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7/20/2006
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New Itaniums, Summer IT Jobs, And Microsoft Gets Collaborative

In This Issue:

1. Editor's Note: Dude! Wanna Be In The National Student Database?
2. Today's Top Story
     - Intel Launches Next Itanium With New Price-Performance Pitch
3. Breaking News
     - Vulnerability Found In D-Link Routers
     - AOL To Test Security Service
     - Brief: Novell Ships Suse Linux Enterprise 10
     - RIM Sees Media Features Building BlackBerry Market
     - IBM Second-Quarter Sales Flat, But Profits Jump
     - More IT Internships, Part-Time Jobs This Summer For Students, Survey Says
     - Microsoft, Nortel Link Arms On Video, Voice, Messaging Strategy
     - Microsoft And Xen Team For Virtualization
     - Vonage Ads Delivered Via A Dozen Spyware Makers: Report
     - Senate Science Leader Ridiculed For Remarks
     - Whirlpool Tests 'Smart' Washers And Dryers
     - Oracle Upgrades PeopleSoft Development Tools
     - High-Priced Search Terms Vulnerable To Click Fraud
     - Hackers Turn To Open-Source Models
4. Grab Bag
     - How To Hack 'Well-Trained' AOL Customer Service Reps (Lifehacker)
     - Tearing Up The Jack Welch Playbook (Fortune)
     - Yahoo Seriously Considering Unrestricted MP3 Downloads? (Techdirt.com)
     - AI Reaches The Golden Years (Wirednews.com)
5. In Depth: Microsoft Security
     - Microsoft Buys Data Protection, Recovery Tools Developer Winternals
     - Microsoft Advises Users To Shun Unexpected Office Docs
     - Microsoft Files Two Dozen Anti-Piracy Suits
     - Blog: Microsoft Office...Bound And Gagged
     - Blog: Coincidence? I Think Not
6. Voice Of Authority
     - Farnborough Airshow: Where IT Meets Top Gun
7. White Papers
     - Reducing The Cost Of Supporting PCs In A Multiplatform Environment
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quotes Of The Day: Cool Thinking

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils. The thing is to supply light and not heat." — Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924)

"In a heated argument we are apt to lose sight of the truth." — Publilius Syrus

"Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders, than from the arguments of its opposers." — William Penn


1. Editor's Note: Dude! Wanna Be In The National Student Database?

It's been a while since I've been in college or hung around with anyone who is, but I distinctly recall that no matter who was paying the freight, a student's grades were delivered only to the student. Even paying parents had no right to see the results. In the weird halfway house of adulthood that makes up the college experience, students are considered adults in some areas, children in others. Grades fell into the adult side of the class. And my guess is this goes for student health and other records as well.

For example, there was a case a few years ago involving one storied Cambridge institution of higher learning where a young woman killed herself. She apparently had been having problems and was receiving medical care from the school at the time of her death. Her parents were outraged that the school had never alerted them to their daughter's mental state. The school cited privacy issues, naturally.

That's because in answer to the question of whether students are adults or teenagers, from the standpoint of most colleges they're adults. This means that when universities aren't shrugging off responsibility for obnoxious, and sometimes illegal, student behavior, they're fiercely protecting their privacy.

This is why a draft proposal from the Bush administration's Commission of the Future of Higher Education to essentially create a national database of secondary-level student records caught my eye. The commission wants to compel colleges and universities to provide each student's academic, financial aid, and enrollment data—right down to attendance records—to an organization that would allegedly use the data to build a huge database capable of tracking, at least initially, about 17 million university students. Add into this soup a student's K-12 data and even their career path, and we'll be able to track students all right. Practically from cradle to retirement.

The Education Department claims the data can be used to better test educational theories and set spending priorities. Some proponents claim the data can be used to grade an individual college's performance, as well as track college transfer students and drop-out rates at specific schools. Or the data collected could be used to determine whether financial aid pays off.

It could also be used to violate student privacy. This year has produced one massive database breach or endangerment right after the other. If the government can't protect the data of veterans and active-duty soldiers, if stores can't protect customer data, and if health care organizations can't protect patient data, why should anyone think we can protect student data?

In essence, if this database comes to pass, each student would be assuming a very real risk that carries little to no benefit to them personally, as far as I can see.

And yet no one seems to be asking the students themselves whether they want to be tracked in this manner, whether they care about a particular school's drop-out rate, or whether they want follow-up contact or even for their data to be part of this project!

And it's not exactly a slam dunk amongst the higher education powers that be. There seems to be a split between public and private schools, with the private institutions mostly opposing the database. They even went so far as to commission a survey of 1,000 Americans, 62% of which (wait for it...) are opposed to the government's collecting of this data, citing privacy and cost issues. And yet those are very real issues. In fact, according to The Herald-Sun of Durham, N.C., the proposal has some wondering if it would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1972, which requires schools to get written permission before releasing student records, except in a few specific instances. And the House voted earlier this year to prohibit the creation of a database that would track individual students over time. No word yet from the Senate.

Sure, sure, the data collected will be used in aggregate—students names etc. will be kept confidential. But their specific personal data will likely still be in this big tempting database. And eventually other well-meaning and maybe not so well-meaning programs will want to access it, for which they'd maybe have to pay a fee to the agency holding the database, but not necessarily adhere to the same security controls. (You know the data is going to get spread around. This is a prime demographic—it's just too tempting.) The bottom line here is that as we all know no data is safe today—anywhere. Not from hackers, not from ordinary street crime, and least of all not from the stupidity of well-meaning people.

If students are adults, then shouldn't they have the right to opt in or out of this project? I'm thinking free books, lab fees, or, heck, an entire semester would be an attractive inducement to get that "God yes, have your way with my data" box checked off, but even so many might choose to pass. Whichever, it should be their choice. It's their data!

Do we need a national student tracking system? If parents can't breach the wall of student privacy without their offspring's permission, why the heck should some educational researcher or marketer be able to? Or should the need for better tracking of government funds and better accountability for universities take priority in this debate? Let us know by commenting at my blog entry.

Patricia Keefe
pkeefe@cmp.com


2. Today's Top Story

Intel Launches Next Itanium With New Price-Performance Pitch
The new Itanium 2s are expected to perform better and be priced at about two-thirds the cost of the older Itanium architecture.


3. Breaking News

Vulnerability Found In D-Link Routers
Patches are available for the vulnerability, which affects D-Link's consumer-grade routers.

AOL To Test Security Service
Total Care, designed to compete with similar subscription services from Microsoft and other vendors, will include firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, local backup and restore, PC diagnostics and optimization, and other features.

Brief: Novell Ships Suse Linux Enterprise 10
The company also launched the Novell Customer Center, an online resource that allows business customers to view the status of their products, subscriptions, and services, plus download critical updates.

StumbleUpon Launches Plug-In For Microsoft Internet Explorer
The service, until now only available with Firefox, sends users to sites recommended by others with the same interests.

RIM Sees Media Features Building BlackBerry Market
Photography, music, and video will be a big part of future BlackBerrys as RIM strives to make inroads into the consumer space.

IBM Second-Quarter Sales Flat, But Profits Jump
The company's biggest challenge is finding a way to kick-start its services business, which accounts for about one-half of its total sales.

First Health IT Products Earn New Certification From Commission
E-health record products from 17 vendors are among the first to earn a seal of approval from the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.

More IT Internships, Part-Time Jobs This Summer For Students, Survey Says
The quality of internships and part-time jobs is improving as organizations look to fill entry-level jobs that require a broader skills base.

Microsoft, Nortel Link Arms On Video, Voice, Messaging Strategy
Microsoft desperately needs agreements with telephony vendors like Nortel to get its communications software into offices everywhere.

Microsoft And Xen Team For Virtualization
With this move, Microsoft is expanding its support of virtualization in its most advanced software, and it's doing so in a way that uses fewer system resources than past approaches.

Vonage Ads Delivered Via A Dozen Spyware Makers: Report
Anti-spyware researcher Ben Edelman, in his most recent newsletter, charges that Vonage advertising appears in ads from at least a dozen sources he identifies as spyware makers. He also says there's plenty Vonage could do to stop the practice.

Senate Science Leader Ridiculed For Remarks
Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican from Alaska, is being made fun of far and wide for his explanations about how the Internet and e-mail "work"—statements made while justifying his vote against a net neutrality provision in a law being discussed.

Whirlpool Tests 'Smart' Washers And Dryers
The pilot project, called "Laundry Time," is designed to make doing laundry easier by sending alerts to consumers via televisions, computers, and cell phones.

Oracle Upgrades PeopleSoft Development Tools
PeopleTools 8.48 gives customers the ability to adopt SOA. It also forms the foundation for Oracle's Enterprise 9 suite as it rolls out with continued support for Web services in the coming years.

High-Priced Search Terms Vulnerable To Click Fraud
Click fraud is often used by competitors to drive up the online advertising costs of rivals. It's also used by some Web site operators to increase revenues.

Hackers Turn To Open-Source Models
The notion of collaborative communities works for the bad guys, too.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

John Soat With 'Technology Is A Crapshoot'
Microsoft sues computer resellers, the Feds arrest BetOnSports.com's CEO, and more.

Eric Chabrow With 'IT Jobs Are Up! Part 2'
IT as a career might not be a top choice on college campuses, but IT job creation is on the rise.

Elena Malykhina With 'Vacation Planning, Internet Style'
Elena reviews Yahoo's new travel site, Trip Planner.

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

Managing Security Complexity
With more types of attacks to deal with more frequently, managing information security has grown increasingly complex. Examine how more than 2,000 technology and security professionals are managing this complexity and protecting mission-critical systems in the 9th annual Global Information Security Survey, a joint research project between InformationWeek Research and Accenture.

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

4. Grab Bag

How To Hack 'Well-Trained' AOL Customer Service Reps (Lifehacker)
Wonder why calling AOL to cancel your account feels like a root canal gone bad? Because AOL considers you a "sales lead." Check out these tips for fighting back, as well as a link to an AOL Retention Manual.

Tearing Up The Jack Welch Playbook (Fortune)
The Six Sigma master was once the undisputed authority in management. But Fortune is finding that today's smart CEOs are following a different set of rules.

Yahoo Seriously Considering Unrestricted MP3 Downloads? (Techdirt.com)
Back in February, a Yahoo exec spoke up at a music conference saying that the recording industry should start selling unrestricted MP3s, rather than continue down the path of the DRM-encumbered music files. This makes sense for a variety of reasons.

AI Reaches The Golden Years (Wirednews.com)
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of artificial intelligence, researchers gather on the East Coast to examine the field's history and future—calling the first half-century the start of something great.


5. In Depth: Microsoft Security

Microsoft Buys Data Protection, Recovery Tools Developer Winternals
Although Winternals' commercial software and free-of-charge Sysinternals tools are well-known, co-founder Mark Russinovich is most famous as the discoverer of a rootkit tucked inside Sony BMG audio CDs.

Microsoft Advises Users To Shun Unexpected Office Docs
Also: Microsoft says the patch for the most recently attacked Office application, PowerPoint, will be issued no later than Aug. 8.

Microsoft Files Two Dozen Anti-Piracy Suits
The suits, filed in seven states, claim that the companies pirated Microsoft software or installed unlicensed products on computers they sold.

Blog: Microsoft Office...Bound And Gagged
Microsoft's newest security advisory, posted yesterday, is pretty clear on how to protect yourself from the onslaught of Office vulnerabilities and exploits: "Do not open or save Microsoft Office files that you receive from un-trusted sources or that you received unexpectedly from trusted sources." In plain English, that's a bit like saying, "Put your head between your legs and kiss your 9-to-5 a** goodbye."

Blog: Coincidence? I Think Not
Several researchers have weighed in the last day or two about the remarkable run of Microsoft Office vulnerabilities and the of-course-inevitable exploits. Some have opined that the timing of these attacks isn't slapdash—that, in fact, it's no coincidence that they break when they do. I concur. If it walks like a duck with a plan, talks like a duck with a plan, then it's a duck with a plan.


6. Voice Of Authority

Farnborough Airshow: Where IT Meets Top Gun
It's Tuesday, the second day of the U.K.'s massive Farnborough Airshow. The only thing that's hotter than the molten, 90-plus degree heat on the tarmac is the scorching flybys by some of the world's most advanced military and civilian aircraft. But these days, it takes more than wings to keep these birds in the air. It's probably no surprise to anyone that aeronautics relies on high tech, but what's less obvious is the type of technology that's going to be most important to airlines and air forces in the future.


7. White Papers

Cost Control Through Remote Control: A Practical Approach To Reducing The Cost Of Supporting PCs In A Multiplatform Environment
While the price for personal computers continues to decline, the actual cost to own and operate PCs continues to rise. This paper provides insight and solutions into some of the less visible, but very real costs of PC and LAN ownership. Get a practical approach to reducing the cost of supporting PCs and customers in a multiplatform environment.


8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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