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The hack felt 'round the Web (week in review)

Gawker breach leads to password security panic, while WikiLeaks' Julian Assange is released on bail. Also: Mark Zuckerberg is named Time's Person of the Year.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
3 min read

A data breach at Gawker Media last weekend had a ripple affect for sites all over the Web.

Gawker's Web site and back-end database were compromised, and passwords, usernames, and e-mail addresses for about 1.3 million user accounts were posted on the BitTorrent site Pirate Bay. Passwords were encrypted with technology, but weak passwords can easily be cracked.

People who use the same password on multiple sites are at risk of having their accounts on those other sites compromised. This happened already on Twitter, with some accounts being used to send spam shortly after the Gawker breach was publicized. (To find out how to check if you are at risk and get more details about the incident read this FAQ.)

Professional-networking site LinkedIn said it would disable passwords of users whose e-mail addresses were included in the customer data that was exposed in an attack on the Gawker blog sites. Yahoo asked some of its e-mail users to reset their passwords but did not say whether it was related to Gawker, while World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment said outright that it reset user passwords because of the Gawker breach.
•  How Facebook saved some Gawker subscribers

McDonald's warns customers about data breach

Compromised data was in computer system of database management firm hired by a marketing business partner of the fast-food company.
•  How far did McDonald's-tied data breach ripple?

More headlines

Julian Assange leaves London jail on bail

WikiLeaks' now-famous spokesman emerges from Wandsworth Prison and tells crowd of journalists and supporters that he hopes to "continue" his work.
•  WikiLeaks could be vulnerable to Espionage Act

•  WikiLeaks editor faces grand jury indictment?
•  WikiLeaks.info rebuts malware warnings

Mark Zuckerberg named Time's person of the year

Facebook founder beats out world leaders and controversial figures for the title, bestowed on the person who has "done the most to influence the events of the year."
•  Yes, Zuckerberg deserves to be person of the year
•  Facebook named best place to work
•  Facial recognition comes to Facebook photo tags
•  Facebook confirms outage amid new design rollout

Appeals court: Feds need warrants for e-mail

Rebuffing the Justice Department, judges insist on warrants because e-mail records give police "the ability to peer deeply" into someone's activities.

Google proclaims Chrome business-ready

Chrome accounts for nearly 10 percent of browser usage. Google would like more and is looking to corporate use for further adoption.
•  Chrome 9 beta to bring faster, fancy graphics

Yahoo slashing products like Delicious, MyBlogLog

As it cuts costs and head count, Yahoo is also shutting down a number of social-media services that have fallen out of use or never made the company much money.
•  Yahoo confirms much-rumored layoffs
•  Bartz's layoff memo to beleaguered Yahoo troops

IBM's Watson set for 'Jeopardy' battle

Program powered by an IBM Power7 server will compete against "Jeopardy" superstars Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a contest to air in February.
•  Taking IBM's supercomputer to Final 'Jeopardy' (Q&A)

Home solar costs falling with industry scale

A study of 10 years of data shows that falling solar PV panel prices and more competition among installers are resulting in lower prices, with dramatic price drops in 2010.
•  California says yes to molten solar

Also of note
•  Is Pandora taking over our Christmas carols?
•  Comcast testing combo TV-Internet service
•  Paul Allen's lawsuit against Apple, Google dismissed