Top IT stories of 2010 - July

New cyber threats emerge, telecoms regulators kept busy, India reveals $35 notebook

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Top IT stories of 2010 - July Iran's nuclear program was hit by a highly targeted cyber attack (Getty Images)
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By  Mark Sutton Published  December 23, 2010

The security industry began to get to grips with a new worm in July, revealing one of the most complex and powerful cyber threats ever seen, leading to some claims that it marked the start of a cyber warfare arms race.

While the process of dissecting the Stuxnet worm would take time, it was becoming clear to researchers that the worm was a carefully crafted attack on Iran's nuclear program.

The multi-faceted worm used various means of propagation and appeared to have been tailored over time. In November, Iranian authorities finally confirmed that Stuxnet hit its apparent target, centrifuges used for refining nuclear fuel.

Also in security, an alert was issued by FraudWatch International warning that Mashreq Bank was being targeted by a phishing scam. It was the 18th alert about Mashreq by FraudWatch since the start of the year, although the bank insisted its security systems were robust.

Scammers were also targeting IT re-exporters in the UAE, posing as reputable Europe-based companies. The fraudsters, mainly from Africa, posed as European companies, to get local resellers to ship goods to them, before disappearing.

Telecoms and telecoms regulators had another busy month. In the UAE, the TRA announced a new policy to cut down on mobile spam, requiring operators to obtain consent before sending users marketing messages. The policy was deployed with variable results.

In Bahrain, the chief executive of Batelco complained that the company had not had any of its promotions or pricing schemes approved by regulators all year. Gert Rieder, chief executive of Batelco Bahrain said that relations with the regulator were getting worse rather than better.

Regulators in Saudi were also coming into conflict with operators, with the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), handing down a SR5 million ($1.32 million) fine to an unnamed operator in the country for violating a ban on offering a free international roaming service.

In Lebanon, an employee of state-owned operator Alfa was arrested and charged with spying for Israel. The arrest was the second at the operator this year.

Qatari regulators reached a decision in the case surrounding Qtel launching the Virgin Mobile brand. The regulator ruled that Qtel had breached three telecom laws in the way it launched and presented its Virgin Mobile service to the public, and faced an undisclosed fine. The regulators however dismissed rival Vodafone Qatar's claims that Virgin constituted a third mobile operator, and gave the go ahead for the Virgin launch.

Less contentious news from Qatar was the successful transition of phone numbers from seven to eight digits, which was pulled off without any interruption to services.

Egypt approved two new consortia to provide cable, internet and telephone services to residential areas in Cairo suburbs and elsewhere. The new licences went to one consortium led by LinkDotNet and included affiliates of Orascom Telecom, while the other included Vodafone, one of Egypt's three mobile operators.

Regional connectivity got another boost, with the news that six of the region's leading telecom operators had signed an agreement to build and maintain the 4,000 km Regional Cable Network, (RCN) a multi-terabit terrestrial cable system to connect the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria to Europe.

In the hardware market, the Indian government revealed a prototype laptop for students that will cost just $35. The slate form factor device was unveiled by country's Human Resource Development Minister, although critics queried the feasibility of the project.

IBM launched what it said was one of the most important developments in mainframe technology in decades. The new IBM zEnterprise System, which took three years and $1.5 billion to develop, will allow workloads on mainframe, Power7 and System x servers to share resources and be managed as a single, virtualised system.

From big iron to big numbers, social networking site Facebook revealed that it had reached 500 million users.

Microsoft reported that adoption of Windows 7 was speeding up, with 15% of computers worldwide running on the latest version of the OS by July. Since its launch in October 2009, Microsoft has sold 175 million licences.

Larry Ellison, CEO and founder of Oracle was announced as the top earning executive of the last decade, making $1.84 billion from 2000 to 2009, according to a survey by the Wall Street Journal.

In appointment news, Samer Alkharrat swapped from Cisco to SAP. Alkharrat, who had been with Cisco for 15 years, joined SAP as its managing director for MENA region, to help with the company's expansion in the Middle East.

EMC reported record income and revenue for the second quarter of 2010, with income for the quarter doubling to $426 million, and consolidated revenue reaching $4.02 billion.

Nokia Siemens Networks took on Motorola's wireless network infrastructure unit for $1.2 billion in cash, cementing its position as the world's second biggest telecom infrastructure vendor.

Finally Egypt took home the Offshoring Destination of the Year award, presented by the European Outsourcing Association, thanks to the strength of Egypt's outsourcing industry in providing multilingual services.

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2010 retrospective