Top 10: Sun releases JavaFX, more malware, shopping jam

This week's roundup of the top tech news includes Sun releasing its JavaFX RIA technology, Firefox's malware, a glut of e-commerce, and more

This week's news was dominated by the woeful economy and terrorist attacks, and not even browsers were safe as new malware targeting Firefox users was reported. One positive note was that early online holiday-season shopping was robust. But there was a negative side to that as well -- the influx of e-shoppers caught some major online stores off guard and their systems couldn't handle the traffic. Meanwhile, Sun announced the release of its new RIA technology in hopes of competing in the burgeoning rich media app space.

1. Sun's JavaFX RIA technology now available: Sun entered the hot rich media app realm this week with the official release of its JavaFX technology. The release includes JavaFX Dekstop, a beta version of JavaFX Mobile, and the JavaFX Script language, meaning users can now create rich media apps using Java. The full release of JavaFX Mobile is expected in early 2009. With JavaFX, Sun is competing against the dominant Adobe Flash as well as Microsoft's Silverlight technology.

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2. Firefox users targeted by rare piece of malware: BitDefender researchers have discovered new malware that identifies financial and money-transfer sites, including PayPal, and then collects passwords to those sites, but is aimed only at Firefox users.

3. Major e-stores malfunction on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Cyber Monday crowds overwhelm some large e-tailers, and Shoppers opened their wallets on Cyber Monday: If you were among the hoards of shoppers trying to transact some e-commerce on "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday," the day after and the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, you might already have known before the news reports were out that online crowds slammed some of the largest e-tailers, causing them to jam, get stuck loading or crash entirely. Seeming to defy paltry expectations, online shoppers spent 15 percent more on Cyber Monday this year than last, with the spending spree starting on Thanksgiving with a 6 percent increase that day over a year ago, and 19 percent more over the weekend, according to comScore. The $846 million spent online on Cyber Monday is the second-biggest for e-tail spending on record. Even so, analysts expect that overall holiday spending in November and December will be flat compared to last year.

4. Google Earth used by terrorists in India attacks: Terrorists who attacked multiple locations in Mumbai learned their way around the city by using Google Earth maps, officials investigating the attacks in India said. The terrorists also used satellite phones and GPS, police said (although we realize it may well be more newsworthy at this juncture if a terrorist organization weren't making use of various technologies). India's former president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, is among those who have criticized Google Earth because it can be used for nefarious purposes.

5. U.S. report sees major terror attack by 2013, ignores cyberattck risk: A major terrorist attack involving biological or nuclear weapons is likely somewhere in the world by 2013, although the greater probability is that it will be a biological event, according to "The World at Risk," a report from a commission mandated by Congress. The 132-page report did not much address cyberattacks or network security, although it did note that the Internet provides an easy place to find out how to build a nuclear bomb. But reading between the lines, there are technology issues inherent in the report's conclusions.

6. Apple quietly recommends using antivirus software and Apple removes antivirus support page: Apple removed a page on its Web site that recommended antivirus software be bought by Mac users -- a suggestion that ran counter to the company's popular advertising campaign that pokes fun at Windows PCs for, among other reasons, being security risks. The page, which was first spotted by The Washington Post and then widely reported for a couple of days, was taken down "because it was old and inaccurate," an Apple spokesman said. "The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threads right out of the box."

7. Five must-do cybersecurity steps for Obama: President-elect Barack Obama has a sizeable to-do list, what with the economy in the toilet, war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the reputation of the U.S. needing to be restored. But Obama should not overlook needed work on cybersecurity and related issues, which also remain important, according to security experts who weighed in to assist CSOonline in preparing a list of "must-do" steps in those regards.

8. Open source developers set out software road map for 2020: At the Open World Forum conference in Paris, attendees were -- surprise surprise -- qute bullish on the future of what they term FLOSS (free, libre, and open source software). Their projections for FLOSS through 2020 include much greater adoption by businesses and consumers alike. They also said FLOSS would bridge the digital divide between rich and poor, provide greater social networking, and be at the heart of green datacenters.

9. Virtual server sprawl kills cost savings, experts warn: So, you think you're going to save your IT shop a bundle of dough by adopting server virtualization, eh? Maybe you need to think again -- Jett Thompson, a Boeing computing infrastructure architect, said virtual server sprawl can make those savings disappear.

10. Google called off Yahoo deal as DOJ moved in: A mere three hours before the U.S. Department of Justice was going to file an antitrust complaint to block Google's proposed search advertising deal with Yahoo, Google bailed out, according to Sanford Litvack, the attorney retained by the government to handle the case. Litvak talked about the unraveling of the deal in an interview with the AMLaw Daily blog.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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