3/14/2008

Nine Inch Nails album earns $1.6 million on Web

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The online release of the new Nine Inch Nails album, “Ghosts I-IV,” resulted in just under 800,000 transactions in its first week, totaling $1.6 million in revenue, the industrial-rock band has revealed.

The tally includes free and paid downloads, as well as advance orders for physical configurations like various limited-edition vinyl releases, CDs, and a boxed set.

Harvard says hacker broke into system

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Harvard University is notifying thousands of graduate students and applicants that their personal information may have been exposed by a data breach.

The Ivy League school says a computer hacker gained entry to its server last month.

Harvard says about 10,000 of last year’s applicants may have had their personal information compromised, with 6,600 having their Social Security numbers exposed.

The school says it will provide the applicants with free identity theft recovery services and help them with credit monitoring and fraud alerts.

Some viruses come pre-installed

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

From iPods to navigation systems, some of today’s hottest gadgets are landing on store shelves with some unwanted extras from the factory - pre-installed viruses that steal passwords, open doors for hackers and make computers spew spam.

Computer users have been warned for years about virus threats from downloading Internet porn and opening suspicious e-mail attachments. Now they run the risk of picking up a digital infection just by plugging a new gizmo into their PCs.

Recent cases reviewed by The Associated Press include some of the most widely used tech devices: Apple iPods, digital picture frames sold by Target and Best Buy stores and TomTom navigation gear.

In most cases, Chinese factories - where many companies have turned to keep prices low - are the source.

So far, the virus problem appears to come from lax quality control - perhaps a careless worker plugging an infected music player into a factory computer used for testing - rather than organized sabotage by hackers or the Chinese factories.

It’s the digital equivalent of the recent series of tainted products traced to China, including toxic toothpaste, poisonous pet food and toy trains coated in lead paint.

But sloppiness is the simplest explanation, not the only one.

If a virus is introduced at an earlier stage of production, by a corrupt employee or a hacker when software is uploaded to the gadget, then the problems could be far more serious and widespread.

Knowing how many devices have been sold, or tracking the viruses with any precision, is impossible because of the secrecy kept by electronics makers and the companies they hire to build their products.

But given the nature of mass manufacturing, the numbers could be huge.

Verizon Gets Cozy With P2P File-Sharers

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Peer-to-peer file sharing, the primary vehicle for online piracy, has been as unpopular with Internet service providers as it has been popular with users.

Providers have banned, blocked or slowed peer-to-peer traffic in their efforts to keep the flood of music, video, games and software from overwhelming their networks. But Verizon Communications Inc. has broken ranks with the industry and is set to announce Friday that it plans to help its users share files faster - at least those who do it legally.

With researchers at Yale University and a group of companies that make file-sharing software, Verizon collaborated to enable faster downloads for consumers and lower costs for participating ISPs.

File-sharing accounts for one-third of all Internet traffic, according to Arbor Networks, a maker of traffic-management equipment, and some estimates are higher.

At a conference in New York, the Verizon group will present test results showing that when an ISP cooperates with a file-sharing software maker they can speed downloads an average of 60 percent - though collaboration boosted some downloads six-fold on fast Internet connections.

“This test signifies a turning point in the history of peer-to-peer technology and ISPs,” said Robert Levitan, chief executive of file-sharing company Pando Networks Inc. “It will definitely show ISPs that the problem is not peer-to-peer technology, the problem is how you deploy it. It is possible to deploy P2P to their advantage.”

In P2P systems, users download files from one another, usually at the same time they’re uploading files to other users. The original Napster was a P2P system, as are the KaZaa and BitTorrent systems in current use.

One of the problems for ISPs has been that file-sharing networks connect users more or less at random around the globe - so a U.S. file-sharer may simultaneously download files from Greece and Japan and upload to users in Belgium and Argentina. This long-distance carriage is expensive for ISPs.

Verizon shared details about the structure of its network with the researchers and Pando in the “P4P Working Group,” created last summer, and they together created a system that connected users not randomly, but to other users close by.

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