Google Defies China, Hacker Heads to the Clink
The battle between China and Google dominated the headlines this week after Google decided to stop censoring its search results. China also caused some grief with a U.S. Internet domain registrar after it demanded detailed information on the people who registered Web sites in China. Hackers looking to make a lucrative living by selling pilfered credit card information may want to rethink their career options, as the person responsible for committing what is believed to be the largest data breach ever was sentenced to three 20-year prison terms this week. Finally, the CTIA Wireless show brought more news about future phones and how femtocells may finally be ready for use in people's homes.
1. Google stops censoring in China and China defends censorship, plays down Google harm on US ties: Google defied China's government on Monday and fulfilled its pledge to stop censoring search results from its Chinese search engine. Users who visited Google.cn were directed to Google's Hong Kong search engine, which delivers information on topics that the Chinese government deems politically controversial and bans search engines from displaying. The row began in January when Google claimed Chinese hackers attacked its servers and it threatened to exit the country or offer unrestricted Web searches. The Chinese government criticized Google's decision but has yet to block access to Google.cn.
2. Gonzalez sentenced for multimillion-dollar credit card scam and Hacker Gonzalez gets 20 years for Heartland breach: The hacker who orchestrated one of the largest cybercrime identity heists ever -- if not the largest -- was sentenced to three 20-year prison terms on Thursday and Friday. Albert Gonzalez, 28, played the lead role in organizing hacks that netted credit card numbers from major U.S. retailers including TJX, Office Max and DSW. Prosecutors said Gonzalez and his co-conspirators acquired millions of credit and debit card numbers, but attorneys for the prosecution and defense agreed that attaching a dollar amount and victim count to the crimes may prove impossible. However, the companies that were affected by the hack claimed the crime cost millions of dollars, with TJX putting the figure at $171.5 million.
3. GoDaddy to stop registering .cn domain names: Google isn't the only U.S. company taking on China's Internet policies. Domain name registrar GoDaddy.com will stop registering .cn domains in China after the country's government demanded information on previously registered domain names. The Chinese government wanted GoDaddy to provide it with photo identification, business identification and a signed registration for owners of all .cn domains that the company has registered during its six years in China. Concerns about the safety of the individuals registering the domains and the threat this posed to an open Internet prompted GoDaddy's decision, a company executive said. The Chinese government claimed that the domains would not work if the domain registrar failed to fulfill its information request.
4. China's Great Firewall spreads overseas: We promise this is the last reference to China and security this week. A networking glitch caused some computers in the U.S. and Chile to be redirected to bogus addresses when they tried to visit Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It appears that at least one Internet service provider began fetching DNS (domain name server) information from a server in China, effectively spreading China's Internet censorship -- the so-called Great Firewall of China -- overseas. Security experts were still uncertain what caused this problem.
5. Nokia hopes Symbian phones will help it win US market, Femtocell technology expanding beyond the box, Verizon Skype application available Thursday and AT&T will go national with its femtocell: Anyone with an interest in wireless communication turned their attention to the CTIA convention in Las Vegas this week. Nokia used the event to discuss how it will use Symbian smartphones to capture a greater share of the U.S. smartphone market. Verizon Wireless announced at the show that starting this week, some of its customers can download the Skype Mobile application. AT&T also announced plans for a national rollout of its version of a femtocell, a tiny base station that can boost broadband coverage in homes and other locations.
6. EC launches new drive for EU/US bank data-sharing agreement: The European Commission and the U.S. government have returned to negotiations on the sharing of European banking information with the U.S. for security reasons. Europe's data security rule prohibits the information from being passed to the U.S., but authorities in the U.S. claim the data is useful in fighting terrorism. The initial agreement was voted down by the Commission over concerns that it didn't adequately address citizens' privacy rights. The U.S. demanded the bank data after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but it approached a major bank networking firm for the information instead of going through the European Union.
7. Providers question parts of FCC's broadband plan and Republicans question parts of FCC's broadband plan: Republicans and broadband providers, also known as the champions of deregulation, questioned parts of the national broadband plan that the U.S. government introduced last week. The providers feared that the plan would lead to increased regulation and rulemaking processes, since the measure nearly classifies providers as common carriers, a designation that subjects them to many U.S. Federal Communications Commission regulations. Republicans presented the same arguments as the carriers, with one congressman questioning the need for the program because, he said, 95 percent of U.S. homes have broadband.
8. IBM, Microsoft court SMBs with cloud, appliances: IBM and Microsoft are taking their wares to the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market, a space that large IT vendors have yet to serve, according to analysts. A Microsoft executive said the SMB space is underserved, and Microsoft sees the company's cloud computing offerings as a good fit for companies looking for affordable IT options. IBM looks to offer SMBs on-site software options, citing bandwidth concerns as a factor that may limit SMB adoption of cloud computing. While vendors may disagree on what type of IT best serves the SMB space, one analyst said the debate is positive because IBM and Microsoft realize that one model doesn't fit every business.
9. Proposed US law would single out cybercrime havens: A proposed cybersecurity bill in the U.S. Senate may prove that bipartisanship in the U.S. Congress is possible. The legislation, co-sponsored by New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, would force the White House to identify international cybercrime hotspots and develop plans to address the issue. The bill looks to crack down on international cybercrime, which is on the rise and proves difficult to resolve across foreign borders. The legislation would provide the president with a yearly assessment of international cybercrime and would permit suspensions in aid or financing to countries that do not act on curbing online crime.
10. New version of secret copyright treaty text leaked: A clause in a leaked document that is supposedly the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement caused concern among civil rights groups and Internet users. The clause supposedly calls for countries that sign the agreement to implement a "three strikes" law that cuts off Internet access for users who violate copyright laws three times. One part of the clause says ISPs will not be held liable for any copyright material that their networks carry. However, additional wording says this measure is only valid if ISPs terminate the accounts of repeat offenders.