Author Archive

A simple ‘Thank you’ would do

A French researcher, Guillaume Tena, found several holes in the Viguard anti-virus program that a malicious hacker could have exploited to nullify the software’s protections. What did he do? He published his findings.

The company responsible for the holy software, Tegam, sued for copyright violation. The company is asking for a 6000 euro fine and a four month jail term. A related civil case asks for 900,000 euros in damages.

The researcher’s website says he “showed how the program worked, demonstrated a few security flaws and carried out some tests with real viruses. Unlike the advertising claimed, this software didn’t detect and stop ?100 percent of viruses?.”

From the ZDNet Australia story:

According to French security Web site K-OTik, Tena had technically broken copyright laws because his exploits were “not for personal use, but were communicated to a third party”.

However, K-OTik, which regularly publishes exploit codes, claims that the ruling could create a precedent so vulnerabilities in software, however critical, could not be declared publicly without prior agreement from the software publisher.

K-OTik?s editors say the ruling is “unimaginable and unacceptable in any other field of scientific research”.

” Security researcher to be jailed for finding bugs in software?”, ZDNet Australia, Jan. 11.

Rats vs. ratings

A man upset by what he saw on NBC’s “Fear Factor” is suing the program. He says he threw up after he saw contestants eat (drink?) rats chopped up in a blender. Austin Aitken is a regular viewer of the program and was fine with shows in which contestants ate worms and bugs. He says he’s not concerned with actually winning, just sending a message to NBC. His suit asks for $2.5-million. Associated Press, “Rats don’t rate with viewer,” Jan. 7. From the story:

Aitken, a 49-year-old part-time paralegal, said he wants to send a message to NBC and other networks with the lawsuit. He said he isn’t concerned with winning a cash judgment in court.

On that note, Eugene Volokh points out the following from an earlier Reuters report: “In a brief telephone interview with Reuters, Aitken said, ‘I am not at liberty to discuss the complaint unless it is a paid-interview situation.'” Reuters, “NBC’s ‘Fear Factor’ Sued for Rat-Eating Episode,” Jan. 5. Update Mar. 15: judge tosses suit.

Cheated workers

Ohio workers who got their jobs through a welfare program are suing the state for improper compensation. Example: As part of his welfare benefits, Bruce Smith stripped floors in Youngstown when his knee snapped as he bent to pick up a bucket of water. His attorneys argue he should have received worker’s compensation based on his pre-welfare salary, not on his food stamp allowance, according to a state supreme court decision. The state says the ruling “applied to death benefits, not regular workers comp claims.”

The welfare program is a tiny part of overall claims. The workers compensation bureau has paid about $6 million for 3,200 successful welfare worker claims to date, compared to about $2 billion last year alone in regular claims, Hicks said.

The Equal Justice Foundation says the number of potential claims is much higher. In court filings accompanying the lawsuit, foundation attorneys say the figure is over 5,000, citing workers’ compensation bureau e-mails.

Smith, 59, went on welfare after he was laid off from his job making bumpers for a General Motors parts supplier. He was injured in April 2003 on a job he received in Mahoning County as a condition of getting $139 in food stamps weekly.

Associated Press, “Lawsuit Alleges Workers Hurt On Welfare Jobs Cheated,” Jan 4.


CasiNO Free Sullivan County, an anti-casino group in New York, has sued to block the introduction of casinos to the area, claiming the casinos will pose a health hazard:

“The cumulative impact from these casinos will negatively affect the health and well-being of residents in the Town of Thompson, Sullivan County, and the entire region,” said Rosa Lee, a spokeswoman for the group. “The enormous increase in traffic itself would cause serious air pollution and bumper-to-bumper congestion, resulting in a significant reduction in air quality by the introduction of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, a common cause of serious lung disease, since such particulate matter lodges more deeply into the lungs than do larger ones.”

Mid-Hudson News Network, “Anti-casino group files lawsuit to block gaming,” Jan 4.

Guest Blogger

Hey folks. I’m Caleb Brown. I work in radio and I do occasional freelance writing. If my blog were a child, social services would have taken her away a long time ago for neglect. I have a dog and I play the banjo. And to answer your questions: Yes, I live in Kentucky and yes, I do drink bourbon. Guestbloggin’ commences later today. My thanks to Walter Olson for the opportunity.