Your Latest IT News Update

China Bans Bitcoin: Value Plummets

The value of Bitcoin has taken a tumble on worldwide currency markets after China ordered exchanges to cease trading in the crypto-currency.

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Embarrassing iPhone Face Recognition Blunder Explained

Apple’s on-stage demo of the new iPhone X in front of the world’s media last Tuesday suffered an unexpected glitch as its new face recognition feature didn’t work, and now Apple is offering an explanation of what went wrong.

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Government Could Share Data To Reduce Immigration

In order for the government to cut net migration numbers to the UK post-Brexit, it has been reported that three government departments will be sharing data on citizens so that immigration status checks can be made more easily.

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Parking Chatbot Could Help You Sue Equifax

In the wake of the recent, massive Equifax hack, a well-known chatbot developed to overturn parking fines has been modified to help victims file legal claims against Equifax.

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Online Hate Bans Appear To Work, According To Reddit

Contrary to concerns that social news platform Reddit would drive abusive user groups to other areas of the site by banning them, research has shown that bans have cut hate speech and bad online behaviour for the longer term.

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Tech Tip: Access Cortana’s Secret Calculator

Sometimes the calculator on your computer can come in very handy, and Cortana in Windows 10 gives you access to a full featured calculator via the search box. Here’s how. With Cortana enabled:

<More>

China Bans Bitcoin: Value Falls

The value of Bitcoin has taken a tumble on worldwide currency markets after China ordered exchanges to cease trading in the cryptocurrency.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital web-based currency that operates without the need for central banks and uses highly secure encryption (a crypto-currency) to regulate the currency units and to verify transfers of funds. Bitcoin uses the ‘Blockchain’ technology. Blockchain is an open and programmable technology that can be used to record transactions for virtually anything of value that can be converted to code and is often referred to as a kind of ‘incorruptible ledger’.
There are approximately 15 million Bitcoins in existence, and in order to receive a Bitcoin, a user must have a Bitcoin address (of which there is no central register).

Why The Halt In Trading in China?

It has been reported that China has ordered a halt in Bitcoin trading at its exchanges because they have been told that they don’t have a licence to operate with the crypoto-currency. The instruction issued by Leading Group of Beijing Internet Financial Risks Remediation is reported to have listed a series of steps that each exchange has to go through before handling Bitcoin, and to cancel any accounts that don’t have bank accounts connected to them. It has also been ordered that the details of user and trading data will have to be recorded on DVDs and submitted to local authorities.

As part of the required steps, Chinese exchanges will need to devise a wind-down plan so that cryptocurrencies can be paid into user bank accounts.

Why Really?

Some commentators have speculated that this could be a move to force companies to shut down and then get officially licensed, as this will give the government access to their back-end systems. This move by China could therefore be as much about gaining control through licensing as it is about cryptocurrencies.

China also has a history of problems with Bitcoin in that it appears to dislike the lack of transparency and control, and that it was allegedly used by criminal and money laundering gangs. For example, as far back as December 2013, the People’s Bank of China and several other government ministries issued an official notice entitled ‘Guarding Against the Risks of Bitcoin’, which stated Bitcoin may not be used as a currency.

Was At A High

Before the panic and subsequent fall in the value of Bitcoin, caused by moves in China, in August Bitcoin hit new highs as its value exceeded the value of a troy ounce of gold for the first time.

Other Cryptocurrencies Affected

The news in China sent the crypto currency markets into a downward spiral as the main cryptocurrency values fell by between 20 and 40 %. For example, Litecoin (the fifth-largest cryptocurrency) fell 37% in value after the news of the decisions about to be taken about Bitcoin in China.

AI Contrast

The value of growing technologies such as AI currently provide a contrast to the dipping fortunes of cryptocurrencies. Shares of Nvidia Corp, who have expanded into AI, cloud computing and self-driving cars (as well as, ironically, chips used to process cryptocurrency transactions), reached a record high for the second straight day on Monday.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The rise of cypto-currencies, such as Bitcoin, to the point where it was finally being taken up by investors, businesses and governments, has been filled with high profile ups and downs e.g. a fall in its value on the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange following a hack in late 2013. Despite its problems and bad press, in recent years (up until now), Bitcoin has had a decrease in volatility. 2017 has also actually seen a lot of optimism for the crytocurrency, which reached a point back in January where its worth was around the same value as that of a FTSE 100 company. Bitcoin has many attractive advantages for businesses such as the speed and ease with which transactions can take place due to the lack of central bank and traditional currency control. Using Bitcoin also means that cross-border and global trading is simpler and faster and the ‘crypto’ aspect of the currency makes it secure. This latest challenge unfortunately involves a very large market, and has created more uncertainty and mistrust that has rubbed off on other crypto-currencies. Fingers-crossed for Bitcoin, this may be more about licensing in China, and Bitcoin, as it has done many times, will most likely bounce back.

The importance of other new technologies such as AI and driverless vehicles is finally being reflected in the value of the shares of companies who are leading the charge in those technologies, and these technologies are likely to provide many global business opportunities going forward.

Embarrassing iPhone Face Recognition Blunder Explained

Apple’s on-stage demo of the new iPhone X in front of the world’s media last Tuesday suffered an unexpected glitch as its new face recognition feature didn’t work, and now Apple is offering an explanation of what went wrong.

Not Recognised

The nearly two-hour on-stage demo of the new phone, by Craig Mr Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering at the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters, failed to hit the right note as it was overshadowed by the failure of the new handset to recognise his face as a means of authentication.

Others Moving The Handset

Statements by Apple since the incident have placed the blame on the fact that the phone’s authentication system tried to recognise the face of those moving the phone into position, ready for the presentation. These attempts, therefore, counted as two unsuccessful authentication attempts because the faces were not those of Craig Federighi.

Unfortunately for Mr Federighi, the phone, for reasons of security, is designed to only accept 2 unsuccessful authentication attempts using the facial recognition feature, before the feature is disabled and the user has to go to the trouble of manually typing in a passcode.

Irony

The awful irony of the presentation was that ‘Touch ID’, which was being replaced with the 10th anniversary iPhone X, would have allowed five failed attempts before seeking a passcode.

What made things seem worse was the fact that this new iPhone feature had been developed after Apple reportedly gathered a billion images to ‘train’ the feature to recognise broad geographic and ethnic data sets, and that Apple had earlier described Face ID as being “effortless” to use, and even more accurate than its fingerprint-based Touch ID system.

Apple has also said that the 3D front-facing camera has been designed to learn what users look like and is only inaccurate one in 1 million times.

Also For Payment and Emojis

As well as providing authentication to unlock the phone, The Face ID feature has also been designed to authenticate Apple Pay and create the customisable animated emoji.

Spare

Fortunately for Mr Federighi, he had a spare phone standing by so that he could at least continue the presentation.

Theories

Prior to Apple’s attempt to explain what went wrong with the feature, different theories had been offered online as to what may have caused the problem, including the idea that Mr Federighi’s wiping of the stage make-up on his face before this second attempt may have interfered with the system.

Concerns

Some commentators have expressed concerns about how the use of Face ID could affect the privacy and security of users, and that the technology may not be entirely effective where users need to keep their face partially covered e.g. for religious / cultural or work reasons.

The largest concern for many people, however, has been the substantial $999 price tag for the phone ($999 for the 64GB version and £1,149 for 256GB).

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Having an up to date phone that can cope with the demands of doing business on the move are the main concerns for many businesses, and having a time-saving, new security feature such as Face ID would be a bonus. For many business people, however, the high price of the phone, and the loss of trust in its Face ID abilities already (remember that Face ID also authorises Apple Pay as well as the phone itself) have meant that they may stick with their existing phone for the time being.

For Apple, which is not doing as well as it would like in large markets such as China, the public Face ID failure, which may well have been legitimately caused by features designed to protect the security of users, could prove to be costly. It may also have done nothing to boost business confidence in the kinds of biometric security measures that are being introduced to so many business services e.g. banking.

This story also helps to illustrate the delicate balance between price, value, and perceived benefits in products and services. Even though the sophisticated AI / biometric technology in Face ID is really quite spectacular, if a product has no real perceived benefits compared to existing products / versions, customers may not see the value that they will gain by paying the high price.

Government Could Share Data To Reduce Immigration

In order for the government to cut net migration numbers to the UK post-Brexit, it has been reported that three government departments will be sharing data on citizens so that immigration status checks can be made more easily.

Departments

It has been reported that the Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will all share data about citizens, thereby enabling checks on immigration status to be made more easily e.g. by employers and public service agencies.

The proposals, which are part of a Home Office paper entitled “the Border, Immigration and Citizenship System After the UK Leaves the European Union” have not been agreed upon by ministers, but have provoked discussion.

Shift

The key shift in government policy that the document is built-around is the idea that rather than employers or EU citizens deciding about migration, the government could impose measures that prioritize the economic and social needs of the country.

Fewer Low-Skilled EU Migrants

In other words, the government is looking to minimise migration to the UK by lower-skilled workers. The document indicates that this could be achieved by several measures including:

  • Limiting residency to a maximum of two years for lower-skilled workers, and offering five-year work permits for high-skilled migrant workers.
  • Scrapping EU rules on the rights of extended family members to reside in the UK.
  • Not granting residence permits to jobseekers, and introducing a specific income threshold for ‘self-sufficient’ migrants.
  • Introducing “right to work” checks carried out by employers themselves, with the threat of criminal sanctions against companies and individuals where illegal working is discovered. This is similar to law already in place whereby landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants. Employers could, therefore, effectively take on some of the work of UK immigration.

Skills Gap

One of the key challenges in IT in the UK market is a skills gap, particularly in areas such as data, security, Python, Ruby, UI and UX. The low number of UK students graduating with computer science degrees (particularly females) has made this gap wider. Also, lower average salaries for London tech jobs compared to those in other key European and US tech cities have also lead to a brain drain.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For IT businesses, many of which (particularly start-ups) wanted to remain in the EU, skilled migrant workers are necessary to fill the skills gap and to enable UK IT companies to compete in the global market. The government has also stated that it wants the UK to be a digital powerhouse. With these factors in mind, it is important that government immigration policy does not cause the kind of uncertainty and worries that could act as a deterrent to migrant tech workers who may want to stay for some time in the UK with their spouses / families, and who will clearly be contributors to the economy (as many lower-skilled workers are also). Taking a broader view, it is important to acknowledge that whole industries in the UK now rely upon migrant workers of varying skill levels e.g. hospitality and health, and any new regulations need to strike a careful balance to take into account the needs of migrant workers, the needs businesses who employ them, and to not invite retaliatory action by the 27-country EU bloc for measures that could be seen as treating EU nationals as second-class citizens in the UK.

For IT companies, Brexit looks set to make it more challenging to attract skilled people from overseas. It is not down to just businesses alone to solve the skills gap challenge. The government, the education system and businesses need to find ways to work together to develop a base of digital skills in the UK population and to make sure that the whole tech eco system finds effective ways to address the skills gap and keep the UK’s tech industries and business attractive and competitive.

Parking Chatbot Could Help You Sue Equifax

In the wake of the recent, massive Equifax hack, a well-known chatbot developed to overturn parking fines has been modified to help victims file legal claims against Equifax.

What Happened?

A vulnerability in the Equifax website was reportedly exploited by unknown hackers, leading to the theft of 143 million customer details stolen, 44 million of which may have come from UK customers.

What many found most shocking about the hack is that not only was Equifax reported to have known about the attack some 40 days before informing the public that it had happened, but that three senior executives at the company are believed to have sold-off shares worth almost £1.4m before the breach was publicly announced.

Also, subsequent revelations include reports (based on a statement from the company) that Equifax’s Security organization was aware of the vulnerability at that time, and that although it took efforts to identify and to patch any vulnerable systems, it clearly wasn’t successful. To add insult to injury for those affected by the hack, news has also now emerged that Equifax’s chief information officer and chief security officer are “retiring”.

DoNotPay To The Rescue

The chatbot, called ‘DoNotPay’ (originally launched in March 2016 by British student, Joshua Browder), is famous for providing legal advice that has led to a reported 375,000 claims against parking tickets. The fact that the Equifax hack included social security numbers and personal details of an estimated 143 million Americans, has prompted the modification of the DoNotPay chatbot so that it can automatically sue Equifax for $15,000 per claim.

No Need For A Lawyer

Personal legal help is notoriously expensive, and is often seen as a barrier to claims, but one advantage of the modified DoNotPay bot is that it essentially helps users to fill out the PDF form that can be used to file a suit in small claims court, thereby removing the need to hire a lawyer from the equation.

Worked For Refugees

Back in March this year the same DoNotPay bot was modified to provide refugees with legal advice and help, via the Facebook Messenger app. The bot was re-configured to help refugees to the UK and the US complete their immigration applications, and was developed using the help of lawyers in both countries.

Also, back in August 2016, a modified version of the same bot was released to help those in need of emergency housing.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The full extent of the Equifax hack (believed to be is the largest in US history) is not yet known, but the Credit Rating Company is believed to hold the data of 820 million consumers and 91 million businesses. Many businesses are direct customers of Equifax. Given the fact that many businesses are likely to have been affected, and given the apparent conduct of a company trusted to safeguard identities finances (sitting on the hack for 40 days, executives selling shares before telling the public, and apparently failing to plug a known vulnerability), there is likely to be an appetite to seek compensation / redress from Equifax.

An easy, fast, and low-cost way to do so (no need to pay for a lawyer), such as the modified DoNotPay chatbot is, therefore, likely to be popular with businesses and consumers alike.

The Equifax hack is also a reminder to all businesses of how vital it is to keep security systems up to date and to maintain cyber resilience on all levels. This could involve keeping up to date with patching (9 out of 10 hacked businesses were compromised via un-patched vulnerabilities), and should extend to training employees in cyber security practices, and adopting multi-layered defences that go beyond the traditional anti-virus and firewall perimeter. Companies need to conduct security audits to make sure that no old, isolated data is stored on any old systems or platforms, and may now need to use tools that allow security devices to collect and share data and co-ordinate a unified response across the entire distributed network.

Online Hate Bans Appear To Work, According To Reddit

Contrary to concerns that social news platform Reddit would drive abusive user groups to other areas of the site by banning them, research has shown that bans have cut hate speech and bad online behaviour for the longer term.

What Happened?

Back in 2015, social news platform Reddit was receiving criticism for appearing to do nothing to curb online harassment and bullying that was occurring on the site as user numbers grew. Reddit’s own survey at the time showed that 50% of active users would not recommend the site, due to “hateful or offensive content and community”.

This led Reddit to publicly introduce a ‘no harassment policy’ that was designed to prevent attacks against people, not ideas i.e. not to be seen as censorship or curbing free speech. The platform also banned so-called ‘revenge porn’ which was seen as a major online problem at the time.

Hateful Communities Blamed

Much of the blame for the worst behaviour was apportioned to hateful / racist communities on the platform. These groups included racist subreddit /r/coontown and fat-shaming subreddit /r/fatpeoplehate. Reddit, therefore, took the action of banning these communities from the platform altogether.

Research Shows Beneficial Results

Research by the Georgia Institute of Technology, and researchers from Emory University and the University of Michigan has found that banning hate groups caused them to abandon the Reddit platform (rather than go elsewhere within it) at higher than average rates. The researchers also found that levels of hate speech reduced in the group members who stayed, and the communities that the hate groups moved to reported no increase in their levels of abuse. Statistics from the research showed a 90.63% reduction in the usage of manually filtered hate words by the r/fatpeoplehate group, and an 81.08% decrease in the usage of manually filtered hate words by r/CoonTown.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The business world works best when customers, investors, and other stakeholders have confidence in companies, brands, products and services. Those businesses that supply platforms for, or enable the sharing / distribution free speech of any kind e.g. social media and web companies, have a common (and commercial) duty to provide a safe online environment for their users e.g. by removing hate speech promptly, and by making their part of the online environment particularly safe for children, young people, and the vulnerable. Surprisingly, given the level of technological expertise and investment in large social media platforms e.g. Facebook and Twitter, they have always struggled to moderate their platforms effectively. Although a ban on hate groups may seem like an obvious answer, fear of being seen to censor and curb free speech (characteristics of authority and governments), and thereby damaging a high value brand may be reasons why major platforms have been perceived as not doing enough. Reddit’s research results and how the platform has turned things around by banning groups, and the proven effectiveness of banning in modifying behaviour, could point the way for other social media platforms.

Online hate speech / hate crimes and bullying are now being widely challenged e.g. Google, GoDaddy, and Cloudflare’s decision to stop serving a neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, and the UK Crown Prosecution Service’s move to treat online hate crime as seriously as offences carried out face to face with tougher penalties and sentences for online abuse on social media platforms.

Most marketers will be familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how important basic safety needs are likely to be for customers of any service. Anything that contributes to a safer online environment (the digital business environment) can therefore only benefit businesses as well as society. Businesses and organisations of all kinds can also help the common purpose of minimising online hate crime through education of their staff / pupils / customers / users / stakeholders about their own policies for the treatment of those discovered to be using hate speech e.g. at work online.
We can all play our own individual part in making the online environment safe for all by reporting hate speech where we find it, and, although the stance of open rights / free speech organisations such as the ORG is important, so is ensuring that the Internet is a safe place for all.

Tech Tip: Access Cortana’s Secret Calculator

Sometimes the calculator on your computer can come in very handy, and Cortana in Windows 10 gives you access to a full featured calculator via the search box. Here’s how. With Cortana enabled:

  1. Tap the Windows key.
  2. Type your calculation into the search box.
  3. Cortana displays the result of your calculation at the top of the search results list.
  4. The calculator vanishes as soon as you click away.

Your Latest IT News Update

AI Can Tell Your Sexuality From A Photograph

An AI algorithm developed by researchers at Stanford University has been able to identify men and women as gay or straight just by studying photographs, with up to 91% accuracy.

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44 Million UK People Possibly Affected by Equifax Hack

US Credit Rating Company Equifax was hacked last Friday with 143 million customer details stolen, 44 million of which may have come from UK customers.

<More>

Google Drive To Be Replaced With Drive File Stream

Google has announced on its blog that it will be replacing Google Drive with a new (and less bandwidth and hard-disk space-hungry) desktop app called Drive File Stream.

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WhatsApp For Business Announced

It has been announced that a standalone ‘for business’ version of Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform will soon be made available.

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China To Stop Selling Fossil Fuel Cars

The world’s largest auto market, China, is reportedly planning to ban the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles to help tackle pollution and to develop the market for electric and hybrid vehicles.

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Tech Tip: Use The Action Centre To Customise Settings

Windows 10 offers you the chance to customise settings without having to go to the settings panel by using a one-stop shop called the action centre.

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AI Can Tell Your Sexuality From A Photograph

An AI algorithm developed by researchers at Stanford University has been able to identify men and women as gay or straight just by studying photographs, with up to 91% accuracy.

Why?

The study by Stanford’s Michal Kosinski and Yilun Wang used AI to test a theory that sexual orientation stems from exposure to certain hormones before birth, meaning people are born gay, and that female sexual orientation is more fluid. The study also tested the hypothesis that faces contain more information about sexual orientation than can be perceived and interpreted by the human brain, and that a computer AI program could discover that information using an algorithm. The study was, therefore, intended to advance understanding of the origins of sexual orientation and the limits of human perception.

What Happened?

The study used the facial images of 35,326 men and women, and their stated sexuality that had been publicly posted on a US dating website. The researchers then used a sophisticated mathematical system known as ‘deep neural networks’ to extract various facial features from the images. These features were then entered into a logistic regression in order to attempt to classify the sexual orientation of the people in the photos, and this data was then matched with their stated sexuality to determine accuracy.

How Accurate?

After the AI system was able to succeed with single images, the accuracy of the algorithm increased dramatically to 91% when 5 images of the person were used. The overall results of the study showed that the algorithm could tell gay men from straight men with 81% accuracy and lesbians from straight women with a 74% accuracy.

This not only illustrates the idea that gay men and women tend to have gender-atypical features, expressions and grooming styles, but that the study appeared to show that a computer program is better at perceiving these than humans. For example, humans who looked at the same images were only able to tell gay from straight men with 61% accuracy, and lesbians from straight women with only 54% accuracy.

Criticism and Concerns

Although some have criticised the study as being more about stereotyping, the results have prompted many to express concern that tools like this algorithm could pose a threat to the privacy and safety of gay men and women, and could potentially be abused by anti-gay groups to target their hate-crimes, or by other organisations as a means of discrimination. Some commentators have expressed a worry that the billions of facial images of people stored on social media sites and in government databases could be used without consent, and that some governments could even use the technology to ‘out’ and target populations and to prosecute and punish LGBT people.

It is also easy to imagine that this kind of profiling could possibly be used in the future to identify other traits and behaviours such as telling the truth / lying, or even if someone is being unfaithful or hiding something.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

From a business perspective, identifying and profiling of people e.g. employees and customers should always be done in a way that is ethical, and protects the privacy and security of individuals.

Businesses already use psychometric profiling, and this kind AI algorithmic tool (not just based on photos) could, therefore, be used in a positive way to help organisations select staff.

Some business people may also be using Facebook and other social media data to reach conclusions about personality and compatibility with a company, and judgements made this way raise their own ethical questions.

The authors of this study’s findings have made the point that this technology already exists and its capabilities are important to expose so that governments and companies can proactively consider privacy risks and the need for safeguards and regulations. Some would say, therefore, that this study and its results have in fact made a clear statement about how powerful this kind of technology can be, and have exposed the need for protections now, before the technology is used further e.g. for the kind of negative profiling that has been identified as a real worry.

It is also interesting to note that the report authors for this study have also suggested that AI could now conceivably be used explore links between facial features and other phenomena, such as political views, psychological conditions or personality. Findings along these lines could clearly have a value to companies, organisations, and governments.

44 Million UK People Possibly Affected by Equifax Hack

US Credit Rating Company Equifax was hacked last Friday with 143 million customer details stolen, 44 million of which may have come from UK customers.

Largest Hack

The hack, which many experts believe is the largest in US history, is thought to have happened after hackers found a way through a vulnerability on the website.

Equifax has received criticism for trying to save money on cyber protection at the expense of customer data-protection and had a lawsuit filed against it in Portland, Oregon for allegedly not maintaining adequate technological safeguards.

Waited 40 Days

What many have found most shocking about the hack is that, not only is Equifax reported to have known about the attack some 40 days before informing the public that it had happened, but that three senior executives at the company (which is a New York Stock Exchange-listed firm) are believed to have sold-off shares worth almost £1.4m before the breach was publicly announced. After the public announcement was made, Equifax’s stock fell by more than 14%.

What Kind of Details Were Stolen?

It is believed that the customer details stolen in the attack included names, US social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, driver’s license details, and also around 209,000 credit card numbers.

Although 44 million is the possible number of UK customer details stolen, it is not clear how much UK customer data was held in the US, and the word from Equifax at the present time is that limited personal information from British and Canadian residents had been compromised in the hack.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has now asked Equifax to alert affected UK customers at the earliest opportunity.

It has been reported in some areas of the media that British customers of Equifax include companies such as BT, Capital One, and British Gas may have been affected by the hack.

There May Be Trouble Ahead

The hack may be particularly dangerous for US citizens because they use their social security number for verification of their IDs, and a large number of social security numbers were stolen in the attack.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

As security commentators have pointed out in this case, there is an awful irony because hackers have been able to compromise the companies that internet users rely on to safeguard their identities and finances. The scale and severity of this hack shouldn’t be underestimated, and it affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States.
Unfortunately, Equifax is likely to have held a lot of data about individuals who are not directly customers as well as storing information about businesses. Equifax hold the data of 820 million consumers and 91 million businesses. Many businesses are direct customers of Equifax, and although the extent of theft of data relating to UK companies and individuals is unknown, it may be wise to take proactive action anyway. This means monitoring your credit report (which will show any credit accounts set up in your name), and reporting any evidence of identity fraud to Action Fraud. You should also be vigilant for any suspicious and unsolicited emails (avoid clicking on links from unknown sources), or phone calls which could be from cyber criminals in the wake of the attack.

This story also illustrates how important it is to invest in keeping security systems up to date and to maintain cyber resilience on all levels. This could involve keeping up to date with patching (9 out of 10 hacked businesses were compromised via un-patched vulnerabilities), and should extend to training employees in cyber security practices, and adopting multi-layered defences that go beyond the traditional anti-virus and firewall perimeter.

Companies need to conduct security audits to make sure that no old, isolated data is stored on any old systems or platforms. Companies may now need to use tools that allow security devices to collect and share data and co-ordinate a unified response across the entire distributed network.

The reported behaviour of Equifax in this case (waiting 40 days before reporting the hack, and some executives selling stock) is clearly reckless and is likely to damage the reputation and brand of the company. The hack itself and the associated problems also illustrate the importance of having workable, updated Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans in place.