In This Issue: 1. Editor's Note: Is Fear Driving Your Life? 2. Today's Top Story - Microsoft And Yahoo Get Instant Messaging Ready To Carry Heavier Freight 3. Breaking News - Novell Announces New CEO—But Can He Save A Sinking Ship? - HP Rolls Out First Dual-Core 64-Bit Notebook - Marketing Firm Launches Ad-Free Business Blog Directory - Privacy Advocates Slam AT&T On Customer Records - XP Promotions May Give Clues To Vista 'Make Goods' - Intel Ups Stake In Mobile WiMax Start-Up - Researcher Finds Third Zero-Day Excel Flaw - Microsoft Exec: Linux No Threat To Windows On Desktop - VA Offers Free Credit Monitoring To Breach Victims - So You Want To Be The Boss? - Defense Hammers At Investigator In UBS Computer Sabotage Trial - Adobe To Be Google's Latest Web Search Distributor 4. Grab Bag - Tale Of A Lost Cell Phone And Untold Static (NY Times) - Tomorrow's Gadgets (Washington Post) - Laptops Give Hope To The Homeless (Wired) 5. In Depth - 10 Top Tips For Protecting Yourself At Hotspots - The 15 Best Firefox Extensions For Collaboration - Tableau 2.0 Eases Data Analysis Pain - Best Bits: Miracle Of The 2-Hour DVD Disc - Backing Up Small Biz - Review: Linksys Wireless-G WVC200 PTZ Internet Camera 6. Voice Of Authority - AT&T: All Your Data Belongs To Us 7. White Papers - The Future Of Managed Communications Services: Combining The Right Solutions With Strong Go-To-Market Support 8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek 9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
Quote Of The Day: "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them." — Isaac Asimov
1. Editor's Note: Is Fear Driving Your Life?
Fear is a very powerful emotion. It can be a positive force, such as when it gives us the adrenaline to run from danger or defend ourselves against a threat. But it can also make us view the world through distorted and panic-inducing lens.
I'm not denying there's a lot to be afraid of out there. We're all aware of the viruses, worms, spyware, adware (which I personally find scary—have you ever been haunted by a pop-up that just wouldn't go away?), and other forms of malware that swim through the Internet. InformationWeek.com ran at least two articles this week that informed readers about malware: "Locking The Wireless Network," which details several methods and products available to keep your home or small network secure, and "10 Top Tips For Protecting Yourself At Hotspots," in which Preston Gralla offers 10 ways to keep your data safe out in the cold, cruel world.
Then there's identity theft, which holds with it the threat of bankruptcy, ruined credit ratings, years of wrestling with would-be creditors, and even crimes perpetrated in your name. The latest thing to worry about? That identity theft will screw up your medical records so that you'll find yourself paying for somebody else's facelift.
And of course, parents have a whole universe of online anxiety to cope with, including Internet predators, seductive adware, and hidden porn sites. Recent news in this arena have to do with MySpace, a popular teen hangout that's now being sued for not providing enough protection for its youthful users.
But while there's a lot of danger out there (and I'm just talking about technology here; I haven't even mentioned war, disease, and the other evils of the wider world), fear can also be out of proportion. For example, companies were correct to examine their systems to make sure there wouldn't be any problems when clocks ticked over from 1999 to 2000. However, the predictions of darkened cities, accidentally launched nuclear strikes, and general panic didn't do much but scare a lot of people and probably cause a lot of companies to spend a lot more money than they needed to.
Fear can also be used by companies (and governments) to support actions and policies that might otherwise not be accepted by their customers and constituents. For example, while many malware alarms are legit, sometimes I've gotten the feeling that the purpose of the warnings was more to advertise the company's software than to perform a public service.
So what happens when we're constantly being told to look out, to be on guard, and to be afraid—be very afraid? First, we lose the ability to distinguish between possible problems and real emergencies so that, for example, a company could bring down its network to avoid infection by a virus that isn't even in the wild. On the other hand, we can also become so used to screaming headlines about malware and identity theft that we start to tune them out, and a real oncoming emergency doesn't register until it hits. And some of us could become so tired of the whole sorry mess that we could do something really radical, like running off to live off the grid, switching to a fountain pen, or buying a Mac. (Joke! Really!)
There's a lot of nasty stuff out there, and if we don't protect ourselves, really nasty stuff can happen. But the trick to living with technology—and in fact, living with the current political situation—is to learn the balancing act between appropriate action and panicked over-reaction.
What do you think? Have you learned to live with today's dangers? Or do you think we're not being careful enough? Let us know at my blog post.
Novell Announces New CEO—But Can He Save A Sinking Ship? Ronald Hovsepian has been a rising star within Novell since he joined the company three years ago. But with a dropping stock price, declining sales of NetWare, and stiff competition in the Linux market, it's going to take more than star power.
Privacy Advocates Slam AT&T On Customer Records In a policy update, which applies to AT&T's more than 7 million Internet and video customers, the company said it could collect usage information from subscribers, including the Web pages they view, the programs they record, and the games they play.
XP Promotions May Give Clues To Vista 'Make Goods' Look back to how Microsoft handled promotions for XP in 2001 for clues about how the developer and computer makers might offer free or discounted versions of Windows XP to PC buyers this fall and winter.
So You Want To Be The Boss? CIOs have to consider themselves as business people, not just technologists. And their potential successors better be thinking that way, too.
Defense Hammers At Investigator In UBS Computer Sabotage Trial As the trial continues for an ex-UBS systems administrator charged with sabotaging the company's networks, the defense attorney called into question the investigator's evidence and means of collecting it, as well as information and people who weren't investigated.
Tomorrow's Gadgets (Washington Post) Matt Swanston and Sean Wargo from the Consumer Electronics Association discussed what kinds of gadgets, gizmos, robots, and other technology we can expect in the future.
Laptops Give Hope To The Homeless (Wired) Helping the homeless get e-mail addresses has been a priority for years at shelters across the country. And in an age when almost every public library in the nation offers Internet access, the Net has proven a perfect communications tool for those without a real-world address.
5. In Depth: Reviews And Personal Tech
10 Top Tips For Protecting Yourself At Hotspots It's a Wi-Fi jungle out there, with all kinds of hackers, crackers, and snoopers waiting to attack you at your favorite hotspot. Fear not, because we've put together the 10 top tips to protect you when you're away from home.
AT&T: All Your Data Belongs To Us Are you an AT&T customer? Are you sure you want to be? Preston Gralla reports that the company has sent a letter to its more than seven million Internet customers telling them essentially that all their usage information is owned by AT&T—and the company can do anything with it that it wants.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.