News in brief

Short takes from this week's news

Short takes from this week's news

UK spammer sentenced to six years in jail

A UK spammer has been jailed for six years for defrauding businesses and individuals out of up to £1.6m. Peter Francis-Macrae was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court after being found guilty of fraudulent trading, threatening to destroy or damage property, making threats to kill, and blackmail. Francis-Macrae defrauded thousands of businesses by tricking them into sending him money to register a .eu domain name on their behalf.

Greenpeace accuses US computer firms

Environmental group Greenpeace has accused US computer firms of dragging their heels in ending the use of toxic chemicals in their products. Greenpeace has focused on the use of BFRs - toxic substances used to resist high levels of heat. The pressure group singled out Hewlett-Packard as lagging when it comes to phasing out BFRs, even though HP recently pledged to end the use of BFRs in product casings.

Microsoft exploit code published online

Exploit code has been published online that can take advantage of security flaws in Windows XP SP1 and all versions of Windows 2000, Microsoft has warned. The exploit code can be used to launch denial of service attacks through the two operating systems. The threat has not so far been patched by Microsoft, but the vulnerability is classed as only moderate.

CIM uses Aruba WLan across campus

The Chartered Institute of Marketing is using secure wireless Lan technology from Aruba to provide secure network access across its nine-acre Moor Hall campus. Aruba's wireless Lan mobility system will be deployed to help both staff and students benefit from secure mobile computing, allowing access to the data network wherever they are on campus.

Online mortgage application launched

CitiFinancial's Future Mortages operation and West Bromwich Building Society have begun offering mortgage intermediaries a complete online mortgage application process, available to all intermediaries who use the Electronic Trading Centre mortgage-sourcing platform. Nearly two-thirds of mortgage intermediaries already use the ETC platform.

Police improve penalty notice performance

West Yorkshire Police has commissioned a document management system from Northgate Information Solutions to improve the performance of its penalty notice system. Using intelligent recognition software to scan new penalty information, the software automatically updates West Yorkshire Police's VP/FPO penalty notice system. It can also store and extract information from up to 750,000 images per year, and provide a full audit trail.

Biometric passports will cost more

The new biometric security features being introduced on UK passports will be accompanied by a hefty price rise, the UK Passport Office has confirmed. From 1 December the cost of a 10-year adult passport will rise £9 to £51. Biometric chips will feature on all UK passports issued from February next year, holding facial, fingerprint and iris information.

IBM adds Collation to management portfolio

IBM has acquired IT resource management company Collation to improve its systems management portfolio. The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, will see IBM add Collation's technology to its Tivoli systems management software suite. Collation's software automatically captures information about IT resources. It is designed to help IT staff better understand the impact of changes to an IT environment.

Sun processor takes on multicore rivals

A low-power server processor from Sun may help cut datacentre costs while delivering more processing power than rival chips. The Ultrasparc T1, code-named Niagara, has up to eight computing cores on a single chip, each of which is capable of handling up to four tasks at once. The first servers equipped with the Ultrasparc T1 should be out by the year-end.

Benefits system too complex, says NAO

A report by the National Audit Office has said the UK benefits system is too complicated, and the government needs to do more to tackle the £2.6bn loss arising from fraud and error that was recorded last year. The public spending watchdog said the complexity of the system has led to errors in payments because of mistakes made by both staff and customers.

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