Equifax, the credit rating agency, has been fined £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it failed to protect the personal data of 15 million Britons.
In 2017 a cyber-attack exposed information belonging to 146 million people around the world, mainly in the US. However, the ICO ruled Equifax’s UK branch had failed to take appropriate steps to protect UK citizens’ data. Multiple failures had meant that personal information had been kept longer than necessary and left vulnerable.
Originally, Equifax had reported that fewer than 400,000 Britons had had sensitive data exposed in the breach – but was later revealed that actually nearly 700,000 people had been affected. The ICO, which joined forces with the Financial Conduct Authority to investigate the breach, found that it affected three distinct groups in the following ways:
- 19,993 UK data subjects had names, dates of birth, telephone numbers and driving licence numbers exposed
- 637,430 UK data subjects had names, dates of birth and telephone numbers exposed
- Up to 15 million UK data subjects had names and dates of birth exposed
Equifax had also been warned about a critical vulnerability in its systems by the US Department of Homeland Security in March 2017, but the appropriate steps to fix the vulnerability were not taken, according to the ICO.
“The loss of personal information, particularly where there is the potential for financial fraud, is not only upsetting to customers, it undermines consumer trust in digital commerce,” said information commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
“This is compounded when the company is a global firm whose business relies on personal data.”
An Equifax spokesperson said the firm was “disappointed in the findings and the penalty”, but apologised to customers. They went on to say that Equifax has successfully implemented a broad range of measures to prevent the recurrence of such criminal incidents and it acknowledges the strengthened procedures which are now in effect.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (20th September 2018)
Plans for a ten mile test track in Wiltshire have been unveiled by Dyson, where new electric cars will be put through their paces. The track is part of a plan to start selling a ‘radical’ electric car from 2021. Dyson bought and then renovated the disued airfield at Hullavington two years ago. The redevelopment has cost £84m and the next phase of the airfield’s development would take Dyson’s total investment to £200m. About 400 automotive staff are now based at Hullavington and a further three buildings will open in the next few months, meaning there will be testing space of 15,000 sq m. ‘We are now firmly focused on the next stage of our automotive project strengthening our credentials as a global research and development organisation,’ said Jim Rowan, chief executive of Dyson.
Any details about the electric car are yet to be revealed, and no prototype has been built. It is expected to be aimed at the upper end of the market and may not even look like a conventional vehicle. ‘What we are doing is quite radical,’ said Rowan. The hints suggest that the Dyson vehicle is more likely to rival Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla, rather than the likes of Toyota or Volkswagen.
Dyson came under fire in 2002 for its decision to move production of its vacuum cleaners from the UK to Malaysia at the cost of 560 jobs. Dyson, which made its 100 millionth machine last year, posted a 40% rise in turnover to £3.5bn as sales soared in Asia, while profits jumped by a third to a record £801m.
It has more than 12,000 staff, including 4,500 engineers and scientists, with 4,800 employees in the UK.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (30th August 2018)
Facebook’s Watch video-streaming service is being rolled out worldwide, just over a year after its launch in the US. Users will be able to choose from a range of shows – from both established brands and new players, as well as being able to have the ability to view clips saved from News Feeds.
The firm plans to allow all content creators to feature advertising breaks, so long as they hit certain criteria. Until now, only select publishers had been given the opportunity. To start with, only videos shown to audiences in the UK, US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand will have this facility. The revenue split will be 55% to the creators and 45% to Facebook.
Watch is often portrayed as a rival to Google’s You Tube, but it also competes for attention against traditional TV channels as well as other online outlets like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
A report noted that although some Watch shows had attracted audiences numbering in their millions, they often struggled to retain them. Even so, some big name stars have been involved in original programming made for the platform.
Facebook claims that its advantage against other platforms is the ways Watch helps viewers interact with others. “It is built on the notion that watching video doesn’t have to be a passive experience,” explained Fidji Simo, Facebook’s vice-president of video. “You can have a two-way conversation about the content with friends, other fans or even the creators themselves.”
She added that a Watch Party feature lets users co-ordinate themselves to watch a show together, while an Interactivity Platform allows creators to run polls, challenges and quizzes to boost engagement.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (29th August 2018)
Road users are now able to submit footage of dangerous driving to police in England and Wales, using a platform set up by a dashcam manufacturer.
The website, built by Nextbase, allows visitors to upload videos before sending to the right police force.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said ‘This is a fantastic initiative, which couldn’t be more timely.’ Though the platform should make it easier for road users to submit footage, it remains for the police to decide whether to prosecute.
A spokesperson for Big Brother Watch however, has questioned the encouragement of motorists constantly filming each other. ‘Whilst everyone wants safe roads, we should be cautious to avoid breeding a culture of citizen surveillance and suspicion.’
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (3rd July 2018)
In March, years of video evidence gathered by police was lost thanks to a ransomware attack on Atlanta in the US.
Atlanta police chief, Erika Shields, said that the lost evidence involves dashcam recordings and was not able to be recovered.
About one-third of all software used by city agencies and departments is believed to have been affected by the attack.
The attack has since been revealed to have been more serious that first thought. The city has assigned an extra £7.1m to finance its recovery efforts.
The municipal courts in Atlanta were shut for several weeks during the height of the attack and huge amounts of legal documents stretching back decades are believed to have been scrambled by the malware.
The infection was know as ‘SamSam’, and the hackers encrypted key data and demanded $51,000 of bitcoins to unlock it. The ransom was not paid.
bbc.news.co.uk (7th June 2018)