Hackers Continue To Get Busy Over IM

Hackers apparently had a rather busy December. According to a report released by Akonix Systems Inc.'s IM Security Center, 18 new malicious code attacks were launched over instant messaging networks last month, bringing the 2007 total to 346.

New IM worms on Akonix's December list include Cargar, Etest and YMWorm. Etest, Mytob and Sohana were the most common with two variants each. The report also notes there were 27 additional attacks on P2P networks in December, including those on Kazaa and eDonkey, which represented a 125 percent increase over November's figures.

On a more positive note, I suppose, the report notes that 2007 was the first year in which a hacker was successfully prosecuted for the illegal use of IM botnets in hijacking PayPal accounts. That crime is punishable by $1.75 million in fines and nearly 60 years in prison.

Don Montgomery, vice president of marketing at Akonix, said 2007 saw an "increase in the complexity and harmful design of IM Trojans and viruses," and that the industry continues to see hackers use IM to steal private data for profit. He predicted that the increased adoption of unified communications technologies in 2008 will result in "new corporate vulnerabilities and liabilities including a number of entry points that can be compromised." Montgomery added that IT shops need to make sure they put instant messaging on their respective management, compliance and security checklists in 2008.

The December 2007 IM Threat Report, as well as the historical threat data going back to 2000, can be found here.

IBM Gets Busy Buying
Not all the folks at IBM were kicking back over the holidays. Big Blue kicked off the New Year by announcing yesterday it has acquired the Tel Aviv-based XIV in hopes of adding more muscle to its infrastructure portfolio.

More specifically, IBM officials said they think XIV's storage lineup would boost its position in "emerging storage opportunities such as Web 2.0 applications, digital archives and digital information." From a financial perspective, IBM officials also said the acquisition helps accelerate its growth strategy and capital allocation model, as part of its objective for earnings-per-share growth through 2010.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. However, Israeli-based news organizations were reporting that IBM paid somewhere between $300 million to $350 million for XIV, which specializes in storage technology. The five-year-old company has 50 employees.

Moshe Yanai, who serves as XIV's executive chairman, will become an IBM fellow, long considered the highest technology position within IBM.

Future IT Unveils SQL Server Management Software
Corporate admins looking for ways to better manage large numbers of SQL-based servers may have something to consider in the New Year. Future IT Software has created what it believes is an all-in-one solution for database management, architected to enable corporate accounts manage multiple data bases holding mission-critical data from a single location.

Called EZ Manage SQL Enterprise, not surprisingly, the product allows those in charge of monitoring and prioritizing their server problems to do so at a glance and not have to spend generous amounts of time attending to each one individually. It also offers admins the chance to apply user-defined maintenance rules to multiple installations through straightforward dragging and dropping.

According to a company spokesman, the new product can automate many different but typical server administration tasks such as defragment and re-indexing, backup and restore, and compression. It can also produce multi-installation database status reports and automatic real-time alerts that are delivered by e-mail if a problem is detected on any database or server.

Another key capability of EZ Manage is disaster recovery, which is stitched into the product, allowing it to automatically send backup files off-site using FTP. It can also restore a system back to a specific point in time with two mouse clicks. The technology's backup capability includes not just databases but also allows users to include related files that aren't part of the database but that work in concert with it, such as PDF forms and templates.

EZ Manage SQL Enterprise costs $2,699 per server, which includes 12 months of product support. Admins can go to www.futureitsoft.com to get additional information.

Startup Hopes To Launch Solar Power Plant
SolarReserve, a recently formed company funded by the investment firm US Renewables Group, intends to create a solar power plant that will be capable of generating electricity and then storing it in molten salt.

The new company, which has licensed the core technology from Hamilton Sundstrand, reportedly will have the ability to generate 500 megawatts of peak power -- that's approximately the capacity of an average power plant in operation today.

A company spokesperson explained SolarReserve will use solar thermal technology, which uses heat intensified by lenses and mirrors to create electricity. This approach is being increasingly used by utilities because it has proven to be more cost-effective, the spokesperson said.

However, because energy derived from the sun is intermittent, many utilities are pursuing a number of different larger-scale storage techniques ranging from compressed air to massive batteries.

As SolarReserve officials explain, the technology they plan to employ will use a tower with a holding tank containing molten salt, along with a bank of mirrors that will reflect light onto the tank. Then, heated liquid is delivered to a steam generator, which turns a turbine that makes the electricity.

The technology, however, isn't expected to be commercially available for three or four years. SolarReserve officials said they expect the upcoming technology to generate revenues of over $1 billion in the next 10 years.

Mailbag: Your 'Fantasy' IT Headlines for 2008
Last week, in the Redmond Report e-mail newsletter, we invited you to send us "fantasy" news headlines for 2008. Here's the news you want to come true in the next year:

"Vista: The Ultimate April Fool's Joke"

Microsoft today finally admitted that Vista was an April Fool's joke gone wild. Not only did Microsoft release the joke four months early, it hadn't even passed any quality testing for backward compatibly. This is why Notepad had problems running, and always crashed.

Redmond also announced today that Windows XP SP4, 5 and 6 will be released within the next six weeks as "Windows Vista: Revenge of the OS."

"Microsoft Finally Gets Security Right, SP5 Makes Vista Fast and Impregnable, Black Hats Throw in the Towel."

"IT Tech Support Call Centers Return To USA!"

There are two main reasons that I would like to see technical support service return to the United States. First, foreign tech support staff are difficult to understand because of their strong accents. It is frustrating to finally reach tech support only to realize that you cannot understand what they are saying. Service that cannot be understood is no service at all.

Second, I would like to see the tech support jobs return to American soil so that our own citizens have a chance at them. With all of the whining that there are not enough IT workers in our own country, I have also seen the jobs leave. If the jobs are not here, why become educated to fill non-existent positions? It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Got more "fantasy" headlines? Let us have 'em! Send an e-mail to [email protected] or post your comment below.

About the Author

Ed Scannell is the editor of Redmond magazine.


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