In This Issue: 1. Editor's Note: A Simple Fix For RFID Privacy 2. Today's Top Story - USC Hacker Case Pivotal To Future Web Security 3. Breaking News - Trade Group Blasts Massachusetts Call For Office Plug-In - Sony Allows A Peek At PlayStation 3 - Survey: Security Hot, Paychecks Not - JBoss Steps Up Tools, Spec Efforts - Botnet Herder Corralled, Sentenced To 57 Months - AOL To Cut 1,300 Jobs - For Nintendo, MEMS The Word - EMC Acquires Disaster Protection Vendor - Music Industry Group Targeting Piracy Hotspots - Women, Girls Draw 25 Times More Malicious Chat Messages - SAS Expands On-Demand Software Lineup - Dell Expands Storage Offerings - Alienware Unveils 'Faster Than Wired' Gaming Laptops - Handheld Computer Market Up, Prices Down - Brief: U.S. Mobile Phone Sales Up As Old Phones Get Tossed - Intel, ADT Prep Future Sensor Networks - Poll: Men Make Gaming Friends, Women Stay Solo 4. Grab Bag - Microsoft Announces Online Gaming Service (BusinessWeek) - Q. What Could A Boarding Pass Tell An Identity Fraudster About You? A. Way Too Much (The Guardian) - Airlines Try Smarter Boarding (Wired News) 5. In Depth - Microsoft Releases Windows CE 6 Beta - Microsoft Unveils Four Language-Localized IE7 Betas - Microsoft Patches Windows, Exchange - Sony Names Prices For Long-Awaited PS3 Consoles 6. Voice Of Authority - India's Wage Inflation May Have Outsourcers Looking At Des Moines Over Delhi 7. White Papers - Open-Source Software Is More Than Linux: A White Paper From Forrester 8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek 9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
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1. Editor's Note: A Simple Fix For RFID Privacy
It's always a delight when engineers come up with a simple, obvious-in-retrospect solution to a complex and apparently intractable technology problem.
The problem: RFID tags present privacy risks when misused, allowing consumers to be tracked by thieves and unscrupulous businessmen and government officials. The challenge: Find some way to use RFID when it's appropriate, but disable it when it's no longer needed or wanted. Sure, you can zap the little buggers with some kind of radiation, expose them to hot water, or even smash them with a hammer—RFID tags are fragile little beasties—but how is a consumer to know whether that works?
IBM's solution is brilliantly simple and familiar to anybody who's ever put a stamp on a letter: perforation. IBM last week introduced the Clipped Tag, an RFID tag with a perforation that allows consumers to tear off the antenna when they bring their products home. When the tag is intact, it has the same range as any RFID tag, about 30 feet. After the tag has been clipped, the range is about an inch—still usable if a customer wants a return or exchange and store staff needs to read the tag, but useless to passing thieves and corporate and government busybodies.
The technology comes as retailers start tagging individual consumer items. Levi Strauss is testing RFID on men's jeans sold in one U.S. store and on pants in two stores in Mexico. Levi Strauss hopes the technology will help companies better control inventory for faster restocking and fewer empty shelves.
RFID entails real privacy risks. Thieves using pirated RFID scanners could stand on a street corner and scan people as they go by, looking for targets wearing expensive consumer goods. RFID-enabled passports could help terrorists scan the streets of London or Riyadh, looking for American passersby. And we're all leery of giving unscrupulous businessmen and power-grabbing government officials the ability to invisibly inventory our clothes and pockets.
But RFID also presents the possibility to be a powerful tool for retailers, enabling them to exert more control over their supply chains, keep shelves stocked with a variety of goods, and hold down prices. Those things benefit everyone.
Privacy needs and business concerns seem to be in conflict here, but the conflict can be resolved. Implement RFID, but do it in a way that protects consumer privacy. IBM is off to a good start with the Clipped Tag.
By the way, an earlier article on the Levi Strauss proposal quotes privacy advocates condemning Levi Strauss. I'm not sure what the heck they're worried about. I mean, how can you be concerned about privacy protection for information that's already written on people's butts?
What do you think? Can privacy and RFID be reconciled? Leave a comment on the InformationWeek Weblog and let us know.
USC Hacker Case Pivotal To Future Web Security Eric McCarty claims he hacked into the University of Southern California's computer system to warn of its vulnerabilities. The case could be a watershed event in the area of security research.
Sony Allows A Peek At PlayStation 3 The battle of the video game consoles got under way in Los Angeles on Monday when Sony Corp.'s entertainment division gave the world its first glimpse of PlayStation 3.
Intel, ADT Prep Future Sensor Networks The ability to communicate and process data collected from radio frequency identification technology and other types of sensors would enable networks that can hand off information to different infrastructure layers as needed.
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Airlines Try Smarter Boarding (Wired News) Forget back-to-front loading. Computer simulations produce a range of better boarding procedures that minimize passenger interference and get fliers in the air faster.(But first class stills boards first.)
5. In Depth
Microsoft Releases Windows CE 6 Beta The upgraded operating system, meant for embedded devices, increases the number of simultaneously running processes from 32 to 32,000, enabling the creation of more powerful devices and applications.
India's Wage Inflation May Have Outsourcers Looking At Des Moines Over Delhi Paul McDougall says he met with TCS CEO S. Ramadorai at the company's London offices across the street from Buckingham Palace. Not a bad location if you want to create the impression you're in business for the long haul. TCS, with quarter after quarter of double-digit gains in revenue and profits, clearly is. But there's one thing that could derail the $3 billion company's plans to become a $10 billion company by 2012. It could also put the whole offshore equation in doubt.
7. White Papers
Open-Source Software Is More Than Linux: A White Paper From Forrester Open source established its credibility with software like bind and DHCPd, which anchor the Internet, and the Apache Web server, which now hosts 64% of all public Web sites. To learn about companies' experience with open-source software, Forrester interviewed 50 IT managers and execs at $1B+ North American companies that use open-source software.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.