3/30/2008

Ban on cell phones lifted in Cuba

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Ordinary Cubans will soon have the luxury of owning a cell phone, according to a story by the Associated Press.

President Raul Castro’s government said Friday that it will allow anyone in the country to get cell phone service, a right previously limited to executives working for foreign companies or high communist party officials.

This is the first announcement that a major government policy or restriction has been changed since the 76-year-old Castro took over as leader of the island nation from his older brother Fidel Castro.

The AP said there has been a kind of black market for cell phones in Cuba where people who were ineligible were able to get phones and service by having foreigners sign contracts in their names. But for the most part, mobile phones are not common in Cuba.

Adobe Tackles Flash Flaw

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Adobe is working on an update to its Flash Player software that will address a widespread vulnerability found on hundreds of thousands of Web sites.

The issue, first reported in December by Google researcher Rich Cannings, allows attackers to use buggy Shockwave Flash (.swf) files in order to attack Web surfers. Using what is known as a cross-site scripting attack, criminals could create fake phishing pages or, much worse, gain access to online banking sessions or Web accounts of victims in some situations.

After Cannings went public with his findings, Adobe and other software vendors fixed their development tools so they would no longer create the vulnerable Flash files, but there are still more than 500,000 of these files posted on different sites on the Internet, according to Cannings.

Because of the amount of work it would take to clean up the mess, Cannings had been encouraging Adobe to make changes to its Player software that would nullify these cross-site scripting attacks.

This fix is being developed and will be available “soon,” said Adobe spokesman Matt Rozen in an e-mail message.

Philippine company launches 406-dollar mini laptop

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Philippine PC manufacturer Neo and multinational computer processor maker Intel have jointly launched a new 16,999-peso (406-dollar) mini laptop, spokesmen said Saturday.

The Neo Explore is a “ruggedized and shock-proof” laptop with a keyboard that will not be damaged by spillages of liquids, said Neo spokeswoman Mariel Que.

It weighs 0.66 kilograms (1.45 pounds) and is the size of a schoolchild’s lunchbox but will have the memory capacity and usual features of a standard basic laptop.

Who Patches Bugs Faster, Apple or Microsoft?

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple’s teasing commercials that imply its software is safer than Microsoft’s may not quite match the facts, according to new research revealed at the Black Hat conference on Thursday.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology looked at how many times over the past six years the two vendors were able to have a patch available on the day a vulnerability became publicly known, which they call the zero-day patch rate.

They analyzed 658 vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft products and 738 affecting Apple. They looked at only high- and medium-risk bugs, according to the classification used by the National Vulnerability Database, said Stefan Frei, one of the researchers involved in the study.

What they found is that, contrary to popular belief that Apple makes more secure products, Apple lags behind in patching.

“Apple was below 20 [unpatched vulnerabilities at disclosure] consistently before 2005,” Frei said. “Since then, they are very often above. So if you have Apple and compare it to Microsoft, the number of unpatched vulnerabilities are higher at Apple.”

It’s generally good for vendors to have a software fix available when a vulnerability is disclosed, since hackers often try to find out where the problem is in order to write malicious software to hack a machine.

For a vendor to have a patch ready when the bug is detailed in public, it needs to get prior information from either its security analysts or external ones. Otherwise the vendor has to hurry to create a patch, but that process can be lengthy, given the rigorous testing needed to test the patch to ensure it does not conflict with other software.

Apple only started patching zero-day vulnerabilities in late 2003, Frei said.

3G iPhone launch seen in 2nd quarter

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Apple Inc is expected to launch a high-speed wireless version of iPhone in the second quarter and produce as many as 8 million of the devices in the third quarter, according to Bank of America.

Apple shares closed up $2.76, or 2 percent, at $143.01 after the prediction in a research report about the third-generation phone from Bank of America analyst Scott Craig. Shares in AT&T Inc the exclusive U.S. carrier for iPhone, closed up flat at $37.66 after rising to $38.39 earlier in the day.

“Our latest channel checks point to a significant production build of a 3G iPhone beginning in the month of June after an initial small build in May,” he said.

AT&T said last year it expects to be able to sell a 3G version of iPhone in 2008, but it declined comment on specific launch dates on Friday.

Antioch University Reports Computer Breach

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

A computer system at Antioch University that contained personal information on about 70,000 people was breached by an unauthorized intruder three times last year, the school said Friday.

The university said there is no conclusive evidence that any personal information was stolen, but law enforcement officials are investigating.

The system contains names, Social Security numbers, academic records and payroll documents for current and former students, applicants and employees going back to 1996.

Antioch University has campuses in Yellow Springs, Ohio; Seattle; Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Keene, N.H.

The breaches occurred on June 9, June 10 and Oct. 11.

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