Originally created 11/22/04

TechBits



NEW YORK - America Online Inc. is packaging new features to combat viruses, spam and spyware in response to growing online security threats.

Subscribers will be able to get the free tools through a software download, known as AOL 9.0 Security Edition and available beginning Thursday.

"More often than not when a member faces a performance issue with the computer, they think they just have a performance problem, but what they really have is a virus or spyware," said Danny Krifcher, executive vice president for the AOL service.

The new package includes:

-Anti-virus software from McAfee Inc. with free, automated updates. Such protection through AOL previously cost $2.95 a month.

-Spyware protection. Before, AOL's spyware scanner ran once a week. A new SpyZapper checks the computer's memory every time you sign on to catch rogue programs.

-Junk mail controls. To control how much legitimate mail gets mistakenly trashed, the spam filter now offers high, medium and low settings. It also blocks unwanted instant messages.

-Pop-up blocker. It now blocks rich media ads that float across the Web page.

-Parental controls. Beginning in two weeks, parents will be able to limit with whom their kids can exchange instant messages.

To combat identity theft, AOL also partnered with the credit agency Experian to create a service in which subscribers are notified when their credit cards exceed a preset spending limit.

-Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer.

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LONDON - The British Library will soon archive e-mails and other unpublished work produced by influential scientists in electronic form.

The collection represents a new focus for a library that holds a notebook from Leonardo Da Vinci and copies of the Magna Carta.

Jeremy John, the library's curator of digital manuscripts, said such material requires special treatment: "You cannot put digital material on the shelf and expect it to last for 100 years as with a paper manuscript."

"The information stored on magnetic media fades especially quickly, so you have to actively ensure its survival," he said.

The library boasts a modest collection of digital manuscripts, or unpublished electronic information, including material from evolutionary biologist William Hamilton and pioneering environmental scientist James Lovelock.

Over the past year, John has been poring over thousands of digital files from more than 15 computers, hundreds of floppy disks and CDs, thousands of punch cards and several rolls of paper tape.

John plans to make manuscripts available for public research, possibly by next year.

-Tim Elfrink, AP Writer.

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TOKYO - Japan's top mobile carrier has begun marketing a cell phone that can make Internet calls over Wi-Fi wireless networks in addition to regular ones.

The dual-network N900iL phone from NTT DoCoMo can switch back and forth as needed.

It uses third-generation, or 3G, technology, which relays data at faster speeds than most cell phones in use today. When users are inside their office building and within reach of a corporate Wi-Fi system, the phone also runs Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

Such combined-network phones are still rare. Nokia Corp., the world's largest mobile phone maker, has said it is introducing such a handset next year.

NTT DoCoMo's 3G phones, called Foma, got off to a slow start in 2001, but have since gained popularity in Japan - a gadget-loving nation where people generally buy new handsets every few years to keep up with new features.

At a star-studded event, NTT DoCoMo showed off other 3G features, including one where users can choose TV shows by looking at a program guide that pops up on the cell phone. The phone instantly works as a remote control to turn on that show. If the show isn't on yet, the phone beeps when it's about to start.

-Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer.

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NEW YORK - Anti-virus protection will ship later this month with some new phones in Japan, a harbinger of cellular threats to come.

Security products are already available for handheld computers, known as personal digital assistants, but phones pose unique risks, said Victor Kouznetsov, senior vice president for mobile solutions at McAfee Inc.

In addition to making calls, people can use them to play games, do e-mail and much more, often using different wireless networks and thus increasing the number of ways a phone user is exposed, Kouznetsov said.

For the 901i series of phones from NTT DoCoMo, McAfee worked directly with the Japanese mobile carrier to customize software and build it into the device. The first of the phones will be available Nov. 26.

McAfee expects to have similar phones in the United States and Europe next year.

So far, security researchers have only seen prototypes of viruses spread via phones, and McAfee wants the tools in place when a mobile virus does emerge in the wild, Kouznetsov said.

-Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer.

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SAN FRANCISCO - Ebay Inc. will allow listings that include racist words only if they are part of a book, movie or other product title.

Before, some sellers have used such words in describing other kinds of collectibles, such as old advertisements and ceramics, listed at eBay's Black Americana categories.

Users who attempt to use the offending terms will see a pop-up notice informing them of the new policy. The changes came as part of an agreement with the National League of Cities, which last year adopted a resolution calling on eBay to eliminate racially derogatory terms from its listings.

EBay notes that racially derogatory terms are in the names of some books and CDs by black authors and artists, and the new policy preserves members' ability "to trade in important historical and cultural items," eBay spokesman Henry Gomez said.

-Lisa Leff, AP Writer.