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THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Linux, Mac viruses on the rise
Microsoft Windows is still far more buggy, but hackers are now aiming at rival operating systems. Plus: Diller's new search boss.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - The crusade to win a greater share of the operating system market away from Microsoft's Windows has long fired up the hearts of the Mac and Linux faithful. But popularity breeds contempt - from hackers. A new study of "malware" - viruses, worms, and other software nasties - released Friday by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab shows a doubling in the number of viruses and worms targeting Linux from 2004 to 2005. The trend is worth watching, says Linux Pipeline, but must be put in context. There were only 863 cases of Linux attacks last year, while Symantec (Research) found 11,000 viruses and worms in Windows. And Apple's (Research) Mac? It got off easy in the Kaspersky report, but last week brought news of vulnerabilities in OS X, following on a February report of the first documented Mac OS X virus. Additionally, independent security researcher Tom Ferris posted to his blog a series of "serious" Mac security breaches that he recently discovered.

Barry Diller finds new search boss

FCC leaks Sidekick III details
The new smartphone's specs are published online before its splashy, official launch. Plus: The technorati trash MySpace.com. (more)

Ever since Barry Diller's IAC Interactivecorp (Research) bought Ask.com a year ago, online search has become a critical part of his Internet empire. So when Microsoft (Research) hired away IAC search chief Steve Berkowitz to run its MSN Web portal, Diller moved swiftly, and yesterday tapped Berkowitz lieutenant Jim Lanzone to run the shop. Business 2.0 columnist John Battelle interviewed Lanzone right before and after the move, probing Lanzone on his plans. A key strategy: Ask.com, which has long relied on Google (Research) for the keyword-related ads that appear besides its search results, is forging ahead with plans to build its own ad system.

Senator refuses iPod gift

As Congress considers a controversial new bill, the Digital Copyright Protection Act, which some believe would have outlawed the iPod had it been enacted five years ago, observers are asking just how much pull Hollywood has in Washington. Enough, apparently that Senator Conrad Burns (R.-Montana) refused a digital music player sent to his campaign as a gift by the Intellectual Property Action Committee. The iPod cost iPac $316.94 - a legal campaign contribution - but Jason Klindt, a campaign spokesman, told the Missoula Independent that "it's just not a donation we want." On the other hand, Burns was happy to accept $59,050 in campaign contributions from the entertainment industry. iPac's donation was inspired by Senator Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska), who in January probed record-industry executives about the effects the proposed law would have on his enjoyment of the iPod his daughter recently gave him. Techdirt says the contribution was an "obvious publicity stunt," but wishes Burns had offered more of an explanation about the money he's taken from Hollywood.

Internet Brands buys travel websites

Sharing tips on places to stay and sights to see is an essential element of traveling. So a travel web site that depends on user contributions would seem to make enormous sense. That's what drove online retailer Internet Brands, the owner of CarsDirect and Autos.com, to snap up startups Wikitravel and World66, reports Clickz. Though independent, the two sites both rely on the same "wiki" community-publishing software as the wildly successful Wikipedia online encyclopedia. (Wikis are websites whose pages anyone can edit.) Of course, when you rely on your users for content, going capitalist requires a certain amount of explanation. "This is going to be a commercial venture," write Wikitravel founders Evan and Michele Ann Prodromou on the wiki site set up to explain the deal. "Although we were initially wary, we've been won over by [Internet Brands'] management team's understanding of what Wikitravel and World66 are trying to do." While good for generating content on the cheap, wikis still cost money to run. Thus, explain the Prodromous, there's nothing revolutionary about their new business model: "The current plan is to have unobtrusive, targeted, well-identified ads." Top of page

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