Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week

Microsoft vs. Google's DoubleClick deal, eBay data theft, Gmail hit by Zero Day and more...

1. "Microsoft Launches Campaign Against Google-DoubleClick,"

Network World, September 24

"Microsoft, Others Protest Google's DoubleClick Deal,"

PC World, September 22

Microsoft paired with PR and marketing firm Burson-Marstellar on the Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplace, which seems aimed at building support for pushing regulators to possibly block Google's proposed acquisition of DoubleClick. The companies don't say outright that's what they're up to, but the principles listed on an iCOMP petition leave little room for doubt. The two companies had planned to announce iCOMP in a few weeks, but media reports beat them to the punch so that words of the initiative came out the same week that a congressional subcommittee held a hearing about Google's $3.1 billion bid for DoubleClick. Microsoft's general counsel was among those who spoke out against the deal, arguing that it would give Google too much dominance in search-based advertising and online display advertising.

2. "Phishing Likely to Blame for eBay Members' Data Theft,"

Computerworld, September 28, 2007

An e-mail phishing scam seems the most likely route used by whoever obtained and then posted confidential information about some 1,200 eBay members on a discussion forum of the auction site. The criminal (or criminals -- it's not known yet who or how many were involved) didn't hack into eBay systems, the company said of the incident, which occurred on Tuesday and led to the Trust & Safety forum being taken offline about an hour after someone began posting personal data. Credit card numbers included in the data appear to have been faked to "cause public concern," an eBay spokeswoman said. All of the affected users have been contacted by telephone, eBay said.

3. "Apple Releases iPhone Update 1.1.1,"

Macworld, September 22

Apple Update Disables Unlocked iPhones," Macworld, September 27

Apple released its iPhone update, adding a number of features and providing security fixes. Some iPhone users who downloaded the update quickly learned that Apple meant business when it said that unlocking the phones to enable their use with service providers other than AT&T, which has an exclusive contract with Apple, could mean that iPhones would be disabled with updates. A message saying that the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card was no good greeted users of unlocked phones after they installed the update. Apple had said that it found that "many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet "cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed." At least they had warned users.

4. "Enterprises Warned to Approach Web 2.0 with Caution,"

Network World, September 27

Although comments from AjaxWorld attendees indicated that IBM's Danny Allan put some fear into them, he says he meant to educate enterprise IT types about the need to prepare for Web 2.0, not to make them freak out. He offered his expertise on developing enterprise Web 2.0 applications on Ajax, but that's such new terrain for most people that comments such as "unsettled," "scary" and "now, I'm depressed" were among those offered by attendees. Web 2.0 is such a hot area with the rise of YouTube, Wikipedia and the like, but the social networking that comes with enterprise Web. 2.0 is distinctly different, focused on collaboration and efficiency. It was clear from the conference that IT administrators are trying to work through exactly what enterprise Web 2.0 means to them and their companies. Meanwhile, for those feeling stressed, there's nothing like spending a little time at YouTube to cheer you right up.

5. "Number of Malicious E-mails Bearing Bad Links Balloons Tenfold,"

Computerworld, September 27

Security company MessageLabs offers the worrisome news of the week, with word that since the first quarter of the year the percentage of e-mails containing links to malicious sites instead of malicious file attachments has mushroomed. Embedded links are now the lure in 35 percent of e-mail threats detected by the company. At the start of the year, malicious links accounted for 3.3 percent of intercepted threats, while the percentage rose to 20.2 percent in the following quarter. Often, the linked sites are legitimate, but have been compromised by miscreants who use unpatched vulnerabilities to get at victims' computers and data.

6. "Microsoft Gives Stay of Execution to XP,"

Techworld, September 28

OEMs and retail outlets will be able to seel PCs with Windows XP for five months beyond what Microsoft originally planned. The company was going to stop selling XP through those channels on Jan. 31 of next year, with custom-build shops having another full year beyond that. Because PCs loaded with the Vista OS have been less robust than expected, Microsoft says it will extend XP's availability until June 30 of next year through OEMs and retailers.

7. U.S. Faces Competitive Disadvantage from Lack of Women in Tech Jobs,"

Computerworld, September 25

The U.S. is at a disadvantage because there are so few women and minorities in technology jobs, Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, warned this wee at an MIT conference. He was joined by others sounding the alarm that too few women hold academic posts in science, engineering and tech, and that such a situation is mirrored in companies. Women who are in those fields are likely to face discrimination, according to a study by The National Academies. Birgeneau noted that there are no women of color in the top 50 university computer science department jobs in the U.S. Decrying the lack of diversity, he summed up the angst of many when he said, "It's an astounding waste of talent in an increasingly competitive world."

8. "Microsoft Blogger Accidentally Leaks Office Mobile Upgrade,"

InfoWorld, September 28

Whoops! A reminder about the potential pitfalls of employee blogging comes to us from Microsoft, where someone with the Windows Mobile group in the U.K. wrote on a blog that Office Mobile 6.1 is available, including a link to the download. The company's external PR firm says that the upgrade was there for internal testing. It's public availability was accidental, according to the firm. But even after that explanation, the blog post remained up, although the download page wasn't accessible.

9. "Gmail Hit by Zero Day,"

Techworld, September 27

Google's Gmail can be hacked easily, allowing past and future messages to be forwarded to the hacker's inbox, researcher Petko Petkov warned. He won't release details of the vulnerability, but offered enough information to make it clear just how nasty the problem could be. The problem could start with a victim going to a malicious Web site (see number five above) while still logged into a Gmail account. An HTML command could then upload files to a Gmail API and then put a rogue filter into the user's filter list. Google didn't confirm the vulnerability or say if it plans to patch it. An online comment about Petkov's finding suggested that a Firefox extension could block such exploits.

10. "Huwai, Investment Fund to Buy 3Com for $2B,"

InfoWorld, September 28

Huawei Technologies and Bain Capital are buying 3Com for $2 billion. 3Com and Huawei had a joint venture in the past that 3Com bought Huawei out of last November. That previous venture became H3C Technologies and as part of the acquisition deal this week, Huawei agreed that it won't compete with 3Com in certain markets; Huawei has remained one of H3C's biggest customers. Rumors that 3Com was on the auction block have swirled this year, so the news will lay those to rest.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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