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Jon Kyl Will Take McCain's Senate Seat
September 5, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

On Tuesday, Arizona’s governor appointed former Republican senator Jon Kyl to fill the US Senate seat vacated by the late John McCain. The appointment could spell even more government scrutiny for tech giants like Facebook and Google—even though Kyl has only committed to serving until the start of the next Congressional session in January, though he may stay through 2020.

While McCain, who passed away on August 25, never focused his energies on the practices of technology platforms, Kyl has taken up the cause in his private endeavors, particularly as the head of an internal probe at Facebook into whether the platform is biased against conservatives, which was announced in May.

The results of that investigation have not been made public, and it is still ongoing. A Facebook spokesperson said that Kyl would leave the audit, but that it would continue with the team from law firm Covington and Burlington that he had led. Kyl did not immediately return a request for comment. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, also held meetings with Facebook executives about the question of liberal bias as part of the inquiry.

Kyl’s appointment comes just one day before representatives from Twitter, Google, and Facebook are set to testify again before the Senate over concerns about privacy, political bias, and anti-competitive practices. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will also tomorrow appear separately before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to address similar concerns.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing is slated to focus on “foreign influence operations use of social media platforms,” but tech executives will likely also face questions about whether their platforms are biased against certain political viewpoints.

Over the next several months, Jon Kyl will arguably be the senator best-equipped to ask such questions, having ostensibly spent the summer examining Facebook’s treatment of conservative viewpoints, both internally and on its platform. In late August, The New York Times reported that an extremely small group of Facebook employees have internally argued that the company isn’t welcoming to conservative viewpoints.

In recent months, a number of conservative lawmakers, including President Trump, have also accused tech companies like Google and Facebook of suppressing right-wing content, and have questioned whether they should be regulated as a result.

In April, for example, when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, half a dozen Republican lawmakers questioned whether the social network had suppressed content produced by conservative commentators Diamond and Silk. Just last week, President Trump accused Google of purposely favoring negative coverage about his administration in its news product.

The belief that tech companies intentionally censor certain political beliefs is also increasingly held by voters, especially Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center survey released in June.

For years, conservatives on Capitol Hill have alleged that prominent tech companies are biased against their beliefs. They often cite a 2016 Gizmodo article as evidence, which reported that Facebook employees suppressed the reach of conservative outlets in its trending product. But while Silicon Valley is notoriously a hub for liberal tech workers, many lawmakers’ specific accusations have largely been unfounded. Still, their complaints highlight the amount of power over Americans’ speech and access to information that a handful of California companies have consolidated.

Kyl appears well-poised to ramp up the questioning over whether Google and Facebook can keep that power while avoiding more government oversight. Aside from his experience with Facebook, the senator also has a history of pushing for the regulation of some internet activities. In the early aughts, he was one of the first lawmakers to advocate for the criminalization of some categories of online gambling and he ultimately helped to pass the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Act.

As a lobbyist at Covington and Burlington, where Kyl has worked since declining to seek reelection in 2013, he has represented clients like Walmart, Georgetown University, and the conservative political organization Judicial Crisis Network. His clients have also included some technology companies, like San Diego-based Qualcomm.

Kyl has also busied himself with more than just auditing Facebook this summer. In a sign of his deep commitment to conservative interests, Kyl has also been guiding Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, through his Senate confirmation hearings.

As Kyl’s fellow senators mull over proposed legislation like a national privacy law, that commitment may also increasingly mean towing the Republican line on regulating big tech. No one is poised better to lead the effort than Kyl.

UPDATED: 9/4/2018, 4:52 PM EST: This story has been updated with comment from Facebook


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How health care should take advantage of the cloud
August 7, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

The cloud has come to the health care sector, and it’s having an impact by saving some money. However, that’s not the real value of cloud computing for this sector, a sector that affects us personally at some point in our lives.

Black Book Research found that 93 percent of hospital CIOs are actively acquiring the staff to configure, manage, and support a HIPAA-compliant cloud infrastructure. Also, 91 percent of CIOs in the Black Book survey report that cloud computing provides more agility and better patient care with the proliferation of health care data.

But there is a huge innovation gap when it comes to health care and cloud computing between what’s possible versus what is actually being done. Take patient data, for example. Most health care organizations, providers, and payers don’t make many moves toward better and more proactive management of patient data unless regulations move them along.

This isn’t about operational and billing data, or electronic health records (EHRs). If health care systems abstracted information in certain ways, both the doctor and patient would have better insights into the patients’ health, preventive care, and treatment.

The cloud services that support these innovative functions are now dirt-cheap. As hospitals become cloud-enabled, it’s time to start moving faster toward the complete automation of care, treatments, and analyses of patient health. Let’s move from a system that’s largely reactive to a system that’s completely proactive.

Of course, there are islands of innovation in the health care sector. But it’s still mostly on the R&D side of things and has yet to trickle down to direct patient care. The potential here is greater than in any other sector I’ve seen. Just consider the telemetry information gathered from smart watches and cellphones and the ability to funnel all data though deep learning-enabled systems that cost pennies an hour to run on the cloud.

Now that we have the tools, there is little excuse not to innovate beyond what’s been done already. We’re better than this. 

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Rockwell to take $1 billion stake in software maker PTC
June 11, 2018 6:06 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Factory automation equipment maker Rockwell Automation said on Monday it would buy an 8.4 percent stake in PTC for $ 1 billion as it looks to build on its software capabilities to make smarter manufacturing processes for customers.

Rockwell — which makes electronic motor starters, relays and timers for industries — has been strengthening its capabilities in the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), or technology that allows different devices and systems to communicate with each other over the internet.

Shares of PTC, which offers computer-aided design (CAD) programs as well as lifecycle management software for manufacturers, rose as much as 10.2 percent to a record $ 95.88.

“We do view this agreement as a strategic positive for PTC as it will help open the doors into thousands of companies that traditionally have not used PTC for its core CAD capabilities,” JP Morgan analyst Sterling Auty wrote in a note.

As part of the deal, Rockwell will acquire 10.6 million newly issued PTC shares for $ 94.50 per share, to become its third-biggest shareholder.

The per-share price represents a premium of 8.6 percent to software maker PTC’s close on Friday.

Leveraging Rockwell’s domain expertise with PTC’s technology will help companies to capitalize on the promise of industrial IoT, PTC Chief Executive Officer Jim Heppelmann said.

Rockwell Automation’s chairman and Chief Executive Officer Blake Moret will join PTC’s board after the deal closes, which is expected within the next two months, according to a joint statement.

Morgan Stanley & Co LLC was the financial adviser to PTC, while Goldman Sachs & Co LLC advised Rockwell.

Goodwin Procter LLP was PTC’s legal adviser to PTC, while Foley & Lardner LLP advised Rockwell.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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This is How Small Business Owners Can Take Full Advantage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
April 13, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Tax time is no one’s favorite time of year. But for small business owners, this year’s filing deadline at least comes with the promise of better rates ahead: Many of the changes included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by Congress in December, are going into effect.

As entrepreneurs, we should expect to benefit–at least, temporarily–from the new tax plan. My company, Manta, conducted a poll in January and found that 83 percent of business owners anticipate their companies will be positively impacted by the changes. Nearly as many, 80 percent, said they support the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Some are already feeling the benefits of having more money in their pockets, according to another poll we conducted last month. 34 percent of small business owners said their business income had increased as a result of the tax reform, just three months into the year. 42 percent have already changed their budgeting or financial planning because of the new tax law.

It’s time to start preparing for the changes–if you haven’t already.

For the most part, the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that benefit small businesses go into effect this tax year — meaning they won’t impact the returns that are due this month. 

The 58 percent of small business owners who have not yet adjusted their budgets should get started, however. While that big refund check may be a year away, it’s not too early to plan accordingly and make sure you take full advantage of the potential savings. 

The first step is to review your company’s legal structure and determine how it will affect your taxes. One of the most important changes in the new tax law allows pass-through entities (such as S corporations and LLCs) to deduct up to 20 percent of their business income.

However, this doesn’t apply to certain professional services firms. Review your situation with a tax professional or attorney–you might be able to adjust your business structure to take advantage of this deduction. 

Make the most of your company’s tax savings.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts allows businesses to immediately write off the full cost of new equipment and other property, instead of depreciating the expense over five or more years. The new law also protects these write-offs from being rescinded in the future. 

This is great news for business owners who want to invest in their growth. According to our polls, 28 percent of small business owners plan to use their tax savings to invest in new technology and 21 percent plan to open a new location or expand. The immediate write-off should make these investments (and your cash flow) much more manageable in the short term.

Just check with your tax advisor before making a major purchase–you could run into unforeseen obstacles. For example, the depreciation rules for “heavy” SUVs–those with a gross vehicle weight above 6,000 pounds–are different than for light trucks and vans. You want to be prepared for the potential impact on your taxes.

Streamline your expense tracking and tax prep.

Make sure you accurately track and document all business expenses. Our polls found that 21 percent of small business owners still use paper receipts to track expenses.

Think about that for a second. It’s messy and inefficient, and you risk losing receipts or miscategorizing expenses.

Hiring a pro is probably the best way to ensure that you take full advantage of the new deductions and stay on the right side of the law. The U.S. tax code is confounding to even the most experienced business owners–20 percent of poll respondents told us they didn’t understand all the deductions available to them. Whatever else Congress accomplished with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they definitely didn’t simplify things.

Use a mobile application or accounting software to scan and save digital copies of your receipts and categorize the expenses. Then, when tax time rolls around, you can output a well-organized report or import the data directly into your tax prep software. And if you use an outside accountant or tax preparer, they’ll greatly appreciate you providing a digitized expense report instead of handing over shoeboxes full of paper receipts.

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In 6 Words, Elon Musk Explained Why So Many People Are Afraid to Take Risks and Achieve Greatness
January 3, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

This series examines the stories behind some of the best inspiring quotes of all time. Check out the full list: the best inspirational quotes for 2018.

The most powerful threat to greatness isn’t evil. It’s mediocrity.

Of all the colorful ways to articulate that truth, one of the best is what Elon Musk told Chris Anderson of Wired magazine, back in 2012.

They were talking about Musk’s space exploration company, SpaceX, which grew out of Musk’s “crazy idea to spur the national will” to travel to Mars–by first sending a private rocket to the red planet.

He tried to to slash the cost of his quixotic dream by buying Cold War Russian missiles to turn into interplanetary rockets. While negotiating that deal, he realized that it wasn’t lack of “national will” that held the U.S. back from exploring space.

Instead, it was a lack of affordable technology–and the high cost, he told Anderson, was the result of some “pretty silly things” in the aerospace industry, like using legacy rocket technology from the 1960s. 

Anderson: I’ve heard that the attitude is essentially that you can’t fly a component that hasn’t already flown.

Musk: Right, which is obviously a catch-22, right? There should be a Groucho Marx joke about that. So, yeah, there’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.

That’s the quote that I liked so much, especially those last six words: a “bias against risk,” because everyone is “trying to optimize their ass-covering.”

It’s funny–but also poignant. And, of course, it applies to a lot more than space exploration.

It applies to the vast majority of successful companies that get stuck producing legacy products–because they can’t risk that innovation might upset their own profit models.

It applies to the service providers that make a mockery of the word “service” (say for example, big airlines and utility companies)–because cost-cutting with crappy service maximizes shareholder value.

It applies also to temptations in our personal lives, and in the lives of those around us.

Think of the colleagues you know who hold onto uninspiring jobs for fear of going after the careers or entrepreneurial dreams they really want.

Or think of the friend you might have (I think most of us do), who stays in a lousy relationship because he or she is more afraid of being alone than of living with less than they deserve.

We’re all a little bit afraid of risk. Yet, each day represents a new chance and a new beginning. At the start of the year, that sense is especially acute. 

And sometimes we need a little inspiration to take the leap.

Whatever is the thing you’re afraid of trying–a new business, a new adventure, a new relationship–maybe now is the time to give it a try.

Cast aside your risk aversion. Be uncomfortable for a while as you try something new. Accept the chance that you’ll fail.

Don’t optimize your ass-covering. Instead, optimize your opportunities. And find your own mission to Mars.

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Take These 7 Steps Now to Reach Password Perfection
December 9, 2017 12:33 pm|Comments (0)

Your passwords are a first line of defense against many internet ills, but few people actually treat them that way: Whether it’s leaning on lazy Star Wars references or repeating across all of your accounts—or both—everyone is guilty of multiple password sins. But while they’re an imperfect security solution to begin with, putting in your best effort will provide an immediate security boost.

Don’t think of the following tips as suggestions. Think of them as essentials, as important to your daily life as brushing your teeth or eating your vegetables. (Also, eat more vegetables.)

1. Use a password manager. A good password manager, like 1Password or LastPass, creates strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. That means that if one of your passwords does get caught up in a data breach, criminals won’t have the keys to the rest of your online services. The best ones sync across desktop and mobile, and have autocomplete powers. Now, rather than having to memorize dozens of meticulously crafted passwords, you just have to remember one master key. How do you make it as robust as possible? Read on.

2. Go long. Despite what all those prompts for unique characters and uppercase letters might have you believe, length matters more than complexity. Once you get into the 12-15 character range, it becomes way harder for a hacker to brute force, much less guess, your password. One caveat: Don’t just string together pop culture references or use simple patterns. Mix it up! Live a little! A quick for instance: “g0be@r$ ” does you way less favors than “chitown banana skinnydip.”

3. Keep ’em separated. If and when you do deploy those special characters—which, if you opt against a password manager, lots of input fields will force you to—try not to bunch them all together at the beginning or end. That’s what everyone else does, which means that’s what bad guys are looking for. Instead, space them out throughout your password to make the guesswork extra tricky.

4. Don’t change a thing. You know how your corporate IT manager keeps making you change your password every three months? Your corporate IT manager is wrong. The less often you change your password, the less likely you are to forget it, or to fall into patterns—like just changing a number at the end each time—that make them easier to crack.

5. Single-serve only. If you’re on the password manager train, you’re already all over this. But if you can’t be bothered, at the very least make sure that you don’t reuse passwords across different accounts. If you do, a retailer breach you have no control over could end up costing your banking password. See for yourself: The website Have I Been Pwned has nearly 5 billion compromised accounts on file—if yours is one of them, there’s a chance your favorite password might already be toast.

6. Don’t trust your browser. A convenient shortcut to remembering all those passwords, or getting a paid password manager account, is letting your browser remember them for you. You’ve seen the option yourself. You probably even use it on at least one site. Don’t! The option is convenient, but the underpinning security is often undocumented, and it doesn’t require that your password actually be, you know, good. If you need a free and easy option, go with a password manager like Dashlane instead of trusting everything to Chrome.

7. Add two-factor too. Hate to say it, but these days not even a password is enough. Many of the services you use today—social networks, banks, Google, and so on—offer an added layer of protection. It can come in the form of a code sent to your phone via SMS, or if you want to step it up, through software solutions like Google Authenticator or hardware like a YubiKey. SMS should be enough for most people; just know that like many entry level security precautions, it’s not perfect.

The Wired Guide to Digital Security

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Uber's London license appeal could take years: Mayor Khan
November 16, 2017 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – Uber’s [UBER.UL] appeal process against a decision by London’s transport regulator to strip the taxi app of its operating license in the British capital could take years, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on Thursday.

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph, with a London Taxi in the background, in London, Britain November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Transport for London shocked Uber in September by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its license, a decision the Silicon Valley firm is appealing.

“My understanding is that it could go on for a number of years,” Khan said at a monthly question session when asked about how long the appeals process could last.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Tanium CEO’s Refreshingly Honest Take on the State of Internet Security
October 22, 2017 12:00 am|Comments (0)

This is your Cyber Saturday edition of Fortune’s tech newsletter for October 7, 2017.

On Tuesday, the wood-smoke air of California’s wildfires descended on the Bay Area as cybersecurity professionals gathered at the Palace Hotel for an industry event.

I spent the morning interviewing Orion Hindawi, CEO of Tanium, the world’s highest privately valued cyber startup (worth $ 3.75 billion at last appraisal in May), for a fireside chat at his company’s second annual conference, Converge 2017. Hindawi has a no-nonsense approach to business—a suffer-no-fools attitude that landed him in the sights of a couple of unflattering stories about his management style earlier this year. (He later apologized for being “hard-edged.”)

On stage the chief exec delivered his peculiarly unvarnished view of the state of Internet security. “The idea that we’re going to give you a black box and it auto-magically fixes everything, that’s a lie,” Hindawi told the audience. (One could almost hear a wince from part of the room seating his PR team.) “All I can tell you is we can give you better and better tooling every day. We can make it harder for the attackers to succeed. That’s the best I can offer.”

Hindawi is a realist through-and-through. His outlook is perhaps best summed up by his response to a question about whether he subscribes to a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty view of the cyber threatscape. His reply would become a running joke for the rest of the conference. He said simply, “It’s just a glass, dude.”

Other tidbits of wisdom from Hindawi: not all hackers are Russian spies (the majority are lowly criminals). Unsecured Internet of Things devices pose a risk to everyone. And sometimes cyber insurance is the way to go when old systems are all but impossible to patch; the decision boils down to managing “operational risk, like earthquakes,” he said.

Hacking is not a dark miasma that penetrates all things, although it can sometimes feel that way. Companies, like Tanium, that are building the tools to swing the balance back in defenders’ favor without over-promising provide hope. Enjoy the weekend; I will be heading north of San Francisco, visiting friends who, luckily, were unharmed by the area’s recent conflagrations.

Robert Hackett

@rhhackett

robert.hackett@fortune.com

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach me via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

THREATS

Always use (advanced) protection. Google debuted an opt-in mode for high-risk users who wish to lock down their accounts on services such as Gmail, Google Drive, and YouTube with extra security. (Paging John Podesta.) The feature requires people to log-in using a special USB key (or Bluetooth dongle for mobile devices), it prevents third-party applications from accessing your Google data, and it adds beefed up malware-scanning of incoming documents. This author plans to sign up.

Gather ’round the good stuff. Pizza Hut warned customers that their personal information and payment card data may be at risk after hackers gained access to the company’s website and app for a 28-hour period starting on Oct. 1. An estimated 60,000 customers are thought to have been impacted. The company is offering victims free credit monitoring for a year.

Unicorn? More like Duo-corn. Duo Security, a Mich.-based cybersecurity startup whose tools help companies manage people’s digital identities, said it raised $ 70 million at a $ 1.17 billion valuation (including the capital raised) this week. Th round catapults the firm into “unicorn” territory, the swelling ranks of private firms occupied by young guns valued at $ 1 billion or more. Alex Stamos, Facebook’s security chief, recently praised Duo as the maker of his favorite cybersecurity product.

KRACKing Wi-Fi. A couple of Belgian researchers published a paper containing proof of concept code that exploits vulnerabilities in the way cryptographic keys are exchanged over Wi-Fi, allowing hackers to steal people’s data. Big tech companies like Microsoft issued a patch for the so-called KRACK bug on Oct. 10, Apple is in the middle of testing patches for iOS and macOS, and Google, whose Android 6.0 devices are the most vulnerable, said it would release a patch in early Nov.

Cyber insurers are going to get Mercked. Cyber insurers might be on the hook to cough up $ 275 million to cover damage to drugmaker Merck as a result of a June cyber attack, dubbed “NotPetya,” according to one firm’s forecast. The companies at issue have not yet disclosed figures themselves.

Surprise! It is depressingly easy for penetration testers to break into places where they are not supposed to be.

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ACCESS GRANTED

Boycotts are hardly an option: To opt out of a credit score is to opt out of modern financial life itself. As Equifax’s now former CEO Richard Smith testified in October, if consumers were allowed to abandon the credit system, it would be “devastating to the economy.” The better answer is systemic reform to the credit oligopoly.

—Fortune’s Jeff John Roberts and Jen Wieczner explain what practical recourse consumers and regulators have when it comes to dealing with the major credit bureaus in the wake of a massive data breach at Equifax. 

ONE MORE THING

The adventures of John Titor.  Namesake of a bygone Internet hoax, “John Titor” claimed to be a man sent from the future to retrieve a portable computer. Titor sent faxes to an eccentric radio program, Coast to Coast AM, that specialized in the paranormal. Here’s an oral history of that running joke; the pseudo-scientific explanations of time travel are delightful.

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Cloud Computing surges down stretch to take Preakness
May 27, 2017 9:43 am|Comments (0)

Javier Castellano aboard Cloud Computing (2) battles John Velazquez aboard Always Dreaming, right, during the 142nd running of the Preakness …


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Anahata’s Java Developer Sai Pradeep Dandem to Take the Java Server…
January 21, 2017 2:45 am|Comments (0)

Sai Pradeep Dandem, working as a Java developer at the Australia-based ERP software company, Anahata Technologies Pty Ltd, is all set to take the JSF (Java Server Faces) Certification this year.

(PRWeb January 20, 2017)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/01/prweb14000551.htm


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