5 Companies That Had a Rough Week

This week's roundup of five companies that had a rough week include gloomy sales forecasts for PC makers, another channel executive loss for a networking equipment manufacturer, unresolved issues for HealthCare.gov, a mobile application caught transmitting consumer data without permission, and more proof that many businesses still don't get the need for IT security.

It's been a rough year for IT companies with a stake in the PC business and the prospects are dim that things will turn around any time soon.

Market researcher IDC said this week that worldwide PC shipments for 2013 will decline 10.1 percent, the "most severe" yearly decline ever. IDC also anticipates a further 3.8 percent decline in 2014. Altogether IDC expects annual worldwide PC shipments to bottom out around 300 million units -- barely ahead of 2008 volumes.

Despite the Debbie-Downer numbers, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman and Dell CEO Michael Dell, in interviews with CRN, remained bullish on PC sales and remain steadfast that the PC market is far from dead.

Juniper Networks confirmed this week that Donna Grothjan, vice president of worldwide distribution, left to take a similar job with rival Hewlett-Packard.

Grothjan's departure from Juniper comes amid an exodus of top channel talent from the networking technology company, including U.S. Channel Chief Chris Jones; Senior Vice President of Worldwide Partners Emilio Umeoka; and Senior Director of Worldwide Partner Development Lori Cornmesser.

On the positive side, recruiting Grothjan is HP's latest move to acquire key channel talent as that company kicks its PartnerOne program into high gear.

The news media this week has been rife with stories about how much the HealthCare.gov website has improved since its disastrous October launch. But the site still has weaknesses that could be exploited by cybercriminals.

David Kennedy, a noted security expert and CEO of TrustedSec, this week wrote on the company's website that "a number of undisclosed exposures have still not been addressed and exist today." He went on to say that HealthCare.gov "continues to incorporate poor security practices and should be addressed as soon as possible."

Kennedy testified before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Nov. 19 that his analysis of the HealthCare.gov website uncovered dozens of holes that could potentially be used to gain access to user data.

The developer of a popular flashlight app for Android smartphones this week settled Federal Trade Commission charges that the application secretly provided cellphone location data to marketers, even after consumers rejected the terms of service.

Under the agreement, Goldenshores Technologies, which developed the free "Brightest Flashlight" application, will send users a prominent disclosure notice and get a consumer's consent before collecting or sharing information, according to an AP story.

The FTC was tipped off by complaints posted online from users of the application who wondered why a flashlight app was tapping into their mobile phone's geolocation data, the AP story said. The FTC found that the app recorded a phone's location and unique identification code and then sent that data to advertising networks and other third parties, even though Goldenshore's privacy policy promised that information wouldn't be shared outside the company.

Researchers at security vendor Trustwave this week said they discovered a stolen cache of millions of account credentials belonging to users of Facebook, Twitter, Google and other online services. The researchers said they believe the stolen data found on a malicious server is tied to the use of the Pony Botnet controller.

Experts said the discovery shows that many businesses still don't take the problem of IT security seriously. The find, they said, should be a call to action for business owners to thoroughly review their security practices.