Air audit, Amazon's Kindle DX, Intel in the EU

The next time you're standing barefoot in a security line at a U.S. airport because having passengers remove their shoes is so vital to safety, aside from the dirt on the floor you might contemplate the findings of a U.S. Department of Transportation audit that found a high risk of cyberattack on air traffic control systems. The audit was in the news this week. But there was some good news for travelers and others who don't want to lug around books, newspapers and magazines -- Amazon showed off its larger-screened Kindle e-reader.

1. Study: US air traffic control vulnerable to cyberattack: Other stories were splashier (the Kindle DX, to name but one), but we're giving this one top billing anyway. A U.S. Department of Transportation audit found a high risk of cyberattacks on U.S. air traffic control systems because those systems link to insecure Web applications used by aviation authorities across the nation. Penetration testers found 763 high-risk vulnerabilities in 70 Web applications for a range of aviation functions, including those that distribute communications frequencies for pilots. They also found 504 medium-risk and 2,590 low-risk vulnerabilities.

2. A guided tour: Hands on with the Kindle DX: Well, we don't know about the fantastic claims that Amazon's larger-screen Kindle, the DX, is going to be the salvation of the newspaper industry (although any help would be most appreciated), but the e-reader sure has captured a lot of attention. And early reviews were positive.

3. EU antitrust ruling against Intel due next Wednesday: This story, with more details, will undoubtedly make next week's list as well -- the European Commission is expected next Wednesday to announce its decision in its ongoing antitrust investigation of Intel. The decision will be one of the Commission's most significant antitrust rulings in its history. That wasn't the only big news out of the European Union this week. (see number 7)

4. GE to spend $6 billion on health tech initiative: Lately, the overwhelming, and depressing, majority of money-related news has been dismal, so we are overjoyed to report that General Electric plans to pump US$6 billion to a health-care initiative over the next six years, with the aim of improving the quality of health care and decreasing its costs. The initiative has a strong health-IT component.

5. WiGig Alliance to push for fast wireless streaming: A specification for short-range, gigabit-speed wireless networking will be out by the end of the year as part of a WiGig Alliance plan. That sort of networking could be useful for any number of applications, not to mention that it will be another step in getting rid of the clutter of cables.

6. Sorry Apple, Biz Stone says Twitter's not for sale: Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, who has the coolest name in tech, said that the company is not for sale, in response to reports that Apple is trying to buy the wildly popular microblogging site.

7. Reform of EU telecom rules rejected by European Parliament and EU telecoms plan in disarray: The European Parliament rejected wide-ranging reforms of telecom laws in the European Union because one of the proposed changes would have given national governments the ability to ban citizens from the Internet without taking them to court if they illegally download copyright-protected music or video. The Commission might break up the reforms package, which is now in disarray, to try to save other elements of it.

8. State AG ultimatum to Craigslist: Pull racy ads or face prosecution: Some state attorneys general want Craigslist to deal with pornographic postings and prostitution ads or else. The attorney general of South Carolina was among those leading that charge, contending that Craigslist has not put sufficient safeguards in place to keep the site from becoming a "vehicle to advertise or solicit prostitution." If the site does not take action to please at least that one attorney general it could find itself facing prosecution. The heat has been applied on Craigslist since a Boston University medical student was arrested last month for allegedly murdering a woman and kidnapping and assaulting another one after connecting with them through erotic-services ads on the site.

9. Virginia Dept. of Health: Prescriptions database breached but not deleted: Another data breach hit the news, but this one had quite the twist to it. A hacker reportedly claimed to have obtained more than 8 million patient records and 35.5 million prescriptions from a database operated by the Virginia Department of Health Professions and then locked that information into an encrypted, password-protected file and deleted the backups. But that's not all -- the hacker demanded $10 million for the return of the records. The department, which is a state agency that operates the Virginia Prescription Monitoring Program whose database was supposedly busted into, said that there had been an unauthorized message posted on its Web site, but the entire database had not been deleted by a hacker.

10. Microsoft lays off more workers: Microsoft laid off more of the 5,000 employees it had said recently that it planned to cut. We sure wish we could end this week's list with better news, but we couldn't figure out how to work in that our beloved St. Louis Cardinals are tearing up their baseball division so far this year (yeah, we know it's still really early in the season). Or at least we couldn't figure out a way it remotely linked to IT. So, we'll leave you with the less-happy news.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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