Monday, November 5, 2007

Daily Report

• The Associated Press reports that starting next summer, many power plants, hospitals, universities and companies in 36 states will be forced to store low-level radioactive waste, because a South Carolina landfill is closing its doors to them. As of July 1, the landfill will take waste only from South Carolina and the two states with which it formed a partnership, New Jersey and Connecticut. (See items 5)

• The Associated Press reports that construction crews started to work on a new, 10-lane interstate bridge to replace the one that collapsed over the summer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The contract for its replacement requires completion by December 24, 2008.
(See item

Information Technology

30. November 1, Computerworld – (National) Webroot warns of spoofed presidential campaign sites. The growing use of the Internet as a communication and fund-raising medium by presidential candidates has a nasty new doppelganger -- an elaborate, if short-term, revenue stream flowing to online crooks. Perpetrators are busy setting up spoofed presidential candidate sites designed to lure unwary voters into parting with their money, their personal data or both, according to security vendor Webroot Software Inc. The sites are designed to look like legitimate candidate Web pages, with solicitations for visitors to click on links, make donations or download screen savers and videos. Those who click on the links can get infected with a variety of spyware programs and other malware programs, company executives said today. One such malicious program is a Trojan horse called Zlob; a relatively venerable piece of code, Symantec identified the same Trojan years ago as Trojan.Zhopa. It is designed to deploy various malware tools capable of giving attackers remote access to compromised systems, or of stealing keystrokes and passwords. Many of the spoofed web sites use URLs that take advantage of typographical and spelling errors that a user might make when entering a candidate’s Web site address according to Webroot.

31. November 1, InfoWorld – (National) IBM to spend $1.5 billion to improve computer security. IBM will spend $1.5 billion developing computer security products in 2008, a sum that could double the company’s previous spending. $1.5 billion “is much more than we’ve ever spent,” a general manager in IBM’s services unit who is responsible for security programs told The Wall Street Journal. The company would not say exactly how much it previously spent on data security, but an analyst from Pund-IT Research said $1.5 billion could double IBM’s typical spending on security research and product development, according to the Associated Press. IBM issued a press release Thursday saying IT security is becoming more difficult because of collaborative business models, sophisticated criminal attacks and increasingly complex infrastructures.

Communications Sector

32. November 1, The Wall Street Journal – (National) States step in to close broadband gap. Tired of waiting for the federal government’s promise to make high-speed Internet connections available to every home, a number of states have taken on the task themselves. Kentucky has been so successful -- the state says 95% of its households can now buy broadband service if they want -- that federal lawmakers and regulators want to replicate its program nationwide. An Ohio representative recently introduced legislation to provide grants for states to follow Kentucky’s lead, and a Senate version of the bill has passed the Commerce Committee. In October, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill that would compel the Federal Communications Commission to pinpoint where broadband service is available -- and where it isn’t. The campaign for nationwide broadband service comes on worries that the U.S. has not kept pace with other developed countries, and that rural districts will lose jobs. This week, the FCC took steps to get a clearer picture of the gaps in broadband availability. The commission will be asking companies for the number of broadband subscribers in each ZIP Code -- eventually using the nine-digit code -- and it wants to collect more-precise data on transmission speeds. That can be tricky. While Internet providers keep detailed maps of their networks, they are not required to share the information with regulators, and won’t do so voluntarily for fear of tipping their hand to competitors. And the FCC measures broadband deployment by ZIP Code, so if one subscriber in a ZIP Code has broadband access, the zone is considered covered. Without a precise count, consumer groups and lawmakers say it is impossible to determine the best way to close the gaps, which occur mostly in less-populated and poorer areas. Consumer advocates have their eye on another FCC program, the $7 billion Universal Service Fund that subsidizes the cost of rural telephone service. For several months, the FCC has been wrestling with rule changes that could free up some of the money for high-speed Internet.