5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Feb. 21

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include Rimini Street's latest legal tussle with Oracle, a computer security breach at a major university, the latest details in HP's claims about Autonomy's pre-acquisition business practices, more security flaws in Adobe Flash Player, and and about-face from Red Hat.

Rimini Street Loses Legal Round With Oracle

Application maintenance and support provider Rimini Street this week said its business won't be interrupted by a court ruling that it infringed on Oracle's software copyrights.

Rimini Street provides maintenance and support services for Oracle applications, including its PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards software. The company claims it can do the job for about 50 percent less than what Oracle charges. But Oracle sued Rimini Street in January 2010 alleging copyright infringement and unfair competition.

Last week the U.S. District Court ruled that Rimini Street had used illegal and unlicensed copies of PeopleSoft software as the basis of its business. The amount of damages in the case will be determined in a trial. Rimini Street CEO Seth Ravin, in a letter to customers, said the case isn't settled and argued that independent software support is a viable model.

University Of Maryland Hit With Computer Security Attack

A computer security breach at the University of Maryland this week exposed personal records of more than 300,000 faculty, staff and students who received university identification cards.

The breach, which occurred about 4 a.m. Tuesday, gave an outside source access to a secure records database that holds information dating to 1998, according to a Washington Post story. The data included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and university identification numbers for 309,079 people.

The U-Md. attack is the latest in a series of high-visibility data security breaches in recent months, including attacks on retailers Target and Neiman Marcus.

Adobe Issues Emergency Fix For Flash Flaw

Adobe Systems issued an emergency, out-of-band security update to its ubiquitous Flash Player software Friday to fix three vulnerabilities, one of which has a publicly available exploit that hackers are using in attacks. The flaws can be used to take complete control of a victim's computer.

Adobe's software is a frequent target for cybercriminals, along with Oracle Java and Microsoft Office software. The update impacts users of Flash Player in Internet Explorer 10 and 11, Windows, Linux and Macs, and Adobe Air.

Red Hat Uninvites, Then Reinvites OpenStack Startup To Upcoming Conference

It's been a bad PR day for Red Hat. Earlier Friday the company uninvited Piston Cloud Computing to a Red Hat Summit in April and canceled its $13,000 sponsorship -- all without explanation. (A story on The Register said Red Hat was upset over losing a contract to Piston Cloud, which develops OpenStack-based private cloud technology.)

Piston Cloud co-founder and CTO Josh McKenty (pictured) suggested on Twitter that Red Hat be kicked out of the OpenStack Summit in May. Red Hat quickly made an about-face: CTO (and OpenStack board member) Brian Stevens tweeted an apology to McKenty and re-invited the startup -- at no charge. "We messed up," Stevens wrote.

More Details About Autonomy's Alleged 'Accounting Improprieties' Disclosed

Autonomy allegedly engaged in "improper transactions" with certain VARs to inflate the company's software license revenue before Hewlett-Packard bought the company in October 2011 for $10.2 billion and later took an $8.8 billion write-down on the acquisition.

This week HP, in a statement, said it uncovered the transactions as part of its investigation of what it calls the "accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures related to such sales" prior to the acquisition. "Our investigation has shown that Autonomy often resold generic hardware at a loss in the last few days of the quarter with the sole purpose of masking its real financial performance," HP said. It did not identify the VARs allegedly involved.