Monthly Archives: August 2016

Celebrity Cyber Report – Kobe Bryant, Leslie Jones, Questlove

Kobe Bryant and Jeff Stibel

Kobe Bryant and Jeff Stibel

Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba himself, has jumped from the basketball court to the venture capital game. According to the Wall Street Journal Bryant has teamed up with investor Jeff Stibel to launch a $100 million fund for tech companies. Bryant and Stibel share a history having invested together informally. This history includes deals with 15 companies since 2013. Bryant and Stibel have decided to make the relationship official naming the Los Angeles based VC fund ‘Bryant Stibel’.

The WSJ reported that the $100 million fund is focused on tech, media and data companies and it is expected to last “the next few years.”  Bryant and Stibel are funding  ventures themselves, and “aren’t seeking outside investors yet,” according to the report.

Bryant became skilled using social media to connect with fans directly and told the WSJ that he believes he has a flair for identifying promising entrepreneurs.

“It’s the inner belief that a person has that will to endure no matter what the obstacle may be. It’s that persistence, the entrepreneur doing what he or she truly believes in and truly loves to do,” he said.

Bryant is following in the footsteps of other black athletes who have taken up the tech investment game. Others include Shaquille O’Neal, and current players Carmelo Anthony and Steph Curry.

New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony lauched Melo7 Tech Partners while Curry is involved with content management startup Slyce, among other projects.

See also: Celebrity Cyber Report – Drake & Carmelo Anthony

Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones

Racist hackers are continuing their attacks on actress/comedienne Leslie Jones prompting an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.

Jones, who is currently starring in the remake of the 80’s blockbuster ‘Ghostbusters’ has been subject to continued attacks online since July The attacks were sparked by Breitbart tech blogger Milo Yiannopoulos who incited his Twitter followers to harass Jones on Twitter. The activity resulted in Yiannopoulos getting banned from the social network.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is part of the DHS, is investigating the harrasment. It is unknown why ICE  is taking on the case when last year’s “Fappening” hack was investigated by the FBI.

ICE Spokeswoman Rachel Yong You told Reuters the investigation is ongoing. “In order to protect the integrity of the case, no further details are available at this time.”

Hackers attacked Jones’ website and inserted a picture of the gorilla Harambe on the site and what appeared to be explicit photos of the actress, along with pictures of her driver’s license and a passport. There were also images of Jones with stars like Rihanna, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West.

Jones has stayed off social media since the attack, but many of her famous allies including Monica Lewinsky, Katy Perry and, most notably, Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, have shown support for her on Twitter.

See also: Leslie Jones Target of Racist Trolls

QuestloveQuestlove, band leader for theThe Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is launching a new show on Pandora online radio.

The show titled ‘Questlove Supreme’ will stream weekly for three hours and be produced by the late night band leader.  The show will feature select songs, candid interviews and music history lessons that mimic his class at NYU.

Questlove was also named by Pandora as the company’s first Artist Ambassador and Strategic Advisor.

The first episode of “Questlove Supreme” is scheduled to air on September 7 at 1 p.m. ET and will feature in-depth conversations with actress Maya Rudolph and Grammy Award singer Kimbra.

Financial Aid Coming to Coding Bootcamps

canstockphoto12791210The U.S. Department of Education is partnering with colleges and universities to launch a new experimental initiative to enable low income students to pay for certain coding bootcamps using federal financial aid.

The program is targeted toward low income students through the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships or EQUIP. Qualifying students will be able to apply for federal financial aid to enroll in one of eight coding bootcamps, online courses or employer programs.

Coding bootcamps have emerged as an alternative way for low income and minority students to learn the skills they need to break into the technology industry without attending a traditional college or university. The most daunting obstacle is that these programs can be extremely expensive. According to Course Report, a database of information and reviews on coding bootcamps, these courses cost as much as $11,000 per student. Private financial aid has been available but only now has federal aid become available.

However some questions remain about the legitimacy and overall effectiveness of certain bootcamps.  The programs efforts to hold these coding bootcamps accountable include the requirement that all of these “non-traditional” programs partner with a third-party quality assurance entity.

The objective of this experiment is to test additional ways for poor and minority students to affordably access a technology education that leads to good jobs through programs that “fall outside the current financial aid system” and “promote and measure college access, affordability, and student outcomes,” according to the fact sheet. In the first year, about 1,500 students will be eligible for $5 million in Pell Grants, which can go toward paying for classes.

Programs eligible for the financial aid include;

Now you know.

Breach Brief – Newkirk Solutions, Bon Secours

canstockphoto24985079The largest data breach of 2016 so far has hit a data server operated by Albany, N.Y. based Newkirk Products. Newkirk Products is a third-party vendor providing health insurance ID cards for the health care industry. According to Newkirk the breach was discovered on July 6th but actually occured on May 21st. Newkirk shut down the affected server and is working with forensic investigators to analyze the extent of the breach.

Data belonging to over 3.3 million people across the U.S including 277,000 Blue Cross and Blue Shield customers in North Carolina have been compromised.

According to Newkirk the server did not contain the most sensitive customer information like Social Security numbers, banking or credit card information, medical information or insurance claims. However information found on Blue Cross’s Medicare ID cards includes customer name, mailing address, type of plan, and member and group ID number maybe compromised. In a press release dated August 5th, Newkirk admitted hackers has gained unauthorized access to a server containing names, mailing addresses, plan types, member and group ID numbers, dependent names, primary care providers, dates of birth, premium invoice information, and Medicaid ID numbers. 

Customers affected by the breach will receive letters from Newkirk explaining the attack and offering two years of free identity pretection and restoration service. Blue Cross is instructing customers to check their accounts for suspicious activity. These customers are insured by a dozen organizations, including Blue Cross organizations in Kansas City as well as western and northeastern New York.

Currently there is no evidence that any of the personal information obtained in the attack has been misused. However Newkirk is urging affected customers to monitor their account statements and medical bills for suspicious activity.

For additional information customers are advised to call 855-303-9773 or go to


Bon Secours

logo-bon-secoursBon Secours Health Systems of Richmond, VA is notifying approximately 655,000 of its patients that their information may have been compromised during an incident with a contractor in April. 

R-C Healthcare Management, a company doing work for Bon Secours accidently left files containing patient information accessible via the Internet while attempting to adjust their network settings from April 18th to April 21st. Bon Secours staff members discovered the error on June 14th  and they immediately notified R-C Healthcare to secure the files.

Information possibly compromised in the exposure include files that may have included patient name, health insurer’s name, health insurance identification number, social security number and limited clinical information.

A spokesperson for Bon Secours says 435,000 patients were affected in Virginia and an uknown number in South Carolina and Kentucky.

R-C Healthcare CEO said in a statement, “Upon learning of the incident R-C promptly hired a highly regarded outside forensic investigator. The investigator confirmed the incident has been fully remediated. All R-C customers who might be affected have been notified of the situation and its resolution. “

Bon Secours custmers affected by the data exposure have been sent a letter notifying them of the breach. Any patients with concerns or questions may call toll free at 1-888-522-8917, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday.

See also: The real reason hackers want your medical records.





How the Cloud Improves Internet Security

masergy-transparent-2Convenience, economy and improved workforce productivity are just some of the benefits that are emerging as the result of cloud computing. And, despite some initial concerns regarding the security of cloud computing, discussions about the cloud at many companies are no longer asking whether they should move, but why they have not yet done so. For organizations who are still on the fence about deciding whether or not to move over to the cloud, the good news is that the various cloud computing practices of today can actually help to improve security. We’ve taken a closer look at just some of the security benefits of cloud computing.

Increased Storage Methods

Chances are, if you only have one of something, it will get lost or broken. When it comes to cloud computing, company data can be better protected due to the fact that the cloud provides companies with a multitude of different options for storage. By using not only a range of storage options but also a layered approach which includes critical elements such as encryption, strong access controls, and security intelligence, data stored in the cloud can be more secure than any other space. There are also a range of cloud computing security tools which you can use to add an extra layer of protection, such as the MPLS Network and security products from Masergy.

Reduction in Human Error

As people, we can all make mistakes, whether it be due to misunderstanding, tiredness, or getting something mixed up after being overloaded with work. However, computers don’t make these mistakes, and there’s no chance of them being tired, overworked or having a bad day. All of this means that security in the cloud is even more enhanced. Since cloud computing provides better levels of security, even a laptop or other device which is lost, stolen or damaged becomes less compromising. According to reports, laptops are lost more often than you may realize – each year, a huge 800,000 laptops are left in airports around the world. One of the biggest security benefits of cloud computing for companies is that even if devices are lost, data can still be accessed in the cloud.

Stricter Standards

When you use cloud computing, you can be assured that security in the cloud is held to higher and stricter standards than all other types of security. A multi-billion-dollar industry, a huge part of cloud computing’s success is based on cloud vendors’ ability to keep their customers’ data safe. Due to this, the security standards which they must adhere to are high. When using cloud computing and solutions, security is actually increased due to the strict International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards which all cloud computing providers must adhere to, along with other, regular security audits.

Initially, there were many concerns about the security of cloud computing. But, with more and more businesses moving over to the cloud, using cloud computing and solutions for your company or personal data storage could actually be the safest option.

By Bill Clark

Bill is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about culture and the arts, however will write about anything that piques his interest including business, travel and lifestyle.  @BilboClark01

App of the Week – mRelief

mReliefWhy, in the richest country on earth, are people still going hungry? According to Feeding America 25 – 40 percent of food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be eaten. This food is often thrown out as leftovers or destroyed because it is simply not pretty enough for the grocery store.  That is why mRelief is the App of the Week.

First of all mRelief is not exactly an app. It is a new web and text messaging tool for low-income families. The service helps low income families to easily locate where and when they can receive free or discounted meals this summer for their children. According to mRelief 22 million children in the U.S. receive free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches during the school year. But during the summer, four out of five of those same children can no longer count on a meal every day. So mRelief helps families not only find where to get free or reduced price meals but also help them locate food banks and determine their eligibility for food and nutrition assistance programs even if you don’t have children.

According to USDA statistics $11 billion in food stamps went unclaimed simply because people who are eligible either didn’t know or didn’t have access to applications. mRelief provides low-income people with the help they need to figure out if they qualify for programs like food stamps and much-needed social services.

mRelief was launched in September 2014 and has helped 30,000 families locate the social services they qualify for. mRelief is looking to the future with plans to help people determine the documents they need as well as submitting those documents.

The mRelief website is fairly straight forward. All the user needs to do is enter their zip code and the type of assistance they need. But the user can also find help with a variety of other needs that include;

  • Cash
  • Child Wellness
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Veterans assistance

Those without access to the internet can text their zip code to 1-844-877-6111. mRelief is currently available in 42 states.


Celebrity Cyber Report – Rihanna Bans Pokemon at Her Concerts.



Seems everyone is going nuts for Pokemon. The game has become an worldwide phenomenon and people are basically losing their minds over the game.  Some people have been robbed and even killed playing Pokemon Go. The craze has gotten so bad that a Pittsburgh hospital has contacted the makers of the game to ask that all of its locations be removed from the app.  In Washington D.C. National Mall and Memorial Parks officials have posted on Facebook reminding players of the wildly popular new game to be respectful of just where they’re hunting Pokemon.

But singer Rihanna wants no part of it especially at her concerts. Recently Rihanna brought her ‘ANTI’ world tour to Lille, France. There she took the opportunity during her sold out concert to make sure fans were focused on her. “I don’t want to see you texting your boyfriends and your girlfriends,” said the star. “I don’t want to see you catching any Pokémons up in this bitch!”

The message got through as thousand of smart phones quickly disappeared from site.

Obama Issues Cyber Response Directive


President Obama consults with special assistant Lisa Monaco (White House Photo)

President Obama has sealed his legacy as not only America’s first African-American president but also America’s first cyber president. No president before has overseen the development of internet initiatives and cyber warfare capabilities as President Obama.

To add to that legacy President Obama has issued a new Presidential Policy Directive; the United States Cyber Incident Coordination Directive. Like many other of his policies this too has come under scrutiny. Experts in the field disagree on whether the policy is workable in the event of a large scale cyber attack. On the other hand others believe that the policy is right on target.

Announced on July 26th the presidential directive assigns specific roles to the FBI, DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The agencies are directed to establish three lines of action that include threat response, asset response and intelligence support activities.

The policy places the FBI in charge of coordinating the immediate response to a terror related cyber event. DHS will lead the asset response action by providing technical assistance, locating the cyber attacker, protecting assets and recovering from the attack. Intelligence and analysis responsibilities will fall to the ODNI who will perform an analysis of the threat and identify opportunities to mitigate and disrupt it.

Some cyber experts believe that the new policy is “overly complicated” and has “too many moving parts.”  These experts believe the policy requires new and different parts of the federal government to work together efficiently in a cyber crises without having been tested.

Phil Reitinger is CEO of Global Cyber Alliance and a former DHS deputy undersecretary for the  for cyber security.  Reitinger does not believe the complexity of the directive will hinder its effectiveness.   “I don’t think it’s a huge lift for implementation. I suspect this is the way the government already works,” says Reitinger. “I think it’s more a likely description of the way things now generally work and ought to work as opposed to a notional thing to work toward.”

Lisa Monaco assistant to the president for homeland security and terrorism spoke at a cyber security conference on the day the directive was issued. “Our new policy acknowledges that when businesses and federal agencies are the victim of or experience a significant cyber incident, one of the most important considerations is likely to be restoring operations and getting back online. Our policy makes clear that we will coordinate with the victim to minimize any interference between their incident response and our own.”

Even though the president’s directive is design to integrate both private and federal response to a cyber attack many in the private sector feel that it leaves them out.

Internet Security Alliance chief executive Larry Clinton is happy about federal efforts to clarify its responsibilities in the event of a major cyber event. “However, defining these roles and responsibilities on a government-only basis, as this appears to have done, is bad policy making and counter to the administration’s own oft stated views on the need for government to work with the private sector,” he says. “As far as I can tell, there has been little or no private sector involvement in the development of this new system. Clinton went on to say, “Every Cyber Storm (a combined cyber exercises with industry and government) action report has stressed the need to increase coordination between the public and private sectors. This program seems to move in the opposite direction.” 

See also:

Obama; First Cyber President

President Obama Launches Cyber Offensive, Part 2, Part 3

Obama Launches ConnectedHome Initiative