Five Companies That Dropped The Ball This Week

Google Shares Plummet After Q4 Earnings Miss

Google doesn't often miss Wall Street's expectations, but when it does … it drinks Dos Equis.

No, wait, scratch that: There probably isn't much drinking of Dos Equis, or any sort of celebratory beverage, in the wake of Google's fourth-quarter earnings call, during which the search giant reported earnings per share of $9.50 -- well short of the $10.49 per share analysts had forecast, according to Thomson Reuters.

Google's cost-per-click -- a key online advertising metric -- fell 8 percent year over year and sequentially, contributing to quarterly revenue that fell $270 million short of Wall Street's expectations.

Google shares fell $57.67 -- slightly more than 9 percent -- in after-hours trading Thursday.

Apple Facing Backlash Over Grasping iBook EULA

Apple is being vilified for its licensing terms for the iBooks Author, a new digital book creation program it released this week.

According to the iBooks Author end user licensing agreement, or EULA, authors that wish to distribute their works commercially can only do so through Apple, and their submissions are subject to Apple's approval. It's the same setup as Apple's App Store, only in this case, Apple is going a step further by regulating the content that's created using its software.

Response from the blogosphere has been venomous -- Microsoft blogger Ed Bott described Apple's iBooks Author EULA as "mind-bogglingly greedy and evil," while iOS developer and blogger Dan Wineman railed against Apple's "unprecedented audacity."

Oracle Taking Heat Over Unpatched Database Vulnerabilities

Security experts are calling out Oracle not just for downplaying the severity of reported vulnerabilities in its database software, but also for the fact that just two of the 78 fixes it issued this week in its Critical Patch Update had to do with database flaws.

"I am honestly shocked that they only fixed two database vulnerabilities," Alex Rothacker, manager of Application Security's research arm, TeamShatter, told CRN sister publication Dark Reading.

Rothacker told Dark Reading that his company is aware of nine reported database vulnerabilities that Oracle has yet to patch, including five that could lead to privilege escalation and one that was originally reported in 2009.

Zappos Database Hack Compromises 24 Million Customers' Data

Zappos' failure to prevent a hacker from pilfering personal data of 24 million customers has left them vulnerable to future attacks, security experts said this week.

After breaking into Zappos' internal network and computer systems through a server in Kentucky, the hacker made off with customer data including names, e-mail addresses, billing and shipping addresses, phone numbers, scrambled passwords and the last four digits of credit card numbers.

Amazon-owned Zappos responded quickly to the attack, resetting customers' passwords and requiring them to create new ones. Still, security experts warned that hackers could use the stolen data to access other Web accounts used by customers, such as Amazon and eBay.

Security Researchers Unearth Vulnerability In RIM's PlayBook

Research In Motion doesn't need any more bad news to come its way, but that's exactly what happened this week. Security researchers Zach Lanier and Ben Nell of Intrepidus Group discovered a vulnerability in the Bridge application, which is used for communications via Bluetooth between the PlayBook and the BlackBerry handset, Kaspersky Lab reported in its ThreatPost blog.

As a result, Nell and Lanier found a way to snatch the authentication token sent between the devices and use it to connect to a PlayBook and access e-mail and other data. The irony here is that PlayBook sales have been sluggish in large part due to their need to be tethered to a BlackBerry.