• United States



by CSO Contributor

Firms Vie for Share of Biometrics Pie; A Heretical View of File Sharing; NYC Bids to Secure Subways; Colleges Leaking Confidential Data

Apr 05, 20043 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Firms Vie for Share of Biometrics Pie

With the US government preparing next month to award a border control contract that could be worth up to $10 billion over the coming decade, biometrics companies nationwide are vying for a slice of the pie, reports The Boston Globe today. After issuing their request for proposal last November, Homeland Security officials now are weighing the proposals of three companies—Accenture, Computer Sciences Corp., and Lockheed Martin Corp.—competing to be systems integrators, in effect prime contractors, for US-VISIT’s sweeping border management initiative. The department expects to choose a systems integrator in late May. Roughly 40 percent of the second-tier subcontract dollars should be disbursed to small businesses, under a Homeland Security Department goal.A Heretical View of File SharingThe New York Times today, the common wisdom that file sharing hurts sales of recordings is meeting a challenge. Two economists released a draft last week of the first study that makes a rigorous economic comparison of directly observed activity on file-sharing networks and music buying. The problem with the industry view, say the studys authors, Felix Oberholzer-Gee of the Harvard Business School and Koleman S. Strumpf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is that it is not supported by solid evidence. In their study, they analyzed the direct data of music downloaders over a 17-week period in the fall of 2002, and compared that activity with actual music purchases during that time. “Downloads have an effect on sales which is statistically indistinguishable from zero, despite rather precise estimates,” they write. Unsurprisingly, the recording industry criticizes the study.

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NYC Bids to Secure SubwaysReuters story today, New York had 2,800 transit police officers protecting transit, primarily guarding the subways, he said. In addition to their presence, they will conduct station and train sweeps, while the city has hot lines for vigilant passengers to report anything suspicious. In a bulletin last week, the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security said bombs hidden in luggage could be used in a plot to attack buses and railroads in major American cities this summer.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today the city was working hard to prevent an attack on its trains and buses but that the largest U.S. mass transit system was still vulnerable. According to a

Colleges Leaking Confidential DataSan Francisco Chronicle, colleges across the country, through computer security failure and human error, have exposed confidential information about hundreds of thousands of students and employees over the Internet, and experts say they expect the problems to continue. Besides being targeted by savvy hackers, college computer systems have been made vulnerable by the schools themselves through inadequately trained employees who have access to the files. Just one of several examples the Chronicle offers of recent incidents that highlight the problem is the case of San Diego State University, where last month hackers broke into a server in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, gaining access to names and Social Security numbers for more than 178,000 former and current students, applicants and employees. Although the problem of computer security is not limited to colleges and universities, academic institutions thrive in a culture of openness and the sharing of information, and some see the tightening of security procedures as a threat to that culture, said Cedric Bennett, emeritus director of Information Security Services at Stanford University.

According to a story in todays