Stories by Paul Hoffman

Don't be lulled by firewalls

The recent Nimda virus caused untold damage to companies throughout the world. IT administrators spent days disinfecting and patching infected systems, as well as belatedly applying current security patches to systems running Microsoft's Internet Information Server software. Nimda did an incredibly thorough job of finding systems running IIS, even if those systems weren't really Web servers.

The Pen Is Mightier than the Electronic Signature

It's not often that you can get Internet legislation passed nearly unanimously in both Congress and the U.S. Senate, then signed with a flourish by the president. To some people, such a law must seem a truly wonderful thing, sure to bring peace and harmony and increased profits through e-commerce. To the rest of us, it's a sure sign the law doesn't do anything useful. Such is the fate of the new Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce, dubbed the E-Sign law.

Preventing the Next LoveLetter from Wreaking Havoc

When will we ever learn? It's bad enough almost all of us use operating systems that don't prevent us from making bad choices about security. But most of the terrible effects of the recent LoveLetter virus could have been avoided if users, and particularly system administrators, used common sense.

Bringing in More of the World with Unicode

One of the most overlooked aspects of e-commerce is international trade. E-mail and the Web largely are based on written language, and it has taken a long time for the world to agree on how to represent the many forms of writing in a single standard. The recent release of Unicode Version 3 goes a long way toward solving the problem of too many local standards, making it easier for companies to internationalize their Internet communications.

Lack of Agreement on PKI Bodes Ill for VPN Users

If you're deploying a public-key infrastructure (PKI) and expect your mission-critical applications, such as virtual private networks (VPN), to connect instantly, think again. Lack of a clear focus for PKI, coupled with a lack of interoperability across all PKI-using systems, will cause untold delays in getting products to work together.