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MacEdition Pro News : July 24, 2003
Bashing, cracking, fighting back

by MacEdition Staff (feedback)

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In this issue

Microsoft courts customers and subtly bashes Linux, again

On the face of it, Microsoft is doing something right. Before the whole SCO thing grabbed our attention, there was still the possibility that Microsoft would be sued for incorporating other people’s code and selling it as their own. (In fact, it did happen, more than once.) However, when you signed on to use the Beast’s software, you, as the customer, were potentially left holding part of the liability bag. If you spent $5000 on the MS software impacted by this hypothetical lawsuit, that was the limit of Microsoft’s indemnity of you.

That’s changed now, at least somewhat. CNet reports that under a new license provision which took effect March 1, Microsoft removed the liability cap in intellectual property suits and altered other parts of the agreements that potentially expand its liability.

Yay for Microsoft’s customers, right? In a sense, yes. At the same time, Microsoft is using the SCO-induced FUD as a bat against Linux; “use our software,” the line might go, “and you don’t have to worry about being sued.”

No, you just have to worry about all the other things that come part and parcel with Microsoft solutions...

“Microsoft passwords are just a nice example to demonstrate the theoretical results.”

An interesting turn of phrase, certainly, but when the topic is password security, it’s more than interesting, it’s essential. CNet reports on new research into time-memory trade-offs that uses Microsoft password cracking as the base task. Sounds impressive, right? How does an average of 13.6 seconds to crack sound? All with a high-end desktop machine.

This isn’t a new exploit, so don’t add this to the ever-growing list of legitimately recent ways to crack Windows systems, but it is something to keep in mind when you’re setting passwords on a system that might have to interact with that other platform.

Why yes, the RIAA is part of the Department of Homeland Securty, why?

The RIAA has tried many different tactics in its (sometimes misguided) quest to eliminate music piracy. The latest is sending subpoenas to just about everyone in the known universe. Two schools, though, have decided to fight back, if only to make sure the RIAA goes about its jihad “by the book”.

As reported in Wired News, MIT and Boston College filed motions in the U.S. District Court in Boston to quash the subpoenas each had received.

“The subpoenas were not issued from the federal court in Boston, and they did not give us reasonable time to inform the students in question, which is their right under federal law,” said Jack Dunn, director of public affairs for Boston College. As expected, the RIAA was not pleased. “We will respond in court as necessary and address their particular points,” said Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the RIAA. “We’re disappointed that these universities have chosen to litigate this and thus denied us and other copyright holders the rights clearly granted to us by Congress.”

Rights to ignore proper procedure, run roughshod over the rights of others in the quest for profit, while chasing sometimes imaginary demons? Just get Al-Quaida members hooked on MP3 – then we as a nation can combine the war on piracy and the war on terrorism. Who knows, we might save a few bucks in the process.

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