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Equifax, software maker blame each other for opening door to hackers

Equifax and a software company are blaming each other for a glitch that allowed hackers to obtain Social Security numbers and other sensitive information for 143 million people.

>> Read more trending news

The Atlanta-based company, one of the nation’s three key credit bureaus that track individuals’ credit histories, said late Wednesday that hackers breached a vulnerable spot in a U.S. website application called Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638. Equifax disclosed last week that it discovered in July that hackers had tapped a large trove of personal data on most adults in America.

>> Related: Federal probe launched after Equifax data breach

But in a statement Thursday, Apache Software Foundation, which provides the application, said it provided and announced a patch for the software fault on March 7, well before Equifax said the security breach began in mid-May.

“In conclusion, the Equifax data compromise was due to their failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner,” the foundation said.

>> Related: Equifax cyberattack: What to know

The 18-year-old foundation said it is an all-volunteer organization that produced open-source Java applications for government and business users, including Fortune 100 companies.

Equifax couldn’t be reached immediately for a response to Apache Software Foundation’s statement.

Equifax breach: You can sue if your data was exposed; here's how

Two class-action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of customers affected by a massive breach at Equifax.

>> Watch the news report here

Officials with the Atlanta-based credit reporting and technology company said a “cyber security incident” may have exposed the personal information of 143 million U.S. consumers.

The data that might have been accessed includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.

>> Equifax reports massive data breach that could affect 143 million in U.S.

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has partnered with a Florida firm for a class-action lawsuit. 

"This is not a windfall thing. These are real damages and real fears that folks have," he said. "There's no telling, but I guarantee you most of this information was auctioned off in just a matter of hours."

>> Equifax data breach: What to know

Barnes said that if you've been compromised, you are automatically a part of the class-action suit unless you opt out.

"You don't have to do anything. We have class representatives and there will come a time when we'll contact folks," he said. 

>> Equifax cyberattack: How to get a free credit report, protect your identity

He said he is going after what it takes to make things right. 

"What the money should be is what is necessary to hire someone to straighten out your credit so that you don't disrupt your life forever," he said. "And some money for the fact that (Equifax) negligently, and in violation of several federal statutes, allowed for this information to get out."

>> Read more trending news

Barnes said among many demands is that Equifax have its security audited, tested and trained and that the company purges information it doesn't need. 

WSB-TV's Nicole Carr visited the Clark Howard Consumer Action Center, where volunteers have received nearly three times their normal call volume with concerns about Equifax.

Volunteers said more than 500 calls came in Wednesday and 99 percent of them were about Equifax.

"I've been here for 20 years. This is the busiest day we've had," said Consumer Action Center volunteer Lori Silverman. 

She said volunteers are working to ease fears about the data breach. 

"Because 140 million people are trying to freeze their credit, the sites are crashing and they're unable to thaw their credit. That's a difficult situation to be in," she said. "We're recommending (everyone) hang tight. Hopefully, all of the hysteria will slowly go away and within the next couple of weeks you'll be able to freeze your credit."

The Consumer Action Center recommends you freeze your credit through Credit Karma. Equifax has rescinded fine print that kept consumers from suing them if they signed up for their free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. 

"Now they say they're backing off of that, but I would advise everybody: Do not interact with Equifax right now," Barnes said. 

Click here for Barnes' advice on what you should do.

Hurricane Irma aftermath: Don't have internet, cable or cell service? Here's why

Wi-Fi and cellphone coverage remain spotty throughout South Florida and other locations along Hurricane Irma's path. There’s a simple reason: Like everyone else, the companies that provide it don’t have power, thanks to the storm.

Cell towers across Florida have been cut off from the power grid and are relying on generators to keep going, spokespeople for two of the four major wireless carriers said.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: FPL begins full-scale post-Irma restoration, rebuild

“The faster the power comes back on, the faster all telecommunication services can get back on,” a T-Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. “The power outages are just everywhere. It’s definitely causing a lot of effect across the board.”

For Comcast, the main provider of Wi-Fi in Palm Beach County, it’s a similar story.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma and aftermath

“Many of our facilities in Palm Beach County, and virtually all of them in Broward County and further south in Miami-Dade, are functioning on generators due to the complete loss of commercial power,” Comcast spokeswoman Mindy Kramer said.

Physical damage to cell towers doesn’t appear to be an issue. Towers are meant to withstand high winds.

>> More Irma coverage from WFTVAction News Jax and the Palm Beach Post

“It’s really rare to see a tower topple over,” said Roni Singleton, a Sprint spokeswoman for Florida.

But because of the power outages, the lack of coverage right now is worse in South Florida, and — bizarrely — much worse than Houston recently experienced despite that city’s massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

>> Hurricane Irma damage: How to stay safe from tree, water damage in your home

“There was really very little loss of mobile service in Houston, across all carriers,” the T-Mobile spokeswoman said. “Houston was able to maintain power the entire time.”

Cell towers are required to have batteries that provide eight to 12 hours of power for first responders, the T-Mobile spokeswoman said. After that, they rely on generators for power. But fallen trees and debris have made it difficult to refuel some of the generators, she said.

>> How to keep your kids entertained and your sanity when trapped at home by severe weather

Verizon said close to 90 percent of its facilities were working, with many running on backup generators.

“Massive refueling operations are underway to ensure those sites without commercial power continue in service for our customers and first responders,” the company said in a statement.

>> Hurricane Irma aftermath: Power may be out for days, over a week for some in Georgia

Sprint and Comcast said they’re sending satellite trucks and mobile platforms to South Florida to provide temporary coverage until power returns. AT&T said it was sending portable cell sites to the Keys, Miami and Tallahassee.

>> Read more trending news

None of the companies would give a time frame for when full coverage would return, but T-Mobile and Sprint said coverage was getting better by the hour.

“I think by [Wednesday], we’ll see a huge improvement in the number of sites that are back up,” Singleton said. 

Apple iPhone X and iPhone 8: Everything you need to know

It’s September, and new iPhones are in the air. Apple invited the press to the Steve Jobs Theater on its new Cupertino, California, Apple Park campus Tuesday to show off the new products after a brief memorial to the theater’s namesake.  

iPhone X: A new, expensive iPhone

Apple finally unveiled the iPhone X, pronounced “iPhone Ten.”

“It is all screen,” Apple Vice President Phil Schiller said. “It is incredible to hold.”

The phone comes in space gray and silver. It is engineered to be water- and dust-resistant. 

>> Read more trending news

The screen is called Super Retina. It measures 5.8 inches diagonally with a 458 ppi pixel density, the highest ever in an iPhone. The Super OLED screen stretches edge to edge with minimal bezel on the front. It supports HDR vision and True Tone, which matches your screen coloring to your surroundings. 

The iPhone X wakes up when you pick it up or tap the screen, even when it’s turned off. To unlock the phone, users swipe up from the bottom. This gesture also acts as a virtual home button. If you swipe up from the bottom and pause without swiping all the way, it opens multitasking. 

Face ID

For security, the iPhone X will use  Face ID. The iPhone will recognize you using a bevy of sensors built into the front of the phone. Schiller claimed the system will work even in the dark. 

The new phones will have better cameras. Again, the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 will have one camera and the 5.5-inch 8 Plus will have two. Having two rear cameras allows the 8 Plus to have photography features such as portrait lighting, which adds portrait-style light and shadow to photos. The features will ship in beta this fall.

The iPhone 8 starts at $699 for 64 GB of storage. iPhone 8 Plus starts at $799. Preorders begin Friday. Phones will be released Sept. 22.

New Apple Watch with LTE data

Apple Watch Series 3 was announced; it has Long Term Evolution, or LTE, built in. The watch, by having its own data connection, allows users to get texts and stream Apple Music without an external data connection. There is no word on how much this feature will affect battery life.

Related: Apple unveils iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

The new watch model includes a faster processor that supports conversations with Siri. There will be an altimeter -- most useful for skiing and snowboarding -- and a W2 chip for AirPods. 

Despite all this, Apple claims the Series 3 is just “two sheets of paper” thicker than previous models. 

Apple also showed off watchOS 4, the newest operating system for its wearable. WatchOS 4 adds more health-focused features, such as notifying you when your heart rate becomes irregular but you don’t appear to be working out. 

The new Apple Watch is $399 with cellular service and $329 without. Orders begin on Friday, and watches are available on Sept. 22. 

Apple TV 4K

Apple pushed a refreshed version of its set-top box, Apple TV. This version will support 4K resolution for videos. 

It will support high dynamic range videos, or HDR. HDR videos show more detail across different lighting amounts within one shot. 

The TV app, available on iOS and Apple TV, will support live news and sports. 

The new Apple TV is $179, or $199 for more storage. Preorders start Friday, and it launches on Sept. 22. 

iOS 11 details and release date

The iOS 11 will include something called animojis. These are emojis whose faces move to match your expressions. These can be sent to people over iMessage. 

The iOS 11 will release on Sept. 19. 

How to watch the speech

On its website, Apple has a recap of the event, introducing the new products, which was the first from Steve Jobs Theater.

Apple unveils iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Original report: Apple is expected to unveil a redesigned iPhone on Tuesday at a product event scheduled at 10 a.m. PDT at its new headquarters in Cupertino, California, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

The unveiling will take place at the newly opened Steve Jobs Theater.

The anticipated phone would be unveiled a decade after Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs first introduced the world to the iPhone, according to The Associated Press

“(It) could also cost twice what the original iPhone did,” the AP reported, adding that the phone was expected to cost $1,000. “It would set a new price threshold for any smartphone intended to appeal to a mass market.”

Citing an information leak,  Bloomberg reported that the phone will be called the iPhone X. It will be one of three phones, including the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, unveiled Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

>> Watch the product event from Steve Jobs Theater

The information leak was first reported by the Apple news site 9to5Mac. The site reported that the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus are expected to have subtle improvements over the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but that the iPhone X is "the major new phone."

The iPhone X is expected to have numerous upgrades, including a larger, crisper OLED screen, improved cameras and a facial recognition system meant to replace Apple’s Touch ID, 9to5Mac reported.

Amazon to lower prices at Whole Foods after acquisition approved by shareholders

Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Austin-based Whole Foods Market will officially close on Monday, the companies said Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

News of the closing date comes a day after Whole Foods shareholders voted to approve the deal, and the Federal Trade Commission said it would no longer be investigating the merger, which essentially cleared it to be closed.

Amazon’s impact will be immediately seen at Whole Foods, as the company said it will lower prices at the stores and integrate its Amazon Prime program.

"We're determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer. “Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality - we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market's long-held commitment to the highest standards.”

Beginning Monday, prices for some of Whole Foods best-selling items, such as the Whole Trade bananas, organic avocados and organic eggs, will be lowered, the companies said.

Amazon Prime will also become Whole Foods’ customer rewards program sometime in the future, the companies said, showing that the e-commerce giant is looking to quickly integrate one of its most popular products into Whole Foods.

Beyond that, the companies said that “Amazon lockers” will be available in select Whole Foods stores, where customers will be able to have products shipped from Amazon.com to their local Whole Foods store.

“This is just the beginning,” the companies said in the announcement. “Amazon and Whole Foods Market plan to offer more in-store benefits and lower prices for customers over time as the two companies integrate logistics and point-of-sale and merchandising systems.”

Amazon and Whole Foods announced the agreement on June 16. The two companies began talks about two months before then after Whole Foods representatives first contacted Amazon.

Whole Foods shareholders are set to receive $42 per share in the sale. Amazon.com will gain ownership of Whole Foods’ more than 460 stores, as well as add the grocer’s roughly 87,000 employees to its workforce. Amazon has said it will keep the Whole Foods name on stores and retain CEO John Mackey.

"It's been our mission for 39 years at Whole Foods Market to bring the highest quality food to our customers," Mackey said. "By working together with Amazon and integrating in several key areas, we can lower prices and double down on that mission and reach more people with Whole Foods Market's high-quality, natural and organic food. As part of our commitment to quality, we'll continue to expand our efforts to support and promote local products and suppliers. We can't wait to start showing customers what's possible when Whole Foods Market and Amazon innovate together."

Report: Aetna in talks with Apple to provide Apple watches to millions of customers

A partnership between Apple and Aetna could bring Apple watches to the insurance company’s more than 20 million customers, according to a report. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two companies held private meetings Thursday and Friday in southern California to discuss options for such a move, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.Aetna already offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of its corporate wellness program and to individuals with Aetna plans under “select large employers.”

According to CNBC, Aetna is negotiating with Apple to try to provide a plan in which its 23 million members could receive an Apple watch for free or at a discounted price.

The perk would benefit both Aetna, which has increased efforts to get its members more health-conscious, and Apple, which has begun to promote health and fitness-tracking as a primary use for the Apple watch.

Apple, which reportedly surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling wearable fitness tracker, may have plans to develop its watch to better cater to wearers with chronic diseases, making the gadget even more desirable and multifunctioning, CNBC reported.

An unnamed source told CNBC that Aetna is pushing to have the plan developed by early next year.

Read more at CNBC.

Here's why you might want to stop using smiley faces in emails

Think you’re being nice when you add a smiley face to the end of your email? According to one study, you could be conveying something else. 

>> Read more trending news 

The new study, titled the “The Dark Side of a Smiley,” examines the “effects of smiling emoticons on virtual first impressions.”

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel found that, contrary to popular belief, virtual smiley faces are not a suitable replacement for an in-person smile.

In fact, “smileys do not increase perceptions of warmth and actually decrease perceptions of competence,” the researchers found. 

The study, which involved 549 participants from 29 countries, tested three experiments to gather findings. 

One experiment revealed that when the gender of the email sender was unknown, recipients assumed it was a woman if the sender used a smiley face. This finding did not correlate with participants’ conclusions with friendliness or competence.

Another experiment found that not only do recipients of professional emails with smiley faces generally view senders as less competent, they’re also less willing to share important information with the sender. When considering two emails that are exactly the same with the only difference being that one includes a smiley face, the one without the emoticon is more commonly effective.

“The study ... found that when the participants were asked to respond to emails on formal matters, their answers were more detailed and they included more content-related information when the email did not include a smiley,” said Dr. Ella Glikson, a post-doctorate fellow at the BGU Department of Management, Guilford Glazer Faculty of Business and Management. “We found that the perceptions of low competence if a smiley is included in turn undermined information sharing.”

Although using smiley faces in professional emails could hinder communication in the workplace with new or unknown contacts and coworkers, the practice is more acceptable and less harmful when used with workplace buddies.

“People tend to assume that a smiley is a virtual smile, but the findings of this study show that in the case of the workplace, at least as far as initial ‘encounters’ are concerned, this is incorrect,” Glikson said.  “For now, at least, a smiley can only replace a smile when you already know the other person. In initial interactions, it is better to avoid using smileys, regardless of age or gender.”

The concise conclusion? 

“In formal business emails, a smiley is not a smile,” Glikson said.

Google, GoDaddy boot neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer over Charlottesville post

Update 2:40 p.m. Aug. 14: In a statement, a Google spokesperson said that the company planned to cancel the Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for a violation of its terms of service.

The site’s front page was replaced with a bad gateway message Monday afternoon that warned the site was having an outage.

Update 1:40 p.m. Aug. 14: Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer on Monday moved its domain registration to Google after it was booted from web hosting company GoDaddy due to a provocative post about a deadly confrontation over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, Reuters reported.

The news wire service reported that a “whois” search showed Google as the Daily Stormer’s registrar.

The tech company did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Reuters.

Original report: Web hosting company GoDaddy is booting the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, over an inflammatory post about the woman killed in the deadly car attack on people protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

>> Deadly Charlottesville car attack: What we know now

According to CBS News, GoDaddy announced the move after receiving complaints about an article on the site that made derogatory comments about Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer's appearance and views.

>> Heather Heyer identified as victim of Charlottesville car attack

"We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service," GoDaddy tweeted from its verified account.

>> See the tweet here

Hours later, a post appeared on the Daily Stormer claiming that hacking group Anonymous had taken control of the site and would shut it down within 24 hours.

>> Who is James Alex Fields Jr., suspect in deadly Charlottesville car attack?

"THIS SITE IS NOW UNDER THE CONTROL OF ANONYMOUS," the post read. "WE HAVE TAKEN THIS SITE IN THE NAME OF HEATHER HEYER A VICTIM OF WHITE SUPREMACIST TERRORISM."

>> Read more trending news

Anonymous tweeted that it had "no confirmation" that its hackers were involved and suggested that the Daily Stormer was behind the stunt.

>> See the tweet here

Anonymous later added, "To be clear, we're saying they weren't hacked. This is DS lying in an attempt to play victim to their audience later."

>> Read the tweet here

Emojis with red hair, white hair, curly hair, no hair at all to come in 2018

Emojis are expanding their representation when it comes to hair -- or not having hair.

The Independent reported that the long-demanded red haired emojis could be coming to iPhones in 2018.

>> Read more trending news

Subject to approval by the Unicode Technical Committee in the first quarter of 2018, real-life redheads are already celebrating.

“I can’t wait to finally be able to use an emoji which actually represents me,” a 24-year-old woman identified as Stephanie told The Independent.

People with red hair are not the only ones getting possible representation.

Related: Apple unveils new emojis, ‘woman with headscarf,’ ‘breastfeeding,’ ‘bearded guys,’ more

Of the 67 characters proposed for Unicode 11.0, four, including red heads, are hair-related. Curly hair, no hair and white hair are among those listed in a proposal from Unicode.

UTC is the body that develops and maintains the Unicode Standard, a character coding system that universally supports the display of text and languages on the internet. For emojis and text and symbols in other languages each character has a unique code point -- a combination of letters and numbers -- assigned to each.

In July, Apple announced new emojis to come later in the year, including a beareded person,  a person wearing a headscarf, breastfeeding, and foods like a coconut and a sandwich.

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