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Digital TV war of words

The gloves are off in the fight for pre-eminence in the UK digital television market. Following last Wednesday's launch of British Interactive Broadcasting, which offers digital programming via satellite dishes, Telewest Communications plc has once again vaulted into the ring. Not content with simply declaring its quarterly results, Telewest, which claims to be the UK's leading cable operator, felt the need to issue a caustic rebuttal to BIB's fanfare launch. CEO Stephen Davidson dismissed news of the rival launch as "old hat" and accused the BIB of having already fallen six months behind schedule. He questioned whether the company was relevant to mosthouseholds in the UK, claiming that two out of three new customers subscribing to BSkyB's existing programmes choose to do so via cable and not by using a satellite dish.

IBM's 'uncrackable' code

IBM claims to have developed a virtually uncrackable encryption mechanism that can generate random codes for scrambling the information transmitted in electronic communications, each of which is as difficult to crack as the hardest instance of the underlying mathematical problem itself. The mechanism is said to be an improvement over other public key encryption schemes, which currently cannot guarantee that each code is as difficult to crack as another and therefore make a system inherently weak. However, while the security of a system depends in part on how difficult it is for a hacker to crack the code, it also depends on how easy it is for the hacker to break into the system in the first place. Public key encryption works by scrambling information using a publicly known numerical key that can be decoded by a private key known only to the recipient. The IBM researchers have supposedly cracked a mathematical problem that has defied solution for 150 years. It could make e-commerce safer and more appealing to users, although its implementation in any usable form is thought to be a long way offn