SAN MATEO (06/30/2000) - Digital signatures bill signed into lawPresident Clinton this week signed the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, or E-Sign. The bill, which passed definitively through Congress two weeks ago, puts the force of national law behind digital signature transactions. E-Sign will render digital signatures legally equivalent to those signed on paper. The new law is expected to bolster e-commerce by eliminating companies' fears about the enforceability of online transactions.

Warning issued on IM, chat clients

Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has released an advisory stating that because instant messaging and other chat clients rely on end-users to make security decisions rather than on a central security policy, the applications represent a risk to enterprises. CERT cites a lack of strong authentication, potential software flaws, Trojan horse attacks, and "social engineering attacks" that could entice users into passing along sensitive information as a few of the ways chat clients could open holes in business security. To avoid these potential breaches, CERT advocates disabling chat functionality on company networks unless "the services provided by chat clients are needed in your environment."

Microsoft boosts ASP venture

Microsoft Corp. officials this week said that the company will make a $10 million investment in FutureLink and will set up a research and development lab with the ASP (application service provider) in Southern California. The R&D lab, along with sites at FutureLink and Microsoft headquarters, will provide places for ISVs to receive technical assistance on Web-hosting issues, according to FutureLink officials. Microsoft first teamed up with FutureLink last June, when the ASP began offering BackOffice products via its server farm on a subscription access license basis. The increased partnership with FutureLink fits in with Microsoft's software-as-service focus, outlined in June as part of Microsoft's Microsoft.NET strategy.

Intel readies new Pentiums

An Intel Corp. official this week said the chip giant is readying a 1.13GHz version of its Pentium III processor for launch on July 31. The speedy processor will be built on the same so-called Coppermine core used in the current crop of Pentium III processors, which run at clock speeds of up to 1GHz, according to Graham Palmer, a spokesman at Intel's U.K. office. Intel later this year is also scheduled to launch the Pentium 4, a new series of processors formerly code-named Willamette. The first version of Pentium 4 is expected to run at clock speeds of about 1.4GHz.

BackWeb brings content push to wireless

BackWeb Technologies Inc. last week acquired Mobix Communications Ltd. for about $16 million, giving BackWeb the technology to extend its Polite push service to smart phones, handhelds, and other wireless devices. BackWeb will combine Polite with the Mobix wireless framework and use various standards, such as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) and XML, to make sure content is delivered in device-relevant forms. BackWeb products with Mobix technology are due this fall.

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