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Reducing security risks from open source software

Google, google everywhere and not a drop to drink

Google says it will probably bid for a share of the US's wireless spectrum, due to be carved up for auction in January next year.

The firm also announced substantial investment in China, where it currently plays second fiddle to homegrown search engine Baidu. The company piled cash into "four or five" local websites, including Tianya.cn.

Playing nice

Microsoft and Cisco promised compatibility this week, pledging that their products will work well together, despite competing for market share. Cisco chief John Chambers said the two companies have invested about $40m for joint work and have over 140 people involved with the two companies making nice.

Cisco also announced fixes for a swathe of vulnerabilities in its IP phone. The flaws render the phones vulnerable to crashing. The 7940/7960 hansets are affected. But patches are not always good news, as we shall see.

IP making too much progress?

A survey from Dimension Data suggests companies are failing to unify their IP-technology policies at the cost of security and stability. Thirty-seven per cent of the 390 companies surveyed are already using VoIP, with 34 per cent looking to invest in the next two years. In the UK the figure is closer to 42 per cent, and as much as 85 per cent in India.

Patchy service

Security and stability indeed. Skype blamed last week's outage on the effects of Microsoft's Patch Tuesday. The firm said the effect of so many machines rebooting and subsequently trying to log onto the Skype VoIP network triggered system instability and a prolonged outage of almost two days. Customers have been offered a free week to compensate.

The IP telephonists were not the only ones to suffer from outages. Online bank Egg.com, the perenially beleaguered Plusnet, and business ISP Datanet all registered bad weeks, too.

Egg.com's online banking service went down this week. The firm said service provider C&W was to blame.

Plusnet admitted bungling a spam appliance installation, resulting in yet more customer email being permanently consigned to the big trash can in the sky.

Meanwhile, Datanet suffered a power outage in one of its server racks, which took out the power distribution circuit, interrupting the UPS. Not good news for customers wanting to access their emails.

Feeling insecure

Deliberate nastiness has also been afflicting online services. Recruitment site Monster.com was hit by a Trojan. The misbehaving malware made off with more than 1.6 million customer records.

According to Symantec, the nasty executable encrypts files in the affected computer — and leaves a text file demanding the victim pay the attackers in order to recover the data.

This week also saw the much-mutating Storm Worm wiggle its way into the headlines, under the guise of emails bearing subject headings such as "User info," "Membership support" and "Login information". The worm's creators kept the malware's tactics changing, and the dodgy "have you seen these photos" emails flying through cyber space.

Pinch me. Am I dreaming or is it 1 April?

Google and Microsoft have gone to war over open source software. Yes, you read that right. The beast of Redmond submitted the Microsoft Permissive License to the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Cynics, including Google's Open Source supremos, are sure the firm is up to no good, but MS declares itself innocent of all malodorous doings.

Microsoft in, ex-Sun out

Keeping the balance, Sun's former software chief has announced diminished enthusiasm for open source ware. Now ensconced in Adobe's creative business department, he says there is a difference between the needs of the community and the users.

On the move

And with that, let's see who else is swapping jobs, or not, this week.

AMD's flashy, big-talking marketing chief Henri Richard appears set to leave the building ahead of the company's biggest product launch of the year, while Salesforce.com is set to redeploy CFO Steve Cakebread internally. He's now in charge of expanding outside the home market.

Steve Burch, the chief executive of UK cable monopoly Virgin Media, surprised industry watchers by quitting the firm. Family and personal reasons were cited. COO Neil Berkett will take the reins, for now at least.

I think this pink slip is yours

More redundancies are on the way at CSC UK. The outsourcing firm announced it would be making more compulsory cutbacks in a conference call. Absolute numbers still to be decided.

From bricks to clicks

Online sales in the UK rose a whopping 80 per cent, year on year, with figures for July coming in at £4.2bn. This is the first time online sales have topped the four billion mark.

In probably related news, high street entertainment retailer ChoicesUK is headed for administration.

For sale?

The battle for NHS software outfit iSoft has flared up again with the news that Aussie group IBA has moved to gazump the bid from German firm CompuGroup Holding that was accepted in July.

The new offer has been bankrolled by a £120m cash injection from Allco Equity Partners, an Aussie investment fund, and now goes to the board for consideration. CSC's influence could still be crucial, as iSoft has obligations to the firm under the terms of its NHS contracts.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! has snapped up Actionality, a German firm that specialises in mobile advertising. "We can confirm the acquisition of Actionality as part of Yahoo!'s ongoing focus on becoming #1 in mobile advertising," said a company spokeswoman.

Trading marks

Confused by changing trademark rules in the UK? The UK IPO has issued guidance for businesses on the changes, which are designed to make it easier to register a mark. The Trade Marks Registry will no longer oppose marks which conflict with prior registrations: the holders of prior marks will have to object themselves.

Legal wrangling

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has smacked former Brocade CFO Michael Byrd with eight counts of fraud related to backdating stock options.

The commission alleges that Byrd ignored warnings that staff were tooling around with the options. Charges filed today in Federal District Court in San Francisco stipulate that he was aware of the misconduct, but never tried to account for the expenses or disclose them to investors.

Meanwhile, a US Federal Court has decided to allow customers to sue AT&T. The San Francisco court decided that the clause in AT&T's wireless contract prohibiting customers from bringing class action suits against the firm is "unconscionable" in the face of the consumer's right to sue whomsoever he or she pleases.

3, it's a magical number

Mobile operator 3 is set to offer budget mobile data to UK punters. According to reports, three new tariffs will see the firm match the most attractive offerings from T-Mobile, starting from £10 a month.

Initially, the firm denied the price announcement, but confirmed the details just days later.

iPhones for Europe

Rumours fly that T-Mobile, Orange, and O2 are to sell the iPhone in Germany, France, and the UK respectively. Reports suggest the operators have agreed to give Apple 10 per cent of all revenue generated from iPhone users. The companies concerned have dismissed the story as speculation and rumour.

Game, handset, and match

Nokia, in conjunction with Microsoft, has released a version of Windows Live for its Series 60 handsets, with Series 40 to follow next year. The deal gives punters easy access to Windows Messenger, Hotmail, Contacts, and Spaces, without so much as a nod to the network operators.

Dell serves up news server

Dell will host a major storage product unveiling in September. The Register has learned that Dell is set to unveil a new iSCSI system called MD3000i.

The firm also regained a healthy chunk of the server market, according to the analysts at IDC. Dell's revenue for Q2 jumped a little over 20 per cent compared with Q2 last year. At its current rate for growth it could soon be pushing Sun for the number three spot on the server charts.

And finally...

It wouldn't be right to round off the week on such a serious note. We also brought you news this week that Homer Simpson has made it into the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations, and that Cadbury's bringing back the Wispa. Now that's some chunky chocolate news. ®

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