Top 10: Browser war redux, patch time, virtualization news

This week's roundup of the top 10 news stories includes Google's Chrome browser, virtualization moves from HP and VMware, and an eye on looming security threats

Google garnered headlines all week with its new Chrome browser. Rival Microsoft announced it will release just four patches next Tuesday, but that may not be cause to think the day will be an easy one for those responsible for keeping systems patched. On the virtualization front, HP launched a product-and-services blitz this week, while VMware picked up a Microsoft certification. Otherwise, a warning was issued about new trickery from spammers, and in case we all weren't aware of it by now, social-networking sites could be ripe for malware.

1. Continuing coverage: Google's Chrome browser: Google offered up a Labor Day holiday surprise when it inadvertently posted a look at its new Chrome browser at an unofficial company blog. Google then made the news official later in the day and released the browser, which shifts the landscape of that market, in beta on Tuesday. Reviewers found the Chrome browser fast, functional, and, following the Google home-page pattern, with a stripped-down look. By week's end, though, the first security problems had surfaced.

2. Upcoming Microsoft patch lineup could be 'massive,' says researcher: A word of warning for next week -- don't assume that because Microsoft is releasing only four patches this month that it will be a snap to deal with them. "It's not going to be an easy month, what with all these different applications and different operating systems affected. Patching will be a lot more involved than you'd think with just four bulletins," said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Network Security. The job of applying the patches could be "potentially massive," he said.

3. Researchers build malicious Facebook application: A research team built a malicious Facebook program to show the perils of social-networking applications. Their experiment shows how easy it could be for a miscreant to trick a big group of users into downloading an application that seems harmless, but that contains malicious code.

4. Should IT form a union?: Demands on IT workers keep piling up, and they have to labor under the constant threat of having their jobs outsourced. Is it time for IT workers to unionize in order to demand better working conditions? Perhaps, but the idea could also be a tough sell in the "lone gunman" ethos of IT work.

5. Sony recalls 73,000 Vaio laptops due to burn hazard: Sony recalled 73,000 Vaio TZ laptops because a manufacturing defect could cause them to overheat in some circumstances. Wiring near the hinge of the computer models could short circuit, Sony said. One person has suffered a minor burn and Sony has gotten 15 additional reports about computers overheating.

6. Spammers use free Web services to shield links: Spammers are using free Web services to try to make the spam links they send out look more legitimate, according to MessageLabs. Photo-hosting sites and the like are being used by spammers who are taking advantages of various features offered as part of free services, the e-mail security vendor has found.

7. HP launches product blitz for virtualization: Responding to survey findings that show most businesses aren't making the most of what virtualization has to offer, HP introduced several new products aimed at both desktop and server virtualization. Besides the hardware, including a new ProLiant server and desktop thin clients, HP is alos offering virtualization consulting services.

8. VMware's ESX certified for Microsoft support, deployment: Microsoft's Server Virtualization Validation Program has issued its first certification with VMware's ESX hypervisor receiving the honors. The certification means that VMware's product will work with Microsoft's Windows Server and other software. It also means that ESX users will be able to receive tech support from both companies.

9. Internet traffic growth slowing, research firm shows: Remember the alarming reports that the Internet is going to collapse under the weight of its own data, especially as more video goes online? Well ... for the second year in a row, international Internet capacity grew at a quicker pace than Internet traffic, according to TeleGeography. International Internet traffic grew 53 percent from the middle of last year to the middle of this year, compared to 61 percent in the prior year. Between 2007 and 2008, average traffic utilization levels on the Internet dropped to 29 percent from 31 percent, with peak utilization decreasing from 44 percent to 43 percent, the market-tracking firm found.

10. Cheaters: Inside the hidden world of IT certification fraud: A group of IT hardware and software vendors have joined with independent certifying agencies, test centers and some others to create the IT Certification Council in an effort to share information to keep certification fraud from occurring. Certification cheating is apparently a dirty little IT secret that the council seeks to bring into the open.