The Buzz: April 14, 2003

Former presidential cyber-security adviser Richard Clarke warned lawmakers last week that there is no top-level administration official dedicated full time to the safety of the nation's IT infrastructure.

Clarke Warns Lawmakers of a Security Void

Richard Clarke
Former presidential cyber-security adviser Richard Clarke warned lawmakers last week that there is no top-level administration official dedicated full time to the safety of the nations IT infrastructure.

Clarke and other IT experts cautioned that the newly created Department of Homeland Security is not yet prepared to handle the challenges, and they called on Congress to force network operators to take greater security measures.

Clarke, who resigned from the government in February, made the remarks at a U.S. House technology and information subcommittee hearing. The government needs a chief information security officer with authority over all agencies, Clarke said, adding that the Office of Management and Budgets efforts to fill this role have fallen short.

Protecting information security falls under the DHS mandate, but witnesses at the hearing cautioned that cyberspace is being overshadowed by physical infrastructure.

"In some respects, we have regressed in recent months in our ability to deal with these issues," said Michael Vatis, director of the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H.

Cebit Attendance Down 17 Percent

The Cebit Technology trade show last month saw attendance drop 17 percent from last year.

The show attracted 562,000 to Hannover, Germany, down from 674,000 in 2002.

U.S.-based IT managers can look forward to CeBIT America, the first CeBIT trade show to be held in the United States, which is scheduled for the Javits Convention Center in New York June 18-20.

802.16 Gains Support

Several major companies last week voiced official support for 802.16, an IEEE fixed-wireless-technology standard.

Intel, Proxim and Fujitsu Microelectronics America joined the WIMAX Forum, an organization dedicated to promoting and conducting interoperability tests on 802.16 broadband wireless devices. WIMAX stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access.

802.16 is meant to connect 802.11b (Wi-Fi) WLAN hot spots to the Internet and provide extensions to cable and DSL, thus forming wireless metropolitan area networks, or WMANs. While Wi-Fi generally has a range of about 300 feet between an access point and a user, 802.16 promises a linear service range of up to 31 miles.

WIMAX will develop test plans and set up certification labs during the next year, officials said. Products that support 802.16 are not expected before next year.

Nokia Cuts More Jobs

Nokias network division will cut 1,800 jobs, including 1,100 in Finland, the company announced last week. Nokias infrastructure division has been hurt by slumping sales as mobile phone operators delay investments in 3G networks.

Two months ago, the company cut 550 jobs. Last year, Nokia shed 10 percent of the Network units staff of 18,000. Following the latest round of job cuts, the division will have a work force of about 15,000, or one-quarter of Nokias total of 60,000, officials said.

SETI@home Client Troubled by Bugs

A security flaw has been DISCOVered in the screen saver client of the SETI@home project, a grid-computing initiative that enables its 4 million members to help probe the depths of space for intelligent life.

The buffer overflow security bug, discovered by Berend-Jan Wever, a 26-year-old Dutch student, could let attackers execute malicious code on PCs running the program. The SETI@home team has released patched client software, Version 3.08, which was described as a "precautionary security release," according to the SETI@home Web page.