News in brief

Brief takes on the week's news

Short takes from this week's news

Jobcentre Plus system falls short on claims

A new electronic claims system used by the government's Jobcentre Plus service is failing to process many claims, according to figures from the Public and Commercial Services union. MPs have been given figures which show that two-thirds of claims are not being processed by the EDS-supplied system. Lesley Strathie, chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, told a committee of MPs that the situation was being tackled and the system was expected to be improved in March.

Kama Sutra worm to replicate this week

Businesses should brace themselves for a further spread of the Kama Sutra worm on 3 February, as it is programmed to attempt to replicate itself from infected machines. The worm, also given the name Nyxem.E by security software suppliers, will at the same time attempt to delete certain files on infected machines - it has been programmed to do this on the third day of every month. Experts estimate that the worm has already infected 500,000 machines worldwide.

Google ready to take on Department of Justice

Google and the US Department of Justice will meet in court on 27 February over Google's refusal to hand over its customers' search data. The department wants the data to help introduce laws making it harder to visit adult websites without a user name and password. The US government said ISPs and filtering software do not do enough to stop minors accessing adult sites.

Habitat to make savings with labelling software

Furniture retailer Habitat expects to save £400,000 a year by deploying shelf-edge labelling software from LShift. The company is also standardising product data across its catalogues, websites and stores around the world.

Credit report firm fined £8m for security breach

US firm ChoicePoint, which provides consumer credit reports, has agreed to pay an £8m fine after security breaches exposed thousands of people to the risk of identity theft. The personal details of more than 160,000 customers were leaked to criminals posing as businessmen. The fine is the largest ever imposed by the US Federal Trade Department.

Symrise signs £100m outsourcing deal

Global perfume and flavourings maker Symrise has signed a 10-year IT outsourcing deal worth £100m with Atos Origin. Under the agreement, Atos will take over the management of applications support and IT infrastructure, as well as handling specific IT projects. About 100 Symrise IT staff will transfer to Atos.

UK's biggest retailers are moving to mobile

Mobile technology will soon be used by half of the UK's largest retailers. In a survey of 100 companies conducted by Martec International, 35 major retailers said they already used mobile devices in their stores, and a further 15 retailers said they were either piloting or deploying mobile technology. The survey was sponsored by Microsoft.

Automation enables cuts at Alliance & Leicester

Alliance & Leicester is to cut 350 jobs as part of a drive to reduce the cost of its back-office operations. The planned cut in staff numbers will save the bank £10m a year from 2007. Managers at Alliance & Leicester said improvements in the bank's call centre, including increased automation of business processes, were already cutting the workload of its back-office operations.

Weather centre signs up for IP network

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts has agreed a five-year deal worth £410,000 with Matrix Communications to implement and maintain an IP network. The EU-backed centre, which is based in Reading, Berkshire, said it needed a new network to handle the enormous throughput and computing power necessary to deliver its numerical weather prediction data, which goes out to EU-member governments, agencies and research bodies.

Welsh multi-agency e-crime unit planned

Plans are being drawn up to create a multi-agency e-crime unit for Wales. The unit will employ permanent staff, and take secondees from the police and other agencies, including five regional investigators. Once established, one of the unit's first projects will be to develop a website offering advice to small companies on security, as well as training to business advisers.

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