5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include IBM's plummeting hardware revenue, a controversial tactic Microsoft is using to get users to upgrade from Windows XP and a major golden parachute for a fired Yahoo exec. Also, Neiman Marcus comes clean on its security breach, and CNN becomes the latest victim of a Syrian hack.

Despite beating Wall Street's earnings forecast for its fiscal fourth quarter, IBM missed revenue expectations because of weak server, storage and hardware sales.

IBM's revenue dropped from $29.3 billion last year to $27.7 billion. This is the fourth straight quarterly sales decline for the company. IBM's System and Technology Group reported a revenue drop of more than 26 percent to $4.26 billion during the quarter.

IBM CFO Martin Schroeter admitted there were "business model issues in parts of our hardware business" in a conference call with investors. Schroeter also expected a $1 billion "workforce rebalancing charge" in the first quarter, which could signify significant layoffs.

Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to ensure people stop using Windows XP, the operating system for which support will end on April 8. But some partners believe Microsoft is getting carried away with its campaign to get users to upgrade.

In a document sent to partners in December, Microsoft said not even taking PCs off the Internet will protect them from breaches and downtime. Two partners told CRN they won't be using that scare tactic to convince its customers they need to migrate.

"I would absolutely never allow anyone in my employ to communicate to a customer in such a condescending manner," said Andy Kretzer, director of marketing and sales at Bold Data Technology.

"I think it's total FUD [fear, uncertainty and doubt] and it borders on hysteria," added Peter Bybee, president and CEO of San Diego-based Security On-Demand.

Neiman Marcus had a rough week last week when it was revealed customers potentially had their credit and debit cards compromised in a data security breach. Well, the news wasn't any better this week, as the company announced data from 1.1 million cards are at risk due to the hack.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Visa, MasterCard and Discover have informed Neiman Marcus that 2,400 cards have been used fraudulently.

Right now, Neiman Marcus says customers' PIN numbers and social security numbers haven't been compromised. The company also says the breach seems to have affected only customers who shopped at its land-based stores.

Despite being on the job for only 15 months, former Yahoo COO Henrique de Castro (pictured), who was fired last week by CEO Marissa Mayer, will be receiving a hefty severance package for his time served. In fact, the golden parachute might be a record.

Several media outlets, including CNN, revealed this week that de Castro will receive a severance package of more than $60 million. Usually, golden parachutes that large are reserved to executives who are retiring, voluntarily stepping down or leaving following an acquisition.

"As a pure severance package due to performance-related termination, de Castro's exit package is definitely at the top end of the severance we have seen," said Gary Hewitt, the managing director and head of research at GMI Ratings, in a comment to CNN.

Even the most powerful media entities in the world aren't immune from embarrassing hacks. You can add CNN to this list, as the news powerhouse was the victim of a hack by the Syrian Electronic Army on Thursday.

CNN's Facebook and Twitter accounts showed status updates from the hackers for nearly an hour. Some tweets included statements that "Syrian Electronic Army Was Here...Stop lying...All your reports are fake!" and "Obama Bin Laden the lord of terror is brewing lies that the Syrian state controls Al Qaeda."

Social media wasn't the only victim. CNN's blogs for Political Ticker, The Lead, Security Clearance, The Situation Room and Crossfire were also hacked. Last year, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed it was the cause of a 20-hour-long outage of The New York Times website.