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A laptop that had stored on it the personal information of more than 26.5 million veterans was reportedly stolen in May from the home of an employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The event was not made public until nearly three weeks later. The massive data breach resulted in a shakeup at the department, including the resignation of a deputy assistant secretary and a class action lawsuit. The stolen data may also have included information on 1.1 million active-duty service members, 430,000 National Guardsmen and 645,000 members of the Reserves.

In a move that prompted speculation about the future of Microsoft's next-generation Vista operating system, Symantec filed suit, accusing it of misappropriating technology related to a 1996 licensing agreement with Veritas.

If successful, the court order would cease development or sale by Microsoft of technology related to software formerly owned by Veritas, a company now owned by Symantec.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said he did not expect Vista to be delayed past its anticipated release date of January 2007.

In fact, Microsoft made available to the public beta 2 versions of Windows Vista, Office 2007 and the next version of Windows Server — now codenamed Longhorn.

 

Microsoft shook up the security space with the release of its Windows Live OneCare. Billed as a simple all-in-one security blanket for PCs, the new service includes computer maintenance and file backup and recovery, anti-virus, anti-spyware, a two-way firewall, and updates available through subscription.

Predictably, the release was promptly answered with announcements from both Symantec and McAfee about each of their own forthcoming integrated security solutions. Symantec's Norton 360 is expected to hit the market in March 2007. Meanwhile, McAfee's next generation security subscription service — codenamed Falcon — is due out later in the summer.

 

Israeli-based firm Blue Security halted its anti-spam operations after a spam-based attack shut down the company's website.

A weeklong distributed denial-of-service attack, apparently in return for the company's anti-spam business model, convinced company officials that they could not go on as they envisioned.

"After recovering from the attack, we determined that once we reactivated the Blue community, spammers would resume their attacks. We cannot take the responsibility for an ever-escalating cyberwar through our continued operations," the company said on its website.

 

The Cybersecurity Enhancement and Data Protection Act of 2006 passed through the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and will advance through the legislature later this summer. The bill is designed to strengthen existing federal cybercrime law. If signed into law it would make the use of botnets a federal crime, tighten codes on cyberextortion and increase the maximum penalty for cybercrime to 30 years in prison. It would also make the failure to report breaches involving 5,000 or more customers a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

 

Errata: We transposed two letters in the name of one of the analysts in the June issue, "The switch is on." The name should be Joel Snyder, a senior partner at Opus One, not Joel Synder, as we printed. Sorry for this.

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