Secrets and spies

WorldCom has not done well at keeping secrets. In addition to its monstrous accounting screw-ups, the company is also having trouble with its network security, one of my spies says.

So far, I'm still in the clear. Amber never found out about the lone plane ticket to Hawaii I purchased, so she is on board for the trip after all. "I cannot wait for our vacation, Bobby," she said. Let's just hope my secret keeps.

More WorldCom worries

WorldCom, however, has not done well at keeping secrets. In addition to its monstrous accounting screw-ups, the company is also having trouble with its network security, one of my spies says.

In June my spy's company found that several of its 3000-plus business dial- up ISP accounts had been compromised. In July they discovered several more were being used fraudulently, with sources originating in Singapore, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. After checks by my spy's company and close work with the WorldCom account team, they discovered what turned out to be a security breach on WorldCom's side.

Still, the bills kept coming. After seeking a credit for the fraudulent usage charges, my spy's company received a rather cold message from the previously warm and helpful account team -- a cut-and-paste job reminding them of WorldCom's policy on fraudulent use and noting (not surprisingly) that WorldCom is not liable.

Another can of worms

When I wrote about my many spies unhappy with their HP handheld devices, it seems that was merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. (I said HP and Compaq had won themselves a cadre of enemies because of lackadaisical tech support and their treatment of paying customers as essentially beta testers.) One spy found a notable bug: the handheld's reminder feature doesn't automatically turn off after sending out an alert. The reminder can wear out the battery if the handheld is unattended.

HP's answer? Disable the reminder option. Now that makes a lot of sense: if the feature does not work as advertised, just turn it off.

On the auction block

CrossLogix, which provides a rules-based transaction authorisation engine to Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, among others, is up for sale. The company has $US5 million in the bank, but insiders say it needs to tightly integrate its technology with portal and application server stacks.

Meanwhile, despite Bank of New York's several previous layoffs in the IT ranks, the current rumour is that the biggest one is going to be next month -- 20% of the IT staff.

I hate to admit it, but I feel a bit guilty about this whole thing, particularly since Amber keeps apologising for spoiling the surprise. "Oh, if you only knew," I said.

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