Intel Anti-trust, Net Bug Dominate this Week’s Tech News

It has been another busy week for the tech industry. Dominating the news was the lawsuit filed by New York City Attorney General Andrew Cuomo against Intel for allegedly engaging in a systematic campaign to protect a monopoly. Intel allegedly paid computer makers billions of dollars in the form of rebates as a reward for continuous use of Intel microprocessors. Likewise, manufacturers using rival chipmaker’s CPUs were threatened payment cutoff as well as competing manufacturers receiving funding. It was Cuomo’s assertion that Intel was not competing fairly, instead bribery and coercion was used to maintain a monopoly on the market. The rebates Intel gave to computer makers was done without no legitimate business purpose. Intel was already fined $1.44 billion by the European Commission in May, 2009 after being found guilty of antitrust violations.

Another news, this time of much concern to anyone using the net for secure transactions, was a vulnerability of the protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which is used to transmit confidential data over the internet. It was discovered that if conditions exist, a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack could be used to gain access to a database or a mail server. Experts pointed out that a lot of the web infrastructure need to be examined whether they need fixing or not. The bug was announced to the whole world when it was published in a mailing list used by members of the ICASI or the Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet. Vendors were scrambling to get a fix because the bad guys already knew the vulnerability and a number of open source products are already anxious to get a fix released.

Facebook and MySpace may have been vulnerable to a security flaw involving data that involve “cross domain policy”. Typically, both sites block request for data from other sites except for those requests originating from their sub-domains. However, users could be lured to accept a flash application that was designed to harvest personal data such as pictures, personal data and messages. Both domains have already solved the subdomain issue.

The development of the open source smartphone operating system Android, is more in the hands of Google rather than the developers. Google wanted to have more control in software development to ensure that the product gets shipped eventually. The development of the operating system is facing issues where some developers forego the open source community in order to meet deadlines set by business with commercial interests. Google gave assurances that the Android project is still 100 percent open source.

In other developments, the FBI is hot on a trail of online fraudsters who skim money from victims’ online bank accounts. More than $100 million have already been illegally transferred to accounts out of the country. What the criminals do is to email bookeepers and accountants of small to medium sized companies. The email contains malware that will download keylogging software to the victims’ computers. Once the keylogger is installed, it is very easy to login to whatever online bank is used and transfer money using services such as Western Union or Moneygram. What small businesses can do to counteract similar criminal acts is to make sure that their anti-malware software are updated.

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