Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week: Retailer TJX Reports Massive Data Breach

1. "Retailer TJX Reports Massive Data Breach,"InfoWorld, Jan. 17

A security breach in mid-December at TJX Companies in Massachusetts may have exposed credit and debit card numbers of shoppers in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada, and possibly the United Kingdom and Ireland. The incident, revealed this week, put the focus on security vulnerabilities of network systems used to store customer transaction data. TJX owns TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, A.J. Wright, Winners and Bob’s Stores. Transactions processed during 2003 and between May and December last year might have been accessed in the incident, which the company said affects all credit card brands accepted at TJX stores. The breach is believed to be one of the most significant since a global rash of debit card fraud last March after a major unidentified retailer’s system was hacked. The TJX incident has led to a renewed push from credit card companies to get retailers to implement PCI requirements.

2. "Oracle Releases 51 Patches in Quarterly Security Update,"

Computerworld, Jan. 16

Oracle’s regularly scheduled software security release included 51 patches, including 26 for flaws in database products. Of those patches, 10 fix vulnerabilities that Oracle says could be exploited remotely without a user name or password. The company also released 12 fixes for Application Server vulnerabilities, eight of which were rated critical because they could be exploited remotely without user authentication. Patches for three PeopleSoft vulnerabilities also were released. 3. "Cisco Takes First Step to Revamp Its Software Model,"Computerworld, Jan. 17

Cisco has simplified its software distribution model for routers and switches and for a software tool that helps users manage large networks. Internetworking Operating System software will whip with new routers and switchers, with users activating feature packages using software license keys. The aim is to make it easier for network managers to deploy the software and add features, and this is the first step in a plan to change how Cisco sells and distributes that software. At some point this quarter, the revamped version of the IOS will ship, with every feature and release train included. Three feature set levels will be available for activation soon, Cisco said.

4. "HP Continues to Put Software House in Order,"Network World, Jan. 17

HP has created a new unit to combine business intelligence and information management, which had been spread across the company. The Business Information Optimization unit is part of HP’s ongoing software operations reorganization. One group of the unit will focus on business intelligence, chiefly data warehousing and analytics, with the other group focused on information management, including data archiving. The company doesn’t aim to get into the business intelligence market, but to strengthen partnerships with companies that already have that focus, according to an HP executive.

5. "Dell Enters Rugged Notebook Market,"Computerworld, Jan. 16

Dell released its first "semirugged" notebook PC aimed at users who have to contend with abusive vibration, humidity, altitude and dust. While many notebook users could make the case for such use at one time or another, the rugged work of construction workers, military and police, and ambulance and fire truck drivers are the audiences Dell has in mind. The shock-mounted, 80GB hard drive is surrounded by rubber, so it can withstand being dropped. The computer also has a spill-resistant keyboard, port covers and an extra-bright LCD. It shares common parts with a previous Latitude notebook from Dell, which should boost its appeal to IT managers, the company said.

6. "E.U. Closer to Antitrust Charges Against Intel,"Infoworld, Jan. 17

Formal antitrust charges against Intel in Europe could be in the offing, various news reports said. Officials investigating the case have told European Union Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes to move ahead with legal action, the reports said. The European Commission has been looking into Intel’s business practices for more than six years, after rival AMD complained that Intel was pressuring computer makers to keep using its chips, luring them with rebates. AMD considers that coercive and anticompetitive. In 2005, Japanese regulators found Intel’s rebates are illegal; Intel appealed that ruling. AMD continues to pursue an antitrust case against Intel in U.S. federal court, and South Korea also is looking into the company’s business practices.

7.  "Telecommute. Kill a Career?"Network World, Jan. 17

In troubling news, a survey of 1,320 global executives by search firm Korn/Ferry International found that 60 percent of them say telecommuters are less likely to advance in their careers compared to those who work in offices. Company executives want to see their employees. But here’s the irony: 78 percent said that telecommuters are equally or even more productive than employees who work in the office (perhaps proving that seeing is believing?), and 48 percent said they would personally consider a job that lets them telecommute regularly. It’s unlikely the survey results will stop telecommuters in their tracks—the number of teleworkers is more than 45 million, up from some 4 million in 1990.

8. "Nortel and Microsoft Take Aim at Cisco,"BusinessWeek, Jan. 18

At Rockefeller Center’s Studio 8H, which is the home of Saturday Night Live, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Nortel’s Mike Zafirovski showed off three products and services they say will be out this year as part of the company’s partnership announced six months ago. The unified communications initiative is meant to link computers and phones so that workers can use e-mail, video conferencing, voice, instant messages and other features no matter which device they are using. Nortel has opened 20 centers where customers can see technology demonstrations and plans 80 more centers globally by the middle of the year, with the aim of boosting the company’s services business.

9. "Microsoft Pushes Premium Versions of Windows Vista,"CIO.com, Jan. 18

Microsoft will make Vista available for purchase via Internet downloads, marking the first time the company has followed that route for a Windows OS. The company is also going to make Microsoft Office 2007 available at Windows Marketplace—another first for the productivity suite. In August, Microsoft revamped Windows Marketplace, adding Digital Locker, a feature that tracks a customer’s license key.

10. "HP Furthers Effort to Keep Moore’s Law Healthy," 

CIO.com, Jan. 16

HP researchers say they might have figured out how to keep Moore’s Law alive by making more powerful, less power-hungry chips. The method of using a "crossbar switch" to more efficiently route signals inside an FPGA chip could lead to chips with more transistors on the board. The company is calling its new technology field programmable nanowire interconnect, or FPNI for short. HP hopes to have a prototype chip ready within a year. Production of chips containing a 15-nanometer crossbar could begin by 2010 if all goes well.

-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service

Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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