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Master Your IT Domain

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In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Master Your IT Domain
2. Today's Top Story: Operating-System Vulnerabilities
    - Linux/Unix Vulnerabilities Outnumber Microsoft Windows' 3 To 1
    - Unauthorized Patch For Microsoft WMF Bug Sparks Controversy
    Related Stories
    - Linux Security: A Good Thing Keeps Getting Better
    - Antivirus Gets An Open-Source Boost
    - Opinion: Why Third-Party Patching Isn't A Good Solution For Current Windows Vulnerability
3. Breaking News
    - Visual Tour: Windows Vista Begins To Get Real
    - Google Kicks Off New Year On High Note
    - Job Market Tasted Really Good To Tech Workers Last Month, Study Says
    - Symantec Acquires IM Security Vendor
    - MSN Phisher Pleads Guilty To Crimes
    - 10 Ways To Juice Up Your Network
    - TI Goes Straight To Gen 2 RFID
    - Unix Engineer Takes RFID Implant In Hand
    - Wi-Fi Continues Its Extended Coffee Break
    - Asset Management To Grow: Study
    - Internet Moves Drive M&A Among Media Companies
    - European Wi-Fi Provider Plans To Unwire Nine U.K. Cities
4. Grab Bag: News You Need From The Web
    - Copyleft Hits A Snag (MIT's Technology Review)
    - Hackers Rebel Against Spy Cams (Wirednews.com)
    - Inside Intel (BusinessWeek)
5. In Depth: Consumer Electronics Cornucopia
    - Annual Gadget Show Is Biggest Ever
    - AMD Targets Digital Home With New Computers
    - Look Who's Talking At CES
    - Sling Media Takes Cable TV To Mobile Phones
    - Firewire Video-Streaming App To Be Unveiled At CES
    - XM Satellite Radio To Showcase 'Advanced Services'
6. Voice Of Authority: Resist Temptation: Don't Push That Hot Button
7. White Papers: Software Development
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet." -- William Gibson


1. Editor's Note: Master Your IT Domain

It's a new year, and you know what that means--once more into the breach! Your budget may be set, staffing approved, and key projects scheduled throughout the months, but you want to make sure all that political infighting, PowerPoint presentations, and number crunching pays off. It won't if you let IT basics get away from you.

Social media, Wi-Fi, and VoIP may be all the rage for 2006, but it's the mundane, behind-the-scenes policies and procedures that are the keys to providing a solid foundation upon which to offer those and other new services.

So go ahead--break the seal on your new Day-Timer, update your battery packs, and stash your mobile gadgets in their spanking-new holders, but don't forget to pull out those IT checklists and take stock of where you are, and what you've got, before the year gets any older. For example:

  • When is the last time you took stock of your IT assets--hardware, software, communications, and data? Do you know what you've got, where it is, and how old it is? Do you know whether you've got competing standards driving up your maintenance costs, outdated technology holding up your productivity, or licensing agreements on the verge of expiration? Start counting. You'll feel much better and look so much more in the know.

  • Speaking of data, do you know what your business units are collecting, whether they are supposed to be collecting it, or deleting it within a certain time frame? Not knowing bit more than a few companies on the butt in 2005. How are you storing, and if applicable, sending this data? Is it encrypted? Are business units being penny-wise and pound-foolish by shipping data packs on the slowest route possible? Do you even know where your most sensitive backup tapes are? If key data is downloadable to laptops, what happens if those laptops are lost or stolen? Again, there are some sad-sack stories to tell from 2005, and you don't want be the star example from 2006, cited in numerous legislative hearings and media reports every time another stupid incident occurs. Definitely not where you want to go. Make sure your data is protected, and stay out of the headlines.

  • Access--now there's something that ought to be reviewed every year. Do former employees and contractors know your codes? Who has access to key financial data? Is everything Sarbanes-Oxley copasetic? And moving on down to the most basic levels of access, when is the last time you changed passwords for key systems and for individuals. Do you need automated password-update software? Do we really need to tell you for the 1,000th time how key this is?

    Asset management, data security, and access updates--all just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to making a sweep of your IT processes, policies, and products. You can read the rest of my IT checklist here. It's by no means a comprehensive list, but you'll get the idea. If you use it, collect it, or interface with it, you want to stay on top of it and secure it. Resolve this year to be the master of your IT domain, or risk facing the often embarrassing and career-damaging consequences of failing to do so.

    Patricia Keefe
    pkeefe@cmp.com
    www.informationweek.com


    2. Today's Top Story

    Linux/Unix Vulnerabilities Outnumber Microsoft Windows' 3 To 1
    Linux and Unix, including the Mac, had 2,328 vulnerabilities last year, compared with 812 vulnerabilities for Microsoft Windows, according to the U.S. government's computer security group.

    Unauthorized Patch For Microsoft WMF Bug Sparks Controversy
    Sober worm may hit tomorrow, but businesses are more concerned about the WFM vulnerability and Microsoft's inability to produce a patch this week. Some are choosing an alternative that could lead to other problems.

    Related Stories:

    Linux Security: A Good Thing Keeps Getting Better
    A tech expert explains why Linux has remained a bright spot in an increasingly grim IT security picture and how businesses can ensure effective, reliable security for their own Linux-based systems.

    Antivirus Gets An Open-Source Boost
    The open-source Clam Anti-Virus is a young product, lacking in key technical features. But users and developers say its performance is fast, it's updated quickly to respond to new attacks, and it provides a good alternative, or supplement, to proprietary antivirus products.

    Opinion: Why Third-Party Patching Isn't A Good Solution For Current Windows Vulnerability
    Columnist Rob Enderle discusses why a third-party patch isn't a good solution to the current WMF vulnerability and the need to boost law-enforcement efforts against virus writers and hackers.


    3. Breaking News

    Visual Tour: Windows Vista Begins To Get Real
    The December pre-beta 2 release of Windows Vista offers the first true glimpse of the operating system but is missing key elements. Don't miss our image gallery for a complete walkthrough of the current look and feel, features, and functionality.

    Google Kicks Off New Year On High Note
    The new year finds lofty expectations for the company's stock price and speculation that Google will reveal a strategic initiative at the Consumer Electronics Show on Friday. Google denies reports that it'll sell low-priced PCs through Wal-Mart.

    Job Market Tasted Really Good To Tech Workers Last Month, Study Says
    IT and telecom pros felt more confident about their jobs, personal finances, and job security in December, a new survey shows.

    Symantec Acquires IM Security Vendor
    The two have a history of cooperation, ranging from Symantec's participation in IMlogic's IM Threat Center to already integrated products.

    United Airlines Computer Snafu Being Investigated
    Reservation and passenger-processing system outage left struggling airline unable to sell tickets for four hours.

    MSN Phisher Pleads Guilty To Crimes
    Jayson Harris, 23, duped MSN customers into providing credit-card numbers, claiming they needed to update their accounts. He netted about $57,000 from the scheme.

    10 Ways To Juice Up Your Network
    Is your network as slow and sluggish as rush-hour traffic? Experts offer their top tips for putting it in the fast lane--permanently.

    TI Goes Straight To Gen 2 RFID
    Texas Instruments has revealed that it's the first Wal-Mart supplier to ship the retailer cases and pallets affixed with Gen 2 RFID tags.

    Unix Engineer Takes RFID Implant In Hand
    A small, but apparently growing, group of hobbyists has voluntarily received RFID implants. One explains why.

    Asset Management To Grow: Study
    The trend toward asset management is being prompted by companies relying more on mobile wireless devices, with less budgeted money to manage it all, a new report says.

    Internet Moves Drive M&A Among Media Companies
    Mergers and acquisitions hit a five-year high last year.

    European Wi-Fi Provider Plans To Unwire Nine U.K. Cities
    The company, called The Cloud, plans to provide hundreds of wireless access points in cities including London, Liverpool, and Edinburgh.

    All our latest news

    Watch The News Show

    In the current episode:

    Eric Chabrow with "Nothing But Net"

    Elena Malykhina with "Roaming Applications"

    Ivan Schneider with "It's All In The Finger"


    4. Grab Bag: News You Need From The Web

    Copyleft Hits A Snag (MIT's Technology Review)
    Incompatibilities among "copyleft" licenses meant to promote the sharing of creative work could end up preventing it, says cyberlaw expert Lawrence Lessig.

    Hackers Rebel Against Spy Cams (Wirednews.com)
    As video surveillance creeps into public spaces around the world, tech-savvy activists develop techniques to turn the cameras against their masters. A report from the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

    Inside Intel (BusinessWeek)
    Paul Otellini's plan will send the chipmaker into uncharted territory. And founder Andy Grove applauds the shift.


    ----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

    Customer View
    Learn how more than 600 network-equipment customers rated four vendors in InformationWeek Research's Analyzing The Networking Vendors report. Vendor profiles cover Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, 3Com, and Nortel. Use this report to evaluate current and future network-equipment providers and to benchmark your organization's networking plans for 2006.

    New From InformationWeek: Get Your News In A Flash--Literally
    InformationWeek.com's latest service is automated E-mail news flashes. You pick the topic and the frequency (real time, daily, or weekly), and we'll do the rest. Sign up by following the link below and be one of the first to take advantage of this latest service.

    Win A Dell Flat-Screen 32-Inch LCD TV!
    Play The Great Scavenger Hunt contest! Here's how it works: Every week in January, we'll post five tech-related questions. Answer at least two correctly, and you'll enter the drawing for an Apple 4-Gbyte iPod nano, as well as the grand-prize drawing for the Dell flat-screen 32-inch LCD TV! Don't miss out on the fun, the prizes, and the cheap laughs that come with The Great Scavenger Hunt!

    -----------------------------------------


    5. In Depth: Consumer Electronics Cornucopia

    Annual Gadget Show Is Biggest Ever
    At this week's Consumer Electronics Show, attendees will be able to check out the latest wares from 2,800 vendors and will consume 28 football fields worth of space. Yahoo and Google will be there, as will others vying to be the most popular portal for video and other new types of content.

    AMD Targets Digital Home With New Computers
    New desktops and notebooks will work with cable-TV set-top boxes and provide computing capabilities needed to enjoy digital photography, audio, and video on a television set using a remote control.

    Look Who's Talking At CES
    Intel and Dell, both of whose CEOs are keynote speakers, intend major home- and entertainment-oriented announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show.

    Sling Media Takes Cable TV To Mobile Phones
    New software, due to be launched at the Consumer Electronics Show, lets people access their cable-TV service from mobile phones based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile Platform.

    Firewire Video-Streaming App To Be Unveiled At CES
    The Consumer Electronics Show will debut a product that can deliver gigabit data rates over wireless, coax, and electrical power lines, an industry first, the vendor says.

    XM Satellite Radio To Showcase 'Advanced Services'
    A concept car featuring video, voice command, weather alerts, parking-space locator, and other innovations will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show.


    6. Voice Of Authority

    Resist Temptation: Don't Push That Hot Button
    Our country's political discourse is interesting in a perverse sort of way, says Secret CIO Herbert W. Lovelace. The dialogue is reminiscent of what happens during his company's executive committee budget-review meetings. In both processes, participants spend a huge amount of time on arguments aimed at fixing the blame for what went wrong while concurrently trying to grab the credit for what little has gone right.


    7. White Papers

    Harnessing Change In Software Development
    Intensifying demand to quickly and accurately achieve corporate objectives means IT organizations must cope with a continuous barrage of changes. This white paper explores strategies for dealing with change using the best combination of people, process, and technology.


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