The Buzz: June 23, 2003

Microsoft last week announced an agreement with West Virginia for the state to drop its appeal.

Microsoft Settles With West Virginia

Microsoft last week announced an agreement with West Virginia for the state to drop its appeal—leaving Massachusetts as the lone holdout for penalties harsher than in a settlement accepted by several other states and the U.S. government.

Massachusetts officials plan to press on. "Nothing has changed with West Virginias decision to withdraw from the Microsoft appeal," said Sarah Nathan, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly. "Last year, we made the decision to appeal the Microsoft ruling and pursue a remedy that will protect consumers, bring back competition and ensure corporate accountability. Those goals remain."

Microsoft also announced preliminary approval of a settlement of the consolidation of two lawsuits. The total value of the settlement is $21 million, the company said. It resolves both class action consumer claims against Microsoft as well as the claims West Virginia made in the federal antitrust case. The settlement provides that half of any unclaimed proceeds will go to West Virginias most needy public schools in the form of vouchers for hardware, software and professional development services, Microsoft said.

Microsoft Sues Spammers

Microsoft filed 15 lawsuits last week—13 in the United States and two in the United Kingdom—as part of its expanding anti-spam initiative. The software vendor filed the suits following investigations across 34 countries involving companies and individuals that have sent 2 billion illegal spam messages to MSN and Hotmail users.

Twelve suits were filed under a Washington state anti-spam statute that allows ISPs to target spammers that send unwanted communications to Washington consumers. Another suit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

The two civil suits filed in the United Kingdom target spammers that have allegedly attempted to harvest MSN and Hotmail subscriber names from Microsofts database. The U.S. cases focus primarily on the alleged use of deceptive practices, such as false subject lines, false sender IDs and/or spoofed identities. —Microsoft Watch

Cyber-Security Leaks: Your Co-Workers

Most workers blame others for cyber-security holes, according to a study released last week by the Information Technology Association of America and Brainbench, an online skills-measurement company.

The Global Cyber Security Survey found that of almost 800 knowledge professionals surveyed around the world, most rated their own security skills highly. Sixty-five percent said their co-workers ignore cyber-security, dont want to be bothered or dont know what to do about it.

A large portion of workers—46 percent—either have no formal training in information security or have cobbled together their know-how. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they were trained on the job. Thirty-six percent are either unsure what to do about security or have no particular interest in protecting their organizations infrastructure, the report found.

About half said their companies are doing a poor job at training, providing either little, sporadic, incomplete or no security information, the study said.

EDS to Lay Off 2,700

Electronic Data Systems last week announced it will shed some 2,700 workers as part of an organizational restructuring designed to cut costs.

The cuts represent about 2 percent of the services companys global work force. The move comes as EDS CEO Michael Jordan announced changes to what he called a highly fragmented structure with misaligned delivery capabilities, high costs, and little product or portfolio management. Jordan said the organization will be streamlined to consolidate consulting, operations, and sales and marketing with a single sales force, delivery organization and services representing the whole of EDS.