New Tales of Cloak and Spammers

Spencer noticed quite a buzz on the Internet concerning the fact that hacking would be considered a terrorist act under U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's proposed Anti-Terrorism Act.

Spencer noticed quite a buzz on the Internet concerning the fact that hacking would be considered a terrorist act under U.S. Attorney General John Ashcrofts proposed Anti-Terrorism Act. The Puss pondered whether punishment for the folks who vigorously propagate countless urban legend spam e-mails to their family, friends and co-workers should also be included in the proposal.

It seems the same folks who constantly forward e-mails about Walt Disney Jr. and kidney harvesting are now spreading misinformation and fear in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Recently in Boston, news spread fast that the hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center might have had Sept. 22 in mind as a backup date, had the first attack been aborted. It evolved into a flood of paranoia- inducing e-mails. The messages varied slightly, but the content was basically the same:

"A friend of mine from college was told that a close family friend, who is a bartender in the Boston area, heard a few drunk Arab men mention that there would be a lot of bloodshed in Boston on the 22. This happened before the terrorist attacks, and ever since, she has been with the FBI trying to recognize some cab drivers. Please, do NOT go in the city on Saturday the 22, day or night." The restaurants, shops and nightclubs in Boston certainly felt the economic sting from this well-meaning "friend of a friend."

Another e-mail circulating around the Net that annoyed the Kitty tells folks to type Q33 NY into a Microsoft Word document, enlarge the type and change the font to Wingdings. This produces an airplane, two document icons (that youre supposed to interpret as buildings, evidently), a skull and a Star of David. In hindsight, the Furball thinks he preferred it when these folks only forwarded top-secret cookie recipes from Mrs. Fields. "In WWII, they used to say, Loose lips sink ships," groused the Grimalkin. "I think Moronic Spam hurts Uncle Sam should be the slogan for today."

Whether or not Michael Jacksons new songs rock the music world certainly isnt of major concern to the Kitty these days. What has caught El Gatos attention is the buzz going around that Jacksons upcoming album, "Invincible," may be exactly what its title implies, at least as far as CD-ROM drives are concerned. Word is that Sonys release of new material from Jacko may be one of the first high- profile audio disks to use an embedded copy protection system.

Record companies have been toying with using systems to block the playing and ripping of audio disks on PCs, but this may be the first release from a major international recording artist to have such a block. The music label Fahrenheit Entertainment laid claim to having released the worlds first "cloaked" CD back in March.

This prompted a woman to file a lawsuit against the record label for not mentioning the inclusion of a copy protection system on its packaging for the "cloaked" disk, which featured country singer Charley Pride. The suit, filed in California Superior Court in Marin County, also cited SunnComm, the developer of the Digital Content Cloaking Technology.

"Cloaking?" pondered the Puss. "Id have thought a disk by Charley Pride wouldve been fairly invisible on its own."

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt

Spencer F. Katt, the Whiskered Wonder, has been the mascot and tipster extraordinaire for eWEEK and its predecessor print publication PC Week since 1984. The Gadabout Gatto makes the rounds of...