2003: When file sharing goes wrong

As file sharing over the internet becomes a legitimate activity, malicious actors discover that anything can spread quickly when shared online.

Among new incoming English words and terms the dictionary in 2003 were SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS-CoV, the coronavirus identified as the cause of the disease. Originating in China the previous year, a global SARS alert was issued by the World Health Organization in March 2003. In July, the WHO said the problem was under control.

The year 2003 also saw the word “unfriend” enter the lexicon as something else began to spread rapidly around the world: social media. LinkedIn was born in May, followed by MySpace in August and 4chan in October, representing a wide range of online spaces where users could connect and share content.

Speaking of sharing, from the ashes of Napster, a new era of legal online file sharing has started to emerge. Apple’s iTunes Music Store, the first legitimate music download platform, launched in April and saw over a million songs sold in its first week.

To take advantage of all these new online services, Irish Internet users were finally offered flat-rate Internet access options from providers. Although those looking for information on the latest James Bond may be surprised to find PierceBrosnan.com redirected to an unrelated business website.

The Irish actor sued Jeff Burgar, the cybersquatter known for registering the estates of many celebrities, and won.

The worm attack

In other nefarious online activities, 2003 was a banner year for worms and viruses. Early on, the highly contagious Slammer worm began to spread in January and is believed to have infected 250,000 computers in one day. In February, he abolished the Dáil voting system. By this point, Slammer had already caused roughly $ 1 billion in damage through its denial of service attacks.

After Slammer came Fizzer, a mass distribution worm that has spread through email, chat rooms, and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. Bugbear followed, attempting to steal passwords and other information by accessing keystroke logs. Then came Blaster, who found several ways to infect systems through a Windows vulnerability. This was followed by Sobig, who broke speed records with his infection rate. At one point, AOL found the email worm in more than half of the 40.5 million emails scanned.

Much of this malicious effort was carried out in the name of spamming, and the summer of 2003 saw Microsoft take legal action against known spammers. Late in the year, Yahoo revealed plans to tackle spam with a system that requires sender authentication using cryptographic keys.

IDA FDI wins

2003 was good news for the Irish tech industry with a decision on Google’s first home. The emerging tech giant has revealed plans to establish an operations center in Dublin, creating around 200 jobs. This was a major victory for IDA Ireland, helped by a favorable tax regime for businesses and much needed data center capacity.

In the same month that Google announced its arrival in Ireland, US semiconductor company Xilinx designated Ireland as its European headquarters. In the summer, Intel announced plans for an € 18.3 million R&D project at its Shannon base, and then unveiled a € 12 million global IT innovation center at Leixlip.

Amid all this, IDA had launched a new Strategic Competitiveness Program to help foreign companies undertaking R&D in Ireland. “With Ireland having achieved the status of a place of excellence for manufacturing, we must now earn a similar reputation as a place of excellence for value-added services,” said Frank Ryan, then executive director of IDA .

Science and skills

Meanwhile, a new state agency that would have a major influence on Irish R&D has emerged on its own. Previously functioning as a sub-council of Forfás, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) was established as a separate legal entity in July.

A Board of Directors of 12 members, including four from the international research community, was installed and Managing Director Dr Bill Harris stressed the need to attract top researchers to Ireland.

“[The] the impact has been particularly visible in the biotechnology and ICT sectors where the initial focus was established, ”said Leonard Hobbs, director of Trinity Research & Innovation, of SFI’s early influence. This, he said, was due to “significant funding and the attraction of world-class principal researchers, which in turn has enabled significant collaborations to be established with global companies such as Intel, Huawei, Nokia and Johnson & Johnson “.

These “symbiotic collaborations”, according to Hobbs, have formed links between academic and industrial expertise, enabling doctors to find career opportunities and giving SFI-funded research centers a keen business sense.

In addition to directing funding to research in Ireland, SFI has assumed responsibility for promoting public engagement in STEM. This was much needed in 2003, when demand for third-level computer courses plummeted and some 1,000 places in computer colleges were unclaimed. The problem was to continue with only one in seven high school students taking higher-level physics and chemistry courses in the Leaving Cert.

In October, the Expert Panel on Future Skills Needs confirmed fears of insufficient numbers of ICT, science and engineering graduates by 2005 and said that a considerable ‘balancing act’ would be needed. over the coming years. In response to this growing skills crisis, the Irish Computer Society launched ChooseIT, a € 500,000 initiative promoting computer skills to high school students.

National broadband plan moves forward

A January report showed Ireland was slipping second to last out of 16 European countries in terms of broadband internet penetration. Then, the much revised national broadband plan was finally launched in February, involving an investment of 65 million euros in the creation of broadband loops around 19 key cities destined for development and some 30,000 miles of fiber optic cabling. .

At a ComReg conference in October, the managing director of the Irish Chambers of Commerce cited over-promising promises, under-delivery and empty rhetoric as reasons why Irish SMEs have been slow to sign up for services at broadband. And in November, Dr Danny O’Hare, Chairman of the Information Society Commission, couldn’t understand why the government wasn’t tackling broadband rollout with the same fervor that led to electrification. rural Ireland.

“Someone made the decision to put electricity in every home in Ireland over the last century and if that meant dragging 100 poles up a hill to connect someone, it was done,” he said. he told Siliconrepublic.com at the time. “Broadband in every household will play a role in bridging the gap in society between the advantaged and the disadvantaged. It is something the government just has to do.

Also in November, an argument was made to promote broadband adoption through electronic work. A survey of around 60 e-workers found that 90% found life less stressful due to remote working, and a similar majority found that they had a much better work-life balance. private.

In other news

January 3: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was born.

January 10: For the first time, a technology project wins the BT Young Scientist Award with 16-year-old Adnan Osmani winning the top prize for his project “Graphical, Technological and User-Friendly Advancement of the Internet Browser”.

January 14: Dublin ranks 13th out of 14 key digital cities in the world in terms of infrastructure, e-commerce and the digital divide.

January 15: Dublin City Council is introducing wireless mobile payments for street parking using m-parking technology from Irish software publisher Itsmobile.

February 1st : The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on its return to Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board.

February 4: HP is reopening the 60,000 square foot data storage facility that originally belonged to the old Metromedia in Citywest, Dublin.

3rd of March : The EU Directive on Electronic Commerce enters into force, regulating the free movement of information society services within the European Economic Area.

12th of March : Intel launches Centrino, a new processor and chipset with built-in wireless capability for laptops.

April 14: The human genome project is declared complete to 99pc of the human genome sequenced with an accuracy of 99.9pc.

May: The RV Celtic Explorer, a marine research vessel operated by the Marine Institute of Galway, enters service.

May 1: Vodafone launches Ireland’s first 3G network, a European first for the global operator.

May 6: Eve Online, a huge multiplayer online role-playing game with a single shared game world, has been released.

May 15: Iona Technologies founder Chris Horn returns as CEO as part of a management reshuffle.

June 23: Apple launches the PowerMac G5, hailed as the first true 64-bit personal computer.

1st of July : MIT’s CSAIL, the computer science and artificial intelligence lab, was created from the merger of its computer science and AI labs.

July 30: Communications Minister Dermot Ahern, TD, launches public consultation on proposed regulations to improve privacy protection for Internet and email users.

September 24: The Hubble Space Telescope begins capturing an ultra-deep-field image of a region of space in the constellation Fornax, looking for galaxies that existed between 400m and 800m years after the Big Bang.

September 27: The European Space Agency launches its first mission to the Moon with SMART-1, a space probe that has captured close-up images of the lunar surface.

October: Google is starting talks for an IPO in 2004.

October 7-11: Visitors to CEATEC 2003 were treated to flips and kicks from Morph3, a humanoid robot with martial arts movements.

November 15-21: SC 03, the International Conference for High Performance Computing, sees a demonstration of a prototype of Blue Gene, a joint project by IBM (including Professor Jim Sexton of Trinity College Dublin) to build a supercomputer 10 times more powerful than the current world leader.

November 26: The Concorde supersonic jet takes off for its last flight.

December 16: O2 signs an agreement with Aer Lingus to establish the first wireless access point to Dublin Airport in the Gold Circle and the airline’s Premier Class Lounge.

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