- - Sunday, May 29, 2011

CYBERSECURITY

Lockheed says attack on data not successful

Lockheed Martin, the world’s top defense contractor, is investigating the source of a major cyber-attack one week ago against its information network, the company said.

Lockheed Martin detected a significant and tenacious attack on its information systems network,” the company said in a statement late Saturday night, adding that the company said the cyber-assault took place May 21, and that quick action by its security team successfully repelled the attack.

“No customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised,” the company statement said, adding that federal authorities had been notified.

Lockheed Martin did not mention the suspected source of the cyber-attack.

Federal officials, for their part, said the consequences of the attack for the Pentagon and other agencies was “minimal,” and no adverse effect on their operations was expected.

REAL ESTATE

Contracts to buy homes fall to a 7-month low

The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes fell sharply in April, hitting its lowest point since last fall and renewing fears that a recovery in the housing market is far off.

An index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes sank 11.6 percent last month to a reading of 81.9, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. A reading of 100 would be considered healthy.

The last time the index reached at least 100 was in April 2010. That was the final month when people could qualify for a home-buying tax credit of up to $8,000.

Signings are still nearly 8 percent above June’s reading of 75.9, the lowest figure since the housing bust.

AUTO

Fiat agrees to buy U.S. stake in Chrysler

DETROITItalian automaker Fiat SpA said Friday that it will buy the Treasury’s remaining stake in Chrysler Group LLC, freeing the automaker of U.S. government ownership.

The Turin, Italy-based company notified the U.S. Treasury that it will exercise an option to buy the government’s 6 percent stake. The price will be negotiated within 10 business days, or by about June 10.

When the sale would happen remains unclear. But Fiat is moving quickly to take a controlling stake in Chrysler, which it has run since the company left bankruptcy protection in June 2009.

Chrysler has made a remarkable turnaround. Before bankruptcy, the automaker was nearly out of cash and needed $10.5 billion in U.S. government money to survive.

The company made a first-quarter net profit of $116 million and is forecasting 2011 earnings of $200 million to $500 million.

Under the leadership of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, the company has cut costs and revived its sales by refurbishing most of its lineup of Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Ram vehicles.

Buying out the government would give Fiat 52 percent ownership of Chrysler. That’s likely to rise to 57 percent before the end of the year when Chrysler begins producing a 40 mpg small car in the U.S.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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