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Valve blows a data gasket

Several reminders about the importance of data protection this week, from either side of the Pond. In the UK, the TV company behind such hit series' as Grange Hill, Brookside, and that cipher for modern despair Hollyoaks, was revealed to be exposing the CVs of thousands of job applicants going back years. It denied it, we had proof. The Information Commissioner "expressed concern"...so that's all right then.

Cable and Wireless, meanwhile, seems to have lost at least the phone numbers of 100,000 Bulldog ISP subscribers. Legal action is underway against the ne'er-do-wells who're using the numbers to make irritating direct marketing calls, and the Information Commissioner says it hasn't received any complaints from aggrieved Bulldog customers, but it's taking a keen interest in the case...sort of.

Firms might in future be able to avoid the wrath of the Information Commissioner's feared letter writing department, however. According to the Court of Appeal, the selection and collation of information from several files held on a person does not necessarily count as processing of personal data.

In the US, Valve, the developer of hit online shoot fests Half Life and Counter Strike, could be in some real data bother. A hacker claims to have broken into its management system for cyber cafe owners, bagging thousands of credit card numbers on the way. He's threatening to publish them if Valve doesn't cop to poor security. No public response from the firm yet. It should be careful - users don't go back to sites that have been hacked, according to research.

If that doesn't scare you, it should, according to Cisco. Its survey said malware collywobbles are soooo 2006, and data theft is now the top reason for sleepless nights among IT chiefs.

I-D-F-off

An exciting week in chip land, which has relocated to Beijing. Yep, Intel Developer Forum (IDF) time. Again. Already.

In a festival of profoundly silly codenamery, Intel said it's going to build WiMax into laptops next year, outlined its contribution to the "Geneseo" plan to update PCI Express, and talked up sales forecasts for the next generation of Centrino chipsets.

Centrino for Ultra Mobile PCs, or "Stealy", was unveiled, as was its replacement "Siverthorne", the first CPU Intel has designed from ground up specifically for such devices. Benchmarks for new dual and quad-core "Penryn" chips were looking tasty, which is nice, because Intel relly wants you to play with its parts.

You can see grizzled IDF veteran Ashlee Vance's IDF photo diary here. He caused a panic in Intel's codenaming bunker by pointing out that "Gesher", the 32nm next generation technology, had slight Zionist connotations.

Happy days for Intel though, with AMD chalking up a quarterly loss of $611m. Intel's profits were $1.61bn.

You can browse our extensive IDF coverage here.

Google: has the skills to pay the bills investors (rhyming now banned)

Google was a busy bunny too. After ending last week with a $3.1bn swoop on online ads broker DoubleClick from under Microsoft's nose, Redmond threw its rattle out of the pram this week, calling on regulators to investigate the merger as anti-competitive. And Microsoft should know - it's still counting the cost of its own anti-competitive behaviour, this week forking ut $180m to Iowans.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt took time out from rebuffing pitches from desperate social media start-ups at the Web 2.0 Expo to rubbish the claims.

He also showcased the last piece in the Google's Apps jigsaw: a presentations add-on for Docs and Spreadsheets. It's definitely NOT a competitor to PowerPoint though. OK? Good. PowerPoint presentations don't even work anyway, if you believe Guy Kewney.

We marked the final completion of Google's inevitable corporate sense of humour bypass by mourning the death of Froogle. If your firm has something similarly embarrassing which is still indexed by Google, Mountain View deigned to give webmasters an easy route to removing old content from the search engine and cache.

The firm closed out the week by delivering earnings which beat even the most Google-loving Wall Street analysts' expectations. Schmidt said he was "ecstatic".

Contrast that with Yahoo! boss Terry Semel, who had talked up the performance of its new Panama ads platform...prior to revealing yet another set of disappointing numbers. Yahoo!'s starting to look short of Google-catching ideas.

You got served

An attempt to disrupt a similarly ingrained hegemony crashed and burned this week. The Reg exclusively revealed that server start-up Fabric7 shut down. Despite impressive technology and affable executives, the firm managed less than two years in the server bearpit. Fabric7, we barely knew ye.

Ubuntu bangs the bongos

The investment required to build an enterprise hardware business from scratch is always going to make it a risky, er, enterprise. "Serial entrepreneur" Peter Dawe apparently knows this, so is sticking to repackaging something free: Linux. His new distribution BabelLinux is aimed at those who fear the kernel; i.e. their idea of a fun weekend doesn't involve having 100 shell windows open, a copy of Linux Device Drivers, and a large bag of cheese Doritos. It's ready to go straight away.

We're sure we've heard that one before...oh yeah we have...Um Bongo Ubuntu. The Congolese's preferred flavour of Linux got a big release this week. The addition of virtualisation support meant "Feisty Fawn", or version 7.04, had fans all in a tizz. So much so that they crashed the download servers.

More fuel for the open source fire came from researchers putting a number on how much its patent woes cost licensees: $21.50 per user. Ouch.

High fibre Britain

Peter Dawe must be following the travails of one of his previous start-ups with some sadness. ISP Pipex, having failed so far to find a buyer, delivered some pretty depressing results, and then laid off a bunch of customer support staff.

One of Pipex's rumoured ex-suitors, BT, is busying itself with its next generation network 21CN. The good people of Swansea will be the lucky pups who'll act as guinea pigs for nationwide migration to the £10bn technology. BT's calling the trial the "on the night" network, as in "it'll be all right". They hope.

The theoretical maximum for 21CN broadband is 24Mbits/s. Which is nice, but if you go along with the Broadband Stakeholders Group, it ain't good enough. For British business to compete, Ofcom needs to find a way of getting industry to invest in laying fibre to homes and businesses, ditching copper wires end-to-end.

We ran a wide-ranging interview with Ofcom chief Ed Richards here. No word on any plans for supercharging our interweb though.

The VoIP wars kick off

We hope Ofcom's following the controversy over mobile operators crippling new phones so they can't run VoIP software. The money-saving technology has been blocked on Nokia's new flagship, the N95, by Orange and Vodafone. It's not been done to protect voice revenues, honest. It's for your own good, said Vodafone. The technology's just not mature enough, you see, might not be a "solid end-to-end customer experience". DO YOU SEE?

The boss of VoIP outfit Truphone doesn't. He says the operators are breaking EU law. Expect this one to run and run.

Is it wrong to expose your holes?

What do you do when someone exposes your network vulnerabilities? If you're ISP Be* you slap them with the threat of legal action. The hole-exposing antics of London student Sid Karunaratne drew both anger and praise from Reg readers. See here for a heated debate.

It was with a sad inevitability we noted that malware authors jumped on the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Apple plugged 25 holes in its OS this week, so get updating if you use it. A salient reminder of how exploits can have a butterfly effect came from the US State Department, which said a MS Word zero-day attack on it began when a single email was opened in Asia. It led to the government losing unspecified data, a Congressional hearing heard.

Very clever, we're sure. But as it turns out, all you need to get someone's password is chocolate and a smile.

Borland lands some Texan land

An eerily quiet week in the normally razzle-dazzle world of big software. Oracle bought the intellectual property of AppForge, which it's reckoned will be used for the firm's mobile applications and portal strategy for developers on Microsoft's Visual Studio IDE. Elsewhere though, Oracle shut Redmond out of its data integrity drive, going all open source.

Borland upped sticks, moving from California to Austin. The most interesting thing we can say about that is that they might be able to pick up some cheap Texan real estate from Dell sometime soon. The PC builder's woes were highlighted again by Gartner's Q1 figures, which showed the market is buoyant...except for Dell.

The corporate executive most likely to... awards

How well do you know your finance chief? Shifty, is he? We only ask because the money men topped a survey this week of executives most likely to commit fraud. Somehow, we weren't surprised.

That's the lot for another week. And remember, alcohol increases the health benefits of fruit. Get to it. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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