetta.ics.uci.edu> for the pointer.

[29] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0441000681/
[30] http://www.cybergeography.org/atlas/atlas.html

..Intuit's Quicken 98 requires Internet Explorer

An oblique addition to the TBTF Exclusionary Hall of Shame

This is not a Web site requiring IE, but rather a vendor taking Mi-
crosoft up on its tempting offer of Web browsing integrated into its
product for "free." The 32-bit version of Quicken 98 requires IE 3
(which comes bundled with it) or a later version installed on your
system in order to access its Financial Institution List Web page.
Other Quicken 98 features such as local Web pages (InsuMarket, Mort-
gage, etc.) and Market Watch don't work unless you're using Internet
Explorer. It's not clear whether IE must be your preferred browser,
or merely installed on your system, for Quicken 98 to work. This
item came from a posting on the I-WinSoft mailing list, which should
eventually be archived here [31], though it's not there yet. Thanks
to Rob Faulds <rfaulds@avici.com> for the alert.

[31] http://www2.hevanet.com/audettemedia/I-WinSoft/archives/054.htm

..The dangers of embedded content

Let mail be mail, and the Web will take care of itself

An anonymous poster to the cypherpunks list described [32] how his
online psuedonym was "auto-outed" by Netscape's mail reader:

> They sent a message to my off-site address (along with those
> of other critics about whom they wanted to know more). It was
> an HTML message with an embedded IMG tag. When Netscape saw
> that IMG tag, it happily connected to [the] "customer" track-
> ing server, and downloaded the keyed graphic. My boss just let
> me see the log he got... showing clearly that my workstation
> read the message.

This message [33] posted to the North American Network Operators
Group list outlines another evil use for embedded graphics in a
text/html mail message.

The moral: if you value your privacy, use a mail reader that doesn't
automatically process HTML, connect to image servers, accept cookies,
or run JavaScripts.

[32] http://infinity.nus.sg/cypherpunks/dir.archive-98.02.12-98.02.18/0367.html
[33] http://www.merit.edu/mail.archives/html/nanog/msg03896.html

..Bus plunges

Where the new media meets the old

Modern communications media are killing off the newspapers, right?
Well, maybe. In some ways they're working in symbiosis. One of the
longer-running mailing lists I know of, its origins deep in the
1980s, is BONG BULL, the bulletin of the Burned-Out Newspaper-
creatures Guild. It's also one of the most hysterical. The latest
weekly issue brought news of this peculiar Web site run by a
newspaper editor in New York:

> Before computers brought us type-stretchers, fillers were a
> major part of newspapers' contribution to lore, and the Bus
> Plunge was a favorite subject. For that reason, and not be-
> cause anyone enjoys reading about 47 pilgrims going into a
> ravine, there is a Bus Plunge website [34] (FAQ at [35] for
> the frequently asked questions directed at the producers,
> among them "What the hell's the matter with you?"). The col-
> lection includes drunk-driver plunges, ferry mishaps, pilgrim
> plunges, and other categories.

[34] http://www.busplunge.org/
[35] http://www.busplunge.org/faq.html

..Quick bits

A maze of twisty little items, all different

..Justice Department subpoenas ISPs

In a further broadening of the Justice Department's probe of Micro-
soft, the Feds have requested information from ISPs including Earth-
Link, AOL, Sprint, and MCI [36]. Presumably Justice wants to know
about the deals the ISPs did with Microsoft: advertising (e.g., real
estate on the Windows 95 desktop) in exchange for bundling Internet
Explorer, and perhaps agreeing not to tell customers there is any
other browser option.

[36] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19349,00.html?pfv

..Mozilla.org opens its doors

Netscape has launched [37] the organization and Web page [38] that
will coordinate its relations with outside developers once it re-
leases source code for Communicator 5 on 3/31. The group plans to
work with outside developers' resources such as Openscape [39].

[37] http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/980223/ca_netscap_1.html
[38] http://www.mozilla.org/
[39] http://www.openscape.org/

..Pioneer Awards go to Stallman, Torvalds, Simons

Each year at the CFP conference the Electronic Freedom Foundation,
a CFP sponsor, announces the winner(s) of its Pioneer Awards [40].
This year the awards went to the two people most responsible for
the free software movement, Richard Stallman and Linux Torvalds.
The third honoree was Barbara Simons, long-time expert in technol-
ogy policy for the ACM and co-founder of the UC Berkeley Computer
Science department. News.com gave the story the barest mention [41],
and omitted Simons altogether.

[40] http://www.eff.org/pioneer.html
[41] http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19346,00.html?pfv

N o t e s

> This week's TBTF title bows to a verbal mannerism of Yiddish origin
expressing derision or dismissal: say a word, then repeat it (on
a falling cadence) with its initial consonant replaced by "schm."
I would be unsurprised to learn that a similar construction occurs
in other languages.

S o u r c e s

> For a complete list of TBTF's (mostly email) sources, see
http://www.tbtf.com/sources.html .

> BONG: To subscribe, email listserv@netcom.com with message:
subscribe bong-l .

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Keith Dawson dawson@world.std.com
Layer of ash separates morning and evening milk.

Version: PGP for Personal Privacy 5.5