Yahoo Shareholder Sues Company for Data Breach

Patricia Spain, a Yahoo shareholder, filed a lawsuit against the company in Santa Clara County Superior Court, on allegations of failing to immediately disclose two massive data breaches. The lawsuit, which targets company’s directors, said that Yahoo violated its fiduciary duty by making late disclosure.

According to the lawsuit, this late disclosure led to important financial issues for the company, which lost no less than $350 million. The loss was registered by the company when Yahoo reduced its planned sale price in its deal with Verizon. The $4.8 billion sale was reduced by $350 million.

The lawsuit names some important people at Yahoo, including the company’s Chief Executive Officer Marisa Mayer, but also Yahoo’s former general counsel Ronald Bell. Other directors are mentioned in the lawsuit as well, but the legal action also targets Verizon. Verizon announced its intentions to acquire Yahoo’s operating assets in 2017 for the price of $4.8 billion. The deal was first revealed in July, 2016.

The deal’s price was influenced by two massive data breaches revealed by Yahoo. The first breach was revealed by the company in September 2016, and occurred in 2014, Yahoo announcing that no less than 500,000 user accounts were stolen. The data accessed by third parties included a lot of personal and sensitive information, such as names, email addresses, but also dates of birth and passwords.

However, that was not all. 2016 had definitely been a difficult year for the tech giant, which in December announced another breach, an even larger one, affecting no less than 1 billion user accounts. The breach occurred in 2013 and compromised a lot of user data. After the 2016 announcements on the 2014 and 2013 breaches, Yahoo and Verizon negotiated a new deal.

So, the amount that Verizon was willing to pay was reduced from $4.8 billion to $4.48 billion. According to the new lawsuit, the reduced price was a direct consequence of the two breaches. The plaintiff said that although Yahoo’s executives knew about the breaches sooner, it failed to reveal them to Verizon, the public and US authorities. The lawsuit seeks class action status, representing over 8,000 company shareholders.

WikiLeaks Documents indicate that Samsung Smart TVs can be used by the CIA

Samsung is definitely dealing with a lot of issues lately. And the latest news are not great for the famous company, either. So, some new documents released by WikiLeaks indicated that Samsung’s TVs can be used by the CIA to spy on users.

The documents claim that the CIA created a program named Weeping Angel, which uses a television’s microphone to get and transmit information even when the device seems to be switched off. Samsung was not the only company named in WikiLeaks, as Apple and Google were also mentioned.

So, the WikiLeaks claimed that the CIA collaborated with MI5 and BTSS in order to create a program that turned Samsung’s TVS into listening devices. The devices allegedly could record and transmit information to a CIA server. When it comes to Apple devices, CIA hackers developed tools to access iPhones, but they also created tools for phones based on Google’s Android system.

Samsung expressed its interest in protecting the privacy of its customers, as well as the security of its devices and claimed that it was urgently looking into the claims. “Protecting consumers’ privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung,” the company stated in an email according to Bloomberg.

The CIA on the other hand, refused to comment on the report. “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents,” the CIA stated. Apple stated that the technology on which its devices are based represents the best data security available to consumers. “Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80% of users running the latest version of our operating system,” Apple’s statement said.

“While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest iOS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities,” it added. On the other hand, Google, who has also been targeted, refused to comment on the allegations. Without a doubt, these claims are not making any good to the image of the three companies.

Yahoo Reveals New Attack affected 32 Million Accounts

Yahoo revealed some bad news for its users. The company stated that a forged cookie attack managed to access no less than 32 million accounts. Yahoo actually stated that it believes this attack could be linked to a massive data breach that occurred in 2014.

Yahoo claimed that a total of 32 million accounts were accessed by hackers during the past two years. The attackers used forged cookies to log in to the accounts without needing a password. The company made the disclosure in a regulatory filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission this week.

“Based on the investigation, we believe an unauthorized third party accessed the company’s proprietary code to learn how to forge certain cookie,” the company stated. “The Outside forensic experts have identified approximately 32 million user accounts for which they believe forged cookies were used or taken in 2015 and 2016,” the statement added.

“We believe that some of this activity is connected to the same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the 2014 Security Incident. The forged cookies have been invalidated by the Company so they cannot be used to access user accounts.”

Yahoo also added that it now acted against the attack, meaning that the forged cookies have been invalidated to prevent further use. The news that this hack occurred is not actually new. Yahoo first disclosed it back in December 2016.

However, the announcement did not get too much attention, as at that time Yahoo also disclosed that hackers stole information from 1 billion company accounts back in 2013. Of course, the news drew a lot of media attention and criticism on the company. The company refused to provide too much information on what happened, but it has also been revealed that the company’s general counsel and secretary also decided to resign.

“In late 2014, senior executives and relevant legal staff were aware that a state-sponsored actor had accessed certain user accounts by exploiting the Company’s account management tool. The Company took certain remedial actions, notifying 26 specifically targeted users and consulting with law enforcement,” Yahoo stated in its regulatory filing. So, the resignations were announced after being revealed that senior executives from the company, as well as its legal team, failed to correctly pursue all threats on a potential attack.

Oracle Executives Face Possible Asset Seizure for Kickbacks

Things are not looking bright for Oracle when it comes to potential legal issues at its operations outside of the United States. The database software and technology developer is actually dealing with kickbacks accusations in Kenya. So, it has been reported that several executives from Oracle and its partner Open System Integration (OSI) could have their assets seized on accusations of giving kickbacks with the purpose to influence the winning of a controversial software contract.

The Director of Public Prosecutions stated that the executives gave kickbacks to officials at the auditor-general’s office. Some of the executives targeted by the investigation shared the illegal money. Among the people mentioned by authorities in relation to this case are the sales executive of Oracle, Charles Gichobi. Authorities stated that they have enough evidence to charge him.

“I have therefore directed that prosecution should ensue accordingly. I have also directed that copies of the duplicate inquiry file be forwarded to the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for appropriate action in terms of their respective legal mandates,” the Director of the Public Prosecutions office said.

According to the Public Prosecutions’ office, Auditor-General Edward Ouko did nothing wrong in relation to this case. So, this means that he was cleared of any wrongdoing. However, the case still remains in the media attention, as Oracle is only one of the companies involved. Ouko’s office was also linked to graft allegations involving Mars Technology Associates, Kenya Milk Farmers and Enkei Holdings, among others.

Furthermore, the auditor’s general manager of information technology, Annette Mwangi, was also associated to the corruption case. “I would hasten to add that all those directed to be charged… each one of them is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” the public prosecutor stated.

Of course, until the investigation is completely over, it is hard to see in which direction things will evolve. However, it is important to mention that concerns on key technology solutions have been raised in Kenya for quite some time. Oracle has decided to not comment on these latest allegations.

Uber starts investigation following sexual harassment claims

Uber has surely been shaken up by a now popular blog post shared by a former company employee, Susan Fowler. The post has raised a lot of media attention and also a lot of criticism for Uber. The former worker, a company engineer, said that she was sexually harassed by her direct supervisor and that although she reported the misconduct to the human resources department, her complaint was ignored.

After the post became viral, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick decided to launch an internal investigation into the allegations. He asked the company’s chief of human resources, Liane Hornsey, to conduct an investigation, saying that the allegations contravene Uber’s standards and vision.

“I have just read Susan Fowler’s blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” the statement said. “We seek to make Uber a just workplace for everyone and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” it added.

Well, it appears that not only Uber reacted to the post, but some company investors did the same. Mitch and Freada Kapor, who have been investors in the company since 2010, claimed that they have unsuccessfully tried to determine the company to address diversity issues. “We are speaking up now because we are disappointed and frustrated; we feel we have hit a dead end in trying to influence the company quietly from the inside,” the two said in a blog post. “We are disappointed to see that Uber has selected a team of insiders to investigate its destructive culture and make recommendations for change. To us, this decision is yet another example of Uber’s continued unwillingness to be open, transparent and direct.”

Another Uber investor, Chris Sacca, also criticised the company following the worker’s post. The company has not directly responded to this criticism for the moment. It is yet to see what its investigation will find and how Uber will manage and overcome this scandal that seems to evolve.

Former employee accuses Uber of sexual harassment

Uber has taken the spotlight lately, but unfortunately for the famous company things are not looking really well. Actually, Uber was accused by a former employee of having a culture that allows sexual harassment and discrimination against women. The former employee, Susan Fowler, published a very in-depth blog post presenting the whole story.

She claimed that she was hired by Uber in November 2015 and after a couple of weeks of training she joined her new team. Susan said in her blog post that she was immediately approached by her direct supervisor, who sent her a series of messages over the company’s chat trying to get her to have sex with him. The worker immediately reported the misconduct to the human resources department. Susan said that although she expected the company to handle the situation, she was actually told by both HR and upper management that it was his first offence and he was a high performer, so the company was not comfortable to punish him.

Fowler said she was offered the option to change teams, which she finally accepted although she wanted to remain on her initial role with the company. She said that after a few months she started hearing a lot of stories from other female employees, some even about the same manager’s inappropriate behavior.

“It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being ‘his first offense’, and it certainly wasn’t his last. Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his ‘first offense’. The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done,” she said.

The post continued to say that Susan, along other female employees, scheduled meetings with the human resources department, insisting that they do something about the manager. The manager eventually left the company. Susan also raised concerns on discrimination against women within the organization. She said that despite her reports to HR on discrimination against women and illegal threats to fire her for reporting, the company did nothing.

Fitbit Makes Cheap Acquisition

Fitbit has decided to acquire Pebble and there is nothing new when it comes to this purchase decision. However, what is now is the fact that Fitbit actually paid a much lower sum of money than what was initially reported. Fitbit actually took over Pebble at the end of 2016. The company has only revealed now the final acquisition price.

So, when the purchase was initially revealed back in December 2016 it has been claimed that Fitbit was going to pay between $34 and $40 million for Pebble. Well, it appears that the rumors were not true as Fitbit paid only $23 million for the purchase. The revelation was made in the quarterly report earnings revealed by the famous company. The whole deal between the two is quite curious, as with this purchase what Fitbit did was actually removing a rival from the market.

So, after the purchase, Fitbit decided to terminate the line of smartwatches that Pebble produced. These products were in direct competition with the devices released by Fitbit. On the other hand, from Pebble’s side, the purchase is not that shocking. Actually, Pebble had been dealing with some issues for quite some time. This made numerous specialists believe that Pebble sold for less than what it was initially reported. However, such a low sum, $23 million, was surely not expected.

Well, despite the purchase, things are not looking that well for Fitbit, either. Actually, the holiday sales weren’t what the company expected and Fitbit went to report a decline of its earnings from this period of the year. The company only managed to sell 6.5 million devices during the October – December period. A year earlier, Fitbit definitely did better, as the company managed to sell no less than 8.2 million devices during the same period of time.

And that may not be all. Fitbit also recently announced its plans to lay off no less than 110 employees. Apparently, this is the company’s strategy to reduce costs and be more focused and efficient. Well, maybe a lower financial performance is after all what the company expects, as Fitbit reported that it has projected revenues to drop between $1.5 and $1.7 billion in 2017.

Unilever Rejects Takeover Bid from Kraft Heinz

Apparently, famous food giant Kraft Heinz was interested in making a huge acquisition, but unfortunately for the company things did not turn out as it expected. So, a takeover bid from Kraft Heinz was rejected by another giant, Unilever.

Unilever stated that it rejected the takeover bid from Kraft Heinz because it saw absolutely no reason to engage in a conversation about the deal, which would have absolutely no financial or strategic merit. “Unilever rejected the proposal as it sees no merit, either financial or strategic, for Unilever’s shareholders. Unilever does not see the basis for any further discussions,” an official statement indicated.

Well, if Unilever seems to be quite decided in rejecting the offer and claimed that the $50 per share deal offered by Kraft Heinz was undervalued, the bidder seems to be determined to push for a deal.

So, Kraft Heinz stated that it is still looking for a way to reach an agreement with Unilever on the terms of a transaction. This could mean that Kraft Heinz might be willing to go for a higher bid. An interesting thing to mention is that because of the offer, Unilever’s shares actually jumped by 14%, which set a record high.

If the takeover will ever take place, it will actually be the third-biggest takeover in history. Kraft Heinz was also formed by the merger of two giants, Kraft Foods and H. J. Heinz. The company is said to have a lot to win from a potential merger with Unilever, given the latter’s dominance on the market and potential of growth in emerging markets. Furthermore, Unilever has more than 400 brands.

Previously, Kraft Heinz was said to be interested in the acquisition of Mondelez International, but it seems that the interest did not turn out to be materialized. On the other hand, Mondelez was interested in taking over Hershey, but this deal also failed. Without a doubt, a series of purchases could happen in the food sector, but a merger between giants Unilever and Kraft Heinz would surely be something unexpected. It is yet to see if a deal will finally be reached between the two companies.

Samsung’s Vice-Chairman Arrested in Corruption Probe

Samsung is surely dealing with a lot of issues lately. The famous tech company’s Vice-Chairman has been arrested on allegations of participating in a corruption scandal. The arrest came as a surprise. So, authorities accused Lee Jae-yong, the son of Samsung’s ailing chairman, of giving $36 million in bribes to obtain government support for company projects.

Allegedly, the money were paid to President Park Geun-hye and a close friend in order to get support for the company from local authorities. Samsung was willing to obtain approval for a leadership transition and a merger of two Samsung companies.

According to several reports, the case shows that the largest family-run businesses in South Korea are largely politically influenced. Well, the arrest also raised questions of what will happen to Samsung next. Furthermore, some even raised questions of what will happen to South Korea’s economy, considering that the country relies on companies such as Samsung for jobs and taxes.

However, some analysts said that Samsung’s business will actually not be affected at all by this evolution. And without a doubt, this is not the first such scandal for the tech giant. Lee’s father also had to deal with some allegations and he was actually convicted for embezzlement and tax evasion in 2008 and 2009. Lee’s father, Lee Kun-hee, stepped down from the role of chairman after being indicated. Most likely, his son will also resign from his position.

Samsung and Lee Jay-yong denied all the allegations brought forward by prosecutors. The allegations against Samsung first emerged at the end of 2016. In November 2016, South Korean prosecutors decided to raid the offices of Samsung and one of its subsidiaries on concerns of paying bribes to the daughter of a close person to the President Park Guen-hye. Then, the investigation was expanded to the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, with authorities seeking evidence to determine if any law was broken in the case. It has suspected that Samsung bribed some officials to get approval for this merger.

Lee Jae-yong was initially questioned in relation to the case and only later prosecutors decided to arrest him.

Rumors about the yet to be released iPhone 8

Besides Samsung Galaxy S7, the iPhone 7 could be considered one of the best phones of this year. This incredible device is able to deliver amazing performance, and it has features like water resistance, more storage capacity than its predecessors and a good battery life.

Without a doubt, the iPhone 7 is a huge upgrade compared with other iPhones that Apple has released throughout the years. Moreover, with this phone, Apple has also made one of the boldest decisions ever. As everyone knows, Apple has removed the headphone jack from its device, which is considered to be a piece that people could not live without. Now, people have started to talk about what other moves the fruity-named company will do. During the years, Apple stuck to a pretty regular schedule, making major design changes to numbered models and leaving limited changes and other hardware modifications to “S phones,” for example iPhone SE or iPhone 5S. 

However, except for the missing headphone jack, this year’s model is similar to an iPhone 6 and 6S. So, we are curious to find out what Apple will do with the new iPhone 8. As we already mentioned, there are some rumors wandering around the Web, claiming some interesting new changes. So, for starters let’s talk about the home button. It seems that the company is planning to make some big changes to its signature home button. If the previous iPhone 7 came with a new, solid-state button that users didn’t have to click down, it seems that there are rumors that Apple is planning to ditch the button. Removing this button, the company will slim down the top and bottom bezels as well as add a larger screen. 

Another interesting thing that everyone is talking about is wireless charging. It seems that wireless AirPod headphones are already available on the iPhone 7, so why doesn’t Apple add a wireless charging feature? Samsung does it, why not Apple too? To be added that the Apple Watch already uses a form of wireless charging. During this year, The Verge reported that the company has been hiring wireless-charging experts.