Why didn’t Equifax protect your data? Because corporations have all the power. – The Washington Post

My coworker and I were musing about the huge Equifax breach, where 143 million Americans had their personal data exposed to hackers. We wondered if Equifax would pay a price for this loss. Then we wondered who could punish Equifax.

It’s not us, we concluded. We’re not Equifax’s customers, we’re their product!

Here’s a great perspective piece in the Washington Post which discusses how lopsided the tables are towards large corporations and against the little guys like you and me.

No wonder. To be an American consumer these days is to have become numb to signing away your rights so you can buy products and services. If you want to use a smartphone, you have to agree to give your privacy to the company that makes it, and to your Internet provider, which can see every website you visit. If you want to use email, you agree that the provider can scan your messages for certain words to sell ads. And when you sign up for financial services, you give away your rights to negotiate how your money is used or how your information is protected. The people whose Social Security numbers Equifax lost had no say in how the company acquired, uses or guards their financial information.

Source: Why didn’t Equifax protect your data? Because corporations have all the power. – The Washington Post

Experian Site Can Give Anyone Your Credit Freeze PIN — Krebs on Security

What good does it do to lock down your credit with a credit freeze if Experian will hand over your PIN to anyone who asks?

An alert reader recently pointed my attention to a free online service offered by big-three credit bureau Experian that allows anyone to request the personal identification number (PIN) needed to unlock a consumer credit file that was previously frozen at Experian.

The first hurdle for instantly revealing anyone’s freeze PIN is to provide the person’s name, address, date of birth and Social Security number (all data that has been jeopardized in breaches 100 times over — including in the recent Equifax breach — and that is broadly for sale in the cybercrime underground).

After that, one just needs to input an email address to receive the PIN and swear that the information is true and belongs to the submitter. I’m certain this warning would deter all but the bravest of identity thieves!

Source: Experian Site Can Give Anyone Your Credit Freeze PIN — Krebs on Security

Dubai: The Vegas of the Middle East, with a catch

Johnny Walker Red

A recent story about a Brit who inadvertently ran afoul of the law in Dubai reminded me of the first (and last) time I visited Dubai.

When I was in the US Navy in the early 1990s my ship made a stop in Dubai. A group of my fellow sailors and I booked rooms at (what was at the time) a fairly high-end hotel to relax. I was astonished when entering my room to find a thank you card and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red, a gift for our protecting the Gulf. Being gifted a bottle of fine scotch in a Muslim country was a taste of the odd juxtaposition and tension in Dubai, where east meets west and tries to offer something for everyone.

In the days I wandered around Dubai seemed clear to me what the cultural expectations were. Back then it was a few hotels and mostly sand but now Dubai advertises itself as an exotic playground, the Las Vegas of the Middle East. It seems to me it’s easier now to cross a line one didn’t mean to cross, though I have not been back since. I was planning a trip to Dubai with my wife around Sept 11, 2001 but .. .uh, soon scuttled it :-(.

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Mohylek)

David Crabtree retiring from WRAL TV in late 2018 | News & Observer

David Crabtree

I wish David Crabtree well in his new career in the clergy. On the eve of the Iraq War, he moderated a community forum about how America should respond and I won’t soon forget how bloodthirsty he was for vengeance.

I hope his religious studies have since made him a better person.

WRAL announced on Wednesday that longtime anchor David Crabtree will retire in late 2018.Crabtree has been in TV news for 35 years, taking over as the lead anchor at WRAL when Charlie Gaddy retired in 1994. He is a native of Tennessee who has lived in Raleigh since 1994.

According to WRAL, Crabtree, an ordained deacon, will take a permanent role in the Episcopal Church when he leaves the station. He is currently affiliated with St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Raleigh and is on track to earn a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School in the spring of 2018.

Crabtree is an award-winning journalist who has interviewed presidents and has reported from the Vatican, political conventions and from the funerals of Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.

Source: David Crabtree retiring from WRAL TV in late 2018 | News & Observer

Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years – The Washington Post

I love this profile of children’s book author Sandra Boynton. Mentioning it at family dinner tonight elicited gleeful reminiscences of the favorite books the kids read (and were read) when they were little.

Sandra Boynton lives on a farm in rural Connecticut. She works out of a converted barn, surrounded by pigs in overalls, frogs wearing cowboy hats, a clutch of bemused chickens and a few skeptical sock puppets.Standing there, you get the feeling that at any moment they might all come alive and break into a high-stepping song-and-dance. Which they probably will. Because this is Boynton’s world, and in Boynton’s world, animals do whatever she wants. And what she wants them to do, mostly, is make her smile.

Source: Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years – The Washington Post

Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

Another story of the mystery Cuban sonic weapon. This story focuses more on the auditory effects but neglects the apparent concussions that also seems to be a symptom.

A mysterious illness has been striking people associated with the US Embassy in Cuba — and a secret sonic weapon is rumored to be the source. Over the past year, diplomats in Cuba have experienced an unusual collection of symptoms that range from hearing loss, vertigo, and nausea to concussions, CBS News reported.Yesterday, the mystery grew even more complex when the Associated Press reported that the number of US victims has climbed to 21 people. Canadian diplomatic households were affected as well, the AP says. The Cuban government has denied involvement, and no “piece of equipment” that might be causing the symptoms has been discovered yet, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

Source: Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – Sep. 15, 2017

Remember the 2012 election when I was tracking all the fake Facebook likes for Mitt Romney? Could this have also been an effort by Russia to influence the American Election by manipulating Facebook?

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are now in possession of Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election, after they obtained a search warrant for the information.

Facebook gave Mueller and his team copies of ads and related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as well as detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads were targeted at American Facebook users, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

The disclosure, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may give Mueller’s office a fuller picture of who was behind the ad buys and how the ads may have influenced voter sentiment during the 2016 election.

Source: Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – Sep. 15, 2017