1/29/2005

Sony preps PlayStation ‘music download service’

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Sony is to make a second attempt to challenge Apple’s lead in the digital music download market and the Mac maker’s almost-ubiquitous iPod courtesy of the PlayStation Portable.

According to a Marketing magazine report, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) plans to launch a music service specifically for the PSP, which is expected to arrive in Europe and the US in March.

SCEE will put the delivery mechanism in place in time for the handheld console’s launch, using it to allow users to download game levels and software updates. However, the system will be extended to music in the summer.

Given the PSP’s multimedia focus, it’s entirely possible the service could subsequently be used to deliver video downloads.

Sony already runs a music download service, Connect. Launched in the US in May 2004 and in Europe in July, the service was criticised for failing to match the likes of Napster and Apple’s iTunes Music Store for easy of use. Certainly, the service does not appear to have grown to the extent that its rivals have, and Sony has said little about Connect in the intervening months.

Whether the PSP music service will leverage Connect or use an entirely separate system is not yet known.

Auto, Gas Security Chips Vulnerable

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tiny radio-transmitter chips that make possible high-security car keys and swipe-by gasoline passes can be cracked using cheap technology, U.S. computer experts said on Saturday.
The radio-frequency ID, or RFID, system uses a relatively simple code that criminals can easily decipher, making it easier to steal a car or get a free tankful of gasoline, the team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and RSA Laboratories said.

“We’ve found that the security measures built into these devices are inadequate,” said Avi Rubin, technical director of the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute.

“Millions of tags that are currently in use by consumers have an encryption function that can be cracked without requiring direct contact. An attacker who cracks the secret key in an RFID tag can then bypass security measures and fool tag readers in cars or at gas stations,” Rubin said in a statement.

Made by Texas Instruments , the RFID system studied for the report uses a device that prevents a car from starting unless both the right key and the correctly coded RFID chip are used.

More than 150 million of the Texas Instruments transponders are embedded in keys for newer vehicles built by at least three leading makers, and in more than 6 million key-chain gas tags, the researchers said.

The problem is that the mathematical key used to code the verification system is too short, they said.

They bought a commercial microchip costing less than $200 and programmed it to find the key for a gasoline-purchase tag. They linked 16 such chips together and cracked the key in about 15 minutes.

The researchers said a metal sheath could help prevent the problem. Texas Instruments representatives were unavailable for comment.

The RFID system they used is called a Digital Signature Transponder, and is distinct from the Electronic Product Code used by retailers and pharmacies for inventory control.

Source: Reuters

Teen Gets Prison for Blaster

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

SEATTLE — A federal judge sentenced a teenager to a year and a half of prison Friday for releasing a variant of the Blaster worm that was used to attack more than 48,000 computers.

Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, appeared in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he was also ordered to perform community service, pay restitution and be placed under supervision for three years following the sentence.

“If you use the internet to harm people, it will be investigated and you will be punished,” Jeff Sullivan, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle, told reporters.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, however, did not give the Minnesota teen the maximum 37-month sentence, saying Parson wrote malicious software and used it to attack other computers partly because of neglectful upbringing and supervision.

The internet “has created a dark hole, a dungeon if you will, for people who have mental illnesses or people who are lonely,” U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman said. “I didn’t see any parent standing there saying, ‘It’s not a healthy thing to lock yourself in a room and create your own reality.’”

Defense attorneys said that Parson feared leaving the house and that his parents provided little support.

Parson created a variant of the internet worm called Blaster. It attacked a Microsoft Windows update website as well as personal computers. Blaster and its variants have crippled networks worldwide.

Parson’s lawyers said that since his arrest, he has made a Seattle school district video warning teens of the dangers of internet vandalism.

Parson apologized to the court and to Microsoft, saying, “I know I’ve made a huge mistake and I hurt a lot of people and I feel terrible.”

Parson, who was brought in from his home in Hopkins, Minnesota, pleaded guilty to creating a variant of the worm, which infected computers in mid-2003 and targeted computers at Microsoft.

Parson said he created his “B” or “teekids” variant of the Blaster worm and used it to access 50 computers, which he then used to launch a broader attack on more than 48,000 computers.

Attorneys from Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, a Seattle suburb, said that damages could easily amount to more than $1 million.

A hearing for the amount of restitution to be paid to Microsoft and others affected by Parson’s Blaster variant will be held in February.

Blaster and its variants are self-replicating internet worms that bore through a security hole in Windows, Microsoft’s operating system that is found on more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers.

Source: Wired

AOL Drops Usenet Access

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

In February, America Online will discontinue providing member access to Usenet newsgroups, one of the earliest forums on the Internet.

AOL subscribers who access the forums by using the keyword “newsgroups” are greeted with a message informing them that the service will be “discontinued in early 2005.” Members are advised to visit Google Groups if they wish to continue accessing Usenet.

“We’ve just been finding over the years that more members are turning to other forums, like message boards and blogs,” AOL spokesperson Jay Esmele told NewsFactor.

“The number of AOL members actually using the Usenet groups is very minimal, and it’s decreasing,” she added.

Source: NewsFactor

Student Fined For MP3 Links

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Norway’s supreme court ruled Thursday that a student whose Napster.no homepage was linked to free Internet music files must compensate the music industry.

The country’s highest court upheld a lower court ruling that ordered the student to pay $15,900 in compensation. The published version of the court ruling withheld the student’s name.

The student was learning computer engineering in the southern Norway town of Lillehammer when he set up the Napster.no site as part of a school project in 2001. His site had nothing do with the widely known Napster.com music site in the United States.

The Napster.no site provided links to music files in the MP3 format that could be downloaded for free. The site was online between August and November 2001, and provided links to about 170 free music files on servers outside Norway, the ruling said.

The music industry group Tono, Sony Music Entertainment Norway AS, Universal Music AS and others, saw the case as an important test of principle, and filed a legal complaint for copyright violations.

A lower court found for the music industry, while on appeal the Lagmannsetten court in Oslo cleared the student, saying any copyright violation occurred when others posted the music and not when he provided links to it.

In a summary of its ruling, the supreme court said the music was clearly published in violation of copyright law.

“The supreme court decided the case based on responsibility for abetting (an illegal act),” the summary said.

Source: AP

Tip: Speed up My Network Places

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

When using Windows XP’s My Network Places to access shared resources on computers running older versions of the Windows operating system, you may have noticed that the process can be excruciatingly slow. The reason for this slowdown is that By default, Windows XP scans all remote computers for scheduled tasks–a neat, but seldom used, feature.

However, you can override this configuration with a simple registry edit. Follow these steps:

  • Open the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ Current Version/Explorer/RemoteComputer/NameSpace.
  • Under the NameSpace branch, locate the subkey named {D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF}.
  • To make a backup copy of this key, right-click the key, and select Export.
  • In the Export Registry File dialog box, select a folder, and give the file a descriptive name.
    Right-click the key, and select Delete.
  • Close the Registry Editor, and restart Windows XP for the change to take effect.

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