by CIO Staff

Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week

Mar 23, 20077 mins
Enterprise Applications

1. “Oracle Sues SAP for ‘Corporate Theft,’ “

March 23,

News from IT companies is rarely of the jaw-dropping variety, but the lawsuit Oracle slapped SAP with this week is nothing short of stunning. Oracle alleges that IP addresses originating at a U.S. SAP subsidiary were used to illegally access Oracle’s customer support computer systems thousands of times and that SAP employees used log-in credentials of Oracle customers to copy software and support materials. The lawsuit alleges that SAP violated federal laws related to computer fraud and abuse (and a similar California law) and engaged in intentional negligent interference to obtain economic advantage. It also contends SAP engaged in unfair competition and civil conspiracy. Besides naming SAP as a defendant, Oracle filed the lawsuit against 50 unnamed individuals it says worked at SAP and whose identities it aims to uncover as its investigation continues.

2. “U.S. Agencies Given Deadline to Secure XP, Vista Configurations,”

March 21, Computerworld

U.S. government agencies are setting a good example, with a deadline established by de facto federal CIO Karen Evans for them to implement a common security configuration setting for Windows XP and Vista systems using standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other standards bodies. Agencies have until Feb. 1, 2008, to make the implementations, but they have until just May 1 of this year to tell the White House Office of Management and Budget their plans. Developed by NIST, the Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft and others, the standards establish basic configuration settings to secure Windows XP and Vista against common classes of threats. Government CIOs have to offer details on plans to test the configurations in nonproduction environments, how they will implement and automate enforcement of the settings and how they will restrict administration of the configurations. They’ve also got to be able to install Microsoft patches when new vulnerabilities are disclosed.

3. “Microsoft to Release VoIP Server Beta on Monday,”

March 21, InfoWorld

Microsoft will make available for public download the beta versions of its unified communications server and client software on Monday. Office Communications Server 2007, the company’s voice-over-IP (VoIP) server software, and Office Communicator 2007, its application for mobile devices, will be included in the beta. The software is compatible with gateways, phones and other servers that companies might already be using, according to a Microsoft executive. The server has been integrated with Office 2007, and both bits of the beta release have instant-messaging and video-conferencing functions.

4. “Survey: Most Corporate Boards Neglect IT Issues,”

March 22, Computerworld

This might not be saying anything that wasn’t at least suspected, but a Deloitte Consulting survey found that few boards of large companies surveyed take up the topic of IT with any regularity. A mere 10.5 percent of 455 directors at big companies said their boards discuss IT every time they meet. Nearly half of those surveyed said that IT issues come up only as the need arises. CIOs asked to respond weren’t at all surprised by the finding, with some charitably noting that directors might not feel confident in their knowledge of IT to discuss the topic. Not surprisingly, Deloitte found that CEOs have the influence to push IT as a discussion and oversight priority for boards, and suggested that the relationship between the CIO and the CEO is critical. Deloitte also found a “strong correlation” between boards that place more emphasis on IT and better financial performance.

5. “Study Exposes Search Spam,”

March 19, PC World

Companies may inadvertently be contributing to “search spam,” the links that pop up when searches are done and that are meant to drive traffic to sites and generate click-through advertising revenue. A research team from Microsoft and the University of California in Davis will present findings about how search spam works and how to avoid being caught up in it at the 16th International World Wide Web Conference in Banff, Alberta, in May. Legitimate companies can wind up with their ads on questionable sites because of redirections that “obfuscate the connection between the advertisers and the spammers,” the researchers wrote. A business might buy advertising from a syndicator, who buys space on high-traffic webpages from an aggregator who in turn buys traffic from Web spammers. The spammers set up millions of “doorway” pages that show up high in search-engine rankings and who distribute URLs as comments in user blogs and the like. As a consequence of what they uncovered, the researchers conclude that advertisers’ money funds search spam.

6. “Father of Fortran Programming Language Dies,”

March 20,

The industry paused this week to remember John Backus, who led development of Fortran, the first mainstream programming language. He died at his home in Oregon last Saturday at the age of 82. An IBM programmer in the 1950s, Backus was remembered as something of a renegade, wearing jeans to work and to events at a time when IBM was much more formal in its approach. He was also remembered as key to IBM’s push to simplify computer programming. Fortran debuted in 1957 and was seen at the time as an enormous advance. News of his death prompted fond Fortran memories on IT blogs and message boards across the Internet.

7. “FCC to Examine Net Neutrality,”

March 23,

The FCC has decided it will study business practices of high-speed ISPs and contemplate whether it should impose regulations to ensure that all Web traffic is treated the same. The FCC has seemed to resist taking a stand on net neutrality, so Democrats in Congress and others who want the agency to state a firmer position on the matter have stepped up their calls for that. At issue will be whether the FCC should prevent ISPs from creating a tiered network where content providers willing to pay more have access to faster connections than those who don’t want to or can’t afford to pay more.

8. “RFID Threats: Don’t Be Alarmed, but Be Aware,”

March 22, Network World

The ongoing news stories of the past few weeks about the security flaws and hazards of RFID were met this week with more moderating advice and a reminder that most of the information enterprises are allowing to be stored on RFID tags is so far not valuable. That will undoubtedly change over time, but the use of RFID is still early enough along that steps can be taken to decrease risks, experts said this week. Those in charge of IT need to understand the technology, how it works and how it can be compromised, and develop a plan for its use in their companies. And it’s best to do that sooner rather than later because the likes of Wal-Mart and the U.S. Department of Defense are using RFID and requiring their suppliers to use it too, which will speed the rate of adoption.

9. “Report: CIOs Use Web 2.0 Tools to Keep Up with the Competition,”

March 20, Computerworld

Businesses under competitive pressure if they don’t keep up with new collaborative tools are turning to Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis and RSS, according to a recent survey of CIOs conducted by Forrester. CIOs told Forrester that improved employee efficiency and fear of competition drive the move toward use of blogs, wikis, RSS, social networking, content tagging, podcasts and other wonders of Web 2.0. So much for the notion that such technologies are a passing fad among home computer users and teenagers with too much time on their hands.

10. “NBC, News Corp. Team Up for YouTube Rival,”

March 22, PC World

Speaking of those with too much time on their hands, YouTube is going to have a rival from News Corp. and NBC Universal, which plan to launch a video-streaming site by the third quarter. The site involves a promotion deal with AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo, and the power of those online monoliths means the new site will reach 65 million viewers, the companies said in announcing the deal. They plan to keep viewers entranced with free TV brought to them by advertising from a variety of partners, and they also aim to create an interactive Web community.

-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service

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