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In brief: Spyware can mess up XP SP2 installations

Sep 06, 20043 mins
MalwareMessaging AppsMicrosoft

Also: Nortel delays restated financials; Americans love IM but wonder about its work usage; Oracle releases security patches

  • Microsoft last week warned Windows XP users to scour their systems for spyware before downloading the free security updates, called Service Pack 2. An Associated Press report quoted Microsoft executives saying some spyware could cause computers to freeze up upon installation. Spyware, which typically attaches to downloaded software such as file-sharing programs, tracks behavior, triggers pop-up ads and can otherwise cause computer problems. Programs such as Ad-Aware and SpySweeper can clean computers of the nuisance. Microsoft recommends users clean their PCs of spyware and back up their data before turning on the auto update feature that downloads SP2. Microsoft said several million businesses have downloaded the product.

  • Nortel last week said it again would delay its restated financials. The beleaguered network company said it would need another month to complete its audit and file restated financials. Nortel said in a statement that “the volume and complexity of the work involved” in the cleaning up and restating of its financials means it will miss its Sept. 30 filing deadline for 2003 and the first half of 2004. The vendor stresses that this is a paperwork issue and wants to make sure that it conducts its restatements thoroughly and accurately. Those promises might not prevent further troubles for Nortel, which has promised to restate results going back to 2001 after an accounting scandal that led to criminal investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Dallas. The company also faces civil probes by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Ontario Securities Commission.

  • More than four out of 10 Americans use instant messaging, and about 11 million use it at work but have mixed feelings about its capability to encourage productivity and foster collaboration, according to a survey released last week by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In the survey, 68% of those who use IM at work say it is a mixed blessing but mostly a positive experience, while 11% say they can’t live without it. But 10% said they wish it would go away. When asked if IM helps improve teamwork, 40% said it did and 50% said it saves time on various tasks. But more than one-quarter of respondents said IM had no impact on saving time. In addition, 47% said IM provides moments of relief from the daily grind, while 11% said it has added stress to their lives. The survey was conducted in February and involved 2,204 adults.

  • Oracle last week released security patches that plug several vulnerabilities reported last month in its database software and other products. Customers should download the patches to fix holes in current and past versions of Oracle’s database, application server and management tools, the company said in a security bulletin. It described the holes in its database and application server as “high risk,” because a hacker potentially could exploit them to access a server without needing a user account, Oracle said. Last week’s bulletin lists all the affected products, which are listed here .