On the Net ... with UPI

By MARIE HORRIGAN, UPI Technology News


Infamous hacker Kevin Mitnick, who returned online Jan. 23 after eight years in exile, himself was a victim of his former trade when hackers broke into the Web site of his new online security company, Defensive Thinking. "I suppose if you were a young hacker and wanted to prove your skills, this is the place to go. It reminds me of the movie 'The Gunfighter,'" Mitnick said in a written statement. The company on Monday acknowledged the attack, early last week, which it described as being "by a man in Alaska pointing out that the Web system had a little known vulnerability," which was patched within two hours of discovery. According to CNET, last week's attack was the second in the past two weeks, this one by a hacker using the handle "Bugbear" who Jan. 30 added a single page to the site with the message, "welcome back to freedom mr.kevin ;)."



Google topped such household names as Coke and Starbucks to become 2002's "Brand of the Year," according to a survey by branding researcher Brandchannel. The Internet search engine jumped in voters' minds as the brand that had the most impact in voters lives from fourth place last year, receiving 15 percent of the vote worldwide and 19 percent of the vote in North America. Globally, Apple came in a close second with 14 percent of the vote, down from first place in 2001, with Coca Cola in third at 12 percent of the vote, Starbucks came in fourth at 11 percent, and fifth place went to Scandinavian home furnishing company Ikea with 10 percent. Google earned its place, "perhaps because it it absolutely the tool of the moment to make the best use of the Internet (the other perfect tool of our day)," Brandchannel reports. The survey was based on the votes of 1,315 respondents.


The federal government is denying ties to a self-proclaimed clandestine intelligence company calling itself Access One Network Northwest, despite its .gov domain name. AONN Chief Intelligence Officer Robert L. Taylor III told IDG News Network the company is a cybersecurity and intelligence service agency and is supported by the Department of Defense. However, the U.S. General Services Administration, which assigns .gov domains, has pulled the AONN name from the .gov directory until the "questions about the authenticity of the Web site that contains the AONN name" could be resolved, it said in a statement issued Thursday. Taylor told IDG, "Our intent isn't to embarrass the government. Our aim is only to strengthen U.S. government spy capabilities and the overall economy. GSA provided the domain, account, and access after we made a secret arrangement with the Pentagon. Don't worry; the Pentagon knows about this even if they claim they don't. That's the nature of our profession."



Tranda Wecker, fodder for tabloid news ever since she was accused of -- twice -- selling her twins online, claims the babies were never "sold," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. In an interview with the paper, Wecker said she was tired of being falsely labeled as the mother who twice sold her twins over the Internet, although she admitted she took her daughters back from a California couple who for $6,000 had adopted them through Wecker's Internet adoption broker, who later set up another adoption with a Welsh couple for $12,000. Moreover, Wecker said, she never received a cent for the adoptions -- the money all went to online broker Tina Johnson. A St. Louis circuit judge has severed Wecker's parental rights to the girls, although she retains joint custody of 5-year-old Nala with former husband Aaron Wecker, whom she has recently divorced. The twins currently live with foster parents who hope to adopt them.

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