Posted Sep. 8, 2017 at 6:36 a.m.

Tech wrap: Huge data breach; Star Wars to Disney streaming; SpaceX launches secret shuttle (+ video); Lilly job cuts

Published: 2017-09-08 06:36:22
Updated: 2017-09-08 06:36:22


In today's Bulldog wrapup of science and technology news:

  • Equifax breach exposes 143 million people to identity theft
  • Disney streaming service to get 'Star Wars' and Marvel
  • SpaceX launches Air Force's super-secret minishuttle
  • Drugmaker Lilly to trim workforce by nearly 9 percent

The details:

  • Equifax breach exposes 143 million people to identity theft

Credit monitoring company Equifax has been hit by a high-tech heist that exposed the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information about 143 million Americans. Now the unwitting victims have to worry about the threat of having their identities stolen.

The Atlanta-based company, one of three major U.S. credit bureaus, said Thursday that "criminals" exploited a U.S. website application to access files between mid-May and July of this year.

The theft obtained consumers' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver's license numbers. The purloined data can be enough for crooks to hijack the identities of people whose credentials were stolen through no fault of their own, potentially wreaking havoc on their lives. Equifax said its core credit-reporting databases don't appear to have been breached.

"On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft," said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. "Credit bureaus keep so much data about us that affects almost everything we do."

Lenders rely on the information collected by the credit bureaus to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards. Credit checks are even sometimes done by employers when deciding whom to hire for a job.

Equifax discovered the hack July 29, but waited until Thursday to warn consumers.

  • Disney streaming service to get 'Star Wars' and Marvel

"Star Wars" and the Marvel comic-book movies will join Disney's upcoming streaming service , potentially giving it broader appeal beyond families with young children.

The Disney service will be the only place to stream those movies on demand in the U.S. as part of a monthly subscription. (So, not on Netflix.)

A price hasn't been announced yet. The service is expected in late 2019 after Disney's current deal with Netflix expires.

Previously Disney announced the inclusion of just Disney and Pixar movies and Disney TV shows. Adding the "Star Wars" and Marvel movies could make the new service appealing to teenagers and adults. The Marvel movies include the "Avengers" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchises.

The service will also have original Disney movies, TV series and shorts. Disney CEO Bob Iger said thousands of TV episodes and hundreds of movies will be available, though shows from Disney's ABC network aren't coming to the service.

Disney said last month that it was considering moving "Star Wars" and Marvel to the new service, but a decision wasn't announced until Thursday.

  • SpaceX launches Air Force's super-secret minishuttle

SpaceX launched the Air Force's super-secret space shuttle on Thursday, a technology tester capable of spending years in orbit.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, as schools and businesses boarded up for Hurricane Irma.

It's the fifth flight for one of these crewless minishuttles, known as the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle.

[VIDEO: Watch a replay of the launch and the return of the first stage at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnepuSU3yAo ]

The two Air Force space planes have already logged a combined 5 ½ years in orbit. But officials won't say what the spacecraft are doing up there. The last mission lasted almost two years and ended with a May touchdown at the runway formerly used by NASA's space shuttles. The first one launched in 2010.

As has become customary, SpaceX landed its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral for eventual reuse.

This was the first time SpaceX has provided a lift for the experimental minishuttle. The previous missions relied on United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets. Air Force officials said they want to use a variety of rockets for the X-37B program, to launch quickly if warranted.

The Boeing-built minishuttle is 29 feet long, with a 14-foot wingspan. By comparison, NASA's retired space shuttles were 122 feet long, with a 78-foot wingspan.

  • Drugmaker Lilly to trim workforce by nearly 9 percent

Eli Lilly will slash its global workforce by nearly 9 percent as the drugmaker closes some research sites and pushes to trim fixed costs.

The Indianapolis company said Thursday it will cut about 3,500 positions, mostly through a voluntary retirement program in the United States. The insulin and cancer treatment maker employed 41,240 people worldwide at the end of June.

Lilly will close research and development sites in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and Shanghai. It also will move production from an animal health manufacturing site in Larchwood, Iowa, to another plant.

Chairman and CEO David Ricks said in a statement that his company wants to streamline its business in order to invest in new treatments and capitalize on recently launched drugs. The company expects about $500 million in annual savings from the cuts.

Eli Lilly and Co. has seen sales slump for top sellers like the insulin Humalog, and it has weathered in recent years the loss of patent protection for two of its all-time top selling drugs, the antidepressant Cymbalta and the antipsychotics Zyprexa. That exposed those multi-billion dollar revenue generators to cheaper generic competition.

Lilly also has dealt with some clinical research setbacks, including the failure of a potential Alzheimer's disease treatment in late-stage studies, the most expensive phase of clinical development.

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