IT professionals are more worried about politically motivated attacks from Anonymous and other hacktivists than any other source of cybercrime, according to a new poll by security vendor Bit9.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said hacktivism was their biggest concern, followed by organized crime (55%) and industrial espionage by nations like China or Russia (48%).
You could argue that Anonymous tops their list because of all the attention hacktivist groups have garnered in the press, but Gartner analyst John Pescatore tells CIO Journal these fears are justified given the ease with which Anonymous has infiltrated computer systems.
He says companies have to do more to educate their workforce about tricks hackers use to get them to reveal their passwords. “The unfortunate reality is, you’re dealing with two very attackable things in software and people, and that’s not going away anytime soon,” he said.
Trucking firm’s woes have roots in botched IT merger. George Kather, CIO of trucking firm YRC, tells CIO Journal the key to successfully merging two IT stacks is “matching the technology to the key drivers [of the company] and not trying to analyze it to death.” But that’s not what happened when two leading trucking companies, Yellow and Roadway, merged in 2003; the full merger of IT systems and staff didn’t happen until late 2011. Kather says YRC has straightened out its systems and improved key performance indicators, but the company Friday asked creditors to help it stave off bankruptcy by reworking a 2011 loan agreement.
Western Union hires Symantec’s merger-savvy CIO. Western Union has tapped David Thompson as its new CIO, replacing John R. Dick. Thompson brings the company experience with cloud and software services, as well as with the critical task of integrating mergers and acquisitions. While CIO at PeopleSoft, he led the M&A integrations of Vantive and JD Edwards and helped the company save over $100 million through the improvement of business and IT processes, reports CIO Journal.
Toy maker using social media to play with bigger kids. “Word-of-mouth marketing” on Facebook and Amazon is being done by its customers, says Tena Crock, online marketing director for Step2, since the company started using web review software to raise its standing on social media sites. That helps it level the playing field with well-heeled rivals like Mattel and Hasbro.
People gaining power over organizations. Former IBM executive Irving Wladawsky-Berger says in this week’s guest column that technological change has transferred power from institutions to the people they employ or sell to. He argues that businesses must respond by evolving from industrial organizations into organizations that take advantage of the “scalable learning of the knowledge economy.”
Facebook shores up patents ahead of IPO. After paying $1.1 billion to AOL for some 925 patents, Microsoft agreed to sell 650 of them to Facebook for $550 million. The patent sales come as Facebook prepares for its initial public offering, and is the second largest transaction for Facebook after its $1 billion buy of Instagram earlier this month. The patents in question concern email, Web browsing and search, e-commerce, advertising, instant messaging and mobile technology, report WSJ’s Shira Ovide and Geoffrey Fowler.
Facebook watches profits fall, users rise. Separately, Facebook posted first-quarter earnings and revenue that were up 45% from the same period last year, but down 6% from the fourth quarter, the WSJ reports. The company blamed the drop on the seasonality in advertising, the company’s main revenue driver. Expenses also jumped to $677 million from $343 million a year ago as Facebook built up its data center operations and spent more on hiring and marketing its services. Monthly active users jumped from 845 million in December to 901 million, but average revenue per user declined 12%.
Microsoft will release Windows 8 beta in early June. Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division, confirmed that customers will be able to preview the new operating system in less than two months, reports ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker. We know a lot of CIOs whose plans hinge on whether Windows 8 is all it’s cracked up to be.
Ultrabooks will have to wait for new Intel chips. Intel says that its new generation “Ivy Bridge” chips will arrive in desktop and portable PCs on April 29. But the Journal’s Don Clark reports that the chips, which boast a radical transistor design promising 100% faster performance than existing chips, are still several months away from appearing on Ultrabooks. PC makers are counting on the highly-touted thin laptops to eat into the tablet market controlled by Apple’s iPad.
The two-horse smartphone race. Apple, which reports earnings today, and Samsung Electronics each command approximately 25% of the smartphone market world-wide, report the Journal’s Jessica Vascellaro and Evan Ramstad. But the phone industry is characterized by fast-moving cycles, and both AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. market are clearly cheering for a third powerhouse to emerge; AT&T is putting significant marketing resources behind the Nokia Lumia 900 running Microsoft’s operating system, and Verizon is throwing its weight behind Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS. Imagine Microsoft in the role of the underdog!
Oracle presses Google case. A series of internal emails written by a Google executive cautioning about use of intellectual property was a central line of questioning in Oracle‘s infringement lawsuit, reports the Journal’s John Letzing. Andy Rubin, who is responsible for Android operating system software, testified the emails reflected the company’s “thinking about strategies in general.” It wasn’t a good day for Google, though, and even the judge in the case said Google seems to have admitted to copying the Java specs at issue.
Big spenders consider going condo with new data centers. More and more large enterprises have plans for new data centers, according to a new survey, but rather than build their own they are expressing a new interest in using third-party facilities. “That’s a significant shift in mindset from years past, when the largest companies tended to keep data center development in-house,” reports Network World’s Ann Bednarz. Rising costs associated with in-house data centers, plus the maturation of the “colocation” market over the past couple of years, are seen as two of the reasons driving the change in attitudes.
Technology for art’s sake. This has to be the story of the week on IT done right. To help preserve its priceless collection of medieval art, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art deploys inexpensive IBM sensors that collect and send temperature and humidity data to IBM’s cloud servers. The eventual goal: a self-controlling system that responds to climate changes in real-time. The system, writes MIT Technology Review’s Jessica Leber, is an example of how low-cost computer chips and wireless technology can “enable physical objects to communicate with other computers and devices over the Internet—what’s often called the ‘Internet of things.’”
Adobe pivots to new target. Adobe lost a high-profile battle with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs over Flash video technology last year. Now the software maker is reinventing itself as a one-stop technology shop for marketing departments. It is reducing the cost of using products like Creative Suite by making it available as an on-demand offering, reports WSJ’s Ben Worthen.
Amazon adds lab, industrial goods. Expanding beyond its core consumer market, Amazon said it is launching AmazonSupply.com, a site for business and industrial customers where it will sell hard-to-find items including lab centrifuges, cutting tools and, of course, radiation detectors, reports WSJ’s Ben Fox Rubin.
For understaffed IT departments, help is on the way. The Computing Research Association reports that the number of undergraduates pursuing computer science engineers rose almost 10% in 2011-12, the fourth straight year of increases, CIO’s Patrick Thibodeau writes. In related, and somewhat baffling news, the University of Florida is gutting its computer science department. Students at the publicly funded institution are organizing protests, reports Ars Technica’s John Timmer.
Will IT ever learn the lesson of bad passwords? Some security analysts believe that a breach last month exposing 280,000 Social Security numbers was the result of IT staffers using an easily guessable password. CIO.com’s Jaikumar Vijayan writes that many analysts also blame this month’s break-in at Global Payments on similarly weak authentication. “At this stage of the IT game,” security expert Peter Lindstrom tells CIO.com, “there is really no excuse for using default passwords.” It goes back to education, as we noted in our first item above.
Netflix gets pushed around again. Movie rental business Netflix posted a loss of $4.6 million, sending shares down 15% in after-hours trading. The company did report an 8% sequential increase in customers of its streaming service. But the 23.4 million subscribers are still below the 24.6 million subscribers Netflix had prior to a series of company missteps, including price increases, that sent share prices tumbling and customers “streaming” out of the service last year, reports WSJ’s Drew Fitzgerald.
EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
Europe is fraying again. Opponents of austerity policies in Europe are gaining political momentum, and some dire economic data is bolstering their argument that budget cuts alone aren’t working. The WSJ, NYT and FT all front Europe’s resurgent woes this morning.
The latest PMI data showed manufacturing conditions were the worst for almost three years, with even German industry faring badly, the FT reports. Investors and policy makers “have realized that you need austerity but you also need growth,” Barclays’s Laurent Fransolet tells the WSJ. “I don’t think that anybody has got exactly what the right mix between the two needs to be.”
Meanwhile, Portuguese Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar has a message for austerity foes: We tried stimulus and it backfired. “My country definitely provides a cautionary tale that… short-run expansionary policies can be counterproductive,” he tells the NYT.
Expenses could soar. Wal-Mart’s internal investigation could cost the company a significant amount of money. One legal expert told Vipal Monga of sister site CFO Journal that internal investigations are “a disaster.” Legal costs could skyrocket, he said, because Wal-Mart’s executives won’t want to be seen limiting in any way the work of the reviewers, attorneys or KPMG’s auditors.
Legal repercussions loom. Over on the FCPA Professor blog, FCPA expert Mike Koehler says that most audit committees and boards tend to overreact to FCPA issues, but we saw just the opposite at Wal-Mart’s corporate headquarters. ”Wal-Mart’s conduct will not be viewed favorably by the enforcement agencies.”
Deal Professor agrees. “One factor working against Wal-Mart is that the Justice Department may be looking for a prominent case to demonstrate the need for vigorous enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act as a response to recent criticisms of the law.”
Hopes fade for tax holiday. A Cisco-backed group lobbying for a repatriation tax holiday has thrown in the towel – after spending $760,000 on the effort. The effort fizzled as some Republicans focused on permanent tax policy and Democrats warned of the potential revenue loss, Bloomberg says.
Sounding the alarm on Social Security. The White House and Congress are under pressure to fix Social Security after a new report showed that it would exhaust its reserves three years sooner than expected, the WSJ reports. “It is time for Congress to take on the task of retooling Social Security for the long haul,” said Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue. Unfortunately, the gridlock in D.C. makes that very unlikely.