GT Spectrum

Reports from the IT horizon.

by , / March 2, 2005
Collecting Evidence With Spyware
A law passed by the Australian Parliament in December gives the country's federal and state police the power to use computer spyware to collect evidence in a broad range of investigations.

The Surveillance Devices Act allows police to obtain a warrant to use software surveillance technologies, including systems that track and log keystrokes on computer keyboards.

Critics call the law imbalanced, arguing that police could secretly install software to monitor e-mail, online chats, word processor and spreadsheet entries, and even bank passwords and PINs. -- The Sydney Morning Herald

Solar Robots Go Underwater
Underwater robots may one day help protect water quality. Researchers at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute on Lake George, N.Y., are experimenting with distributed sensing devices and water-monitoring robots as part of the RiverNet project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.

The robotic devices, known as solar-powered autonomous underwater vehicles (SAUVs), would detect chemical and biological trends that impact water quality. The goal is to develop SAUVs that will communicate and network together using technologies such as integrated sensor microsystems, pervasive computing, wireless communications and sensor mobility. -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Browser Change
Pennsylvania State University urged the school's computer users to switch from Microsoft's Internet Explorer to other standards-based Web browsers to minimize exposure to cyber-attacks.

The campuswide alert, issued by the university's Information Technology Services (ITS) in December, said the shift would help protect users from attacks that exploit Web browser vulnerabilities. ITS recommended Web browser options such as Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape Communicator and Opera. -- Pennsylvania State University

Intrusion Prevention
Because worms, viruses and denial-of-service attacks continue to plague Internet users, 80 percent of organizations now use intrusion prevention system (IPS) products inline with blocking protection, according to In-Stat/MDR. Nineteen percent of IPS products are deployed at critical segments within the network.

Sneaky GPS
GPS is creeping onto PDAs at a rate of 50 percent in Western Europe. The Netherlands and Denmark lead the market, with more than 80 percent of PDAs packing a GPS unit. -- IDC

Spyware Aware
According to a 2005 survey by WatchGuard Technologies, the biggest network security threats to companies, as a percentage of security administrators and IT managers who responded, are as follows.

Spyware: 67 percent
Viruses: 23 percent
Phishing: 10 percent
Shane Peterson Associate Editor
Jessica Jones Managing Editor