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5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

For the week ending March 22, CRN looks at IT companies that were unfortunate, unsuccessful or just didn't make good decisions.

The Week Ending March 22

Topping this week's roundup of those having a rough week is Google for getting hit with a $1.69 billion fine by the European Union for alleged anti-competitive behavior.

Also making the list this week is Facebook for the social media giant's latest data protection failure, this time involving improperly protected passwords. Also on the list are Apple for getting hit with anticompetitive complaints from Kaspersky Lab and Spotify, IBM for having to fix security flaws in two Watson Analytics products, and SoftNAS for having to make its own security fix.

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 Five Companies That Came To Win roundup.

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Google Hit – Again – By European Commission With $1.69 Billion Antitrust Fine Over Advertising Practices

The European Commission's antitrust regulator this week hit Google with a fine of 1.49 billion euro, about U.S.$1.69 billion, charging that Google's AdSense business engages in anti-competitive business practices.

The latest fine comes on top of the $5 billion fine the European Commission levied against Google last year for business practices involving Google's Android mobile operating system that the EC also concluded were anti-competitive. Google has appealed that decision.

In its latest ruling, the EC accused Google of stifling competition by contractually restricting publishers that use the AdSense service from hosting competitors' ads. AdSense, according to the EC, gave priority to Google on results pages and required publishers to see Google's approval when posting ads for rival businesses.

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Facebook Held Hundreds Of Millions Of User Passwords In Plain Text

Facebook is in hot water yet again over its data protection practices. This week it was disclosed that the social media giant has stored account passwords for between 200 million and 600 million users in plain text, making them searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees since 2012.

An internal probe found that Facebook staffers had built applications that logged unencrypted password data and stored it in plain text on internal company servers, according to a report by security blog KrebsOnSecurity.

The password storage issue comes three months after Facebook disclosed that it had allowed third-party applications to improperly access photos from as many as 6.8 million users. And three months before that Facebook revealed that hackers exploited a vulnerability in the social media giant's code to potentially take over nearly 50 million user accounts.

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Apple Hit With Antitrust Complaints By Kaspersky Lab, Spotify

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with Russian authorities this week alleging that Apple's new App Store policy creates monopolistic conditions that harm developers of competing products.

Kaspersky charged that Apple's new App Store rules forced Kaspersky to remove app control and Safari browser blocking capabilities from its Safe Kids iOS application. Kaspersky said that move came after Apple debuted its own Screen Time feature in September 2018 as part of iOS 12.

"Apple appears to be using its position as platform owner and supervisor of the sole channel for delivering apps to users of the platform to dictate terms and prevent other developers from operating on equal terms with it," Kaspersky said in a blog post.

Kaspersky filed the complaint with the Federal Antimonopoly Service in Russia.

Apple was also hit with an antitrust complaint in the European Union filed by Spotify, which claimed that the Apple Music service enjoys an unfair advantage by levying App Store taxes against Spotify and other competitors.

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IBM Scrambles To Fix Security Bugs In Watson Analytics

IBM issued alerts this week that five security vulnerabilities in the company's vaunted Watson analytics technology posed threats ranging from data disclosure to the potential for remote attackers to take over a Watson system.

IBM issued fixes for the bugs in Watson Explorer and Watson Content Analytics products. Several of the vulnerabilities could allow "an unauthenticated attacker to obtain sensitive information" while others could allow an attacker to take control of a system or launch a denial of service attack.

The security flaws are rooted in Java components in the IBM Runtime Environment Java Technology Edition used by the two Watson systems.

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SoftNAS Fixes Cloud Vulnerability Discovered By Digital Defense

IBM wasn't the only company scrambling to plug software vulnerabilities this week. SoftNAS quickly fixed a vulnerability in its SoftNAS Cloud that could have allowed unauthorized users to take administrative control of its system.

SoftNAS said it fixed the vulnerability before customers were impacted. The company said the flaw was only an issue if customers had not configured and protected their virtual machines with a firewall.

Digital Defense discovered the vulnerability in SoftNAS Cloud Enterprise 4.2.0 and 4.2.1, which could create an unauthenticated bypass that unauthorized users could use to gain access to the webadmin interface.

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