OPINION: HP layoffs, Wall Street blues, Palin’s hack

The week got off to a rough start with the collapse of Lehman Brothers sending shudders through global financial markets and raising questions about whether there will be a ripple effect on the IT industry. After the market closed Monday, Hewlett-Packard added to the dismal mood by announcing it will lay off 24,600 employees as it integrates Electronic Data Systems into the HP fold. Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was the victim of an apparent hacking attack on the Yahoo account she uses for official business as governor of Alaska, and in other government-related IT news, a GAO report says the U.S. does a lousy job of following its regulations regarding electronic-waste shipment and disposal.

1. Update: HP announces 24,600 layoffs in wake of EDS acquisition: Hewlett-Packard added to a bad-news Monday after the plunging stock market closed, announcing it would lay off 24,600 employees as it works to integrate its US$13.9 billion acquisition of Electronic Data Systems into the company. Layoffs had been expected, but the size of them came as a surprise.

2. Wall Street turmoil unlikely to KO IT industry and Financial crisis signals end of an era in Wall Street IT world: The ongoing U.S. financial system crisis will not have a dramatic effect on IT spending among financial institutions, according to some IT analysts, while others feel certain that IT spending in the securities segment of the industry will be forever altered, partly because struggling firms will be acquisition targets whose tech assets will be absorbed as part of purchase deals.

3. Web proxy firm working with FBI to trace Palin e-mail hacker and Security researchers ponder possible Palin attacks: The webmaster of a proxy service that might have been used in the illegal hack of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account is cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the hack. Screenshots of Palin’s e-mail were posted at various Web sites, including the Wikileaks.org site. While the FBI and the Secret Service investigate, security researchers are debating how the hack might have been carried out — one claim circulating the Internet is that a simple password-reset request was at the heart of the hack. Some researchers are dubious it was that simple; others say it might well have been.

4. Audit: US exporting harmful e-waste to other countries: The U.S. ships toxic electronic waste to other countries that lack regulations or enforcement mechanisms to protect people and the environments of the nations used as dumping grounds, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a disturbing report. The market for e-waste in other countries is “thriving,” the report concluded. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t done much to enforce a January 2007 regulation that requires notification from companies that they are shipping discarded monitors containing cathode ray tubes, it also found.

5. Google shows Android running on a phone in Europe: Google gave a sneak peek at the Android operating system running on a mobile-phone demonstration during Google Developer Day in Europe. T-Mobile has a launch event set for next Tuesday, but Android phones aren’t expected to be out until the end of October or thereabouts. Google has been cagey about showing off the mobile OS, but it allowed Mike Jennings, an Android development advocate, to give a look-see during a presentation.

6. EFF files surveillance lawsuit against NSA, Bush, Cheney: The U.S. National Security Agency is using mass surveillance to spy on residents even though President George Bush claims that the surveillance program keeps tabs only on those who are in touch with terrorism suspects in other countries, the Electronic Frontier Foundation charged in a lawsuit filed Thursday. The EFF is suing the NSA, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other government officials, alleging that the electronic surveillance program is still being used to illegally spy on residents, despite what the agency and officials say. The NSA installed mass surveillance equipment at AT&T facilities in San Francisco; Atlanta; Seattle; Los Angeles; San Diego; San Jose, California; and Bridgeton, Missouri, the EFF contends. And that’s not all the EFF is upset about…

7. EFF, Public Knowledge sue U.S. gov’t over secret IP pact: EFF joined with another digital rights advocacy group, Public Knowledge, to sue the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to try to get the office to reveal details about a secret international treaty being negotiated with a number of countries to boost enforcement of copyright and piracy laws. The USTR has ignored repeated requests from the groups to provide information about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, according to the lawsuit. The U.S., Canada, the European Commission and a number of other nations are in talks regarding the ACTA, with the aim that they will enforce each other’s laws regarding intellectual property, according to a discussion paper leaked to the Wikileaks.org site in May.

8. Apple update finally fixes important DNS bug: Apple released a security update for the Mac OS X operating system that patched more than 25 bugs, including the critical DNS (Domain Name System) bug that it failed to fully fix with a patch in July.

9. Berners-Lee starts foundation aimed at Web’s future: World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee is starting a foundation that will aim to take the Internet to all the world. The World Wide Web Foundation is supposed to be up and running early next year with a goal to “advance a Web which is open and free,” Berners-Lee said at an event announcing his plans. The foundation will advocate for democracy, free speech and the freedom to access any online content Internet users want.

10. Brad Pitt named as top malware lure: Security administrators on the hunt for the source of malware in corporate networks might turn first to fans of movie star Brad Pitt and singer Beyonce. A Web search using Pitt’s name leads to a one-in-five shot at being lured to a malware-hosting site, according to McAfee. Beyonce is next on the list as a lure, followed by Justin Timberlake, Heidi Montag, Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Cameron Diaz, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie, who is the mother of Pitt’s children. Beware especially of sites that claim to offer screensavers, wallpaper, photos and ringtones related to those celebrities. Paris Hilton is notably now lacking from that notorious top 10 list.

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