TBTF for 7/7/97: Second thoughts

Keith Dawson (dawson@world.std.com)
Mon, 7 Jul 1997 12:54:19 -0400


TBTF for 7/7/97: Second thoughts

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: <URL:http://www.tbtf.com/archive/07-07-97.html>

C o n t e n t s

Domain naming plan on hold
Administration endorses Internet policy
Ho hum yet another Way to kill a Net-connected machine
Digital coupons
Online gambling forecast
Marketing oneself
Jargon scout: reverse ego surfing
The longest day in a while

..Domain naming plan on hold

The status of the domain-naming agreement arrived at in April by
the International Ad Hoc Committee [1] is uncertain after the US
Department of Commerce called for further study [2]. In a move
that coincided with the adoption of the Framework for Global El-
ectronic Commerce (see below), Commerce has requested public com-
ment [3] on the domain-naming question. In turn the International
Telecommunications Union, prodded by the US, at its annual meeting
ordered a wide-ranging review of the IAHC plan. The ITU had been
assigned a pivotal role by the IAHC's Memorandum of Understanding

[1] http://www.gtld-mou.org/
[3] http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/domainname/dn5notic.htm

..Administration endorses Internet policy

On 7/1 President Clinton endorsed the Framework for Global Elec-
tronic Commerce, which generally instructs federal agencies to
stand out of the way of Internet growth [4]. The Framework [5]
encourages the Net private sector to regulate itself as much as
possible and calls for the US to refrain from taxing, censoring,
or regulating cyberspace. Software industry leaders praised these
aspects of the policy and reacted positively to proposals for tough
new anti-piracy laws. Less popular was the Framework's continued
insistence on strong export controls for encryption products and
the development of a key-escrow infrastructure and its call for
Commerce Department review of the domain-name imbroglio

[4] http://pathfinder.com/netly/afternoon/0,1012,1123,00.html
[5] http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/New/Commerce/index-plain.html

..Ho hum yet another way to kill a Net-connected machine

Another denial-of-service attack, this one using ICMP, has crawled
out from under its rock. Unknown crackers used the attack -- called
SSPING/Jolt -- to take down Microsoft's site for most of Monday 6/30
[6]. Information about the vulnerability was emailed to Microsoft
on 6/30; the company has prepared a patch that is now available [7].
Thomas Stromberg <nobody@engelska.se> posted [8] information on
this weakness in some implementations of networking code. SSPING/
Jolt is not a new technique, nor are its effects limited to Micro-
soft platforms. Older MacOS environments are said to be vulnerable,
as may be some SysV / POSIX implementations of Unix. For this rea-
son I haven't added SSPING/Jolt to the TBTF list of MS security ex-
ploits [9].

The dirty little secret of network security is that the potential
exists for a large number of such attacks, based on sending bogus
data across the Net to a directly connected machine. In the trust-
ed and trusting environment of the pre-commercial Internet such at-
tacks were vanishingly rare, so developers of early networking code
had little impetus to render it fully bullet-proof.

[6] http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,12068,00.html
[7] ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/winnt/winnt-public/fixes/usa/nt40/hotfixes-postSP3/icmp-fix/
[8] http://www.darkening.com/ssping/
[9] http://www.tbtf.com/resource/ms-sec-expoits.html

..Digital coupons

Open Market has developed technology that allows merchants to dis-
tribute digital coupons by Web, email, or CD-ROM and honor them to
"mark down" items for sale over the Web. The technology is called
SecureLink Commerce Objects and will be available in August as part
of the new version of Open Market's Transact software. (Other Com-
merce Objects include digital offers, digital receipts, and digital
tickets.) According to the company, no custom coding is required to
embed secure digital coupons in any HTML- or HTTP-capable medium.
Early endorsers of the technology include AT&T, CNET, Disney On-
line, and PointCast. Follow this link [10] to get a feel for the
simplicity and naturalness digital coupons can bring to the exper-
ience of online purchasing. Here is the press release [11] on Trans-
act 3.0 and here are some usage scenarios [12] for digital certifi-

[10] http://coupon.openmarket.com/
[11] http://www.openmarket.com/releases/coupon.htm
[12] http://www.openmarket.com/releases/coupscen.htm

..Online gambling forecast

Michael Tchong publishes ICONOCAST, a pithy newsletter on inter-
active marketing and commerce. (Tchong also created the CyberAtlas
[13], which I cited in "Exploring the elephant," TBTF for 10/20/96
[14].) The 7/1 ICONOCAST has a concise and punchy article on the
market for online gambling, a topic last visited in TBTF for 4/4/97
[15]. I'm going to quote it in full, because Tchong's copyright
allows it and because it's nearly impossible to condense. (Rather
like TBTF, that.)

[13] http://www.cyberatlas.com/market.html
[14] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/10-20-96.html
[15] http://www.tbtf.com/archive/04-04-97.html

(The following material is Copyright 1997 ICONOCAST.)

My Name is Bond, James Bond
You don't have to be 007 to know that Internet gambling will
soon take its rightful place in the world of e-commerce. In
fact, at a Hambrecht & Quist conference, CyberCash chairman
Bill Melton was quoted as saying: "Overseas gambling and
adult entertainment will be early-stage drivers of Internet
electronic commerce transactions."

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl's March 19 bill intends to ban Net
gambling by requiring ISPs to block access to gaming sites,
once ordered by a court. But the fact remains that Internet
casinos are legally only bound by the laws and regulations
of their host country.

And while placing bets in the originating country might be
deemed illegal, it will be well-nigh impossible to get a
US judge to close access to an off-shore casino site that
is legally licensed and taxed by its host government.

>> Market Size -- According to International Gaming and
Wagering Business, a New York-based industry journal,
more than $500 billion was wagered legally in the US
in 1995. Smith Barney's 1995 Global Gaming Almanac offers
a more conservative US estimate of $400 billion a year.
The Wall Street Journal reported on April 10 that
Americans spent almost $25 billion on casino-based
gambling in 1996.

>> Market Forecast -- Some industry observers believe that
online gambling will be a $10 billion market by 2000.
That's probably a trifle optimistic. But with a vigorish,
the house betting margin, of about 8 percent, one can
safely expect an $800 million Internet gaming industry
before 2010.

>> Market Players -- About 10 gambling sites are currently
accepting real wagers, according to Rolling Good Times
On-Line, an online gambling industry magazine. Most are
located in either Antigua or Belize in the Caribbean.
Liechtenstein's InterLotto has attracted more than 30,000
registered players. Another recent arrival is Interactive
Gaming & Communications' The Global Casino.

Once marketers figure out how to overcome their biggest
objection, a lack of consumer confidence, Net gambling (or
nambling as it's now being called in the vernacular) will
take off faster than you can say "neuf a la banque."

==> http://www.rgtonline.com
==> http://www.interlotto.li
==> http://www.gamblenet.com

..Marketing oneself

Speaking of Michael Tchong, a note at the top of the 7/1 ICONOCAST
embodies the difference between someone who knows how to market
himself and one of more modest self-promotional gifts, such as
your humble correspondent. PC World Online [16] named both ICONO-
CAST and TBTF to their list of the best mailing lists in the cat-
egory of Computer Industry News. They picked only five from among
the legions of e-journals bustling about the aether.

I didn't much like the brief capsule [16] accorded TBTF. Forgetting
the First Rule of PR -- never complain what they say about you as
long as they spell your name [email address] right), I buried the
news on the TBTF reviews page [18]. Tchong trumpeted it at the top
of his next mailing:

(The following material is Copyright 1997 ICONOCAST.)

An Interstitial from the Sponsor
It gives me great pleasure to announce that PC World Online
has named ICONOCAST one of the best industry mailing lists.
According new media editor Tracy Swedlow, there are more than
40,000 lists with topics ranging from garden irises to the New
York Sushi Lovers Digest. In the review, PC World Online
states: "ICONOCAST presents industry news clearly and provides
perspective analyses into the latest relevant technologies in
scintillating short form." Thanks, PC World Online, for that
poetic justice.

Um, yeah. What he said.

[17] http://www.pcworld.com/software/internet_www/articles/jul97/1507olxemail.html
[18] http://www.tbtf.com/blurbs.html

..Jargon scout: reverse ego surfing

Rohit Khare <khare@mci.net> went looking for his name in the Net
search engines -- Wired's Jargon Watch has enshrined the term "ego
surfing" for this pastime -- and came across a link to one of his
pages put up by Alan Cooper <alan@cooper.com> after he (Cooper) had
conducted his own ego-search. In a moment of reverse ego surfing
Khare put up a link back to Cooper's page to facilitate the further
researches of self-referential Net omphaloskeptics.

John Le Carre (no relation to Khare AFAIK) might have called this
practice "taking back bearings," a term he coined in The Honourable
Schoolboy for the art of tracking down opposing agents by divining
patterns of damage in the institutional wreckage caused by an enemy
mole. ("Mole" is another Le Carre coinage, this one from Tinker
Tailor Soldier Spy -- a long-term double agent who has risen to the
top ranks of your own service. The term has since been adopted at
Langley, or so they tell me.)

..The longest day in a while

At midnight on 6/30 the world, by consent, enjoyed an extra second
of time [19]. Extra leap seconds are irregularly announced by the
International Earth Rotation Service in order to keep atomic clocks
in sync with the rotation of the earth; this will be the 21st second
added since the IERS was brought into existence by treaty in 1972.
The earth's rate of rotation fluctuates by minuscule amounts, gen-
erally tending to slow over time. The cause of the slowing is a mat-
ter of contention: some say it's due to tidal drag as a result of
the moon's gravitation; others point to the slow rebounding of the
North American continent after its ice sheet receded beginning
100,000 years ago.

A third source of time reference has become important in recent
years: the Global Positioning Satellite service. The GPS's principal
product is accurate location, but such is impossible without accurate
time. The GPS signal incorporates delta information on how far earth
time (UTC) has drifted from atomic time (TAI), and this datum is ad-
justed when leap seconds are added. This RISKS posting [20] from John
Laverty via Peter Ladkin details more than most humans will ever need
to know about the several time standards and their interworkings.

[19] http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/leap.html
[20] http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks/19.14.html#subj10.1

S o u r c e s

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

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