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Anti-Arab Attacks Bleed Onto Net

(Wired News Report)

The war in Iraq set off a rash of online vandalism against Arab websites, site administrators and security experts say, with dozens of websites attacked.

At Islamonline.net, one of the most popular destinations for reports and analysis on Islamic affairs, traffic doubled after U.S. forces invaded Iraq. So did cyberattacks, which reached 250 a day, according to the site's general coordinator, who said hacking attempts also stepped up after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The most high-profile Arab website targeted by hackers is that of satellite news channel Al-Jazeera. The channel, an unusually outspoken voice in the Arab world, drew intense criticism after it carried Iraqi TV footage of dead and captive U.S. soldiers that U.S. networks declined to air.

Soon after, the site's English and Arabic pages were replaced by pro-American hackers who called themselves the "Freedom Cyber Force Militia." Similarly, pro-Islamic hackers have defaced some U.S. and British websites and flooded some with anti-war graffiti.

The seal says it's safe: Instead of pursuing strict regulations to guard against cyberterrorism, the federal government and the technology industry have decided to work together to develop voluntary standards. Critics say voluntary standards won't properly protect consumers from online pranksters, hackers and identity thieves.

Members of the CEO Cyber Security Task Force, formed after the trade group TechNet approached federal officials, say their standards would be akin to a "Good Housekeeping seal of approval" for computer security.

In theory, consumers who visit websites that display a certification logo would have an extra measure of peace of mind. Plans call for a public awareness campaign to push the initiative. Critics claim, however, that the voluntary standards will promote a false sense of security -- and could even encourage attacks.

The standards are the next steps in the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, a directive issued by the White House.

Semiconductors survive SARS: The potentially deadly SARS virus, which started in China, has sparked fear and led to a rush of preventive planning but has not disrupted a global semiconductor industry reliant on easy access to Asian chip factories.

Fears have been fanned by canceled technology conferences, travel restrictions and quarantines. But a string of earnings reports suggests that the executives of the largest semiconductor companies have not backed down from expansion strategies in Asia and have not seen a major problem with the supply of goods in and out of the region.

Teradyne (TER), a maker of testing tools used in microchip production, said the illness was having some effect on its ability to move staff in and out of Asia, but added that the company was going ahead with plans to add 1,000 people in one office in China. Intel (INTC) and Texas Instruments (TXN), both large chip makers, also confirmed that SARS has not yet had a serious impact on business.

The comments from all three companies contrasted with those of chip equipment maker Novellus (NVLS), which warned earlier this week that "hysteria" over SARS could reduce orders in its current quarter by more than 20 percent.

Apple, Universal rumors: Apple Computer executives blamed a 65 percent quarterly profit drop on a restructuring charge, increased spending on its retail strategy and higher R&D costs. They also refused to address reports the company was in discussions to buy Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company.

Universal is owned by debt-ridden French media and entertainment conglomerate Vivendi Universal. The Los Angeles Times reported that executives from the two companies were discussing an acquisition, and news reports quoted a Vivendi executive saying Apple could offer up to $6 billion for the music unit.

Earlier, Apple issued a statement saying it "has never made any offer to invest in or acquire a major music company."

War marketed as fun: Combat-themed video games dominated U.S. sales charts as news of the real war in Iraq blanketed the airwaves, according to new data. Recently, 50 percent of the top-selling games have been either stand-alone war games or add-on packages for existing war games.

NovaLogic's Delta Force: Black Hawk Down topped the list of best-selling PC games as compiled by research firm The NPD Group. The company has said it would donate a portion of its sales of the game to charities for families of injured or killed military personnel.

Holding the No. 2 spot was Electronic Arts (ERTS), with Command & Conquer: Generals. EA also made the chart in the war games category with Battlefield 1942 and an expansion pack for that game called Road to Rome.

Peregrine CFO pleads: The former chief financial officer at Peregrine Systems pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors who are investigating accounting irregularities at the software company.

Matthew C. Gless, Peregrine's CFO from 2000 to 2002, admitted taking part in a scheme to prematurely recognize revenue, boost the company's share price and mislead investors. He was released on $75,000 bond, but could get up to 15 years in prison at his sentencing.

Peregrine, which develops business-management software, filed for bankruptcy protection last year. An internal investigation found the company had inflated its revenue by as much as $250 million.

Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint that accused Gless of profiting from the revenue-inflation scheme by selling about $4 million worth of company stock.

Source: www.wired.com

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