News in brief

Short takes from this week's news

Short takes from this week's news

Citibank hit by global debit card scam

Citibank was hit last week by a massive debit card scam that has led to the theft of millions of pounds from accounts held in the UK, Canada and Russia. Thieves hacked into Citibank's systems and stole the data stored on debit cards' magnetic strips, the associated encrypted Pin data, and the encryption keys. Citibank said an ongoing fraud had forced it to reissue debit cards and block Pin-based transactions for users in the three affected countries.

Microsoft releases critical Office patch

Microsoft will today release two security patches for its Office suite and Windows, as part of its monthly scheduled patching cycle. The Office patch has been classed as "critical" by Microsoft, and the Windows fix is deemed "important". Last week a critical patch for Windows Media Player was discovered to have caused operating problems on users' media players, prompting Microsoft to issue a workaround.

Skype moves from consumer to business

Skype, which is best known for its consumer VoIP application, has reconfigured the program for small businesses. The new package, called Skype for Business, includes a dedicated website and support, new hardware and new features to better manage groups of users and prepaid accounts. Skype for Business is aimed at offices with between one and 10 people.

EC considering RFID privacy legislation

The EC is investigating RFID privacy concerns and may create legislation to regulate RFID usage as the tagging technology becomes more widespread. RFID tags are being used increasingly to track inventory in supermarkets and supply chains or to authenticate and encode information in national identity documents.

UK universities sign multi-supplier PC deal

A group of UK universities have combined their buying power for the second time to sign a deal worth up to £150m with several PC suppliers. Compusys, Dell, NEC, Research Machines, Stone Computers and Viglen will be given preferred supplier status to supply computers to universities and higher and further education establishments over four years. The deal replaces the first bulk PC purchasing agreement for the universities, which ran from 2001.

Glasgow launches £1bn shared services project

Glasgow City Council has launched a shared services project with a budget of £1bn that will see it share services with Greater Glasgow Health Board, Jobcentre Plus, Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and Strathclyde Police. The project is the brainchild of Glasgow's politicians and was announced to council officers, including the directors, last week. Under the project, some 6,000 staff will be integrated into a formal shared services structure.

WHSmith uses BI to slash distribution costs

WHSmith News has successfully used business intelligence software to cut 75% from the cost of distributing products to newsagents and larger retailers, such as supermarkets. It is using Business Objects to reduce stock returned from stores and identify products that get lost. The news wholesaler has also begun to receive data directly from Morrisons Epos systems for the first time.

BA aims to save £450m via online bookings

British Airways is hoping to save £450m between April 2006 and March 2008 by increasing the proportion of customers buying tickets online to half its total customer base. New procedures to improve punctuality, including improvements to baggage handling, will drive the savings. The airline is due to move many of its flights to London Heathrow's Terminal Five when it opens in April 2008.

MPs unite to clamp down on hackers

Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs are backing government plans for harsher penalties against hackers. Under the in-development Police and Justice Bill, there is expected to be a much clearer outlawing of offences like denial-of-service attacks and the threat of longer prison sentences of up to 10 years for those caught.

Google proposes £53m 'click fraud' settlement

Google is proposing a £53m settlement to address claims that its advertising customers have been the victims of substantial "click fraud". The settlement proposal is in response to a class-action lawsuit issued last year against Google, AOL, Yahoo, Netscape companies and web portal companies. The settlement has been accepted by the plaintiffs, but has to be approved by a US court.


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