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Blitz on hackers Hackers, beware; the spooks are on your trail. A spokesperson for the Office of Public Service and Science has confirmed that MI5 is now in charge of investigating incidents of computer hacking, virus infection and software theft. Previously such tasks had been the within the remit of the Government Centre for Information Systems, which was responsible to Parliament. The shift of powers is now likely to preclude any such accountability.

Dial-up rates cut CompuServe, the American commercial information provider, has announced cuts of up to 72 per cent in connection charges as well offering more free on-line services. The move is in response to anticipated strong competition from the Microsoft Network, which will be launched in tandem with Windows 95 this August.

Eyes front, please Nosy neighbours can make using a computer in a public place a nervous experience. To address the security problems posed by this "shoulder surfing" phenomenon, Incoms Systems has launched a range of clip-on security filters to ensure that only the person directly in front can view on-screen information. Two of the four big high street banks have installed the filters on their front office computer screens, an action perhaps characteristic of the banks' near-paranoid reluctance to allow customers access to information concerning their own accounts. Inquiries, 081-838 0077.

Netlink card Barclaycard, belatedly climbing aboard the Internet bandwagon, offers information and limited services to customers via the Net. Lucky Web users will now be able to request a Barclaycard application form and will soon be able to exchange Barclaycard Profiles points for gifts. Customers will be able to quiz the firm about their accounts. But they may find the answers less than useful: confidential responses will not be made via the Internet due to security fears. To allay customers' concernsabout possible hacking into their accounts, the company has installed a special "firewall" security system to prevent Internet users from reaching files other than those designed for public access. Barclaycard Netlink is at http://www.barclaycard.co.uk Bug warning Following Intel's problems with the Pentium chip, Microsoft's Excel 5.0 spreadsheet software is the latest computer product to suffer from a bug. The problem only affects network users, who have been quick to contact the company's helplines. Micro-soft i s advising users of ways to avoid updating problems when sharing spreadsheets - but insists that the bug does not affect revision C of the program, released in November.

Fax storage Users of the Delrina's popular WinFax PRO 4.0 fax software can now make use of a new personal deposit and retrieve service. Delrina Fax MailBox will receive and store faxes until the user is able to retrieve them by simply dialling a premium rate number and entering a password. The service will appeal to users who want to receive faxes without having to leave their PCs running overnight or install a dedicated phone line for a fax machine.

Novell unveiling Novell, market leaders in networking software, has announced the release of NetWare 4.1, touted as the world's most advanced network operating tool for businesses. The company expects the network operating system market to shift quickly from NetWare 3 to NetWare 4 - a migration encouraged by the fact that the price of both products will now be comparable. Inquiries 0344 724000.

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