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January 2, 2006 By ,

Securing VoIP

In late October 2005, the voice over Internet protocol Security Alliance (VoIPSA) released a comprehensive description of security and threats in the VoIP field.

The VoIP Security Threat Taxonomy's goal is to provide the industry with a clear view of VoIP threats, the vulnerabilities and a context for balancing trade-offs. The project, launched in late March 2005, is the first completed project of VoIPSA, an organization formed in February 2005 with the purpose of improving public awareness of issues and best practices for securing VoIP.

Live portions of the VoIP Security Threat Taxonomy are now available for discussion by registering through links posted at the Web site. -- VoIPSA

Got Bots?

A 122-year-old dairy equipment company uses embedded Linux in a robotic cow-milking system. The Voluntary Milking System (VMS) gives cows the power to decide when they want to be milked, and gives dairy farmers a more independent lifestyle, free of regular milkings, the company said.

A single VMS can milk a herd of 60 cows three times per day, said the company. The VMS is powered by an Advantech PCM-5820, a 3.5-inch single-board computer with an AMD Geode GX1 processor clocked at 200 MHz. The board features 10/100 Ethernet, VGA and LVDS LCD ports, a CompactFlash socket and PC/104 expansion.

The VMS uses 64 MB of RAM and boots from a 40 GB hard drive -- only 1 percent of which is actually used, according to the company. -- DeLaval

E-Mail Turns 34

In October 1971, Ray Tomlinson -- often called the father of e-mail -- invented the software that allowed messages to be sent between computers.

He didn't invent e-mail itself. That had been around since 1965 when Fernando Corbato and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a program to let the individual users of the institution's Compatible Timesharing System swap messages.

But that program only let people using one machine communicate with each other. Tomlinson's program made it possible to swap messages between machines in different locations -- between universities, and across continents and oceans. -- BBC News

Bye-Bye Bulbs

An accidental discovery announced at the end of October 2005 might be the end of light bulbs as we know them. A graduate student at Vanderbilt University was trying to make really small quantum dots, which are crystals generally only a few nanometers big -- less than 1/1000th of the width of a human hair.

Quantum dots contain anywhere from 100 to 1,000 electrons, making the dots easily excited bundles of energy. The student accidentally shone a laser on his batch of dots, which emitted a warm, white glow. Then he and another student stirred the dots into polyurethane and coated a blue LED light bulb with the mix. The lumpy bulb produced white light that shines twice as bright and lasts 50 times longer than a standard 60-watt light bulb. -- LiveScience.com

VoIP Blocker

Narus, a seven-year-old Mountain View, Calif., company, devised a way for telephone companies to detect data packets belonging to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) applications and block the calls -- and large telephone companies overseas are lining up to use the blocking software.

When someone in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, attempts to use VoIP, the software installed on Saudi Telecom's network analyzes the packets flowing across the network, notices what protocols they adhere to, and flags the call as VoIP. In most cases, it can even identify the specific software being used.

Company officials said there's nothing keeping U.S. telecommunications carriers from using the software to spot and degrade the quality of VoIP conversations. The goal is to persuade users to either


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