Tech Briefs


Professor Urges Students to Beware  Hate Sites on the Internet
DETROIT — A Wayne State University communications professor and Holocaust survivor considers the Internet an increasingly used, effective marketing tool by hate groups.
“The Internet is the greatest thing that ever happened to hate,” Jack Kay, also an associate provost at the school, said last month while rallying a group of University of Detroit Mercy students to be watchful of hateful speech.
“It is up to us to do good,” The Oakland Press of Pontiac quoted Kay as saying. “People do have a right to believe [in hate], but we have a responsibility to denounce what they say.”
According to the watchdog Southern Poverty Law Center, hate-related Web sites increased by almost 60 percent in 1998. The organization that monitors hate groups nationwide said there were 254 such Web sites last year, up from 163 in 1997.
“The Internet and messages on the Internet are not just text,” Kay told the students. “They are flashing before your eyes. The Internet is forming an Internet community culture, virtual communities.”
To form “virtual hate communities,” he said, hate group members go into Internet chat rooms and news groups — where people discuss issues — to spread their message and attract new members.
Kay believes female White supremacists account for a large portion of the proliferation of hate-related Web sites. During his speech titled “Cyberhate,” he showed the audience a woman’s White supremacy site, Aryan Female Homestead. It called for keeping the Aryan bloodline pure to ensure the survival of the White race.
“I am not going to contend that we aregoing to wake up tomorrow and see a White revolution,” he said. “But I will contend that these groups are very dangerous. They are succeeding at using their rhetoric to get people to do things.”


Federal, Local Authorities Seek   University Computer Hacker
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Federal and local authorities are investigating a computer hacker who may have gained access to government files from a computer lab at West Virginia University.
Federal agents launched the investigation last month, says Bobby Roberts, a security official at the university, who adds that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has provided WVU investigators with records of when and how access to the files was gained.
Roberts says most university computers have backup tapes that can determine when and how they are used and what information the computer user retrieves.
It is not clear what type of information the hacker was seeking.


Four Ohio Colleges’ Computers Invaded
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hackers who invaded Wittenberg University’s computers last month forced the institution to shut down its e-mail system and Web site. Their attack also resulted in security improvements that make it harder for off-campus students to use the school’s e-mail.
University President Baird Tipson says the attack occurred Sept. 12 and was traced to Australia. The hackers also struck at least three other Ohio colleges in the same assault.
“The major cost has been enormous amounts of our computing staff time that we desperately needed,” Tipson says. “We’re all trying to make sure we’re Y2K compliant. We believe that we are now, but we wouldn’t have taken two or three weeks of their time to spend on this project.”
Tipson revealed details of the attack as he testified before lawmakers about the need for using part of Ohio’s $10.1 billion tobacco settlement to pay for more technology for colleges and universities.
Wittenberg, with 2,060 students, is a private liberal arts university in Springfield.
Joe Deck, director of computing services at Wittenberg, says the attack occurred just before noon on a Sunday. Several employees of his department were working on Y2K compliance systems and noticed intruders in the system after about 10 minutes. They immediately shut down the university’s Web and e-mail servers and isolated Wittenberg’s connection to the Internet.
Deck said the hackers’ expertise was “very well organized” and said he chose not to let them stay in the system longer, even though that might have increased the chance of identifying the culprits.
Since then, university employees have spent at least 2,000 hours rebuilding passwords, improving the “firewall” of software that protects the system and putting other security precautions into effect.
From users’ perspective, things are back to normal, although work on internal systems still needs to be done, Deck said.
Deck, Tipson and other officials would not identify the other three Ohio colleges attacked. Tipson says the work Wittenberg did in reaction to the attack cost in the “low six figures.”


 E-Business Administration
CHICAGO —  The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration has begun two new e-business/e-commerce education programs intended to address the growing demand by managers and information technology consultants who want to excel in the information economy.
The more intensive of the two programs — the E-Business/E-Commerce Certificate Program — is geared primarily toward working, mid-level business executives who are less familiar with the technical aspects of doing business in cyberspace. The 48-hour course will be offered over eight days and includes overviews of advanced Internet technologies and lectures from industry professionals.
The other offering — the E-Business/E-Commerce Professional Workshop — is a more hands-on course for information technology experts who want to develop e-business applications and Internet Web sites. This workshop is a 32-hour program.
For more information, call (312) 996-1226, or visit the Web site at <www.uic.edu/ cba/ecommerce/>.


Former Student                          Accused of ‘Cybersquatting’
DES MOINES, Iowa — The world’s largest seed company wants its name back.
Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. is suing a former Iowa State University student and his Arizona-based company for buying an Internet address featuring the company’s trademark and asking for $30,000 to relinquish it.
The >cybersquatting> lawsuit says Todd J. Smith registered the Internet domain name “pioneerseeds.com” with the “intent to profiteer by selling it back to its rightful owner, Pioneer.”
Smith and Home Mortgage Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., are the named defendants in the case. Smith is president of the mortgage company, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Des Moines.
Smith and his lawyer, Robert Yoder, declined comment on the case until they could read a copy of the lawsuit.
“The only communication we have had with Pioneer was a letter in which we indicated a willingness to transfer the domain name back to Pioneer and they never responded,” Yoder says.
The lawsuit contends that the Des Moines-based Pioneer wrote Smith demanding he transfer the domain name, but “defendants refused, instead agreeing to relinquish the … domain name to Pioneer for $30,000.”
Anyone can register an Internet address or “domain name” for two years with a Virginia-based company called Network Solutions for $70.
Several companies have had problems with individuals registering names associated with name brands, prompting Congress to consider a cybersquatting bill that would protect trademark names from being registered as Internet domain names. The Senate bill passed and Mark S. Sommers, a Pioneer attorney, expects the companion version to easily pass in the House.
The bill outlaws registering a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark, Sommers says.                   



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