Fans of Saturday Night Live may recall a skit a few years back in which host William Shatner urged Trekkies at a convention to move out of their parents' basements and get a life. Maybe hacker-turned-security-consultant Kevin Mitnick can convince amateur hacks to do the same.
Let's start with two young men arrested this week on charges of spreading variants of the Lovsan (Blaster) worm. Accused "script kiddie" Jeffrey Lee Parson of Minnesota may have created an unsophisticated version of the harmful worm, but the FBI is surely going to make an example of the 18-year-old. Right now he's probably curled up in a ball wishing he had just played with his Xbox instead. And in Romania, a 24-year-old university student faces up to 15 years in prison after being accused of creating an equally ineffective worm that left an easy-to-follow trail right back to him.
The motives behind these attacks are hard for most people to grasp. Profit and revenge you can at least understand. Boredom? People with that much free time on their hands can always become Trekkies. At least it's harmless.
For sheer amusement, you have to hand it to the Consumers Foundation in Taiwan. The group staged a press conference to call on Microsoft to compensate Windows users who have suffered financial losses because of computer viruses and worms. Microsoft didn't comment publicly on the request, although one would have to assume such compensation will be paid out by Redmond when a severe cold front moves through Hades.
A more credible threat to Microsoft in Asia comes from some of the most powerful economies in the world. Fearing over-reliance on Windows, ministers from Japan, China and South Korea held a summit in Cambodia this week to discuss jointly creating an operating system based on open-source and free software. A Gartner analyst said that by themselves, Asian software makers are no match for Microsoft. However, a government-sponsored regional approach could present a serious challenge. And there's no need to worry about pesky antitrust laws.
On the other side of the globe, Microsoft is expected to show off the newest version of its desktop management platform at the Microsoft IT Forum 2003 in Copenhagen. At the Nov. 11 event, administrators will get a look at Systems Management Server 2003. Microsoft held off a launch of the software this past summer to address some issues that testers have raised.
In other product news, the first beta for Microsoft's newest software-installation tool was released to testers who made the qualification cut. One report said Microsoft Installer 3.0 will allow users to install or remove more than one patch in a single installation process and will cut the number of times reboots will be required.
And in a boost for Microsoft -- or a simply a sign that the economy is beginning to come back -- International Data Corp. released research showing that shipments of servers loaded with the Windows operating system grew faster in the second quarter than any other server-and-software combination. IDC Research Director Mark Melenovsky told SearchWin2000.com's Margie Semilof that Microsoft is getting a bounce from companies replacing servers they bought in 1999 and 2000, as well as from increased IT spending on the part of small and medium-sized businesses.
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