Under Senate Grilling, Equifax Says It Owns Consumer Data

Members of the Senate Commerce Committee interrogated Equifax interim chief executive Paulino do Rego Barros, but not about the widely reported hack that compromised the personal data of more than 145 million U.S. consumers. The committee wanted to know why Equifax was storing the information to begin with, challenging Equifax’s right to profit from such personal information. The highlight of the meetings thus far has been Barros’ assertion that Equifax, not consumers, own the data collected about them and that people cannot remove themselves from the company files. Continue reading Under Senate Grilling, Equifax Says It Owns Consumer Data

Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facing the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives responded to questions on why they didn’t recognize Russian-linked accounts earlier. In response, the rueful executives said their companies were working on ways to curb the activity of foreign governments, terrorists and criminals and prevent them from exploiting social media. On the other hand, however, those same Silicon Valley companies face a public that is far from united over whether they should curb free speech. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facebook Debates Self-Regulation to Combat Misinformation

Facebook is facing many challenges, none more pressing than the posts and memes covertly created by Russian government-led organizations whose goal was to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Inside Facebook, say a dozen current and former employees, the debate rages over how to deal with the issue. One side, supporting free speech, believes that nothing should be censored; the other side is worried about the problems created by this laissez-faire approach. Meanwhile, the company is reportedly in full-on defense mode. Continue reading Facebook Debates Self-Regulation to Combat Misinformation

Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Google just set aside $1 billion for a new program dubbed “Grow with Google,” which will fund education and professional training nonprofits to help prepare Americans for technology jobs. The program will offer a website that will help people looking for jobs to get training and professional certificates, and for businesses to improve their online presences. Google says the goal is to allow anyone with an Internet connection to become tech-proficient and eligible for jobs from app development to IT support. Continue reading Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Four Russian-linked Facebook accounts that bought ads during the U.S. election period were active, posting divisive messages, as late as this past August. “Secured Borders,” “Blacktivist,” “Heart of Texas” and “Being Patriotic” collectively had almost one million followers, before Facebook removed them for misrepresenting their identities. On “Secured Borders,” which had 133,000 followers, messages included those calling for the killing of Muslims and dubbing illegal immigrants “rapists, murderers and child molesters.” Google, Facebook and Twitter are expected to testify before Congress about Russian ties to ad buying, search manipulation and fake news. Continue reading Investigations Into Social Media Accounts With Ties to Russia

Security Update: 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Hit in 2013 Attack

Yahoo announced yesterday that all 3 billion of its user accounts were affected by a previously disclosed August 2013 cyberattack, originally reported by the company as affecting 1 billion accounts. Yahoo had earlier reported that a separate 2014 attack affected 500 million accounts. Last year we learned that, “digital thieves made off with names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords of users that were encrypted with security that was easy to crack,” according to The New York Times. “The intruders also obtained the security questions and backup email addresses used to reset lost passwords.” Continue reading Security Update: 3 Billion Yahoo Accounts Hit in 2013 Attack

Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

The Equifax breach exposed millions of U.S. adults’ personal information, prompted Federal Trade Commission and FBI investigations, and spurred lawsuits by many states’ attorneys general. With the threat of even worse breaches in the future, companies will be urged to adopt better cybersecurity practices. But the Equifax breach is likely to have another result that tech companies won’t like: the need for transparency. Although 48 states have already passed data-breach disclosure laws, now federal regulations are proposed. Continue reading Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

According to new data from Pew Research Center, 67 percent of American adults “get at least some of their news on social media,” up from 62 percent in 2016. Facebook is most popular for news, followed by YouTube and Twitter. While percentages did not significantly change year-over-year for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr, an increasing number of adults are turning to Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. Interestingly, millennials do not represent all new social media news consumers. The research found that 55 percent of today’s Americans age 50 or older say they get news on social media sites, a 10 percent increase over last year. Continue reading Pew: 67 Percent of Americans Turn to Social Media for News

Report Lists 29 Governments That Manipulate Social Media

The University of Oxford just released a disturbing report documenting increasing evidence that 29 governments around the world are exploiting Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to influence — both domestically and internationally — public opinion, distribute false news and sabotage those perceived as foes. As might be expected, autocratic rulers use these strategies, but so do governments that have been elected democratically. The tactics employed vary from country to country. Continue reading Report Lists 29 Governments That Manipulate Social Media

Enterprise Security Provider CrowdStrike Raises $100 Million

Digital security provider CrowdStrike, which recently helped the Democratic National Committee respond to its hacking, has raised $100 million in new capital, bringing its total fundraising to $256 million and value close to $1 billion. The Irvine, California-based tech company, founded by two former McAfee execs in 2011, provides SaaS endpoint protection, threat intelligence and incident response through its cloud-based Falcon platform. CrowdStrike now has more than 650 employees worldwide. The company’s subscriptions have grown 476 percent in the last year as cybersecurity becomes a growing concern. Continue reading Enterprise Security Provider CrowdStrike Raises $100 Million

Major Cyberattack Hits 150 Countries, Could Keep Spreading

A cyberattack impacted computer systems in more than 150 countries over the weekend. The weapon used to initiate the attack is believed to be based on recently published vulnerabilities stolen from the National Security Agency. The attack, one of the largest ever, took over computers, encrypted their files and demanded payment in Bitcoin of $300 or more. Among the major institutions and government agencies impacted were FedEx in the U.S., the Russian Interior Ministry and Britain’s National Health Service. The attack also hit smaller venues, such as a car manufacturing factory in Romania owned by Renault. Continue reading Major Cyberattack Hits 150 Countries, Could Keep Spreading

Facebook, Google, Wikipedia Take Steps to Fight Fake News

Leading Internet platforms have announced separate plans to combat fake news, hoaxes and the spread of misinformation. A security team at Facebook acknowledged the social media giant was used as a platform for misinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and has debuted new measures to mitigate the threat. Google is tweaking its search engine to prevent fake news and hoaxes from appearing in its top results. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has his own plan to counter the spread of fake news via a new website. Continue reading Facebook, Google, Wikipedia Take Steps to Fight Fake News

U.S. Claims That Russian Hackers Were Behind Yahoo Attack

The Department of Justice officially charged four people yesterday in connection with Yahoo’s 2014 data breach that reportedly resulted in the theft of data from 500 million Yahoo accounts. According to the indictment, the Russian government used the data obtained by two intelligence officers (Dmitry Dokuchaev, Igor Sushchin) and two hackers (Alexsey Belan, Karim Baratov) to spy on White House and military officials, bank executives, cloud computing companies, a senior level airline official, a Nevada gaming regulator, as well as Russian journalists, business execs and government officials. Continue reading U.S. Claims That Russian Hackers Were Behind Yahoo Attack

BuzzFeed News Tries to Expose Readers to Outside Viewpoints

BuzzFeed has introduced a new feature that is intended to help readers understand ideas that differ from the views held in their network of friends. The “Outside Your Bubble” feature will appear at the bottom of BuzzFeed News articles and a staff member will curate content for the feature from social media platforms and other sources. Because of the algorithms behind social media and search results, many people are living in “filter bubbles,” where they are only exposed to ideas that are similar to their own. Continue reading BuzzFeed News Tries to Expose Readers to Outside Viewpoints

FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

FaceApp relies on neural networks to paste a smile on a person’s photo or change his gender or age. The iOS app doesn’t always work reliably; if the person’s face is large, has a beard or isn’t looking straight at the camera, for example, the results can be unconvincing. Switching genders can produce convincing results, but can only be accessed in “collage” mode, for a very small image. But FaceApp, similar to the Prisma app that uses artificial intelligence to make selfies look like famous paintings, proves that AI is making it easier to manipulate photographs. Continue reading FaceApp Uses Neural Networks to Alter Age, Gender in Photos

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