Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cyber criminals go phishing after Wells Fargo crash

In the wake of last week's Wells Fargo computer crash, online scammer's are attempting to cash in, reports IDG News Service.

Starting on Sunday and continuing until Tuesday, many Wells Fargo online banking operations and ATMs were taken offline by the computer crash. A computer security expert has said that the phishing community is now planning ways to take advantage of the crash.

Joel Helguson, a security consultant, told IDG: "They've talked about spooling up their engines and networks to take full advantage of this. "Everybody is sitting there waiting for a bank to screw up. It's like following behind an armored car, waiting for them to make a big mistake, and Wells Fargo just made a big one." Many customers said that transactions that they carried out before the crash have not shown up on their online accounts.

The bank stated: "Using our back-up facilities, we restored internet banking service in about one hour and 40 minutes Sunday, August 19th and within hours, customers could access Wells Fargo Phone Bank Centers and make basic ATM transactions."

Time Warner Goes Small With VOD

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC - message board) is rolling out video-on-demand (VOD) services for the first time in some of its smaller markets, thanks to a new back-office configuration from Tandberg Television and a centralized, satellite-based video delivery system.

Initially, Time Warner Cable's National Division is using the Tandberg kit to offer VOD in four markets: Clarksburg, W.Va.; Dothan, Ala.; Fort Benning, Ga.; and Terre Haute, Ind. The MSO expects to expand it to 10 additional markets by year's end. (See table.)

Time Warner's National Division consists mostly of smaller, more scattered cable systems.

The MSO is offering VOD services in some of those systems using a special configuration of Tandberg's OpenStream system, but managing VOD services centrally from the National Division's headquarters in The operator is also using Tandberg's "Xport Producer" system to deliver local on-demand content to each system.

Click here for the entire story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Convert Your Old Analog TV To A Digital TV

Broadcom Announces Complete Digital TV Receiver System Designed to Meet the NTIA's Digital-to-Analog TV Coupon Program

New Digital Television-on-Chip Enables OEMs to Deliver NTIA Coupon-Eligible Converter Boxes that Extend the Lives of Millions of Analog-Only Televisions in the U.S.

Broadcom Corporation, a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, today announced a complete digital television receiver system targeted at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA's) digital-to-analog converter box program. The program, which is part of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiative, includes a budget of $1.5 billion that will be used to assist U.S. households in making an affordable transition from existing analog televisions to digital by providing coupons to households to defray the cost of digital TV converter boxes. Broadcom has introduced a turnkey digital television-on-chip (TVoC) and associated software to enable these digital-to-analog converter boxes, extending the lives of analog-only TVs.

As written in the Department of Commerce's Federal Register, dated March 15, 2007, the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (the Act) directs the FCC to require full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasting and to only broadcast digital transmissions after February 17, 2009. As a result, televisions that receive over-the-air broadcasts through rabbit ear antennas will no longer work after February 17, 2009. At that point, the analog television spectrum will be freed up for public safety initiatives and will be auctioned off by the U.S. government for such applications as wireless networking.

For those consumers who want to continue receiving broadcast programming over-the-air using analog-only televisions not connected to cable or satellite service, a small digital-to-analog converter box will be required. These converter boxes are expected to be available in early 2008, at which time the NTIA has been authorized to create a digital-to-analog converter box assistance program for eligible households. As a result, the NTIA will provide two $40 discount coupons per household that consumers can redeem directly from retailers for these NTIA-qualified digital converter boxes. There is a total of 33.5 million coupons budgeted for the program, which begins January 1, 2008 and concludes on March 31, 2009.

Announced today is the Broadcom(R) BCM3543 ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) receiver designed to receive ATSC high definition television (HDTV) broadcasts and convert them to NTSC (National Television Systems Committee) signals. Utilizing 65 nanometer process technology, the BCM3543 is a highly integrated, low power digital TVoC receiver that provides superior ATSC signal reception targeted at the NTIA's coupon-eligible "analog switch-off" converter box program. The BCM3543 features on-chip support to convert all ATSC standard and high definition inputs to 480i output formats for display on analog TVs.

"Broadcom is very excited to support the transition from analog-to-digital broadcasting by enabling our OEM partners to produce and quickly deliver digital-to-analog converter boxes as part of the NTIA coupon program," said Dan Marotta, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom's Broadband Communications Business Group. "With the introduction of the BCM3543 ATSC receiver, Broadcom continues its leadership in the digital television market and demonstrates its ability to efficiently integrate a wide variety of technologies required to meet the demands of the market."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Facebook Addicts Cost Employers Billions

Workers surfing the social networking site Facebook are costing billions of dollars in lost time, according to research by an internet security firm.

Up to $4 billion a year is being lost by businesses due to workers voraciously logging on to the site, the research from SurfControl found. Chairman of SurfControl, Richard Cullen, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "People love being there and telling people what they are doing right now, what their thoughts are right at this second.

"It's so interactive that people just get addicted to watching their Facebook groups all the time." Mr Cullen's findings are based on a Facebook user who works the typical schedule of nine to five and spends an average of one hour on Facebook every day. Facebook allows one to search for friends and acquaintances, send messages and post pictures. With hundreds of new users logging on every day, Facebook has become the latest craze in internet social networking.

The site's name is derived from the "facebook's" used by colleges in the US identifying the college's staff which are given to incoming freshman students. Currently Facebook has an estimated 34 million users, with the city of London in the UK having the network with the most users.

Google Gadget Could Be Misused

The Google Gadget application could potentially be used for phishing by cyber criminals, according to an internet researcher.

Robert Hansen recently told Google that hackers could devise site on the domain which could be used for phishing. The domain is trusted by many antiphishing websites. Mr. Hansen suggested that the internet search engine giant be more draconian about who can use the domain in order to prevent it being abused.

However, Hansen said that when he told Google about the weakness, the company responded by saying that the perceived flaw is a known part of the site's operations. Hansen is the chief executive of the internet research company SecTheory. Alex Stamos, a researcher with Isec Partners, said in an email to the IDG News Service: "They have to have this throw-away domain to jail modules written by other people,"

"It's not an unreasonable model and it's the best they can do to host content created by malicious parties while not exposing themselves to attack." Google Gadget is used by web designers and web masters to display different pieces of information on their pages, such as the weather or stock market data.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Fake IRS Emails Phish For Victims

Emails pretending to be from the IRS are being sent out over the internet, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune.

However, the emails are in fact phishing scams trying to lure their recipients into divulging their personal financial details. The paper gave this example of one of the emails: "After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity, we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $109.30."

However, according to Dave Stewart, a spokesman for the IRS in Philadelphia, the service never sends out emails to citizens. Of phishers, he said: "They cast the net far and wide, and they only need a few people to fall for the scam."It's amazing how prevalent the problem is and it's not going to go away any time soon."

The IRS has told those that receive phishing emails to forward them to Doing so is a "huge help" tracking down those responsible for the scams and prosecuting them, Mr Stewart said. Meanwhile, the security firm RSA has said that there is to be a rise in the number of phishing scams which use fake web pages, known as man in the middle scams.

Simpsons Movie Pirated

A pirated version of the new Simpsons movie, which was just released earlier this month, has already turned up on the web, it has been reported.

The movie originated in a home in Australia, which was raided by police on Friday after an investigation by Australian police, Fox and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT). An unnamed 21-year-old Australian male is to appear in court in October where he will be charged, according to Australian police. If found guilty he could spend up to five years in prison.

According to AFACT the film was recorded using a cell phone and appeared on the Internet before the movie was released in the US. AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic said: "Within 72 hours of making and uploading this unauthorized recording, AFACT had tracked it to other streaming sites and P2P systems."

The movie had already been downloaded more than 110,000 times and sold as a DVD globally, she added.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Free VoIP Phone Calls Await Small Businesses.

A small VoIP vendor Fonality has announced a product that allows small to medium sized business to make free VoIP phone calls. The free software known as Trixbox Pro by Fonality Inc. and supports up to 20 employees that runs on nearly any PC and nearly all telephones. Click here for the story in PCWorld.

VoIP Outages Anger Users

Voip grows in popularity as prices continue to drop vs. traditional phone services. But if you have ever been the victim of an outage you know how frustrating it can be. Last month VoIP provider SunRocket closed their doors and shut off their service to 200,000 subscribers.

That's when a company called TeleBlend stepped in and with the help of various carriers are working to restore service to the old SunRocket customers. But SunRocket left such a mess of their company that it seems TeleBlend is having a difficult time maintaining service. On August 8, they had a disruption in their service, but are working with IP networking company Global Crossing and ex SunRocket customers who are the ones most affected. Click here for the full story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

DIRECTV Partners With CURRENT Group To Enable Broadband And VoIP Services

DIRECTV Partners With CURRENT Group To Enable Broadband And VoIP Services to Its Customers

DIRECTV, Inc. and CURRENT Group announced today a wholesale distribution agreement that will enable DIRECTV to offer its customers CURRENT's innovative BPL (Broadband Over Powerline) high-speed Internet service and VoIP services at the end of 2007/beginning of 2008. DIRECTV customers will be able to access the Internet by plugging a BPL modem into virtually any outlet in their home. This easy-to-use symmetrical service can send data faster than the typical cable modem service in use today. The increased upload speed is particularly important as users rely on greater
speeds to play interactive games or send significant volumes of digital content through the Internet.

Under the terms of the agreement, DIRECTV will have access to CURRENT's BPL network, initially in the Dallas/Fort Worth BPL network that will cover approximately 1.8 million homes and businesses over the next several years. DIRECTV will be able to market a bundle that includes DIRECTV high-speed Internet and VoIP services to its residential customers. In addition, the agreement provides DIRECTV the ability to add other geographic markets as CURRENT builds out its network. CURRENT's BPL network enables both Broadband services and Smart Grid solutions designed to improve efficiency and reliability while reducing the environmental impact of electric service.

"We are pleased to partner with DIRECTV to offer them the ability to bundle their world-renowned satellite video services together with BPL high- speed Internet and VoIP services," said Tom Casey, CURRENT's chief executive officer. "Consumers in Dallas will have a compelling new choice for their broadband service and, at the same time, feel good about the fact that the same Internet network is helping to improve the efficiency and reliability of the electric grid while reducing its environmental impact."

"Our agreement with CURRENT gives our customers another high-quality, easy-to-use option to pair broadband services with DIRECTV's video offerings," said Evan Grayer, vice president of Broadband for DIRECTV. "By choosing this bundled option, DIRECTV customers will now be able to enjoy fast, reliable and secure high-speed Internet service anywhere they have a power outlet in their homes."

Verizon Offers Mobile Banking

Verizon has announced that it has teamed up with Bank of America to offer mobile banking.

Verizon customers who have signed up the company's Mobile Web 2.0 service will now be able to access their bank accounts through their cell phones. Customers will be able to view balances, make deposits and even move money between accounts. Additionally, using the new service, customers will be able to access directions to the nearest Bank of America branches and ATMs.

The Mobile Web 2.0 service costs $5 per month. Meanwhile, Verizon has improved and reconfigured its entire wireless web service to make it easier to access.

It has changed the wireless home page by putting in shortcuts to content and drop down bars offering access to news. There are also new content channels which can be accessed by subscribers to the service, such as commuting news, local news and financial information.

Microsoft Releases Important Bundle Of Patches

A set of nine patches aimed at securing 14 bugs has been released by the software giant Microsoft.

The company has stated that six of the patches fix weaknesses that are "critical" and could be used by a cyber criminal. Windows Vista was the target of two of these patches. None of the bugs that have been patched have been acknowledged by Microsoft in the past. Don Leatham, director of solutions and strategy with PatchLink Corp, told IDG News: "People should definitely cancel their dinner plans and make sure they take this one seriously because both the breadth and impact of these are important.

"This is an intense month." The patch release is the second largest by Microsoft so far this year. Experts have said that the most critical flaw that was patched was the one in the graphics rendering engine. This flaw could potentially result in hackers fooling users into opening an email containing malware.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced that it has bought the ad company aQuantive for the sum of $6 billion.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yahoo! comes out on top in user satisfaction

A recent user satisfaction survey conducted in the U.S. resulted in Yahoo! beating out its search engine rival Google.

In the University of Michigan's American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), Yahoo! gained three points to end up being rated 79 out of 100. Google on the other hand slipped three points from last year to end up with a score of 78, marking the first time it has slipped below a rating of 80 since 2002.

Larry Freed, chief executive of ForeSee Results, which sponsored the survey, said: "Even more important than Yahoo's first lead over Google is the trend of their scores moving in opposite directions. "Since the ACSI is a leading indicator of financial performance on the macro scale and at the company level, we may see a real turnaround for Yahoo! in the next year." The website with the largest increase in customer satisfaction this year was, which garnered a rating of 75. was the website that saw the biggest fall in customer satisfaction, sliding more than nine percent to 67.

The ASCI measures the performance of over 200 companies annually.

Facebook Source Code Exposed

Part of the source code of the highly popular social networking site Facebook was leaked onto the Internet over the weekend, it has been reported.

The source code is a group of commands which control the physical appearance of the site when accessed by its users. Facebook has blamed a misconfigured web server for the exposure of the code. A spokesperson from Facebook told Computer World that the security of the website was not broken and that the leak "did not compromise user data in any way".

"Because the code that was released only powers the Facebook [user interface], it offers no useful insight into the inner workings of Facebook," the spokesperson added. The source code was published on a blog called Facebook Secrets. Launched on February 4th 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook currently has over 34 million registered users. Facebook is based in Palo Alto, California, and generates revenue of approximately $50 million.

LG Launches Multimedia Phone Through AT&T

The electronics giant LG has chosen AT&T to be the exclusive carrier for its cutting-edge new Trax multimedia phone.

Measuring four inches by two inches, the clamshell-configured device will be able to connect to AT&T's wireless video-sharing network. Set to retail for $130, the phone will become available on Tuesday through AT&T stores and online. Carlton Hill, vice president of Product Management for AT&T's wireless unit, commented: "The Trax by LG is more than a music phone.

"With top-notch video and data capabilities, in addition to a sleek design, this device will hit the right note with many of our customers." Featured on the Trax will be AT&T Mobile Music, which can be used to download songs from subscription music services. Users will also be able to and AT&T's Cellular Video (CV) service. Through CV, one can watch channels such as CNN, iFilm, Comedy Central, HBO and the Weather Channel.

AT&T is also the exclusive carrier for Apple's iPhone, which was launched in July. Click here for more information on AT&T digital products and services.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How Much Net Speed Do You Need?

It's easy to get confused with all the broadband lingo being thrown around these days. DSL, ADSL, IDSL, Cable, Satellite, wireless, T1's, upload speeds, download speeds, VoIP, digital voice, it's enough to make your head explode. So here is a pretty good article in the San Jose Mercury News. It's short and sweet and to the point. Click here for the full story.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Government Rejects Internet Device

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rejected a new device that several computer companies claim could beam the Internet over unused television airwaves.

According to the regulatory body, the device was not accurate enough in telling which television airwaves were unused, which could have ended up causing interference. However, the companies behind the device, which include Microsoft, Dell and Google, are convinced that it is accurate.

A representative of the coalition of companies, Edmond Thomas, said: "We intend to work with the FCC in order to identify the discrepancies in their tests with the tests we've done." The FCC has stated in the past that it would like to develop a way to send high-speed Internet over the unused television airwaves, known as white spaces.

By using white spaces, the Internet could be brought to those in rural areas and create more innovation. As a rule the use of white spaces is not popular with television broadcasters, as they fear interference. Recently, the FCC also ruled that all wireless carriers must allow their customers access to roaming for a reasonable cost.

Senate Will Discuss Rural Broadband Access

A number of communications experts have told Congressional staffers bringing broadband access and and Internet service to rural America is key to effective rural economic development.

In a Washington, D.C. meeting sponsored by the National Grange and the Grange Foundation, National Grange President William Steel told attendees, "A keystone infrastructure for rural communities in the 21st Century will be access to advanced telecommunications services like broadband and the Internet."

He then called for Congress to implement a basic rural telecommunications plan that deploys universal rural broadband for all citizens.

While the U.S. House version of the new Farm Bill, passed recently, did not address rural communication issues, broadband access is expected to be included in the Senate version of the legislation to be debated in the coming weeks.

Rural residents, regardless if they farm or not, can comment on the rural broadband access provisions to their U.S. Senators at

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Nigerian Scam Cons Man Out Of $1.5 million

A trusting Australian man has been scammed out of $1.5 million through email, it has been reported.

Dutch police have arrested six men in the matter. The 49-year-old man was allegedly promised a share of a $90 million business in return for his money. Of the men arrested, five hail from west Africa, with two using Nigeria as their base of operations.

This method is known as a 419 scam, in reference to the section of the Nigerian penal code that practitioners are charged under. Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: "Police in The Netherlands have been particularly active in tracking down the perpetrators of 419 scams and there have been a number of arrests in the last year or so.

"What may stagger the average man in the street is just how much money can be made by the criminal gangs behind these international con-tricks." A surprising amount of people actually fall for the scams and many are too embarrassed to report their naivety, added Mr Cluley. This kind of scam is also known as advance fee fraud.

Consumers 'lose billions' to phishing

American internet users have lost at least $7 billion over the last two years to phishing, spyware and viruses, according to a new report from research company Consumer Reports.

The latest State of the Net survey from the company showed that internet users stand a one in four chance of becoming a victim of an online scam. Approximately eight per cent of consumers fall victim to phishing scams, a number that has remained constant over the last few years. The survey also monitored how damaging viruses have been to users of the internet. A full 1.8 million households have had to replace their PCs in the past two years because they were infected with a virus.

And 850,000 households had to purchase a new computer because of spyware infections in the last six months. However, the amount of spam mail being reported had dipped slightly, which the report attributed to better spam-blocking software. In related news, recently an Australian man was scammed out of $1.5 million through email, it has been reported.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spam Emails Promise Nude Celebs

A wide-ranging wave of spam that promises to show its recipients photos of nude celebrities has hit the web, the software security company Sophos has warned.

The company has urged those who receive these emails not to access them as they contain malware that could harm PCs.

All the emails have an attachment titled or They also most often come with the message: "Good morning, old chap! Shocking video of nude Angelina Jolie. See it in your attachment. Best Regards." Using the lure of indecent pictures of celebrity figures is not a new tactic for cyber criminals, yet it continues to be an effective one, Sophos warned. Senior technology consultant for Sophos, Graham Cluley, said: "These emails are masquerading as pornographic content, tempting the unwary into opening a file on their Windows computer which will install a rootkit and download further malicious code from the internet."

The best way to combat becoming a victim of this spam is by using caution when opening one's email inbox, added Mr Cluley. Recently, McAfee devised a quiz, made up of ten questions, to test users on how knowledgeable they are about phishing.

Safeguard Scientifics Leads $9.7 Million Financing Round for Broadband National Inc.

Leading Comparative Shopping Website for Broadband Related Services and Products Such as High Speed Internet, VoIP and Cable TV

Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. (NYSE:SFE), a holding company that builds value in growth-stage technology and life sciences companies, today announced that it led a $9.7 million financing round to obtain an $8 million stake in Broadband National Inc., an Internet media company that operates a network of shopping websites focused on digital services and products such as high speed Internet, digital phone, VoIP, digital TV and music. Existing investors Constellation Ventures II, a Bear Stearns Asset Management venture capital fund that focuses on media, communications and technology companies, and select angel round contributors, also participated in this round. The proceeds will help Broadband National expand into new vertical markets, continue development of its technology platform, pursue selective acquisitions and provide partial liquidity to a founder.

With offices located in Vero Beach, FL and Atlanta, GA, Broadband National was founded in 2003 to clarify a fragmented and confusing digital services marketplace by supplying a simplified shopping experience through unique content, education and comparison services to end users. Residential and small business customers can use Broadband National’s Integrated Broadband Information System (IBIS) technology platform to compare thousands of digital services offerings from more than 50 key advertisers. Broadband National’s advertising partners include an impressive list of market leaders including Comcast, AT&T, Charter, Real Networks, Vonage, Qwest, Time Warner, and Verizon.

“As our ninth technology partner company, Broadband National expands upon the number of companies that fall within the Internet-based business concentration of Safeguard’s strategic focus,” said Peter J. Boni, President and CEO of Safeguard. “Broadband National’s technology platform provides a single point of contact for consumers, exposing them to a wide range of digital service providers with a single interface. This reinforces Safeguard’s objective, to find the entrepreneurs, give them the growth capital, operational support services and strategic guidance required to build a great company. We welcome Broadband National to the Safeguard team.”

“Broadband National participates in the growing customer generation segment of the overall market for digital services in the United States, including broadband internet access, cable and satellite TV, IPTV, music, and VoIP, which has been projected to grow to $10 trillion by 2014,” said John A. Loftus, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Technology Group at Safeguard. “Broadband National’s IBIS technology platform facilitates the rapid release of emerging digital services such as VoIP, digital music downloads and satellite radio. Over time, we anticipate additional services to migrate to the digital domain. Broadband National will be well positioned to take advantage of this broader market opportunity.”

“As part of this financing round, we were looking for a strategic partner that would support our strategy to augment our organization through vertical market expansion and growth via organic growth and selected acquisitions,” said Vinny Olmstead, President and CEO of Broadband National. “Safeguard’s ability to provide strategic guidance along with operational and management resources will enable us to achieve our goals and ultimately build value for our advertisers and customers.”

As part of this transaction, Kevin L. Kemmerer, Senior Vice President of the Technology Group at Safeguard, has joined Broadband National’s Board of Directors.

About Broadband International Inc.

Broadband National with offices in Vero Beach, FL and Atlanta, GA, is the leading comparative shopping website for digital services and products such as high speed internet, VoIP and digital TV. With the leading digital service providers integrated into one technology platform, Broadband National provides the only nationwide solution to both residential and small business customers. Broadband National’s proprietary IBIS technology platform; integrated operating processes; API engine; and leading personnel expertise enable customers to access objective digital comparisons, including service offers, product offers, and guaranteed lowest pricing. Backend with leading advertising clients such as AT&T, Qwest, Time Warner, Comcast, Covad, and Verizon assures the end customers real time information to make choices for thousand of digital services. Broadband National also licenses its content and IBIS technology platform to retailers, third party call centers, service providers, VoIP suppliers, and third party websites.

About Safeguard

Safeguard Scientifics, Inc. (NYSE:SFE) builds value in growth-stage technology and life sciences businesses. Safeguard provides growth capital as well as a range of strategic, operational and management resources to our partner companies. Safeguard participates in expansion financings, corporate spin-outs, management buyouts, recapitalizations, industry consolidations and early-stage financings.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Merger Of Satellite Radio Companies Will Increase Competition

The proposed merger of Sirius satellite radio and XM will offer more choice and will "make choice cheaper", the boss of Sirius has claimed.

Mel Karmazin wrote an open letter in the Washington Times, appealing to the Federal Communications Commission to accept the deal to merge Sirius with its rival XM Satellite Radio.

The proposal, which is to be considered by the commission this week, would see the creation of "a la carte" programming, enabling consumers to pick and choose what radio they listen to, for a subscription fee. This is aimed to counter criticism from the National Association of Broadcasters that the merger would limit competition and be counterproductive.

Mr Karmazin said: "Have you ever heard of a product or service that hurt competition by lowering prices and increasing choice? I don't think so. In fact, it seems to me the NAB isn't afraid the merger will foster too little competition. It's afraid it will foster too much." Sirius has a number of high-profile shows on its airwaves, including shock-jock Howard Stern and the BBC's Radio One, while XM is home to Oprah Winfrey's Oprah and Friends.