5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending Dec. 2

Topping this week's roundup of companies that had a rough week is solution provider Cognizant, which found itself under pressure from activist investor Elliott Management to change its corporate board and buy back stock.

Also making the list this week were Samsung, which is also in Elliott Management's sights and undergoing a review of its corporate structure; Google and more than 1 million Google account holders whose accounts were compromised by the Gooligan malware; the San Francisco transportation system that was hit by a ransomware attack; and some iPhone users experiencing battery issues.

Not everyone in the IT industry was having a rough go of it this week. For a rundown of companies that made smart decisions, executed savvy strategic moves – or just had good luck – check out this week's 5 Companies That Came To Win roundup.

Activist Investor Puts Pressure On Cognizant To Shake Up Board, Buy Back Shares

The management and board of directors of giant solution provider Cognizant found themselves under the gun this week when Elliott Management, a well-known hedge fund management firm and activist investor, issued what it called a "value enhancement plan" for Cognizant.

Elliott Management said it had acquired a 4 percent stake in Cognizant with a market value of $1.4 billion. Jesse Cohn, a senior portfolio manager at the hedge fund company, spearheaded the investment.

Elliott Management's plan includes shaking up Cognizant's board of directors and buying back $2.5 billion worth of the company's shares.

Cohn and Elliott Management have successfully brought high-profile activist actions against a number of technology companies including BMC Software, Citrix Systems and Riverbed Technologies. Now it's Cognizant's turn.

Samsung Considers Splitting In Two Under Pressure From Activist Investor

Cognizant wasn't the only company that found itself in Elliott Management's sights this week. Giant technology company Samsung said it is undertaking a six-month-long review of its corporate structure – including the possibility of splitting into two companies – under pressure from the hedge fund management company.

Elliott Management owns a 0.6 percent stake in Samsung.

The possible shakeup of Samsung's corporate structure comes on the heels of the company's Galaxy Note7 debacle in which a number of the mobile devices exploded or caught fire. The corporate structural review introduces yet another element of uncertainty about the company's future direction.

Gooligan Malware Hits 1 Million Google Android Accounts

It was a rough week for Google and about a million Google account holders as researchers discovered a new Android malware, dubbed "Gooligan," that has breached more than a million Google accounts.

Security software developer Check Point Software Technologies discovered the malware and called it the largest Google account breach to date. The malware steals email addresses and authentication tokens on Android devices.

San Francisco Transportation Hit With Ransomware Attack

A ransomware attack took the ticket machines for San Francisco's light rail system offline all day Saturday during one of the busiest holiday shopping days of the year, according to a report in USA Today and other media.

The incident is the latest in what appears to be a growing wave of ransomware attacks against public facilities such as hospitals and transportation networks. Ransomware locks up IT systems and blocks access to data and files until the ransomware's target pays a ransom to get the malware removed.

San Francisco commuters were winners, however, in that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency simply allowed them to ride for free while they restored the ticket system, which was back up and running Sunday.

Apple iPhone Users Report Battery Issues

While it hardly rivals the PR nightmare of phones catching fire, Apple is having some battery issues of its own with certain iPhones. Enough Apple customers have reported that their iPhones are randomly powering off when the device's battery life gets to about 30 percent that a consumer-protection group in China last week asked the company to take action, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Apple listened, and this week it announced a battery replacement program to address the issue in a "small number of iPhone 6s devices." iPhone 6s devices that were manufactured between September and October 2015 and fall within a limited serial number range are eligible for a replacement.

The battery issue is not a safety concern for customers, but it's certainly not convenient. Customers seeking a replacement battery will need to take a trip to the Apple story or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider.