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A health journal estimates India underreported almost 15 million abortions in a year

Abortion is a lot more common in India than government data suggests.

A study published this week (pdf) in The Lancet Global Health journal estimates that 15.6 million abortions occurred in the country in 2015, significantly higher than the 701,415 recorded by the ministry of health and family welfare for 2014-2015. Moreover, a staggering 78% (12.3 million) of these abortions were undertaken outside of health facilities, suggesting that Indian women are taking the procedure into their own hands.

The study was conducted by a team of authors from the Guttmacher Institute in New York, the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and the Population Council, New York.

To estimate the national abortion incidence, they used data mostly from the 2015 Health Facilities Survey of six Indian states—Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh—NGO clinics, and abortion pill sales and distribution.

The authors say that India’s national surveys and official statistics have so far offered an incomplete picture as they don’t take into account abortions by private-sector doctors who don’t work at registered facilities or abortion services provided by professionals of alternative medicine, notably Ayurveda, Unani, and Homeopathy. The government data also excludes untrained providers of abortions and abortion pills that don’t require prescriptions. These pills have become increasingly available in pharmacies from the early 2000s.

“Most abortions are happening without prescriptions and outside of facilities via chemists and informal vendors, which suggests the need to improve facility-based services,” the authors write. While abortion pills can be effective and safe when administered correctly, they say it is unclear if Indian women are getting the right information and using them properly.

In conservative India, where talking about sex remains a taboo, previous studies have shown that the use of contraceptives has been declining. More people are turning to morning-after pills and abortions despite the potential health risks. While the study was unable to determine the reasons for the high rate of abortions in India, they accounted for one-third of the pregnancies in 2015. And almost half of the pregnancies that year were unintended, the authors say.

It’s clear then that educating the public about contraceptives and abortions go hand-in-hand. The study says the government will have to adapt to the reality, making safe abortion services available across the country. It will also need to ensure that women from all segments of society have access to the right information.

“Many of these recommendations are particularly needed at primary health centres because these facilities are the most accessible to the majority of women who live in rural areas and who are least likely to be able to afford private services,” the authors write. They add that policy-makers should take into the account the fact that some women may only have access to medication abortions, making it all the more important to provide accurate information on the use of abortion pills, and access to health care if any complications come up.

Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up million users

98efa_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up million users

Just a week after coming out of preview, the Microsoft Edge app for Android has been downloaded at least a million times.

According to the Google Play Store, the Blink-based Microsoft Edge app has been downloaded between one million and five million times. The app has been available to testers for a while, but only reached preview in October before becoming generally available at the end of November.

The Microsoft Edge apps for iOS and Android aim to make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10 by making it more convenient to sync the browsing experience across devices.

The app offers Microsoft’s ‘Continue on PC’, which allows users to pass a site, app, photos, and files from a phone to a Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft has also added a roaming passwords feature that allows users to save a password on the phone, which carries across to the PC, as well as a dark theme.

98efa_59d6953660b2f23bce62bc92-1280x7201oct062017170852poster Microsoft Edge on Android: Windows 10 browser spinoff clocks up million users

Microsoft hope easy syncing of browsing across devices will make Edge more appealing to use on Windows 10.


Image: Microsoft

It’s likely to take a while for Edge app downloads to pass the five million milestone on Android, given that the app is only useful for the subset of Windows 10 users who actually use Edge on a PC.

While Windows 10 is now running over 500 million PCs, Edge currently only has a 3.6 percent share of desktops worldwide, according to NetMarketShare.

So anything Microsoft can do to boost appeal of Edge on the PC will be helpful in convincing more users to make the switch, either from Chrome or Internet Explorer 11.

It’s also working to expand the number of Edge extensions, which over a year after Microsoft enabled them now numbers 80.

Previous and related coverage

Microsoft’s Edge browsing apps generally available for iOS, Android

Microsoft is continuing to bang the Windows 10 ‘Continue on PC’ drum with its Edge browser apps for iOS and Android.

Microsoft is bringing new Edge apps to iOS, Android

Microsoft is rolling out new Edge apps for iOS and Android (plus an updated Launcher app for Android) as part of its strategy to try to keep Windows 10 PCs central to users’ computing mix.

Read more on Microsoft

Chinese internet celebrities convert 470 million fans into consumers

At 6am, Yang Xia, 26, is already up and about, complete with attractive makeup, ready to roll for yet another hectic 12-hour work day to turbocharge new-age Chinese brands.

As the day unfolds, Yang, wearing branded fashion, her own creation, would pose in front of the cameras with several famous Macau landmarks for backdrop.

She is not a Chinese film-slash-TV actress, sports superstar, cultural icon or political luminary; yet, she commands a staggering 2.56 million followers on Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

Her status makes her a hot property among local brand-endorsing celebrities, a one-woman sales army as it were.

Yang is a shining example of a new, arguably unique, breed of internet celebrities who are rewriting the rules of marketing, branding and e-commerce in China.

Dubbed wanghong (Chinese for internet celebrity), China’s online sensations are influential. They help push products through livestreaming and other forms of digital content that sway millions of mobile-savvy, social media-addicted consumers, spawning a consumer goods market worth billions of dollars.

Photo: Weibo

And this is just the beginning, according to Feng Yousheng, founder and CEO of Chinese livestreaming app Inke.

During the 4th World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, earlier this month, he said the coming fifth-generation or 5G mobile technology and new-age tech like augmented reality will help make livestreaming even more powerful.

“In recent years, those born after 1995 have taken a profound fancy to livestreaming,” Feng said.

Feng may have well been referring to data from the China Internet Network Information centre, which said the country had 751 million netizens by the end of June – and 96.3 per cent of them access the internet through hand-held devices like smartphones.

Most of them love internet celebrities who are basically of two types: original content producers such as Papi Jiang who makes short comedy videos, and online shopkeepers such as Yang who peddle fashion, makeup, skincare and bodycare products through online marketplaces such as Alibaba’s Taobao.

Yang’s online cosmetics store on Taobao pulled in 2.7 million yuan (S$551,000) on Nov 11, which is celebrated as Singles Day or Double-Eleven – 11-11 – online shopping festival in China.

Wanghong themselves earn much more annually.

For instance, Zhang Dayi, one of China’s well-known cyber-celebrities, reportedly helped sell goods worth more than 100 million yuan during the first half-hour on Nov 11.

Wanghong’s modus operandi usually involves hours of posting picture-perfect slice-of-life images or streaming similar scenes on social media. They also share useful experiences with netizens, especially female consumers, the so-called millennials (those born in the 1980s and 1990s).

Yang, for one, offers a range of feminine advice on makeup, slimming and skincare.

Photo: Weibo

A mother of two kids, she also shares cutesy images of mom-child interactions and postnatal recovery experiences.

This new form of real-time, persuasive, riveting interaction engages consumers and results in purchases of recommended products eventually.

During her college days, Yang was a big fan of fashion. She still is. Owing to limited financial resources back then, she could afford only a few dresses. That necessitated imaginative ways of matching the coats, jackets, pantsuits and skirts in her modest wardrobe.

Encouraged by positive feedback from friends and admiring glances of onlookers, she honed her instinctive sense of what would click as eye-pleasing fashion. That led her to register an online store on Taobao while still at college. And she actually began to run the garment business in 2015.

Last year, her Sina Weibo account peaked with 100,000 followers visiting on a single day.

Emboldened, she set up a cosmetics store on Taobao, which pulls in around 3 million yuan in monthly revenue now. She closed the first garment store last year, only to reopen it this year, which rakes in hundreds of thousands of yuan every month.

“Last year, I really felt tired running two businesses. I wanted to spend more time with my family,” she said.

Photo: Weibo

A report released in June jointly by internet consultancy iResearch and Sina Weibo said China’s internet celebrities are riding their fame to establish new types of businesses of their own, creating a whole new chain surrounding themselves.

Online video streaming and short videos are key parts of these businesses. Their revenues come from a wide range of sources, including e-commerce, gifts from viewers of streamed content, subscriptions and advertising.

Without specifying the actual number of online celebrities with more than 100,000 followers each, Sina Weibo said their tribe increased by 57.3 per cent this year, with a collective fan base of 470 million consumers, up 21 per cent from 2016.

This has led market insiders to refer to this phenomenon as wanghong economy.

Sensing its immense potential to boost sales and spawn brands, investors are actively backing new training schools for, wait for it, internet celebrities.

Such ventures, called talent incubators, aim to unearth and nurture the next Zhang Dayi who could monetise the power to grab eyeballs and influence minds.

Ruhnn, which started as a women’s wear brand on Taobao, is now a leading incubator of internet celebrities. It trains students in various skills like providing integrated e-commerce services.

Aspiring wanghong learn how to better operate online stores, and produce and publish original content.

Last year, Ruhnn signed up Yang Xia to teach her how to run a wide range of businesses.

“I really learnt a lot from Ruhnn. Their professional guidance on design enabled me to have a better understanding of texture and colour of garments, costumes, so on,” said Yang.

According to Ruhnn, it has trained nearly 100 fashion opinion leaders or FOLs (a variant of KOLs or key opinion leaders) – euphemism, or jargon, for wanghong.

The firm claimed it generated more than 1 billion yuan in gross merchandise value last year, with its own valuation reaching 3.1 billion yuan.

Feng Min, founder and CEO of Ruhnn, said online celebrities are actually internet opinion leaders or IOLs, with the ability to influence the millennials.

“Online celebrities serve as both brand ambassadors and content providers. Those with the potential to become online celebrities usually have their own understanding of the internet. They know how to interact with their followers,” Feng said.

For Feng, the blossoming wanghong economy signifies a new trend in e-commerce.

“Currently, we are at a very early phase of wanghong e-commerce industry. It will take some time to integrate it digitally with the whole industry chain.”

In the future, people would not treat online celebrities as a new phenomenon because by then all e-commerce companies will likely have their brands, made popular by original content produced by IOLs, he said.

Microsoft Edge surpasses 1 million downloads on Android

Microsoft Edge officially came out of beta for Android devices last week, and already the popular browser has surpassed one million downloads, according to the Google Play Store.

Granted, people were able to download the beta from the store as well, but it only went into preview in October, so it is still a rather impressive feat for the app in such a short time. While we don’t have exact numbers, the milestone is gleaned from Microsoft Edge breaking into the new category of “1 million to 5 million” downloads.

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how popular the app is for iOS. It launched at the same time as the Android version, but Apple’s TestFlight only allows 10,000 people to try an app while it is in beta, so it is likely that the browser app has not had as much adoption on iOS as on Android.

The browser, designed for Windows 10 compatibility, has some cool features including one that allows work that you have done on your mobile device to be carried over to your PC. The app will also sync your data across all devices, as well as allowing voice search of the web.

Source: Windows Central

Medicaid paid $5.5 million to cover health care services for dead Texans

But the state did not have adequate policies and procedures to identify when beneficiaries had died, the OIG report stated. For example, there were 77 individuals who did not have a date of death noted at all, and whose status could not be verified despite $850,587 in payments.

The inspector general’s  audit, which aims to identify waste, mismanagement and abuse of federal health services, ran from October 2016 through June 2017. The findings were presented to the state this fall, along with recommendations to prevent future issues.

Microsoft Edge crosses a million downloads on Android

4005b_Microsoft-Edge-Android-hero-1_0 Microsoft Edge crosses a million downloads on Android

Microsoft Edge for Android has now been downloaded more than one million times, crossing a significant milestone just a week out from launch.

Just a week after its official launch out of preview, Microsoft Edge for Android has crossed one million downloads. The milestone comes after Edge initially launched with more the 500,000 downloads already under its belt.

The number comes from the Google Play Store’s own download tracker. Edge is also currently listed as the third most-popular free app in the “Communication” category on Google Play. The next milestone of five million downloads will take a little longer to reach, but hitting a million downloads a week out from launch, and two months since initially hitting preview, isn’t too shabby.

Microsoft originally launched Edge on iOS and Android in preview in october as a way for heavy Edge desktop users to sync their passwords, favorites, and reading lists between devices. The mobile app also lets you pick up where you left off with a “Continue on PC” feature.

Currently, Edge for Android is available in Australia, Canada, China, France, India, the UK and the U.S. We should see additional markets added over time.

If you’re already using Edge for Android, let us know what you think. And if you have yet to give it a shot, you can grab the app from Google Play now.

See at Google Play

New estimate says 46 million Americans headed to Alzheimer’s

Close to 50 million Americans could be in the early stages leading to Alzheimer’s disease right now, according to a new forecast.

And 6 million people likely have it now, the team at the University of California Los Angeles calculated.

The forecast is based on a lot of supposition as well as some hard data, but it’s the best estimate of how badly Alzheimer’s will affect the country in the coming years, said Keith Fargo of the Alzheimer’s Association, who was not involved in the research.

e2c28_20171207-alzheimers_842ece9a1ddb6a678eb6d18559826e76.nbcnews-fp-360-360 New estimate says 46 million Americans headed to Alzheimer's


e2c28_20171207-alzheimers_842ece9a1ddb6a678eb6d18559826e76.nbcnews-fp-360-360 New estimate says 46 million Americans headed to Alzheimer's

“To our knowledge, this is the first time someone has done this type of estimate,” said Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association.

For the unusual study, Ron Brookmeyer, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles and colleagues collected all the data they could find from studies of Alzheimer’s disease.

To calculate who was at risk of Alzheimer’s they used measures including a buildup of a protein in the brain called amyloid, the loss of brain cells, and the loss of memory and skills such as reading and writing.

Related: Here’s how to prevent Alzheimer’s

They used other studies including a look at 1,500 volunteers who live around the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, which included healthy people who have no particular risk of Alzheimer’s. They used studies of people with mild cognitive impairment — memory loss that can lead to Alzheimer’s — and people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia.

And they looked at actual reports of people who have Alzheimer’s disease now.

Then they made calculations to predict how many people are likely progressing to Alzheimer’s right now, although they may not know it.

“It’s virtually all extrapolation. It’s looking at some real community-based cohorts that have been studies,” said Fargo.

“But it’s not a matter of going systematically through the population. It’s very much a model-based estimate.”

But it uses solid data and methods that should at least be a start at predicting the future toll of Alzheimer’s, said Fargo.

“For the first time, scientists have attempted to account for numbers of people with biomarkers or other evidence of possible preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, but who do not have impairment or Alzheimer’s dementia,” the National Institutes of Health, which helped pay for the study, said in a statement.

“People with such signs of preclinical disease are at increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s dementia.”

Related: Sleep loss may affect Alzheimer’s

The results?

“An estimated 46.7 million American adults over age 30 are in this hypothetical preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease and another 2.43 million have mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s disease, although many will not progress to dementia during their lifetimes,” Brookmeyer and colleagues wrote.

“In 2017, there were 3.65 million cases of clinical Alzheimer’s in the United States,” they wrote in their report, published in the journal Alzheimer’s Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We estimate that approximately 1.54 million (42 percent ) of the 3.65 million cases living today have late-stage clinical Alzheimer’s disease who need level of care equivalent to nursing homes,’ they added.

“We predict by 2060, U.S. prevalence of clinical Alzheimer’s disease will grow to 9.3 million.”

e2c28_20171207-alzheimers_842ece9a1ddb6a678eb6d18559826e76.nbcnews-fp-360-360 New estimate says 46 million Americans headed to Alzheimer's


e2c28_20171207-alzheimers_842ece9a1ddb6a678eb6d18559826e76.nbcnews-fp-360-360 New estimate says 46 million Americans headed to Alzheimer's

By 2060, they predict, more than 75 million people will have pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease — meaning the disease is developing in their brains but hasn’t caused enough symptoms to be diagnosed.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. There’s no cure for it and no good treatment.

So why even try to calculate the extent of an incurable disease?

“There are things that you can do,” said Fargo. “These are the numbers of people we could potentially intervene with.”

Although there’s no good treatment now, several studies have shown that Alzheimer’s can be prevented in some people with better diet, more exercise and other healthy habits.

And the hope is to develop drugs that can prevent Alzheimer’s, just as statins and blood-pressure-lowering drugs prevent strokes and heart attacks now.

Related: Researchers Seek Test to Predict Alzheimer’s

Plus, not everyone with Alzheimer’s-associated brain damage develops the disease. “There is a group of people that have the brain changes but never experience dementia symptoms,” the Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement.

“It shouldn’t be scary. It should be seen as pointing to the future where we have a window of opportunity for prevention just like we do with cholesterol and heart disease today,” said Fargo.

“Even if this estimate turns out to be reality, that does not mean that those 46 million people will develop dementia from Alzheimer’s disease,” Fargo added.

“Just like you can have high cholesterol today and not develop heart disease, heart attack or stroke, you can be in this pre-clinical state but not go on later to develop Alzheimer’s disease dementia.”

Android keyboard app leaks personal data of 31 million users

72597_security-privacy-hackers-locks-key-6778 Android keyboard app leaks personal data of 31 million usersEnlarge Image


James Martin/CNET

Personal data for more than 31 million users of an Android keyboard app called AI.type has leaked online, according to ZDNet and researchers at the Kromtech Security Center

The app’s database server wasn’t password-protected, which meant anyone could access more than 577 gigabytes of personal data, according to the report that was released today. The data was eventually secured after ZDNet attempted to contact the app’s creator, Eitan Fitusi.

Fitusi said in an email that the database in question contained about 50 percent of users’ basic data “about user use patterns of the keyboard.” He said the app is not collecting, storing or sending any password or credit card information.

According to ZDNet, each user record contains the user’s location and basic info such as the user’s full name, email addresses and how many days the app was installed. 

72597_security-privacy-hackers-locks-key-6778 Android keyboard app leaks personal data of 31 million users

Family Health Services will use a $1 million grant to build a new Rupert clinic downtown – Twin Falls Times

“All of us at Family Health Services are excited to be able to provide new and improved services to the people of Rupert,” Aaron Houston, CEO of Family Health Services, said in a statement. “We were thrilled to be awarded the HRSA grant to help us continue to offer affordable and accessible care to our communities. With tremendous support from the city of Rupert, the city council and local businesses, our partnership has made the project a success at every stage.”

More than a million children could lose their health insurance next year

32f40_171204095431-republican-tax-plan-impact-00001020-1024x576 More than a million children could lose their health insurance next year

More than a million lower-income children are at risk of losing their health insurance next year if Congress doesn’t act soon.

Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program ran out at the end of September. Though the program enjoys bipartisan support, it has still gotten caught up in the political battles playing out on Capitol Hill.

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CHIP covers about 9 million children whose parents usually earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private health coverage — typically no more than $62,000 for a family of four. The 20-year-old program cost about $15.6 billion in fiscal 2016, funded almost entirely by the federal government.

The stumbling block remains how to pay for the reauthorization bill that will fund CHIP for the next five years. The House bill, which passed in November largely along party lines, would squeeze funds out of the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, which Democrats have decried. The Senate hasn’t made much progress on the bill and hasn’t specified how it would pay for the funding.

Congress is under a lot of pressure to provide some immediate support for CHIP as part of its temporary funding plan to prevent a shutdown Friday. The legislation “includes a provision to assure states of the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program while a bipartisan reauthorization agreement is completed,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday.

Related: Displaced Puerto Ricans face obstacles getting health care

Not every state can simply end coverage for children. It depends on how they set up their programs.

States have been able to keep their CHIP programs going since the federal funding expired by using their unspent allotments and by receiving grants from the federal Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services. Some 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, have received a total of $1.2 billion of the $2.9 billion available in grants, said Maureen Hensley-Quinn, senior program director at the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Are your children currently enrolled in CHIP? Are you concerned they may lose their health insurance because Congress has not reauthorized the program. Tell me about it at healthcarestories@cnn.com. You could be featured in an upcoming CNNMoney story.

However, some states are starting to run out of funds, and a few have begun notifying parents that benefits may end in coming months. Some 3.7 million kids were enrolled in standalone CHIP programs, and 1.2 million of them could become uninsured if they can’t afford alternate coverage, according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission.

Late last month, Colorado began informing parents that the program will end on Jan. 31 if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the funds. The state, which has 75,000 children and 800 pregnant women enrolled in CHIP, urges them to get whatever medical care they need now and to start researching private insurance options.

Related: Senate may strengthen Obamacare even as it kills individual mandate

Both parents and medical providers are worried about what this would mean, said Colorado Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne.

“You can imagine the uncertainty it creates for families,” Lynne said. “Providers are very concerned about their patients.”

Oklahoma, meanwhile, is telling participants in some of its CHIP-funded programs that their coverage may terminate at the end of February if Congress doesn’t act.

There’s not much parents can do if their states eliminate the program, said Genevieve Kenney, co-director of the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute.

“They can’t really prepare for this,” she said. “There’s not much in their control that can minimize the fallout.”

Even if Congress agrees to reauthorize the program, some policy experts fear the damage can be long lasting.

The CHIP program has greatly reduced the number of uninsured children in America. But if parents think the program is unstable, they may not opt to enroll their kids, said Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University.


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Android keyboard app leaks data on 31 million users

ANOTHER DAY, another dodgy Android app discovered, this time in the form of the personal data leaking ai.type Keyboard.

Uncovered by security researchers at Kromtech Security Centre, the keyboard app that offers an alternative to the native keyboards on Android and iOS devices was found to be extracting personal data from some 31 million users and flinging it over to an unsecured database server owned by the app’s co-founder Eitan Fitusi.

The data leak, according to the researchers, only affects the app on Android and not iOS, so iPhone users can keep feeling smug.

After the researchers apparently repeatedly tried to contact Fitusi, the app maker eventually added password protection to the database that held more than 577GB of user data, after it had been previously been left open to anyone who wandered by on the digital highways of the internet.

Had any of the malicious types that lurk on the web found the server they could have extracted all manner of user data, from full names, email addresses, and location, basically a treasure trove of information for people who get their kicks from identity theft and fraud.

Furthermore, security researcher Bob Diachenko noted that the app seemed to hoover up quite a lot of data for what would appear to be a simple keyboard tool.

“It raises the question of why would a keyboard and emoji application need to gather the entire data of the user’s phone or tablet? Based on the leaked database they appear to collect everything from contacts to keystrokes. This is a shocking amount of information on their users who assume they are getting a simple keyboard application,” he said.

Now it’s worth pointing out that the ai.type Keyboard app does note that it’ll suck up data and requires permissions to the user’s mobile contacts database, though it points out that “all information is locally stored on smartphone’s vocabulary”.

And the app touts privacy as a big focus, noting that text tapped into the keyboard is private and encrypted.

But the security researchers found that this isn’t the case, given that not only was there an unsecured server sitting full of user data, but the texts weren’t encrypted either as they were able to download and look through the database files where they found a table containing 8.6 million entries of text that had been typed into the keyboard app.

So pretty much the promise of privacy, which ai.type outlines on its website has appeared to have a strong whiff of BS.

Whether the data protection and encryption failings are deliberate or just down to some server setup fumbling, is still up for debate. We’ve attempted to contact ai.type for comment and clarification as to what the hell it was playing at.

Such breaches in data protection are worrying as ai.type Keyboard is a widely used app that’s been well reviewed and comes from a legit developer, basically raising the question as to who can you trust these days. We’ll console ourselves by sticking with default keyboards for the time being. µ

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Data of 31 million users of iPhone add-on keyboard ai.type potentially leaks

Conflicting accounts have emerged about a security breach involving the ai.type add-on keyboard for iOS and Android, with researchers claiming that 31 million people’s data has been compromised —with a user’s contacts also potentially included in the leak.

a73c9_23918-30783-aitype-l Data of 31 million users of iPhone add-on keyboard ai.type potentially leaks

The Kromtech Security Center discovered on Tuesday that a MongoDB database used to collect data on ai.type keyboard users was misconfigured, and was available on the internet. Contained in the database is reportedly “data and details of 31,293,959 users” of the ai.type keyboard.

According to the researchers, user information includes phone numbers, full names, device name and model, mobile network name, SMS number, screen resolution, user languages enabled, Android version, IMSI number, IMEI number, emails associated with the phone, country of residence, links and the information associated with the social media profiles including birthdates and photos, IP, and location details.

Making the situation worse, it appears that 6.4 million records contained data gleaned from a user’s Contacts, including names and phone numbers, leading to a total of 373 million records in the briefly publicly available database.

a73c9_23918-30783-aitype-l Data of 31 million users of iPhone add-on keyboard ai.type potentially leaks

Other information in the database includes average messages per day, words per message, and ages of users.

“It is logical that anyone who has downloaded and installed the Ai.Type virtual keyboard on their phone has had all of their phone data exposed publicly online. This presents a real danger for cyber criminals who could commit fraud or scams using such detailed information about the user,” said Kromtech’s Head of Communications Bob Diachenko. “It raises the question once again if it is really worth it for consumers to submit their data in exchange for free or discounted products or services that gain full access to their devices.”

Upon installation, ai.type asks for “Full Access.” If permission is granted, the add-on keyboard can transmit absolutely anything typed through the keyboard to the developer. However, the company claims that it will never use personal information it collects —but if Kromtech is correct, the company appears to have stored a fair amount of information from the user’s device anyhow.

Ai.type tells a different story about the data contained in the database —but does not deny that a database was available publicly for a period of time.

Speaking to the BBC, Chief Executive Eitan Fitusi says that the stolen information was a “secondary database.” Additionally, he claims that the IMEI information was never collected by the company, user data collected only involves what ads are clicked by the user, and that the location data wasn’t accurate.

Fitusi claims that the database has been secured since the breach.

The company that found the database, Kromtech, is the company that develops and sells the poorly regarded MacKeeper suite of applications.

This Woman’s Family Couldn’t Afford a Computer. Now She Oversees a $100 Million Investment Fund.


Growing up in a small town in Russia, Valery Komissarova’s family was too poor to buy her a computer. But that didn’t stop her from pouring over ragged IBM manuals and PC books that her dad would bring home from work.

“I loved reading them because I was always dreaming that at some point I would get hold of an actual computer,” she says.

She taught herself so much that at the age of 13, she began writing articles for tech magazines (her editors had no idea how old she was). At 16, she ditched high school to “write copy and code, and do analytics and market reports” for a Russian publishing house. By the time Komissarova was in her early 20s, she’d put herself through business school and was running biz dev and marketing for major Russian internet company Mail.Ru Group.

Related: 10 Financial Mistakes Rich People Never Make

It was there that she met Dmitry Grishin, co-founder of Mail.Ru and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in eastern Europe. Grishin recognized a star in Komissarova and, after his company went public, he asked her to help him launch his new company.

Now 26 years old, Komissarova is a principal at the venture capital firm Grishin Robotics. With investors that include Larry Page and Richard Branson, the firm is putting $100 million into startups specializing in robotics — or what she calls the “hardware revolution.” These are hardware companies that integrate software that wasn’t economically possible even a few years ago. Her portfolio includes Ring, the video doorbell company, and LittleBits, a droid inventor kit for kids.

Whether your business is robotics or something completely different, Komissarova’s offers these pointers — from Russia with love.

Ignore other people’s opinions

From the moment Komissarova applied for her first job, employees twice her age laughed at her. “They said I was too young, and that I had no business being a woman in the tech industry,” she recalls. At first she was intimitaded, but she soon realized that the only “counter strategy was to be really, really good. Then everything else doesn’t matter.”

Related: 10 New Ideas for Making Money on the Side

She read any book on business that she could get her hands on, including the entire reading lists of various MBA programs at top U.S. schools. Seth Godin and Tom Peters were among her favorites authors. Also inspiring were biographies of successful entrepreneurs. Richard Branson’s autobiography, Losing My Virginity, taught her “not to care about other people’s opinions.”

Be a social animal

Komissarova admits to being very shy and introverted. As a tech nerd, it was more natural for her to stay in her lane and hide behind her computer. But she forced herself to branch out. “I made myself interact with people I wouldn’t normally interact with. I went out of my comfort zone,” she says.

She learned the lingo not only of the engineers but also of the marketing department. She took a public speaking class and went to networking events. “You don’t have to enjoy it, but you have to spend time on the other side of the table.”

Related: How to Invest $1,000 and Grow It Into $1 Million

Write your way out of a jam

Komissarova starts off every day writing, in long-hand, three pages of her thoughts into a notebook. She does this totally stream-of-consciousness style. Anything goes. “No judgements, no restrictions, no agenda,” she says. And no computer. She insists the pages need to be handwritten.

The practice was inspired by Julia Cameron’s classic book The Artist’s Way, and Komissarova swears by it as a great way to clear your mind and solve problems. “Stick with it for at least a few weeks,” she says. “If you do it long enough, it will make you both a better person and a better entrepreneur.”

Know your why

As a venture capitalist, Komissarova has heard her fair share of pitches. She says the most effective are always those that passionately answer the question “Why?” “It’s not about how you look, what you wear or how you present yourself, it’s about establishing an emotional connection,” she says.

For this reason, she always asks company founders why they’re doing what they’re doing and listens carefully to their answer. “You have to be excited and passionate about why your business exists,” she says. “The competition is fierce and absolutely brutal, you need to set yourself apart.”

Related: 10 Pieces of Financial Advice I Wish I Knew in My 20s

Tell a compelling story

Komissarova says that entrepreneurs are often very good at explaining what their product does, but not so much at telling the story behind it. Who are you? What led you to create this product? How will it transform people and the marketplace? These are the ingredients of a good pitch.

“Technical people often think, We’re working are asses off to make the best product, and if people don’t appreciate that it’s their problem. Or we’ll just hire a marketing company to tell our story and make a pretty website, but that doesn’t cut it,” she says.

She points to two of the most successful company founders of all time — Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. “One was technical, one was a storyteller. If this is not in the DNA of the company in the very beginning I wouldn’t fund the company,” she says, “because it’s something that’s almost impossible to instill down the road.”

AI.type virtual keyboard leaks personal data for 31 million Android users

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Owner of Detroit home health agency convicted in $1.6 million health care fraud scheme

DETROIT – A federal jury found a Detroit home health agency owner guilty for her role in a scheme involving approximately $1.6 million in fraudulent Medicare claims for home health services that were procured through the payment of kickbacks, and that were medically unnecessary and not provided, officials said.

Editha Manzano, 69, of Troy, Michigan, was convicted Monday of one count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks in connection with Medicare beneficiaries and one count of health care fraud following a seven-day trial.

Sentencing has been scheduled for April 19 before U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain of the Eastern District of Michigan, who presided over the trial.

According to evidence presented at the trial, from 2013 to 2016, Manzano and her co-conspirators engaged in a scheme to defraud Medicare of approximately $1.6 million in fraudulent claims for home health care services in connection with Anointed Care Services, a Detroit area home health care agency.

Evidence showed Manzano paid illegal kickbacks for patients to sign up for home health care with Anointed. The evidence further showed that Manzano conspired with physicians to admit patients for home health care with Anointed when they did not qualify for such services.

To make it appear that the patients qualified, Manzano and her co-conspirators falsified medical records and signed false documents purporting to show that patients admitted to Anointed’s home health program satisfied Medicare’s requirements for admission, the evidence showed.

Four additional people were charged:

  • Liberty Jaramillo, 67, of Troy, Michigan, pleaded guilty in June 2017 and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Dr. Roberto Quizon, 71, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, pleaded guilty in June of 2017 and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Dr. Victoria Gallardo-Navarra, 74, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan was acquitted after trial.
  • Juan Yrorita, RN, 63, of Sterling Heights, Michigan, pleaded guilty during trial and is awaiting sentencing.

Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.

Blockstack raises $52 million to build a parallel internet where you own all your data

Blockchain startup Blockstack says it raised $52.8 million in its ICO, finalized Friday. The company is building a sort of parallel to the internet that users access via the Blockstack browser and that features a wide variety of apps. The Blockstack ecosystem promises to benefit both users and app makers. It gives users control over their own data via a personal API. Meanwhile, it allows developers to launch apps without having to host user data or worry about related storage costs and data privacy.

Instead of having all your data stored centrally (for example, having your email stored by Google, your photos by Instagram, your social messaging stored by Facebook), you would have your data stored locally on your laptop, with copies in one or more cloud services of your own choosing. Blockstack apps would have pointers to the part of your data relevant to their app, but they wouldn’t own or store that data. “It’s like Facebook Connect — you bring your identity with you” to various apps, Blockstack cofounder Ryan Shea told VentureBeat.

One potential limitation Blockstack’s approach faces is that, with all apps running locally on a user’s machine rather than on remote servers, app performance could be uneven, with the user experience depending on the limits of his or her device.

But Shea argues that users are unlikely to exprience hits in performance: “The apps run on your machine and they’re fairly lightweight, so in general you shouldn’t be constrained by any resources on your device. Some of these apps will require additional resources from remote servers, but in these cases they won’t be dependent on these remote servers. Instead, they will use them as throwaway servers that provide partial resources for a decentralized network.”

Performance questions aside, the Blockstack approach means users can control the level of security for their data and who it gets shared with. And developers can build and deploy apps without worrying about scalability and any legal obligations they have to protect user data. You can imagine an approach like this helping to solve the issue of GDPR compliance over the long term. (Europe’s GDPR ruling, which goes into effect in 2018, will put a heavy burden on foreign companies handling the data on individuals in the European Union).

Developers don’t need to learn a blockchain-specific language to code apps for the Blockstack ecosystem. “The average developer can build on this,” company cofounder Muneeb Ali told VentureBeat.

Blockstack is already live, though limited. You can see a demo below.

There are currently about eight applications available to anyone who runs the browser (at least on a Mac; Windows and Linux are not yet fully supported). Over 10 more apps listed in the browser are under development. And thanks to the company’s three-month old “Signature Fund” — a $25 million fund pooled together by a group of VC firms backing Blockstack — a number of app makers are now getting funding to build for the platform.

Shea and Ali say the developer community behind the platform is large and growing. They cite some 13,000 developers worldwide who attend Blockstack meetups and say that members of the developer community have been putting up bounties to incentivize their peers to deliver new features. The bounties started small, the cofounders say, at about $5,000, but Blockstack’s investors have now gotten into the game, too, offering bounties of up to $25,000 for apps they’d like to see on the platform. Shea and Ali say they hope to see decentralized clones of services like Slack, Twitter, and GitHub running on Blockstack in the future.

The New York City-based company launched in 2013 and currently has an 11-person team. It expects to expand that number to more than 20 with its ICO funds, Shea said. Blockstack currently runs on the Bitcoin blockchain but is designed to run on any chain.

VCs who participated in the ICO include Union Square Ventures, Foundation Capital, Lux Capital, Winklevoss Capital, Blockchain Capital, Digital Currency Group, Kevin Rose, Michael Arrington, and Qasar Younis (former COO of Y Combinator).

Microsoft: 600 Million Devices Now Running Windows 10

Microsoft says more than 600 million devices are now using Windows 10, another step forward for the company’s frequently updated operating software.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the figure Wednesday at the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Windows 10 had 500 million users in May, when Microsoft last gave an update.

“Everywhere I go I see firsthand the impact we are having,” Nadella said to a room full of shareholders in Bellevue on Wednesday morning, before giving examples of large businesses using Azure cloud services, HoloLens and Office 365.

Microsoft launched Windows 10 in 2015 as a new way of thinking about its operating system — specifically, that it would be updated about twice a year rather than waiting years in between major version changes.

The Fall Creators Update of the software, released in October, emphasizes 3-D technology. People can rotate images 360 degrees in PowerPoint, or connect virtual-reality headsets made by partners such as Dell and Samsung.

At the Wednesday meeting, shareholders approved appointments to Microsoft’s 14-person board of directors, the largest it’s ever had. This year, the company added Penny S. Pritzker, the founder and chairman of PSP Capital and Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International.

Shareholders also approved the appointments of two new members announced earlier in the year; LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Hugh Johnston, chief financial officer of PepsiCo.

Activist investor G. Mason Morfit announced earlier this year he would leave the board in December.


Image credit: Product shot by HP.

Windows 10 Now Runs on 600 Million Devices Worldwide

96450_Windows10-Goofy-640x353 Windows 10 Now Runs on 600 Million Devices Worldwide

When Microsoft launched Windows 10, the company said it wanted the OS to run on a billion devices within three years. The death of Windows Mobile made this impossible, and the company later walked back the prediction as a result. Still, the OS has made inroads nonetheless. Earlier this spring, Satya Nadella said Windows 10 had hit 500 million devices. Today, he’s claiming it’s on 600 million systems.

Windows 10’s rollout has been slowed by its lack of uptake on mobile devices, and by the relatively slow pace of sales in the larger PC market. While the PC market is expected to grow somewhat in the next few years, the jump isn’t anything like as large as it would need to be to drive a billion devices running Windows 10 by the OS’s three-year anniversary. But 600 million systems is nothing to sneeze at, and Windows could still hit its goal in the 2019-2020 range, thanks to long-term PC replacement schedules.

Is the Chinese Market Pulling Down Windows 10 Adoption Figures?

There’s some reason to think that reports of Windows 10’s anemic share growth are being distorted by the Chinese markets. When we covered a set of highly unusual changes to Steam’s usual hardware survey earlier in November, readers pointed out that Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds had only recently starting winning large numbers of Chinese players, and this did indeed seem to be related to a sudden skewing of Steam’s data set back to Windows 7. PCMag’s Matthew Humphries notes that according to Netmarketshare, Windows 10 has just a 29 percent market share. Netmarketshare has very different numbers than Statcounter, but Statcounter allows us to look at region-specific data that Netmarketshare doesn’t make available for free. Statcounter’s data set shows Windows 10 is much less popular in China than in other areas. Here’s the Chinese comparison:

96450_Windows10-Goofy-640x353 Windows 10 Now Runs on 600 Million Devices Worldwide

Windows 7 remains the dominant OS in China, with Windows XP still holding ~18 percent of the market. Windows 10 is sitting at 20.42 percent of the market in this comparison. But this is unique to the Chinese market. Europe shows Windows 10 with a 46.8 percent market share, compared with 37.8 percent for Windows 7. In North America, Win 10’s market share is 49.13 percent, compared with 38.75 percent for Win 7. India, like China, shows a much greater tilt towards Windows 7, with 54.8 percent of systems using that OS and 27.19 percent using Windows 10.

In short, rumors of Windows 10’s low adoption rates are exaggerated by the very different technology cycles in developing countries like India and China as compared with established markets in the US and Europe. And while a much smaller percentage of the population of India or China have a laptop or desktop compared with the US or Europe, that’s partly offset by the fact that the absolute number of people living in those nations dwarfs the US or EU. If 100 percent of the US population owned a Windows 10 system, and 12 percent of the combined populations of China and India owned a Windows 7 system, Windows 7 would have more than 50 percent of the total Windows market.

Ultimately, Windows 10 appears to be doing pretty well in the US and European market. If it starts winning market share in India and China, it could turn its global adoption figures around in short order.

Now read: Windows 10: The Best Hidden Features, Tips, and Tricks

Windows 10 now on 600 million machines, not all of them PCs | Ars …

5334b_windows-on-all-devices-640x273 Windows 10 now on 600 million machines, not all of them PCs | Ars ...

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told shareholders that Windows 10 has now passed 600 million monthly active users, picking up 100 million since May of this year.

This number counts all Windows 10 devices used over a 28-day period. While most of these will be PCs, there are other things in the mix there: a few million Xbox Ones, a few million Windows 10 Mobile phones, and special hardware like the HoloLens and Surface Hub. The exact mix between these categories isn’t known, because Microsoft doesn’t say.

The company’s original ambition (and sales pitch to developers) was to have one billion systems running Windows 10 within about three years of the operating system’s launch. In July last year, the company acknowledged that it won’t hit that target—the original plan called for 50 million or more phone sales a year, which the retreat from the phone market has made impossible. But at the current rate it should still be on track for somewhere in excess of 700 million users at the self-imposed deadline.

Windows 10 isn’t the first release that Microsoft has published user numbers for, of course, but the speed of adoption has a particular importance as the company tries to encourage developers to build apps for the Microsoft Store. The company wants developers to either produce applications using the new Universal Windows Platform APIs, or failing that, to package their existing applications using the older Win32 APIs using the Desktop Bridge (formerly Centennial). In both cases, Microsoft wants devs to sell, distribute, and update those applications through the Store. With UWP and Centennial being exclusive to Windows 10, assuring developers that the market is big enough to be worth targeting is important for achieving this; sluggish Windows 10 adoption would leave developers more inclined to take the safe bet of targeting Windows 7 and ignoring UWP and the Store.

5334b_windows-on-all-devices-640x273 Windows 10 now on 600 million machines, not all of them PCs | Ars ...

Adoption of the latest Windows 10 version, the Fall Creators Update, version 1709, continues to outpace the uptake of the Creators Update, 1703. Using figures from AdDuplex, version 1709 is on a hair over 20 percent of Windows 10 machines after being widely available for a month and ten days. That’s up from five percent a month ago.

AdDuplex’s numbers also give some insight into the make-up of the market for Microsoft’s Surface-branded computers. The new 2017 Surface Pro seems to have gotten off to a solid start, with just over nine percent of Surface-branded systems being this latest model. Surface Laptop, by contrast, appears to hold a much lower share at just two percent. AdDuplex’s numbers are driven by usage of apps from the Store. Part of this difference in share is likely to be due to different user behaviors; on the one hand, tablet users are probably more inclined to be interested in Store apps, as Store apps are more likely to be accessible to tablet systems. On the other hand, the Laptop defaults to Windows 10 S, which can only use Store apps (though it can be freely upgraded to Windows 10 Pro, which has no such restriction).

5334b_windows-on-all-devices-640x273 Windows 10 now on 600 million machines, not all of them PCs | Ars ...

Which effect is more significant is hard to say, but either way, it continues to appear that people who want the Surface brand want the flexibility that Surface Pro boasts. That only further cements our confusion that the Laptop didn’t include a 360-degree hinge.




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