Amazon and eBay warned over VAT fraudsters by MP

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 18 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Amazon and eBay are profiting from sellers who defraud UK taxpayers by failing to charge VAT, according to a report by MPs.

The report estimates up to £1.5bn has been lost from third-party sellers on online marketplaces not charging the tax on sales they make in the UK.

MPs in the Public Accounts Committee criticised HMRC for being “too cautious” in pursuing the “fraudsters”.

Amazon and eBay said they were working with HMRC on the issue.

Labour MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, called online VAT fraud “hugely damaging” for British businesses and taxpayers.

She added that “the response of HMRC and the marketplaces where fraudsters operate has been dismal”.

‘Bewildering’

The fraud has increased because foreign firms selling goods to UK shoppers – usually via online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay – are keeping some of their stock in UK warehouses to provide next day delivery.

If items are dispatched from UK soil, the sellers have to charge VAT at 20%.

But many have not been, so undercutting genuine UK suppliers and reducing tax revenue, the committee’s report found.

Brexit will make the issue more complicated because of uncertainty over trading and customs, it added.

Both Amazon and eBay told the committee they took action to remove “bad actors” from their sites.

But the report said it was “bewildering that these big companies have taken such little action to date”.

It added that Amazon and eBay, amongst other online marketplaces, “continue to profit from fraudulent activities taking place on their sites” by charging the sellers a commission.

In the hearings a pack of lightbulb socket converters and a hose for a Dyson vacuum cleaner were held up as examples of products sold without VAT.

‘Above and beyond’

The report’s conclusions include:

  • The UK’s tax agency, HMRC, should set up an agreement with online marketplaces by March next year to tackle the issue
  • The websites should require non-EU sellers – which dispatch goods already in the UK – to provide a valid VAT number
  • HMRC should “inject more urgency” by making more extensive use of its existing powers

HMRC said it had introduced new rules last year to hold online marketplaces liable for unpaid VAT by overseas sellers, leading to a ten-fold rise in the number of sellers registering for VAT.

“The new reforms will secure an extra £875m in tax to help pay for vital public services,” an HMRC spokesman said.

In a statement Amazon said it was reviewing the report and supported efforts to ensure sellers across all marketplaces were VAT compliant.

An eBay spokesperson said it was going “above and beyond” HMRC’s requirements to provide a “fair marketplace for all our buyers and sellers”.

Automation to effect one in five job across the UK according to new research

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 17 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Workers in shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s constituency face highest risk of being replaced by robots, says research

Workers in the constituency of shadow chancellor John McDonnell are at the highest risk of seeing their jobs automated in the looming workplace revolution that will affect at least one in five employees in all parliamentary seats, according to new research.

The thinktank Future Advocacy – which specialises in looking at the big 21st century policy changes – said at least one-fifth of jobs in all 650 constituencies were at high risk of being automated, rising to almost 40% in McDonnell’s west London seat of Hayes and Harlington.

The thinktank’s report also found that the public was largely untroubled by the risk that their job might be at threat. Only 2% of a sample of more than 2,000 people were very worried that they might be replaced by a machine, with a further 5% fairly worried.

Future Advocacy’s report has been based on a PWC study earlier this year showing that more than 10 million workers were at risk of being replaced by automation and represents the first attempt to show the impact at local level.

The thinktank said McDonnell’s seat would be affected because it contains Heathrow airport, which has a large number of warehousing jobs that could be automated. Of the 92,150 employees in Hayes and Harlington in 2015, 36,170 (39.3%) were at high risk of having their jobs automated by the early 2030s. Crawley – the seat that includes Gatwick airport – was seen as the second most vulnerable constituency.

Future Advocacy said its report was an “attempt to encourage a geographically more sophisticated understanding of, and response to, the future of work, and also an attempt to encourage MPs to pay more attention to this critical issue”.

Opinion is divided on the likely impact of the artificial intelligence revolution on jobs. Optimists have said that the lesson from history is that technological change leads to more jobs being created than destroyed, while pessimists have argued that AI is different because the new machines will be able to do intellectual as well as routine physical tasks.

“One thing that almost all economists agree on is that change is coming and that its scale and scope will be unprecedented. Automation will impact different geographies, genders, and socioeconomic classes differently,” the report noted.

It added that “the highest levels of future automation are predicted in Britain’s former industrial heartlands in the Midlands and the north of England, as well as the industrial centres of Scotland. These are areas which have already suffered from deindustrialisation and many of them are unemployment hot spots.”

Olly Buston, one of the report’s authors, said it was vital that lessons were learned from the 1980s. “Let’s not have a repeat of the collapse of the coal-mining industry,” he said. “Instead, we should have a smarter strategy.”

Noting that there would be a political pay off for the party that came up with the best strategy for coping with the robot age, the report makes a number of recommendations for the government.

They include: publishing a white paper on adapting the education system so that it focuses on creativity and interpersonal skills in addition to the stem subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths; developing a post-Brexit migration policy that allows UK-based AI companies and universities to attract the best talent; exploring ways to ensure the benefits of the AI revolution are spread through research into alternative income and taxation models, including investigation of a universal basic income; and conducting further detailed research to assess which employees were most at risk of losing their jobs.

The report said that it was “arguably automation – rather than globalisation – that has created the economic and social conditions that led to political shockwaves such as the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit.

The report found that the leaders of the four main Westminster parties represented seats where more than 25% of jobs were at high risk of being automated, while the constituency with the lowest proportion of high-risk jobs was Labour-held Edinburgh South.

High-risk constituencies typically contained large numbers of people working in transport or manufacturing, while lower-risk constituencies – including Edinburgh South, Wirral West and Oxford East – had high concentrations of workers employed in education and health.

By Larry Elliott

Facebook to invest £1 million in Uk’s schools to help pupils become “digital safety ambassadors”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 16 Oct, 2017) London, Uk – –

Facebook says tens of thousands of children in secondary schools could be taught to counter cyber bullying by the social network.

The company is investing £1 million in helping pupils in the UK’s 4,500 secondary schools to become “digital safety ambassadors” – young people trained on how to counter online abuse.

Facebook lets anybody aged 13 or over to have a Facebook or Instagram account, but up to one in four children have experienced online bullying, according to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety estimates.

According to research released on Monday, more than half would prefer to deal with bullying online instead of turning to an adult, but are more likely to seek the advice of friends.

Facebook says it is providing online help on how to combat cyber bullying, and funding youth charities to carry out face-to-face training in classrooms. It has partnered with the Diana Award, an anti-bullying charity set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Childnet International.

The social network’s head of safety Antigone Davis said: “Over the last decade, we have developed a wealth of innovative resources on Facebook that enable young people to look after themselves and their peers, from our updated Safety Centre, to our online reporting tools. By offering trained digital safety ambassadors to every UK secondary school we are now taking this commitment offline too.”

 The company says it wants trained pupils in every school, ultimately meaning tens of thousands will be taught.

Last week, the Government promised to make Britain the “safest place in the world to be online” with a new internet safety strategythat would include an industry-wide levy to fund anti-bullying measures.

New data protection laws will also require social media sites like Facebook to delete posts made about a user before they turned 18 if they demand it.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said on Monday: “The internet has many amazing opportunities for our young people but what is unacceptable offline needs to be unacceptable on a computer screen.

“Our Internet Safety Strategy aims to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online and working together with companies like Facebook is how we can all contribute to a positive online environment.”

By 

The robot helping sick children explore the outside world

 

A rare genetic disorder often prevents 17-year-old Jade Gadd from leaving her house. Denied the normal life most teenagers enjoy, she is unable to go to school regularly and left feeling isolated. Recently, that has all begun to change with the help of a small robot, who takes her physical place in class, relays information and allows her to stay connected with her teachers and classmates.

Samsung chief exec resigns citing an “unprecedented crisis”

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 13 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The chief executive of Samsung Electronics has resigned, citing an “unprecedented crisis” around the smartphone giant.

Kwon Oh-hyun, who has been with the company for 32 years, said he would step down as chief executive and vice chairman in March. His departure comes despite Samsung Electronics projecting record quarterly profits

The company’s sales are booming thanks to record demand at its microchip and display units and improving sales of its latest smartphones, but it has been hit by a corruption scandal at the highest level.

Jay Y Lee, the heir to the Samsung empire, was sentenced to five years in prison in August for bribery and perjury after he was accused of overseeing large payments to foundations run by South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye.

Mr Lee is vice-chairman of both Samsung Electronics and the wider Samsung conglomerate, which includes interests in property, financial services and healthcare. But the electronics company, best known as the world’s biggest smartphone seller, is its crown jewel.

“As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry,” Mr Kwon said in a letter to staff.

 “It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off.”

Samsung did not announce a successor. It technically has three chief executives but the other two, Jong-Kyun Shin and Yoon Boo Keun, have stepped back from the day-to-day running of the company.

“With Jay Y Lee also likely to be out of the picture for a few years, the way is open for new blood to take the helm of Samsung and clean-up these long-standing issues,” said Richard Windsor of Edison Investment Research.

It came as Samsung Electronics announced that it expected to report revenues around 62 trillion won (£41bn) in the third quarter, up from 47.8 trillion in the same period last year when the company was engulfed by the crisis of its faulty Galaxy Note 7.

It said operating profits would be around 14.5 trillion won, compared to 5.2 trillion won a year ago. While it has seen record demand for its latest Note 8 phone, the biggest driver of revenues have been its memory and display divisions.

By 

Physicist Robert Lang incredible origami journey

 

Twenty five years ago, physicist Robert Lang worked at NASA, where he researched lasers. He has also garnered 46 patents on optoelectronics and even wrote a Ph.D. thesis called “Semiconductor Lasers: New Geometries and Spectral Properties.” But in 2001, Lang left his job in order to pursue a passion he’s had since childhood: origami. In the origami world, Lang is now a legend, and it’s not just his eye-catching, intricate designs that have taken the craft by storm. Some of his work has helped pioneer new ways of applying origami principles to complex real-world engineering problems.

The interactive ping pong table with a digital twist to traditional table tennis

 

Wonderball is an interactive ping pong table which adds a digital twist to traditional table tennis.

The hi-tech table uses digital projectors and sensors which track the movements of the ball, allowing many different games to be played on it.

Wonderball can be played by up to 20 people at a time, allowing friends and spectators to join in and play together.

You can find the table in London bar Bounce Ping Pong.

Netflix streaming online giant to raise prices for subscribers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 6 Oct 2017) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc’s U.S. business announced the first rises in monthly fees in two years on Thursday, hiking costs for two of its three main subscription plans as it spends heavily on its own original content.

The company’s mid-range plan, which allows streaming on two devices at the same time, was increased to $10.99 per month from $9.99.

The top-tier plan, which allows streaming on four screens in high definition, was raised to $13.99 per month from $11.99. The basic plan fee remained at $7.99.

Shares in the global streaming pioneer rose as much as 4.5 percent to a record high of $192.80.

“Most investors believe that Netflix is priced well below its value to consumers and want to see the management continue to increase monetization,” Rob Sanderson analyst at MKM Partners said.

In 2011, Netflix raised prices for some customers by as much as $6, causing more than 800,000 U.S. subscribers to desert the service.

A more gradual move in 2014 did not provoke the same outrage.

Netflix is cheaper than many of its competitors despite the current price hike. HBO Now, the standalone streaming service of HBO that offers access to shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Veep”, is priced at $14.99 a month, while Hulu prices its service without commercials at $11.99 per month.

“This price increase will likely be a revenue growth catalyst for the company,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a client note. “The content, not price, is the leading churn/churn-back factor amongst Netflix subs.”

The price hikes will only be in the United States and will start taking effect from mid-November, depending on users’ billing cycles.

Amazon to pay €250m (£221.5m) in back taxes to Luxembourg

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Wed, 4 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Brussels has ordered Amazon to pay €250m (£221.5m) in back taxes to Luxembourg in its latest crackdown on US tech giants.

The European Commission had already said a deal between Amazon and Luxembourg over how much tax it pays amounted to state aid in preliminary ruling in 2015.

Now the competition chief Margrethe Vestager has ordered the tech company to repay millions.

It’s the latest ruling from Brussels when it comes to the tax arrangements of tech companies. Last year it ordered Ireland to recoup a record €13bn from Apple as a so-called sweetheart deal was deemed to amount to state aid.

Both Apple and Ireland have challenged the ruling, but a legal tussle between the two could result in further action by the commission with the cash yet to be collected more than a year later.

EU member states last month signalled their intention for coordinated action on the taxes paid by tech companies. Led by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, the plans are supported by eight other states, including Germany and Spain. The proposals are to tax the firms on turnover rather than profit.

The latest action is likely to inflame tensions between Europe and the US. Business groups and politicians across the pond have warned that such actions are detrimental to economic growth.

By Lynsey Barber

“Angry Birds” Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start

qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, UK —

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Rovio (ROVIO.HE), the maker of hit mobile game “Angry Birds,” will look to buy up other players in the gaming industry following its listing on Friday, its main owner Kaj Hed said.

The Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start on their stock market debut, trading up as much as 7 percent from their initial public offering price (IPO) of 11.50 euros.

Hed, who cut his stake from 69 percent to 37 percent in the IPO, said Rovio now had more muscle to do deals in a gaming sector he believes is ripe for consolidation.

“We have a clear will to be a consolidator, and we are in a very good position to do that,” he told Reuters at Rovio’s headquarters by the Baltic Sea.

“Many good (gaming industry) players face the question of whether they should go public, or whether they should consolidate. Going public is expensive and requires hard work, so finding a partner could be easier.”

Analysts have long urged Rovio to do more to reduce its reliance on the “Angry Birds” franchise.

Hed, the uncle of Rovio’s co-founder Niklas Hed, said he remained strongly committed to the company.

“The reason that I sold shares was to give the company the liquidity, because that is very important. My intention is to remain as a long-term investor in the company.”

Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, but it plunged to an operating loss and cut a third of its staff in 2015 due to a pick up in competition and a shift among consumers to freely available games.

But the 2016 release of 3D Hollywood movie “Angry Birds”, together with new games, have revived the brand and helped sales recover.

In the first half of this year, Rovio’s sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 153 million euros, while core profit increased to 42 million euros from 11 million.

Rovio’s market valuation of around 950 million euros ($1.12 billion), looks high based on Rovio’s historical profit, said Atte Riikola, an analyst at research firm Inderes.

“There seems to be initial demand for (the stock). But given that the IPO was multiple times oversubscribed, the share price reaction is not too dramatic,” he added.

“Profit growth is priced in, so they need to keep up the good performance which they had in the first half of the year.”

At 1135 GMT, Rovio shares were trading at 11.77 euros, off a high of 12.34 euros/

By Jussi Rosendahl

Additional reporting by Tuomas Forsell

The hologram invented to fill the romantic void in Japanese lives

 

Meet Hikari, an anime virtual wife, and Eisuke, a virtual boyfriend who plays to a masochist fantasy, these are products of a multi-million dollar industry that’s sprung up in response to Japan’s relationship crisis. In episode three of the Bloomberg video series Love Disrupted, we look at the characters invented to fill the romantic void in Japanese lives.

Reading University introduces the self-serve beer pump technology

In a move that could speed the decline of the humble bar tender, Reading University has introduced a self-serve 16-tap “beer wall” at its onsite student union, allowing students to pull their own pints and buy beverages with a single tap of their debit or credit card.

Screens above each tap will allow customers to choose which brand of draft beer they want, show how much it will cost, and display information about the beer, including the percentage of alcohol by volume.

With students able to pour themselves a beer and pay with their contactless plastic or mobile wallet, the bars will have increased capacity, speedier service and a reduced threat of theft, claims Drink Command, the company behind the self-serve beer technology, which is also being rolled out in other bars across the UK and Ireland, including in Hilton Hotels.

The self-serve beer pump technology, which is integrated with Verifone’s electronic payments system, is not the first to be launched in Britain. In 2012, The Thirsty Bear pub in Southwark, London, introduced pumps for customers to pull their own pint after placing their order from an iPad installed on each table.

Customers of the pub were also able to order food or change the songs on the jukebox via the iPad.

While the technology allows customers to easily and conveniently refill their glasses, potentially leading to a higher consumption of alcohol, Drink Command insists the system “makes it easier for bar staff to monitor users’ beer consumption to ensure compliance with local responsible drinking guidelines”.

The soaring popularity of contactless payment methods is prompting more retailers to look at ways they can introduce technology that enhances the customer experience with quicker service and less interaction with staff.

A new study from Worldpay revealed that two thirds of 21 to 34-year olds would happily make a payment without any human interaction.

Robbie Ward of Drink Command, said: “There is a change of mind-set happening in the beer dispense industry, similar to how self-serve technology has improved the way we buy petrol for our cars, or how supermarkets have improved queuing times with self-scan checkouts.”

Matt Tebbit, head of residential catering and bars at The University of Reading, said: “Our 16-tap self-serve beer wall has allowed us to increase our capacity to serve more customers and hold our existing staff levels by giving patrons the option to order from the bar, or serve themselves at their leisure.”

 

Apple smart assistant Siri to now use Google rather than Bing for searches

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 26 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Apple confirmed that its smart assistant Siri will now use Google rather than Bing for searches, in a sign of increasing integration between the two tech giants.

Customers searching on Apple’s Safari browser across its Mac, iPad and iPhone portfolio already received Google search results, and investment firm Bernstein has estimated Google currently pays around $3bn (£2.2bn) for this deal, based on the fact Google paid around $1bn for the same deal in 2014.

However, from Monday, Google will also act as the web provider for Siri as well as being the default provider for the ‘Spotlight’ function on Apple devices. The switch was first reported by TechCrunch.

The iPhone maker said it decided to switch its default search provider to “allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari”.

However, the spokesman added: “We have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

Google did not respond to requests for comment.

By Hannah Boland

Police crackdown on counterfeit goods websites

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Mon, 25 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

British consumers are warned “there’s more at stake when it’s a fake” in a new police awareness campaign about counterfeit goods.

Police have shut down 28,000 websites selling counterfeit goods to British consumers – more than 4,000 of which were set up using identities stolen from other customers.

The take-downs, which have been occurring since 2014, have been announced as City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) launches an awareness campaign to educate online consumers.

Warning the public that “there’s more at stake when it’s a fake”, PIPCU said that 400 individuals are believed to have had their identities stolen and used to set up the websites selling knock-off goods.

When purchasing items, people hand over their address for the delivery and financial information to make the payments, the unscrupulous fraudsters are able to steal their identities.

Cifas, the UK’s fraud prevention service, says that identity fraud is soaring to “epidemic levels”, with 86% of identity frauds being perpetrated online.

One victim, Emily, a teacher from Essex, unknowingly purchased bridesmaids shoes from a counterfeiters’ website.

Her identity was stolen and fake websites were set up in her name – websites which were used to sell more counterfeit goods.

“I think of myself as someone who is ‘tech savvy’ and so I was horrified when I discovered that I had been scammed,” said Emily.

“This goes to show that anyone can become a victim of this, no matter what walk of life they are from.”

PIPCU is also warning shoppers that counterfeit goods are often made from lower-quality and in some situations hazardous materials that can pose a public safety risk.

Just as the popularity of online shopping is increasing, so too is the production and sale of fake goods, says PIPCU.

Checking products for authenticity can be difficult in person, but the use of stock images online also means that fraudsters can easily con online shoppers.

In 2016/17 the Intellectual Property Office reported that two million infringing items were detained at UK borders.

PIPCU is encouraging consumers to check the authenticity of sites they are purchasing goods from, finding out where the trader is based and whether they provide a postal address.

Detective Inspector Nicholas Court said: “Many people purchase counterfeit goods from bogus websites, knowingly and unknowingly, without realising that there can be significant consequences.

“We are warning the public that ‘there’s more at stake when it’s a fake’ and that buying from a rogue site puts your personal and financial information at risk, meaning that criminals can use your identity for malicious means.”

By  Alexander J Martin

Uber denied renewal of operating licence in London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 22 Sept, 2017) London, Uk – –

Uber will not be is sued a new private hire licence, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL has concluded the ride-hailing app firm was not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.

Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility which could have potential public safety and security implications, it said.

Uber has 21 days to appeal, during which it can continue to operate.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Google buys part of HTC in $1.1bn expansion smartphone deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com- – Thur, 21 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Google has bought part of Taiwanese technology company HTC in an effort to further expand its smartphone business.

The Silicon Valley tech giant announced that it is spending $1.1bn (£820m) to acquire the team that developed its Pixel smartphone, released in 2016.

About 2,000 employees, which represent half of HTC’s existing smartphone development workforce, will move to Google as a result of the acquisition.

The deal is a cash transaction and won’t see Google take a stake in HTC, as had been speculated earlier in the week.

Shares in HTC were suspended on Wednesday as rumours of an all-out buyout deal by Google’s parent company Alphabet abounded.

Google has been pushing its new Pixel phone as an increasing number of people are using its services with mobile devices.

The technology giant has announced it will host a live event at the beginning of October, where new versions of the firm’s Pixel and Pixel XL will be unveiled.

Thursday’s announcement is another sign of how serious Google is about carving out a bigger space for itself in the already competitive smartphone market.

It also highlights Google’s commitment to developing more of its own hardware, rather than relying on other technology companies’ devices to host its Android software.

HTC’s shares remained suspended on Thursday following the announcement.

If approved by regulators the deal is expected to be completed by early next year.

 By Clare Downey

Equifax’s victim attempt to set up credit monitoring and freeze on her account

 

143 million people were affected by the Equifax hack and CNNMoney’s Personal Finance Reporter Katie Lobosco was one of the victims. Watch Katie attempt to set up Equifax’s credit monitoring service and place a freeze on her credit.

Apple new iPhone X revealed via apparent leak

Roger Schultz/flickr.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 11 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Details of new iPhones and other forthcoming Apple devices have been revealed via an apparent leak.

Two news sites were given access to an as-yet-unreleased version of the iOS operating system.

The code refers to an iPhone X in addition to two new iPhone 8 handsets. It also details facial recognition tech that acts both as an ID system and maps users’ expressions onto emojis.

One tech writer said it was the biggest leak of its kind to hit the firm.

Apple is holding a launch event at its new headquarters on Tuesday.

The California-based company takes great efforts to keep its technologies secret until its showcase events, and chief executive Tim Cook spoke in 2012 of the need to “double down” on concealment measures.

Some details about the new devices had, however, already been revealed in August, when Apple published some test code for its HomePod speakers.

But while that was thought to have been a mistake, it has been claimed that the latest leak was an intentional act of sabotage.

“As best I’ve been able to ascertain, these builds were available to download by anyone, but they were obscured by long, unguessable URLs [web addresses],” wrote John Gruber, a blogger known for his coverage of Apple.

“Someone within Apple leaked the list of URLs to 9to5Mac and MacRumors. I’m nearly certain this wasn’t a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee.”

Neither Mr Gruber nor the two Apple-related news sites have disclosed their sources.

However, the BBC has independently confirmed that an anonymous source provided the publications with links to iOS 11’s golden master (GM) code that downloaded the software from Apple’s own computer servers.

GM is a term commonly used by software firms to indicate that they believe a version of a product is ready for release.

“More surprises were spoiled by this leak than any leak in Apple history,” Mr Gruber added.

Apple could not be reached for comment.

Equifax data breach hits 143 million

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 8 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

About 143 million US customers of credit report giant Equifax may have had information compromised in a cyber security breach, the company has disclosed.

Equifax said cyber-criminals accessed data such as Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses during the incident.

Some UK and Canadian customers were also affected.

The firm’s core consumer and commercial credit databases were not accessed.

Security checks

Equifax said hackers accessed the information between mid-May and the end of July, when the company discovered the breach.

Malicious hackers won access to its systems by exploiting a “website application vulnerability”, it said but provided no further details.

The hackers accessed credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers, among other information.

Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said the incident was “disappointing” and “one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do”.

“I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Richard Smith, Equifax chairman and chief executive.

“We pride ourselves on being a leader in managing and protecting data, and we are conducting a thorough review of our overall security operations.”

It said it was working with law enforcement agencies to investigate and had hired a cyber-security firm to analyse what happened. The FBI is also believed to be monitoring the situation.

The company said it would work with regulators in the US, UK and Canada on next steps. It is also offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for a year.

Equifax said it had set up a website – www.equifaxsecurity2017.com – through which consumers can check if their data has been caught up in the breach. Many people trying to visit the site reported via social media that they had problems reaching it and that security software flagged it as potentially dangerous.

The UK’s Information Commissioner (ICO) said reports about the data breach and the potential involvement of UK citizens gave it “cause for concern”.

It said it was in contact with Equifax to find out how many British people were affected and the kinds of data that had been compromised.

“We will be advising Equifax to alert affected UK customers at the earliest opportunity,” said the ICO in a statement.

The breach is one of the largest ever reported in the US and, said experts, could have a significant impact on any Americans affected by it.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10,” said Avivah Litan, a Gartner analyst who monitors ID theft and fraud. “It affects the whole credit reporting system in the United States because nobody can recover it, everyone uses the same data.”

Security expert Brian Krebs said Equifax was just one of several credit agencies that had been hit by hackers in recent years.

“The credit bureaus have for the most part shown themselves to be terrible stewards of very sensitive data,” wrote Mr Krebs. “and are long overdue for more oversight from regulators and lawmakers.”

Credit rating firm Equifax holds data on more than 820 million consumers as well as information on 91 million businesses.