Careful Communication and Proper Use of Computers

Malware Fraud Charges

Reuters reports that seven people have been charged with fraud and hacking offences over a scam that used malicious software (malware) to direct internet browsers to online advertisements, infecting more than 4 million computers in more than 100 countries. According to Reuters, the suspects entered into contracts with legitimate advertising websites under fake company names, earning up to $14 million for the number of “clicks” each page received as a result of the malware channelling users to the sites.
Reuters: Seven charged in alleged Internet ad fraud scam (9 November 2011)
(Source: Reuters)

GlaxoSmithKline Settles for US$3 Billion for Drug Marketing

GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) has settled with the U.S. government over allegations relating to its marketing and development of drugs. Among the drugs in question is the diabetes drug Avandia, which has been linked to heart disease. The settlement with the U.S. government is reportedly for $3 billion. GSK had already set aside $4.6 billion for legal provisions related to this and other investigations. The number of pharmaceutical industry settlements with the U.S. government has grown substantially over the last ten years, as government officials have cracked down on the commercial practices of pharmaceutical companies.
Reuters: GlaxoSmithKline settles U.S. drug rows for $3 bln (2 November 2011)
(Source: Reuters)

Who Is Watching Over Financial Security within the SEC?

Two years ago, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began requiring employees to use a new database, the Ethics Program System (EPS), to track their financial holdings. The SEC hired a third party, Financial Tracking Technologies (FTT), to manage the database. The SEC promised its employees that their personal and financial data would be safe, that only a small number of vetted, third-party employees would have access to the database and that the SEC would audit the system regularly. However, two weeks ago, the SEC sent an email to its employees explaining that FTT had allowed subcontractors to access the database without the SEC’s permission and that employees’ data may have been exposed for as long as the database has been operating. The SEC recommended that its employees review their brokerage account information to ensure that no one has been trading under their names. The SEC suspended the use of EPS last month and is currently reviewing the system.
New York Times: It Guards the Markets, but What About Itself? (22 October 2011)
(Source: New York Times)

Facebook Cookies Attract German Regulator’s Attention

The New York Times (NY Times) reports that the Hamburg Data Protection Agency has announced a probe into Facebook’s use of cookies that track web users’ activity even after they log out of the site. Reportedly, creating “user tracking profiles” in this way is unlawful if the users are not advised. The privacy regulator found that Facebook’s argument for the use of cookies for safety and security reasons did not justify the practice, according to NY Times.
NY Times: Facebook’s Use of Cookies Raises German Regulators’ Suspicions (2 November 2011)
(Source: Bloomberg)

Data Breach Effects Linger, Affect Reputation

SC Magazine reports that a Ponemon Institute survey has found that it takes an average of one year for a company to restore its reputation following a data breach, and that a brand’s value can drop by as much as 31%. The survey of 843 executives also reportedly found that 82% of respondents “had experienced a breach involving sensitive or confidential information”, with losses ranging from US$184-330 million.
SC Magazine: Breaches lead to major reputation, brand damage (28 October 2011)
(Source: SC Magazine)