by CIO Staff

Top Ten IT News Stories of the Week: Veterans’ Data Lost

May 26, 20066 mins

1. “U.S. Agency Loses Data Containing 26 Million IDs,”

Network World, 5/22. U.S. veterans woke up to an unpleasant possibility this week that they might become victims of identity theft. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) revealed that it suffered a massive data theft earlier this month. Violating agency policy, a VA analyst took home a laptop containing unencrypted personal data on up to 26.5 million VA clients, and then that laptop was stolen in a burglary. So far, there’s no evidence of any identity theft, but there are already calls for the head of the VA to resign, particularly in light of previous cybersecurity missteps at the agency.

2. “Microsoft Releases Vista, Longhorn, Office Betas,”, 5/23. You know how it is when you’re waiting for beta versions of software, nothing happens, then all of a sudden three of them arrive at once. That was the case this week as Microsoft took the unprecedented step of simultaneously releasing betas of three of its major software releases: Windows Vista, Office 2007 and Windows Server, also code-named Longhorn. In part, the synchronized beta releases are to demonstrate how the products might be used together. On the other hand, the software giant is looking to damp down some of the recent heat it’s drawn for delaying the final shipping dates for consumer versions of Office 2007 and Vista.

3. “Ballmer: Vista Consumer Launch Could Slip Further,”, 5/24. Perhaps he’ll blame it on the jetlag, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in Asia this week appeared in two minds about exactly when the consumer version of Vista will ship. In Tokyo, he said Vista’s shipping date may be pushed back beyond January 2007, depending on how the beta version of the operating system is received and which date appeals more to hardware vendors. Then, in Seoul, Ballmer appeared to contradict himself, stating that Vista is still on track to ship in January.

4. “Korean Antitrust Watchdog Rejects Microsoft Appeal,”, 5/23. Staying with South Korea, Ballmer’s visit to the country came in the same week that the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) rejected the software giant’s appeal. The Korean watchdog concluded in February that Microsoft had violated the country’s competition laws, and ordered the vendor to pay a US$35.2 million fine and offer two versions of its Windows XP operating system in the local market that aren’t so tightly bundled with its Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger software. Microsoft has until Aug. 24 to comply with the decision, but is looking to the Seoul High Court to issue a stay on the KFTC’s judgment.

5. “Google Knocks Microsoft Off Dell PCs,”

PC World, 5/25. At first glance, the direct PC vendor’s plan to dump Gates Inc. for Google might look like a major setback for Microsoft. Next week, Dell plans to preinstall Google’s homepage and search tools on its new consumer and small-to-midsize business desktops and notebooks, replacing offerings from Microsoft. But Dell’s embracing of Google actually plays into the argument Microsoft is making to the European Union that the software giant doesn’t have a complete lockdown on the desktop software market.

6. “Intel CIO John Johnson Talks Up Mobility,”Computerworld, 5/24. The chip giant discussed its five-year, US$25 million project to move staff away from reliance on desktop PCs and over to using laptops and smart phones as their primary work computers. With 85 percent of its employees now using laptops, Intel has seen two hours per week per worker of improved productivity, according to Johnson. On the smart phone side, Intel has 6,000 in use so far and is piloting a way to use the device so that staff can access the vendor’s ERP applications.

7. “RIM CEO: Patent Reform Still Needed,”, 5/25. Well, he would say that, won’t he? With Research in Motion (RIM) facing yet another patent infringement lawsuit, it’s no surprise the company’s chairman and co-CEO, Jim Balsillie, would congratulate the U.S. government on efforts to reform the patent process. Such reforms may make it tougher for companies to claim patent infringements to obtain court injunctions. But there’s much more work to be done, according to Balsillie, and he also called for the U.S. government to push for intellectual property protection worldwide to reduce software piracy.

8. “Oracle CSO Lambastes Faulty Coding,”, 5/25. In a world where marketingspeak and acronyms can fog up the IT atmosphere, Mary Ann Davidson is like a breath of fresh air. The Oracle chief security officer talked frankly this week about how software developers often turn a blind eye toward potential security issues when writing their code. Poorly written code can contain vulnerabilities that can easily be exploited by hackers. The problem originates from what developers are being taught at universities, Davidson said, with educational institutions needing to do a better job of teaching secure coding practices.

9. “Age Gap Hampers Technology Adoption,”InfoWorld, 5/23. As more of the newer Web 2.0 technologies appear in enterprises, tension is growing between younger and older employees, according to Andy Mulholland, the chief technology officer of consulting firm Capgemini. While staff under 35 are rushing to embrace the new technologies, in effect creating their own IT departments to support that activity, workers over 45 may prefer the older, more rigid approach to technology of a much slower rate of adoption, he said.

10. “New Nike Shoes Talk to People Via Their IPods,”Network World, 5/23. While you can’t talk to your shoes yet, they can start to communicate with you. Apple and shoes equipment vendor Nike have teamed up so that runners wearing specialized jogging shoes can find out information from their shoes, including the distance and time they have covered in their daily jog. The Nike+iPod Sport Kit consists of a sensor chip implanted in Nike shoes, which uses a wireless system to relay information to a receiver that attaches to an iPod nano player.

-China Martens (IDG News Service)

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