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Equifax slapped with UK’s maximum penalty over 2017 data breach

Equifax slapped with UK’s maximum penalty over 2017 data breach Credit rating giant Equifax has been issued with the maximum possible penalty by the UK’s data protection agency for last year’s massive data breach. Albeit, the fine is only £500,000 because the loss of...

How to set up parental controls on iPad & iPhone

How to set up parental controls on iPad & iPhone Want to make your iPad & iPhone more kid-proof? Here's how to set up parental controls on iOS devices How to set up parental controls on iPad & iPhone Source: Mac World How...

Twitter’s former Head of People EMEA joins VC firm Atomico as Partner

Twitter’s former Head of People EMEA joins VC firm Atomico as Partner Atomico, the European venture capital firm founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström, is announcing a number of new hires to its investment team, including new Partner Caroline Chayot, who previously led...

How to play music on HomePod

How to play music on HomePod Here's everything you need to know about playing music on HomePod, including: How to play music on HomePod without subscribing to Apple Music, how to play music from Spotify/YouTube/Amazon, or simply play tunes from your iTunes Music...

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own...

How to install a watchOS beta on Apple Watch

How to install a watchOS beta on Apple Watch Want to get all the latest watchOS features on your Apple Watch before everyone else? Here's how to install a watchOS beta How to install a watchOS beta on Apple Watch Source: Mac World How...

Buy your ticket to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 today

Buy your ticket to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 today We’re less than one month away from hosting our first Startup Battlefield pitch competition in the Middle East and North Africa. Holy smokes, we’re so excited to showcase the region’s most promising...

Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline Twitter will now put live streams and broadcasts started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline, making it easier to see what they’re doing in realtime. In a tweet, Twitter said that that the new...

How to play music on HomePod

How to play music on HomePod

Here’s everything you need to know about playing music on HomePod, including: How to play music on HomePod without subscribing to Apple Music, how to play music from Spotify/YouTube/Amazon, or simply play tunes from your iTunes Music Library. We also run through the questions you can ask Siri to play the tracks you want on HomePod.
How to play music on HomePod
Source: Mac World How To

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own name and ultimately dropped the French health hardware company altogether.

Four months ago, one of Withings’ co-founders bought the brand back from Nokia. And today, the innovative French hardware company returns with a new take on an old product. The Steel HR Sport. It’s a welcome return for what had become one of my favorite fitness trackers, prior to the brand’s untimely demise, back in May.

The Steel line’s simplicity has always been among its most appealing features. The original, launched in 2014, was one of the early hybrid smartwatches — a fairly standard analog timepiece that hides some smart features below the surface. The devices feature a small monochrome display up top for notifications and menus, along with a small secondary gauge embedded in the face that displays the percentage toward a daily fitness goal.

The Steel HR Sport brings some key updates to the line, including the ability to track 30 different activities, including yoga, volleyball, rowing, boxing, skiing and ice hockey. The watch also provides “Fitness Level Assessments,” which gauge things like VO2 max to provide a better overall picture of health. And while there’s no GPS built in, the watch uses the phone to track distance, elevation and pace and map runs.

Aside from the aesthetic appeal, battery life has always been one of the biggest upsides of these hybrid devices, and the new watch certainly fits the profile with 25 days on a charge, plus an additional 20 days in standby mode. That means that, unlike much of the competition, the watch actually can track daytime and nighttime activity, without needing to recharge.

Unlike the Steel HR, which came in both 36 and 40mm sizes, the HR Sport is only available in the latter — though that’s still quite a bit more compact than a number of smartwatches on the market. It’s available today for $200.

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch
Source: TechCrunch

Buy your ticket to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 today

Buy your ticket to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 today

We’re less than one month away from hosting our first Startup Battlefield pitch competition in the Middle East and North Africa. Holy smokes, we’re so excited to showcase the region’s most promising early-stage startups at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 on October 3 in Beirut, Lebanon.

We’ve selected the participating startups, and their founders are hard at work honing their pitches for the big day. There’s just one thing missing — you! Come to Beirut Digital District in Lebanon for an action-packed day of competition, networking and celebration. A spectator pass costs $29, and you can buy your tickets right here.

If you’ve never attended our premier startup pitch competition, here’s how Startup Battlefield works. The participating teams will compete in three preliminary rounds — up to five startups per round. They’ll have just six minutes to wow the judges with a live product demo and pitch. The judges, distinguished technologists and investors, follow each pitch with a six-minute, no-holds-barred Q&A.

At most, five teams will be chosen to move into the final round where they will pitch a second time to new judges, who follow up with more probing questions. All the judges confer, and they will choose one outstanding startup to lay claim to the Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 championship, a US$25,000 no-equity cash prize and a trip for two to Disrupt San Francisco in 2019 — where they get to compete in that Startup Battlefield (assuming the company still qualifies to compete at the time).

And that’s not all: TechCrunch has just announced its first batch of speakers who will be joining us in Beirut. It is a regular who’s who of the MENA startup and technology scene, so you don’t want to miss what they have to say.

It’s fast-paced, think-on-your-feet action, and it all takes place in front of a live audience (we’re looking right at you) of startup fans, tech enthusiasts, investors and media. It’s a great opportunity to see the future of tech unfold — who knows, these startups may grow into tomorrow’s tech titans. It’s also the perfect event for serious networking with like-minded entrepreneurs.

TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 takes place in the Beirut Digital District in Lebanon on October 3. Don’t miss out on the fun, the excitement and the business opportunities. Buy your ticket today.

Buy your ticket to TechCrunch Startup Battlefield MENA 2018 today
Source: TechCrunch

Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline

Twitter will now put live streams and broadcasts started by accounts you follow at the top of your timeline, making it easier to see what they’re doing in realtime.

In a tweet, Twitter said that that the new feature will include breaking news, personalities and sports.

The social networking giant included the new feature in its iOS and Android apps, updated this week. Among the updates, Twitter said it’s now also supporting audio-only live broadcasts, as well as through its sister broadcast service Periscope.

Last month, Twitter discontinued its app for iOS 9 and lower versions, which according to Apple’s own data still harbors some 5 percent of all iPhone and iPad users.

Twitter now puts live broadcasts at the top of your timeline
Source: TechCrunch

North Korea skirts US sanctions by secretly selling software around the globe

North Korea skirts US sanctions by secretly selling software around the globe

Fake social media profiles are useful for more than just sowing political discord among foreign adversaries, as it turns out. A group linked to the North Korean government has been able to duck existing sanctions on the country by concealing its true identity and developing software for clients abroad.

This week, the US Treasury issued sanctions against two tech companies accused of running cash-generating front operations for North Korea: Yanbian Silverstar Network Technology or “China Silver Star,” based near Shenyang, China, and a Russian sister company called Volasys Silver Star. The Treasury also sanctioned China Silver Star’s North Korean CEO Jong Song Hwa.

“These actions are intended to stop the flow of illicit revenue to North Korea from overseas information technology workers disguising their true identities and hiding behind front companies, aliases, and third-party nationals,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said of the sanctions.

As the Wall Street Journal reported in a follow-up story, North Korean operatives advertised with Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, solicited business with Freelance.com and Upwork, crafted software using Github, communicated over Slack and accepted compensation with Paypal. The country appears to be encountering little resistance putting tech platforms built by US companies to work building software including “mobile games, apps, [and] bots” for unwitting clients abroad.

The US Treasury issued its first warnings of secret North Korean software development scheme in July, though did not provide many details at the time. The Wall Street Journal was able to identify “tens of thousands” of dollars stemming from the Chinese front company, though that’s only a representative sample. The company worked as a middleman, contracting its work out to software developers around the globe and then denying payment for their services.

Facebook suspended many suspicious accounts linked to the scheme after they were identified by the Wall Street Journal, including one for “Everyday-Dude.com”:

“A Facebook page for Everyday-Dude.com, showing packages with hundreds of programs, was taken down minutes later as a reporter was viewing it. Pages of some of the account’s more than 1,000 Facebook friends also subsequently disappeared…

“[Facebook] suspended numerous North Korea-linked accounts identified by the Journal, including one that Facebook said appeared not to belong to a real person. After it closed that account, another profile, with identical friends and photos, soon popped up.”

Linkedin and Upwork similarly removed accounts linked to the North Korean operations.

Beyond the consequences for international relations, software surreptitiously sold by the North Korean government poses considerable security risks. According to the Treasury, the North Korean government makes money off of a “range of IT services and products abroad” including “website and app development, security software, and biometric identification software that have military and law enforcement applications.” For companies unwittingly buying North Korea-made software, the potential for malware that could give the isolated nation eyes and ears beyond its borders is high, particularly given that the country has already demonstrated its offensive cyber capabilities.

Between that and sanctions against doing business with the country, Mnuchin urges the information technology industry and other businesses to exercise awareness of the ongoing scheme to avoid accidentally contracting with North Korea on tech-related projects.

North Korea skirts US sanctions by secretly selling software around the globe
Source: TechCrunch

Golden Gate Ventures closes new $100M fund for Southeast Asia

Golden Gate Ventures closes new 0M fund for Southeast Asia

Singapore’s Golden Gate Ventures has announced the close of its newest (and third) fund for Southeast Asia at a total of $100 million.

The fund hit a first close in the summer, as TechCrunch reported at the time, and now it has reached full capacity. Seven-year-old Golden Gate said its LPs include existing backers Singapore sovereign fund Temasek, Korea’s Hanwha, Naver — the owner of messaging app Line — and EE Capital. Investors backing the firm for the first time through this fund include Mistletoe — the fund from Taizo Son, brother of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son — Mitsui Fudosan, IDO Investments, CTBC Group, Korea Venture Investment Corporation (KVIC), and Ion Pacific.

Golden Gate was founded by former Silicon Valley-based trio Vinnie Lauria, Jeffrey Paine and Paul Bragiel . It has investments across five markets in Southeast Asia — with a particular focus on Indonesia and Singapore — and that portfolio includes Singapore’s Carousell, automotive marketplace Carro, P2P lending startup Funding Societies, payment enabler Omise and health tech startup AlodokterGolden Gate’s previous fund was $60 million and it closed in 2016.

Some of the firm’s exits so far include the sale of Redmart to Lazada (although not a blockbuster), Priceline’s acquisition of WoomooLine’s acquisition of Temanjalan and the sale of Mapan (formerly Ruma) to Go-Jek. It claims that its first two funds have had distributions of cash (DPI) of 1.56x and 0.13x, and IRRs of 48 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

“When I compare the tech ecosystem of Southeast Asia (SEA) to other markets, it’s really hit an inflection point — annual investment is now measured in the billions. That puts SEA on a global stage with the US, China, and India. Yet there is a youthfulness that reminds me of Silicon Valley circa 2005, shortly before social media and the iPhone took off,” Lauria said in a statement.

A report from Google and Temasek forecasts that Southeast Asia’s digital economy will grow from $50 billion in 2017 to over $200 billion by 2025 as internet penetration continues to grow across the region thanks to increased ownership of smartphones. That opportunity to reach a cumulative population of over 600 million consumers — more of whom are online today than the entire U.S. population — is feeding optimism around startups and tech companies.

Golden Gate isn’t alone in developing a fund to explore those possibilities, there’s plenty of VC activity in the region.

Some of those include Openspace, which was formerly known as NSI Ventures and just closed a $135 million fund, Qualgro, which is raising a $100 million vehicle and Golden Equator, which paired up with Korea Investment Partners on a joint $88 million fund. Temasek-affiliated Vertex closed a $210 million fund last year and that remains a record for Southeast Asia.

Golden Gate also has a dedicated crypto fund, LuneX, which is in the process of raising $10 million.

Golden Gate Ventures closes new 0M fund for Southeast Asia
Source: TechCrunch

Alibaba’s Ant Financial denies stealing from Equifax

Alibaba’s Ant Financial denies stealing from Equifax

Ant Financial has denied claims that it covertly raided Equifax the U.S. credit firm that was hit by a hack last year — to grab information, including code, confidential data and documents to help recruit staff for its own credit scoring service.

The Alibaba affiliate, which is valued at over $100 billion, launched Sesame Credit in China in 2015, and a report this week from The Wall Street Journal suggests that it leaned heavily on Equifax to do so. Ant Financial hired China-born Canadian David Zou from Equifax and the Journal claims that Zou looked up employee information to gauge potential hires and squirreled away confidential documents via his personal email account.

Ant was said to have offered Chinese staff at Equifax lucrative raises — reportedly tripling their salaries — with a focus on those who “provided instructions on specific Equifax information… if they jumped ship.” Apparently, however, only Zou did.

Zou, for this part, denies the claims. He said he looked up Equifax team members to help with work on his project in Canada, and forward information to his email account in order to continue his work when he went home.

Ant Financial went a step further with its own denial — from the firm’s statement:

Ant Financial did not use Equifax intellectual property or trade secrets, including code, algorithms or methodology in the development of our credit rating product. Ant Financial has found absolutely no evidence of Equifax software, data or code having been transferred to our systems.

We did not directly or indirectly encourage potential job applicants to obtain Equifax intellectual property or trade secrets. This would be a violation of Ant Financial’s Code of Business Conduct and we would take immediate action against any employee found engaging in this behavior. Further, we have specific agreements with our third-party recruiters that prohibit them from violating intellectual property rights of any parties. If any recruiter is found to have conducted such activities, we will stop accepting candidate referrals from them and may take legal action against them.

Ant said the Journal’s report is “full of innuendo based on disjointed facts and coincidence in timing.”

Beyond Ant, the report claims Equifax firm was also concerned when an unnamed Chinese firm swapped members of its delegation in the run-up to a meeting, a tactic that is apparently common among potential cases of espionage.

The company had been in contact with the FBI, but ultimately Equifax decided against pushing the matter. The Journal’s report also suggested that federal investigators backed down because they sensed that Equifax didn’t believe it had information that Chinese spies would be keen to get hold of. In addition, it hadn’t lost consumer information. Ultimately, of course, that leaked out when the firm was hacked last year.

“The story not only promotes hostility against a specific company, but also paints an overall narrative that maligns Chinese companies as a whole, and further promotes culturally divisive perceptions of ethnic Chinese people in America,” Ant said in its statement, which is attributed to the company’s general counsel, Leiming Chen.

Alibaba’s Ant Financial denies stealing from Equifax
Source: TechCrunch