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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Mon, Jan 10, 2005 (Vol. 10, #2 - Issue #507)
Redmond: Here's New Security Tools
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
    • CES 2005: New Gadgets
    • Redmond: Here's New Security Tools
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
    • Ten Giggles From Geekville
    • Attacks On Microsoft WINS Hole Raise Alarms
    • Industry Quotable about Linux Liability
    • Hot IT Skeelz For 2005
    • More On New Security Tools
    • Coming Tuesday: 3 Patches Expected
    • Pretty Cool Free PowerPoint Add-In: MS-Producer
    • 2004: The Year Cyber-Crime Blossomed
  6. W2Knews 'FAVE' LINKS
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
    • Just What Every Geek Needs... How To Break Your House!
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CES 2005: New Gadgets

It's Geek Heaven! The new Computer Electronics Show has it all, and there are a bunch of new goodies announced that a lot of us will not be able to resist... again. I found a page at PC World that has pictures of some of the novelty stuff they picked as worth mentioning. Here goes:

Gates skipped his usual keynote address, but instead he did a new-ish talk show approach. The "demo-effect" was in full force (stuff not working) and there were more announcements of partnerships than actual new tools. Oh, and your trusted brands 'Pocket PC' and 'Smartphone' will be phased out and replaced with the more bland 'Windows Mobile'. The video would be a boring 90 minutes, so a faster way to get updated is just read the MS press release over here:

Redmond: Here's New Security Tools

Well, it was all over the news these last two days. As expected, they released the antispyware beta that is based on their recent acquisition of GIANT Company. It looks (of course) a lot like the GIANT product, will get daily updates and expires in July. They are still determining pricing. Merrill Lynch expects Redmond will start charging for the thing after July 31. More surprising was the fact they came out at the same time with some sort of "malicious software removal tool". It will get monthly (second Tuesday) updates. Note they carefully do not call it antivirus. MS states it is not designed to be a substitute for full anti-virus software. They position it as an addition to traditional antivirus solutions to provide more complete protection. This new code has the technology that Redmond gained through their acquisition of GeCAD Software in 2003. It will be available as a download beginning January 11, 2005 for WinXP, and later in the year for W2K and W2K3, and can update itself.

To me, it looks like they are doing what they have for years now, adding low-end "band-aid" tools and leaving the high-end to their partners. I'm sure their main concern is the two-thirds of consumers out there that run their PC's without protection of any kind. As they well should. More detail about this in the NT/2000 Section. There is a lively discussion about it on the NTSYSADMIN list:

Notable: One of our technicians here showed me his iPod running... LINUX!! It has been ported to the iPod and I saw it "with me very own eyes". Pretty darn cool indeed, but not for the faint of heart. Here is the link:

Quote Of The Week:
Civilization is the encouragement of differences. Civilization thus becomes a synonym of democracy. Force, violence, pressure, or compulsion with a view to conformity, is both uncivilized and undemocratic." -- Mahatma Gandhi

UNDO Dept: The data I mentioned about the DoNotCall List for cell phones was not correct, it basically was a hoax and I fell for it ;-)

Warm regards,
Stu Sjouwerman (email me with feedback: [email protected])


Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Ten Giggles From Geekville

Here are The Top 10 missing links of 2004. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll recoil and go "Ewww!" -- these are the wackiest IT stories of 2004. OK, so you won't cry, but you will go "Ewww!" more than once. At the SearchSmalBizIT site:

Attacks On Microsoft WINS Hole Raise Alarms

ComputerWorld reports that Internet security monitoring groups are warning Windows users about new Internet attacks aimed at a Windows Internet Naming Service vulnerability that was reported and patched by Microsoft in December. Traffic looking for this hole has gone up in December. Patch it !! Here is the story:

Industry Quotable about Linux Liability

"The minute a corporation gets sued, it loses. A corporate Linux or open source user that lacks indemnification and product warranty will expend its own time, money and resources fighting legal action. In addition to the potential monetary costs associated with protracted litigation, a corporation risks incalculable loss to its reputation, which could deter existing and prospective customers from signing on new business." -- Laura DiDio, a senior analyst, application infrastructure and software platforms at The Yankee Group.

My take on it? If you use Linux, make sure your vendor indemnifies you in case of legal hassles!

Hot IT Skeelz For 2005

Security, Web services and Linux jobs continue to dominate the IT help wanted ads and are projected to remain among the hottest skill and certification areas in 2005, according to research firms that specialize in tracking skills and certifications.

Researchers said companies continue to invest in security-related projects while looking to eliminate aging legacy systems, and are exploring less expensive, newer platforms such as Linux.

A small drop off in offshore outsourcing projects and an increase in competition for IT consulting talent have contributed to a reversal in declining premium pay tied to IT skills. Story at SearchVB News:


More On New Security Tools

The new virus-removal product, updated monthly, could very well be the first step to release a later full-blown subscription-based antivirus software product. Like mentioned in the Editor's Corner, Redmond deliberately positions it as "not anti-virus" and their new tool will not prevent computer infections. It is not intended to replace traditional AV software, from the likes of McAfee or Symantec.

However, Microsoft's VP of Security Business and Technology Unit, Rich Kaplan, commented that they have plans to sell their own AV software somewhere down the road. The press reported that Symantec management recently indicated it does not believe Microsoft's entrance into the marketplace will have any financial impact on its fiscal 2006 results. This new MS-product could very well be a combo AV-Antispyware that is currently code named "A1".

Redmond has been more cautious these last few years as it slowly moves to compete against its own partners. Antitrust regulators in Europe last year fined Microsoft about U.S. $613 million over charges that Redmond abused its software monopoly. More over, they are operating under restrictions from the antitrust settlement with the Bush administration until 2007.

Some AV companies warned their shareholders about potential fallout as Redmond enters the market. For example, McAfee stated in its recent annual report that their own AV products could become "obsolete and unmarketable" if Microsoft were to include antivirus protection in the OS.

An executive from Symantec said that MS's success as an AV company was not guaranteed, and that the leading security outfits have skilled researchers and decades of experience which may translate in trust with end-users. They have a point of course. The average user will continue to ask questions like these: "Why first build an OS that allows all these viruses and spyware, and then start charging money to fix it?"

There is more about Microsoft's security plans though. They are planning real-time security technologies, originally to be included with Longhorn but now probably released earlier. Likely to be the first is a technology that is best described as behavioral blocking. Nothing new at that, there are products out that do this already, but this seems to be invented inside Redmond. Could be a separate download like the two we just got, and it would be included in WinXP SP3. More about A1 at the Microsoft-Watch site, and at BetaNews:

Coming Tuesday: 3 Patches Expected

As an advance warning, next Tuesday there will be three patches of which the greatest maximum severity rating is Critical, and may need a reboot. Here's the official notification:

Pretty Cool Free PowerPoint Add-In: MS-Producer

You can combine audio, video, pictures and PP-slides into one presentation/show which you can play in any browser: pretty cool! This is how MS describes it: "Microsoft Producer 2003 for PowerPoint 2003 is the next release of this very popular add-in for PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2002. Producer 2003 provides users with many powerful new features that make it easier to synchronize audio, video, slides, and images to create engaging and effective rich- media presentations. Producer 2003 gives content and media professionals, as well as everyday PowerPoint users a host of new content authoring features". Get it here (no cost):


2004: The Year Cyber-Crime Blossomed

2004 is going down in history as the year where cyber-crime migrated from testosterone-driven teenage hackers to pro criminals making an easy buck on the net instead of using physical violence. Last year showed dramatic increases in many cyber-crime areas: worms, viruses, spyware, spam, phishing, and several forms of on-line extortion.

Sophos (a well known AV-vendor) identified more than 10,000 new viruses, an increase of more than 50% over 2003. The relatively recent Anti-Phishing Working Group sent a press release that the number of phishing attacks increased by 1,200% from December 2003 to June 2004 and continues to grow at 30% per month. PCs owned by consumers are being zombie-fied by the thousands, spyware sits on well over 60% of consumer PC's and 25% of business machines.

Spam will likely be more than 90% of all email in 2005. And to make all the bad news more acute, modified version of worms now appear in days instead of months. It simply is not pretty out there, and getting worse. You do need a comprehensive layered security defense for your organization. Using just one AV engine is often not enough. Same for vulnerability scanners. It does not hurt (and is more and more a necessity) to use two scanners as well. SNSI is an affordable, comprehensive, and military-strength security scanner with very regular updates of the database. It's a tool you cannot afford not to run. There are traveling licenses available. Recently, Windows IT Pro Mag gave SNSI a 4-star rating!


This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff


Just What Every Geek Needs... How To Break Your House!

This could be trouble. [grin] But it sounds like fun. Here is their description: Home Hacking Projects for Geeks presents a wide range of projects from automating of light switches, to building home theaters using Windows or Linux-based PCs, to building home security systems that rival those offered by professional security consultants. The thirteen projects in the book are divided into three categories: Home Automation, Home Entertainment Systems, and Security, designed to appeal to hackers of all ability levels. Check it out at Amazon: