Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Worm Hits Users of Skype VoIP System


A worm targeting Skype Technologies S.A.’s voice-over-IP application is harvesting e-mail addresses and directing users to a range of sites hosting malicious software, security vendors said last week.

According to Helsinki, Finland-based F-Secure Corp., infected Skype machines are sending malicious links via instant message to the contact lists of users. The link leads to an executable file that downloads a Trojan horse capable of downloading other malicious software, F-Secure said.

The link also directs users to at least eight Web sites with information about Africa. Some of those sites have advertising, indicating that those links may be part of a so-called click-fraud scam to get users to unknowingly click on online advertisements, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos PLC, a security vendor in Abingdon, England.

Cluley compared the latest incident with past worms targeting Skype, none of which have inflicted great damage. “I would think this thing isn’t likely to spread terribly far and wide,” he said.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

U.K. Health Service Suspends IT Pact


The U.K. Department of Health has suspended a five-year contract awarded to Paris-based IT services firm Atos Origin SA to supply diagnostic scanning, pending a review after technical problems forced 900 patients to be retested.

A pilot magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound scanning service in northwest England that Atos had been running since December was to be expanded this month to include bone density and computerized tomography scanning.

However, the plan was postponed after the 900 patients referred for ultrasound scans had to be rescanned when an audit revealed administrative and technical problems with the program.

In a statement, National Health Service North West said concerns were raised in mid-February when a clinical audit found that some patient information was not being correctly recorded.

“Starting the service early in a limited way has helped flush out these operational issues,” said Mike Farrar, chief executive of NHS North West in Manchester, England. “We want to assure ourselves and the public that the additional services are safe and of the highest quality.”

Atos Origin said it is working with the country’s health department to clear up any issues and to restart the program.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Microsoft Sees China’s Piracy Record Improve


Microsoft Corp. is seeing some improvement in China’s software piracy problems, the company’s top lawyer said at a press conference here this month.

“The last year has been the most important and encouraging year for software protection under the copyright law in China,” said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft.

“We’re starting to see new PCs in China delivered to customers with legitimate software installed,” he said. “We’re starting to see more enterprises and government ministries purchase legitimate software.”

According to the Business Software Alliance, an industry group of which Microsoft is a member, software firms lost $3.9 billion (U.S.) in China in 2005.

Smith said that Chinese companies must continue working to improve the piracy record. “There will need to be a continuing focus on the improvement in copyright protection and reduction in piracy levels,” he said.

Smith’s comments came just days after the U.S. government announced plans to file a complaints against China with the World Trade Organization for being lax in enforcing copyright laws.

-- Martyn Williams, IDG News Service

IBM, Indian Group to Offer Hosted Apps


IBM and Apollo Hospitals Group, a large hospital chain here, have agreed to jointly create hosted applications for midsize hospitals in India.

Mohammed H. Naseem, vice president for health care at IBM India, said the market for such applications could total at least $300 million (U.S.) over the next five years. Naseem said the agreement calls for IBM to supply the system’s hardware, middleware and services infrastructure, while Apollo will provide its health care domain expertise. The products will be sold by Apollo and independent software vendors, he added.

The initiative, called Health Hiway, targets Indian hospitals, physician practices, pharmacies and third-party administrators who can benefit from services that require minimal investment, Naseem said.

The hosted system would eliminate the need for health care operations to create complex IT infrastructures, he noted. The hosted applications will include ERP systems and revenue management products, Naseem said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

AT&T Ends Talks for Telecom Italia Stake

MILAN, Italy

AT&T Inc. has halted negotiations to buy a one-third stake in Olimpia SpA, a holding company based here that owns about 18% of Telecom Italia SpA.

In a statement last week, AT&T, which announced early this month that it had begun negotiating to buy Olimpia, said it has decided not to pursue the matter further. The company did not say why it is withdrawing from discussions. America Movil SA, a Colonia Anahuac, Mexico-based telecommunications carrier, said it will continue negotiations to buy a one-third stake in Olimpia.

Mike Cansfield, an analyst at Ovum Ltd. in London, said that concerns in Italy about foreign ownership of Telecom Italia appear to have scuttled the AT&T deal. Local unions had protested the talks, he noted.

“AT&T, not unreasonably, sees this proposed investment as too risky,” Cansfield said. “America Movil has not followed suit, although it would be a surprise to us if this did not happen.”

-- Grant Gross, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Briefly Noted

Visa International has confirmed problems with transaction processing across Europe. The credit card firm blamed the April 13 event on “some technical problems in our card transaction processing” and noted that full service quickly resumed. About 4,500 member banks have issued more than 315 million Visa credit cards in Europe.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has awarded a $5.9 million Australian ($4.9 million U.S.) to UXC Ltd. to deploy a Consular Assistance Information System in Canberra. The Melbourne-based consulting firm will deploy the system to more than 130 Australian embassies and consular posts. UXC will build the system using Microsoft .Net 3, BizTalk, SharePoint and SQL Server Replication Services technologies.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

Infosys Technologies Ltd. has projected that its revenue will grow by about 30% in the fiscal year ending March 28, 2008. The Bangalore, India-based outsourcer also reported that sales rose 44% to $3.1 billion (U.S.) in the year that ended March 31. Infosys added 19,526 employees during the year that ended March 31, increasing its total workforce to72,241.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

An air conditioning failure forced HM Revenue & Customs in London to shut down its computer systems earlier this month, disrupting online services. A spokesman for the U.K. tax collections agency confirmed that the system was shut down on April 10 but noted that services were working normally within a day.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

The state government of Victoria, Australia, has awarded Mincom Ltd. a contract to provide asset management software. The deal extends a contract under which the Brisbane, Australia-based vendor provides its applications to the Victoria Department of Justice. The Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment was the first agency to sign up for the latest version of Mincom Ellipse under the new pact.

-- Sandra Rossi, Computerworld Australia

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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