Facebook gets unwelcome look at hackers' dark side
Written by Associated Press
HACKED--This Feb. 8, 2012 photo shows a mural at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
by Michael Liedtke
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook is getting an unwelcome look at the shady side of the hacking culture that CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrates.
Intruders recently infiltrated the systems running the world's largest online social network but did not steal any sensitive information about Facebook's more than 1 billion users, according to a blog posting Friday by the company's security team.
The unsettling revelation is the latest breach to expose the digital cracks in a society and an economy that is storing an ever-growing volume of personal and business data online.
The news didn't seem to faze investors. Facebook Inc.'s stock dipped 10 cents to $28.22 in Friday's extended trading.
The main building at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters lists its address as 1 Hacker Way. From there, Facebook serves as the gatekeeper for billions of potentially embarrassing photos and messages that get posted each month.
This time, at least, that material didn't get swept up in the digital break-in that Facebook said it discovered last month. The company didn't say why it waited until the afternoon before a holiday weekend to inform its users about the hack.
It was a sophisticated attack that also hit other companies, according to Facebook, which didn't identify the targets.
"As part of our ongoing investigation, we are working continuously and closely with our own internal engineering teams, with security teams at other companies, and with law enforcement authorities to learn everything we can about the attack, and how to prevent similar incidents in the future," Facebook wrote on the blog.
Online short-messaging service Twitter acknowledged being hacked earlier this month. In that security breakdown, Twitter warned that the attackers may have stolen user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to 250,000 of the more than 200 million accounts set up on its service.
Late last month, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal — two of the three largest U.S. newspapers — said they were hit by China-based hackers believed to be interested in monitoring media coverage of topics that the Chinese government deemed important.
Facebook didn't identify a suspected origin of its hacking incident, but provided a few details about how it apparently happened.
The security lapse was traced to a handful of employees who visited a mobile software developer's website that had been compromised, which led to malware being installed on the workers' laptops. The PCs were infected even though they were supposed to be protected by the latest anti-virus software and were equipped with other up-to-date protection.
Facebook linked part of the problem to a security hole in the Java software that triggered a safety alert from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last month. The government agency advised computer users to disable Java on their machines because of a weakness that could be exploited by hackers.
Oracle Corp., the owner of Java, has since issued a security patch that it says has fixed the problem. In its post, Facebook said it received the Java fix two weeks ago.
Facebook never mentioned the word "hack" in describing the breach. That, no doubt, was by design because hacking is a good thing in Zuckerberg's vernacular.
To most people, hacking conjures images of malevolent behavior by intruders listening to private voicemails and villains crippling websites or breaking into email accounts.
Zuckerberg provided his interpretation of the word in a manifesto titled "The Hacker Way" that he included in the documents that the company filed for its initial public offering of stock last year.
"The word 'hacker' has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers," Zuckerberg wrote. "In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done."
Last Updated on Monday, 18 February 2013 09:54
Leach is new director of Pitt’s business program
Written by Courier Newsroom
RHONDA CARSON LEACH
With her more than 20 years of experience in leadership development and a knack for consulting with new and seasoned leaders to strengthen their skills and overcome business challenges through her Savvy Consulting Group, Rhonda Carson Leach will now be lending her expertise to the University of Pittsburgh as the director of the Urban Entrepreneurship Program at the school’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.
Leach will be responsible for developing and implementing an entrepreneurial development program focused on providing consulting services, educational programs and network building services to address the needs of urban entrepreneurs.
Along with her service as director of the entrepreneurship program and owner and president of Savvy Consulting Group, Leach’s years of experience include serving as a business consultant at Duquesne University, an executive assistant at Bidwell Manchester Corporation, and an administrator and marketing representative at Duquesne Slag Products. She is graduate Western New England College in Massachusetts, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and Geneva College, where she earned her master’s in organizational leadership.
Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2013 10:20
Should the U.S. kill the penny?
Written by CNN
by Chris Isidore
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)—Canada is dropping the use of its penny. And some economists believe the United States should be following its neighbor’s example.
The U.S. Mint spent 2 cents to produce and ship each of the 5.8 billion pennies sent to banks last year. But in addition to being a money loser for the Treasury, there are arguments that the penny has simply outlived its usefulness.
Greg Mankiw, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President Bush, said American consumers have shown they don’t value the penny, even if most polls show opposition to getting rid of the coin.
“When people start leaving a monetary unit at the cash register for the next customer, the unit is too small to be useful,” he said.
Businesses say rounding to the nearest nickel would save time for both their cashiers and their customers. But they’re reluctant to push for a change that could spark a backlash. That’s exactly what happened last summer when Mexican food chain Chipotle started rounding at some of its high volume stores.
“Yes it would speed up transactions, and yes that is good,” said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores. “But if it’s a convenience that the customer doesn’t want, we’re not going to question the consumers’ decision.”
Advocates for keeping the penny include Americans for Common Cents, a trade group supported by Jarden which has a subsidiary which makes the zinc and copper blanks turned into pennies by the Mint. The group commissioned a poll last year showing that two-thirds of Americans want to keep the penny. It often cites a study by Penn
State economics professor Raymond Lombra that estimates that consumers would end up paying a “rounding tax” of $2 billion to $4 billion over the course of two years if the penny is eliminated.
But Robert Whaples, an economics professor at Wake Forest, has done his own study looking at thousands of convenience store purchases. That study shows consumers as a group would break even if stores rounded to the nearest nickel. He said so many pennies fall out of circulation each year because consumers don’t see them as valuable, raising both the costs to the Mint as well as the economy as a whole.
“The main argument against the penny is that it wastes our time,” he said. “We’re clearly losing money on the penny.”
Besides Canada’s example, other countries have dropped their lowest denomination coins without problem.
But Whaples conceded that killing the penny is unlikely since the public isn’t eager to give up the coin.
“The vast majority want to keep a penny, regardless of all the good arguments against it,” he said. “It’s a sentimental attachment.”
Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2013 10:12
A ball of confusion
Written by Harry C. Alford
HARRY C. ALFORD
(NNPA)—“That’s what the world is today.” So says the Motown hit sung by Edwin Star and later by the Temptations. The description still applies today but for different reasons. This confusion or chaos is coming at us like a freight train. Let’s examine some of the reasons.
The violence in our cities is at an all-time high. The city of Chicago leads the way in this show of hatred and lack of value for human life. Funny, you cannot buy a gun in the Chicago city limits but they are everywhere. As many so called or self-appointed Black leaders scream about this madness, they seem to miss or ignore the big reason. It is really very simple. The amount of violence or murder of our youth comes from drugs wars or turf wars both perpetrated by street gangs. The existence of street gangs and all the ills that go with it is directly correlated to the amount of corruption within the law enforcement agencies. They could lock up the leadership of these gangs and dealers within a month. Drugs and violence is a business to some and right now business is great.
Our “leaders” also cry for more entitlements, AKA welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, etc. That is not what we need. The aforementioned things poison the soul, kill ambition and destroy the Black family unit. What we need are jobs and there is only one way to get jobs — create them through entrepreneurship. Small business is the best creator of jobs, which brings paychecks to households and motivates accountability and inspires ambition and dreams. Our families are busted up — where’s daddy? Baby mamas are expected to cover all the bases. The Black segment of our population needs new, young and progressive leaders who are totally dedicated to returning us back to greatness.
What we have now was explained over 100 years ago: “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” That is how Booker T. Washington explained our situation.
It is all about jobs. One of the newest job killers is Obamacare. This monster is getting bigger and bigger as we unravel what is in this massive bill. The IRS has just admitted that the cheapest family plan will cost a family of five (husband, wife and three children) at least $20,000 per year. Didn’t we think this would decrease the cost of healthcare? Small businesses will be forced to suppress their jobs. If your payroll exceeds 50 people then the business owner will be forced to pay significantly more per employee. Thus, most small businesses will suppress their workforce limiting the job potential in a local community. Worst of all, the employer will be taxed extra for hiring low-income personnel (for some stupid reason). Therefore, those living in poverty wanting to lift themselves up will be denied by this law alone.
There have been many political attacks against the successful job creators. These successful entrepreneurs and executives account for the majority of jobs in our nation. I think those attacking them should listen to another great leader who stated this more than 70 years ago: “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.” William J. H. Boetcker
They make the “hole” we are in bigger and more difficult to get out. They get away with it because we are too trusting and depend on people to lead us who have not committed to really leading us and setting us free and away from their influence. They control us. I finish with one more quote: “When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” Carter G. Woodson
Last Updated on Friday, 15 February 2013 10:11
Reviving rejected anti-consumer arguments
Written by Charlene Crowell
(NNPA)—In recent days, public debate over the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been reminiscent of the adage: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”
In these still early days of the 113th Congress, those who in 2010 adamantly opposed Dodd-Frank financial reform and the creation of an independent consumer-focused bureau are trying to revive their same rejected arguments. Legislation has been introduced along party lines to reverse many of the pro-consumer reforms enacted in 2010. Further, a bloc of 43 U.S. Senators advised for the second time their refusal to accept or reject any CFPB director nominee.
A February 1 letter to the president said in part, “We will continue to oppose the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliate, to be the CFPB director until key structural changes are made to ensure accountability and transparency.”
An equally strong but opposite view of the Richard Cordray re-nomination is held by Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon. On February 6, he said, “Predatory mortgages and other tricks and traps of the financial system have devastated too many working families. The CFPB was created with the support of a super-majority of senators to take on these egregious abuses and ensure that all Americans are protected from unfair and deceptive practices.”
“The senators blocking Cordray must ask themselves a fundamental question,” said Merkley. “’Does financial fairness for working families matter?’ I think it does. Financial fairness is essential for successful families. Financial fairness is a family value.”
CFPB was deliberately designed to independently serve all consumers rather than be subjected to partisan pranks and chicanery. For example, a single director empowered to write rules and monitor a range of financial services facilitates swift and corrective action in the consumers’ interests. CFPB opponents prefer a commission with members chosen by party leaders.
Yet in a recent commentary, Nancy A. Nord, a commissioner with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and its former acting chair, expressed serious concerns with commission governance.
“A well-informed administrator with sole accountability for decisions is a better way to achieve underlying policy goals, rather than hoping for clear-headed bi-partisanship,” wrote Nord. “My experience at the CPSC indicates that commissioners’ independence is more hope than reality. In non-unanimous votes, crossing party lines is rare.”
In addition to a director’s leadership, CFPB’s independence is also assured by its budget not being subject to annual congressional appropriations. CFPB opponents have called for this financial independence to end. If CFPB’s budget were to become subject to the annual appropriations process, the door would be opened to potential and ongoing punishment by the largest banking industry lobbies and their allies in Congress. Dodd-Frank reform showed far-sighted wisdom by enabling unhindered decisions and actions taken in the public interest.”
Most importantly, consumers have shown overwhelming support for CFPB. A 2012 poll of consumer sentiment by the Center for Responsible Lending showed that more than eight out of 10 consumers of color polled favored a strong CFPB. Further, consumers of color expressed the strongest support for CFPB.
Earlier CRL research documented how African-American and Latino families lost approximately $1 trillion from the foreclosure crisis—the brunt of 10.9 million homes that went into foreclosure from 2007-2011.
For our communities, the financial stakes in the CFPB debate could not be higher. No community could hope to survive a second trillion loss.
It is time to stand up, speak out and insist on preserving the hard-fought consumer protections with the same vigor that defied those who tried to deny our voting rights in 2012.
(Charlene Crowell is a communications manager with the Center for Responsible Lending. She can be reached at: Charlene.crowell @responsiblelending.org.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 February 2013 15:36
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