Bad to Worse: Equifax Was Hit by Earlier Breach, Report Says

The clouds surrounding Equifax are growing ever darker. On Monday, Bloomberg cited multiple sources in saying that the credit bureau suffered a major hacking attack in March—one that took place months before the July breach the company disclosed on Sept. 7, which involved thieves stealing personal information from over 140 million Americans.

Meanwhile, additional reports say the Justice Department is launching a criminal probe of stocks sales by Equifax executives that took place after the company discovered it had been hacked. The news of the earlier breach will likely add extra fodder to the criminal investigation—and to class action lawsuits and a Federal Trade Commission inquiry.

News of the earlier intrusion came by way of unnamed sources who told Bloomberg the company hired the cybersecurity firm Mandiant in March to investigate a security breach. Meanwhile, Equifax began alerting corporate customers about the incident:

In early March, they said, Equifax began notifying a small number of outsiders and banking customers that it had suffered a breach and was bringing in a security firm to help investigate.

The extent of the March hacking incident is unclear. If the report is accurate, the incident was grave enough for Equifax to tell outside customers—but not enough to tell consumers. Under various state laws, companies must provide notice about material data breaches within a reasonable time. As noted above, Equifax disclosed the July breach on Sept. 7.

The Bloomberg report also suggests the different hacking incidents may have been undertaken by two separate hacking groups.

Meanwhile, banks told the Wall Street Journal they experienced a spike this summer in scammers using data related to credit reports to attempt identity theft—suggesting the hackers have already been putting the stolen data to use. The Bloomberg report contained a similar account.

If the report of the earlier breach is accurate, and if that breach led to hackers stealing consumer data, it will add to the already considerable pressure on Equifax executives, especially those who sold stock. In those cases, Bloomberg notes:

It’s the stock sales by several executives that are likely to get the most scrutiny in light of the new timeline. On Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, regulatory filings show that three senior Equifax executives sold shares worth almost $ 1.8 million, with none of the filings listing the transactions as being part of scheduled 10b5-1 trading plans. Equifax’s Chief Financial Officer John Gamble sold shares worth $ 946,374; Joseph Loughran, president of U.S. information solutions, exercised options to dispose of stock worth $ 584,099; and Rodolfo Ploder, president of workforce solutions, sold $ 250,458 of stock.

Other than those who sold stock, however, other executives appear safe from any serious consequences. As Fortune explained in a legal analysis, current U.S. law does not—unlike for harm related to the environmental or food and drugs—provide any criminal penalties for corporate executives that are careless or even reckless with consumer data.

Equifax did not immediately reply to a request for comment about why it did not disclose the March breach.

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While You Were Offline: Trump Says He’s Treated Unfairly. Abe Lincoln Like, ‘What?’

While You Were Offline: Trump Says He’s Treated Unfairly. Abe Lincoln Like, ‘What?’

Last week, President Trump said no politician had been “treated worse” than him. The internet pointed out some presidents who might challenge that. The post While You Were Offline: Trump Says He’s Treated Unfairly. Abe Lincoln Like, ‘What?’ appeared first on WIRED.
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Watson Set to Become `Huge Engine’ for Sales, IBM Executive Says

These moves are part of IBM’s effort to sell more data-analytics and cloud-computing technology as demand for older services weaken, leading to …

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Google says its voice search system is now more accurate, especially in noisy places

Google voice search on the web.

If you’ve noticed Google doing a better job of understanding what you say using speech recognition on your smartphone lately, you’re not crazy. Google’s voice search has indeed become more accurate, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the tech company announced today.

“Today, we’re happy to announce we built even better neural network acoustic models using Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) and sequence discriminative training techniques,” Google Speech Team members Haşim Sak, Andrew Senior, Kanishka Rao, Françoise Beaufays and Johan Schalkwyk wrote in a blog post today. “These models are a special extension of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) that are more accurate, especially in noisy environments, and they are blazingly fast!”

The new models are working in the Google app for iOS and Android, as well as dictation on Android, which works inside of some third-party apps, the team members wrote.

From VentureBeat

Location, location, location — Not using geolocation to reach your mobile customers? Your competitors are. Find out what you’re missing.

Google has reported improvements in voice search not once but twice this year. Clearly the company has been investing in the underlying technology. RNNs are one increasingly popular approach to doing deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence, and Google is widely thought to have a deep bench in deep learning.

But Apple and Microsoft, among others, have also been working to improve their voice recognition capabilities. Meanwhile, Facebook is also doing more in the area, having acquired a speech recognition company, Wit.ai, some months ago.

Speech could become more important as an input to searching the Web in the years to come. Baidu’s Andrew Ng, who is known for his work on the so-called Google Brain, last year predicted that within five years “50 percent of queries will be on speech or images.”

“In addition to requiring much lower computational resources, the new models are more accurate, robust to noise, and faster to respond to voice search queries — so give it a try, and happy (voice) searching!” wrote Sak, Senior, Rao, Beaufays, and Schalkwyk.

Read the full blog post for more detail on how the team managed to get the new performance gains.

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Samsung says new U.S. offices are its ‘biggest investment in Silicon Valley’ to date

samsung-new-office-silicon-valley

Samsung officially opened the doors to its new 1.1-million-square-foot Silicon Valley offices Thursday, more than 30 years after its arrival in the San Jose tech corridor in 1983.

The building will house various research labs dedicated to semiconductors, LEDs and displays, staff in sales and marketing, and other support areas, the company said.

“[We are] laying the groundwork for a more aggressive pace of growth over the next several decades,” said Samsung’s chief executive, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, at the grand opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the company’s president of its U.S.-based device solutions operations, Jaesoo Han, said that the move “represents a major milestone as we open our most strategically important Samsung facility in the U.S., and also our biggest investment in Silicon Valley.”

samsung-office

Samsung also announced that it has established a $ 1 million STEM College Education Scholarship Fund. In its own words:

Deserving university students who are currently enrolled in STEM-focused programs at a California State or University of California school will benefit from this program, beginning with a $ 50,000 gift to San Jose State University this year. Each scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for one year.

But the announcement of the new office has been largely overshadowed by news in virtual reality today: We reported that the Samsung Gear VR will launch as a consumer product this November for $ 99. (You can read our full roundup from today’s Oculus event here.)

Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its new fonts-inspired Serif TVs, and shared more about how it relies on startups to stay ahead on technological innovation.

If you happen to be passing through the area, Samsung’s new building certainly looks worth checking out.

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Samsung says new U.S. offices are its ‘biggest investment in Silicon Valley’ to date

samsung-new-office-silicon-valley

Samsung officially opened the doors to its new 1.1-million-square-foot Silicon Valley offices Thursday, more than 30 years after its arrival in the San Jose tech corridor in 1983.

The building will house various research labs dedicated to semiconductors, LEDs and displays, staff in sales and marketing, and other support areas, the company said.

“[We are] laying the groundwork for a more aggressive pace of growth over the next several decades,” said Samsung’s chief executive, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, at the grand opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the company’s president of its U.S.-based device solutions operations, Jaesoo Han, said that the move “represents a major milestone as we open our most strategically important Samsung facility in the U.S., and also our biggest investment in Silicon Valley.”

samsung-office

Samsung also said that it has established a $ 1 million STEM College Education Scholarship Fund. In its own words:

Deserving university students who are currently enrolled in STEM-focused programs at a California State or University of California school will benefit from this program, beginning with a $ 50,000 gift to San Jose State University this year. Each scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for one year.

But the announcement of the new office has been largely overshadowed by news in virtual reality today: we reported that the Samsung Gear VR will launch as a consumer product this November for $ 99. (You can also read our roundup from that event here.)

Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its new fonts-inspired Serif TVs, and shared more about how it relies on startups to stay ahead on technological innovation.

More information:

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IDG Contributor Network: IoT security will soon be common in the enterprise, Gartner says

A fifth of all businesses will have deployed IoT-related security by the end of 2017, analyst Gartner thinks.

Dedicated digital security services that are committed to “protecting business initiatives using devices and services in the Internet of Things” will be in place by then, the research and advisory company says.

Gartner made the statement in a press release on its website in relation to a security and risk management summit earlier this month in Mumbai.

‘Reshape IT’

“The IoT redefines security,” Ganesh Ramamoorthy, research vice president at Gartner, said in the press release.

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Pope says he was moved when meeting Syrian refugees hosted in the Vatican

But once in the United States, the Pope may tread more lightly, aides said, to avoid the appearance of meddling in the web of legislation, interests, and decades-old resentments slowing the pace of change. Cuba’s ruling Communist Party will welcome any …


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IPv6 will get a big boost from iOS 9, Facebook says

Apple’s iOS 9 is expected to cause a boom in the use of IPv6, which could speed up service provider networks but create a lot of work for mobile developers. 

The new Apple mobile OS, coming out on Wednesday, will treat the new Internet Protocol as an equal to IPv4 instead of favoring the older system. That will cause iOS devices to use IPv6 much more, as long as apps, websites, and carrier networks support it, according Facebook engineer Paul Saab. He led a panel discussion on IPv6 at Facebook’s @Scale conference on Monday.

Even when all the pieces are in place for IPv6, iOS 8 only makes an IPv6 connection about half the time or less because of the way it treats the new protocol. With iOS 9, and IPv6 connection will happen 99 percent of the time, Saab predicts. 

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