• United States



by CSO Contributor

AOL Sues and Gets Sued; Security League Opens for Shared Work; Court Blocks Security Conference Talk; SARS Outbreak in Toronto

Apr 15, 20033 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

AOL Sues and Gets Sued

According to an AP report in USA Today, America Online has filed five federal lawsuits targeting spammers it accuses of sending some 1 billion junk e-mail messages promoting mortgages, steroids and pornography to its subscribers. Most of the defendants are “John Doe,” according to USA Today, meaning AOL could not determine their identities. However, filing the lawsuits gives AOL additional authority to subpoena service providers and others to try to track down the spammers. The suits seek damages of more than $10 million plus an end to the messages. AOL said today that about 8 million individual spam complaints from subscribers, most of whom used a “Report Spam” feature AOL introduced last fall, induced the company to file the lawsuits. At the same time, todays New York Times reports that AOL is also subject of lawsuits filed by two teams of lawyers representing AOL Time Warner shareholders. Both suits file extensive complaints accusing the company of defrauding investors, contending that top company executives traded on inside information about the precarious nature of the company’s finances when they sold company stock after the merger closed, that AOL improperly overstated its online advertising revenue by more than $1 billion and that the directors of Time Warner failed to adequately investigate AOL’s true condition. Security League Opens for Shared WorkCnet last night, Computer Associates announced yesterday that it has partnered with several physical security companies to create an industry group devoted to developing best practices and promoting integrated security products and services. Dubbed the Open Security Exchange, the organization lists as initial members identity card maker HID, smart card maker Gemplus, security firm Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations and security software company Software House, a subsidiary of Tyco Fire & Security.

According to a story posted on

Court Blocks Security Conference TalkCnet today. The education software company Blackboard successfully convinced a Georgia state court to block the students’ presentation, which the company claimed was based on information gained illegally, and would have harmed the company’s commercial interests and those of its clients. Conference organizers contend that the students’ free speech rights were abridged. The court issued a temporary restraining order grounded largely in federal and Georgia state antihacking laws and a state trade secrets act. According to, the company told the judge that the information set to be presented was gleaned after one of the students had physically broken into a network and switching device on his campus and subsequently figured out a way to mimic Blackboard’s technology. Because that alleged act would be illegal under the federal and state laws, publication of the resulting information should be blocked, it argued.

A pair of students were blocked by a federal court from presenting information on how to break into and modify a university electronic transactions system at the Interz0ne security and hackers’ conference in Atlanta last weekend, according to a story on

SARS Outbreak in TorontoToronto Star. Another 100 workers at Metro Hall have been quarantined, after a member of the office staff came down with symptoms of SARS last week. Stringent rules have been put in place for patients, visitors and hospital staff to prevent the spread of the disease, and certain hospitals have been designated for use by SARS patients.

Nearly 500 members of a religious group have been placed in quarantine after public health officials identified a cluster of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) cases that spread during a mass and a prayer meeting, infecting 31 people, including three children and three doctors, according to todays