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Inside Facebook's suicide algorithm: Here's how the company uses artificial intelligence to predict your mental state from your posts

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 18:19

  • Facebook is scanning nearly every post on the platform in an attempt to assess suicide risk.
  • Facebook passes the information along to law enforcement for wellness checks.
  • Privacy experts say Facebook's failure to get affirmative consent from users for the program presents privacy risks that could lead to exposure or worse.

In March 2017, Facebook launched an ambitious project to prevent suicide with artificial intelligence.

Following a string of suicides that were live-streamed on the platform, the effort to use an algorithm to detect signs of potential self-harm sought to proactively address a serious problem.

But over a year later, following a wave of privacy scandals that brought Facebook's data-use into question, the idea of Facebook creating and storing actionable mental health data without user-consent has numerous privacy experts worried about whether Facebook can be trusted to make and store inferences about the most intimate details of our minds.

Facebook is creating new health information about users, but it isn't held to the same privacy standard as healthcare providers

The algorithm touches nearly every post on Facebook, rating each piece of content on a scale from zero to one, with one expressing the highest likelihood of "imminent harm," according to a Facebook representative. 

That data creation process alone raises concern for Natasha Duarte, a policy analyst at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

"I think this should be considered sensitive health information," she said. "Anyone who is collecting this type of information or who is making these types of inferences about people should be considering it as sensitive health information and treating it really sensitively as such."

Data protection laws that govern health information in the US currently don't apply to the data that is created by Facebook's suicide prevention algorithm, according to Duarte. In the US, information about a person's health is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which mandates specific privacy protections, including encryption and sharing restrictions, when handling health records. But these rules only apply to organizations providing healthcare services such as hospitals and insurance companies.

Companies such as Facebook that are making inferences about a person's health from non-medical data sources are not subject to the same privacy requirements, and according to Facebook, they know as much and do not classify the information they make as sensitive health information.

Facebook hasn't been transparent about the privacy protocols surrounding the data around suicide that it creates. A Facebook representative told Business Insider that suicide risk scores that are too low to merit review or escalation are stored for 30 days before being deleted, but Facebook did not respond when asked how long and in what form data about higher suicide risk scores and subsequent interventions are stored.

Facebook would not elaborate on why data was being kept if no escalation was made. 

Could Facebook's next big data breach include your mental health data?

The risks of storing such sensitive information is high without the proper protection and foresight, according to privacy experts. 

The clearest risk is the information's susceptibility to a data breach.

"It’s not a question of if they get hacked, it’s a question of when," said Matthew Erickson of the consumer privacy group the Digital Privacy Alliance. 

In September, Facebook revealed that a large-scale data breach had exposed the profiles of around 30 million people. For 400,000 of those, posts and photos were left open. Facebook would not comment on whether or not data from its suicide prevention algorithm had ever been the subject of a data breach.

Following the public airing of data from the hack of married dating site Ashley Madison, the risk of holding such sensitive information is clear, according to Erickson: "Will someone be able to Google your mental health information from Facebook the next time you go for a job interview?"

Dr. Dan Reidenberg, a nationally recognized suicide prevention expert who helped Facebook launch its suicide prevention program, acknowledged the risks of holding and creating such data, saying, "pick a company that hasn’t had a data breach anymore."

But Reidenberg said the danger lies more in stigma against mental health issues. Reidenberg argues that discrimination against mental illness is barred by the Americans with Disabilities Act, making the worst potential outcomes addressable in court.

Who gets to see mental health information at Facebook

Once a post is flagged for potential suicide risk, it's sent to Facebook's team of content moderators. Facebook would not go into specifics on the training content moderators receive around suicide but insist that they are trained to accurately screen posts for potential suicide risk.

In a Wall Street Journal review of Facebook's thousands of content moderators in 2017, they were described as mostly contract employees who experienced high turnover and little training on how to cope with disturbing content. Facebook says that the initial content moderation team receives training on "content that is potentially admissive to Suicide, self-mutilation & eating disorders" and "identification of potential credible/imminent suicide threat" that has been developed by suicide experts. 

Facebook said that during this initial stage of review, names are not attached to the posts that are reviewed, but Duarte said that de-identification of social media posts can be difficult to achieve.

"It’s really hard to effectively de-identify peoples' posts, there can be a lot of context in a message that people post on social media that reveals who there are even if their name isn't attached to it," he said.

If a post is flagged by an initial reviewer as containing information about a potential imminent risk, it is escalated to a team with more rapid response experience, according to Facebook, which said the specialized employees have backgrounds ranging from law enforcement to rape and suicide hotlines.

These more experienced employees have more access to information on the person whose post they're reviewing.

"I have encouraged Facebook to actually look at their profiles to look at a lot of different things around it to see if they can put it in context," Reidenberg said, insisting that adding context is one of the only ways to currently determine risk with accuracy at the moment. "The only way to get that is if we actually look at some of their history, and we look at some of their activities."

Sometimes police get involved

Once reviewed, two outreach actions can take place. Reviewers can either send the user suicide resource information or contact emergency responders. 

"In the last year, we've helped first responders quickly reach around 3,500 people globally who needed help," wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post on the initiative.

Duarte says Facebook's surrender of user information to police represents the most critical privacy risk of the program.

"The biggest risk in my mind is a false positive that leads to unnecessary law enforcement contact," he said

Facebook has pointed out numerous successful interventions from its partnership with law enforcement, but in a recent report from The New York Times, one incident documented by police resulted in intervention with someone who said they weren't suicidal. The police took the person to a hospital for a mental health evaluation anyway. In another instance, police released personal information about person flagged for suicide risk by Facebook to The New York Times.

Why Facebook's suicide algorithm is banned in the EU

Facebook uses the suicide algorithm to scan posts in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Arabic, but they don't scan posts in the European Union. 

The prospect of using the algorithm in the EU was halted because of the area's special privacy protections under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires users give websites specific consent to collective sensitive information such as that pertaining to someone's mental health. 

In the US, Facebook views its program as a matter of responsibility. 

Reidenberg described the sacrifice of privacy as one that medical professionals routinely face.

"Health professionals make a critical professional decision if they're at risk and then they will initiate active rescue," Reidenberg said. "The technology companies, Facebook included, are no different than that they have to determine whether or not to activate law enforcement to save someone."

But Duarte said a critical difference exists between emergency professionals and tech companies.

"It's one of the big gaps that we have in privacy protections in the US, that sector by sector there's a lot of health information or pseudo health information that falls under the auspices of companies that aren't covered by HIPAA and there's also the issue information that is facially health information but is used to make inferences or health determinations that is currently not being treated with the sensitivity that we'd want for health information."

Privacy experts agreed that a better version of Facebook's program would require users to affirmatively opt-in, or at least provide a way for users to opt out of the program, but currently neither of those options are available.

Emily Cain, a Facebook policy communications representative, told INSIDER, "By using Facebook, you are opting into having your posts, comments, and videos (including FB Live) scanned for possible suicide risk."

Experts agree that the suicide algorithm has potential for good

Most experts in privacy and public health spoken to for this story agreed that Facebook's algorithm has the potential for good.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 800,000 people commit suicide every year, disproportionately affecting teens and vulnerable populations like LGBT and indigenous peoples.

Facebook said that in their calculation, the risk of invasion of privacy is worth it.

"When it comes to suicide prevention efforts, we strive to balance people's privacy and their safety," the company said in a statement. "While our efforts are not perfect, we have decided to err on the side of providing people who need help with resources as soon as possible. And we understand this is a sensitive issue so we have a number of privacy protections in place."

Kyle McGregor, Director of New York University School of Medicine's department of Pediatric Mental Health Ethics, agreed with the calculation, saying "suicidality in teens especially is a fixable problem and we as adults have every responsibility to make sure that kids can get over the hump of this prime developmental period and go onto live happy, healthy lives. If we have the possibility to prevent one or two more suicides accurately and effectively, that's worth it."

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Have a tip? Email Benjamin Goggin at bgoggin@businessinsider.com or DM him on Twitter @BenjaminGoggin.

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CES 2019 Quick Byte: Ryzen 7 3750H inside the ASUS FX505DY TUF Gaming with 120 Hz Freesync

AnandTech - Ne, 2019-01-06 18:10

One of AMD's announcements today involved its new 35W 2nd Generation Ryzen Mobile processors, and part of that announcement showed one of the first notebooks that will incorporate these parts: the ASUS FX505DY TUF Gaming. This gaming notebook has the choice of the Ryzen 7 3750H or the Ryzen 5 3550H, which both have four cores, eight threads, and turbo up to 4.0 GHz and 3.7 GHz respectively. This will be paired with a discrete graphics card, the Radeon RX 560X, which has 4GB of GDDR5 RAM,

One of the key features will also be the display, with ASUS offering a 15.6-inch IPS 1080p display running at 120Hz with FreeSync 2 enabled. Cheaper models will have a 60Hz 1080 display. Memory will be offered up to 32GB of DDR4-2400, and storage will be a combination of NVMe and SATA options. The battery will come in at 48 Wh, with a total system weight just over 4 lbs.

These processors also support four displays, so depending on the exact configuration these laptops will be able to drive a couple of external monitors. ASUS states it will have at least a HDMI 2.0 output, and the whole device will be rated to MIL-STD-810, a common industry durability metric but which requires extra planning to achieve,

We expect more details on the FX505DY this week, so stay tuned.

Quick Bytes are shortened news pieces about topics mentioned at large press events. Because sometimes smaller announcements get buried at a keynote presentation because a dozen key points are mentioned in one article, and our Quick Bytes series separates out a few topics for targeted discussion. You can read the full article here.

HP at CES 2019: OMEN X Emperium 65-Inch 144Hz G-Sync HDR Monitor with Soundbar

AnandTech - Ne, 2019-01-06 18:03

Early last year NVIDIA and its partners announced the Big Format Gaming Display (BFGD) initiative, with the goal to bring to market TV-sized 4K gaming monitors with a high variable refresh rate, high-end HDR, and SHIELD TV functionality. This year BFGDs will be released at last. Just days before CES kicks off, HP introduced its OMEN X Emperium 65, one of the world’s first big format gaming displays, and one that also comes equipped with a 120 W soundbar. The product will be available next month, but its price will be akin to its size: large.

The HP OMEN X Emperium 65 display uses a 64.5-inch 8-bit AMVA panel featuring a 3840×2160 resolution, 750 – 1000 nits brightness (typical/HDR), a 3200:1 – 4000:1 contrast ratio (minimum/typical), 178° viewing angles, a 120 - 144 Hz refresh rate (normal/overclocked), and a 4 ms GtG response time with overdrive enabled. Just like other G-Sync HDR monitors released to date, this one is equipped with a 384-zone full direct-array backlight to offer a finer-grained HDR experience, and enhanced with quantum dots to guarantee precise reproduction of 95% of the DCI-P3 color space.

Besides its dimensions and G-Sync HDR display tech, one of the key selling points of the OMEN X Emperium 65 is bundled OMEN X Emperium Soundbar designed with gaming in mind. The soundbar is rated for 120 W of output power, and it sports three stereo amps and Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) technology to avoid the need for a subwoofer. The soundbar can work in two modes: one tuned for gaming and another tuned for general entertainment.

Speaking of entertainment, it is necessary to note that the OMEN X Emperium 65 also comes with built-in SHIELD TV console (Tegra X1, etc.) along with 802.11ac Wi-Fi as well as GbE connectivity. The integrated SHIELD TV allows the TV to directly to play some SHIELD TV/Android games, though in practice it's more likely to be used for various media streaming services (Amazon Video, Netflix, etc.). The monitor is VESA DisplayHDR 1000-certified, so it meets the highest standards for a PC HDR monitor. However HP hasn't clarified what HDR transport formats the display supports; while HDR10 is going to be a given, we're curious whether the high-end display will also support Dolby Vision. Meanwhile, since we are talking about a TV-sized gaming display, it obviously has a rather low pixel density of around 68 PPI, which will make it a rather poor choice for work and its main (if not sole) purposes will be games and entertainment.

Moving on to connectivity. The OMEN X Emperium 65 has a DisplayPort 1.4 input and three HDMI 2.0b inputs that support HDMI ARC, which is enough to connect a PC, a couple of game consoles, and a Blu-ray player. When it comes to audio, it has a line out and an S/PDIF out. In addition, the monitor has a dual-port USB 3.0 hub. One interesting feature that the display has is a special sensors that detects user's hand and lights up the ports. Another cool feature is an adjustable RGB lighting on the back.

Specifications of the OMEN X Emperium 65   4JF30AA#ABA Panel 64.5" AMVA Native Resolution 3840 × 2160 Maximum Refresh Rate Normal: 120 Hz
Overclocked: 144 Hz Response Time 4 ms with overdrive Brightness Typical: 750 cd/m²
HDR: 1000 cd/m² Contrast Minimum: 3200:1
Typical: 4000:1 Viewing Angles 178°/178° horizontal/vertical Pixel Pitch 0.372 mm² Pixel Density 68 ppi Display Colors ? Color Gamut Support DCI-P3: 95% Media Playback Capabilities Built-in NVIDIA SHIELD TV game console Inputs 1 × DisplayPort 1.4
3 × HDMI 2.0a
1x USB-B
HDCP 2.2 USB Hub 2-port USB 3.0 Audio Output power: 120W
Impedence: 4 Ohms
Frequency range: 40 - 20k Hz
Sensitivity: 91 dB @ 1K Hz at 1m full scale volume
Magnet Materials: Ferrite
Diaphragm: Aluminum

Line out: 1
S-PDIF out: 1
HDMI ARC: 1 Power Idle 0.5 W Typical ? Peak ? Launch Price $4,999

The monstrous OMEN X Emperium 65 is set to hit retail in late February, assuming everything goes well and the performance of the device satisfies HP and NVIDIA. However it won't be cheap: with a list price of $4,999, this is a rather unprecedented MSRP for a consumer monitor, and for that matter higher than a lot of high-end TVs.

Related Reading:

Source: HP

HP at CES 2019: HP Spectre x360 15 Gets AMOLED Display

AnandTech - Ne, 2019-01-06 18:02

HP plans to release a revamped version of its current-generation Spectre x360 15 convertible laptop with a 15.6-inch AMOLED display this year, the company has revealed ahead of CES. The inclusion of an OLED display makes this a very notable occurrence, as the the laptop will be the latest and largest of a small handful of devices released over the past few years to get such a display.

It goes without saying that the display is among the key hardware components in any laptop, and plays a significant part in determining the overall experience with the device. By using an AMOLED panel instead of a traditional high-quality IPS-based one, HP's top-of-the-range Spectre x360 15 will be able to offer very bright and accurate colors (covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space), a very high contrast ratio (100,000:1), wide horizontal viewing angles, deep blacks, fast response time (think 0.1 ms) as well as everything good that the AMOLED technology is known for. The catch, of course, is that OLED traditionally comes with some downsides as well (e.g., off-axis color shifting, ghosting, burn-in, etc.), but it remains to be seen how this will play out for the Spectre x360 15.

HP says that the display will support HDR, but does not specify whether it means HDR10 or Dolby Vision spec. The company also isn't disclosing the resolution of the screen it plans to use, so it remains to be seen whether it has managed to procure an Ultra-HD (3840×2160) panel, had to stick to a QHD (2560×1440) one, or used something more custom. The only thing we do know is that the laptop with an AMOLED monitor has the same bezels as the machine with an IPS LCD, which is logical as both screens feature the same 15.6-inch diagonal size (see photos of AMOLED and IPS versions below).

Featuring an ultra-thin chassis with golden accents and powered by Intel’s quad-core Whiske Lake-U processors as well as NVIDIA’s discrete GeForce GTX GPUs, current-gen HP’s Spectre x360 15 convertible laptops are already ranked among the top-performing thin-and-light 15.6-inch notebooks. By adding an AMOLED screen to the stylish enclosure with high-performance components, HP makes its flagship 15.6-inch laptop somewhat more impressive, but only a practical analysis of the product will reveal how good (or bad) HP's AMOLED display actually is.

HP plans to start selling its AMOLED display-equipped Spectre x360 15 this March. The company says that it will disclose exact specifications and prices closer to the actual launch, but it is reasonable to expect that AMOLED-equipped SKUs will come at a premium, and will likely be exclusively paired with other high-end components (CPU, GPU, SSD, Wi-Fi) to match.

HP is not the first company to use an OLED-type screen with mobile PCs. Lenovo launched ThinkPad X1 Yoga with an OLED monitor three years ago and we reviewed one back then. We did notice off-axis color shifting and ghosting on that display and Lenovo has not offered OLED-based mobile PCs since then. Obviously, technologies always evolve, so it will be interesting to see if and how HP's 15.6-inch AMOLED display has improved on matters since then.

Related Reading:

Source: HP

HP at CES 2019: OMEN 15 Laptop Gets 240 Hz Monitor, New NVIDIA GPU, 802.11ax

AnandTech - Ne, 2019-01-06 18:01

HP today announces plans to upgrade its OMEN 15 gaming laptops with NVIDIA’s next-generation GeForce GPUs, a display panel featuring a 240 Hz refresh rate, and a new WiFi 6 (802.11ax) controller. Planning to release the updated models in a piecemeal fashion, in February the company will release OMEN 15 notebooks powered by NVIDIA’s new GeForce graphics boards. Then in July the manufacturer will start adding the rather unique display panels as well as the new Wi-Fi controller to the OMEN 15 family.

The OMEN 15 by HP, as the company prefers to officially call this product, is a ‘classic’ 15.6-inch gaming laptop that comes in relatively thick 2.48 cm (0.98 inch) chassis and weighs 2.38 kg (5.26 lb). The enclosure enables HP to install a fairly sophisticated dual-fan cooling systems with large radiators and four thick heat pipes capable of dissipating well over 100 W of heat. The cooler allows HP to install processors as high as Intel’s six-core Core i7-8750H processor (45 W) and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU (80 W – 90 W), which is what's features in the company's current OMEN 15 machines.

Other specs of today's OMEN 15 system are in-line with contemporary high-end laptops: up to 32 GB of DDR4-2667, a hybrid storage subsystem (SSD + HDD), Thunderbolt 3, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and so on. Being aimed at enthusiasts, OMEN 15 offers a single-panel access to the compartment where SO-DIMMs, M.2 SSD, and HDD are located for easier upgrades.


The exact same chassis will be used for the upcoming OMEN 15 machines. First up, in February HP will start to offer NVIDIA’s hereto-unannounced next-generation GeForce mobile GPUs. The machines will otherwise use the same parts as those available today, but will provide better graphics performance and modern features thanks to the the next-generation graphics processors based on NVIDIA’s latest architecture.

Meanwhile, starting in July, HP will offer an optional Full-HD TN display panel featuring a 240 Hz refresh rate and a 4 ms response time, improving upon the 144 Hz LCDs available today. Coupled with NVIDIA’s next-gen GeForce with Max-Q design, these new OMEN 15 laptops will provide experience akin to that on modern gaming desktops with monitors aimed at hardcore/professional gamers. Besides new display panels, the refreshed OMEN 15 will also be offered with 802.11ax or Gigabit-class 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapters, but HP isn't naming the hardware vendor(s) they're using at this time.

To sum up, HP has plans to significantly upgrade its OMEN 15 gaming laptops in the coming months. OMEN 15 machines with NVIDIA's next-gen GPUs will start at $1,370, while prices for the revised models to be released in July have yet to be announced.

General Specifications of HP's 2019 OMEN 15   OMEN Laptop 15-dc1030nr Display Size 15.6" Type  IPS Resolution 1920×1080 Brightness ? cd/m² Color Gamut ? Refresh Rate 60 Hz CPU Intel Core i7-8750H - 6C/12T, 2.2 - 4.1 GHz, 9 MB cache, 45 W Graphics Integrated UHD Graphics 620 (24 EUs) Discrete NVIDIA's next-generation GeForce for notebooks RAM 16 GB dual-channel DDR4-2667 Storage Single Drive ? Dual Drive 128 GB M.2 SSD + 1 TB 7200 RPM HDD Card Reader SD card reader Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Realtek 802.11b/g/n/ac (2x2 with MU-MIMO) Bluetooth 4.2 Thunderbolt 1 × USB Type-C TB3 port USB 3 × USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A Display Outputs 1 × Mini DisplayPort 1.3
1 × HDMI 2.0 GbE Yes Webcam Front-facing HP Wide Vision HD Webcam Other I/O Microphone, stereo speakers, TRRS audio jack, trackpad, etc. Battery Default 70 Wh Dimensions Thickness 24.89 mm | 0.98 inch Width 35.99 cm | 14.17 inch Depth 26.67 cm | 10.5 inch Weight (average) 2.38 kilograms | 5.31 lbs Operating System Windows 10

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Source: HP

AMD at CES 2019: Ryzen Mobile 3000-Series Launched, 2nd Gen Mobile at 15W and 35W, and Chromebooks

AnandTech - Ne, 2019-01-06 18:00

This year at CES, we have a series of announcements from AMD before the company's keynote presentation. Addressing the company's mobile offerings, AMD is launching the first parts of the Ryzen 3000-series of processors, focused around the Ryzen Mobile 2nd Gen family for both the general 15W market as well as the high-performance 35W market. On top of this, AMD is also making an announcement regarding how it will address graphics drivers for these platforms, and then some icing on the cake comes from AMD's venture into Chromebooks.

The top 7 shows on Netflix and other streaming services this week

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 17:45

  • Every week, Parrot Analytics provides Business Insider the most in-demand TV shows on streaming services.
  • This week includes DC Universe's "Titans" and Netflix's "Stranger Things."

Netflix announced on New Year's Day that "Stranger Things" will return on July 4, pushing up audience interest. 

Every week, Parrot Analytics provides Business Insider with a list of the seven most "in-demand" TV shows on streaming services. The data is based on "demand expressions," the globally standardized TV demand measurement unit from Parrot Analytics. Audience demand reflects the desire, engagement, and viewership weighted by importance, so a stream or download is a higher expression of demand than a "like" or comment on social media.

Below are this week's seven most popular shows on Netflix and other streaming services:

SEE ALSO: Disney won't make big-budget movies like 'Star Wars' for its Netflix competitor

7. "Voltron: Legendary Defender" (Netflix)

Average demand expressions:  21,834,399 

Description: "In an all-new series, five unlikely heroes and their flying robot lions unite to form the megapowerfulVoltron and defend the universe from evil."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 8): N/A

What critics said: "This feels like a series that could have lasted several more seasons, at least. But if it has to end now, at least it's going out in top form."  — Jesse Schedeen, IGN

Season 8 premiered on Netflix December 14.

6. "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" (Netflix)

Average demand expressions:  25,102,990 

Description: "Magic and mischief collide as half-human, half-witch Sabrina navigates between two worlds: mortal teen life and her family's legacy, the Church of Night."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 1): 90%

What critics said: "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is great television for the seriousness with which it engages in the subtext of its horror trappings. Curses, demons, spirits, and hauntings-they're supernatural analogues that largely stem from old injustices." — Joshua Rivera, GQ

Season 1 premiered on Netflix October 26.

5. "Marvel's Daredevil" (Netflix)

Average demand expressions: 25,209,685 

Description: "Blinded as a young boy, Matt Murdock fights injustice by day as a lawyer and by night as the Super Hero Daredevil in Hell's Kitchen, New York City."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 3): 96%

What critics said: "Every Netflix MCU show has sought to imitate the first season of Daredevil in some way, with decidedly mixed results. Season 3 shows that Daredevil still does Daredevil best." — Samantha Nelson, The Verge

Season 3 premiered on Netflix October 19. The show was recently canceled.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The biggest healthcare investor conference starts on Monday — here are the top 5 areas we're keeping an eye on

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 16:32

Starting Monday, thousands of pharmaceutical industry executives, investors, bankers, and analysts will swarm into San Francisco for the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Now in its 37th year, the conference has ballooned from a small event with 150 attendees that was essentially the "birth of biotech," to an event attended by everyone from the biggest pharma company to the smallest biotech. JPMorgan said more than 485 companies are scheduled to present this year.

It's a spot for these companies to meet with investors and each other, and can be the starting point for takeovers or other deals. 

It's also a place where more deals — maybe even on the scale of Thursday's $74 billion merger between Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene — could get announced. 

From confronting the threat of technology giants' healthcare advances to covering the cost of one-time treatments, here are some of the key topics we'll be asking about this week. 

We'll be sending out our best stories from the week in Dispensed, our weekly dispatch of pharma, biotech, and healthcare news. Sign up here.

Who’s next to merge?

2018 saw a number of mega-deals, including the $77 billion Takeda-Shire merger. Now with the BMS-Celgene deal in place, the healthcare industry is wondering who might be next to pair up.

"With large caps, generally, falling under pressure the last few years, one has to acknowledge the potential for additional consolidation of profitable companies," Baird Equity Research biotech analyst Brian Skorney wrote in a note Thursday. 

Alternatively, Celgene could find another dance partner in a counter-bid.

Alethia Young, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald remarked in a note Thursday that it's possible others go in to big on Celgene — specifically Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. That's in large part because of the two companies focus on hematology. Joining up with either of those two companies could create more synergies than the company has with BMS. 

How will we pay for seven-figure drugs? What about other costly treatments?

The issue of paying for medications is now a constant conversation for the drug industry, with prices continuing to go up even after political pressure in 2018. We'll definitely be keeping an eye on pharma's 2019 plans.

But a new wrinkle that's quickly coming into focus: How are we going to pay for one-time treatments?

Already, treatments like cell therapy for cancer treatments and a gene therapy for a hereditary form of blindness have tested the waters.

But more are in the works. That includes Novartis' gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare genetic condition that affects muscle movement in children and is the leading genetic cause of mortality in infants that could be approved in the US by as early as May 2019. When that happens, Novartis said it would be cost-effective at a price of between $4-5 million

It might take some new payment arrangements to get health insurers on board to cover the cost of treatment, such as paying in installments over a set amount of time. What that looks like and who takes the lead on that will be a big question that should get answered in 2019. 

How has the pharma-payer power dynamic shifted?

In 2018, two massive healthcare deals closed, redrawing the lines around what defines a healthcare company: 

The health insurer Cigna combined with Express Scripts, which manages pharmacy benefits. And CVS Health, a big pharmacy chain that also owns a drug benefits business, acquired the health insurer Aetna.

We'll find out a lot more this year about the strategies of the combined companies. Both new firms will be looking for places to cut costs, as well as seeking to gain more control over how patients access healthcare. It's happening at a time when new medications are getting approved that challenge the way we pay for treatments.

It remains to be seen how the two newly formed healthcare companies wield their new negotiating power, and how drugmakers will respond to that increased pressure. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'This isn't a done deal': New York City Council speaker Corey Johnson lays out his plan to avoid being 'played' by Amazon

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 16:05

  • Amazon has chosen a site in Long Island City, Queens, for half of its HQ2 project.
  • The decision, announced in November, immediately became controversial among some New York politicians. In December, the New York City Council held a contentious hearing with Amazon, where members asked, among other things, why it was left out of discussions. 
  • In an interview with Business Insider, the council's speaker, Corey Johnson, laid out his plan to stop Amazon from coming to town — or to at least work with the company to be a "better corporate citizen."

It's likely that Amazon didn't get the response it expected in New York City.

After Amazon announced that part of its HQ2 project would land on a parcel of waterfront property in Long Island City, Queens, politicians were quick to condemn both the process for the agreement, which netted over $3 billion in potential tax breaks, and its potential implications.

Amazon received criticism from elected officials in the immediate aftermath of the decision's announcement, including from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, state Sen. Michael Gianaris, and New York City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer.

"We got played," the council's speaker, Corey Johnson, said during a contentious council hearing in December, where Amazon was forced to defend itself against questions from members for hours. Topics ranged from the HQ2 deal's secrecy to Amazon's involvement with ICE photo recognition software.

Holly Sullivan, the Amazon executive who led the search for HQ2, and Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy, were in attendance and responding to questions.

Read more: 'I was not elected to be a cheerleader for Amazon': New York officials rail against Amazon's HQ2 deal amid shouts of protesters in a wild hearing

"I think [the Amazon executives] were surprised. I think they thought they were going to be welcomed with open arms," Johnson said in a late December interview with Business Insider. "I think they thought, 'Oh my God, when this is announced it's going to be, you know, like a birthday party.'"

Instead, they were largely met with skepticism.

"25,000 jobs doesn't impact our local economy here in the same way it impacts a local economy, say, in Pittsburgh or in Scranton or in Crystal City," Johnson said.

It's not over until it's over

Johnson has a warning for Amazon and its elected-official allies: this fight isn't over yet.

"I don't think anyone should assume that this is a fait accompli, and that this is a done deal," Johnson said. "This is the beginning of a process where the public and the City Council and other elected officials are going to continue to seek answers and understand whether or not this is a good deal for New York City, or if we got played."

Several more hearings are scheduled: one each in the months of January, February, and March. The final one will be a public hearing.

"I assume hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people will come out wanting to have their voice heard, since the public was cut out of this," Johnson said.

The hearings are in advance of a vote by the New York State Public Authorities Control Board, which has final say over the "approval of the financing and construction of any project proposed by state public benefit corporations," according to state law. 

The board is composed of five members, with representatives from the governor and legislative majorities of both the state assembly and the state senate. Representatives selected by the speaker of the assembly, the senate majority leader, and the governor all have veto power on the board.

There is precedent for the board rejecting plans, cancelling large, ambitious projects or throwing their future into great uncertainty. In 2005, the board rejected a $2.2 billion plan spearheaded by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg for a redevelopment that would have included a stadium on Manhattan's West Side to be used by the New York Jets and, possibly, for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Johnson anticipates a vote on Amazon's HQ2 project in the spring, though the board has not said when it plans to hold it. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's appointee on the board, Robert F. Mujica Jr., told the New York Times in November that a vote would not necessarily be held on the $500 million state grant itself, though it's unclear whether the board is able to vote piecemeal on parts of the plan.

Johnson is more confident, however.

"This still has to go through that process, which means that we have to continue to ask questions before the Public Authorities Control Board meets and makes a determination," Johnson said.

Stopping Amazon — or not

Johnson also said he doesn't necessarily want to stop the Amazon deal from going through, if Amazon would be willing to make some concessions.

"If Amazon would agree to labor peace agreements, if Amazon would agree to investing in our infrastructure, our subways, if Amazon would agree to treating their employees a certain way, if Amazon wanted to be a good corporate citizen in New York City," Johnson said, he and other critics would be more amenable to the HQ2 project.

He said the currently announced plans, which include a school and its payments in lieu of taxes going to an infrastructure fund, don't cut it.

"Amazon [is] throwing us crumbs and expecting us to have a Thanksgiving feast," Johnson said.

In the meantime, Johnson continues to be critical of Amazon and its plans for the city. Those plans include a helipad for the proposed headquarters, which he called the "putrid rotten cherry on top of a Sundae with old ice cream that's gone bad."

Read more: 'Do you realize how out of touch that seems?': NYC lawmakers rail against Amazon for HQ2 helipad demand in heated hearing

Johnson said he doesn't see the anger subsiding on the part of the public, which he expects to "remain engaged."

"I think that the more people talk about this, the more people understand the impact that this is going to have on our city and state," he said.

"I think Amazon themselves made a tremendous mistake, whoever was advising them, which is coming to this city. It's going to be an issue for them."

SEE ALSO: Amazon dominated retail in 2018 — and no one else even came close to touching it

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NOW WATCH: Almost 80% of the textbook industry is dominated by 5 publishing companies that make books so expensive most students skip buying them

Uber’s arbitration policy takes advantage of drivers, according to a Canadian court that just sided against the company

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 16:03

  • A judge in Canada said Uber's arbitration policies are designed to take advantage of drivers, who are powerless against the massive company. 
  • It's the latest in a string of court cases around the world brought by drivers unhappy with their status as independent contractors instead of employees. 

The court rulings against Uber are stacking up.

As the company races towards an initial public offering this year, a number of outstanding lawsuits by drivers unhappy with their status as independent contractors could weigh on the IPO.

A judge in Ontario's highest court said in a ruling on Wednesday that Uber has used its (technically) optional arbitration clause, one that forbids drivers from bringing court actions against the company, to "take advantage of its drivers, who are clearly vulnerable to the market strength of Uber."

The ruling allows the suit, lead by driver David Heller, to proceed in its attempts to certify the group of drivers as a cohesive group and attain the class status of a class action lawsuit.

Under Uber Canada's terms and conditions, drivers who want to pursue arbitration for any disputes against the company have to do so overseas, in the Netherlands, and pay $14,500 up front to begin the proceedings. Those requirements are "unconscionable" and "invalid" the court said.

Read more: 12,000 Uber drivers say the company is refusing to honor the arbitration clause in its terms and conditions

Michael Wright, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case, said he's never seen anything like Uber's arbitration requirements in his career.

"This doesn't make it difficult for people to pursue arbitration," he said in an interview. "It makes it impossible."

Uber is reviewing the court’s decision, it said. "We are proud to offer a flexible earning opportunity to tens of thousands of drivers throughout Ontario," spokesperson Josh McConnell said in an email. 

Canada has been a tricky market for Uber, but is also the hearth of one some of its newest- and fastest-growing businesses. In Montreal, where it faced stiff backlash from taxi drivers and operated illegally for some time, its offices were raided by investigators in 2015 after years of tension. But in the largest city of Toronto, it’s quickly staffing up an office to handle things like grocery delivery and more Uber Eats expansion.

Arbitration has been a headache for Uber outside of Canada, too. While its policies for arbitration differ in the US, most notably in that the company must pay an arbiters fee to begin proceedings, drivers there are also prohibited from taking legal action against the company through the courts.

Last month, a group of more than 12,000 drivers filed a lawsuit against the company, saying it has refused to begin their arbitration processes. Even if it were to begin paying the fees on their disputes, working through all of the claims could take up to a decade.

And in Britain, a court in December sided with U.K. drivers in a decision that could give them a type of employment status, and thus be entitled to some benefits like paid vacations or a minimum wage.

"I think the message here is for companies," Lior Samfiru, another of the plaintiff's lawyers, told Canada's Financial Post. "If you’re going to operate in Ontario, if you’re going to operate in Canada, you have to abide by our laws … You have to play by the same rules as everyone else.”

Do you work or drive for Uber? Got a news tip? Contact this reporter at grapier@businessinsider.com

SEE ALSO: 12,000 Uber drivers say the company is refusing to honor the arbitration clause in its terms and conditions

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NOW WATCH: This Rolls-Royce feature might be the world's fanciest way to tailgate

5 DevOps startups to bet your career on in 2019

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 16:00

DevOps, the term for a philosophy of combining software development and operations, is turning into a big business — as software continues eating the world, DevOps is a methodology for helping developers write more software, faster. 

On a larger scale, tech giants are investing in DevOps as well. Just a few years ago, investors would have balked at developer-focused startups. But in 2018, the industry proved that it's here to stay. Microsoft acquired GitHub, Google Cloud is snapping up a DevOps research firm, and now, with DevOps startups, developers want in. These startups range from ones that help companies release code faster, to those that help IT departments keep up.

It's not just in terms of M&A, either. The most in-demand job that recruiters are looking for on LinkedIn is that of DevOps engineer. As those roles fill up, they'll need DevOps-focused tools to help them do their jobs. Enter the new class of DevOps startups that are helping plug that gap. 

We looked at a variety of factors when selecting this list including the experience of leaders and founders, the reputations of investors and the amount of funding raised along with valuations, based on data from online finance database Pitchbook, keeper of such records. We also selected startups at a variety of stages from just starting out, to well established.

Here are the five DevOps startups to bet your career on in 2019:

SEE ALSO: 44 enterprise startups to bet your career on in 2019

NPM: a package manager

Valuation: $48 million
Total raised to date: $18.6 million
Year founded: 2014
HQ: Oakland, CA

What it does: NPM manages Node.js, which is one of the world's largest software registries and helps JavaScript developers easily share chunks of code.

Why it's hot: NPM has benefitted greatly from DevOps boom, and in just the last four years, it has already raised almost $19 million. As Node.js continues to grow in popularity, NPM stands to benefit. 

LaunchDarkly: a on/off switch for test features

Valuation: $90 million
Total raised to date: $34.84 million
Year founded: 2014
HQ: Oakland, CA

What it does: LaunchDarkly helps developers test and manage how new features get deployed to an app's users. With LaunchDarkly, customers can quickly manage features, switching them on and off for select batches of test users. 

Why it's hot: When LaunchDarkly first tried to raise seed funding in 2014, investors laughed. But fast forward to now, and DevOps is all the rage. LaunchDarkly, a DevOps startup, has proved that it can help with the practice of deploying code faster, something that is going to become increasingly important in the years to come.

Snyk: hunting through your software for threats

Valuation: $100 million
Total raised to date: $32.04 million
Year founded: 2015
HQ: London

What it does: Snyk automates the process of finding and fixing vulnerabilities in open source software. In other words, it continuously keeps a lookout for security issues in your code — and fixes them.

Why it's hot: This year, Snyk raised $22 million on a $100 million valuation. As breaches and vulnerabilities become more common and continue to make headlines, more venture capitalists are investing in security. This kind of approach will help DevOps teams make sure their software is secure, even as they accelerate the rate at which they deliver code.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Artificial intelligence will be a major theme at the world's largest tech show next week

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 15:00

  • Artificial intelligence will be a major theme at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. 
  • AI is in everything from home products to entertainment to even sports equipment, with no sign of slowing down in 2019. 
  • Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant will likely dominate this year's show, as both virtual assistants are now enabled in more than 10,000 devices. 

Techies and gadget geeks alike have been talking about it for years already, but artificial intelligence made serious waves in 2018, showing up prominently in pop culture and our everyday devices.

With companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft investing millions in AI, this will ultimately make it one of the major themes to look out for at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off in Las Vegas next week.

CES is an opportunity to showcase the consumer use for that technology, so much of what will be displayed are "smart" devices or "smart" products — take, for instance, this smart bathroom with voice-enabled lighting technology. 

Read more: Here's all the major tech we're expecting at CES 2019, the biggest tech convention of the year

While there are dozens of players in the AI space, we can expect that Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa are going to dominate the show this year. Both voice assistants are compatible with more than 10,000 devices, which — as Wired noted — will make the showroom floor quite noisy.

We'll also see smaller players introduce even more smart gadgets and other AI-powered gadgets you would and wouldn't expect, everything from TVs to security cameras, and even golf equipment. AI is likely to appear in every home product imaginable as well, from refrigerators to ovens to smart locks — Amazon already put it in a microwave, after all. Oh, and don't forget cars

But the use for AI extends beyond everyday consumer goods. Artificially intelligent robots will effortlessly roam the show floor, and keynote speakers will make the case that robotics and AI could help solve the world's most complex problems. There's even an event entitled "Creating Tomorrow's Robotic Caregivers" showcasing just how important tech's relationship with health is becoming — late last year, for example, Optum, a healthcare company within UnitedHealth Group, announced it's using AI to help doctors answer complex patient questions.

Beyond AI, we're expecting to see tons of new gadgets — and probably quite a few surprises from the companies behind these electronics — at this year's show. We'll be covering the show live from Las Vegas all week — you can follow all of our coverage right here.

Join the conversation about this story »

Apple just sounded the alarm on a slowdown in China. Staying away from these 20 stocks could help you avoid the pain, Goldman Sachs says.

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 14:59

  • Apple on Wednesday lowered its first-quarter revenue guidance, attributing a sales slump at least partially to a slowdown in China.
  • Shares were down more than 9% on Thursday.
  • The tech giant's warning indicates that companies with heavy exposure to China are facing headwinds. 
  • Goldman Sachs previously identified 20 stocks that were particularly exposed to China.

Apple shares were under pressure Thursday after the tech giant lowered its first-quarter revenue guidance and blamed slumping iPhone sales on a slowdown in China. 

"While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China," CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter after Wednesday's closing bell, sending Apple stock down more than 9%.

And it's not just Apple that is seeing weakness. The country's economic slowdown is visible in the data. During the third quarter, China's gross domestic product grew at its weakest pace in a decade. And in December, China's private-manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in 19 months.

The macroeconomic slowdown in China and Apple's sales weakness are due to many related factors, according to the SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Stein.

"These factors include: (1) US tariffs appear to be negatively impacting consumer confidence in China, (2) higher USD is likely denting demand in emerging economies, (3) competitive forces (both nationalistic and otherwise) from local vendors, particularly Huawei (private), may be triggering share loss away from AAPL, and (4) handset upgrade cycles may be slowing more than previously anticipated," he said in a note out to clients on Thursday. 

While it's hard to determine which factor has had the biggest impact, most of them indicate companies with heavy exposure to China are facing headwinds. 

Luckily for investors, Goldman Sachs maintains an index of US companies that get the largest percentage of their revenue from China. The firm has identified 20 companies it thinks will take the biggest hit in an environment unfavorable for trade between the US and China.  

Here are the 20 companies Goldman listed, in order from sales least exposed to China to the most. (Goldman published the list in late October.)

20. Apple

Ticker: AAPL

Industry: Technologies

Market cap: $738.58 billion

% of China sales: 20%


Source: Goldman Sachs & Markets Insider

19. Avery Dennison

Ticker: AVY

Industry: Materials

Market cap: $7.62 billion

% of US sales: 20%


Source: Goldman Sachs & Markets Insider

18. Agilent Technologies

Ticker: A

Industry: Healthcare

Market cap: $20.59 billion

% of US sales: 20%


Source: Goldman Sachs & Markets Insider

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Warren Buffett may be getting ready to pounce on more Apple shares (AAPL)

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 14:59

  • Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in May he'd like to see the Apple's share price fall so he could step in and buy more.
  • Buffett said he'd "love to see Apple go down in price" at his annual shareholder meeting last May, and endorsed the company's buyback program.
  • The stock is down 21% since his comment, and down nearly 40% since the stock's all-time high last October.
  • Watch Apple trade live.

Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in May that he'd like to see Apple's share price fall so he could step in and buy more.

With the stock plunging Thursday after Apple issued a warning on its quarterly revenue and down 21% since Buffett's comments last May, the billionaire investor may be looking to load up on more shares of the iPhone giant. pple said late Wednesday it would report up to $9 billion lower than originally expected in the first quarter of its 2019 financial year. It cited issues including an iPhone slowdown, primarily in China.

"From our standpoint we would love to see Apple go down in price," Buffett said in May, at his annual shareholder meeting. "We very much approve of them repurchasing shares."

Buffett's conglomerate owns 258.2 million shares of Apple, reflected in its most recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2018. That represented a decline of 1.2 million shares compared to the prior filing.

Read more: Technology suppliers are getting pounded after Apple's shock warnings about a China slowdown

Apple's stock is down nearly 39% from its October 2018 all-time intraday high of $233.47. In August, the tech giant became the first US company with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. That was down to $749 billion at Wednesday's closing bell.

An email request to Berkshire Hathaway for comment about Buffett's investments were not answered as of Thursday morning.

Read more about Apple and its revenue guidance announcement:

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NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape

Samsung's massive 49-inch super-wide monitor got an upgrade that will make video games look incredible — if your PC can handle it

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 14:00

  • Samsung's recently announced CRG9 "super" ultra-wide gaming monitor comes with a sharper QHD resolution than the original model's FHD resolution that was released in 2017. 
  • With an aspect ratio of 32:9, the CRG9 is the equivalent of two 27-inch QHD monitors.
  • The CRG9 comes with HDR10 support for better colors, a 120Hz refresh rate, as well as AMD Freesync 2 for smoother gameplay.

Samsung announced a new member to the "super" ultra-wide gaming monitor family with a higher resolution quad-HD model that's sharper than the regular full-HD model that the company originally released back in 2017. 

Super ultra-wide monitors have an aspect ratio of 32:9. Put into plain English, that's exactly two normal monitors put together. Measuring 49 inches diagonally, the CRG9 is the equivalent of two 27-inch monitors side-by-side.  

The CRG9 has a resolution of 5120 x 1440. It's a welcome upgrade for those who thought the original 2017 model's 3840 x 1080 — two FHD monitors — wasn't sharp enough for their video games, and anything else for that matter. 

Indeed, the CRG9 monitor is designed with PC gamers in mind with its smooth 120Hz refresh rate that allows up to 120 frames-per-second on games. Typical non-gaming monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate, which is also smooth, but PC gamers like to go beyond the standard specs. The CRG9 also comes with AMD's Freesync 2 technology that helps with smoother and more stable gameplay when used with AMD's graphics cards. 

HDR10 is also supported on the CRG9 monitor, which makes for better colors, better detail in dark shaded scenes, and better contrast overall between light and dark areas of a scene.

There's no pricing or release date to speak of yet. If the original CHG90 monitor from 2017 is anything to go by, the new CRG9 could cost north of $1,000.

Anyone interested in a gaming super ultra-wide monitor now that it's available in QHD resolution should note that they'll need a pretty beefy PC to play games smoothly, especially if they want to set their games' graphics options to higher settings. The CRG9's 5120 x 1440 resolution isn't too far off a 4K monitor's 3840 x 2160 resolution, and you need pretty serious high-end and expensive hardware to play games smoothly at 4K. To make the most of this monitor, your PC will need brawny hardware like Intel's Core i7 range of processors and Nvidia's GTX 1080Ti or RTX 2080 or higher.

Despite support for AMD's game-smoothing Freesync 2 technology, very few — if any — of AMD's graphics cards would be able to make the most of the CRG9 monitor. The only AMD card that could have a chance is the Vega 64, which is best suited for a single QHD monitor. But whether it can handle the equivalent of two QHD monitors at 120 frames-per-second at higher graphics settings is perhaps questionable. 

SEE ALSO: Here's what it's like to play video games on the widest computer monitor in the world

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NOW WATCH: We tried gaming on the Samsung CHG90 ultrawide gaming monitor

One of the West's biggest cybersecurity vulnerabilities is our idiotic habit of sending servers full of sensitive information to foreign countries

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2019-01-06 09:54

  • Western companies routinely sell their old tech hardware to private companies in foreign countries, without wiping the sensitive data on them first.
  • A Business Insider source found a large database of the Dutch public health insurance system on old equipment abandoned after a hardware upgrade.
  • He also found the codes for controlling the traffic lights in multiple Spanish cities. 
  • It's pointless worrying about hackers breaking into our systems if we're giving away data to anyone with a credit card in the hardware refurbishing business, the source says.

Western companies routinely abandon confidential, sensitive, and personally identifying information to private companies in foreign countries when they upgrade their servers, workstations, and networking gear for new hardware, a source tells Business Insider.

The unprotected data is a goldmine for hackers.

The source, based in Romania, approached us after reading our December 22 article on whether hackers had the ability to take entire countries offline. The source runs an IT hardware refurbishment company that buys up old equipment from countries such as Spain, the Benelux area, and the UK, and sells it to customers who don't need top-spec equipment. Typically he is buying truckloads of old servers, "stuff that is past its prime or out of warranty, but it is still perfectly usable. The procedure is simple: hardware comes in, gets evaluated, fixed, wiped, sold," the source says.

The problem, our source says, is that even when the incoming hardware has been marked as being already wiped clean it often is not. 

A "mostly complete" directory of "passwords for a major European aerospace manufacturer"

"Over the last 3 years I have found a lot of crazy things," the source says, including:

  • A mostly complete database of the Dutch public health insurance system, with social security data, billing, addresses, medical histories. "Imagine the social engineering scams you could do with this data," the source says.
  • Codes, software and procedures for the traffic lights and railway signalling "for a few major Spanish cities." "Imagine the potentially deadly effects of this getting where it shouldn’t," he adds.
  • Customer credit card data including addresses and shopping habits for a major UK supermarket chain.
  • And, alarmingly, "a mostly complete (and as far as I could tell, still up to date and functional) employee directory with access codes / badges / smartcards / passwords for a major European aerospace manufacturer."

Our source asked for anonymity because his company and its clients would be angered if their identities appeared in an article about lax security.

But two independent sources with industrial cybersecurity expertise — Nir Giller, the CTO of CyberX and Darktrace Director of Technology Andrew Tonschev — both confirmed to Business Insider that the Romanian source's scenario was both common and plausible.

"Right now, I’m looking at the sensor listing, their IP’s and access data"

"Even now, I am processing the remains of a server farm that until a month or so ago, was part of a power company in France," our source says. The buyer noted the ability of hackers to burn down factories simply by accessing unprotected systems which control things like temperature sensors that prevent equipment from burning out. "Guess what, data [from the French company] is still there," the source claims. "Right now, I’m looking at the sensor listing, their IP’s and access data. Obviously, I’m sanitizing everything before passing it on, but it never should have gotten into my hands in the first place."

The source says that sometimes the data he finds is so critical that he contacts the originating company to alert them to that they have a problem with security. "In most cases the reaction was one of disbelief, 'no, it cannot happen to us, we’re well protected!'"

As more companies lease server space, fewer of them know what happens when those leases end

The problem exists because of the way server space is discarded by large corporations. Few companies want the bother of maintaining their own server farms. So they lease space from specialists. At the end of a lease, companies can walk away from their contracts — leaving the servers with the vendor, which is supposed to carefully destroy the data. Alternatively, when older servers reach the end of their warranty they are replaced in "forklift" upgrades, en masse. In both cases, the disused servers are supposed to be wiped by certified experts using special software and approved processes. In reality, it's quicker to skip steps, or not do it properly, or let mistakes go. The result is that the original data is often accessible even when an old server has been certified clean. 

"The West is failing at an institutional level to keep their critical data safe," the source says "No need for CSI-worthy hacking stories, just a credit card to buy up your used hardware – odds are the data will be still there, even if someone marked them as already wiped."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We tested out $30 tiny spy cameras from Amazon by spying on our co-workers

A dive into the world of MS-DOS viruses

OS News - Ne, 2019-01-06 03:43
But sometimes life using DOS was not so great, sometimes you would be using DOS and all of a sudden things like this would happen. This sample also plays a small tune on the PC speaker while it’s printing, so this could be really embarrassing in a office environment. Those bootsector viruses were incredibly resilient – your computer would be just fine, until you put in an older floppy that apparently still had a virus on it. Good times.

44 enterprise startups to bet your career on in 2019

Business Insider SAI - So, 2019-01-05 19:20

  • If your 2019 plans include looking for a new job at a hot startup, we've got you covered.
  • It's once again time for Business Insider's annual picks of enterprise startups poised to flourish in 2019 and beyond.
  • We selected a variety of startups at a variety of stages and locations.

As the New Year approaches, many of us find this is a natural time for self-reflection on our lives.

If you've come to the conclusion that you're ready for a new job and want to go to a startup that plays in the $3.8 trillion world of enterprise tech — selling wares to other businesses, not to consumers — we've got you covered.

Here's our annual list of promising enterprise startups who did so well in 2018, they are poised for future success in 2019 and beyond.

We looked at a variety of factors when selecting this list including the experience of leaders and founders, the reputations of investors and the amount of funding raised along with valuations, based on data from online finance database Pitchbook, keeper of such records. We also selected startups at a variety of stages from just starting out to well established.

Here are the 44 enterprise tech startups to bet your career on in 2019:

SEE ALSO: From Elon Musk to Satya Nadella: Here are the 29 top tech CEOs of 2018, according to employees

Zapier: The plumbing that connects the internet

Valuation: Unknown
Total raised to date: $1.2 million
Year founded: 2011
HQ: Sunnyvale, CA

What it does: Zapier helps users easily connect apps together through integrations. In other words, it will automatically connect one piece of workplace software to another

Why it's hot: This seven-year-old company has raised a total of $2.56 million, but this year, it announced that it already has a $35 million annualized run rate, a key measure of revenue. Oh, and by the way, at Zapier, you can work in pajamas from the comfort of your bedroom, if you really wanted to. This all-remote company even started a delocation package of $10,000 to move away from the pricey San Francisco Bay Area

Platform Science: a telematics bigwig is back with a new company

Valuation: Unknown
Total raised to date: $14 million
Year founded: 2015
HQ: San Diego

What it does: Platform Science does what it calls "enterprise IoT fleet management" which is a lot of buzzwords that means it puts a specialized computer into each truck (or other fleet vehicle) stuffed with all kinds of apps, communications, mapping, fuel economy, driver performance. Plus it allows other software developers to write apps for the device, too.

Why it's hot: CEO John Kennedy is a former Qualcomm bigwig, who sold his last telematics company for $800 million. Now he's back with a new telematics company that uses all the latest tech to take on the legacy players.

BigID: help for GDPR

Valuation: $26.06 million
Total raised to date: $46.16 million
Year founded: 2015
HQ: New York

What it does: BigID offers a way for companies to find and identify their most sensitive data.

Why it's hot: Data privacy software became a hot category after European GDPR data privacy rules were mandated in May. This helped the company raise $30 million this year from investors like Scale Venture Partners and the investment arms of Comcast and SAP. Founder and CEO, Dimitri Sirota, also sold his previous security startup to CA in 2013.

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I tried a science-backed eating plan tied to a better mood and longer life — and never felt like I was dieting

Business Insider SAI - So, 2019-01-05 19:16

  • I tried the Mediterranean diet, a whole-foods meal plan based on vegetables, fish, and healthy fats like those from olive oil and avocados.
  • The plan has been linked to benefits like a lower risk of disease, a healthier mind, and reduced symptoms of depression.
  • I learned a lot while trying the regimen, and I'd like to stick with it for a long time. 

You could say I've been around the diet block. I've been vegan, restricted my eating to an eight-hour window as part of an intermittent fast, and given the ketogenic diet a try — all in an attempt to give myself more energy, feel healthier, and power through the activities I enjoy, like yoga, hiking, and rock climbing.

The one regimen I've never tried, however, is the one I write about most: the Mediterranean diet.

The plan's cornerstones are vegetables, fish, olive oil, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Items like processed foods, red meat, poultry, and dairy get slashed. 

Studies suggest that people who eat this way have a reduced risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer, so it's no surprise that dietitians and clinicians say the approach is a great way to fuel the body. An expert panel convened by U.S. News & World Report also called the Mediterranean diet the best overall diet, for the second year in a row.

Leafy greens provide key vitamins and minerals needed for healthy skin, hair, and nails, while whole grains support good digestion, and fish and nuts provide protein to maintain muscle and keep energy levels steady. The Mediterranean diet is also rich in several ingredients that may be critical to a healthy mind, and one recent study found that people with depression who were put on the diet saw a significant reduction in symptoms.

Two types of healthy fat — monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids — are staples of the plan, as well as several antioxidants found in berries and dark chocolate. Previous studies have found a link between both of these ingredients and a lower risk of dementia and higher cognitive performance.

Research has also suggested that two other Mediterranean ingredients — leafy greens and berries — could help protect against a phenomenon called neuro degeneration, which often characterizes diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

I'm a sample size of just one person, so it's worth taking my experience of the diet with a grain of salt. That said, I learned a ton on the plan. Here's a glimpse.

DON'T MISS: There's even more evidence that one type of diet is the best for your body and brain — and it could save you money, too

SEE ALSO: The best ways to lose weight and keep it off, according to science

I initially thought that adopting the Mediterranean diet wouldn't involve dramatic changes to my existing habits. I love crunchy veggies like broccoli and put avocados on everything. But I also eat a lot of ready-made items full of ingredients that the plan shuns, like white rice.

One of my favorite go-to meals at the end of a busy day is a Trader Joe's chicken tikka masala frozen dinner. With a big helping of white rice and chicken as the main ingredients, however, it's not very Mediterranean-diet-friendly.

So I hit Trader Joe's for basics: olive oil, frozen and fresh produce (depending on what was on sale), several kinds of frozen fish (half the price of fresh), canned beans, lemons, Greek yogurt, whole-grain bread, brown rice, and roasted nuts.

Research suggests I'm not the only one who's found the Mediterranean diet easy on the wallet. People put on the plan as part of a recent study saved roughly $26 per week — or $1,344 per year — compared to those who stuck to a traditional diet.

Source: There's even more evidence that one type of diet is the best for your body and brain — and it could save you money, too

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Apple just issued a warning on iPhone sales, but Google Trends saw problems years ago (AAPL)

Business Insider SAI - So, 2019-01-05 19:15

  • Apple just slashed its quarterly revenue guidance amid slowing iPhone sales in China and a variety of other issues.
  • Analysts had recently warned on an impending slowdown in the iPhone market, due in part to slowing economic growth in China.
  • Google Trends data shows interest began waning years ago in both China and in the US.
  • Watch Apple trade live.

Apple, in a rare move on Wednesday, issued a warning on its quarterly revenue guidance amid slowing iPhone sales in China and a litany of other issues. The announcement slammed shares, sending them down more than 8% early Thursday.

"While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China," CEO Tim Cook wrote in a letter to investors. "In fact, most of our revenue shortfall to our guidance, and over 100 percent of our year-over-year worldwide revenue decline, occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac and iPad. 

"Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China, accounts for all of our revenue shortfall to our guidance and for much more than our entire year-over-year revenue decline."

But while analysts have warned of an impending slowdown in the iPhone market and Apple suppliers have been cutting their own guidance for the very same reason, Google Trends shows interest has been waning for years.

An analysis from DataTrek Research shows interest in iPhones — Apple's flagship product that accounts for 63% of its revenue, according to UBS — peaked in the US in September 2012, when the iPhone 5 was released. It topped out in Hong Kong in September 2014, when the iPhone 6 was released.

Declining interest among Google users comes as the iPhone's average selling price has risen and the quality has improved, leading to consumers holding onto their phones for longer periods of time.

"The market for +$700 smartphones is a good one, to be sure," Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, told clients in a report on Thursday. "But technological disruption is all about scale and growth, not just profitability." 

Searches during the most recent iPhone launch — the iPhone XS/XR in September 2018 — were 46% below those in September 2012.

This chart shows how searches for the term "iPhone" have trended within the US over the past 15 years.

The peaks have come toward the end of each year ever since the iPhone debuted, likely due to launches each September.

Now, here's how searches for the term "iPhone" have trended in Hong Kong over the same timeframe. DataTrek Research used Hong Kong as a reliable proxy for "Greater China" results because Google is not available on the mainland. Search volumes for the most recent launch, last September, were 40% lower than the same time in 2014.

Read more: Apple just warned its holiday quarter was a huge miss, and the stock is getting crushed

Analysts responded to the warning by cutting their price targets on Apple shares. Timothy Arcuri, an analyst at UBS, lowered his sales and earnings per share estimates for 2019 and 2020. He also cut his price target from $210 to $180. Still, that target implies a 14% gain from Wednesday's closing price of $157.92. Arcuri maintained his "buy" rating.

"Slower iPhone growth ultimately presents services headwinds, but AAPL still has huge untapped services rev pool (600mn+ active iPhones pay zero) and new bundle appears very likely," he told clients on Thursday.

Read more about Apple's sales and iPhone demand warning:

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