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Posts Tagged ‘BUSINESS’

THE CULPRIT IN DATA-BREACHES

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 22, 2019 at 12:18 am

Comedian Lily Tomlin rose to fame on the 1960s comedy hit, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, as Ernestine, the rude, sarcastic switchboard operator for Ma Bell.

She would tap into customers’ calls, interrupt them, make snide remarks about their personal lives. And her victims included celebrities as much as run-of-the-mill customers.

Lily Tomlin as Ernestine

She introduced herself as working for “the phone company, serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth.”

But perhaps the line for which her character is best remembered was: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

Watching Ernestine on Laugh-In was a blast for millions of TV viewers. But facing such corporate arrogance in real-life is no laughing matter.

Clearly, too many companies take the same attitude as Ernestine: “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

This is especially true for companies that are supposed to safeguard their customers’ most sensitive information—such as their credit card numbers, addresses, emails and phone numbers.

An October 22, 2014 “commentary” published in Forbes magazine raised the highly disturbing question: “Cybersecurity: Does Corporate America Really Care?”

And the answer is clearly: No.

Its author is John Hering, co-founder and executive director of Lookout, which bills itself as “the world leader in mobile security for consumers and enterprises alike.”

Click here: Cybersecurity: Does corporate America really care?

October, 2014 proved a bad month for credit card-using customers of Kmart, Staples and Dairy Queen.

All these corporations reported data breeches involving the theft of credit card numbers of countless numbers of customers.

Earlier breaches had hit Target, Home Depot and JPMorgan/Chase.

And on February 5, 2015, health insurance giant Anthem Inc. announced that hackers had breached its computer system and accessed the medical records of tens of millions of its customers and employees.

Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, said the infiltrated database held records on up to 80 million people.

Among the customers’ information accessed:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Social Security numbers
  • Member ID numbers
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses and
  • Employment information.

Some of the customer data may also include details on their income.

Click here: Anthem hack exposes data on 80 million; experts warn of identity theft – LA Times

Bad as that news was, worse was to come.

A February 5 2015 story by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Anthem stored the Social Security numbers of 80 million customers without encrypting them.

The company believes that hackers used a stolen employee password to access the database

Anthem’s alleged reason for refusing to encrypt such sensitive data: Doing so would have made it harder for the company’s employees to track health care trends or share data with state and Federal health providers.

Anthem spokeswoman Kristin Binns blamed the data breach on employers and government agencies who “require us to maintain a member’s Social Security number in our systems so that their systems can uniquely identify their members.”

She said that Anthem encrypts personal data when it moves in or out of its database—but not where it  is stored.

This is a commonplace practice in the healthcare industry.

The FBI launched an investigation into the hack.

According to an anonymous source, the hackers used malware that has been used almost exclusively by Chinese cyberspies.

Naturally, China has denied any wrongdoing. With a completely straight face, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said:

“We maintain a cooperative, open and secure cyberspace, and we hope that countries around the world will make concerted efforts to that end.”

He also said that the charge that the hackers were Chinese was “groundless.”

Click here: Health Insurer Anthem Didn’t Encrypt Stolen Data – WSJ

Meanwhile, John Hering’s complaints remain as valid today as they did in 2014.

“One thing is clear,” writes Hering. “CEOs need to put security on their strategic agendas alongside revenue growth and other issues given priority in boardrooms.”

Hering warns that “CEOs don’t seem to be making security a priority.” And he offers several reasons for this:

  • The sheer number of data compromises;
  • Relatively little consumer outcry;
  • Almost no impact on the companies’ standing on Wall Street;
  • Executives may consider such breaches part of the cost of doing business.

“There’s a short-term mindset and denial of convenience in board rooms,” writes Hering.

“Top executives don’t realize their systems are vulnerable and don’t understand the risks. Sales figures and new products are top of mind; shoring up IT systems aren’t.”

There are three ways corporations can be forced to start behaving responsibly on this issue.

  1. Smart attorneys need to start filing class-action lawsuits against companies that refuse to take steps to protect their customers’ private information. There is a name for such behavior: Criminal negligence. And there are laws carrying serious penalties for it.
  2. There must be Federal legislation to ensure that multi-million-dollar fines are levied against such companies—and especially their CEOs—when such data breaches occur.
  3. Congress should enact legislation allowing for the prosecution of CEOs whose companies’ negligence leads to such massive data breaches. They should be considered as accessories to crime, and, if convicted, sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Only then will the CEO mindset of “We don’t care, we don’t have to” be replaced with: “We care, because we’ll lose our money and/or freedom if we don’t.”

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 8, 2018 at 12:10 am

And, on Facebook, the complaints just keep coming. [NOTE: The spellings are those of the complainants.]

  • FACEBOOK BETRAYED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON HERE. SO MUCH SO THAT NOW WE HAVE AN IDIOT IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND IT’S YOUR FAULT YOU PUT HIM THERE. HOW DARE YOU TAKE 87 MILLION PEOPLE’S DATA, GIVE IT TO CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICS, WHO GAVE IT TO RUSSIA, WHO GAVE IT TO MANAFORT, WHICH MADE HILLARY LOSE AND TRUMP WIN. I HOPE THEY KICK YOUR ASS IN CONGRESS.
  • FACEBOOK STINKS. Despite being repeatedly told that your website is hacked all the time, you do nothing. Today, my girlfriend received a completely naked photo from a stranger, reported it, and you deemed it fine. This is not fine. It’s disgusting. You are a lousy, immoral company with no security or protection for your users. You STINK!You should have a minus ten, not one star.
  • total waste of time. I hate the way no can help you get access to your account but they will block the old account without contacting you.
  • FB News Feed now shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, and repeat the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm. Their system chooses the people to read one’s posts. However, I would like to choose for myself.
  • My husband’s account was hackef and he’s tried everything to get back into it and Absolutely NO HELP from Facebook to resolve this!! It has ALL of his family and friends blocked from his page including me!!

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  • FB Gestapo must be pushing fake news and stories.Every time I drop a link showing the claims are fake as a TV Preacher,FB notifies me my post has been marked as spam and they remove it.
  • I have tried to contact FB about missing fundraiser donations and cannot get a reply.
  • Tried to contact Facebook about something on one of the group sites and they never answered my complaint, now they have blocked the like button because I have pushed it too many times and now have put one of my comments to the spam. If they do not respond to my 2nd complaint, I will Be closing my Facebook account.
  • SICK OF ADVERTISMENTS FROM FACEBOOK IN MY NEWS FEED IM NOT FUKIN INTERESTED
  • I got blocked from posting videos and facebook live because I posted a video of me singing with the music video plating in the background… I would like to know why this happened…
  • TAKE ME OFF THE BEING BANNED LIST OF POSTING I AM NOT A FREAKING TERROIST
  • Reported a dozen times, and left phone msgs regarding a convicted Pedophile, child molester, registered on Megan’s Law website. Facebook will not do anything about it
  • YOU CANT GET ANYONE TO ANSWER I AM SO FRUSTRATED I GIVE UP ITS TERRIBLE

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  • Brian Haner has been reported for being offensive. He was informed this is his second strike. He has 70000 followers and people have the right to UNLIKE if they are offended. No one has the right to get someone BANNED for expressing an “offensive” opinion. If Brian is banned because some uppity person can conplain and have their ONE opinion outweight the other 69999 opinions then I for one will leave to google+ and I will take as many people as I can with me.
  • Complained about the marketing for Kary Oberbrummer self publishing book scheme that refuses to give you the costs up front. Facebook deleted all my comments and refuses to let me make anymore comments on the post. Just trying to warn people about the downside risk. Facebook censorship ! UNBELIEVABLE !
  • My Facebook page or rather account got all screwed up. It started logging me in on my original very first Facebook account, how in the world do I delete it? I have pushed deactivate until my face is blood red and I am extremely sick because after I push deactivate then it says your session with Facebook has ran out please login again and then of course it logs me back into the old account! I would appreciate it so very much if someone would please give me an answer that works.
  • They will not answer as to why I can not post anything for sale
  • Can’t seem to find a way to contact Facebook. Probably the way they want it. I’m getting very obnoxious friends requests that I would like to stop but don;t see a way to do it. Not likely to hang around much longer but then I don’t think they care.

The 1970 epic, “Patton,” closed with the words: “All glory is fleeting.” Mark Zuckerberg and his self-satisfied honchos at Facebook should realize that social networking websites can also be fleeting.

Anyone who doubts this need only sum up a few once well-known names:

  • Myspace
  • Google+
  • Friendster
  • Posterous
  • Yahoo Meme
  • SixDegrees
  • Classmates
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • Eons
  • iTunes Ping

Mark Zuckerberg needs to quickly install some serious reforms in Facebook. Otherwise, in time, his name will be added to those CEOs of other failed social networking sites.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 7, 2018 at 12:18 am

Facebook is still the most-used social media platform in the world—with more than 2 billion users and a net worth of $500 billion.

But all is not well in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet kingdom. And while he has chosen to ignore those evils plaguing Facebook, many of its users are infuriated by them.

So infuriated that many of them are threatening to move to other social media sites—such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Here is a sampling of complaints made directly to Facebook by its thoroughly enraged users. [NOTE: The spellings are those of the complainants.]

  • Stop soliciting me for boosts and adds. It is annoying spam, the kind you encourage people to block. But, of course, we can’t block it since it’s you. Trust me, if I was ever inclined in the least to give you additiobnal money for anything, you effectively killed that urge thousands of unwelcome posts and reminders ago. You make Instagram look better every day.
  • Same exact thing I went threw. 25 times they pulled my ad and 25 times I appealed it, not one time did I get a response. My ad was for dog training they said it didn’t meet Facebook policy because of animal sales, but in all 25 appeals, I explained, I’m not selling animals I’m selling a service. And I was even paying my own money to run the same ad on boost promo. They approved my ad for that and took my money, but can’t get my ad to run on a free market place.
  • I keep getting my post that I am selling fabric rejected and it won’t let me appeal it because there are no posts listed.. Says I violated a commerce policy. What does fabric violate? I got a message from FB today and all it shows it was closed. NO EXPLANATION
  • Hello, How do i reply to a message from you I have just had about a picture that I originally got off Facebook that is apparently now not allowed. I can’t delete it and if I try to answer it just buffers and is never sent.
  • I voiced my opinion on gaffneynites and just because the republicans can say what they want I was taken off that group, they said nothing to the people who were harassing me, and they could say what they wanted, I don’t think facebook is fair when it lets one side say whatever they want to and you can’t, this is discrimination in my opinion, I thought this was suppose to be America free speech

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  • Facebook must get their act together, People do have an opinion, and if you get in so called “facebook jail” for having that opinion, what is the point of having a social media site???? Come on Facebook, get with the 21st century..
  • I’m just trying to ask a question to a human and actually get a response. Not a list of 6 possible answers and asking if any of them were close enough to shut you up.
  • No way to contact Facebook – times outs, no connection, all sort of excuses when you are posting a claim, or a request for contact!!Facebook is charging me for something I didn’t authorized to run, an add. Many months ago I stopped running all adds I had posted – mainly because of the difficulty (impossibility?) of reaching you managers, or whomever is responsible for billings!!! YOU JUST HIDE YOUR SELVES, AND AFTER STARTING AN ADD, one has no way of stopping it, changing it, no feed back at all!! I will never post a add on Facebook again!!
  • Tried to contact fb to try and stop all these “friends requests” from all foreign people. Could not do, after all this bad publicity you would think they would be very wary.
  • I just tried to contact Facebook concerning my account with a number provided on the Website. The service representative was very helpful until I turned down the $49.00 fee to fix my problem. When I said that was not acceptable, he hung up on me ….

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  • Contacting them is impossible. They want you gone, and you are gone. No explanation, and I have never giving them these five stars;; they made that up.
  • it is very hard to find this contact method. it is totally impersonal. it allows for no dialogue. it seems to confirm that FB is too big for its own britches.
  • is there a way to contact facebook as getting a little peeved with the service and will not pay for any more ads while i am unable to contact them.
  • Never have a direct Help Desk to call…it appears as if You all are invisible.
  • you cannot contact facebook to report a fault! what good is that?
  • I CALLED 2 TIMES AND THEY WANT $100 SAY IT IS MY COMPUTER AND IT ISNT……..I Cant share and in jail almost 24/7. i was to be out at 12;20 yesterday…last time they did this and they restriction is over but still 3 more days!!!! idiots work here!!!!! never reply back either.
  • this is terrible, i have to use someone else account to even contact support.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 6, 2018 at 12:29 am

Facebook is in big trouble. And much of it stems from its own greed and arrogance toward its customers.

An email recently sent to Winnie Liu, director of Facebook & Instagram Research, offers several telling truths.

The recipient—a friend of mine named Dan—had just been put in “Facebook Jail” for somehow offending its “Community Standards” (i.e., censorship) department.

The actual offense, of course, was not outlined.  It never is.

When he tried to post something on Facebook, Dan got an automatic message: “You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual, even if you didn’t mean to. You can post again in 24 hours.”

Notice the phrase: “You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual.”

Well, did he or didn’t he commit an offense?  If he didn’t, he shouldn’t have been banned from posting on Facebook. If he did, then he should have the right to know, specifically, what it was he posted that “may have” been considered “unusual”.

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And what it is that “our systems consider unusual”? Did he defame someone? Post an obscene photo? Tell a joke that someone found offensive?

America’s criminal and civil justice systems are founded on specificity. If the police accuse you of robbing a bank, they need to have specific proof that you robbed it. Their merely saying “I think he’s a bank robber” isn’t evidence—and shouldn’t be counted as such.

Finally, if he “didn’t mean to” post something that Facebook’s “systems consider unusual,” then that should be a mitigating factor in itself.

Even in criminal law, room is made to distinguish intentional acts from unintentional ones, even when harm is caused.

So when Dan got an email from Facebook, inviting him to take part in an upcoming research survey, he decided to share his disgust with its blatant disregard for fairness:

  • “Although Facebook users like me have made its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, worth $52 billion, he’s unwilling to make it possible for those users to directly contact Facebook’s censorship department when they find themselves booted off Facebook. Or when they can’t log onto it. Or when they’re being billed for ads they never posted.
  • “Ideally, this should be done by phone. Certainly, with all the billions of advertising dollars Facebook rakes in, a comparatively small portion could be set aside to hire banks of phone operators to deal with situations like this.

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By aflcio2008 (NM: Jewell Hall, AFT and Martin Heinrich) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • “But if you’re not willing to do that, you could at least make it possible for frustrated users to contact Facebook via Instant Messaging.
  • “As it is, Facebook’s censorship department operates as prosecutor, jury and judge. Its decisions come out of the blue, and whoever is accused of violating your ‘Community Standards’ is automatically found guilty, with no right to appeal or even explain the situation as s/he saw it.
  • “These are the methods of a Star Chamber in a dictatorship. They are reprehensible to citizens of any free society. And Facebook should consider them equally reprehensible as affronts to free speech.
  • “There have been numerous reports that Facebook’s censorship department has been manipulated by Right-wing Trump supporters to remove posts they don’t like, even of those posts don’t actually violate Facebook’s “community standards.” I feel reasonably certain this is what happened in my case.
  • “Since Zuckerberg recently spent two days in Washington testifying before outraged Democrats, it isn’t in his—or Facebook’s—best interest that he be forced to account for such disgraceful manipulation.
  • “I have seen numerous complaints by Facebook members about being put in ‘Facebook Jail’ for even the most trivial ‘offenses.’ One of these is ‘liking’ too many posts.
  • “Others like myself have simply re-posted images or stories already posted on Facebook—and found themselves kicked off as a result.

“Last December I wrote Mark Zuckerman about these problems—and the dangers they represent for Facebook. Naturally, I didn’t receive even the courtesy of a reply. And it’s clear to me that he has no intention of making such reforms.

“So there’s really no point in your offering test respondents $75 apiece in Amazon gift cards. Since Facebook clearly refuses to address the issue that’s most outraging so many of its users—at least the ones I know—it can expect to see its audience continue to shrink.

“When I first got a computer in 1999, AOL was the ‘big dog on the block.’ No more. When a comedian now references AOL, it’s as a joke, to mock its now antiquated status.

“It’s unfortunate that some people—like those in charge of Facebook—stubbornly refuse to learn from history.”

Dan’s experience, however, is by no means rare. Nor is his high level of disgust with Facebook.

For some unknown reason, Facebook has chosen to publish many of its users’ opinions on their “Facebook experience.”

All that’s needed to access these opinions—which are almost entirely complaints—is to type “Contact Facebook” in the white subject bar in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

Parts Three and Four of this series will focus on those expressed views—and outrage.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 5, 2018 at 12:09 am

Fortune has some bad news for Facebook: “Facebook is losing U.S. teenagers to services like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

On May 31, The Pew Research Center released its survey of 743 teens and 1,058 parents with children ages 13 to 17. The subject: Which social networking sites are most popular with teenagers.

The survey found:

  • 85% of American teenagers say they use the video-streaming service YouTube.
  • 72% of teens use photo-sharing Instagram.
  • 69% of teens use Snapchat.
  • 51% of teens use Facebook, which came in fourth place.
  • This is a decline of 20% in usage; when Pew Research surveyed teenagers’ use of social networking sites in 2015, 71% of them said they used Facebook.

And worse news may be coming.

According to the research firm eMarketer, in 2018, Facebook will lose two million users under the age of 25. And less than half of Americans between 12 and 17 will use Facebook at least once a month.

Facebook New Logo (2015).svg

According to the website, Inc.com, a major reason lies in the increasing use of Facebook by adults: “What kid wants to hang out in the same place as their parents and grandparents?” On the other hand, Snapchat will gain 1.9 million new users and Instagram will add 1.6 million in the 24-and-under age range coveted by advertisers.

“In general terms we expect social network users under age 24 to show declining interest in Facebook as time goes on,” Karin von Abrams, principal analyst at eMarketer, told The Independent.

“Younger consumers in particular are looking for something beyond utility.

“They want novelty and exclusivity too; the search for the latest buzz in social media will continue to lead them away from Facebook.”

A headline in The Guardian put Facebook’s dilemma in the bluntest terms: “Is Facebook for old people? Over-55s flock as the young leave”.

In a March 12, 2018 story, Guardian reporter Mark Sweeney notes: 

“It’s official: Facebook is for old(er) people. Teens and young adults are ditching Mark Zuckerberg’s social network as popularity among the over-55s surges, according to a report.

“…A surge in older users means over-55s will become the second-biggest demographic of Facebook users this year.”

Facebook is by no means in danger yet. As of the first quarter of 2018, it had 2.19 billion monthly active users.

Its creator and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, at 33, is now worth more than $69 billion, according to Forbes. And Facebook’s market value is now $500 billion, although it’s been public for five years. It generates the vast majority of its money from mobile phones.

President Barack Obama speaking with Mark Zuckerberg (right)

But a desire by teens to avoid a social network used by their parents and grandparents isn’t the only reason for widespread dissatisfaction with Facebook.

To cite what should be the Bible among corporate CEOs: Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation From Stifling People and Strangling Profits, by Robert Townsend.

First published in 1970, its writing is brisk and its tone is no-nonsense. According to the dust jacket of the paperback edition:

“This is not a book about how organizations work. What should happen in organizations and what does happen are two different things and about as far apart as they can get.

“THIS BOOK IS ABOUT HOW TO GET THEM TO RUN THREE TIMES AS WELL AS THEY DO. The keys that will accomplish this are JUSTICE…FUN…EXCELLENCE.” 

One chapter in particular—“Call Yourself Up”—runs only a short paragraph. Yet it is a paragrah that Mark Zuckerberg should tape to his bathroom mirror and re-read every day:

“When you’re off on a business trip or a vacation, pretend you’re a customer. Telephone some part of your organization and ask for help. You’ll run into some real horror shows.”

If Zuckerberg were a Facebook customer, instead of its CEO, he would face “some real horror shows.”

A friend of mine named Dan recently had this experience on Facebook:

“On May 31, I was placed in what Facebook’s users commonly refer to as ‘Facebook Jail’ for 24 hours. My crime: Posting a commentary on the firing of Roseanne Barr for her racist tweet on May 29.

“Specifically: Another Facebook user had already posted a picture of a white woman using a cell phone to call police–and report that a black woman had just wiped out her favorite TV show. (This was clearly a reference to Channing Dungey, entertainment president of the American Broadcasting Company, who made the decision to dump Roseanne after Barr’s racist tweet.)

“Under that photo I had posted a picture of a Ku Klux Klan rally, with a caption to the effect: “Hey, ABC, you can’t fire Roseanne! She’s one of us!”

“Perhaps two hours later I was kicked off Facebook and sent a message that I had violated its “Community Standards.” The picture I had posted of the Klan rally was given, but not the caption I had posted with it.

“Anyone with half a brain should have realized that this was not an expression of support for the Klan but an attack on it—and on Barr for her Fascistic racism.”

Apparently, no one at Facebook had any understanding of irony. Nor could they tell the difference between a post attacking the racism of the Ku Klux Klan and celebrating it.

MORE DATA SECURITY BREACHES: “WE DON’T CARE–WE DON’T HAVE TO”

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Self-Help, Social commentary on September 12, 2017 at 12:01 am

Comedian Lily Tomlin rose to fame on the 1960s comedy hit, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, as Ernestine, the rude, sarcastic switchboard operator for Ma Bell.

She would tap into customers’ calls, interrupt them, make snide remarks about their personal lives. And her victims included celebrities as much as run-of-the-mill customers.

Lily Tomlin as Ernestine

She introduced herself as working for “the phone company, serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth.”

But perhaps the line for which her character is best remembered was: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

Clearly, too many companies take the same attitude as Ernestine: “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

This is especially true for companies that are supposed to safeguard their customers’ most sensitive information.  

Companies like:

  • Kmart
  • Staples
  • Dairy Queen
  • Target Home Depot
  • JPMorgan/Chase
  • Anthem Insurance 

All these corporations suffered data breeches that exposed tens of millions of individuals’ private information–such as:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Member ID numbers
  • Addresses
  • Email addresses
  • Employment Information
  • Phone numbers

And now hackers have compromised Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency. 

Image result for Equifax

One out of every two Americans stands to be a victim. Some 143 million consumers’ sensitive data is potentially compromised.

From mid-May to July, 2017, there was a flaw in Equifax’s website software. This allowed hackers to access 143 million Americans’ supposedly private information. Only after this massive robbery had occurred did the company discover the breach and close the loophole.

On September 8, PBS Newshour correspondent William Brangham outlined the dimensions of this catastrophe:

“It’s everything that would be in your credit report. So, it’s Social Security number. It’s your name, it’s your address, it’s your driver’s license information, it’s your employers, it’s your payment history, it’s what bank accounts you have….

“The thing that a thief could do with this information is, one, they could hack into your existing accounts once they have all that information. They could also set up new ones pretending to be John Yang or William Brangham and set up new accounts and then rack up big charges on those.

“So, the great irony here is that Equifax is a company that actually sells identity theft protection, and here it is they have theoretically allowed a huge breach that could trigger a ton of identity theft.

According to Brangham, the two most outrageous aspects of this catastrophe are: 

“[Equifax] found out about this on July 29, and we only found out about this breach on—this week. So, you’re supposed to, in these kinds of cases, immediately jump to do something about it. And it seems like they didn’t give consumers much time.

“And, secondly, several executives at the company, after they found out about the breach, sold about $18.8 million worth of stock in their company before this news got out, the implication being they didn’t want their stock to tank and their stock to lose value.”

Asked, “What are we supposed to do?” Brangham replied:

  • Freeze your credit account—thus blocking anyone from setting up a new bank account, loan or mortgage in your name without you being alerted to it.
  • Alert credit reporting companies Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
  • Monitor your bank and credit cards for suspicious activity.

An October 22, 2014 “commentary” published in Forbes magazine raised the highly disturbing question: “Cybersecurity: Does Corporate America Really Care?”

And the answer is clearly: No.

Its author is John Hering, co-founder and executive director of Lookout, which bills itself as “the world leader in mobile security for consumers and enterprises alike.”

Click here: Cybersecurity: Does corporate America really care? 

“One thing is clear,” writes Hering. “CEOs need to put security on their strategic agendas alongside revenue growth and other issues given priority in boardrooms.”

Hering warns that “CEOs don’t seem to be making security a priority.” And he offers several reasons for this:

  • The sheer number of data compromises;
  • Relatively little consumer outcry;
  • Almost no impact on the companies’ standing on Wall Street;
  • Executives may consider such breaches part of the cost of doing business.

“There’s a short-term mindset and denial of convenience in board rooms,” writes Hering. “Top executives don’t realize their systems are vulnerable and don’t understand the risks. Sales figures and new products are top of mind; shoring up IT systems aren’t.”

There are three ways corporations can be forced to start behaving responsibly on this issue.

  • Smart attorneys need to start filing class-action lawsuits against companies that refuse to take steps to protect their customers’ private information. There is a name for such behavior: Criminal negligence. And there are laws carrying serious penalties for it.
  • There must be Federal legislation to ensure that multi-million-dollar fines are levied against such companies—and especially their CEOs—when such data breaches occur.
  • Congress should enact legislation allowing for the prosecution of CEOs whose companies’ negligence leads to such massive data breaches. They should be considered as accessories to crime, and, if convicted, sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Only then will the CEO mindset of “We don’t care, we don’t have to” be replaced with: “We care, because we’ll lose our money and/or freedom if we don’t.”

DATA SECURITY BREACHES: “WE DON’T CARE–WE DON’T HAVE TO”

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 14, 2017 at 1:15 am

Comedian Lily Tomlin rose to fame on the 1960s comedy hit, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, as Ernestine, the rude, sarcastic switchboard operator for Ma Bell.

She would tap into customers’ calls, interrupt them, make snide remarks about their personal lives. And her victims included celebrities as much as run-of-the-mill customers.

Lily Tomlin as Ernestine

She introduced herself as working for “the phone company, serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth.”

But perhaps the line for which her character is best remembered was: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

Watching Ernestine on Laugh-In was a blast for millions of TV viewers. But facing such corporate arrogance in real-life is no laughing matter.

Clearly, too many companies take the same attitude as Ernestine: “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

This is especially true for companies that are supposed to safeguard their customers’ most sensitive information—such as their credit card numbers, addresses, emails and phone numbers.

An October 22, 2014 “commentary” published in Forbes magazine raised the highly disturbing question: “Cybersecurity: Does Corporate America Really Care?”

And the answer is clearly: No.

Its author is John Hering, co-founder and executive director of Lookout, which bills itself as “the world leader in mobile security for consumers and enterprises alike.”

Click here: Cybersecurity: Does corporate America really care?

October, 2014 proved a bad month for credit card-using customers of Kmart, Staples and Dairy Queen.

All these corporations reported data breeches involving the theft of credit card numbers of countless numbers of customers.

Earlier breaches had hit Target, Home Depot and JPMorgan/Chase.

And on February 5, 2015, health insurance giant Anthem Inc. announced that hackers had breached its computer system and accessed the medical records of tens of millions of its customers and employees.

Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, said the infiltrated database held records on up to 80 million people.

Among the customers’ information accessed:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Social Security numbers
  • Member ID numbers
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses and
  • Employment information.

Some of the customer data may also include details on their income.

Click here: Anthem hack exposes data on 80 million; experts warn of identity theft – LA Times

Bad as that news was, worse was to come.

A February 5 story by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Anthem stored the Social Security numbers of 80 million customers without encrypting them.

The company believes that hackers used a stolen employee password to access the database

Anthem’s alleged reason for refusing to encrypt such sensitive data: Doing so would have made it harder for the company’s employees to track health care trends or share data with state and Federal health providers.

Anthem spokeswoman Kristin Binns blamed the data breach on employers and government agencies who “require us to maintain a member’s Social Security number in our systems so that their systems can uniquely identify their members.”

She said that Anthem encrypts personal data when it moves in or out of its database–but not where it  is stored.

This is a commonplace practice in the healthcare industry.

The FBI launched an investigation into the hack.

According to an anonymous source, the hackers used malware that has been used almost exclusively by Chinese cyberspies.

Naturally, China has denied any wrongdoing. With a completely straight face, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said:

“We maintain a cooperative, open and secure cyberspace, and we hope that countries around the world will make concerted efforts to that end.”

He also said that the charge that the hackers were Chinese was “groundless.”

Click here: Health Insurer Anthem Didn’t Encrypt Stolen Data – WSJ

Meanwhile, John Hering’s complaints remain as valid today as they did last October.

“One thing is clear,” writes Hering. “CEOs need to put security on their strategic agendas alongside revenue growth and other issues given priority in boardrooms.”

Hering warns that “CEOs don’t seem to be making security a priority.” And he offers several reasons for this:

  • The sheer number of data compromises;
  • Relatively little consumer outcry;
  • Almost no impact on the companies’ standing on Wall Street;
  • Executives may consider such breaches part of the cost of doing business.

“There’s a short-term mindset and denial of convenience in board rooms,” writes Hering.

“Top executives don’t realize their systems are vulnerable and don’t understand the risks. Sales figures and new products are top of mind; shoring up IT systems aren’t.”

There are three ways corporations can be forced to start behaving responsibly on this issue.

  1. Smart attorneys need to start filing class-action lawsuits against companies that refuse to take steps to protect their customers’ private information. There is a name for such behavior: Criminal negligence. And there are laws carrying serious penalties for it.
  2. There must be Federal legislation to ensure that multi-million-dollar fines are levied against such companies—and especially their CEOs—when such data breaches occur.
  3. Congress should enact legislation allowing for the prosecution of CEOs whose companies’ negligence leads to such massive data breaches. They should be considered as accessories to crime, and, if convicted, sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Only then will the CEO mindset of “We don’t care, we don’t have to” be replaced with: “We care, because we’ll lose our money and/or freedom if we don’t.”

MACHIAVELLI WAS RIGHT: DISTRUST THE RICH

In Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 26, 2017 at 12:05 am

As President Donald Trump prepares to drastically cut taxes on the wealthy (including himself) it’s well to remember the man whose name defines modern politics.

In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine statesman who has been called the father of modern political science, published his best-known work: The Prince.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Among the issues he confronted was how to preserve liberty within a republic. And key to this was mediating the eternal struggle between the wealthy and the poor and middle class.

Machiavelli deeply distrusted the nobility because they stood above the law. He saw them as a major source of corruption because they could buy influence through patronage, favors or nepotism.

Successful political leaders must attain the support of the nobility or general populace. But since these groups have conflicting interests, the safest course is to choose the latter.  

Writes Machiavelli:

….He who becomes prince by help of the [wealthy] has greater difficulty in maintaining his power than he who is raised by the populace. He is surrounded by those who think themselves his equals, and is thus unable to direct or command as he pleases. 

But one who is raised to leadership by popular favor finds himself alone, and has no one, or very  few, who   are not  ready  to  obey him. [And] it is impossible to satisfy the [wealthy] by fair dealing and without inflicting injury upon others, whereas it is very easy to satisfy the mass of the people in this way. 

Machiavelli warns that the general populace is more honest than the nobility–i.e., wealthy. The wealthy seek to oppress, while the populace wants to simply avoid oppression.

A political leader cannot protect himself against a hostile population, owing to their numbers, but he can against the hostility of the great, as they are but few.

The worst that a prince has to expect from a hostile people is to be abandoned, but from hostile nobles he has to fear not only desertion but their active opposition. And as they are more far seeing and more cunning, they are always in time to save themselves and take sides with the one who they expect will conquer. 

The prince is, moreover, obliged to live always with the same people, but he can easily do without the same nobility, being able to make and unmake them at any time, and improve their position or deprive them of it as he pleases.

Unfortunately, political leaders throughout the world–including the United States–have ignored this sage advice.

The results of this wholesale favoring of the wealthy and powerful have been brilliantly documented in a recent investigation of tax evasion by the world’s rich.

In 2012, Tax Justice Network, which campaigns to abolish tax havens, commissioned a study of their effect on the world’s economy.

The study was entitled, “The Price of Offshore Revisited: New Estimates for ‘Missing’ Global Private Wealth, Income, Inequality and Lost Taxes.”

http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/upload/pdf/Price_of_Offshore_Revisited_120722.pdf

The research was carried out by James Henry, former chief economist at consultants McKinsey & Co.  Among its findings:

  • By 2010, at least $21 to $32 trillion of the world’s private financial wealth had been invested virtually tax-­free through more than 80 offshore secrecy jurisdictions.
  • Since the 1970s, with eager (and often aggressive and illegal) assistance from the international private banking industry, private elites in 139 countries had accumulated $7.3 to $9.3 trillion of unrecorded offshore wealth by 2010.
  • This happened while many of those countries’ public sectors were borrowing themselves into bankruptcy, suffering painful adjustment and low growth, and holding fire sales of public assets.
  • The assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments.
  • The offshore industry is protected by pivate bankers, lawyers and accountants, who get paid handsomely to hide their clients’ assets and identities.
  • Bank regulators and central banks of most countries allow the world’s top tax havens and banks to hide the origins and ownership of assets under their supervision.
  • Although multilateral institutions like the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the IMF and the World Bank are supposedly insulated from politics, they have been highly compromised by the collective interests of Wall Street.
  • These regulatory bodies have never required financial institutions to fully report their cross-­border customer liabilities, deposits, customer assets under management or under custody.
  • Less than 100,000 people, .001% of the world’s population, now control over 30% of the world’s financial wealth.
  • Assuming that global offshore financial wealth of $21 trillion earns a total return of just 3% a year, and would have been taxed an average of 30% in the home country, this unrecorded wealth might have generated tax revenues of $189 billion per year.

Summing up this situation, the report noted: “We are up against one of society’s most well-­entrenched interest groups. After all, there’s no interest group more rich and powerful than the rich and powerful.”

Fortunately, Machiavelli has supplied timeless remedies to this increasingly dangerous situation:

  • Assume evil among men–and most especially among those who possess the greatest concentration of wealth and power.
  • Carefully monitor their activities–the way the FBI now regularly monitors those of the Mafia and major terrorist groups.
  • Ruthlessly prosecute the treasonous crimes of the rich and powerful–and, upon their conviction, impose severe punishment.

COMBATING SLUMLORDS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 25, 2016 at 1:53 am

City agencies need to see landlords for what they truly are–as, at best, potential predators, if not actual ones. And to act on that knowledge. 

As Niccolo Machiavelli warned:

“All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. 

“If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself.  But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.”

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Niccolo Machiavelli

The power of slumlords calls to mind the scene in 1987’s The Untouchables, where Sean Connery’s veteran cop tells Eliot Ness: “Everybody knows where the liquor is. It’s just a question of: Who wants to cross Capone?”

Many tenants have lived with rotting floors, bedbugs, nonworking toilets, mice/rats, chipping lead-based paint and other outrages for not simply months but years

This holds true across the United States. But it also holds true in San Francisco–the “renters’ paradise” where the District Attorney’s Office hasn’t prosecuted a slumlord in decades

Part Two of this series presented a series of badly-needed, long-overdue reforms for the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI). This is the agency charged to ensuring safe housing conditions for San Francisco residents.

This concluding part will cover the remainder of those needed reforms. 

  • Landlords should be required to bring all the units in a building up to existing building codes, and not just those in need of immediate repair.  
  • Landlords should be legally required to hire a certified-expert contractor to perform building repairs. To save money–that they can well afford to spend–many landlords insist on making such repairs despite their not being trained or experienced in doing so. They thereby risk the health and/or safety of their tenants. 
  • DBI should not view itself as a “mediation” agency between landlords and tenants. Most landlords hate DBI and will always do so. They believe they should be allowed to treat their tenants like serfs, if not slaves, raise extortionate rents anytime they desire, and maintain their buildings in whatever state they wish. And no efforts by DBI to persuade them of its good intentions will ever change their minds.   
  • Above all, DBI must stop viewing itself as a regulatory agency and start seeing itself as a law enforcement one. The FBI doesn’t ask criminals to comply with the law. It applies whatever amount of pressure is needed to force their compliance. William Tecumseh Sherman, speaking of the rebellious Southern states, said it best: “They cannot be made to love us, but they may be made to fear us.”  
  • The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office should create a special unit to investigate and  prosecute slumlords. Prosecutors should offer rewards to citizens who provide tips on major outrages by the city’s slumlords.  

  • Install Rent Control protections for tenants on fixed incomes. San Francisco is notorious for having the highest rents in the nation. A one-bedroom apartment runs $3,448 a month. Even those in the vaunted high-tech industry spend most of their income on rent.
  • For tenants on fixed incomes–seniors, disabled, students–the predatory greed of landlords amounts to a staged-in eviction notice.  Social Security recipients did not get a cost-of-living increase in 2016 because there had not been a rise in the price of gasoline. But the fact that many of them do not own cars doesn’t mean that the price of everything else–such as groceries–hasn’t sharply risen.  
  • Allowing landlords to jack up rents to the fullest extent possible every year will eventually drive out all tenants who are not multimillionaires. In fact, an unknown portion of this City’s homeless population doubtless stems from the ability of landlords to gradually raise rents above tenants’ ability to afford them.  
  • In 1979, San Franciscans passed a Rent Control law to protect tenants against predatory rent hikes and unfair evictions. As a result, a landlord can only raise a tenant’s rent a certain percentage every year. This is set by the set by the Rent Stabilization and Arbitration Board, more popularly known as the “Rent Board.”  
  • But there is a gaping hole in the law: Once a tenant moves out, the landlord can jack up the rent as high as he wants. This is why the average rent in San Francisco is priced beyond most middle-class wage-earners. 
  • In addition, landlords are allowed to charge tenants yearly fees to maintain the existence of the Rent Board. This is both unfair and insulting, since the Board was created to protect tenants from predatory landlords. Most tenants have far less money to pay such fees than do landlords, who are free to raise rents every year. And landlords–unlike tenants–can and do write off Rent Board fees on their taxes every year. Thus, landlords–not tenants–should be paying the fees.  

As Robert F. Kennedy wrote: “Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”

COMBATING SLUMLORDS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 24, 2016 at 12:28 am

The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection (DBI) has long been outmaneuvered by predatory, law-breaking landlords.

And San Francisco renters–many of them elderly, poor and/or disabled–have been the victims of landlord greed, neglect and/or harassment.

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Among the reforms that DBI should immediately enact:

  • Hit slumlord violators with a fine–payable immediately–for at least $2,000 to $5,000 for each health/safety-code violation.The slumlord would be told he could reclaim 75-80% of the money only if he fully corrected the violation within 30 days. The remaining portion of the levied fine would go into the City coffers, to be shared among DBI and other City agencies.
  • This would put the onus on the slumlord, not DBI. Appealing to his greed would ensure his willingness to comply with the ordered actions. As matters now stand, it is DBI who must repeatedly check with the slumlord to find out if its orders have been complied with.  
  • If the landlord failed to comply with the actions ordered within 30 days, the entire fine would go into the City’s coffers–to be divided among DBI and other agencies charged with protecting San Francisco residents.  
  • In addition. he would be hit again with a fine at least twice the amount of the first one.  
  • Inspectors for DBI should be allowed to cite landlords for violations that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Health (DPH). They could then pass the information to DPH for its own investigation.  
  • If the DBI inspector later discovered that the landlord had not corrected the DPH violation within a designated time-period, DBI should be allowed to levy its own fine for his failure to do so.
  • If DPH objects to this, DBI should propose that DPH’s own inspectors be armed with similar cross-jurisdictional authority. Each agency would thus have increased motivation for spotting and correcting health/safety violations that threaten the lives of San Francisco residents.

  • This would instantly turn DBI and DPH into allies, not competitors. And it would mean that whether a citizen called DBI or DPH, s/he could be assured of getting the necessary assistance. As matters now stand, many residents are confused by the conflicting jurisdictions of both agencies.  
  • DBI should insist that its Inspectors Division be greatly expanded. DBI can attain this by arguing that reducing the number of Inspectors cuts (1) protection for San Francisco renters–and (2) monies that could go to the general City welfare.
  • The Inspection Division should operate independently of DBI. Currently,  too many high-ranking DBI officials tilt toward landlords because they are landlords themselves.
  • DBI should create a Special Research Unit to compile records on the worst slumlord offenders. Thus, a slumlord with a repeat history of defying DBI Notices of Violation could be treated more harshly than a landlord who was a first-time offender.
  • Turning DBI into a revenue-producing agency would enable the City to raise desperately-needed revenues–in a highly popular way. Fining delinquent slumlords would be as unpopular as raising taxes on tobacco companies. Only slumlords and their hired lackey allies would object.  
  • DBI should legally require landlords to rehabilitate a unit every time a new tenant moves in, or have it examined by a DBI inspector every two years.  A tenant can occupy a unit for ten or more years, then die or move out, and the landlord immediately rents the unit to the first person who comes along, without making any repairs or upgrades whatsoever.
  • Slumlords, unlike drug-dealers, can’t move their buildings from one street or city to another. If they want to make money in San Francisco, they will have to submit to the jurisdiction of landlord-regulating agencies.  
  • DBI should require landlords to post their Notices of Violation in public areas of their buildings–on pain of serious financial penalties for failing to do so. When DBI orders a slumlord to take corrective action, s/he is the only one who is notified.  If that slumlord refuses to comply with that directive, s/he is the only one who knows it. Given the pressing demands on DBI, weeks or months will pass before the agency learns about this violation of its orders. Tenants have a right to know if their landlord is complying with the law–so they can promptly notify inform DBI if a violation is occurring. 

  • Landlords should be legally required to give each tenant a list of the major city agencies (such as DBI, the Rent Board and the Department of Public Health) that exist to help tenants solve problems with their housing.
  • DBI should launch–and maintain–a citywide advertising campaign to alert residents about its services. Everyone knows the FBI pursues bank robbers. But too many San Franciscans don’t even know that DBI exists, let alone what laws it enforces. This should be an in-your-face campaign: “Do you have bedbugs in your apartment? Has your stove stopped working? Are you afraid to ride in your building elevator because it’s always malfunctioning? Have you complained to your landlord and gotten the runaround? Then call DBI at—- Or drop us an email at_____.”
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