Cybernaut 

Apple loses its shine

For years the one thing that all Internet viruses had in common with each other was the fact that they targeted PC’s.

Apple computers, comprising a scant five per cent of the home and office computer market, have generally been let off the hook by virus authors. The lack of attacks has led many people to believe that Apple systems are somehow safer, when in reality the spread of viruses probably has more to do with market share than software security.

That changed last week when the first Trojan horse virus took advantage of a security flaw in Apple’s OSX to create some minor havoc.

Called MP3Concept, the virus can get into your Apple computer through the iTunes music service. The virus was caught early by MacIntosh security firm Intego and no cases have been reported, but Apple acknowledged that there was a risk and that they were taking steps to repair the OSX security flaw that would have allowed the virus to spread through the Internet.

If you own an Apple and are concerned about this latest development, stay tuned at Apple’s security centre – www.info.apple.com/usen/security/

You should also sign up for e-mail security updates at http://lists.apple.com.

Deep impact or armageddon?

Pessimists around the world are celebrating the launch of a new Web page at the University of Arizona that allows you to project just how much damage the next asteroid to hit planet Earth might cause.

Asteroid collisions have shaped the physical and biological history of the world in the past, perhaps even triggering the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

While smaller objects bombard our planet pretty much around the clock, most of these either burn up in the atmosphere or are too small to do much damage. But it’s only a matter of time, say astronomers, before our planet will find itself on a collision course with a big enough asteroid to do some real damage.

Enter the Impact Effects Program created by researchers at the University of Arizona. They created what is essentially a calculator to determine the possible seismic, blast wave and thermal effects of different sized asteroids, as well as the size of the crater.

The first field on the list is Distance from Impact, followed by fields for Projectile Diameter and Projectile Density. Next is a field for Impact Velocity – you may have to do some research on this although the site’s creators do give you a range to work with.

Impact Angle (in degrees) is another parameter to consider – does the meteor hit us head-on, like Deep Impact or at an angle like Superman’s ship?

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