by CIO Staff

Top Ten IT News Stories of the Week: U.S. Diplomats Step Up in Microsoft’s EU Antitrust Case

Mar 31, 20065 mins
IT Leadership

1. “U.S. Diplomats Step Up in Microsoft’s EU Antitrust Case,”, 3/31. Microsoft is making a last-ditch stand in its ongoing antitrust fight with the European Commission to try to stave off the imposition of daily maximum fines of US$2.4 million by the commission. The two parties are facing off in two days of hearings. Microsoft appears to have a powerful ally in its corner, the U.S. government, which is expressing concern over the software giant’s treatment by the commission. At the same time, the commission laid out antitrust concerns it already has about Vista, Microsoft’s next operating system, in relation to software bundling and interoperability issues.

2. “Google Zaps Official Blog by Mistake,”

PC World, 3/28. It was a case of oops, they did it again this week for the search engine company. The latest in a string of public gaffes saw Google staff accidentally delete the firm’s main official blog, a key communication vehicle for the vendor. A user unaffiliated with Google temporarily took over the Web address and, fortunately for the company, did nothing evil. Adding this mishap to other recent leaks of confidential data by the company amounts to a worrying trend, according to analysts.

3. “Gates Lays Out Future of Enterprise Apps,”, 3/28. Microsoft’s chairman was in full visionary mode this week at the software giant’s Convergence business software user conference. Bill Gates gave a picture of the future world of work full of touch screens, fingerprint authentication, and combined work and home calendars. He also demonstrated a ‘smart’ table that Microsoft Research is working on that can function as a large ad hoc screen for mobile devices.

4. “Hacker Hits Georgia State Database Via Hole in Security Software,”Computerworld, 3/30. A hacker was able to exploit an unpatched flaw in a security program to gain access to a Georgia Technology Authority database last month. The attack exposed confidential information on more than 570,000 members of the state’s pension plans. It’s the second major breach involving the GTA in under a year. Last April, a state employee was found to have downloaded personal data belonging to more than 450,000 members of Georgia’s health benefits plans onto a home computer.

5. “GAO: IRS Still Putting Sensitive Taxpayer Data at Risk,”Computerworld, 3/27. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has yet to fully strengthen its information security systems to protect taxpayers’ personal information. Although the IRS has made some progress, fixing 41 of 81 specific technical weaknesses the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified last year, the GAO’s latest report suggests more still remains to be done, particularly in relation to the use and storage of passwords.

6. “Groups Protest Lack of Net Neutrality in New Bill,”, 3/28. Consumer advocacy groups warned that a new telecommunications reform bill in the U.S. Congress could lead to the demise of the Internet. They contended that the proposed bill would effectively gut existing Net neutrality rules that prohibit large broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to Web content and services from competitors.

7. “Banks Hit With New Spoofing Attacks,”PC World, 3/30. In an attack security experts said is the first of its kind, hackers targeted a trio of Florida banks. The attackers broke into servers run by an Internet service provider that was hosting all three bank websites and then redirected traffic from the legitimate bank websites to a bogus server. Users entering the correct URL for their bank unwittingly found themselves on the bogus server, where they were asked for their credit card and personal information numbers.

8. “British Court Hears Apple v Apple and ‘Le Freak,’ “

The New York Times, 3/30. Apple’s woes in Europe continue, this time in a U.K. courtroom. The Beatles’ record company, Apple Corps, alleges that the IT vendor’s iTunes digital music store violates a 1991 trademark agreement between the two firms that forbade Apple Computer from using the apple logo should it enter the music business. Apple Computer maintains that iTunes is a mere conduit for digital music transmission. A lawyer for Apple Corps claimed the record company rejected an offer from Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs to buy the rights to the Apple Records name for US$1 million in 2003.

9. “CEO’s First Year Stabilizes HP,” San Jose Mercury News, 3/29. Twelve months in and Hewlett-Packard’s Mark Hurd seems to have achieved his stated goal of making the company less exciting but more stable than his predecessor, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Dubbed the “anti-Carly,” Hurd has coaxed profitability out of every HP business segment, mostly by dramatic cost cutting and the planned layoff of 15,300 staff. What’s still not certain is whether Hurd can really grow HP’s revenue, according to analysts.

10. “Sony’s Renaissance Geek,”BusinessWeek, 3/27. As Sony’s going through the equivalent of a midlife crisis, the consumer electronics company is looking to a former Apple executive to help try and return the vendor to its former glories. Tim Schaaf joined Sony in December as the firm’s senior vice president for software development, and his main mission is to improve device interoperability, perhaps coming up with an equivalent technology for Sony to the one he helped spearhead for Apple—QuickTime.

-China Martens, IDG News Service

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