November 13, 2004

Another Lexmark Activity [2:27 pm]

Spyware charge levelled at Lexmark

Reports on the comp.periphs.printers Usenet newsgroup claim that Lexmark has been planting spyware on its customers’ PCs in the form of undocumented software that monitors the use of its printers and silently reports back to a Lexmark-owned company website.

One user said that after initially denying the allegations, Lexmark acknowledged installing tracking software that reported printer and cartridge use back to the company for survey purposes. He claimed that Lexmark said no personal data was taken by the program, and that it was impossible to identify anyone by it.

However, users installing the software are prompted to fill in a registration form including their name and the serial number of the product.

Slashdot: Are Your Peripherals Monitoring You?

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‘Halo 2′ and Modchipping the X-Box [2:19 pm]

Is Microsoft using ‘Halo 2′ to thwart Xbox hackers?

Hundreds of Xbox owners have reported in online forums in recent days that they were banned from Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online gaming service, after trying to play “Halo 2″ online with a modified console.

A Microsoft representative would not specify which additional security measures, if any, have been added to Xbox Live around the “Halo 2″ launch. “Microsoft listens carefully to the Xbox Live community and reserves the right to take steps necessary to preserve the integrity of the user experience,” the representative said in a statement. “Our goal is to provide our users with secure, consistent and fair online game play. Users are not permitted to manipulate the system to the detriment of others.”

[...] Microsoft and other hardware makers have long fought against mod chips, chiefly because those chips abet game piracy. The software giant’s activities culminated in a Justice Department raid two years ago in which federal lawmakers took over a Web site used to sell mod chips and swap illegally copied games.

Billy Pidgeon, an analyst for research firm Zelos Group, said console makers have long used any means available to them to thwart mod chips and halt illegal copying of games. The advent of online gaming for consoles has raised the stakes, he said.

“They’re worried not just about enabling casual piracy but also about cheating,” Pidgeon said. “A modded Xbox can allow all sorts of new avenues for cheating online and ruining the experience for paying customers. I would argue that Xbox Live is a great experience for the end user precisely because it’s a closed, controlled environment, and anything that threatens that is a real concern for Microsoft.”

[...] Datapusher said he was temporarily able to regain access to Xbox Live after some tinkering Wednesday night, but was banned again shortly after. He vowed not to give in and buy a new Xbox, the route reportedly taken by many hackers eager to join the online “Halo 2″ scrum. “I won’t give up that easily,” he vowed. “Someone will find a way. Microsoft may be clever, but not as much so as the open-source community…there will always be a way around Microsoft security protocols.”

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The War ‘Net [2:12 pm]

Pentagon Envisioning a Costly Internet for War

The goal is to give all American commanders and troops a moving picture of all foreign enemies and threats - “a God’s-eye view” of battle.

This “Internet in the sky,” Peter Teets, under secretary of the Air Force, told Congress, would allow “marines in a Humvee, in a faraway land, in the middle of a rainstorm, to open up their laptops, request imagery” from a spy satellite, and “get it downloaded within seconds.”

[...] Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet and a Pentagon consultant on the war net, said he wondered if the military’s dream was realistic. “I want to make sure what we realize is vision and not hallucination,” Mr. Cerf said.

“This is sort of like Star Wars, where the policy was, ‘Let’s go out and build this system,’ and technology lagged far behind,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with having ambitious goals. You just need to temper them with physics and reality.”

[...] The Pentagon’s scientists and engineers, starting four decades ago, invented the systems that became the Internet. Throughout the cold war, their computer power ran far ahead of the rest of the world.

Then the world eclipsed them. The nation’s military and intelligence services started falling behind when the Internet exploded onto the commercial scene a decade ago. The war net is “an attempt to catch up,” Mr. Cerf said.

Slashdot: U.S. Military To Create Its Own Internet

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