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IT News: Spyware Gears Up for the Holidays

Plus, VMworld debuts new products from Chip PC, Symantec and others.

It's been a big week for spyware. First, it trumped "poker" as the most popular Internet search of the week, according to the LYCOS 50 Daily Report. http://50.lycos.com

Then, ScanSafe's recent Global Threat Report announced a 15 percent jump in spyware and adware instances during October, which the company says is par for the course during the holiday season. Increases in spyware attacks usually correspond to online shopping trends, making the holidays an especially vulnerable time for consumers -- and their employers, too, since according to the report, more than a third of employees do their holiday shopping from their office computers. http://www.scansafe.com

For Home Tech Pros, a New Cert in the Works
CompTIA and the Consumer Electronic Association are teaming up to form a certification for professionals in the field of home technology integration. The credential, which will bear the sprawling moniker of CEA-CompTIA Digital Home Technology Integrator+ certification, will target those with at least 18 months of experience in home integration technology, though neither a launch date nor a hard list of prerequisites has been announced yet. http://www.comptia.org

Got a Big Idea for a Small Business?
If you're an entrepreneur at heart, you might want to check out Microsoft's just-launched Ultimate Challenge, a contest for the most innovative small-business idea in the country. Participants have until Jan. 31, 2007 to submit their business proposals either online or at a local Ultimate Challenge event. The winner, to be announced in March, will be awarded $100,000 to start their business and a year-long lease for a Manhattan-area storefront. According to Microsoft, Ultimate Challenge was timed to coincide with the company's launch of Office Accounting Express 2007, now available as a free download. http://www.ideawins.com

Dispatch from VMworld
This year's VMworld, held in the Los Angeles Convention Center from Nov. 7 to 9, attracted nearly 7,000 attendees and featured 89 exhibitors, according to the event's Web site. Chip PC, for one, had several of its newest products on display, including the new Jack-PC, which it calls a "computer in the wall" -- a thin client computer that's integrated into an existing wall LAN jack. That means you can convert existing LAN jacks into a Windows XP-compatible computer without having to install more cables; it just mounts onto any standard wall socket, with the computer module hidden behind the faceplate. http://www.jack-pc.net/

Also debuted in VMworld was Vizioncore Inc.'s esxRanger Professional 3.0, which works with VMware Infrastructure 3 and VMware Consolidated Backup, and promises to deliver LAN-free backups as well as speed up the backup process by as much as 300 percent. Users have the option of restoring either their entire virtual machine or just selected files. The Professional 3.0 is available now for $500 per CPU socket. http://www.vizioncore.com

Symantec was also on hand to unveil version 5.0 of its Veritas Cluster Server for VMware ESX. Designed to bring disaster recovery to both physical and virtual servers, Symantec says the VCS simplifies and automates remote failover for VMware virtual server environments. It comes with several failure-prevention features like centralized cluster management, server monitoring and automatic recovery. Starting at $1,995 per server, the VCS for VMware ESX is due for general release in the first quarter of 2007. http://www.symantec.com

And now available exclusively through the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace is the Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager Virtual Appliance, a traffic-monitoring product that runs on the VMware ESX Server 3. The ZXTM VA reroutes incoming network traffic so it lands on the most available machines. Organizations that have access to the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace can now download a trial version of the VMware-certified ZXTM VA for evaluation. http://www.zeus.com/products/zxtmva

More New Products: Compression Tools and Anti-Virus for Gamers
The next generation of WinZip, the compression tool from Corel, is here. WinZip 11.0, available in Standard ($29.95) or Pro ($49.95), comes chock-full with new features like support for .BZ2 and .RAR files; a "loss-less compression method" that lets you compress .WAV files without compromising sound quality; a "best compression feature" that automatically chooses the best way to compress individual files; and better image-handling features that let you view images as thumbnails without having to extract them. http://www.winzip.com

Another compression tool, this time for digital video aficionados, is now available for purchase. The Sorenson Squeeze 4.5 Compression Suite, designed to help users compress and share digital videos through CDs, DVDs or the Internet, retails for $499 new (owners of previous versions can purchase upgrades at lower prices). The tool's latest incarnation comes with presets for cell phones, Sony PlayStation Portable and HD-DVD, and has compression rates that are as much as three times faster than its predecessors', the company said. A new feature lets you burn DVDs complete with chapter menus. http://www.sorensonmedia.com

Finally, if you're a gamer who also happens to be among the 65 percent of North American computer users who don't use any kind of anti-virus solution because it slows down their systems, take note: Security software company ESET and game publishing company Tri Synergy have co-sponsored a special offer to encourage gamers to protect themselves against malware. Those who own, or plan to own, a Tri Synergy game will be eligible for a free 30-day trial of ESET's NOD32 anti-virus software, which promises to protect gamers against most online threats without compromising speed. http://www.eset.com

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the site editor of RCPmag.com.

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