Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Computer Glitch Cancels Japan Flights

TOKYO -- Hundreds of domestic flights in Japan were canceled or delayed last week because of a computer glitch at All Nippon Airways Co.

The glitch hit data flowing between the Tokyo-based airlines main reservations host computer and intermediate computers that handle downstream connections to terminals in airports, said airline spokesman Rob Henderson.

The problem slowed the data flow, causing a backlog that eventually clogged the system, Henderson said. The slowdown caused the airline to cancel 130 flights and to delay another 306 by at least an hour on May 27.

The airline has not yet determined the cause of the problem, he added.

Henderson said that the airline was operating on a near-normal schedule by the next day.

The airline is in the process of installing new computer systems from Unisys Corp. to run the vendors AirCore reservation and departure control software. AirCore will be installed in phases starting late this year through 2012, Henderson said.

In a joint statement, the airline and Unisys noted that they have yet to determine whether the problem can be traced to the old or new systems.

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

EU Official Expects Airline Data Pact

AMSTERDAM -- European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx said late last month that he expects the U.S. and the European Union to reach an agreement on how to share information about passengers flying across the Atlantic but not by their July deadline.

Its going to be tough, but there will be an agreement, he said in an interview at the European Data Protection Intensive conference held here.

Hustinx said he expects that an interim agreement now in place will be extended while negotiations continue toward a long-term pact.

Without an agreement, airlines face either being sued by European data-protection authorities for releasing passenger information to the U.S., or losing landing slots in the U.S. and getting hit with hefty fines there if they dont hand over the data.

An earlier agreement that allowed the sharing of data with U.S. authorities was thrown out by the European Court of Justice in May 2006. The court allowed an interim agreement, broadly based on the first agreement, to be implemented until a new one could be reached.

-- Paul Meller, IDG News Service

NEC Employees, Firms Faked Software Orders

TOKYO -- A group of 10 employees at Tokyo-based NEC Corp. worked with 17 contractors to fraudulently inflate the companys costs by $18 million over seven years ending in March 2006, the company disclosed last week.

The news comes just a year after the company was forced to make accounting changes after other workers created fake transactions in its NEC Engineering Ltd. division.

Tax examiners discovered the latest scam during an examination of NECs books for fiscal 1999 through March 2006, the company said.

They found that the accused employees had persuaded 17 contractors to pad orders or create fictitious orders for software, maintenance and installation services purchased by NEC, the company said. The workers collected $4.1 million in kickbacks, it said.

NEC has taken strict disciplinary actions against the employees that could eventually lead to legal action, said spokesman Kosuke Yamauchi. However, he said he did not know whether the workers had been fired.

Yamauchi also declined to name the contractors involved or to say whether NEC planned to continue doing business with them.

-- Ben Ames, IDG News Service

Germany Strengthens Antihacking Laws

BERLIN -- The German government has approved a law that strengthens earlier legislation aimed at preventing hacker attacks on IT systems.

The legislation, approved late last month, aims to crack down on a sharp rise in computer attacks in both the public and private sectors of the country.

Violators of the new law face up to 10 years in prison for major offenses.

Other punishable cybercrimes include denial-of-service attacks and computer sabotage attacks on individuals. Previous laws were limited to attacks on the computer systems of businesses and public authorities.

The new law was passed despite criticism from several groups, including hacker club Chaos Computer Club eV in Berlin, which pointed to the work of good hackers, also known as white hats, who work for security companies.

These computer experts, the club argues, could be restricted in helping software makers develop secure products and businesses deploy them.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

Australian Agency Set for Switch to Linux

SYDNEY -- The New South Wales Department of State and Regional Development is seeking bids from vendors for a project to replace Novell NetWare-based systems with servers running open-source Linux software.

The department has solicited bids from 23 IT suppliers for its Client Infrastructure Replacement Project, which will be implemented over the next five years.

The project calls for the installation of an enterprise storage-area network system, server hardware to replace aging Pentium III-based Compaq ML350 servers, a centrally managed data replication and backup system, and consulting services and training to support the new infrastructure, according to tender documents.

The 20 Compaq servers are used for file and print serving and GroupWise messaging, and all are at end of life [and] near full capacity, the documents said.

The move comes as Novell continues to urge NetWare users to migrate to its SUSE Linux implementation.

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

Compiled by Mike Bucken.


Briefly Noted

Martin Read last week announced plans to retire as CEO of LogicaCMG after 14 years at the helm of the IT services firm. The move came just days after London-based Logica issued a warning that its latest quarterly results wont meet estimates because of declines in its commercial business. Logica said Read decided to accelerate his retirement plans in light of the unsettling speculation following the companys recent trading update.
-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Nokia Corp. last week announced plans to open a research center in China that will be jointly operated with Tsinghua University in Beijing. The research center will be the first opened in Asia by Espoo, Finland-based Nokia. The partners will develop wireless technologies, hardware and mobile-based Internet services at the center, which will employ 20 company researchers, 30 professors and up to 50 students from the university.
-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer late last month signed an enterprise license agreement with the Australia Department of Defence during a 24-hour stopover in the country. The agreement upgrades the departments support plan and calls for collaborative planning and joint R&D efforts with Microsoft.
-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

United Microelectronics Corp. has opened a nanotechnology lab in southern Taiwan to develop chip-production technologies that are 45 nanometers in size and smaller. The $1 billion New Taiwan ($30 million U.S.) lab will eventually employ more than 1,000 research engineers, the Hsinchu, Taiwan, company said.
-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Sydney-based Cybertrust Inc. has launched an Asia-Pacific investigative response team to help companies deal with a range of security attacks, breaches and fraudulent activities. The three-person team specializes in identifying the source of a security breach and documenting the event in preparation for potential lawsuits.
-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

Global Fact

109M


Number of broadband subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region in 2006, up 25% from 2005.

Source: In-Stat, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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