Archive for August, 2010

Last week, a joint experiment of the RIPE NCC (Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre) and Duke University researchers had to be stopped abruptly after nearly 1 percent of the internet went out of kilter in its wake. As part of their experiment, the researchers used RIPE NCC’s systems to distribute experimental BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) data – routers use it to make efficient data routing decisions.

Although the experimental BGP data relayed by RIPE NCC’s Routing Information Service (RIS) was “correct and complied to all standards,” it nonetheless destabilized 3,500 prefixes, or announced blocks of Internet Protocol addresses – the Internet has around 333,000 prefixes in all, causing a partial internet blackout that affected many networks in more than 60 countries. RIPE NCC blamed certain router types for “incorrectly modifying the experimental attribute and then further announcing the malformed route to their peers.”

As it later turned out, the “certain router types” that RIPE NCC was alluding to all belonged to Cisco’s stable. The San Jose-based company has now patched the bug in its IOS (Internetwork Operating System) router software that destabilized parts of the Internet.

Can you name the company with the worst track record for patching critical vulnerabilities in recent times? IBM’s X-Force security research team reckons it knows the answer. According the X-Force 2010 Mid-Year Trend and Risk Report, there is no one worse than IBM itself when it comes to leaving critical vulnerabilities unattended for long durations. IBM took the top spot thanks to its failure to fix 29 percent of all critical bugs that were brought to its notice in the first half of 2010. Oracle (22%) and Microsoft (7%) occupy the next two spots on the list.

This, in fact, is a revised version of the report. As per the original, Google was the company with the highest percentage of unpatched flaws in H1 2010. However, Google was quick to dispute IBM’s claim that it had left 33 percent of critical and high-risk bugs in its software unpatched: “We learned after investigating that the 33% figure referred to a single unpatched vulnerability out of a total of three — and importantly, the one item that was considered unpatched was only mistakenly considered a security vulnerability due to a terminology mix-up. As a result, the true unpatched rate for these high-risk bugs is 0 out of 2, or 0%.”

But this wasn’t the lone mistake in the original, which also erroneously rated Oracle-owned Sun as the vendor with the highest percentage of unpatched vulnerabilities in the first half of 2010. But that honor now belongs to Microsoft.

“After we released our trend report this week, we received feedback from two software vendors regarding the severity and remedy information for some of the vulnerabilities behind this chart,” IBM said in a blog post.“As a consequence of this feedback, we have manually reassessed the CVSS scoring, remedy information, and vendor information for every vulnerability that impacted the percentages that appear in this chart.”

Any way you slice it, companies that are already in the online video business are looking to get deeper in. Reports indicate that Amazon is working to expand their video offerings to include TV and movies from the likes of NBC, Time Warner, and Viacom. The new service would likely be viewable on devices Amazon currently uses for video. Devices like the Roku, Xbox 360, and PC would all fall into this category. 

Amazon currently charges $1.99 for many individual TV episodes. The new streaming service would probably be a subscription affair, or would offer cheaper prices. Amazon may provide free subscriptions to current Amazon Prime members, who pay $79 per year for unlimited 2-day shipping on purchases. 

As usual, the viability of this strategy is reliant on content creators signing on. No word on that yet, but Amazon will want to hurry if the Apple rumors about $0.99 streaming rentals on iTunes are real.



It seems TweetDeck is the latest target of unscrupulous internet fiends. Just weeks after seeing a fake TweetDeck app show up in the Android Market, hacked Twitter accounts are spewing out links purporting to be an update to the popular Twitter client. As TweetDeck notes on their website, “These tweets are from hacked accounts and this file does not come from us. Do not download it.”

The scam tweets are usually packed with some sort of phrase making them seem more authentic. The tweets may read, ” Download TweetDeck udate ASAP!” or, “Sorry for offtopic, but it is a critical TweetDeck update. It won’t work tomorrow!” It is unclear what the download does, but users that fell for this are advised to run a full virus scan of their computer, and have it serviced if need be. 

Have you seen these tweets floating through the social web? Do you know anyone that fell for it? We can’t find any victims ’round here.



It’s the vicious cycle of modern life. The more important and established you become, the more email clogs your inbox. Google is out to help with a new Gmail feature called Priority Inbox. This new interface, which will be rolling out to users in waves over the coming days, will present messages more likely to be important in a separate  area at the top of the inbox.

Gmail decides what is important with a good old fashioned Google algorithm. Mail similar to that which you frequently read or respond to will be marked as important an promoted to the priority area. Users can alter this sorting process, and teach the Priority Inbox what’s actually important by flagging mis-categorized items. This new inbox view also makes better use of the starred mail label by creating a starred mail area right below the Priority box.

The jury is still out on how effective and useful the new system is. We just got access to it ourselves, so it’s hard to say how it will work out. As usual, Google has a cute animation explaining the feature, which you can catch at the source link. Have you had a chance to use Priority Inbox? How well is it working for you?



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