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8/19/2005
09:24 AM
Tony Kontzer
Tony Kontzer
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RFID -- Future Consumer-Data Battleground

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: RFID -- Future Consumer-Data Battleground
2. Today's Top Story
    - Bots Infest 175 Companies In Year's Biggest Attack
    Related Stories:
    - Bot Battle Brewing
    - Zotob Worm Is Bad But It's Not Sasser Or MSBlast
    - Bot Attacks U.S. Media Companies
3. Breaking News
    - Microsoft Unveils Pricing For Xbox 360
    - AOL Launches AIM Homepage, Upgrade
    - FTC Nails Credit-Report Firm For $950,000
    - SHARE To Celebrate 50th Anniversary
    - Steady Growth Expected In Global IT Spending
    - IT Wage Increases Are Lukewarm -- Unless You're Hot Stuff
    - IBM Showcases Tech Innovations For Financial Services
    - Toshiba Ships 'Perpendicular' Disk Drive
    - Blue, Red State Broadband Penetration Mirrors Election Results
    - Study: Indian Software Firms Going Global Pose Threat To Established Players
    - NVidia Scientist Calls For Expanded Research Into Parallelism
    - Can Linux Put PalmSource Back On Top?
4. In Depth: Targeting Terrorism
    - Video Surveillance Software Seen As Weapon Against Terrorists
    - FCC Rule On Internet Calls Said To Encourage Hacking
    - Soldier Punished For Allegedly Posting Classified Information On Blog
    - Homeland Security To Launch RFID Systems At Border Crossings
    - E-Mail Analysis Is Key To Catching Terrorists And Corporate Crooks
5. Voice Of Authority: Wireless Freeloaders Are Breaking The Law
6. White Papers: How Frontline Employees Can Drive Your Competitive Edge
7. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
8. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day: Defining Fear

"Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed." -- Michael Pritchard

"Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt." -- George Sewell

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt


1. Editor's Note: RFID -- Future Consumer-Data Battleground

I hate to be the one to say I told you so, but earlier this month, I declared in a posting here that the next big acknowledgement of a customer-data compromise was right around the corner, and almost on cue, Sonoma State University in California and the University of North Texas separately revealed just a few days later that hackers recently swiped a combined 100,000 student records from the schools. So that got me thinking -- what can I warn you about that would further my budding powers of prognostication? And it came to me rather quickly -- RFID, the future frontier for consumer-data breaches.

In all the discussion of RFID's expected payoff in the areas of supply-chain visibility and real-time business processes, concerns over consumer privacy have been somewhat muted by promises that it will be a long wait before RFID finds its way into our homes in a big way. But find its way there it will, and when it does, there better be some pretty stringent security measures in place to keep our wallets and hidden shoeboxes from becoming low-hanging fruit in the eyes of hackers everywhere.

While it's not likely that an RFID tag embedded in a package of disposable razors is going to pose a whole lot of data-theft risk to consumers (we'll leave the privacy issues to another discussion), long-standing plans for RFID-enabled loyalty cards, credit cards, and passports, to say nothing of a potential national ID card, must have identity thieves drooling in anticipation.

Let's take loyalty cards, since they figure to get wrapped in less security than the more sensitive items mentioned here. Much of the talk about RFID in loyalty cards has revolved around the hotel industry and the desire to simplify check-in and streamline transactions while at a property. A loyalty card with a tag could be used to identify and check in a guest before they even walk up to the front desk (or a kiosk, for that matter), or charge their room for a meal or a gift shop purchase. So what kind of data is behind a loyalty card? The usual name, address, phone number, and possibly E-mail address for starters. But depending on the comfort level of the guest in sharing data, not to mention the IT architecture that supports a loyalty program, it's possible a credit-card number could potentially be linked to that card. There could even be demographic data, such as income level, or personal preferences, such as favorite activities.

So would someone please offer me assurances that an enterprising identity thief -- or even just a particularly ambitious phisher -- couldn't drive through residential neighborhoods with RFID readers, zapping information from people's homes and then using it for nefarious purposes? I may be off my rocker here, but I believe there still haven't been enough assurances to date that can significantly ease such concerns. And what really scares me is that I'm not sure anyone can really offer any. All of which leads me to this not-so-happy thought: When it comes to consumer-data breaches, I'm convinced we're still very early in the curve.

Tony Kontzer
tkontzer@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Bots Infest 175 Companies In Year's Biggest Attack
While not infecting the Internet at large, the ongoing attack of multiple bot worm families stepped up Wednesday. Security experts estimated that so far more than 175 corporations have been hit with malicious code exploiting Windows 2000's Plug and Play vulnerability.

Related Stories:
Bot Battle Brewing

Just as the author of the Zotob bot worm was tentatively identified Wednesday as the same individual who wrote some of the Mytob worms, several security firms warned users that a Bagle versus Netsky-style battle between bots is under way.

Zotob Worm Is Bad But It's Not Sasser or MSBlast
The Zotob bot attacks may be among the biggest of 2005, but they aren't anywhere near the level of last year's Sasser, according to security and Web performance-monitoring companies.

Bot Attacks U.S. Media Companies
CNN reported late Tuesday that a worm had hit computers in its newsroom, those at ABC and the New York Times, and some on Capitol Hill.


3. Breaking News

Microsoft Unveils Pricing For Xbox 360
Microsoft on Wednesday said pricing for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system would start at $299.99.

AOL Launches AIM Homepage, Upgrade
America Online on Wednesday upgraded its instant messaging service, and launched a homepage highlighting the features and add-ons of AIM and a Web browser that provides quick access to AIM-related services.

FTC Nails Credit-Report Firm For $950,000
The Federal Trade Commission has settled with Consumerinfo.com, one of the largest firms marketing "free" credit reports to consumers, for nearly a million dollars in fines. The deal is part of a crackdown on so-called "imposter" sites of Annualcreditreport.com, where consumers really can obtain one free credit report each year.

SHARE To Celebrate 50th Anniversary
IBM's user group will meet next week in Boston to celebrate its 50th anniversary and to examine how IT has changed from the huge, bulky mainframe to the networked installation of multiple computers while somehow retaining much of its past traditions.

Steady Growth Expected In Global IT Spending
Worldwide IT spending is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 5.9% through 2009, a market research firm says.

IT Wage Increases Are Lukewarm--Unless You're Hot Stuff
If you're a network security expert or an Oracle database administrator, try asking for a raise, report says.

IBM Showcases Tech Innovations For Financial Services
The company has new biometric-security, risk-management, and customer-service technology under development at R&D lab.

Toshiba Ships 'Perpendicular' Disk Drive
Toshiba has started shipping production quantities of a 1.8-inch hard drive using perpendicular recording to pack 40-Gbytes onto a platter, which could give the drive an edge against lower-capacity one-inch models popular in MP3 players.

Blue, Red State Broadband Penetration Mirrors Election Results
U.S. households continue to install broadband at a furious rate, according to a report released Wednesday. Curiously, the penetration of cable modem and DSL has been tracking state-by-state splits in the 2004 presidential election, with "Blue" states having the highest concentration.

Study: Indian Software Firms Going Global Pose Threat To Established Players
Indian developers gearing up to take on established international players could eventually surpass them, according to a study by Katzenbach Partners of New York. Among the companies it claimed might be left in the dust are Accenture, BearingPoint, Capgemini, Computer Sciences Corp., EDS, Perot Systems, and Unisys.

NVidia Scientist Calls For Expanded Research Into Parallelism
Expanded research is needed into techniques for identifying and preserving parallelism in chip applications, according to chipmaker nVidia's chief scientist.

Can Linux Put PalmSource Back On Top?
If its strategy for migrating its Palm OS over to an open-source kernel is successful, PDA powerhouse PalmSource could thrust Linux into the center of the mobile device marketplace.

All our latest news

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Today's Reports:

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Ivan Schneider On Protection From Evil Doers

Sacha Lecca On Parallel Processing Your Car


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Intelligence Fine Tuning
Training, compatibility, and data-quality problems are curbing the effectiveness of BI tools. Find out what 300 companies are doing to overcome these issues in InformationWeek Research's Business Intelligence 2005 report.

-----------------------------------------


4. In Depth: Targeting Terrorism

Video Surveillance Software Seen As Weapon Against Terrorists
Initially installed as a defense against routine law-enforcement violations, video surveillance has become a key weapon against terrorism, according to a new report.

FCC Rule On Internet Calls Said To Encourage Hacking
While the FCC agreed with a request from law enforcement to affirm that VoIP falls under the purview of a wiretapping statute, alarmed industry groups warn that compliance will create more vulnerabilities and opportunities for hackers.

Soldier Punished For Allegedly Posting Classified Information On Blog
Leonard Clark, on active duty in Iraq, was demoted and fined for breaking the rules, which prevent posting information about Army operations or movements.

Homeland Security To Launch RFID Systems At Border Crossings
Five border posts with Canada and Mexico will get the systems, which will track visitors driving in and out of the U.S.

E-Mail Analysis Is Key To Catching Terrorists And Corporate Crooks
Spotfire, financed in part by a CIA technology incubator, is introducing a tool for uncovering patterns and relationships in information extracted from E-mail.


5. Voice Of Authority

The Privacy Lawyer: Wireless Freeloaders Are Breaking The Law
You can try to justify it, but there's no way around the fact, Parry Aftab says. And if you fear it's your wireless connection that's being stolen, it's time to get proactive about securing that network.


6. White Papers

How Frontline Employees Can Drive Your Competitive Edge
This paper will outline the business advantages and success metrics of Always Available computing, and provide some representative examples of that capability at work in real-world, frontline environments.


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