5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

For the week ending Aug. 16, CRN looks at IT companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions.


The Week Ending Aug. 16

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week are some of the industry's leading chip manufacturers over vulnerabilities discovered in driver software.

Also making the "Rough Week" list are Cisco and nearly 500 employees facing layoffs, Conduent for having to consider "strategic options" about its future, CryptoOracle for being the recipient of a trademark infringement lawsuit from Oracle, and Choice Hotels for being the victim of a cybersecurity breach.

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Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves—or just had good luck—check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Driver Vulnerabilities Affect Intel, AMD And Nvidia

Vulnerabilities found in drivers released by Intel, AMD, Nvidia and several other vendors can potentially give bad actors full control of Windows-based computers and their underlying firmware, even after the operating system is reinstalled, according to research out this week from an Intel-backed security firm.

The report from Eclypsium disclosed the vulnerabilities, collectively dubbed "Screwed Drivers," which affect more than 40 drivers from at least 20 vendors.

The report was also bad news for Microsoft because it impacts all modern versions of Windows. Eclypsium said the vulnerabilities highlight a "fundamental issue" with Microsoft's driver certification process since all the impacted drivers had been certified by Microsoft.

Cisco Cuts Nearly 500 Jobs In California

It's been a tough couple of weeks for more than 480 Cisco employees in California who have been laid off from the company's San Jose and Milpitas offices.

The cutbacks are the second major round of layoffs within the last 12 months: The company cut 460 jobs in the same offices in November 2018.

The networking giant cut 397 jobs at its San Jose headquarters and another 91 in Milpitas, effective July 31, according to WARN notices received by the state of California's Employment Development Division. The company did not disclose the reasons for the layoffs and it wasn't clear whether they were part of a broader reorganization.

Cisco has been transitioning to a software- and subscription-led organization: In the company's just-completed fourth quarter, software subscriptions accounted for 70 percent of total software revenue.

CryptoOracle Sued By Oracle For Alleged Trademark Violation

It's never a good week when you get sued by a major IT vendor, especially by Oracle, a company with a reputation for playing legal hardball.

Oracle filed a lawsuit this week against CryptoOracle, a New York-based venture capital and strategic advisory firm focused on blockchain technology, alleging trademark infringement and cybersquatting.

The lawsuit, which also names CryptoOracle owner and Managing Partner Louis Kerner as a defendant, alleges that the startup intentionally chose its name "to trade on Oracle's reputation as an innovator and leader within the technology industry, and to evoke among consumers the goodwill that Oracle has built in its most famous brand."

Oracle said it previously tried to resolve the dispute without going to court. A cease-and-desist letter was met by Kerner sending back an application he filed to trademark the CryptoOracle name.

Conduent Considers Sale, Further Divestiture To Reverse Fortunes

Xerox spinoff Conduent reported disappointing second-quarter financial results this week and management acknowledged that the company is at a crossroads and considering strategic options to turn the business around.

Interim CEO Cliff Skelton said Conduent is conducting a strategic review in which all options are on the table, including a sale of the company or the divestiture of additional parts of the business.

Last year Conduent completed $1 billion in divestitures in an effort to streamline the business but has yet to transform those savings into better earnings for investors.

Conduent has had a tumultuous year, including the resignation of CEO Ashok Vemuri earlier this year and a tussle with activist investor Carl Icahn over seats on the company's board of directors.

Unprotected Choice Hotels Database Exposes 700,000 Customer Records

Choice Hotels is dealing this week with the fallout from the theft of 700,000 customer records from a database that was left open to the internet. The hackers have demanded a 0.4 Bitcoin ransom—about $3,800—for the data's return, according to published reports on Threatpost, SC Magazine and other sites.

The database, operated by a vendor partner that has not been identified, was apparently unprotected for four days before being discovered by Bob Diachenko and researchers at Comparitech.

The MongoDB database contained a total of 5.6 million records. While most of that was test data, it did include 700,000 real records including customer names, phone numbers and email addresses.

The Choice Hotels chain includes Comfort Inn, Clarion, Quality Inn and EconoLodge.