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By JORDAN ROBERTSON, AP Technology Writer Wed Aug 27, 5:16 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Intercepting Internet traffic, and spying on the communication between two computers, is a gold mine for hackers. Now Carnegie Mellon University researchers hope software they’ve built will make it harder for criminals to hit that jackpot.

The software, a free download for use with latest version of the Firefox Web browser, creates an additional way for people to verify whether the site they’re trying to visit is authentic.

Most browsers already alert users when a site appears bogus. One way is by warning that a site that claims to be equipped to handle confidential information securely hasn’t been verified by a third party, like VeriSign Inc. or GoDaddy.com Inc. Those are two of many companies that sell so-called Secure Sockets Layer certificates, which generate the padlock icon in the address bar.

The problem, the Carnegie Mellon researchers say, is that many people are perplexed about how to proceed once they get one of those warnings about a bad certificate.

Some click through, going on to malicious sites that steal their personal information, while others retreat, skipping over harmless sites that used less expensive, “self-signed” certificates.

So the researchers — David Andersen, Adrian Perrig and Dan Wendlandt — created a program that performs a novel extra step. It can tap into a network of publicly accessible servers that have been programmed to ping Web sites and record changes in the encryption keys they use to secure data.

Any discrepancy can be a sign that hackers are rerouting traffic through machines under their control, a pernicious type of attack known as a “man in the middle.”

As a result, the new program either overrides the security warning if a site is deemed legitimate, or throws up another warning if the subsequent probes reveal more red flags.

___

On the Net:

Carnegie Mellon researchers’ site:

http://tinyurl.com/6cblaz

Wed Aug 27, 6:22 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – NASA confirmed on Wednesday that a computer virus sneaked aboard the International Space Station only to be tossed into quarantine on July 25 by security software.

A “worm type” virus was found on laptop computers that astronauts use to send and receive email from the station by relaying messages through a mission control center in Texas, according to NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries.

The virus is reported to be malicious software that logs keystrokes in order to steal passwords or other sensitive data by sending the information to hackers via the Internet.

The laptop computers are not linked to any of the space station’s control systems or the Internet.

“The bottom line is it is a nuisance for us,” Humphries told AFP. “The crew is working with teams on the ground to eradicate the virus and look for actions to prevent that from happening in the future.”

The virus had no adverse effect on space station operations, according to Humphries.

The space station orbits Earth once every 90 minutes at an altitude of about 350 kilometers (217 miles).

NASA is reportedly looking into whether the virus got into the computers by hiding in a memory drive used to store music, video or other digital files.

Humphries said this is not the first computer virus stowaway on the Space Station.

“This is not a frequent occurrence but it has happened before,” Humphries said.

NEW YORK – Coming to late-model Sony LCD flat panels: YouTube videos.

Sony Corp. on Thursday said YouTube and Wired.com have been added to the video providers for a $300 module it sells for its LCD flat panel TVs.

The Internet Video Link module is a small box that fits into the back of some 2007 and 2008 LCD TVs. It connects to the home broadband router and is controlled by the TV remote. Video service comes free with the module.

Yahoo, AOL, Sports Illustrated and Style.com are among existing video providers for the device.

Similarly, Apple Inc.‘s Apple TV set-top box streams YouTube videos to a TV set, but it works with any high-definition set.

Also Thursday, Sony introduced two high-end LCD TV models with backlighting produced by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. The models are 46 inches and 55 inches diagonally. Prices were not announced, but will be lower than the cost of the only previously available Sony model with LED backlighting, a 70-inch model for $33,000.

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – A $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit challenging YouTube’s ability to keep copyrighted material off its popular video-sharing site threatens how hundreds of millions of people exchange all kinds of information on the Internet, YouTube owner Google Inc. said.

Google’s lawyers made the claim in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan as the company responded to Viacom Inc.’s latest lawsuit alleging that the Internet has led to “an explosion of copyright infringement” by YouTube and others.

The back-and-forth between the companies has intensified since Viacom brought its lawsuit last year, saying it was owed damages for the unauthorized viewing of its programming from MTV, Comedy Central and other networks, including such hits as “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

In papers submitted to a judge late Friday, Google said YouTube “goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works.”

It said that by seeking to make carriers and hosting providers liable for Internet communications, Viacom “threatens the way hundreds of millions of people legitimately exchange information, news, entertainment and political and artistic expression.”

Google said YouTube was faithful to the requirements of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, saying the federal law was intended to protect companies like YouTube as long as they responded properly to content owners’ claims of infringement.

On that score, Viacom says Google has set a terrible example.

In a rewritten lawsuit filed last month, Viacom said YouTube consistently allows unauthorized copies of popular television programming and movies to be posted on its Web site and viewed tens of thousands of times.

Viacom said it had identified more than 150,000 unauthorized clips of copyrighted programming — including “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “South Park” and “MTV Unplugged” episodes and the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” — that had been viewed “an astounding 1.5 billion times.”

The company said its count of unauthorized clips represents only a fraction of the content on YouTube that violates its copyrights.

It said Google and YouTube had done “little or nothing” to stop infringement.

“To the contrary, the availability on the YouTube site of a vast library of the copyrighted works of plaintiffs and others is the cornerstone of defendants’ business plan,” Viacom said.

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer Thu May 22, 3:14 PM ET

NEW YORK – The lack of high-speed Internet access in some areas of the U.S. has been hotly debated, even as that digital divide has narrowed. But a new, wider gap is being created by technology that will make today’s broadband feel as slow as a dial-up connection.

Much like broadband enabled downloads of music, video and work files that weren’t practical over dial-up, the next generation of Internet connections will allow for vivid, lifelike video conferencing and new kinds of interactive games.

But while access to cable and phone-line broadband has spread to cover perhaps 90 percent of the U.S. in the space of a decade, next-generation Internet access looks set to create a much smaller group of “haves” and a larger group of “have nots.”

The most promising route to superfast home broadband is to extend the fiber-optic lines that already form the Internet’s backbone all the way to homes. Existing fiber-to-the-home, or FTTH, connections are already 10 times faster than vanilla broadband provided over phone or cable lines. With relatively easy upgrades, the speeds could be a hundred times faster.

In the U.S., the buildout of FTTH is under way, but it’s highly concentrated in the 17-state service area of Verizon Communications Inc., which is the only major U.S. phone company that is replacing its copper lines with fiber. Its FiOS service accounts for more than 1.8 million of the 2.9 million U.S. homes that are connected to fiber according to RVA LLC, a research firm that specializes in the field.

FTTH is also offered by some small phone companies, cooperatives and municipalities, like Chattanooga, Tenn. The other major phone companies, like AT&T Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc., are laying FTTH in “greenfield” developments, but aren’t pulling fiber to existing homes. Some cable companies are doing the same.

Graham Finnie, chief analyst for the telecom research firm Heavy Reading, believes 13 percent of U.S. households will be connected to fiber by 2012. Since Verizon is the major builder, the vast majority of those will be in Verizon territory on the East Coast, Texas and California.

“That does beg the question: What happens to everyone else? There’s going to be a huge community of people who are not getting FTTH in the next five years,” Finnie said.

“A quarter of the U.S. is going to get one of the best networks in the world,” said Dave Burstein, editor of the DSL Prime newsletter.

The rest of the country, he said, is going to be stuck with slow DSL or cable, though the latter is due for upgrades in the next few years that will boost top speeds fivefold.

Still, it’s not entirely clear that people on fiber connections are going to have a big advantage over slowpokes on regular broadband. Today, there is not much that can be done on a fast connection that can’t be done on a standard one. Fiber is already available to a third of South Korean homes, but that hasn’t revolutionized society there, at least not yet.

Increased used of video, particularly high-definition video, is seen as the future of the Internet, but most cable modems and high-end DSL are already capable of streaming HD video downloads. However, fiber connections support higher upload speeds, potentially making for better video conferencing from the home, which in turn creates opportunities for distance learning. Games also could get a jump in realism and online interactivity, Burstein said.

Not only are U.S. regions going to differ tremendously in how fast they get fiber, the differences between countries will also be huge. Apart from South Korea, Finnie cited Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Sweden as other front-runners. He estimates that almost half of all Swedish households would have fiber by 2012, for instance.

“This is not a market where there’s a smooth progression across countries and regions — it’s going to be extremely variable,” said Finnie.

Considered as a whole, the U.S. will be “middling” in the international comparison, trailing the pioneers but well ahead of other developed nations like Finnie’s home country, Britain, which he estimates will have 3 to 4 percent fiber-connected homes in 2012.

The fiber buildout is going to take more time and be more patchy than the introduction of broadband because it’s so much more expensive, Finnie said. Cable modem and DSL connections are retrofits to links originally laid down to provide video and phone service, respectively. Fiber-optic lines will be the first links that are built for data to reach U.S. homes.

The costs will remain high, because getting permits for the buildout and drawing the physical lines is “a hugely physical, human-type activity,” said Joe Savage, president of the FTTH Council North America. While the cost of the equipment keeps dropping rapidly, two-thirds of the cost of connecting a home are labor, he said

PRINCETON, NJ–(Marketwire – March 25, 2008) – The Catastrophe Risk Exchange (CATEX) today announced the release of the Pivot Point Mosaic [Version 1.0] Reporting Service, delivering an advanced, web-based reporting solution to its clients.

Information about the initial Mosaic product release was announced Tuesday by CATEX COO Frank Sweeney during an interview on CATEX TV (www.catex.com)at 1530 GMT (11:30 am EDT).

The initial release includes a suite of data cubes that spans every major module of the Pivot Point reinsurance transaction system. Each data cube can be used to generate a broad range of customized reports to meet the business intelligence needs of its clients.

The Mosaic reporting product is built upon, and supports, all of the existing Pivot Point Systems, including the Pivot Point Broker System; the Pivot Point Agency System, and most recently, the Pivot Point Risk-Bearer System. This Pivot Point software platform currently serves client operations in 20 countries; processes premium volumes of more than USD 3 billion annually; and settles financial transactions in 60 currencies.

Frank Sweeney, CATEX COO, said, “Off-the-shelf reporting and business intelligence applications can be very costly to businesses. CATEX can provide a more affordable reporting solution since we can draw upon our innate knowledge of the underlying Pivot Point data structures to speed reporting deployments to our clients.”

The new product is developed entirely using Microsoft web-based technology, and it can therefore be delivered over the Internet to any end user via a web browser. Once deployed, the CATEX Mosaic service will automatically pull a new data set from the Pivot Point system database at the desired time interval (e.g., hourly, daily) set by a client. Mosaic will allow flexible report design and formatting, and once posted, a report can be stored and reused on a regular basis to ensure consistent business reporting over time. By allowing convenient downloads to Excel spreadsheets and various off-line software environments, the new service will remove the need for ad hoc data extracts or transfers to the internal systems of CATEX clients.

Kunal Patel, CATEX Chief Technology Officer, said, “Our goal is to address multiple challenges facing our clients’ IT departments — enterprise-wide business intelligence; ad hoc reporting; access to data; and third-party integration. Our product should enable IT managers to deliver these solutions in a secure, cost-effective way with reduced time-to-market.”

Product deployment options include either a “fully-managed deployment option” where CATEX personnel manage the data cubes, and also prepare and post the requested reports for the client’s review, or a “partially-managed deployment option” where CATEX will train client business or IT specialists to build and deploy the desired reports.

About CATEX:

CATEX is a leading developer of internet-based software products and services for the global reinsurance industry. CATEX also operates the CATEX Global Exchange, an on-line reinsurance marketplace, and CATEX TV, an on-line TV station that broadcasts risk-related news to a growing international audience. The company has been in operation since 1994 and has offices in Princeton, New Jersey and London.

BOLIVAR, Mo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Duck Creek Technologies, Inc., a provider of product configuration, sales automation, rating and policy administration solutions for the insurance industry, today announced that Everest National Insurance Company has selected Duck Creeks Commercial Policy Administration Solution, a web enabled platform designed to manage the complete commercial lines policy life cycle. The implementation will initially focus on Everests General Liability and Excess & Surplus lines with plans to support other commercial lines in the future.

One of the key factors contributing to Everests selection of Duck Creek was the systems flexibility and tool-based approach that will enable quick development and deployment of new insurance products. Being able to respond quickly to market opportunities in todays competitive marketplace was one of the insurers main objectives.

As a web enabled solution built on service oriented architecture (SOA), the Duck Creek policy administration solution proved a good fit for Everests technology strategy. In addition to the need for a flexible and configurable system, Everest also had a desire to be self-sufficient in order to quickly make product modifications and build new products with minimal ongoing dependence on Duck Creek resources.

We wanted a solution that was tool-based and was consistent with our SOA technology strategy, but we also wanted a system that would enable us to control our own destiny without having to rely on the vendor for every modification, enhancement, and new product. Duck Creek proved to be a good fit on all counts, Sandeep Bajaj, CIO with Everest National Insurance Company.

Everests Executive Vice President and CAO Barry Smith commented, Our selection of Duck Creek was a combination of the strength of their policy administration solution, coupled with the Duck Creek teams depth of insurance industry business knowledge and technical expertise.

Smith continued, With the Duck Creek system, the tools-based technology platform enables our business users for the first time to have easy access to and control of data—so they can more quickly make informed underwriting decisions; allowing us to take advantage of market opportunities with the proper infrastructure.

Duck Creeks Doug Roller, CEO, noted, We are pleased to welcome Everest National Insurance Company to our growing family of clients and thank them for selecting Duck Creek. Our success is the reflection of the ongoing support and vision of our clients combined with the dedication of the Duck Creek team. We look forward to continuing our work with the Everest implementation team to support their companys growth strategy.

About Everest

Everest Re Group, Ltd. is a Bermuda Holding company that operates through the following subsidiaries: Everest Reinsurance Company provides reinsurance to property and casualty insurers in both the U.S. and international markets. Everest Reinsurance (Bermuda), Ltd., including through its branch in the United Kingdom, provides reinsurance and insurance to worldwide property and casualty markets and reinsurance to life insurers. Everest National Insurance Company and Everest Security Insurance Company provide property and casualty insurance to policyholders in the U. S. Everest Indemnity Insurance Company offers excess and surplus lines insurance in the U. S.

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