50 computers stolen from Central Government in six months -- and more news briefs

Short takes from this week's news

Short takes from this week's news


Government loses 150 PCs in six months

Central government departments in the UK have had 150 computers stolen in the past six months. The Home Office suffered the most thefts, with 95 machines taken. The Ministry of Defence reported 23 computer thefts, a fall from more than 150 last year. MoD staff may be more vigilant following a number of well publicised laptop thefts from cars and bars in recent years.

Sun makes single sign-on open source

Sun Microsystems is planning to make some of its enterprise web authentication and single sign-on technology open source. The move will give developers a ready-made single sign-on interface to incorporate into their applications, and allow enterprises to give employees access to all web-based applications from a single log-in. The identity management code will be released under Sun's Common Developer and Distributed License (CDDL) programme.

New .mobi domain to launch in 2006

Microsoft, Nokia, Vodafone, the GSM Association and others will start issuing .mobi top-level domain names from the first half of next year. The companies have formed the MTLD venture to distribute .mobi domains after signing a deal with internet domain regulator Icann. The move is designed to promote the internet to mobile device users by registering sites that are optimised for mobile use.

Mozilla fixes 10 Firefox vulnerabilities

The Mozilla Foundation has issued a patch to fix 10 security vulnerabilities in its open source Firefox browser. Some are classed as "high risk" as they could allow remote attackers take over a user's PC. One of the most serious flaws allows attackers to add malicious content to users' trusted websites, as a result of the way Firefox handles frames.

Anti-spyware body defines the enemy

Major suppliers and consumer bodies have backed the recently launched Anti-Spyware Coalition (ASC). The ASC wants industry and users to more closely define what spyware is and help users to make educated judgements as to what should be allowed to reside on their PCs. ASC's spyware definition is now out for consultation. Users can contribute to the debate at:


MPs back tougher sentences for hackers

An all-party group of MPs is backing a 10-minute rule bill calling for reform of the Computer Misuse Act to make  launching a denial of service attack an offence and increase maximum sentences for hacking from six months to two years. Tom Harris MP said there was inconsistency between the severe financial consequences of hacking attacks and sentencing. The bill follows a campaign by Computer Weekly to strengthen computer crime law.

Report predicts full convergence by 2012

Industry, government and regulators must take the lead in fostering a culture of convergence, according to a report from Intellect, the IT suppliers' organisation. The UK can become a world leader in digital convergence - where services, telecoms, content and applications are fully integrated - and is on course for "full convergence readiness" by 2012, Intellect said.

Restructuring offshore deals is a boom market

Restructuring of outsourcing contracts now represents 20% of the value of deals signed in the first six months of 2005, according to the latest half-year index published by leading sourcing advisory firm TPI. Cheap offshoring opportunities are fuelling the growth in restructuring, which is almost double the 10-year average of 11% recorded by TPI. The TPI index shows that of the 112 outsourcing contracts worth over E40m signed globally in 2005 to date, 25 have been restructurings, with a combined value of E4.6bn.

Link network to put bank statements on mobiles

Cash-machine network Link is to enable people to download bank statements to their mobile phones. It will launch the service, mobileATM, which also enables mobile top-ups, with First Direct and others later this year. Users will either download a Java application or call Carphone Warehouse to activate the service.

Sophos unleashes zombie hunter

Security software firm Sophos has introduced an automatic "zombie" detection product, Zombiealert, which allows companies to locate networked computers that have been taken over by remote hackers.

Sophos estimates that half of all spam originates from zombies.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention