On the Edge: News briefs

Atomic ticking

Datum Inc. is marketing its cesium atomic clock as an alternative to global positioning system-based solutions that telecommunications companies now rely on to synchronize time across voice and data networks. According to marketing director Nino De Falcis, Datum's synchronization package, costing approximately $20,000, can compete with the cost of a GPS-based synchronization system, which requires rooftop antenna mounting. Since Datum's units run entirely within the switching stations, they eliminate the possibility of spoofing and malicious jamming that could hinder GPS time broadcasts. Austin, Texas-based Datum's atomic clocks, which measure time through the resonance of cesium atoms, offer a level of accuracy within one second per 32 million years.

Worm infestation

Flash worms, surreptitious worms, Warhol worms, topologically aware worms and worms that employ zombies are just some of the new variants of self-propagating, malicious programs that may yet crawl upon the Internet, according to a new study commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The report, "How to Own the Internet in Your Spare Time," argues there is a high severity of threat of the Internet being infested because of still-unexploited efficiencies in port scanning and network and computer protocols. The report is online at www.cs.berkeley.edu/~nweaver/cdc.web/.

Smart cards

Datastrip Products Inc., Shelton, Conn., has released a two-dimensional bar-code system that can store 2,100 bytes of information per strip, beating the 500 bytes most current designs offer. The bar code has been developed such that all the information can be read on the strip even if up to half of it has been destroyed. The company is marketing it for use in passports, driver's licenses and airport identification badges.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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