A Spooky Tale

The joys of laissez-faire: Theft You Don’t Even See [pdf]

How’s this for a one-two punch — software that secretly alters your Google search results, then tries to drop nasty programs on your computer by luring you to a bogus eBay link?

That appears to be what is happening with a new program documented by security software vendor Webroot Software Inc. Called 2search, the program secretly hijacks some Google searches by presenting fake results in the midst of legitimate ones. Because the pages shown look identical to regular Google results, most victims would have no clue anything is amiss.

[…] Spy software is going mainstream as it becomes big business, generating about $2.4 billion in annual revenue, according to a report issued last week by Webroot. Eager to make money by installing advertising and spy programs on more computers, the purveyors are using clever new tactics, such as pretending to be a Yahoo page or a music file from iTunes.

[…] If such standardized programs aren’t to your liking, a group of Russian programmers called Rat Systems will take your order at their site and write a custom spy program for about $600, Moll said. While spy software has legitimate uses such as defending a corporate network, Moll said it increasingly is being used for electronic robbery.

Something To Think About

Shouldn’t this be a part of a broadband policy? Bush Should Bear Blame For Communication Breakdown

According to some government types, the Bush administration does have a national broadband policy. But as Hurricane Katrina rudely pointed out this week, there’s still no coherent, nation-wide first-responders communications network, a technology failure that must fall, in part, at the current leader’s feet.

As some of us have said before, it’s appalling that nearly four years after the terrorist attacks on this country, our elected officials still haven’t found the political will to build communications networks that could help make us all safer in times of need.

Note that parallels are being drawn for the bigger picture, too: Give ’em hell, Jack; also the LATimes’ A warning sent but left unheeded [pdf]

Any Hope For A Serious Re-examination Now?

How many of these fights will it take to demonstrate the need to revisit (and eliminate) software patents? Apple Is Accused of Violating Software Patent

The patent [6,928,433], which the company calls the Zen Patent, covers Creative’s interface for portable players, which allows users to select a song, album or track by navigating a succession of menus. The patent office awarded the patent on Aug. 9.

Later: Slashdot’s Apple Is Accused of Violating Software Patent