Top 10: Singing the financial blues, again

This week's roundup of the top tech news stories includes more financial woes for the tech sector, Google taking Gmail offline, click fraud picking up, and more

We could just about cut and paste from last week (and the week before), change a few names and figures here and there, and call it a day. Thankfully, quarterly financial reporting is just about wrapped up for a while, and for (American) football fans the annual rite of the Super Bowl is Sunday (scoring it a Top 10 entry because there are, of course, some IT angles).

1. NEC to lay off 20,000 as economy bites and Wall Street Beat: No let up in IT earnings mayhem: NEC is slashing 20,000 employees from its payroll and getting out of some of its business areas as the economy continues to batter IT companies, along with everyone else. This was a big week for quarterly financial reports to roll out, so NEC was far from alone -- Wall Street Beat gives the synopsis for those with the fortitude to check out the link.

[ Video: Catch up on the week in tech news with the World Tech Update. ]

2. Google delivers offline access for Gmail: Google is rolling out offline access for Gmail, a long-awaited feature of the popular webmail application. PC World checked out offline Gmail and offered up an assessment that was largely positive.

3. Fannie Mae engineer indicted for planting server bomb: Former Unix engineer Rajendrasinh Babubhai Makwana, 35, was indicted by a U.S. federal court on a charge of computer intrusion related to allegedly planting malicious code on the corporate network at the Federal National Mortgage Association, also known as Fannie Mae. The code allegedly devised and planted by Makwana, who was a contract employee, was meant to "destroy and alter" all data on Fannie Mae servers this Saturday, according to an affidavit filed in the case against him.

4. Click fraud shoots up in Q4, driven by botnets and Google dismisses click-fraud report: Click fraud rose in the fourth quarter of last year to a record high as scammers increasingly -- and in more sophisticated ways -- use botnets, according to Click Forensics. What caught our attention about the first story is that it made note that Click Forensics has had a rancorous relationship with Google. Google has accused Click Forensics in the past of faulty methodology and misleading results that make click fraud seem like a bigger issue than it really is, while Click Forensics has shot back that Google trivializes the problem. But the two companies have seemed to get along better recently. Lo and behold, the day after that story Google publicly took Click Forensics to task for its latest figures.

5. Internet hits major milestone, surpassing 1 billion monthly users: The number of worldwide Internet users topped 1 billion for the first time last month, according to comScore. "Surpassing one billion global users is a significant landmark in the history of the Internet," said comScore President and CEO Magid Abraham. "It is a monument to the increasingly unified global community in which we live and reminds us that the world truly is becoming more flat. The second billion will be online before we know it, and the third billion will arrive even faster than that, until we have a truly global network of interconnected people and ideas that transcend borders and cultural boundaries."

6. Senate votes to delay DTV transition and Chairman: FCC has no coherent plan for DTV: The U.S. Senate voted to delay the transition from analog to digital TV broadcasting across the nation, pushing back the date from Feb. 17 to June 12. The House has yet to vote, but is expected to approve a measure to extend the transition, and the new administration also supports the delay. Millions of TV viewers could be affected by the transition, with some possibly losing broadcast TV signals as a result. A program to provide coupons to help people pay for converter boxes for their TVs ran out of money. Otherwise, the transition has been on the wrong track for a long while, according to acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Copps, who is running the FCC now that Barack Obama is president. The FCC has no "coherent and coordinated plan" for the transition, Copps charged.

7. With economic slump, concerns rise over data theft: IT decision makers are fretting about the possibility of a surge in data thieves because laid-off employees pose the greatest security challenge. With so many being laid off during the recession, the security threat is expected to rise. (Warning: The next two stories are also related to the woeful economy, though we'll keep the synopses short; for better news skip ahead to 10.)

8. IT pay takes a hit: Salaries for certified and noncertified IT workers dipped at the end of last year and are expected to decline this year as well because of economic doldrums.

9. Silverlight adoption hampered by economic crisis: Tight budgets are cutting into Silverlight adoption, with those in charge of IT budgets less likely to adopt new technologies at times such as these.

10. Tampa preps for Super Bowl with BI tools and Super Bowl XLIII: Tech vendors pass on $3M ad spots: Football fans in colder climes can tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday in Tampa and enviously watch those lucky enough to have tickets soaking up the warmth of an early February day in Florida. The thousands of people -- many of them sans tickets -- who will jam the city will be tracked by law-enforcement and emergency officials, prepared for worst-case scenarios, using business intelligence tools and specialized software. That's not the only tech angle to the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals -- a big part of the Super Bowl fun for TV viewers is checking out the advertisements, but coming up with pithy ads for things such as BI software, for instance, presents a challenge.

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