Friday, January 30, 2009

New “Obama Worm” Discovered by Walling Data

(BUSINESS WIRE)--President Barack Obama is the First U.S. President with a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel. In addition, the President has 1 million “MySpace” friends, 3.7 million Facebook supporters and his campaign database boasts the e-mail addresses of 13 million supporters. President Obama is truly the nation’s first “wired” president.

So is it any surprise that hackers have taken advantage of the new president’s online popularity?

Walling Data, North America’s top distributor of AVG Internet Security Products, discovered a new computer threat this week that exhibits interesting symptoms, including a pop up of the President’s face in the bottom right hand corner of infected computers. Ironically, the worm was discovered on the network of a K-12 school in the President’s home state of Illinois.

“From what we can tell so far, the good news is that this worm is nothing more than a major nuisance. This threat spreads via external devices, such as flash drives, attacking where a network is typically most vulnerable – from the inside” said Luke Walling, President of Walling Data.

“We first discovered the worm in the course of some support work we were providing to the school,” Walling added. “It seems this threat was developed in an off the shelf development environment often used for the production of simple games, the version we have seems to have last been modified in December 2008.”

Walling also noted that the threat is unlikely to be an isolated incident, as it can be easily spread through the use of external devices, like USB flash drives. Schools are especially susceptible because they often allow the use of such devices to move class work back and forth from home and school.

As of today, the worm is not detected by any security product worldwide based on data obtained from virustotal.com and internal testing.

“We have isolated the components of this threat and have provided samples to security vendors to ensure it is properly and quickly detected by popular security products.”

“This is one instance when seeing our President’s face on your computer screen is not a good thing,” joked Walling. “You have to admit, no matter your political affiliation, this proves even hackers have a sense of humor.”

Are you infected?

Walling reveals what it knows about the “Obama worm” so far and what has been submitted to security vendors.

1. The threat appears to have been introduced to the school’s network via the use of a USB flash drive or possibly from e-mail.

2. The Obama worm replicates via USB storage devices and network shares.

3. The worm’s behavior indicates that it is more of a nuisance than a threat to sensitive data as there are changes to exe/bat/vbs shell extensions (i.e. breaking exe files) and it replicates to a large number of folders on the local computer.

4. On Mondays only, it will depict President Obama’s face in the lower right corner.

Lessons Learned

Walling suggests two things that could prevent this threat and others like it from wreaking havoc on a network:

1. Make sure all machines are “patched up.”

“Because this threat is not yet detected by any security product, it is critical that any machine with a Microsoft operating system is completely and always ‘patched up’. The threat exploits machines that lack critical Microsoft updates and trust only anti-virus software to catch threats,” Walling said.

2. Prohibit the use of external devices. Define and enforce usage policies diligently.

“It is difficult for many small businesses and schools, who often have limited manpower and resources, to prohibit the use of external devices like flash drives and external hard drives. While these devices are convenient, they are also the easiest way for threats to enter your network. We always recommend that network administrators disable a machine’s ability to use external devices via Group Policy or at a computer level for small workgroups. The ban on these devices should be a part of any organizations’ Internet usage policy, and of course, must be strictly enforced.”

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

City of Newnan Police Warns Citizens of Internet Scams

According to Newnan Police Department this another internet scam. The City of Newnan Police would like to remind all citizens about internet identity scams. These kinds of emails can be sent to you at anytime. Recently, the City of Newnan Police received a mass email from Douglas Randall claiming the recipients won money only if they sent their personal information including bank accounts to him. Please do not send any of your personal information over the internet. Citizens need to stay alert to these kinds of emails and be vigilante in not falling for the these scams

Identity theft and fraud occur when someone gets access to your personal information, such as credit card accounts, social security and driver’s license numbers or bank information. That person then uses that obtained information to apply for a credit card, make unauthorized purchases or apply for a loan in your name.

Often you do not realize that you have been a victim of identity theft or fraud until you receive a call from a collection agency about a bill that you did not charge. Or you get your monthly credit card statement and find purchases on the bill that you did not make. By this time it will require some time and effort on your part to set the various records straight and clean up your accounts.

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Fraud

There are steps you can take to minimize your risk of encountering fraud or identity theft in your own affairs. First, keep your personal information private and in a secure location. Do not offer your sensitive information to anyone over the phone or via the internet unless you are confident that it is a legitimate business. Never give out your social security number unless it is absolutely necessary. Don’t keep documents with account numbers or passwords in your car, where someone could find them easily if your car was broken into.

Shred any and all documents that contain important financial information, as well as your address and phone number before throwing them away. If you do lose your purse or wallet, report the incident immediately to all necessary companies, including credit reporting agencies. This will ensure that banks and credit card companies will be on the lookout for identity theft and fraud on your account.
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Improved Domain Name System (DNS) Security and Malware Detection Featured at Internet Security Symposium

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Leaders in Internet security from industry and research are scheduled to gather 8-11 February at the 16th Annual Network & Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS’09) in San Diego, California. The event, organized by the Internet Society, will bring the global Internet community together to learn about and discuss cutting-edge advances in the science and application of network and distributed systems security.

Presentations will include the paper “Recursive DNS Architectures and Vulnerability Implications” by
 David Dagon, Manos Antonakakis, Xiapu Luo, Christopher P. Lee and Wenke Lee, Georgia Institute of Technology; and Kevin Day. Their research, which identified a security weakness in the way a common Domain Name Server (DNS) was often deployed, led to a software tool that allows developers and deployers to assess the security implications of various options for deploying DNS.

Also on the NDSS’09 program is the paper “Scalable, Behavior-Based Malware Clustering” by Ulrich Bayer, Paolo Milani Comparetti and Clemens Hlauschek, Technical University Vienna; Christopher Kruegel, University of California Santa Barbara; and Engin Kirda, Institute Eurecom. Their work led to a novel approach for tracking and analyzing the 1000s of versions of malicious code that emerge everyday—a volume that has swamped previous approaches used by anti-virus companies and programs.

In addition to twenty peer-reviewed papers, featured presentations will include security expert Ivan Arce, CTO and Co-Founder, Core Security Technologies, and Brian Chess, chief scientist at Fortify Software.

Additional information and online registration is available at: http://www.isoc.org/ndss09/.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Investor Coalition Seeks Reports From Internet Service Providers Regarding Impact of Network Practices on Freedom of Expression and Privacy

/PRNewswire/ -- Members of a coalition of investors have filed shareholder resolutions with 10 publicly-held U.S. providers of Internet access, urging corporate boards to report on the impact of the companies' Internet network management practices on public expectations of freedom of expression and privacy.

The resolutions have been submitted to leading Internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S., including AT&T (NYSE:T) ; Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) ; CenturyTel, Inc. (NYSE:CTL) ; Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) ; EarthLink Inc. (NASDAQ:ELNK) ; Embarq Corporation (NYSE:EQ) ; Knology Inc. (NASDAQ:KNOL) ; Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) ; Qwest Communications International (NYSE:Q) ; and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) . Resolutions may be filed with additional ISPs.

The investor coalition includes the New York City Pension Funds and leading socially responsible investment firms Trillium Asset Management Corp., Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Asset Management Company, Domini Social Investments, Harrington Investments and the As You Sow Foundation. The coalition will seek support from additional shareholders in voting for the resolutions. The New York City Pension Funds collectively hold more than 10.5 million shares in the six ISPs where they are the lead filer.

The coalition has been organized by the Open Media and Information Companies Initiative -- Open MIC (www.openmic.org) -- a non-profit media policy group that works to foster a diverse media environment through market based solutions.

The resolutions highlight the vital role played by ISPs in providing Internet access to more than 211 million Americans -- or 70% of the U.S. population- - who use the Internet daily. They point out that ISPs are managing traffic, insuring communication, and forging rules that shape, enable and limit the public's Internet use.

Noting that ISP network management practices have come under public scrutiny by consumer and civil liberties groups, regulatory authorities and shareholders, the resolutions assert that "Internet network management is a significant public policy issue; failure to fully and publicly address this issue poses potential competitive, legal and reputational harm" to each of the companies.

The resolutions, which are intended for consideration at the companies' 2009 annual shareholder meetings, call on the board of each ISP to issue a report examining the effects of the company's Internet network management practices on the public's expectations of privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet.

"With greater numbers of people using the Internet for everything from shopping to healthcare, Internet network management and its effect on the user have become significant public policy concerns," said New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., in announcing resolutions filed on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds. "These ISPs are among the biggest in the world and if the network management practices are having an effect on how the public perceives the companies, we as shareholders have a right to know what that effect may be."

Farnum Brown of Trillium Asset Management, which has filed resolutions with several of the ISPs, said: "These companies have responded to the challenges of managing the Internet in a patchwork, ad hoc fashion. In so doing they've failed to notice the profound social policy issues they've unwittingly engaged. Americans are concerned about how their use of the Internet is monitored. They're concerned about whether their privacy and freedom of expression are respected by the companies that manage the Internet. We as shareholders believe it is in these companies' best business interests to respond to those concerns."

Michael Connor, Executive Director of Open MIC, noted recent Congressional scrutiny of ISPs' use of so-called "deep packet inspection" technology, which can provide individual personal data based on a user's Internet traffic. In another case, the Federal Communications Commission voted in August to punish Comcast Corp. for its surreptitious interference with subscribers' use of peer-to-peer software applications.

At the time, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Comcast's network management amounted to "looking inside its subscribers' communications, blocking that communication when it uses a particular application regardless of whether there is congestion on the network, hiding what it is doing by making consumers think the problem is their own, and lying about it to the public..."

"There are multiple examples that raise concerns regarding Internet management practices," said Connor. "As the growth of digital media accelerates -- with new electronic devices, new forms of delivery, and increased demand for Internet bandwidth -- privacy and freedom of expression will increasingly be front-page issues, commanding shareholder attention."

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Short-Lived Stealthy Attacks are the New Web Threats

/PRNewswire/ -- AVG Technologies, a leading developer of Internet security software, has released statistics that paint a scary picture of the way web-borne threats are developing. Unlike viruses, which make a point of being obvious and staying around for as long as they can, the primary characteristics of web infections today are stealth and transience - meaning they are secretive, short-lived and fast-moving.

Today's online threats frequently appear briefly on an otherwise legitimate site, moving on to other sites before they can be identified and blocked. In other instances, the criminal element behind these threats simply sets up hundreds of seemingly-legitimate web sites with embedded infections, promotes them for a day or two, and then shuts them down, never to be seen again. The rate of appearance of these 'here today, gone tomorrow sites' is increasing - in just the past three months, AVG researchers have seen the average number of unique new infective sites that appear growing from 100,000-200,000 a day to 200,000-300,000 a day, a pattern that looks set to continue.

One example of a transient threat is malicious advertising - known as 'malverts'. Online criminals simply create and submit a 'malvert' to an advertising network, which then unwittingly distributes the malicious advert to hundreds of sites. Computer users clicking on these ads, or even simply exposed to them accidentally, can become infected with data-stealing spyware.

There are plenty of other examples of threats where the user can be infected by simply visiting a web site, without even clicking on a link - so-called 'drive-by downloads' can steal passwords, bank account information and other valuable personal data without the user being any the wiser. AVG's research indicates that close to 60 percent of sites launching 'drive-by downloads' are infective for one day or less. Figure A below shows the typical length of time these transient infections are 'live'.

This transience means that anyone relying on security software that provides protection using traditional virus 'signatures' or by periodically scanning the millions of sites active on the web at any given time is completely unprotected just when they need that protection most: that crucial time when they click a link to a site poisoned with one of these transient infections.

According to AVG Technologies' CEO J.R. Smith, "the hallmark of today's web-borne infections is 'here today, gone tomorrow'. Any web security product that relies on visiting and scanning websites to deliver a safety rating to its users would have to visit every one of the hundreds of millions of sites on the Internet every day to provide protection against these threats - a technological impossibility even with today's supercomputers. Our recent acquisition of Sana Security's behavioral analysis technology adds yet another layer of protection that will help us to keep users safe from new and unknown threats."

Transient, rapidly-changing information is also a hallmark of social networks like Facebook and MySpace, so it's not surprising that cybercriminals have found fertile territory there. Messages from 'friends' that direct users to malicious pages, which then download infective malware in the background, are all-too-easy for people to mistakenly trust. Then there are links to music or video clips that ask users to download a seemingly-innocent multimedia program - but which carry a hidden threat.

AVG Technologies' Chief Research Officer Roger Thompson notes three key factors that make it particularly difficult for security companies to track and detect these types of threats:

"Firstly, it takes a long time to detect and close down threats distributed randomly across thousands of different pages on a large social networking site. Secondly, the threat is usually short-lived: a malicious program delivered through a popular site doesn't need to run for long to attract a large number of victims. And thirdly, the Internet is so large that scanning every web page for a threat that may only be present for a few hours or days is simply not feasible."

AVG takes a different approach to protecting users against these hidden threats. The company's LinkScanner web security software brings together data from experts and users alike to provide a crucial layer of real-time protection for all AVG's security products.

Thompson believes this layered approach is vital given the nature of today's threats. "If a site contains one bad thing, it might easily contain multiple bad things - and usually does. By bring together data from multiple sources, we're able to build a very complete picture of individual threats and provide the appropriate protection.

"It's important that users understand traditional anti-virus software, while still an important part of online security, is no longer able to provide protection against every individual virus out there - our labs are seeing tens of thousands of new viruses every day. So what we do is look at the behavior of these threats - which is a much more manageable task because there are far fewer different ways in which the threats are delivered. It's rather like detecting letter bombs - we get enough data from our research to be able to identify a threat (the bomb) by the delivery mechanism (the envelope enclosing the bomb)."

AVG software provides the most timely, precise and reliable protection for Internet users by analyzing web pages at the only time it matters - when the user is about to visit them. AVG offers the industry's only real-time protection against the new generation of web-borne threats to protect users' personal information against unwanted intrusions from cybercriminals.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Survey: Despite Increasing Sophistication in Web Threats and Cybercrime, Most SharePoint(TM) Users Are Inadequately Protected

/PRNewswire/ -- There appears to be a void in security around companies' Microsoft SharePoint infrastructure even though SharePoint usage is on the rise. This puts SharePoint servers and employee PCs at risk for data-stealing malware; outside customers, clients, partners, and remote employees who share the same collaboration platform also become vulnerable to the growing complexity of Web threats that can spread silently, but destructively.

A survey conducted by Osterman Research and commissioned by Trend Micro of 269 IT managers involved in overseeing the messaging and collaboration infrastructure of their organizations found that only 60 percent have currently deployed security, leaving 40 percent unprotected. Of those with security, many organizations are still vulnerable -- they are relying upon file server antivirus products, which fail to adequately protect SharePoint content and users.

The survey, which involved companies from North America, France, Germany, Sweden and the U.K., also found that many of these organizations allow external users to access their SharePoint systems: 48 percent of these outside users are contractors, 38 percent are business partners, 30 percent are affiliates, and 20 percent are customers. This leaves endpoint security outside a company's control and increases the potential impact of data loss and compromise.

The survey showed that approximately seventy-two percent of SharePoint users surveyed cite protecting business-sensitive information as the biggest need for SharePoint security, and 43 percent cite preventing malware as their top concern.

Web threats have increased by nearly 2000 percent since 2005 and collaboration systems like SharePoint that enable real-time interaction and information sharing are more vulnerable than ever to cybercriminals who target business-critical information. The sophistication of these threats, many of which are executed through social engineering tactics, demand security that keeps SharePoint repositories free of viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware, as well as protect against data loss.

"While real-time collaboration enables efficient day-to-day business operations, these tools can also increase security risk by opening new pathways for cybercriminals to enter into a corporate network," said Dave Lieberman, director of messaging security for Trend Micro. "Trend Micro encourages all companies to consider solutions that have SharePoint-specific security capabilities such as Trend Micro's PortalProtect(TM), and not rely solely upon general server antivirus products that do not provide complete and adequate protection."

"For many organizations, [we] found that SharePoint security is considered a "nice to have", but that security capabilities deployed at the gateway, server and endpoint level are perceived to be sufficient to protect SharePoint servers from malware and related threats," said Michael Osterman, founder and president of Osterman Research. "However, deploying anti-malware software at the endpoint or on a server does not fully secure the SharePoint environment (the underlying database, Web pages, etc.) Organizations should understand that deploying SharePoint at all layers of the network and on all systems is key to providing complete protection from all threats."

Trend Micro's PortalProtect was the first security solution integrated with Microsoft SharePoint and is built on proven enterprise security technology for reliability and interoperability. It provides a centrally managed solution to effectively secure SharePoint Portal systems and their users. PortalProtect is part of the Trend Micro(TM) Communication & Collaboration Security family, which is powered by the Trend Micro(TM) Smart Protection Network. With the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, a cloud-client content security architecture delivering correlated, up-to-the-minute threat intelligence, customers get immediate protection across their Microsoft(TM) Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications Server (OCS) environments.

Other notable findings from the survey:

-- Deployment of SharePoint security is more prevalent in Europe. Among North American respondents, 58 percent of respondent organizations have deployed security on their SharePoint servers and another 27 percent plan to do so in the next 12 months. Among European respondents, 62 percent have done so and 24 percent plan to deploy security in the next 12 months. Globally, there are a variety of reasons cited by organizations for using SharePoint, including improvement of remote or regional communication (74 percent), improvement in the speed of decision making (56 percent), reducing in-person meetings and travel expenses (55 percent) and improving communication with external partners or vendors (34 percent).

-- Where they are deployed, the focus of SharePoint security concerns appears to be much more on protecting sensitive information than on traditional malware and similar threats. There was somewhat more concern about security for SharePoint from an information-protection perspective in Europe which may be related to the stricter information privacy regulations in Europe.

-- Organizations who use SharePoint often allow access to their SharePoint systems to outside partners and vendors, making it difficult for organizations to control security. Among such organizations, 31 percent allow access to affiliates, 38 percent allow business partners, 48 percent allow contractors or consultants and 19 percent allow customers.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

New Rogue Websites Announcing Barack Obama's Resignation Turn Users' Computers into 'Zombies' says PandaLabs

/PRNewswire/ -- PandaLabs, Panda Security's malware analysis and detection laboratory, has detected 40 websites that are using Barack Obama, President-elect of the United States, as bait to spread malware. These pages contain the following headline: "Barack Obama has refused to be a President."

If users try to read the article a dialog box is displayed asking them to download a file. However, if they do so, a number of malicious files will infiltrate their computers. These files turn the affected computer into a 'zombie' computer, remotely controlled by cyber-criminals. An image of the fake Obama website can be viewed here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/panda_security/3209435502/.

"These zombie computers are normally networked to form 'botnets', as the malicious code that allows remotely controlling them is called a 'bot'," explains Ryan Sherstobitoff, chief corporate evangelist, Panda Security. "Botnets are then hired by cyber-crooks to third-parties that use zombie computers with malicious purposes such as sending spam or launching denial of service attacks."

According to PandaLabs, the attack appears have originated from China, as all domains have been bought to a Chinese company with a long record of malware attacks.

This is not the first time that Barack Obama has been used by cyber-criminals to distribute malware. Even during the presidential campaign and the days that followed the election, false news stories circulated that led to malware downloads.

For more information about this attack, go to the PandaLabs blog: http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/archive/Malware-Campaign-Impersonates-Barac k-Obama_2700_s-Website.aspx.

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Solar Energy Harvesting Kit from TI Enables Permanently-Powered Wireless Sensor Networks

PRNewswire/ -- As wireless network systems designers look to alternative energy sources, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE:TXN) announced a solar energy harvesting (SEH) development kit that converts ambient light into power for industrial, transportation, agricultural and commercial applications. The credit card-sized eZ430-RF2500-SEH kit combines Cymbet Corporation's EnerChip(TM) thin-film battery technology with TI's MSP430 microcontrollers (MCU), CC2500 radio frequency (RF) transceivers and the eZ430-RF2500 development tool. Developers can now build self powered solar-based wireless sensor networks, eliminating system batteries, which cost time and money to periodically replace, especially in remote locations. The $149 eZ430-RF2500-SEH kit is sampling now and is available via the TI e-store or authorized distributors (www.ti.com/ez430-RF2500-SEHpr).

In remote or hard-to access environments, wireless sensors are becoming increasingly integrated and miniaturized. Until now, designers typically powered wireless devices via storage components such as coin cell or AA batteries. However, these storage technologies do not supply the right mix of charging, storage, discharge and physical size characteristics to provide permanent power for wireless devices. Now, the combination of Cymbet's EnerChip batteries with TI's MSP430 MCU and CC2500 RF technology allows energy harvesters to achieve more efficient storage, processing and transmission in both bright and low light environments.

eZ430-RF2500-SEH key features and benefits

-- A high efficiency solar panel connected through the EnerChip energy
harvesting module delivers enough power to run the wireless
application even under low ambient light.
-- Based on Cymbet's EnerChip solid-state lithium thin-film battery
technology, which increases conversion efficiencies when storing and
starting power in energy harvesting modules.
-- Cymbet EnerChips are environmentally friendly, rechargeable and so
efficient they can send up to 400 transmissions from a single charge
when no ambient light is available.
-- TI's USB-based eZ430-RF2500 tool provides hardware and software to
program an MSP430 MCU and low power wireless transceiver on a postage
stamp-sized target board.
-- MSP430 MCU's ultra-low power, fast wake-up time and system-on-chip
(SoC) peripheral integration saves board space while enabling
maintenance-free, self-powered sensors.
-- CC2500 RF transceivers operate in the 2.4-GHz range, making them
ideally suited for reliable, low-cost digital wireless applications.

Find out more about TI's eZ430-RF2500-SEH demonstration kit by visiting the links below:

-- eZ430-RF2500-SEH: www.ti.com/ez430-RF2500-SEH
-- MSP430 tools page: www.ti.com/msp430tools
-- eZ430-RF2500 development tool: www.ti.com/ez430
-- Tools videos:
https://community.ti.com/media/g/microcontrollers/default.aspx
-- TI's microcontrollers: www.ti.com/mcu
-- TI's low power RF: www.ti.com/lprf
-- TI energy blog: http://tinergy.ti.com/
-- TI E2E Community and support: https://community.ti.com/forums/35.aspx

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Friday, January 16, 2009

New Wireless 60 GHz Standard Promises Ultra-Fast Applications

Ultra-high-speed wireless connectivity – capable of transferring 15 gigabits of data per second over short distances – has taken a significant step toward reality. A recent decision by an international standards group could help bring this technology to market soon.

Short-distance 60 gigahertz (GHz) technology could offer many benefits to bandwidth-hungry applications such as high-definition video and high-capacity data storage. The new standard would support extremely fast wireless peer-to-peer connectivity, PC connectivity and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable replacement.

Among the many potential 60 GHz applications are virtually wireless desktop-computer setups and data centers, wireless home DVD systems, in-store kiosks that transfer movies to handheld devices in seconds, and the potential to move gigabytes of photos or video from a camera to a PC almost instantly.

Industry group Ecma International recently announced a worldwide standard for the radio frequency (RF) technology that makes 60 GHz “multi-gigabit” data transfer possible. The specifications for this technology, which involves chips capable of sending RF signals in the 60 GHz range, are expected to be published as an ISO standard in 2009.

“We believe this new standard represents a major step forward,” said Joy Laskar, a member of the Ecma 60 GHz standards committee and director of the Georgia Electronic Design Center (GEDC) at Georgia Tech. “Consumers could see products capable of ultra-fast short-range data transfer within two or three years.”

He added that multi-gigabit technology could also help enable “viral communications.” Viral communications scenarios envision a future of decentralized, ubiquitous, wireless devices that aren’t directly connected to a central communications conduit. Instead, they cooperate with one another to both utilize and expand bandwidth and data availability.

GEDC, a microelectronics design center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has already produced a CMOS chip capable of transmitting 60 GHz digital RF signals. This chip design could speed up commercialization of high-speed short-range wireless applications because CMOS technology is both low cost and low in power consumption.

“Multi-gigabit technology definitely has major promise for new consumer and IT applications,” said Darko Kirovski, senior researcher at the Microsoft Research division of the Redmond, Washington, software giant. “Ecma’s move on international standardization of 60 GHz frequency range brings us closer to realizing that promise.”

GEDC researchers have already achieved very high data transfer rates that promise unprecedented short-range wireless speeds—15 Gbps at a distance of 1 meter, 10 Gbps at 2 meters and 5 Gbps at 5 meters.

Laskar recently discussed 60 GHz wireless technology at a MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta panel discussion on “The Future of Wireless Communications.” The panel, which included Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal and AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de La Vega, was broadcast Nov. 24, 2008, and can be viewed at (www.mitforum-atlanta.org).

“Multi-gigabit wireless technology is widely perceived as a means to bring important new wireless applications to both consumer and IT markets,” said Ann Revell-Pechar, chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta Chapter board.

Ecma International members finalized the details of the 60 GHz short- range unlicensed communications standard at international meetings in Montreux, Switzerland, in November 2008. The technology was demonstrated using a GEDC-designed CMOS chip.

The GEDC-developed chip is the first 60GHz embedded chip for multimedia multi-gigabit wireless use. The chip unites 60GHz CMOS digital radio capability and multi-gigabit signal processing in an ultra-compact package.

“This new technology represents the highest level of integration for 60GHz wireless single-chip solutions,” Laskar said. “It offers the lowest energy per bit transmitted wirelessly at multi-gigabit data rates reported to date.”

Since its inception in 1961, Ecma International has developed standards for information and communication technology and consumer electronics. Ecma submits its work for approval as ISO, ISO/IEC and ETSI standards. Ecma practices “fast tracking” of specifications through the standardization process in global standards bodies such as the ISO.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Steve Jobs Memo to Apple Employees

Apple CEO Steve Jobs today sent the following email to all Apple employees:

Team,

I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.

In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.

I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.

I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.

Steve

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Social Media Study Shows 59 Percent of Retailers Now Using Facebook

/PRNewswire/ -- Rosetta, the largest independent interactive marketing agency in the country, today released a social media study showing 59 percent of 100 leading retailers currently have a fan page on Facebook.

According to the study, which was first conducted in April of 2008 and updated in September of 2008, 29 of the retailers surveyed added Facebook pages during those four months. These include Best Buy(R), Toys "R" Us(R), Kohl's(R) and Wal-Mart(R).

"These results support what we're seeing in our day-to-day client work, which is that we've reached a tipping point with Facebook among retailers," says Adam Cohen, partner with Rosetta's consumer goods and retail practice. "Social media sites continue to be an important source of community connection, and savvy retailers are reaping the benefits of Facebook's rapid extension into new demographics, such as Gen-X and seniors."

However, Cohen cautions retailers against a haphazard approach: "It's important that retailers don't just slap up a page because everyone is talking about Facebook. An effective Facebook presence requires that you carefully consider what your customers are looking for, what you would like to communicate, and what role a fan page should play in your overall online strategy. If you take all of these into account, it can be effective in building customer loyalty. "

The study included 100 retailers with a significant e-commerce presence or brand awareness, evaluated strictly on the creation of a "fan page" on Facebook.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Verbatim Announces New TuneBoard Speaker Keyboard for PC and Mac Users

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Verbatim® Americas, LLC, announced today TuneBoard™, an innovative new Speaker Keyboard, to its PC/Mac Accessory line. In addition to giving users more control over sound playback Verbatim’s TuneBoard eliminates the clutter of speakers and wires on the desktop. With its sleek, modern design and personal music station features, the Speaker Keyboard will appeal to consumers who want to optimize their computing experience and those who want to update the look of their desktop systems.

The TuneBoard features integrated dual stereo speakers that are angled towards the listener for crystal-clear, high-quality sound and includes a media console with seven multimedia keys for controlling iTunes® with the Mac® version and Windows Media Player™, or default music player, with the Windows® version. The multimedia keys also provide muting, volume adjustment, play, pause, stop, previous track and next track control. Two additional hot keys are included for switching the enhanced bass on and off and to switch the keycap luminescent background lighting on and off.

Equipped with a built-in mini-microphone, Verbatim’s TuneBoard Speaker Keyboard is fully compatible with Skype® and other VOIP software. A built-in microphone jack and earphone jack are also included on the back of the keyboard.

Verbatim’s new Speaker Keyboards are designed with a modern glossy, polished surface that gives them a high-end look and feel.

“Verbatim is recognized worldwide for its leadership in providing high-quality, innovative products,” said Ron Hanafin, Verbatim Product Marketing Manager. “With the TuneBoard, Verbatim is offering a win-win solution for PC and Mac users who have limited desk space but want stereo sound with convenient controls when they watch videos and listen to music.”

Availability, Pricing

Verbatim offers TuneBoards for Windows® 98SE, XP, 2000 and Vista as well as Mac OS 10.4.X and higher systems. Designed with a modern glossy, polished surface that gives them a high-end look and feel, Verbatim’s new TuneBoard Speaker Keyboards are available through leading retailers, Internet resellers and distributors. The suggested shelf price is $69.99 for both models.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Changes Coming to the iTunes Store

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Apple(R) today announced several changes to the iTunes(R) Store (http://www.itunes.com/). Beginning today, all four major music labels -- Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels, are now offering their music in iTunes Plus, Apple's DRM-free format with higher- quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for audio quality virtually indistinguishable from the original recordings. iTunes customers can also choose to download their favorite songs from the world's largest music catalog directly onto their iPhone(TM) 3G over their 3G network just as they do with Wi-Fi today, for the same price as downloading to their computer. And beginning in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points: 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, with most albums still priced at $9.99.

"We are thrilled to be able to offer our iTunes customers DRM-free iTunes Plus songs in high quality audio and our iPhone 3G customers the ability to download music from iTunes anytime, anywhere over their 3G network at the same price as downloading to your computer or via Wi-Fi," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "And in April, based on what the music labels charge Apple, songs on iTunes will be available at one of three price points -- 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29 -- with many more songs priced at 69 cents than $1.29."

iTunes offers customers a simple, one-click option to easily upgrade their entire library of previously purchased songs to the higher quality DRM-free iTunes Plus format for just 30 cents per song or 30 percent of the album price. The iTunes Store will begin offering eight million of its 10 million songs in Apple's DRM-free format, iTunes Plus, today with the remaining two million songs offered in iTunes Plus by the end of March.

iPhone 3G users can now preview and purchase the entire iTunes Store music catalog on their iPhone 3G over their 3G network, just as they do with Wi-Fi today, for the same price and in the same high quality format. Songs purchased on an iPhone will automatically sync to a user's computer the next time they sync their iPhone.

The iTunes Store is the world's most popular online music, TV and movie store with a catalog of over 10 million songs, over 30,000 TV episodes and over 2,500 films including over 600 in stunning high definition video. With Apple's legendary ease of use, pioneering features such as iTunes Movie Rentals, integrated podcasting support, the ability to turn previously purchased tracks into complete albums at a reduced price, and seamless integration with iPod(R) and iPhone, the iTunes Store is the best way for Mac(R) and PC users to legally discover, purchase and download music and video online.

Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award- winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.

(C) 2009 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, Mac, Mac OS, Macintosh, iTunes, iPhone and iPod are trademarks of Apple. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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