Top 10: Week 2 for the IE bug, Apple bails on Macworld

This week's wrapup of the top tech news stories includes Microsoft's IE bug woes, Apple pulling out of Macworld, Red Hat's new maintenance plan, and more

Microsoft released an emergency patch for the Internet Explorer flaw this week after Chinese security researchers accidentally posted the attack code for it last week, but that isn't stopping the damage. More consternation was created by word from Apple that it is bailing out of the Macworld Conference & Expo after the 2009 event in a few weeks and CEO Steve Jobs will not be giving the keynote speech.

1. Microsoft fixes IE bug and Hackers exploit IE bug with 'insidious' Word docs: Internet Explorer users were urged to immediately install an emergency patch released by Microsoft to fix a flaw in the browser that was inadvertently made public by Chinese security researchers last week. Hackers immediately began using the flaw after the attack code was posted and it is expected to be more widely used to plant malware on Web sites. Hackers also quickly began to exploit the flaw by stashing malicious ActiveX controls in Word documents. McAfee's Avert Labs director of security research and communications, David Marcus, summed it up: "This is a pretty insidious way to attack people, because it's invisible to the eye, the communication with the site."

[ Learn how to secure your systems with Roger Grimes' Security Adviser blog and newsletter, both from InfoWorld. ]

2. Apple announces its last year at Macworld, no Jobs keynote and Apple at Expo: What went wrong?: Apple is done with Macworld after the 2009 show in three weeks and Jobs won't be giving the keynote when the show opens Jan. 5. That announcement surprised -- even shocked -- many industry watchers and also renewed speculation about Jobs' health. Macworld, the Web site/magazine, took a long look at the news, including what it says about the state of trade shows generally and Apple specifically, in a number of articles and columns.

3. Bribes, scams cost Siemens $1.6 billion: Siemens and some of its subsidiaries forked over more than $1.4 billion in bribes to foreign officials, scammed the United Nations Oil for Food program and -- as if that wasn't enough -- "cooked" financial records for years until being busted by U.S. and German prosecutors. As a consequence, the parent company and subsidiaries will pay $898.4 million in criminal fines to the U.S. Additionally, in a separate civil proceeding that involved some of the same incidents, Siemens agree to turn over $350 million in profits linked to the shenanigans. "Today's filings make clear that for much of its operations across the globe, bribery was nothing less than standard operating procedure for Siemens," said U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich.

4. Undersea cable cuts disrupt Internet access: Three major underwater cable cuts affected Internet and telephone access and traffic between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The cuts were on lines that connect countries between Singapore and France and the U.K. and Japan, France Telecom said. The cause of the cuts was unknown, though it could have been an undersea earthquake or a ship passing through the area of the cables, which are located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Sicily.

5. Outsourcers warn of H-1B visa cutbacks: Companies that hire employees on H-1B and L-1 visas are warning investors through U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings that it might be harder to get those visas in the future. Some are saying they aren't sure that President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress will be much help in that regard. Obama repeatedly pledged as he campaigned that he would push to "stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas" and offer incentives to keep jobs in the U.S., but he hasn't provided specifics about how he'll aim to accomplish that or how H-1B visas might be involved.

6. Red Hat offers 18-month term for enterprise maintenance: Red Hat enterprise customers -- and would-be customers who haven't cared for the company's previous approach to maintenance options -- got good news with word that the company is making it more cost effective to run and maintain one version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux for 18 months instead of six.

7. RIAA stops suing individuals: Are we home free?: The Recording Industry Association of America is going to stop going after individuals for allegedly illegally downloading digital music and will put the burden on Internet service providers to keep tabs on customers and rein them in if they appear to be engaged in download-related online misbehavior.

8. Open-source success due to Microsoft, report says: Well, this is a twist, but one that, in hindsight, we could have seen coming -- the success and growth of open-source software owes less to evangelism and developer enthusiasm than to its commercialization by the likes of Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Sun and other vendors, according to a report by Saugatuck Technology.

9. Reproduction of 2,100-year-old calculator deepens mystery: The Antikythera Device, a mysterious, complex astronomical calculator that is more than 2,000 years old, has been reproduced using discoveries announced a couple of years ago by an international research team. Former museum curator Michael Wright created the new model. He had previously created an earlier model after decades of researching the device. The shoebox-size device contains 27 bronze gears and dials that are turned by a knob on the side -- the complexity of the gears was not found again until the Middle Ages, 1,000 years after the astronomical calculator was devised.

10. 2008: Yahoo's year to forget: Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang heralded 2008 as the year for the company's turnaround and his enthusiasm for the possibilities was infectious within his company as well as among many industry observers and analysts. But as the year winds down, 2008 hasn't worked out that way at all, with Yang planning to step aside as CEO as soon as Yahoo, which is struggling more than ever, finds a replacement.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.