Week in review: Lenovo trumps Dell; drone attack; security hacks abound

IT Pro Week in Review

In a week where Apple launched a new iPhone, we would usually take the time to mock the fanatics lining up in the cold outside Apple Stores worldwide to be the first to own the latest gadet. We'll pass this time though, if only because it's an old joke. And there was still plenty to chortle at beyond the world of Cupertino.

Imperial March

If there's any doubt that China is a rising economic power, then this week's PC shipments figures from Gartner will lay them to rest. Lenovo, the Chinese owners of IBM's old ThinkPad brand, is now the world's second largest PC manufacturer in terms of units shipped. HP still reigns supreme, while Dell, Acer and Asus occupy the third, fourth and fifth spots respectively.

The PC industry is still one where low margins are the rule rather the exception, but Lenovo has the advantage of being native to the Chinese market where people aren't bored of desktop PCs. On the other hand, it's probably a market full of cheapskates with no brand loyalty which doesn't bode well for profits.

Passing the buck

Sony can't seem to get its security house in order. Following the embarrassing security breach of the PlayStation Network earlier this year, another attempt has been made to hack into 93,000 customer accounts.

We can't heap all the blame onto Sony though. According to some whisperings, many of those accounts still had the same passwords as they did at the time of the first breach! To paraphrase an old war propaganda poster, IT security begins with you.

Stop droning on

Sony isn't the only massive multinational entity to suffer embarrassing security problems. A keystroke logger has repeatedly infested the US military base where pilots remotely control the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) used in the War on Terror.

It seems unlikely the security breach will have serious operational consequences, but it's very embarrassing following the remote theft of data from a UAV manufacturer's servers and a more serious breach back in 2009, when Iraqi insurgents managed to hack the video link between operator and drone using off-the-shelf software. The spin doctors are doubtless coining a term right now for this sort of cock-up friendly, collateral shock and no awe?

Get me on the BBM blood

If there's anything more incredulous than the news that Blackberry users were left without email, BBM and web access for three days, it's the explanation that a switch failure in a Slough data center was the reason for it. The broken switch apparently led to a 'cascading failure' that knocked out other, overwhelmed switches while backup systems failed to come online.

Nothing built by mortal hands will ever be 100% perfect, but it's a bit pants that RIM's backup systems failed so spectacularly. Given RIM's weakness in the smartphone market, if heads aren't rolling then they need to sharpen the guillotines and buy extra rope right now.