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IT Trends for September 18, 2003

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Thursday, September 18, 2003

In This Issue


Picking at a Virus-Ridden Corpse:
Lessons from a Post-Blaster, Post-Welchia, Post-Nachi, Post Mortem

J'e St Sauver, Ph.D., Guest Commentator
University of Oregon Computing Center

J'e St Sauver, Ph.D., director of user services and network applications at the University of Oregon Computing Center, has just gone through what everyone else has: the epidemic of viruses and worms that rained down on campus networks over the last several months.

As our guest editorialist this week, J'e has some strong opinions on why some people got hit so hard and others didn’t. He also has some good lessons-learned. Oh, J'e also wanted me to point out that his perspectives here do not reflect difficulties or conditions at either his institution or any one particular institution. They are "a synthesized view that reflects the collective higher education experience."

—Terry Calhoun, IT Trends Commentator, Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), University of Michigan.

Sick of the Blaster/Lovsan, Welchia, Nachi experience? I know I am.

Let's do a brief post mortem and see what good we can glean from the latest virus follies.

1. It's Windows PCs (again)
D'es your campus rely on PCs running a current version of Microsoft Windows? If so, I suspect you were hit hard. Campuses that use Macs (or Unix/Linux workstations, or a mixture of different types of systems) experienced fewer direct problems, although even the most innocent shouldered part of the collective burden.

Do we never learn? Just as these viruses targeted PCs running Microsoft Windows, so have virtually all the previous ones. Time after time, infestation after infestation, the viruses and the worms have come for the PCs running Microsoft Windows, and time after time, the PCs running Microsoft Windows have fallen....
Read more


U. Florida Upgrades Info Security Manager Position

UF's CIO, Chuck Frazier, noted that "two recent audits and internal reviews have led me to conclude that we need to raise our security program to a higher profile and a higher level of operation."...
Read more

Texas A&M Experiences a "Backdoor Fade" Disconnection

Monday late about 10:00 am, a piece of heavy equipment cut the optical cable that physically connects the Texas A&M network to the rest of the world. It took less than 3 hours to locate and fix the cut...
Read more

Privacy and Internet use at Central Michigan University

Students at Central Michigan University sometimes do—and sometimes do not—understand that their privacy is with email. Occasionally they get nervous...
Read more

Despite RIAA and Publicity, No Lull in Peer-to-Peer Traffic

Despite RIAA and institutional efforts, the percentage of file trading traffic worldwide is up roughly 20 percent in September over August averages. (BBC)...
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Blackboard replaces electronic reserves at Swarthmore

Swarthmore's Blackboard-related storage capacity now g'es up to about 50G, with an annual cost for licensing and maintenance of $20,000...
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U. of British Columbia Unveils 600-acre Wireless Net

UBC's new Wireless LAN is part of a three-year, $30M "e-Strategy" network upgrade that lets students, faculty, and staff be completely mobile and wireless, anywhere on its 600-acre Vancouver Campus...
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Slow and Steady Has its Virtues

The Zigbee standard moves data at only 20 Kbps, but the cheaper nodes can create a "mesh" and thus avoid the use of more expensive hubs or wires. It's an application of "Metcalfe's Law," which states that the number of users of a network is more important than its speed (Wired)...
Read more

UNLV Has Monitored Student Computers for Five years

While being careful about privacy issues, UNLV measures "all the Internet traffic on campus" in order to keep itself and its students out of court....
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Favorite Technology Blogs from Readers of Whatis?com

A list of useful and varied technology oriented web logs, ranging from WiFi, programming advice, computer security, "The Life of a One-Man IT Department," Linux, general science, Macs, and last but not least, one man’s "Backup Brain."...
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Best Education Tech Standards Web Logs from the United Kingdom

From across the pond and by way of the U.K.’s Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards, comes a list of "some of the most useful blogs for anyone interested in standards in educational technology." ...
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Northwestern Signs License with Content Filtering Company

Northwestern University’s Media Management Center has signed a licensing agreement with FluentMedia to supply news and commentary to, which provides daily coverage of the publishing and interactive media industries. FluentMedia is an electronic information service that uses filtering technology to supply customized packages of news, commentary and analysis to corporate clients for use on their intranets, extranets and public marketing sites. Content is drawn from major newspapers, wire services, trade publications and other sources. FluentMedia is a content licensing subsidiary of the Tribune Co.

Cleveland State Signs Long Term Deal for Dark Fiber

Cleveland State University has signed a deal to acquire dark-fiber from American Fiber Systems. Dominique Porter, manager of enterprise networks at CSU, said the AFS network "gives us a long-term solution with truly unlimited bandwidth" for its local area networking needs. Under terms of the agreement, CSU has the option of acquiring more fiber on the AFS network which extends throughout the Cleveland area and surrounding communities.

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Can intellectual property rights be better served with Creative Commons licensing?


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Microsoft Opens Office Early to Power Users

Microsoft allowed some business customers to download its new Office desktop application bundle about two weeks sooner than originally planned. Microsoft Office 2003 was released Monday to those signed up for the company’s Enterprise Agreement and Software Assurance licensing plans, as well as to members of its Microsoft Developer Network. Microsoft will sell the standard edition of Office 2003 for $399, the professional version for $499, and the student/teacher version for $149. Office 2003 includes new versions of Microsoft's Word, Excel, PowerPoint, InfoPath, Access, Publisher and Outlook.

Discounted Anti-Spam Software Offered to Education Community

Panicware, Inc., a Seattle developer of PC pop-up control and spam-blocking technology, is offering individual discounts on its Pop-Up Stopper and SpamWasher applications, as well as on site licenses to schools and educational institutions. Pop-Up Stopper blocks pop-up and pop-under in every browser and every type of Internet connection, the company said. SpamWasher detects spam e-mail while allowing non-spam e-mail to pass to the e-mail program. Single-user registration of Pop-Up Stopper Professional or SpamWasher is currently discounted at $29.95, and full CD versions are $39.95.

Sun updates Java 2 Enterprise Edition for Web Services

Sun Microsystems released a preliminary update of its Java 2 Enterprise Edition software, with support for a major new Web services standard. Version 1.4 supports Basic Profile, the comprehensive Web services standard released last month by the Web services Interoperability organization (WS-I). Basic Profile is designed to allow Web sites to share data and applications. It’s inclusion in the latest release is expected to speed the spread and adoption of web services applications.

Symantec Offers New Firewall Appliances for Enterprise

Symantec released its Gateway Security 5400 series of firewall appliances for the enterprise. The systems, which start at $3,995, include a firewall, intrusion detection and prevention systems, anti-virus defenses, content filtering, virtual private networking (VPN), and anti-spam filtering in single server-based packages. Centralized policy management is provided by a plug-in that allows IT personnel to monitor and manage hundreds or even thousands of the appliances via a Web-based interface that also offers logging, reporting, and alert features. The five models in the 5400 line vary by processor, the number and speed of the Ethernet ports, the size of the server, and the amount of software purchased.

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Discussion of the Week:

I'm considering using a product that isn't a full-blown LMS, but a plug-in to PowerPoint that adds video, screen shot and broadcast capabilities to it. Is anyone else using such a tool alone or along with an LMS? -- posted by andychittum

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