How big a problem is crimeware?

The Rise of Crimeware

David Perry, Global Director of Education, Trend Micro:

The FBI reported two weeks ago that $67.2 billion a year is lost to cybercrime. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars a day.

Even more insidious than phishing is “pharming.” Pharming is where the attackers poison the DNS with false information […] you simply type your bank’s URL into your browser and the DNS misdirects you to the Russian mafia.
Incidentally, a lot of this crimeware does originate with the Russian mafia, and the FBI tells me that much of the stolen money ends up in Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, where we cannot get it back through extradition.

Perry reported that “earlier this month at the Antispyware Coalition meeting in Washington, the head of the [National Network to End Domestic Violence] claimed that spyware is involved in more than 90 percent of all domestic violence cases.”

I tried unsuccessfully to find some justification for that number. It seems unbelievable that 90% of domestic violence cases even have computers.

ACM study on outsourcing IT jobs

The ACM released a new study last week on the effects of outsourcing on the IT industry. They conclude that rumors of the death of computer science in the US are greatly exagerated. Study Plays Down Export of Computer Jobs

Dire predictions of job losses from shifting high-technology work to low-wage nations with strong education systems, like India and China, were greatly exaggerated. […] The study group found that the most likely prognosis for the United States would be that 2 percent to 3 percent of the jobs in information technology would go offshore annually over the next decade or so.

But more jobs will be created than are lost in the future, they said, as long as the industry in America moves up the economic ladder to do higher-value work — typically, applying information technology to other fields, like biology and business.

However, it will be hard to counter the belief among high school students that computer science is a dead-end field. This year, only 1.3% of students are planning to enter CS, down from 3.3% in 2000.

“The perception among high school students and their parents is that the game is over — that all computing jobs are going overseas,” [observed Prof. David Patterson, of UC, Berkeley]. “It’s an extraordinarily widely held misperception.”

Job openings at Domino’s Bangalore

Bush insists outsourcing to India has its benefits

“India’s middle class is buying air-conditioners, kitchen appliances and washing machines, and a lot of them from American companies like GE and Whirlpool and Westinghouse. And that means their job base is growing here in the United States. Younger Indians are acquiring a taste for pizzas from Domino’s, Pizza Hut,” Bush said to laughs from the audience at a Washington hotel. “Today, India’s consumers associate American brands with quality and value, and this trade is creating opportunity at home.”

Yeah, when I think quality, I always think of Pizza Hut.

“It’s true that a number of Americans have lost jobs because companies have shifted operations to India. And losing a job is traumatic. It’s difficult. It puts a strain on our families,” he said. But instead of responding with “protectionist policies,” Bush said the United States needs to improve education and job training for displaced workers.

Doesn’t this sound a little ironic, given how the Bush administration has pushed protectionist policies for steel, lumber and agriculture?

It’s like, so _hard_ to keep that resume current

This is so rich. George Deutsch, the press aide accused of censoring NASA scientists, has resigned. This after NASA administration reacted to the increasingly vocal complaints by their scientists. Deutsch allegedly told NASA employees that his job was “to make the president look good”.

Michael D. Griffin, the NASA administrator, issued a “statement of scientific openness” to all NASA employees saying, “it is not the job of public affairs officers to alter, filter or adjust engineering or scientific material produced by NASA’s technical staff.”

Well, Deutsch was young and inexperienced. More than we knew. The NYT recently reported that Deutsch faked his resume. Deutsch has since given an interview with the Texas A&M radio station in which he proclaimed his innocence.

The Times reported on Wednesday that contrary to his résumé on file with NASA, Mr. Deutsch, who is 24, never graduated from Texas A&M. Yesterday, in an interview with The Times, Mr. Deutsch said he had written the résumé in anticipation of graduating.

Right. An easy mistake to make, what with all the pressure and work associated with not graduating.

Finally, Deutsch tried to explain his remarks to the designer of an Albert Einstein web site about the origins of the universe.

“We are both Christians, and I was sharing with him my personal opinions on the Big Bang theory versus intelligent design”

Like a background check with attitude

The NYT reports on some new web sites in which women write about the men who wronged them. While the sites may save women from potential heart-ache, they are also open to abuse.

Unearthing a potential mate’s cheating, thieving, maybe even psychotic ways during the early stages of courtship has always been tricky business. But it is particularly difficult today, when millions are searching for dates online and finding it far easier to lie to a computer than to someone’s face.

But the Internet is now offering up an antidote. Web sites like, and are dedicated to outing bad apples or just identifying people who may not be rotten but whose dating profiles are rife with fiction.

While many women find the Web sites amusing and sometimes helpful, they have enraged men, guilty or not […] They argue that the Web sites are biased and damaging, particularly if the story being told is false. And while the women remain anonymous, the men are offered up in full detail.

The sites seem to be thriving because false advertising is epidemic in online dating profiles. Joe Tracy, the publisher of Online Dater Magazine, estimated that 30 percent of daters using online services are married, a number he said has steadily risen.

Sometimes money is no object

Everyone knows that online dating sites are big business. Jupiter Research notes that people looking for marriage are willing to pay more and subscribe to more sites in search of a soul-mate. Looking for Love in All the Possible Places

Serious daters are also more likely to go from browsing to paying at a site, and to keep their subscriptions longer, according to Jupiter Research.
The largest online dating sites are increasingly catering to this lucrative subset. For example, users of Yahoo Personals Premier “for singles seeking long-term compatibility” pay $39.95 a month — $15 more than the standard rate. And for an extra $8.99 — atop the one-month fee of $29.99 — users of can subscribe to MindFindBind with Dr. Phil, which purports “to help you understand more about relationships.”

Why salespeople sandbag forecasts

I’m always perplexed when I hear about sales people and their motivation. I have a job that comes with job requirements and annual performance reviews. And I like to think that my motivations usually line up with those of the company. If I do my job well, the company benefits. If the company does well, I should (eventually) benefit as well.

But sales people are apparently a different breed. If you don’t tune their compensation exactly right, they might go off and do something that benefits them at the expense of the company. As reported by Scientific American, a scientist at HP has been recruiting volunteers to act as sales people, and running experiments to try to determine the best way to boost sales or handle competing resellers.

The experiment simulates interactions between sales agents and sales managers. […] Through a little computer-mediated back-and-forth with their managers, most agents wise up to the fact that this game rewards sales but offers no incentive to tell managers anything. Similar compensation schemes in the real world explain why salespeople tend to sandbag their forecasts, making it hard for their companies to plan ahead.

He’s already had some success. He was able to evaluate a new compensation plan that HP was considering, and determine that it would encourage sales people to push some products while causing total sales to suffer.

But they’ll make it up in volume

A report from Merrill Lynch estimates that the Sony PlayStation 3 will cost as much as $900 to manufacture. But Sony will need to heavily discount the console to compete with the $400 Xbox 360. The PS3 might also be delayed by several months while Sony tries to complete standards for the Blu-ray DVD drive.

Merrill Lynch speculated in a research note last week that the debut of the PS3 could be postponed as much as six to 12 months, with an autumn launch in Japan and a late 2006 or early 2007 launch in the United States, and that the cost to manufacture the game console might be as high as $900 apiece.

Barrons bullish on Google

Barron’s Online – In the Drink

INVESTORS HAVE BEEN FIXATED on Google the past few weeks, as its shares have tumbled nearly 25% from a peak of $475 — and the fact is, there could be a lot more tumbling ahead. The share price could well be cut in half over the next year as the Internet giant grapples with growing competition from Microsoft and Yahoo!, increased pricing pressures in its online ad sales and mounting concern about what’s known as click fraud.