Google kept some users’ passwords in plain text for 14 years

Administrators of some of Google’s five million business accounts got an unwelcome surprise when the company recently notified them it had stored some user passwords in plain text since 2005.

Usually, before storing passwords with usernames, tech companies scramble passwords so they can only be read with an encryption “key.” Even if someone finds a password and log-in pair on Google’s internal servers, they won’t be able to read the password without that key.

But Google made a mistake when it first built its email-for-business product, G Suite, 14 years ago. The tool that allowed managers to manually set passwords for employees failed to encrypt new passwords before storing them, according to a post on the Google blog from earlier today.

“We have been conducting a thorough investigation and have seen no evidence of improper access to or misuse of the affected G Suite credentials,” the blog post said.

It’s been a rough week for Google’s security team. On Monday, a large number of users (including employees at the Bay Area News Group) mistakenly received a notification that a new device had signed into their account, scaring a lot of people into thinking their accounts were being hacked. It’s unclear whether the two issues are linked.

Should all this news push you to bulk up your online security, Google researchers published some good tips last week for protecting your account, even if someone gets ahold of your passwords.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Barnes & Noble returns to Contra Costa County with new bookstore in Concord

CONCORD — More than three years after it closed its popular Walnut Creek store and six years after it closed its Pleasant Hill store, Barnes & Noble is coming back to central Contra Costa County on Wednesday.

Its new store will open in the Veranda shopping center on Diamond Boulevard, part of its effort over the last two years to test new store designs across the country and compete in a changing retail environment.

The Concord store prototype is a 12,200 square-foot location that looks more modern than its older stores. Oak bookshelves across the store are short enough to allow customers to see across the store, and a mix of wood-grain tile and carpet line the floors. Like in its older stores, a cafe sells Starbucks coffee drinks and baked good, and both table seating and bar seating is situated around the cafe.

What customers won’t see is the large CD selection that was present in Walnut Creek and other Barnes and Noble stores for years. While a gift section includes some vinyl records, notebooks and gifts such as puzzles and games, and a kids’ section sells some games and toys, the focus of this store is books. The books are organized mostly in the traditional “fiction,” “non-fiction,” and smaller categories, but some shelves feature staff picks or local interests that are personalized for Concord.

Barnes & Noble returns to the area after its Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek stores closed in 2013 and 2016, respectively, when the retailer could not reach agreements with the landlords in those locations. Since then, the company, which also has stores in Antioch, El Cerrito and Dublin, in addition to some in the Peninsula and the South Bay, announced in 2018 that it was reviewing alternative strategies, including a sale of the company. But it has also …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Amazon pits warehouse workers against each other, eyes robot replacements with steel talons

Amazon is turning warehouse work into a competitive game, while looking toward a future in which robots with steel talons do the labor.

The e-commerce behemoth led by CEO Jeff Bezos is running an experiment in several warehouses, involving thousands of “pickers” and “stowers” whose labors are incorporated into video games in a process called “gamification,” according to a new report.

“Some compete by racing virtual dragons or sports cars around a track, while others collaborate to build castles piece by piece,” according to The Washington Post, owned by Bezos.

“They’re racing to fill customer orders, their progress reflected in a video game format. The games simultaneously register the completion of … (a) task, which is tracked by scanning devices, and can pit individuals, teams or entire floors against one another to be fastest.”

Participation is optional, the paper reported. “The company said it doesn’t monitor game results or penalize workers for not participating,” according to the Post. “However, warehouse workers are tracked carefully for speed, efficiency and other factors, and those who underperform can be fired or reassigned.

“And if the games are helping to push workers to be more productive, it could make those who eschew them appear to be straggling.”

Amazon’s gamification experiment started at a single warehouse in 2017 and is now underway at five of the company’s “fulfillment” facilities.

“The games are a response to worker complaints that Amazon’s push for more automation has made laborers feel like cogs in a bigger machine, as they increasingly work alongside robots,” according to the Post.

The Post noted that other firms have launched similar initiatives.

“Uber and Lyft have mastered gamification in an effort to keep drivers on the road longer, generally by dangling cash rewards for completing seemingly arbitrary goals, such as 60 rides in a week or 20 more miles,” …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


Massive housing, office development officially coming to Redwood City

A massive development project featuring housing, office buildings and retail space is expected to soon transform an underutilized strip mall into the cornerstone of a new, vibrant district in Redwood City.

The Redwood City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give the Broadway Plaza project its final stamp of approval from the city.

Council members thanked the developer, the Sobrato Organization, for working so closely with members of the community and touted the project as one other developers should aspire to.

Council member Alicia Aguirre called it “an amazing project,” adding that the developer went “above and beyond” its requirement to the community.

“We’ve always said when there’s a good development it’s because it’s taken time for the developers to really reach out to the community,” Aguirre said during Monday’s meeting. “…I fully support something like this in our community. It’ll be amazing to serve so many (people) at so many different levels.”

The Broadway Plaza project is situated on two sites at Broadway and Woodside roads between the city’s downtown core and the future Stanford Redwood City development.

The development will include 400 market-rate residential units, 120 affordable units, 420,000 square feet of office space, 26,000 square feet of retail space, a 10,000 square-foot child care center and shared underground parking for residents, employees and retail customers.

A 1.6-acre open space area — complete with a dog park, water feature and a shaded plaza with seating — will separate the residential and office buildings.

The project is estimated to accommodate about 1,400 total residents across three apartment buildings, 1,720 employees across three office buildings and up to 125 children in the childcare center.

Although the council approved the project, construction is not set to begin for about a year due to contamination on the property. From 1945 to 1972, the site was home to a bearings manufacturing …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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