Briefs: Microsoft-DOJ Settlement Talks Reported

SAN MATEO (03/27/2000) - As the timetable shortens for U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision in the government's antitrust case against Microsoft, both sides were in a flurry of negotiation activity last week.

Several reports indicated that Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Justice had stepped up talks of settling the case, including one report that Microsoft made a significant offer late last week. Jackson, who in November ruled that Microsoft is a monopoly and has followed anti-competitive business practices, met with both sides last Tuesday, prompting a spate of reports on a possible settlement. Jackson appointed a mediator -- Richard Posner, chief justice of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago -- to handle settlement discussions between Microsoft and the government, a move that indicates his desire to see the matter settled. Jackson would have to approve any settlement agreed to by the two parties.

His conclusions will establish whether he believes that Microsoft has violated federal antitrust laws. Reports last week indicated that the government is moving away from its desire to break up the software giant, a potential remedy that Microsoft strongly opposes. The Department of Justice and 19 state attorneys general filed the suit, alleging that Microsoft has illegally used its dominance in operating systems to squelch competition in the Internet browser market.

Cisco acknowledges firewall hole

Cisco Systems is reporting two types of vulnerabilities in its Cisco Secure PIX Firewall that can be exploited to transmit information through the firewall without authorization. The Secure PIX Firewall interprets FTP commands out of context and inappropriately opens temporary access through the firewall, according to Cisco. The first type of vulnerability occurs when the firewall receives an error message from an internal FTP server with an encapsulated command, such that the firewall interprets it as a distinct command. The second type of vulnerability occurs when a client inside the firewall browses to an external server and selects a link that the firewall interprets as two or more FTP commands. Cisco officials said software and work-arounds are available for the first type of vulnerability; a work-around is available for the second kind of vulnerability.

Enterasys launches 3Com buy-back

Enterasys Networks, the Cabletron spin-off focused on supplying corporate networking equipment, Friday hatched a plan to win over orphaned users of 3Com's soon-to-be-discontinued CoreBuilder switch line. Enterasys said it is offering a replacement program for a variety of CoreBuilder products. The program, which runs through June 30, gives technology rebates of as much as $100 for 3Com's CoreBuilder 10/100 Ethernet ports and as much as $1,000 for CoreBuilder Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Hummingbird boosts host integration

Hummingbird Communications this week will expand its mainframe integration software with E-Gateway, a host access application based on HTML/DHTML (Dynamic HTML). Shipping in May, E-Gateway lets users access mainframe data via a browser application. Hummingbird also will update its Java-based mainframe access software, called Host Explorer Web, which includes tools to convert an ASCII text screen into a browser-based GUI.

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