Wednesday, November 23, 2005

'FBI, CIA' e-mails spread virus

Washington - A scam involving e-mails appearing to come from the FBI or CIA has unleashed a computer virus that spread rapidly worldwide, United States officials and security experts said on Tuesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a statement on its website noting that the agency was not the source of the e-mails. But experts said the virus was propagating because the authors made the message appear authentic.

The FBI statement said recipients of this or similar messages "should know that the FBI does not engage in the practice of sending unsolicited e-mails to the public in this manner".

The messages appear to be sent from an e-mail address such as,, or a similar address, and direct the recipient to open an attachment to answer question. The opening of the file activates the virus and causes it to spread to others.

The internet security firm Sophos said similar e-mails may appear to come from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but that both contain a strain of the Sober virus that has been spreading worldwide.

The worm -- named "Sober X" -- has spread so far so fast that the CIA and the FBI put prominent warnings on their Web sites making clear that they did not send out the e-mail and urging people to not open the attachment.

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Austria's equivalent to the FBI is investigating a flurry of similar bogus e-mails sent in its name to people in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, the Associated Press reported.

"This particular virus is a mass-mailer worm and is the largest one we have seen this year," said Alfred A. Huger, senior director of engineering at Symantec Corp., which sells Norton AntiVirus software. "It's as bad as it gets. With this particular type of virus on your system, there is a high probability that your personal information will be stolen."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sony BMG is spying on thousands of listeners

Sony is spying on thousands of listeners who buy and play its music CDs on their computers, a leading computer security firm said recently.

Computer Associates International Inc. said that new anti-copying software Sony is using to discourage pirating of its music also secretly collects information from any computer that plays the discs.

The anti-piracy technology, which works only on Windows computers, prevents customers from making more than a few copies of the CD and prevents them from loading the CD's songs directly onto Apple Computer's popular iPod portable music players. Some other music players, which recognize Microsoft's proprietary music format, do play the CDs.

A hacker had mass-mailed e-mail with an attachment, which when clicked on installs malware. The malware hides by using Sony BMG software that is also hidden -- the software would have already been installed on a computer when consumers played Sony's copy-protected music CDs.

The malware, a trojan program which appears desirable but actually contains something harmful, tears down a computer's firewall and gives hackers access to a PC. Sony BMG provided a patch to protect computers against the virus, which is available on its Web site.

"We also intend to re-examine all aspects of our content protection initiative to be sure that it continues to meet our goals of security and ease of consumer use," Sony BMG added.

The software works only on computers running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. It limits listeners’ ability to copy the music onto their computers, and locks copied files so they cannot be freely distributed over the internet.

Friday, November 04, 2005

New Apple Ipod Nano Video 30GB

Apple Ipod Nano Video 30GB - With Video IPod, the Music Still Comes First

When Apple Computer unveiled the video-capable version of its popular iPod music player this month, it trumpeted the fact that users could download Pixar short films and top music videos, along with recent episodes of "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

But video clips of a spicier nature quickly became available as free, iPod-friendly downloads. That created an immediate problem for parents already scrambling to keep abreast of their teenagers' computer routines.

Consider that you can now get the 30GB model for the same price as the previous-generation 20GB model, and you have a pretty impressive product.

The new 30GB iPod is 30 percent thinner than the previous 20GB color model, but the height and width are the same. (The current 60GB model is roughly 10 percent slimmer than the older 20GB model.) This may not seem like a big difference on paper, but we were impressed with the new model's slimmed-down figure when we held the two side by side. The 2.5-inch backlit LCD, at 320 by 240 pixels, is noticeably bigger than the previous 2-inch 220-by-176 screen.

Apple also eliminated the 9-pin remote-control connector in this version, which means third parties such as Griffin and Belkin will have to update their accessory lines. Apple's reasoning was that accessories should go through the already-present dock connector rather than through a second proprietary port.

If you just happen to be in the market for a music player, the iPod Video is a no-brainer, suiting the needs of music, video and photos all in one, and landing at the same price points ($299 for 30 gigs and $399 for 60 gigs) as the previous generation. But does the new iPod offer enough new features to be worth the upgrade for those with previous generations, particularly if you already own a 4g (4th generation) with a color screen? That answer is yet to come when IGN Gear unleashes our full in-depth iPod Video review next week.