by CIO Staff

Week in Review: Microsoft, the FBI and Passwords

Feb 17, 20065 mins

Compiled by China Martens — IDG News Service

1. “Microsoft Responds To EC Complaints,” InfoWorld, 2/15.

Time’s running out for Gates Inc. in its standoff with the European Commission over whether or not the software giant has complied with a 2004 antitrust ruling over server interoperability. With the Commission still on track to impose US$1 million a day fines on Microsoft for noncompliance backdated to Dec. 15, the vendor submitted its formal response to the charges. Microsoft claims it has fully complied with the 2004 ruling, saying hundreds of its staff and contractors have worked more than 30,000 hours to generate over 12,000 pages of technical documentation. The Commission is considering Microsoft’s response.

2. “FBI Director: Cyberthreats ’Fluid and Far-Reaching,” PC World, 2/15.

In order to effectively take on today’s sophisticated cybercriminals, the FBI needs to step up its collaboration with companies and international law enforcement agencies. FBI Director Robert Mueller encouraged attendees at the RSA Security conference to notify the authorities if they are the victims of cybercrimes. As the agency strengthens ties with its international counterparts, the FBI has the ability to place operatives in nations where cybercriminals appear to be based such as Estonia and Romania.

3. “Gates: End To Passwords In Sight,” CNET, 2/14.

Also speaking at RSA, Microsoft’s Bill Gates talked up a new security capability coming in his company’s Windows Vista operating system later this year. InfoCard is a way of centrally managing Internet log-in names and passwords as well as enabling third parties to help verify online identities, he said. Gates’ ultimate vision is to do away with computer passwords altogether, perhaps within the next three to four years. InfoCard is Microsoft’s second crack at authentication technology since its tepidly received Passport single sign-on service in 1999.

4. “Bill Would Bar US Firms From Putting Servers In China,” Computerworld, 2/16.

More bad news for Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco. A day after members of the U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee chided the vendors for helping Chinese authorities censor the Internet, the chairman of that hearing proposed the Global Online Freedom Act. The legislation would forbid U.S. Internet firms from locating Web servers in countries like China and Vietnam that attempt to restrict the Internet. Penalties for violating the restrictions would include a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of US$2 million.

5. “IBM Bets $1 Billion On Information Management,” Network World, 2/16.

Big Blue plans to invest US$1 billion over the next three years to develop a software and consulting services business focused on information management. The company intends to increase its existing staff in this area from 15,000 to around 25,000. Globalization, mergers and regulatory compliance are placing more pressure on businesses to better manage their information, according to IBM.

6. “Ex-Enron Chief Lied Often About Web Unit, Witness Says,” The New York Times, 2/14.

Kenneth Rice, the former head of Enron’s broadband Internet division, took the stand this week in the criminal trial of former company executives Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay. According to Rice, Skilling lied repeatedly about Enron’s broadband business, talking up its financial health, while in reality, the unit had virtually no customers and was laying off staff. At one point in early 2001, Enron even tried to sell off some of its fiber optic network to Microsoft, but Gates Inc. wasn’t interested.

7. “CA’s Kumar Erased Evidence From His Hard Drive, U.S. Says,” InfoWorld, 2/16. Although not scheduled to go to trial until April 24, a court document has revealed a piece of the U.S. government’s evidence in the accounting fraud case against the former CEO of software vendor Computer Associates Sanjay Kumar. The document alleges that Kumar reformatted his laptop to run the Linux operating system after the government begun investigating CA, resulting in the erasure of potential evidence.

8. “Study: Women CIOs Are Rare In California,” Computerworld, 2/16.

Only four of the 200 largest public companies in the Golden State have female CIOs, according to a recent report by the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Business. The report’s authors hope their study will act as a benchmark in future years to measure the progress of women in being chosen for executive roles.

9. “India’s Outsourcing Industry Is Facing A Labor Shortage,” The New York Times, 2/16.

The biggest threat to India’s continued dominance in global outsourcing is a problem other nations including the U.S. are already grappling with — a shortage of skilled IT workers. Although the country is producing plenty of raw talent in terms of new graduates, not all of them have all the necessary business skills along with their IT talents, according to experts. The Indian government and corporations are already hard at work to set up certification and training programs to better equip graduates for the workplace.

10. “New Microchips Shun Transistors,” Wired, 2/14.

Imagine a microprocessor powering your computer that would enable almost instantaneous bootup, with a memory that would be impervious to power interruptions and would retain data when the computer’s turned off. Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have a working prototype of such a chip which relies on magnetism instead of electrical transistors. Based on magnetic patterning technology, the chip uses arrays of separate magnetic domains which each maintain their own magnetic field.