5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending June 27

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week includes major Office 365 service failures at Microsoft, a potentially business-closing Supreme Court ruling for Aereo, yet another major data security breach, a lost foreign government contract for Verizon in the wake of U.S. spying reports, and a pair of stock brokers charged with insider trading related to IBM's acquisition of SPSS.

Also, check out this week's roundup of companies that came to win.

Microsoft Exchange, Lync Services Hit With Outages

It's been a frustrating week for Microsoft and the millions of users of its Exchange and Lync cloud services. Monday Lync users were unable to access the unified communications system due to an outage that Microsoft blamed on network routing infrastructure issues. Service was restored later in the day. Tuesday the vendor's Exchange Online service suffered an even wider outage, leaving customers unable to access their email for as long as nine hours – the entire workday for those in the Eastern time zone.

The outages are seen as an embarrassment for Microsoft and its efforts to be a cloud services provider. Customers seemed most upset with what some described as Microsoft's poor communication about efforts to fix the problems.

Supreme Court Rules Aereo TV Service Violates Copyright Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court may have delivered a fatal blow to Aereo this week. The court ruled six-to-three that the startup's service, which lets subscribers watch broadcast TV over the Internet, violates the Copyright Act.

Aereo's business model relied on renting small, individual TV antennas to subscribers and streaming the signal to their computer or mobile device – a service that Aereo argued was legally akin to people recording TV programs for their own use. But the court said Aereo's service retransmits broadcasters' signals for a public performance and so Aereo should pay a license fee to use the copyrighted material.

Hackers Compromise Data For 1.3 Million People In Montana State Health Database

Another week, another hack. A data security breach of Montana's state health records compromised the personal information of some 1.3 million people, including current and former medical patients, health agency employees and contractors, according to a Reuters story.

While the attack occurred last month, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is still investigating whether the breach of a department computer server resulted in any actual identity theft. The hack exposed patients' social security numbers, birth dates, medical diagnoses and treatments, prescriptions and other information, according to Reuters.

German Government Drops Verizon In Wake Of U.S. Spying Revelations

U.S. IT vendors have voiced concerns that recent revelations about U.S. security agencies' data gathering efforts could hurt them overseas. Those concerns came true for Verizon this week when the German government canceled a service provider contract with Verizon Communications, according to a Reuters story.

The government will shift the services to Deutsche Telekom by the end of next year following a review of its communications contracts. While that review was already underway, worries about reports of eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency – including on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's own mobile phone – were a factor in the decision to cut ties with Verizon.

SEC Charges Brokers With Insider Trading Related To IBM Acquisition

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this week charged two brokers with trading on inside information ahead of IBM's $1.2 billion acquisition of predictive analytics software developer SPSS in 2009. The complaint, filed in federal court in Manhatten against Benjamin Durant III and Daryl M. Payton, charged the brokers with reaping "ill-gotten trading gains of approximately $300,000," according to an SEC statement.

The SEC said Durant and Payton received the confidential information from fellow broker Thomas C. Conradt. Last year Conradt and his roommate, a research analyst who misappropriated the information from an attorney working on the acquisition, pled guilty to charges in the case.