Monday's Mardi Gras

All the news that's fit to rant aboutThe Cannes Film Festival launched on this day in 1946. JFK proposed a joint moon mission with the Russkies in 1963. Happy birthday Alexander the Great, Sophia Loren, and Dr. Joyce Brothers!

  • Attacks on Windows PCs jumped sharply in the first six months of this year, with 1,237 new vulnerabilities, and 4,496 new Windows viruses discovered. According to the Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec, the number of monitored bot networks jumped from 2,000 to 30,000. Apparently virus authors are selling access to the bots to spammers. Each botted network ran an average of 2,000 machines, although the biggest bot network controlled 400,000 owned boxes. 50% of the infected machines were running within the networks of Fortune 500 companies.
  • Write a bug, get a job. The kid who is currently on trial for writing the Sasser worm, and is widely believed to have created the Netsky virus, has been offered a job at Securepoint. The company says it will train 18-year-old Sven Jaschan to be a security programmer. Jaschan is thought to be responsible for 70% of all the virus infections this year. He is facing up to five years in prison if convicted.
  • Microsoft is planning to release the source code for parts of Office to more than 30 world governments to reassure them over security. It's not quite open source, but we'll all benefit from someone else looking at the code.
  • Arizona Senator John McCain has proposed a law that would require TV broadcasters to shift to digital by 2009. The bill earmarks $1 billion to help low income consumers buy digital converters. FCC regulations mandate the shift to all digital broadcasting when 85% of a market can receive digital signals. The commission is considering including cable and satellite services in that mix, which would qualify most of the country today. The Feds are in a hurry to reclaim the low frequency spectrum currently occupied by broadcast television for what promises to be a very lucrative resale.
  • eMusic, one of the original legal music sites, is relaunching Wednesday. The site will focus on indy artists. The site will also feature recorded music from 150 live shows each month. Subscriptions to the site will cost $10 for 40 songs a month, 65 songs for $15, or 90 songs for $20.
  • Giving away 276 Pontiac G6 automobiles on Oprah last week has driven a lot of web traffic. Oprah's site spiked an 864% increase the day after, and Pontiac jumped 636%.
  • Speaking of giveaways, Via is releasing open source disk scrubbing software that takes advantage of a hardware random number generator built into the company's microprocessors. Tru-Delete is free and will run on any PC, but runs faster on a Via based PC. (Good thing because no other software does.)
  • Check your bike lock. Turns out the famous Kryptonite U-lock can be hacked with a ballpoint pen. The hollow shaft of a Bic pen can defeat the tubular cylinders used in some Kryptonite locks, including the Evolution and KryptoLok series. The New York series is safe.

Listen in tomorrow at 6:45a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco.