Top 10: IBM-Sun watch, Conficker again, cyber bill

We're still waiting on the official word that IBM is buying Sun Microsystems (regulatory approvals pending), but news that the deal will soon be announced caught a lot of our attention this week. Conficker had a lot of people worried midweek and although it remains a concern its expected April Fools' Day chaos did not, fortunately, transpire. Speaking of chaos, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate to give President Obama the power to shut down public and private networks -- including the Internet -- during a cybersecurity emergency.
1. IBM continues push for Sun, but will the deal kill Solaris? : As of this writing, we're still waiting for official word that IBM is buying Sun Microsystems, though reports in both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal suggest that the deal could be announced soon. Apparently, it has gotten cheaper since the two reportedly started negotiating, with the offer dropping to US$9 to $10 per Sun share from $10 to $11 per share. Possible regulatory hurdles are supposedly affecting the offer, with Sun wanting assurances from IBM that it won't bail out if the regulatory going gets tough and extended.

2. Conficker worm: Not finished yet: A variant of the dreaded Conficker worm followed its master's orders Wednesday and started looking for more computers to infect. Although there was not a catastrophic meltdown of epidemic proportions as some speculative ramblings and rumblings had suggested there would be, the malware does still pose a threat. One estimate says that 3 million to 15 million computers may be infected worldwide, with 30 percent of all Windows computers operating without the latest patch for the worm.

3. Bill would give Obama power to shut down Internet, networks during cyberattacks and Federalizing cybersecurity: Necessary or nitwitted? : Under legislation introduced in the Senate, President Barack Obama would have the power to shut down public and private networks, including Internet traffic, during a cybersecurity emergency. He could also "order the disconnection of any government or United States critical infrastructure information systems or networks in the interest of national security." What that actually means needs to be made clearer, critics of the proposal said. Others opined that they are not so keen on the proposal, given the government's spotty track record of dealing with its own cybersecurity issues.

4. Hackers seize on 0-day flaw in Microsoft's PowerPoint: So far, the attacks have been limited and targeted, but it's still worrisome that hackers are actively exploiting a vulnerability in PowerPoint (especially now that some of us have finally gotten our PowerPoint mojo working and have been using the presentation app a lot more lately). Microsoft has not yet released a patch for the bug, which if successfully exploited could allow a miscreant to completely take over a computer.

5. How bad off is tech?: We'll admit straightaway -- we have no idea whom to believe anymore when it comes to the question of how much IT is being affected by the recession. There sure have been a lot of layoffs and analyst firms Forrester, IDC and Gartner all say that IT spending is down and likely to stay that way for a while. Some analysts had said that the situation was not as bad as experienced in 2001 and 2002 after the dot-come bubble ruptured (which, honestly, we had a hard time believing). But this week some of them started to say they are no longer so sure about that.

6. White House says U.S. needs H-1B visas to avoid 'competitive disadvantage': Opponents of Bush administration policies regarding H-1B visas may be out of luck in their quest to get the Obama administration to change course. Last month, the government defended the existing H-1B program in a filing in an appellate court case and offered many arguments that were the same as those of the previous administration. "The inability of U.S. employers, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to obtain H-1B status for highly skilled foreign students and foreign nonimmigrant workers has adversely affected the ability of U.S employers to recruit and retain skilled worker and creates a competitive disadvantage for U.S. companies," the government argued.

7. Apple hints at launch of Nehalem-based Xserve: As expected, Intel released new Xeon server chips, which had been code-named Nehalem, and while we all knew that news was coming it was a bit of a surprise to run across a notice at Apple's Hong Kong online store saying: "Preorder the new Xserve with Intel Xeon (Nehalem)." Since the news spread, the page in question vanished.

8. Intel to turn Moblin over to Linux Foundation: Intel turned over the Moblin Linux-based platform project to the Linux Foundation, a nonprofit group, which is also now hosting the Moblin online community. "Intel wants to make it clear they are not the kind of organization that believes that not every next big idea necessarily means it needs to come from inside their company," said Jim Zemlin, the foundation's executive director. "In many ways getting the broad community to participate in this project, even if it means giving it up to a neutral place like the Linux Foundation, is a way to get more support."

9. Google acquisition rumors reflect Twitter's importance: The Internet world was all aflutter over rumors that Google was about to buy Twitter. While the rumors wound up being false, the spread of the story and the excitement it created show just how wildly hot Twitter has become, even as some of us steadfastly resist the lure of the tweet.

10. Palm Pre: First Impressions and CTIA Wireless: LTE comes into focus: Palm representatives were showing off the new Pre smartphone at CTIA in Las Vegas this week, so Network World's Brad Reed went to have a look-see and offered up his first impressions. He also checked out a Long Term Evolution demo to get a feel for what we keep being told will be the next standard in mobile broadband.

BY Nancy Weil

© 2009 ITworld. All rights reserved.


coffee maker said...

a potentially good thing that has resulted from the Conficker scare is an overall heightened awareness of PC security


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