Equifax says hack potentially exposed details of 143 million consumers

Equifax says details of 143 million consumers potentially hacked© Equifax via Twitter Equifax says details of 143 million consumers potentially hacked Sept 7 (Reuters) – Equifax Inc, a provider of consumer credit scores, said on Thursday a hack exposed the personal details of potentially 143 million U.S. consumers between mid-May and July.

The company’s shares were down 5.4 percent in after-market trading

The company said criminals had accessed details including names, social security numbers, and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers.

In addition, credit card numbers of around 209,000 U.S. consumers and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information of around 182,000 U.S. consumers were accessed, the company said.

Equifax also said personal information of certain UK and Canadian residents were also hacked.

The Atlanta-based company it would work with UK and Canadian regulators to determine the next steps.

Equifax, which discovered the unauthorized access on July 29, said it had hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate the breach.

The company said there was no evidence of a breach into its core consumer or commercial credit reporting databases.

The breach could be one of the biggest in the United States.

Last December, Yahoo Inc said more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised in August 2013, while in 2014 e-commerce company EBay Inc had urged 145 million users to change their passwords following a cyber attack.

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The next version of Windows 10 finally has a delivery date.

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will be available worldwide on Oct. 17. Microsoft announced the drop date on Friday at the IFA event in Berlin where PC partners have been unveiling a slew of Windows 10 systems.

The Windows 10 Fall Creator Update is not a massive overhaul of the popular desktop and laptop OS. (Trust us, this is a good thing.) Since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft has, over four updates, polished the well-received platform with a host of smart, intuitive and productivity-enhancing updates.

In the last two, the first Creators Update and this Fall edition, Microsoft focused its attention on creativity, enhancing Pen and Inking tools, adding a new 3D Paint system, unveiling the powerful Remix video editing and 3D creation tool, and fully bringing its mixed-reality platform, Windows Holographic, to Windows 10.

“Our mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” said Microsoft Windows chief Terry Myerson in a press release.

The company also announced that many of the affordable Mixed Reality headsets (really virtual reality headsets) from companies like Acer, Lenovo, Dell, and HP, will also ship on Oct. 17. The headsets will enable virtual reality experiences on powerful PCs with discrete graphics (and support the use of $99 controllers) and on more affordable systems using integrated graphics (at a lower frame rate).

The Fall Creators Update’s focus on mixed reality and 3D extends to the new 3D Paint, which, for the first time, supplants the original and beloved Paint. The original will disappear from Windows, but it’ll still be available for download in the Windows App store.

Among the updates consumers can expect in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update are the ability to Ink PDFs, an enhanced Game Mode and the ability to broadcast your PC gaming via Beam.

There are also productivity and security updates, including Timeline, which will give you an overview of apps running across multiple Windows 10 Devices (on the same account) and even account-connected cross-platform devices (iOS and Android). It will allow you to pick up a task started on one platform and continue it on the desktop.

Plus Microsoft’s popular cloud storage system, OneDrive, now supports the ability to work on files in the cloud without downloading them to your local drive thanks to a new feature called OneDrive Files On Demand.

Availability of the latest Windows 10, by the way, does not mean everyone will get the Fall Creators Update on Oct. 17. Existing Windows 10 users can install it for free, but they can also avoid it until Microsoft starts sending them gentle reminders (this is how the Creators Update worked, too). It’s not clear how hard Microsoft will push users to update, but, as ever, the safest and most secure Windows systems are typically those that are most up to date.

If you want the install the update as soon as possible after Oct. 17, make sure to allow automatic updates, which you can schedule for the overnight hours. Microsoft told us they will share more on the exact update time and process in the coming weeks.

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Amazon and Microsoft Want Their AI Assistants to Get Along

Amazon's Alexa is getting a little help

Alexa will soon be asking Cortana for the occasional favor. That’s thanks to a new initiative between Amazon and Microsoft, which will allow their respective voice assistants to call upon each other to perform tasks for their owners.

That may seem like an unusual move in a nascent sector where any competitive advantage is surely key. But according to Jeff Bezos in an interview with the New York Times, it’s something that the companies have been plotting since as far back as May 2016. The idea is to allow people the option of using the AI best-suited to a given task. Bezos points out, for instance, that Microsoft’s Cortana works better for calendar scheduling if you use Outlook. Whereas Amazon’s is better for, say, impulse purchases.

The bet, it seems, is that encouraging people to use AI assistants as much as possible by providing the choice will be more beneficial for both firms than having their software work in isolation. They may be right: it can be infuriating when Alexa fails to understand a request, and having Cortana as a backup may encourage users to stick with the AI assistants as they continue to develop.

It may, however,  feel a little clumsy to use. To have your assistant use the skills of the other, you’ll have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” (or vice versa), before asking questions or giving commands like you usually would. Even if it’s stilted, though, the flexibility may prove attractive for users, given that, as we’ve recently explained, AI assistants are only going to become a larger part of our lives.

Microsoft and Amazon haven’t yet included Apple or Google, which have their own AI assistants in the shape of Siri and Assistant, in the love-in. Though Bezos tells the Times that he’d welcome their involvement.

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A call from Microsoft tech support IS a scam.

A call from someone claiming to be Microsoft technical support could be incredibly helpful, or it could ruin your day.

Kennesaw police are warning folks of an uptick in a phone scam involving fake Microsoft staff who are bilking people of money.

Here’s how it works: Someone calls claiming to be with Microsoft, one of its brands or a Microsoft contractor saying they are checking into a computer problem, infection or virus that has been detected.

Then they tell the victim that they will need to pay a service fee to have the nonexistent problems fixed.

They will also often push the customer to buy a one-year computer maintenance subscription.

The cops said scammers often use pay phones, disposable cell phones or stolen cell numbers, which complicates tracking down the perpetrators.

“The callers present themselves in a professional manner and sound genuine,” Kennesaw cops said in a Facebook post. “… We strongly advise you simply hang up if they receive a call of this nature and not to respond to any communications from these scammers.”

The actual Microsoft company doesn’t cold-call people in regards to infected computers, police said.

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Microsoft loses its damn mind and offers seven months of Groove Music Pass for $10


Microsoft’s Groove Music Pass is an exceptional streaming music service. If you spend a lot of time on Windows 10, it is the best music experience on the platform. The app is well designed, and it fits in with the overall Windows 10 motif. It can even be used on Xbox One. Groove offers a really good selection of tunes too — right up there with its competitors.

Believe it it not, Microsoft’s service is cross-platform, also working natively on Android and iOS. The mobile apps are decent, but not fantastic. Fans of macOS and Linux-based desktop operating systems, such as Ubuntu and Chrome OS, can also use the service thanks to the brilliant web-based player. If this all sounds good to you, I have some great news. As part of a Labor Day promotion, Microsoft is offering an insane seven months of the service for the price of just one month. Yes, really.

“If you’ve wanted to try out Groove Music, now is great time to do so with its Labor Day Deal, which is available until Sept. 5. Buy one month for $9.99 and get two free promo codes for three months each. You can also give a code to a friend if you don’t want to keep it for yourself. With Groove, you can stream millions of songs, without ads; explore curated playlists; create your own playlists; and listen anywhere you go, online or offline,” says Athima Chansanchai, News Center Staff, Microsoft.

Ultimately, $10 will get you unlimited music streaming for seven months. That isn’t just a great deal, it’s a friggin’ steal! For comparison, a 1-year subscription to Groove Music Pass costs $100! While Spotify and Apple Music are arguably superior for some, at this price, you would be insane not to give it a try.

Want to sign up? You can do so here. Keep in mind, the promotion is only for new subscribers, and it expires on September 5, 2017.

seven months of Groove Music Pass for $10

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Here’s how peer-to-peer Apple Pay payments will work

© Provided by CNET

Apple Pay can be used to pay online or at stores, but it’ll soon get peer-to-peer payments, too. That means payments to friends or anyone else you have on your contacts list. The feature was announced in June at Apple’s developer conference, where it was marketed as one of the big upgrades in iOS 11. That update to iPhones and iPads is likely to hit some time in September, if Apple follows its traditional release schedule. 

While plenty of other mobile payment apps exist to transfer money to friends — such as PayPal and Venmo — Apple Pay’s tight integration with the rest of the company’s software ecosystem could make it the most seamless solution for Apple users. It doesn’t require additional accounts to be set up. But Android users can’t send or receive payments: Both sides of the transaction need to be on iMessage.

We’ve seen a brief demo of the service in action. Here’s everything we know about peer-to-peer payments so far.

It’ll be US-only at first.

Much like Apple Pay was when it first launched, peer-to-peer payments will be a US feature at first.

You can pay someone via iMessage or Siri, on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Mac.

You do need to make sure the other person has an active iMessage account, though.

When a payment is received, it’s immediately converted to an Apple Pay Cash Card.

The virtual card lives in Wallet on iOS 11, and can be used like a gift card to make payments. The advantage is that it’s essentially a virtual instant bank account for cash, and payments are received instantaneously. This is how other payment systems like Venmo and PayPal work, too.

You get money in the Cash Card even if you’re not enrolled in Apple Pay.

Surprise! If you get a payment you don’t need to do anything to set it up. Once money is transferred, an Apple Pay Cash Card gets automatically generated on your phone.

It works with tap-to-pay.

The money can be used at any Apple Pay-enabled location.

It works without signing into another service.

As long as the other person’s using iMessage, a payment can be made.

From there, money can be transferred to a bank… but it always goes to the Cash Card first.

Apple won’t let you put money directly in your bank account. It always goes to that Cash Card first, similar to how Square, PayPal, Venmo and other payment services work.

The Cash Card lives in an off-phone account and works across authorized devices.

In case the phone gets lost or stolen, Apple says the card will keep its money in an encrypted account off the phone itself. The money can be used across devices, meaning you should be able to get the cash on an iPhone and use it on your Mac or iPad, too… or even an Apple Watch.

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Recom Computers selected for 2017 Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Award

Recom Computers selected for 2017 Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Award
Walnut Creek,CA – August 16, 2017 — Recom Computers has been selected for the 2017 Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Award in the IT Services & Computer Repair classification by the Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Award Program.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2017 Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Award Program and data provided by third parties.
About the Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Awards Program
The Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Awards recognizes outstanding small businesses that serve the Walnut Creek area. Each year, our selection committee identifies businesses that we believe have achieved outstanding marketing success in their local community and business classification.
Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value. These are small businesses that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Walnut Creek area a vibrant and vital place to live.
The Walnut Creek Small Business Excellence Awards was established to reward the best of small businesses in Walnut Creek. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to award the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

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