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Wake Up And Smell The Coffee Mr Gates 11 December 2000 Edition
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Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, has come out and highlighted the importance privacy and security on the Internet as it increasingly becomes a place of commerce.

"These issues will become more important as we evolve in the direction of what we [Microsoft] call the dot-Net future" he told those attending US conference on Thursday.

Bill went on to make a statement in which he said "In an era where the Internet is increasingly central to our lives at work, at home and at school, it is more important than ever that our industry give customers the assurance that their information will remain secure, respected and private."

Wake up Bill....

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Perhaps the single largest step that could be taken to improve overall Internet security and privacy might be for Microsoft to get some professional help on securing their own products before they're launched.

One doesn't need a very long memory to recall the seemingly endless list of security holes which accompany many of the software giant's product releases.

Admittedly, to give Microsoft its dues, they have improved their attention to such details immensely in the past year or so -- but their browser continues to be a major problem, requiring regular updates to plug what appears to be an unreasonably high number of vulnerabilities.

Many of the world's greatest hacks have also been made possible only by known security flaws in Microsoft's software.

Of course it would be naive to suggest that only Microsoft's products have security holes -- but one key difference between Microsoft users and those who choose other products such as BSD, Linux, Sun or whatever is that the latter group tend to be more "tech-savvy" and vigilant in keeping their software patched and up to date. Far too many people are still running the versions of MS software that were pre-loaded on their PC when they bought it 18 months ago.

In fact -- I seem to recall that a recent very embarrassing breach of one of Microsoft's own web-servers at Microsoft.com was made possible because Bill's boys themselves hadn't gotten around to updating an older version of their software.

So, good on ya Bill for bringing this to the world's attention -- but please don't forget to keep an eye on your own standards -- remember, much of the world is relying on you!

e-Commerce To Bypass The Net?
You must have been living in a cave if you haven't noticed that the biggest "crash and burn" of the Internet boom has been e-commerce.

Ecommerce ventures are falling like stones as the much promised rush of people and their credit-cards to the Net has failed to live up to expectations.

So, is there a future for Net-based e-commerce?

Yes, of course there is -- but I think it will be dwarfed by the size of the interactive digital-TV e-commerce marketplace.

One only has to look at how effective the first part of TV-commerce has already proven to be. As well as those mind-numbing (but highly successful) infomercials which litter late-night TV viewing, there are growing number of "Home Shopping" TV programs hitting the airwaves.

In the USA we have the "Home Shopping Network" which sells a swag of product to eager viewers, and closer to home there is a similar show which screens throughout Asia and is carried after midnight on the Prime TV channel.

These programmes have proven that TV is a far more effective way to pitch your product than the Net -- and once we add an interactive component so that viewers can order through their remote control then look out!

If you want proof that TV is more effective than the Net, just ask yourself: what ever happened to AsSeenOnTV.co.nz which was once the home of an e-commerce site for Prestige Marketing where you could buy The Abdominizer, Natural Glow cosmetics, etc, etc.

Also ask yourself why the new infomercial king Alan Martin's domain lvmartin.co.nz has no website (even though "www.lvmartin.co.nz" appears in one of his TV infomercials).

Watch this (interactive Digital TV) space!

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Denial-of-Service Vulnerabilities in TCP/IP Stacks: (CERT)

Sun advises of a potential compromise of 2 specific security certificates (CERT)

IE 5.5 hole lets hackers read files (CNet)

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Microsoft issues new patch for Windows 2000 Telnet security hole (Computerworld)

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