Posted Sep. 26, 2017 at 5:33 a.m.

Tech wrap: SEC hack probe; Deloitte breach; China vs WhatsApp; Uber diplomacy

Published: 2017-09-26 05:33:25
Updated: 2017-09-26 05:33:25

Bulldog Bulldog

In today's Bulldog wrapup of technology news from around the world:

  • SEC chairman faces questions from Congress after data breach
  • Deloitte says email cyberattack affected 'very few clients'
  • WhatsApp service disrupted in China as censorship tightens
  • Uber wields new weapon in fight with London: diplomacy

The details:

  • SEC chairman faces questions from Congress after data breach

The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to face an especially tough hearing in front of Congress on Tuesday, after the agency acknowledged that it also was a victim to a hack.

News about the breach of an SEC network that delivers company news and data to investors follows the disclosure of the massive data breach from credit company Equifax that allowed hackers to access or steal the personal information of 143 million Americans.

Jay Clayton, who has been at the head of the SEC since May, is not likely to face calls for his removal since the breach happened a year ago, before he was sworn in. But he may be questioned about whether the SEC — the federal government's main arm for enforcing rules and regulations on Wall Street — is up to the task of keeping data secure.

Two major issues in this SEC breach are the potential for insider trading and whether the SEC knew about the security breach for months and only recently decided to disclose it.

  • Deloitte says email cyberattack affected 'very few clients'

Accounting firm Deloitte says it has launched a thorough investigation into a cyberattack that hit its email system.

The company said in a statement Monday that the breach had affected "very few clients" and that government authorities were notified.

The Guardian newspaper reported Monday that the breached system had information from a range of clients, including large companies and U.S. government departments.

The newspaper says hackers gained access through an administrator's account last fall and the attack was discovered in March.

Deloitte says no disruption "occurred to client businesses, to Deloitte's ability to continue to serve clients, or to consumers."

The company says it is "deeply committed to ensuring that its cyber-security defenses are best in class, to investing heavily in protecting confidential information and to continually reviewing and enhancing cybersecurity."

  • WhatsApp service disrupted in China as censorship tightens

The encrypted messaging service WhatsApp suffered intermittent disruptions in China on Tuesday as communist authorities tightened censorship ahead of a major ruling party meeting.

Attempts to set up new WhatsApp accounts on some cellphones were met with network error messages. Others reported difficulty sending images and video on the service, which is owned by Facebook and offers more privacy than government-monitored Chinese social media.

Chinese authorities are tightening controls on social media ahead of the party congress next month at which President Xi Jinping is due to be appointed to a second five-year term as leader.

The ruling party encourages internet use for education and business but tries to block access to material that calls for political change or is deemed to encourage protests.

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has promoted the notion of "internet sovereignty," or the right of Beijing and other governments to dictate what their publics can do and see online.

Private sector operators of Chinese social media are required to delete banned material. China has the world's biggest population of internet users, with some 730 million people online.

  • Uber wields new weapon in fight with London: diplomacy

In past skirmishes with local regulators, Uber's playbook under co-founder and now-ousted CEO Travis Kalanick was simple: fight.

Now, as brand-new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi deals with a stunning rebuke from London, the playbook gets another page: fight, but offer some diplomatic humility.

On Friday, just hours after Greater London's transport authorities decided not to renew Uber's operating license, citing a lack of corporate responsibility, Uber wound up for its first punch. Almost reflexively, it followed the familiar tactic of recruiting its mass rider base for help, starting an online petition drive to pressure regulators that now has more than 770,000 signatures. It also promised appeals and defiantly accused regulators of caving in to Taxi interests.

Then, Khosrowshahi took to Twitter. "Dear London: We r far from perfect," he wrote. "Pls work w/us to make things right."

It remains to be seen which strategy will work best, and Uber also runs the risk of antagonizing London officials by sending the mixed messages. But deviating from Kalanick's approach is exactly the right tactic for Khosrowshahi, says Jan Dawson, chief analyst for Jackdaw Research in California. Conciliation, he says, likely will require concessions, but also will bring peace in a huge market with 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million riders — over 5 percent of Uber's ridership base of 65 million globally.

"The fact that Uber is so mature and broadly used in London means it's very unlikely that it will be permanently banned there — the political fallout would just be too great," Dawson said.

As Uber grew at lightning speed during the past seven years, it often entered U.S. cities without permits. When taxicabs complained, Uber defiantly kept hauling people. Usually Kalanick's tactics prevailed.

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