Equifax aftermath: How to protect against identity theft

Posted: September 14, 2017 by Malwarebytes Labs
Last updated: September 15, 2017

Who here is scrambling around in the aftermath of the recent breach at Equifax to figure out if you’ve been compromised? Who here is wondering what to do about it if you are? If you’re one of the 143 million Americans whose data was accessed by cybercriminals, then you probably raised your hand.

Even if you weren’t one of the 143 million, you might still want to take some precautions. You could instead be part of the millions of folks who’ve had their data stolen over the course of online history. Basically, if you have a social security number, have ever run a credit check, or have a pulse, you should listen up. Why? Two words: identity theft.

What could happen?

The Equifax breach gave criminals access to vital personal information, including names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and in some cases, driver’s license IDs and credit card numbers. And here’s just a slice of what those jerks can do with that data:

  • Open financial accounts
  • Apply for credit cards, mortgages, and other financial services
  • Get medical care at your expense
  • File for a tax refund in your name
  • Get a job in your name and let you pay the taxes
  • Steal your benefits
  • All of the above (aka, identity theft)

Who is impacted?

The better question might be, who isn’t? Don’t worry about verifying if your data was stolen—assume it was stolen. This is a decent rule of thumb even before the Equifax breach, but even if that thought never crossed your mind, it’s pretty impossible to verify whether you’ve been impacted at the moment.

The Equifax verification site is currently not returning accurate information. And if you try calling the company now, you might be met with some long waiting times to receive frustratingly vague answers. So if you want to act quickly (and we recommend you do), just bypass the first four stages of grief and go directly to acceptance.

What we do know: Those affected by the breach are predominantly from the US, but there are people from Canada and the UK impacted as well. Some methods that work in one country may not work in others, so please keep in mind that this article is aimed at our US readers. International readers can find some additional information about what to do here.

Steps to protect yourself

Our recommendation is to freeze your credit immediately with all four of the major credit bureaus. By freezing your credit, you’ll prevent criminals from trying to open up new accounts in your name—all of your current credit cards will still work. You’ll only need to consider unfreezing your credit if you want to apply for a loan, open a new credit card, or make any type of purchase that requires a check on your credit.

Three things you’ll want to know before contacting the credit bureaus.

One: You’ll want to pull a credit report. You can get a free report here. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already frozen your accounts, you can still monitor using the free tool. We recommend you pull only one report now, another one in four months, and the third in another four months. It’s not foolproof, but it will allow you to see different reports throughout the year to track any potential changes.

Two: the cost is minimal. While reports have varied—Equifax is offering their credit freeze for free, but it’s pretty hard to get through to them—freezing credit usually only costs a one-time fee of $10 per bureau. That’s 20 or 30 bucks for a whole lot of peace of mind.

Three: You must set or receive PINs when freezing your credit. Save these in a secure location, whether that’s using a password manager or physically storing the printed PIN paper someplace safe and out of sight.

Where to go to freeze your credit

Additional monitoring services

The use of additional monitoring services is entirely up to you. The biggest issue is that both legitimate companies trying to help and scammer companies trying to trick will over-hype the danger of identity theft in order to make a sale. Please make sure that you do your homework and research on these companies before signing up blindly out of fear.

When looking up information about how to protect yourself in situations like these, look to sites like the Federal Trade Commission or other technology publications such as Wired, The Verge, or Vice’s Motherboard, as they won’t be trying to upsell you to credit protection you may or may not need. The wrong company might actually hurt your ability to stave off ID theft.

General best practices

We wish we could say that the above advice is going to save you from all the dangers associated with this breach. For credit theft, you are covered, but for all the other threats associated with scammers or fraudsters looking to capitalize on this situation, here are some additional guides on how to avoid their traps.

Scams

Be on the alert for credit scams or any related terms. You’ll see these in emails, ads on social sites or games, and even physical mail to your home. These attacks are part of what we refer to as social engineering, and they will run rampant for many months and years to come. Always be skeptical, and if you’re not sure about something, ask a professional.

Phone or text scams

Since your data was most likely taken, that means your numbers will be shared even more than they already are today. Calls and texts from unknown numbers, numbers with similar area codes, or numbers very similar to yours should be treated as potential scams.

You might think that the National Do Not Call Registry would protect you from this. Sadly, it does not. It offers protection from legitimate companies trying to solicit your business. It does not offer protection against scammers. (Because why would criminals follow the law, anyway?)

my Social Security account

The my Social Security account allows you to keep track of the social security funds you’ll be collecting in the future. Although it was not affected by the Equifax breach, it’s good practice to get this account set up in your name, as someone else could easily grab it and you’d be locked out of your future payments. One caveat: If you want to set up this account, you’ll need to do it before you freeze your credit. (Otherwise they can’t confirm your identity through the account.)

Passwords and two-factor authentication

Ensure you’re using smart password strategy (complex, do not repeat them, do not use the same one across multiple sites/services, etc.) and if available, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on every account possible. You can check the 2FA availability on your sites and services here.

Enable alerts on your accounts

While your current accounts shouldn’t be impacted by this breach, it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on your bank accounts and credit cards for larger purchases. For accounts rarely used, you could set alerts to $1 so you’re notified the second any transaction happens. For regular accounts, set the alerts to a dollar amount that would seem out of place for that card, whether it’s $20 or $500.

New phone accounts

A common attack vector with credit/personal data breaches is to purchase new phone accounts through your provider, with your account! Once criminals have your info, they’ll call up the phone company and say they want to add a new line but don’t have a PIN number. If you haven’t set up a PIN number with your phone company already, they have no way to verify your account. So guess what? BAM! There’s a new phone on your bill. In order to protect yourself from this type of attack, go ahead and set up a PIN with your provider.

Taxes

File these as soon as possible next year! For multiple years we’ve heard about victims of tax return fraud, wherein a scammer using your personal information files YOUR return before you can. So don’t wait on this one.

Summary

If you’re affected by the Equifax breach, you have a heightened risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. But at this juncture, the point is moot. Since it’s difficult to discover a definitive answer, it’s best to assume you are and deal with the fallout.

We’ve given you some direction on what to do to avoid identity theft and credit fraud, and we hope you take a deep breath, crack your neck, and get to work nailing your personal info down. One new credit card created by an attacker in your name is going to cause a massive headache. Better to stay ahead of it than spend the next month trying to convince a bank that you didn’t open an account. Good luck, be vigilant and stay safe.

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Project Update: I-680 Contra Costa Express Lanes – September 2017

Work Underway

The future I-680 Contra Costa Express Lanes will continue to operate as HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes and not as express lanes until all construction and software testing are complete. The Variable Toll Messaging Signs will continue to display test toll amounts and the message, “Testing — No Tolls”. This means solo drivers cannot use the lanes during HOV hours of operation 5 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m.

Starting September 18th and lasting two weeks, crews will remove the HOV diamond markings in the future express lane and install new markings saying “EXPRS LANE”. During this time, workers will also remove some of the “Under Construction” labels from overhead signs as well as the “Coming Soon” sign wraps. The lanes, however, are not open to solo drivers during HOV hours of operation 5 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. until all construction and software testing are completed later this fall.

Work will start in Walnut Creek, progress south on southbound I-680 and then proceed northbound from San Ramon to Walnut Creek northbound. The work will require nighttime closures of the two left lanes.

Get Ready to Use the Lanes!

Did you get your FasTrak® or FasTrak Flex® toll tag yet? If not, get your toll tag now and get ready to use the I-680 Contra Costa Express Lanes.

When the lanes open this fall, vehicles are required to have FasTrak to use the lanes between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. Carpools, vanpools, buses, motorcycles and eligible clean air vehicles must use a FasTrak toll tag set to “2” or “3+” to travel in the lanes toll free.

Solo drivers can choose to pay to use the lanes with either a standard FasTrak toll tag, or a FasTrak Flex toll tag set to “1”. Tolls may change every few minutes based on real-time traffic conditions. When traffic congestion increases, tolls increase. When congestion decreases, tolls decrease. Solo drivers will decide for themselves if the travel time savings are worth the price. A driver is guaranteed the toll seen when entering the lane.

Visit expresslanes.511.org for more information about express lanes or bayareafastrak.org to order a toll tag.

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Happy Birthday U.S. Air Force – 2017

Organized as the United States Army Air Force during World War II, the United States Air Force was brought into being on September 18, 1947 by a few strokes of a pen when President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947. The change to a separate, independent service branch recognized the need for increased air power for the defense of the country. Since then, it has served with great distinction during the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and in many other places throughout the world.

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Sunday Reading – 09/17/17

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Anaheim’s emergency declaration sets stage for removal of homeless encampment – Anaheim has declared a state of emergency over the ballooning homeless community along the Santa Ana River, clearing the way for the removal of hundreds of people living in a landscape dotted with trash and used hypodermic needles and lacking toilet facilities.

The move underscores the growing homeless crisis facing Orange County and on ongoing struggles of communities to deal with the problem. Earlier this summer, Anaheim removed bus benches across the street from Disneyland following complaints about the homeless population sleeping on them around the amusement park.

A survey last year placed the number of those without shelter in the affluent county at 15,300 people, compared with 12,700 two years earlier. While cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have long dealt with large homeless communities, officials in Orange County said they are still working on ways to help the growing population and coordinate resources among numerous cities.

The Anaheim City Council’s vote just past midnight Wednesday morning came amid growing concerns about the swelling homeless population along the river, not far from Angels Stadium.

The vote followed a county Board of Supervisors vote Tuesday at which all five members approved an increase in the Orange County sheriff’s patrol in the flood control channels along the riverbed. Residents and business owners said that for years, they’ve tried to get the attention of the city and the county to clean up the area, which is a designated National Historic Trail. With the number of homeless people living along the riverbed growing, more than 13,000 people signed a petition calling for their removal. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

Homeless Camps Are Infectious Disease Time Bombs – For the vast majority of people who live in the developed world, infectious disease is an afterthought.

Sure, we still catch colds and (if we’re old or immunocompromised) can die of influenza, pneumonia, or food poisoning. Antibiotic resistance is scary — and directly responsible for about 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year — but it hasn’t quite become the apocalypse we all feared. In general, the microbial world is just not something the average person has to think about very much.

That luxury of modern life is due to the strong defense provided by the “pillars” of our public health system. According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, these pillars include chlorination (of the water supply), vaccination, and pasteurization (of dairy and other products). We could also add medication (i.e., antibiotics and other antimicrobials) to this list. If just one of these pillars is taken away, we can fully expect bad things to happen. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses like measles serve as a case-in-point.

Nowhere is the breakdown of public health more obvious than in “tent cities” and other locations where homeless people live. In San Diego, an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A among the homeless has already hospitalized nearly 300 people and taken the lives of 16. Read More > from the American Council on Science and Health

Chatbot lets you sue Equifax for up to $25,000 without a lawyer – Equifax’s security failure affected 143 million US consumers, or 44 percent of the US population. To add insult to injury, Equifax waited over a month before revealing the security breach it had suffered. If you’re one of the millions affected by the breach, a chatbot can now help you sue Equifax in small claims court, potentially letting you avoid hiring a lawyer for advice.

Even if you want to be part of the class action lawsuit against Equifax, you can still sue Equifax for negligence in small claims court using the DoNotPay bot and demand maximum damages. Maximum damages range between $2,500 in states like Rhode Island and Kentucky to $25,000 in Tennessee.

The bot, which launched in all 50 states in July, is mainly known for helping with parking tickets. But with this new update, its creator, Joshua Browder, who was one of the 143 million affected by the breach, is tackling a much bigger target, with larger aspirations to match. He says, “I hope that my product will replace lawyers, and, with enough success, bankrupt Equifax.” Read More > at The Verge

Stunning testimony: Voting machines can be hacked without a trace of evidence – The country’s voting machines are susceptible to hacking, which could be done in a way so that it leaves no fingerprints, making it impossible to know whether the outcome was changed, computer experts told President Trump’s voter integrity commission Tuesday.

The testimony marked a departure for the commission, which was formed to look into fraud and barriers to voting, but which heard that a potentially greater threat to confidence in American elections is the chance for enemy actors to meddle.

“There’s no perfect security; there’s only degrees of insecurity,” said Ronald Rivest, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He said hackers have myriad ways of attacking voting machines. “You don’t want to rest the election of the president on, ‘Maybe the Wi-Fi was turned on when it shouldn’t have been.’”

He and two other computer security experts said bar codes on ballots and smartphones in voting locations could give hackers a chance to rewrite results in ways that couldn’t be traceable, short of sampling of ballots or hand recounts — and those work only in cases where there’s a paper trail. Read More > in The Washington Times

Ever better and cheaper, face-recognition technology is spreading – …Providers in this field sell hardware and software tools to recognise faces and then connect those faces to other useful data. Although the market is fairly small—the most optimistic estimates put it at a few billion dollars—the technology has started to permeate the wider business landscape. The main reason is that the accuracy of facial recognition is rapidly improving, putting it on the same trajectory as speech recognition, which really took off when accuracy improved by a final few percentage points, to almost 100%. “Most people underestimate the difference between 95% and 99% accuracy—99% is a game-changer,” Andrew Ng, a noted AI researcher, has said about speech recognition.

What’s more, the smartphone will do for face recognition what smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo, have done for speech recognition: make it acceptable to consumers. Millions of Chinese already “swipe” their faces on smartphones to authorise payments. On September 12th Apple is expected to unveil a new version of its iPhone, with technology that can reliably identify the owner’s face and then unlock the device, even in the dark. That will come only a few weeks after Samsung presented a new Galaxy Note with a similar but less sophisticated feature.

It makes sense to separate facial-recognition technology into two categories: the underlying capability and the applications that make use of it. Megvii’s Face++ belongs in the first category, as do similar offerings from SenseTime, another Chinese startup, NTechLab, a Russian firm, as well as Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. All provide face recognition as a cloud-computing service. Megvii’s customers can upload a batch of photos and names, and use them to train algorithms, which then can recognise those particular people. Firms can also integrate the recognition service into their own offerings, for instance to control access to online accounts. Read More > in The Economist

Seattle Mayor Resigns After 5th Allegation of Sex Abuse – For five months, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray rejected calls for his resignation amid allegations he sexually abused teens decades before entering politics.

But Murray couldn’t withstand a devastating new allegation from within his own family.

He announced his resignation Tuesday, hours after news emerged that a younger cousin was publicly accusing Murray of molesting him in New York in the 1970s.

Murray, a former Democratic state legislator elected mayor in 2013, didn’t appear in public to make the announcement. Instead, he issued a statement saying his resignation would be effective 5 p.m. Wednesday.

It was a stunning end to a monthslong drama that has seen five men step forward to accuse Murray of sexually abusing them years ago, when they were teenagers.

Since the allegations began to emerge in April, Murray has continued to say he is innocent. Though he ended his re-election campaign in May, Murray until Tuesday had insisted he would not resign, despite calls for his exit. Read More > at Governing

Yikes: This Breathtaking Percentage of Americans Can’t Name Any of the Three Branches of Government – I’ve long been convinced that an under-explored element of our deteriorating national discourse and paralyzing partisan tribalism is a creeping public ignorance about fundamental civics. How can we keep this republic if a rising percentage of its citizenry is unfamiliar with the core functions and structures of said republic? Earlier, Micah linked to a public opinion survey in which a large minority of Americans — 37 percent — could not name a single component of the First Amendment.

“Free speech” seems like it would be a pretty easy layup for anyone who spent even a few waking minutes in any middle school, high school or college US government class over the course of their academic lives, yet less than half of respondents checked that box. And the numbers on religious and press freedom are just horrendous. Apparently many of us are snoozing through civics lessons, or those lessons aren’t being taught, which is worse.

…Only 26 percent of respondents can name the three branches of government (executive, judicial, and legislative), the same as last year. People who identified themselves as conservatives were significantly more likely to name all three branches correctly than liberals and moderates. The 26 percent total was down significantly from APPC’s first survey on this question, in 2011, when 38 percent could name all three. In the current survey, 33 percent could not name any of the three branches, the same as in 2011.

Six years ago, those who could name all three branches at least outnumbered those who could name zero. Those numbers have now flip-flopped, with a plurality wallowing in total ignorance. Read More > at Townhall

California’s poverty rate remains nation’s highest – One in five Californians lives in poverty, the highest rate in the country, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The “Supplemental Poverty Measure,” factors in cost of living and shows a stubbornly high share of Golden State residents in poverty even as the national rate has dropped slightly.

Under the methodology, an estimated 20.4 percent of Californians lived below the poverty line in a three-year average of 2014, 2015 and 2016. That is virtually unchanged from the 20.6 percent average for 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to Tuesday’s release.

Nationwide, 14.7 percent of people lived in poverty under the supplemental measure during the latest three-year average. That is down slightly from 15.1 percent for the previous three years. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee

San Diego is awash with ‘fecal matter’ due to lack of public toilets and surging rates of homeless people, health officials warn as they try to control the hepatitis A outbreak – San Diego is covered with fecal matter due to a rising homeless population and lack of public restrooms, which is said to have contributed to the hepatitis A outbreak.

Officials declared a public health emergency in the city after the outbreak killed 15 and infected close to 400 people.

Hepatitis A is a viral liver disease that can spread through ingesting food and drinks that have come in contact with feces from people who are already infected.

County health officials told the city that they needed to come up with a plan to fix the ‘fecally contaminated environment’ that is in the downtown area.

Officials first attempted to contain the outbreak by providing vaccinations to people and improving educational methods, but the virus continues to spread.

The city is now implementing street washing every other week and an extension on public restroom hours to stop the spread of the virus that has affected the homeless population the most. Read More > in The Daily Mail

Why Self-Driving Cars Need Superhuman Senses – More than any other benefit, self-driving vehicles promise to save lives. Cutting out the human error that causes 90 percent of crashes could start to save some of the 35,000 lives lost on American roads every year. Manufacturers are convinced that people will happily use at least partially autonomous cars when they’re proven to be safer than human drivers, but that’s a pretty low bar. The ultimate goal is to eliminate crashes all together, and to do that, cars will need to perfectly perceive and understand the world around them—they’ll need superhuman senses.

Pretty much every AV now in testing uses some combination of cameras, radars, and lidar laser systems. But now, an Israeli startup wants to add a new tool to the mix: heat-detecting infrared cameras that can pick out pedestrians from hundreds of feet away.

A fully driverless car, after all, will need to see the world in a wide variety of lighting and weather conditions. “Existing sensors and cameras available today can’t meet this need on their own,” said AdaSky CEO, Avi Katz, in a statement. So this morning, his company announced its plan to offer automakers what it calls Viper, a long distance infrared camera and accompanying computer vision system. Read More > at Wired

New Nordstroms will have beer, wine, personal stylists and same-day delivery — but no inventory on site – Struggling retailer Nordstrom, Inc. is launching a new concept for some of its stores, making them much smaller, with personal stylists to curate outfits for customers, space to pick up outfits ordered online, beer, wine and manicures on tap for customers — and no inventory on site.

The new Nordstrom Local stores will shrink Nordstrom’s (NYSE: JWN) size down to an average of 3,000 square feet from around 14,000 square feet, the company said, and will also offer alterations and personal stylists. If you order your outfit by 2 p.m., the store will deliver it the same day, too.

The first one will open in L.A. on Oct. 3 but no word yet on where they might pop up in the Bay Area, which currently has almost two dozen older format Nordstrom locations.

Nordstrom now joins other retailers experimenting with smaller formats, including Target (NYSE: TGT) and Sears (NYSE: SHLD). Read More > in the San Francisco Business Times

Consumers Continue to Choose Physical Over Digital for Groceries – Consumers have a variety of options when it comes to buying groceries, and they continue to choose physical grocery stores to make their purchases. Today, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released “The State of Grocery Shopping” survey which found that 99% of adults buy some or all of their groceries in-person.

Consumers visit physical stores personally because they seek immediate access to products (71 percent), the ability to select fresh meat, dairy and produce (70 percent), as well as see product options and select all other items in person ( 69 percent).

“The grocery sector remains relatively unimpacted by the growth in e-commerce sales,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers are heavily invested in the types of food they purchase and they want to be able to select the best and the freshest to take home.” Read More > at the Business Wire

A $150 Billion Misfire: How Disaster Modelers Got Irma So Wrong -Twenty miles may have made a $150 billion difference.

Estimates for the damage Hurricane Irma would inflict on Florida kept mounting as it made its devastating sweep across the Caribbean. It was poised to be the costliest U.S. storm on record. Then something called the Bermuda High intervened and tripped it up.

“We got very lucky,” said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If Irma had passed 20 miles west of Marco Island instead of striking it on Sunday, “the damage would have been astronomical.” A track like that would have placed the powerful, eastern eye wall of Irma on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

By one estimate, the total cost dropped to about $50 billion Monday from $200 billion over the weekend. The state escaped the worst because Irma’s powerful eye shifted away from the biggest population center of sprawling Miami-Dade County.

The credit goes to the Bermuda High, which acts like a sort of traffic cop for the tropical North Atlantic Ocean. The circular system hovering over Bermuda jostled Irma onto northern Cuba Saturday, where being over land sapped it of some power, and then around the tip of the Florida peninsula, cutting down on storm surge damage on both coasts of the state. Read More > at Bloomberg

Winter is coming’: What do climate scientists predict for California? – After suffering more than a week under searing, desert-like heat, winter might be the furthest thing from the minds of most Californians.

However, to borrow a phrase from TV’s “Game of Thrones,” winter is coming.

The only question is whether the gods will allow a rerun of last winter which unexpectedly dumped record amounts of rain and snow throughout the state that filled reservoirs and kept skiers on the slopes through August.

Several climate experts, flummoxed by the failure of a widely predicted El Niño to make a dent in California’s drought during the winter of 2015-16, are saying they are unsure what this winter will bring.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says December-January-February in California will be a winter with equal chances of normal, below normal and above normal rain.

“That means they do not know. There is no strong signal,” said Bill Patzert, the expert climatologist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, who incorrectly predicted tons of rain from the “Godzilla El Niño” for the 2015-2016 winter.

For this coming winter, however, with no El Niño in sight, he’s making a not-so-bold prediction: It’s going to be either wet or dry. Read More > in The Mercury News

The end of young love: Dating is in decline among the “i-Generation”, study finds – Dating is in decline among young people, a major study has found.

Those born between 1995 and 2012, dubbed the “i-Generation”, are noticeably less interested in romance than their millennial predecessors, according to a new book by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University.

Teenagers from this group have grown up with social media and smart phones, meaning they spend far more time socialising with one another online than they do in person.

The decline in dating corresponds to dwindling sexual activity among this cohort, Prof Twenge has found.

Drawing on surveys of 11 million young people and a series of in-depth interviews she found that teenagers in their final year of school are going out less often than 13-year-olds did as recently as 2009.

Prof Twenge also noted that 56 per cent of 14 to 18-year-olds went out on dates in 2015 whereas for Generation X and Baby Boomers, it was around 85 per cent. Read More > at The Telegraph

Startup buzzkill: California bans drone delivery services of legalized pot – new Gold Rush is upon us in the Golden State of California.

But this latest wave concerns us with nuggets of a different sort: marijuana. California voters have legalized it, and now state regulators are adopting distribution rules and a plethora of weed-related laws ahead of a January 1 deadline to begin issuing retail licenses.

Make no mistake, from a purely business standpoint, the legalization of marijuana in California, home to Silicon Valley and the nation’s largest economy, will sooner rather than later equate to a gold mine of opportunity for startups and established businesses. That economic boom includes everything from agriculture, real estate, banking, software, to security, paraphernalia, and you name it.

But one area being left out is the autonomous sector. Sure, a drone can already deliver you a pizza in California. Yet the California Bureau of Cannabis Control is forbidding the delivery of marijuana by an autonomous vehicle—whether from the sky or the ground. Read More > at ars Technica

A rapist in a women’s prison? Society has lost the plot – What kind of society puts a male rapist in a women’s prison? In what nation would it be considered acceptable to put a man convicted of raping two girls into an enclosed space with hundreds of women? In Britain. In 2017.

Incredibly, Martin Ponting, who was sentenced to life in 1995 for the rape of two girls under the age of 16, was recently moved to the all-women prison of Bronzefield in Surrey because he now identifies as a woman and goes by the name of Jessica Winfield. He has now been segregated from the other prisoners at Bronzefield presumably for some serious misdemeanour. (For making advances to women, say sections of the press, though the prison authorities deny this.) To place a rapist among women because he claims to be a woman might prove to be the moment the cult of genderfludity crossed the line from irritating to psychotic. Read More > at Spiked

Forget the Violent Campus Protests—This College Cop Is Gunning for Unlicensed Hot Dog Vendors – The campus police at Berkeley may not be able to stop people from trashing the town while protesting conservative college speakers, but they sure can rain down hell on some hot dog vendor for not having a permit.

That appears to be what happened over the weekend. Martin Flores, a Berkeley alumnus, recorded two members of the University of California Police bringing the hammer down on an unlicensed hot dog vendor serving folks attending Saturday’s football game.

Flores’ videos probably wouldn’t have made such a splash online if the officer had simply cited the vendor, named Juan, and made him stop selling his food. What’s drawing attention is the officer’s casually condescending demeanor as he made this poor man miserable, and also the fact that he took Juan’s wallet, removed the cash from it, and kept it.

The officer has been identified as Sean Aranas, and there is now an online petition trying to get him removed (and some people have claimed in the comments under the petition that he has harassed others and them).

That Aranas seized Juan’s cash has prompted some discussion of civil asset forfeiture, where police seize and keep money from people charged with crimes. The system is prone to abuse because police are frequently able to keep money and property for their department without ever having to convict (or often even charge) defendants with criminal activity.

The good news for Juan is that thanks to reforms to asset forfeiture laws in California last year, the police cannot keep his money unless they actually convict him or he pleads guilty to a crime.

The bad news for Juan is that even if though police have to convict him in order to keep his money, they’ve still seized it and booked the cash as evidence, making it harder for Juan to defend himself in court. Flores has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for Juan’s defense; at last check, it has raised more than $30,000. Read More > at Reason

Siskiyou Declares Cannabis Cultivation Emergency – Illegal marijuana cultivation in Siskiyou County has reached crisis levels. With the situation eclipsing local law enforcement’s abilities, the county has now officially declared a state of emergency.

Siskiyou Sheriff John Lopey appeared before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to urge a yes vote on the proclamation. Just recently, Lopey was approached by two illegal marijuana growers who attempted to bribe him with $1 million.

It isn’t just drug cultivation and use Lopey is worried about. The grows pose a number of hazards, including environmental waste and degradation as well as other threats to public health and safety.

The emergency proclamation paves the way for further assistance from state and federal officials. Some members of the community who spoke in opposition to the resolution said they feared it could be used as a pretext for draconian actions by government authorities. Read More > at California County News

Equifax Breach: 8 Takeaways – After Equifax on Thursday warned that 143 million consumers’ personal details may have been stolen by hackers, criticism of the consumer credit reporting agency – and data broker – has been swift.

Many security experts are asking how attackers were able to exploit the “website application vulnerability” cited by Equifax to steal so much personal information. Indeed, the breach may have exposed Social Security numbers for nearly half of all Americans.

On Friday, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced he has launched a formal investigation into the Equifax breach and has sent a letter to the company seeking additional information about the incident. Meanwhile, attorneys general in Connecticut, Illinois and Pennsylvania announced they plan to sent a joint letter requesting details from Equifax. Plus, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Financial Services Committee announced plans to hold hearings to examine the massive data breach, according to The Hill.

Here are eight takeaways from the breach.

1. Breach Burns SSNs

Equifax says many of the 143 million breach victims had their names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses – and in some instances, driver’s license numbers – stolen by attackers. The company says that based on its investigation, it was hacked in mid-May, and attackers continued to access the data until the breach was discovered in late July.

In addition, Equifax says 209,000 U.S. consumers’ credit card data was exposed in the breach, as were 182,000 U.S. consumers’ “dispute documents,” containing personal information. Equifax says it “also identified unauthorized access to limited personal information for certain U.K. and Canadian residents” and that it will “will work with U.K. and Canadian regulators to determine appropriate next steps.”….

2. Share SSN to See If We Lost It

Equifax, however, doesn’t appear to have gotten that message.

The company has created a dedicated breach-notification website for U.S. victims, http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, as well as a dedicated call center.

“In addition to the website, Equifax will send direct mail notices to consumers whose credit card numbers or dispute documents with personal identifying information were impacted,” the company says. “Equifax also is in the process of contacting U.S. state and federal regulators and has sent written notifications to all U.S. state attorneys general, which includes Equifax contact information for regulator inquiries.”… Read More > at Data Breach today

How the Intelligent Home of the Future Will Care For You – …Alexa and Echo can turn lights on and off, and Nest can help you be energy-efficient. But beyond these, what does an intelligent home really look like?

Arkenberg’s vision of an intelligent home uses sensing, data, connectivity, and modeling to manage resource efficiency, security, productivity, and wellness.

Autonomous vehicles provide an interesting comparison: they’re surrounded by sensors that are constantly mapping the world to build dynamic models to understand the change around itself, and thereby predict things. Might we want this to become a model for our homes, too? By making them smart and connecting them, Arkenberg said, they’d become “more biological.”

There are already several products on the market that fit this description. RainMachine uses weather forecasts to adjust home landscape watering schedules. Neurio monitors energy usage, identifies areas where waste is happening, and makes recommendations for improvement.

These are small steps in connecting our homes with knowledge systems and giving them the ability to understand and act on that knowledge.

He sees the homes of the future being equipped with digital ears (in the form of home assistants, sensors, and monitoring devices) and digital eyes (in the form of facial recognition technology and machine vision to recognize who’s in the home). “These systems are increasingly able to interrogate emotions and understand how people are feeling,” he said. “When you push more of this active intelligence into things, the need for us to directly interface with them becomes less relevant.” Read More > at Singularity Hub

California legislators grant ‘great exceptions’ to laws others must obey – Nearly seven decades ago, historian Carey McWilliams assessed California’s first century of statehood and labeled it “The Great Exception” for its many attributes.

The same phrase could be applied to the California Legislature, which habitually carves out great exceptions for particular interests from laws everyone else must obey.

State tax codes are riddled with loopholes that grant relief from taxes others must pay. One particularly egregious example, enacted three decades ago, exempts custom computer software purchased by big business from sales taxes while levying taxes on off-the-shelf software used by consumers and small businesses.

It’s one of the many reasons why the governor and legislators should completely overhaul the state’s convoluted and counterproductive tax system and eliminate unjustified loopholes.

Earlier this year, while decrying the state’s critical shortage of housing and fashioning legislation to compel local officials to expand housing construction, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown extended wealthy Marin County’s relief from some housing mandates.

Still another example is Assembly Bill 1250, a union-backed measure to compel county governments to use civil-service workers, rather than outside contractors, to provide services. However, it exempts the City and County of San Francisco from its heavy-handed mandates, as well as a health care system in Santa Clara County.

Why? Because they have the political clout to demand it – unlike, say, Alpine County’s 1,110 residents. Read More > at CALmatters

Canada deported hundreds to war-torn countries: government data – Canada has deported hundreds of people to countries designated too dangerous for civilians, with more than half of those people being sent back to Iraq, according to government data obtained by Reuters.

The spike in deportations comes as Canada faces a record number of migrants and is on track to have the most refugee claims in more than a decade. That has left the country scrambling to cope with the influx of asylum seekers, many crossing the U.S. border illegally.

Between January 2014 and Sept. 6, 2017, Canada sent 249 people to 11 countries for which the government had suspended or deferred deportations because of dangers to civilians.

That includes 134 people to Iraq, 62 to the Democratic Republic of Congo and 43 to Afghanistan, the data shows. Read More > from Reuters

With 220 languages spoken in California, courts face an interpreter shortage – Federal law enforcement began investigating California’s courts seven years ago after receiving complaints that two Korean-speaking women in Los Angeles had been denied court interpreters.

Courts in other states also were examined and faulted. Along with California, they began working to comply with U.S civil rights law, which bars discrimination based on national origin. Failure to act meant the possible loss of federal money.

But nowhere has the task been so challenging as in California, the most linguistically diverse state in the nation.

At least 220 languages are spoken in California, and 44% of residents speak a language other than English at home. Seven million Californians say they cannot speak English well.

On top of that, California’s court system is considered the largest in the nation, surpassing in size the entire labyrinth of federal courts.

Just finding enough trained interpreters has proved daunting. The state’s courts handle as many as eight million cases a year.

Now two years into its enforcement phase, California’s “language access plan” is pushing courts to provide interpreters for all non-English speakers in all cases. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality – …Along with Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, these companies are in a race to become our “personal assistant.” They want to wake us in the morning, have their artificial intelligence software guide us through our days and never quite leave our sides. They aspire to become the repository for precious and private items, our calendars and contacts, our photos and documents. They intend for us to turn unthinkingly to them for information and entertainment while they catalogue our intentions and aversions. Google Glass and the Apple Watch prefigure the day when these companies implant their artificial intelligence in our bodies. Brin has mused, “Perhaps in the future, we can attach a little version of Google that you just plug into your brain.”

More than any previous coterie of corporations, the tech monopolies aspire to mold humanity into their desired image of it. They think they have the opportunity to complete the long merger between man and machine — to redirect the trajectory of human evolution. How do I know this? In annual addresses and town hall meetings, the founding fathers of these companies often make big, bold pronouncements about human nature — a view that they intend for the rest of us to adhere to. Page thinks the human body amounts to a basic piece of code: “Your program algorithms aren’t that complicated,” he says. And if humans function like computers, why not hasten the day we become fully cyborg?

To take another grand theory, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has exclaimed his desire to liberate humanity from phoniness, to end the dishonesty of secrets. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” he has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” Of course, that’s both an expression of idealism and an elaborate justification for Facebook’s business model. Read More > in The Washington Post

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Now Hiring- Join the Oakley Team!

The City of The City of Oakley is now hiring for the following positions:

  • Administrative Assistant (Deadline 9/21/2017 at 5 p.m.)
  • Planning Technician Full Time (Deadline 9/21/2017 at 5 p.m.)
  • Planning Technician Part-Time (Deadline 9/21/2017 at 5 p.m.)
  • Facilities Attendant (Open Until Filled)
  • Police Officer Lateral (Open)

To see the job descriptions of these great opportunities and for an employment application visit the City of Oakley website today!

The City of Oakley requires all interested applicants to submit a completed Employment Application for each position applied for. Please note some positions require a supplemental questionnaire, which must be submitted with the Employment Application. Please refer to the job flyers below each title to learn more about the job opportunity, requirements, and compensation. Thank you for your interest in becoming a part of Team Oakley!

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WEST NILE VIRUS CONFIRMED IN MOSQUITOES, BIRDS IN CONTRA COSTA COUNTY


The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District confirmed today that one group of mosquitoes from Oakley and three dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus. The birds were from Brentwood, Antioch, and Pleasant Hill.

“The mosquitoes and birds that have tested positive this week demonstrate West Nile virus does not end with Labor Day. Citizens should remain vigilant,” says the District’s Scientific Programs Manager Steve Schutz, Ph.D. “Dump out standing water. Use mosquito repellent. And report dead birds because they help us know where to look for West Nile virus.”

District personnel are conducting extra surveillance and mosquito control in the areas where the virus activity was found.

The District urges the public to report dead birds to the state hotline: 1-877-968-2473. Birds are often the first sign of disease transmission. Even if the birds are not tested, the reports alone yield crucial information to protect public health.

Residents can reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:
• Dump or drain standing water. Mosquitoes can’t begin their lives without water.
• Defend yourself – use repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present, typically dawn and dusk.
• Maintain neglected swimming pools. Just one can produce more than 1 million mosquitoes and affect people up to five miles away.
• Report dead birds to the state hotline: 1-877-968-2473 or by visiting the California Department of Public Health’s website. All reports are crucial.
Since 2005, 56 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. In 2006, two people died from the disease. For a current list of West Nile virus activity this year, visit this page on the District’s website. For human case information, please contact Contra Costa Health Services at 888-959-9911.

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October 14 – 3rd Annual Out of the Darkness Walk in Oakley at Cypress Grove Community Park


Join Us This October for the 3rd Annual Out of the Darkness Walk in Oakley!

Check-in/Registration Time: 10/14/2017 at 8:00 am
Opening Ceremony: 9:00 am
Walk Ends: 11:00 am

In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes, claiming more than 39,500 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Walk to save lives

The annual Oakley Out of the Darkness Community Walk will take place on Saturday 10/14/17 at Cypress Grove Community Park. The Greater San Francisco Bay Area Chapter is excited to host another great event with your help! The walk route will be approximately 3 miles over level surfaces that is very accessible to all of our walkers. It will begin and end at Cypress Grove Community Park. If you would like to walk only part of the walk route, you will be able to turn back at any point, and there will be event volunteers along the way to help with questions.

Register early and have your team name printed on the official Out of the Darkness Community Walk event T-Shirt!

Honor Beads will be available to all participants and you are welcome and encouraged to take beads to wear on the day of the walk. If you would like to know more about the Honor Beads, click here to find out what they signify.

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