The Ken wants to fix business journalism in India with a subscription model

Four former reporters and entrepreneurs are attempting to fix India’s “broken” business media landscape and simultaneously prove that there’s an audience — and business — for paying for quality journalism in the country.

Subscription-based media is thriving in the West. The New York Times has seen its digital subscription base swell following the election of President Trump. In tech, The Information, founded by a former Wall Street Journal editor, has thrived with a mix of trend-based reporting and news scoops, while Stratechery, an analysis-focused newsletter/blog from Taiwan-based writer Ben Thompson, has also shown the model to be lucrative.

But this is India, a country where monetizing a product is difficult even if it is supremely popular. Apple sells more iPhones on launch weekend than it manages in India over a whole year, while addictive services like Netflix — far cheaper than an iPhone — have struggled to gain mainstream prominence thus far.

Starting With Business Reporting

Yet subscription is the vision behind The Ken, a Bangalore-based new media company that publishes a story per day behind a paywall. Access is priced at $108 for overseas users, or 2,750 INR ($42) for those in India.

The site, which also offers $10 per month and $25/900 INR ($13.50) per quarter packages, is the most prominent subscription-based media play India has seen thus far. Its coverage is principally focused on technology and business, that’s the domain its founding team has experience in, but there are plans to move into new areas further down the line.

“We don’t want to be seen as just covering startups, that’s a very easy trap to fall into,” co-founder and CEO Rohin Dharmakumar told TechCrunch in a recent interview. “We want to expand our coverage and be interesting enough on a daily basis but also slightly unpredictable.”

The Ken — which is named after an old fashioned English word for knowledge — is build around its community. Email is the primary communication medium, and the team of 11 takes it in turns to send daily missives to its user base — including those who are registered but not paying — that introduce the daily read with humor and thought. Once a week, the site produces a story that sits outside of its paywall for anyone to read, acting as bait to lure in new subscriptions.



Beyond straight up pay-to-read, The Ken uses other models to help get its writing into the hands of more readers without the need for advertising. It has worked with corporate sponsors who pay to make some of its content available for free without any promotional material or advertising — mobile wallet giant Paytm, for example, sponsored a week-long free pass — while it is in the process of introducing corporate subscriptions, too.

There’s no plan for article-only or daily plans, Dharmakumar explained, because that would dilute the experience and take away from building a longer-term vision and community.

Make Media Great Again

Small disclaimer, I’m one of The Ken’s paying subscribers because, beyond information gathering as part of my job, I’m interested in observing the ways technology is disrupting daily life. Emerging markets — where tech is advancing almost every aspect of everyday living — are a fascination and India, with its billion-plus population and nationwide diversity, is arguable the country where the impact of tech could be highest. Yet there are few media outlets able to tell this story with clarity, interest and — above all — accuracy.

With respect to that latter point, Dharmakumar explained that The Ken started up in response to what he observed to be the Indian population’s general disinterest in media.

“It became very apparent that there was a crisis of business journalism in India,” he said. “People were essentially not reading newspapers, just giving up. And I don’t mean just young people, even experienced investors would prefer to catch up on news via social media.”

“Coverage was dumbed down, biased, and dense — people couldn’t relate to it and couldn’t find value in it,” Dharmakumar added.

 Inspired by some of the aforementioned subscription-based media plays — Dharmakumar specifically mentions The Information and Stratechery — the team of four decided it was “time someone did something about this in India” and they created The Ken. Initially the project started out with postings on social media, before introducing an email-registration-paywall to float the idea of a barrier between reader and subject matter.

Satisfied with what they saw, The Ken then went live to a paying audience.

Dharmakumar isn’t revealing how many readers it has right now, but he said the company has exceeded its own expectations at this point. Indeed, it actually became a profitable business within two weeks of the launch of its website before going on to raise $400,000 from a bunch of reputable angel investors this year. Some of those backers include the founders of notable Indian tech startups Paytm, TaxiForSure and Freshdesk. (Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma also backed FactorDaily, another ambitious new media startup we wrote about, alongside other India-based news websites.)

“While $400,000 may not seem like a lot of money these days, it’s a significant amount to build a focused, lean media business, which has also been generating revenue right from day one. As journalists, we’ve seen too many instances of companies losing their focus and fire in the belly after raising too much money too early on,” Dharmakumar wrote in a note to subscribers announcing the financing.

“Business journalism lost the plot on this, many years ago when it started churning out articles that were either incremental, one-sided, dumbed down or dry and boring. We go to great lengths to make our stories anything but,” he added.

Growing Into The Mainstream

Despite criticizing the status quo, The Ken’s CEO said the business isn’t looking to rip out the existing media system in India, rather it sees a position working within it.

“We are not attempting to replace traditional newspapers, we are a complement to one,” he said. “People read the news to find out what’s happening, we focus on what comes next, who is doing what, and where is the motivation?”

The company’s course for the next six month is to continue to do what it is doing while growing its audience and deepening its reporting pool. After that period, it will look to new coverage areas it can branch into to give its readership a wider selection of stories and information.

Dharmakumar is also keen to expand The Ken’s readership beyond its initial focus on business professional and tech industry watchers.

“Want to take our stories to younger people who feel business news isn’t for them,” he explained.

First up, apps for Android and iOS will come, which will help expand from those who currently rely on email to access the site and its stories. Other planned features include a comment section for stories and a Slack channel to enables readers to engage with writers directly, potentially to help steer editorial focus or raise potential areas for storytelling.

The Facts of Weight Loss Drugs

There are various new fat dissolving medications available on the market today. However, these medications are not expected for the average person who has an extra 10 pounds to lose before their wedding. Prescription fat liquefying medications are designed for the individuals who are significantly corpulent or have weight-related medical issues that should be revised rapidly to stop encouraging complications. Here is a basic manual for figuring out whether fat liquefying medications may be appropriate for you. Obviously, you ought to always consult your doctor for an exhaustive evaluation and prescription to find out more.

Image result for The Facts of Weight Loss Drugs

There are certain rules concerning who may be recommended fat dissolving medications. Individuals who have a body mass record that is more than 30, unless they have other corpulence related health conditions, for example, heart issues, diabetes, or hypertension. These critical conditions bring down the body mass file necessity to 27. Regardless of whether a serious condition is stoutness related and reason for recommending medication can rely on upon the doctor, so get a second opinion if you don’t agree with your doctor’s assessment. These health issues can get to be distinctly critical if overlooked and prescription fat softening medications may be the answer you have been searching for.

The most common fat softening medications are impacted by smothering the appetite. These sorts of eating routine aids have been around for a considerable length of time, with amphetamines and Dexedrine being utilized as far back as the 1950’s. Another sort of craving suppressant drugs utilizes a somewhat different mechanism to achieve the same outcome, decreasing their appeal for abuse. For example, the popular medication Meridia unleashes a certain kind of brain chemical that is responsible for signaling hunger. Along these lines, they rarely get eager, so there is no sentiment starving themselves of something they want. Unfortunately, Meridia is known to increase circulatory strain and heart rate, making it unsafe for many with cardiovascular issues.

Other than the fat dissolving medications that stifle appetite, there is another class of medications designed to meddle with the body’s ability to soak up fat from food. Xenical was the first of these lipase inhibitor medications to be approved, hitting the market in 1999. These medications impact by repressing the body’s production of lipase, which is a necessary part of the fat absorption handle. Without this catalyst, fat atoms cannot be separated and will pass harmlessly through the stomach related system. The reactions of Xenical show the drawback to letting fat leave the body in its raw state, with cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, and anal leakage being the most common.

Testing is always being performed on new medications for the commercial markets, so it is only a matter of time before there are better options for some wishing to shed pounds. Some developmental prescriptions have gotten here and now FDA approval, yet they have shown too many symptoms to be approved for mainstream use at this time. With some all the more refining by the pharmaceutical companies’ research and advancement departments!

HGH drugs

Human Growth Hormone often called as HGH is a growth hormone that is given to child or adult if there is a serious growth deficiency seen. There are number of brands and products available for same product in the market. The branding makes a lot of difference in prices and some products may cost you more than the normal ones available in the market. Many of the products work in same way. These products once taken directly diffuse in our blood cells and boosts the growth hormone secretion in pituitary glands. These products have a steroid effect. Apart from helping growth of lean muscles these products also helps to burn additional fat to get a leaner frame.

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How does this work?

Somatropin is an effective HGH that when taken stimulates muscle growth and also helps protein synthesis. This product claims to boost the level of amino acids in the body that is responsible to boost the growth hormone secretion. This product also increases the energy level of the body on regular intake and hence there is an increase in protein synthesis in the body, increase in protein synthesis also helps in burning more fat than usual. All these activities mean there is a boost in normal body metabolic activity. Apart from these this product is also supposed to boost the red blood cells production that helps in regeneration of body tissues easily when there is a repair. Also this product claims to provide additional energy that is used for extended work outs, provides quick recovery time between work outs and more stamina to perform rigorous activities. Usage of this product is bit limited due to sky high prices of few products especially price of Somatropin in Mexico.  

Somatropin prices

Growth hormone prices are slightly elevated in the health care market. If only taken as medication, this hormone dosage will be prescribed only in very few quantities for very limited period of time till that deficiency is overcome. When you tend to buy basic form, you can find cheap drugs in few countries. When you tend to purchase Somatropin from a retail pharmacy like CVS and Target, you end up paying $1,030 which a little bit lesser than other stores. Whereas in Walgreens and Walmart the pricing will be nominal which could be like $1,039. In other store the prices might be shooting high. Many retailers and druggists help people to see if they get a valid prescription that can help them to cover up the high charges using as Insurance.

Offers and promotions on pricing

With the price payed being high on most of the regions, most of the people have higher expectations. Many people find only optimal or very little increase in height or weight for paying a lump sum amount of dollars. Hence visit a physician and get a realistic picture on what you can expect with the amount of dosages subscribed for you. There are many stores and retails offer you free benefits and offers. But you can find more offers and pricing options when you visit online HGH store. Of course, pricing varies on manufacturer and price may depend accordingly. This product is mainly manufactured only in limited countries one among major supplier is Mexico. Hence price of Somatropin in Mexico is relatively high compared to any other countries.

Sony Xperia Smartphone Images Leak Ahead of Monday’s MWC 2017 Launch

When Sony started sending media invites for its Xperia smartphone launch last month, it was speculated to launch at least two devices. Rumours however suggested later that Sony could launch five new Xperia smartphones at its launch event at the side-lines of MWC 2017 trade show in Barcelona – which kicks off at 8:30am CET (1pm IST). Now, we have been treated with four new images of Xperia smartphones – all of which are – expected to debut at the company’s Monday launch. Additionally, Sony’s rumoured Xperia XZ Premium was spotted in leaked image.

Sony Xperia Smartphone Images Leak Ahead of Monday's MWC 2017 Launch

The new leak comes from prolific tipster Evan Blass who tweeted out the four images on Sunday. We believe that Sony will be unveiling these four Xperia devices at MWC 2017. Unfortunately, the leaked devices weren’t named. But based on preliminary leaks, Sony is expected to launch two Xperia XZ range smartphones, which can be seen on the right. The third image in the leak (pictured in White) seems to be a successor to the Xperia XA. The fourth Sony Xperia device in the leaked image is unknown, and we will have to wait for Sony’s keynote on Monday.

Sony’s flagship Xperia smartphone is widely rumoured to feature the company’s new 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM for smartphones.

An earlier leak claimed a Sony device codenamed Pikachu to make debut soon, and we suspect that the fourth leaked image could be of it. Dubbed Pikachu, the new Sony smartphone was spotted in GFXBench benchmark listing with some innards details. According to the benchmark listing, the Sony Pikachu may feature 5-inch HD display and will be powered by a 2.3GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6757 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. The alleged Sony Pikachu is said to run Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and sport a 21-megapixel rear camera, which can be considered as a highlight of the device. The handset is also said to pack an 8-megapixel front camera.

In a separate leak, Xperia Blog has shared a leaked image claimed to show the Xperia XZ Premium. The rumoured Sony Xperia XZ Premium is likely to come with a 4K HDR display, Snapdragon 835 SoC, and a 20-megapixel camera sensor. The handset is seen featuring a Chrome mirror finish at the back. Some of the features expected to be present on the Xperia XZ Premium include 960fps slow-motion video recording, which is also the highlight of the new 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor. The leaked image shows May 7 on the lock screen pointing that the handset may release on this date.

LG G6 With 5.7-Inch FullVision Display, Google Assistant Launched at MWC 2017

LG G6, the new LG flagship smartphone, has been unveiled at the company’s launch event at MWC 2017 in Barcelona on Sunday. The LG G6 follows the company’s ‘Less Artificial, More Intelligence’ theme.

LG G6 With 5.7-Inch FullVision Display, Google Assistant Launched at MWC 2017

Juno Cho, President of Mobile Communications Company, LG Electronics, at the company’s keynote stressed that the smartphone war isn’t about specifications but about usability. The LG G6 highlight is of course the presence of the Google Assistant, the first non-Google Pixel smartphone to sport the virtual assistant.

LG G6 features
The LG G6 is the first LG phone launching with the new UX 6.0 while also sports 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display with a 18:9 (or 2:1) aspect ratio, which is longer and narrower than the current industry standard of 16:9. It packs a fingerprint scanner at the back.

Being called the Univisium aspect ratio, LG says cinemas, TV, and smartphones will all be moving towards this new 18:9 ratio. The company says that several apps in Google Play as well as content creators like Amazon are working to make content compatible for 18:9 aspect ratio which is being used on the LG G6. LG says the new UX 6.0 has been optimised for the new 18:9 aspect ratio on the LG G6.

The new flagship is touted to be the “first smartphone with supports Dolby Vision.” It also support HDR10 tech. The LG G6 is the first phone to come with Dolby Vision video support, and the Dolby confirmed that there are about 90 movies with Dolby Vision already available. Imangi Studios at the keynote announced Temple Run 2: Lost Jungle that it says has been optimised for the 18:9 aspect ratio, adding LG G6 users will get 650,000 in-game coins, enough to unlock all characters and powerups.

Talking about usability, the company at the LG keynote stressed that the LG G6 body width is 72mm (minimum body width 67mm). The company said that the bottom bezel size which is important for handling the phone is above 7.5mm offering more reliability while using the handset with just one hand, and reducing drop chances. LG also fit a 5.7-inch display in a smartphone with body meant for a 5.2-inch display, further helping grip the large screen smartphone.

At the keynote, LG confirmed that the LG G6 will come with a G6 Game Collection promotion which will be free for the buyers and will offer in-game content with a retail value of up to a total of $200 for six games including Temple Run 2, Spider-Man Unlimited, Crossy Road, SimCity BuildIt, Cookie Jam and Genies & Gems – on Google Play.

LG revealed that the six games take full advantage of the G6’s FullVision display and single-handed ease of use.

LG G6 specifications
The LG G6 specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital to analogue converter) for enhanced audio playback. Its 5.7-inch FullVision display bears a QHD+ (1440×2880 pixels) resolution with a pixel density of 564ppi. It will be available in two storage options – 32GB and 64GB. The LG G6 will support expandable storage via microSD card (up to 2TB). It comes with a dual rear camera setup with two 13-megapixel sensors – one for wide-angle shots with 125-degree lens and f/2.4 aperture, and the other for regular shots with 71-degree lens and OIS 2.0. At the front, the smartphone sports a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and 100-degree lens. At the keynote, LG also showcased its new Square Grid feature for the camera while also confirmed that the front camera comes with autofocus.

The LG G6 battery has a capacity of 3300mAh, and is non-removable, which is a departure from the company’s previous policy of offering a removable battery on its flagship handsets. The battery capacity on the G6 is almost 500mAh more than on the LG G5.

At the keynote, the company stressed that the handset packs extra safety measures including a copper heatpipe to better dissipate heat. It also supports Quick Charge 3.0. LG G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat with the company’s brand new UX 6.0 and also is the first non-Pixel phone with Google Assistant. It weighs in at 163 grams, and measures 148.9×71.9×7.9mm, impressively compact for a 5.7-inch smartphone. The new LG G6 smartphone comes with an IP68-rating for dust and water resistance.

LG G6 will support LTE-A 3 Band CA network while will come with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC, and USB Type-C 2.0 connectivity options. It will be available in Astro Black, Ice Platinum, and Mystic White.

LG G6 price and availability
Unfortunately, LG chose not to detail the LG G6 price and availability at the company’s launch event in Barcelona. We’ll update you as soon as we know more.

iPhone 8 to Sport AR Features and Glass Back With Steel Frame: Reports

iPhone 8 rumours are coming in every day, and today’s set of leaks shed light on the metal and glass combination build of the device, some sort of augmented reality (AR) integration, and the removal of the dedicated fingerprint sensor. The iPhone 8 should get rid of the fingerprint reader on the physical Home Button, and look to embed it under the display screen.

iPhone 8 to Sport AR Features and Glass Back With Steel Frame: Reports

Apple has previously mentioned about its focus on AR (and not VR), and KGI Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also noted that the company’s AR tech when it launches will be three or five years ahead of others. Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski claims that Apple will include AR content on its upcoming device, however, details on what exactly it will be, are still blurry.

In the memo obtained by Benzinga, Jankowski said, “The inclusion of 3D sensing functionality is increasingly likely, which could enable a robust augmented reality (AR) feature set that we believe will be a key differentiator for the 10-year anniversary iPhone.”

Apart from this, DigiTimes reiterates previous claims that the iPhone 8 should sport an all-glass back. The report further states that the edges should be made from stainless steel and the display will be of 5.8-inch. The other two 4.7-inch iPhone 7s and 5.5-inch iPhone 7s Plus will continue to sport an aluminium frame.

Lastly but importantly, a patent published on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark office indicates that future Apple devices could well be able to read fingerprints directly through the display, instead of by relying on a dedicated fingerprint reader. The patent was applied for back in June 2014. Currently, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have a Home Button, under which the fingerprint sensor resides. The patent adds weight to rumours that the iPhone 8 will ditch the Home Button altogether, and sport a wraparound bezel-less display with the ability to read fingerprints underneath the display.

The iPhone 8 is also tipped to sport a dual camera setup at the back, have an OLED screen, larger battery life, sport advanced wireless charging, and improved 3D Touch.

ISRO Planning to Launch SAARC Satellite in March, Chandrayaan-2 in Q1 2018

Space agency ISRO is planning to launch two satellites, including the one meant for the benefit of SAARC nations, in March and April this year.

“We are planning to launch two satellites, one each in March and April this year,” ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar told reporters to a question on the line up.

ISRO Planning to Launch SAARC Satellite in March, Chandrayaan-2 in Q1 2018

“Preparations are on in full swing,” he added. According to ISRO officials, the GSLV MARK II will carry the SAARC satellite, and the GSLV MARK III will inject the GSAT-19, a communication satellite.

PM Modi, during the SAARC summit at Nepal in November 2014, had announced launching of a SAARC satellite as a gift for the benefit of members of the regional grouping in various fields, including telecommunication and telemedicine.

Since Pakistan has ‘opted out’ of the project, the SAARC satellite is now being called the South Asian satellite.

About launch of the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, the ISRO Chairman said, “We are targeting first quarter of 2018 for the launch.”

To a query on plans for human spaceflight programmes by the agency, he said “It is not our priority right now.”

According to ISRO website, Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover.

The orbiter with scientific payloads will orbit around the Moon.

The lander will soft-land on the Moon at a specified site and deploy the rover. The scientific payloads onboard the orbiter, lander and rover are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.

Meanwhile, Antrix CMD Rakesh said the ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation Ltd has got orders worth Rs. 500 to 600 crores from international customers. The space agency had earlier sent 20 satellites into the orbit in 2015.

Responding to a question on US companies approaching ISRO for launching its satellites, the Chairman said, the US based companies prefer ISRO’s launch vehicles to inject its nano satellites.

Kiran Kumar also said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was looking at other means of reducing cost of access to space.

To a query on keeping up consistency in launching satellites successfully, he said, “With each successful launch our responsibility grows and we give emphasis to zero defect delivery.”

In CARTOSAT series of earth observation satellites, there is a proposal to launch the CARTOSAT-2E in April, the ISRO officials said.

GoPro’s Drone Initiative Crashes With Karma Recall

GoPro’s ambitious plans to be a player in the fledgling drone market crashed last week when it had to announce a product recall due to Karma UAV units falling from the sky.

The company needed to resolve a performance issue related to loss of power during operation, it said. It indicated it would resume shipment of Karma at some point, but didn’t suggest when.

The Karma recall likely will have a significant financial impact on GoPro.

“With the amount of competition in the consumer drone space, it is imperative to satisfy demand, or that demand will shift to another product,” said Michael Blades, a senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“The longer Karma is sidelined, the less chance it has of grabbing significant market share,” he told TechNewsWorld.


Revenue Hit

GoPro’s stock price had begun slipping before the recall and has continued to decline steadily, Blades added.

“The impact will be on stock price and revenue,” he said.

GoPro already had lowered its fourth-quarter revenue forecasts because it launched Karma later than planned, explained Ken Hyers, director of wireless device strategies at Strategy Analytics.

“In the two weeks it was available, GoPro sold around 2,500 Karma drones and surely had been anticipating strong sales for the Karma drone from Thanksgiving on. That revenue is now lost,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Worse, GoPro had been counting on the Karma to drive sales of its new GoPro Hero5 and Hero5 Session cameras, and now that opportunity has also been lost,” Hyers added.

Black Eye

Since Karma was GoPro’s first UAV, the drone was supposed to establish the company’s reputation in the market. It has done that — but not in a good way.

“Given that the Karma is GoPro’s first drone, and in many ways was seen as the future of the company, it’s recall has to be viewed as devastating for its reputation as a drone maker and its ambitions in the drone space,” said Hyers.

“Drone buyers are more likely to avoid GoPro in the future, with severe consequences for the company’s future drone and camera sales,” he noted. “There are simply too many very good drone alternatives available on the market for buyers to risk giving GoPro another chance.”

The recall emphasizes the fact that GoPro is a camera company and not a drone company, Frost’s Blades added.

“GoPro should not have been expected to develop a perfect product with its first drone,” he said. “However, the market is innovating so quickly that if your product is not better or more capable than the latest products, you will likely fail.”

Flawed Strategy

Consumer interest in UAVs has been less than anticipated by the industry, and the Karma recall isn’t going to improve that, observed Brad Russell, a research analyst with Parks Associates.

Less than 5 percent of U.S. broadband households own a drone, and less than 4 percent said they were interested in owning one at the beginning of the year, he noted.

“Negative drone stories in the press and mechanical failures, such as GoPro’s recent troubles, are likely stifling consumer interest outside of film and video professionals and enthusiasts,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Even without the recall of Karma, GoPro’s prosumer drone strategy may be flawed, suggested Philip Solis, a research director at ABI Research.

Although revenues from prosumer drones amount to about half of the $1 billion consumer drone market, those drones represent only 6 percent of drones shipped in the space.

“GoPro’s strategy should be to use drones to expand the sales of their cameras, but they’re pricing themselves into the prosumer space, which is low volume, which means a very tiny amount of additional cameras sold,” Solis told TechNewsWorld.

Debacle for GoPro

What’s more, by selling Karma at $799, GoPro is going head-to-head with the established leaders in the market, DJI and 3DR. “If you’re not DJI or 3DR, it’s awfully hard to compete in the market,” Solis said.

“If they had a product at $400 to $600, they could compete better in the market and sell a lot more cameras,” he maintained.

“The Karma drone has been a debacle for GoPro, and it will be extremely challenging for them to bounce back in the drone market after such an awful start,” said Strategy Analytics’ Hyers. “Going forward, GoPro should partner with another drone maker and outsource drone development. It’s clearly not ready to do it on its own.”

Friend Finder Data Breach Exposes 400M Swingers

Hackers have stolen information of more than 400 million users of Friend Finder Networks, which runs several adult dating and pornography websites, LeakedSource reported earlier this week.

This is Friend Finders’ second breach in two years. Last year, hackers accessed 4 million accounts, exposing information on users’ sexual preferences and extramarital affairs.

Data of more than 412 million users was compromised in the latest breach, LeakedSource reported. Passwords taken in the breach were either in plain text or SHA1 hashed, and neither method could be considered secure.

The hashed passwords appeared changed to all lowercase before storage, making them easier to attack, the LeakedSource team noted. However, it also makes them less easy to use in the real world.


Whatever Hackers Want, Hackers Get

Friend Finder reportedly has been aware of potential security vulnerabilities for several weeks and has been taking steps to investigate them. Several reports of flaws apparently were extortion attempts, but one was an injection vulnerability that the company fixed.

Friend Finder did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Friend Finder maintains that it takes the security of its customers seriously, as is typical of companies that suddenly find millions of their users’ accounts hacked.

“It is hard to tell if a company that has been breached is lax in their security,” said Jon Clay, director of global threat communications at Trend Micro.

“History has proven that hackers are able to penetrate many organizations regardless of their security controls,” he told TechNewsWorld.

However, this case doesn’t merit the benefit of the doubt, according to Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4.

“This is criminal negligence, as it’s not the first time,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“This hack is very similar to the data breach they had last year,” Sjouwerman said. “Their procedures and policies are severely lacking. Even users who believed they deleted their accounts have had them stolen again. ”

There were nearly 16 million accounts with appended to them, LeakedSource said, which could mean Friend Finder decided to store information on accounts that users wanted deleted.

Friend Finder wouldn’t be alone in such treatment of customers who asked to have their accounts deleted, noted Tony Anscombe, the security evangelist atAvast.

“It’s very difficult to have a company delete your account data. Typically, the settings to do it are hidden. They don’t want to delete you because they want to market to you going forward,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“There has to be a better method across the whole industry of allowing somebody to remove their data from a database,” he added.

Get Ready for Extortion

The consequences for users from the breach at Friend Finder likely will be similar to those suffered by users of the infidelity site Ashley Madison after its data was breached.

“Identity theft and extortion are two of the main consequences for the victims whose information was stolen,” said Trend Micro’s Clay.

Anyone with an email address in the stolen data can expect to receive harassing or threatening emails, as well as click bait offers to “see if your name and password are on the list,” KnowBe4’s Sjouwerman added.

“Do not go looking for your data,” warned Avast’s Anscombe.

“Lots of scammers will say they’ve got it. There will be sites popping up saying ‘check to see if you were part of this breach.’ Those sites are gathering data,” he explained.

“When you type in your email address to see if you were part of the breach — guess what? — you just gave a cybercriminal somewhere your email address,” he said.

Short Attention Span

Consumers aren’t the only ones who suffer from gigantic breaches.

“Data sets of credentials that contain user names, emails, passwords, and answers to secret questions are sold to attackers targeting enterprises,” noted Israel Barak, CISO of Cybereason.

“They’re looking to take advantage of users that re-use their passwords,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Those users use the same password for the dating site, as well as for their corporate email, corporate VPN, personal email, personal bank account and so forth,” Barak said.

“This scenario has been shown to be extremely effective after the LinkedIn breach that led to numerous secondary breaches based on reused passwords,” he added. “This will be a very likely outcome of the Adult Finder breach as well.”

And what about the damage to Friend Finder? The breach likely will be no more than a near-term setback for Friend Finder, if Ashley Madison is any indicator. Traffic bounced back in a short period of time following its massive hack attack.

However, the impact is “broader than these sites,” said Rami Essaid, CEO ofDistil Networks.

It affects “how we are as a society in general,” he said.

“Target rebounded; Home Depot rebounded,” Essaid told TechNewsWorld. “The repercussions of being a victim of a breach are short-lived. We have a very short memory as a society and are not holding people accountable long-term.”

Fallout Shelter Releases on Windows 10, Xbox One on Tuesday as an Xbox Play Anywhere Title

Bethesda Game Studios has announced that Fallout Shelter, which is already available for Android and iOS on Google Play and App Store, will now be coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One on Tuesday as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. The game will be available as a free download from both Xbox Store and Windows Store, as per a news post on Xbox Wire.

Fallout Shelter Releases on Windows 10, Xbox One on Tuesday as an Xbox Play Anywhere Title

In Fallout Shelter, players are given the role of overseer and they are required to build their own vault. The players have to guide and look after the needs of the citizens of the vault. In the game, players rescue the dwellers and assign them tasks. One of the crucial aspect of the game is to find the balance between the resources available. The game was also released on PC in July last year, but only via the Launcher. It will now come with additional functionality on PC as it is now a Xbox Play Anywhere title, Engadget point out in its report.

As Fallout Shelter comes as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, player progress will be saved across both Xbox One and Windows 10. This means that users will

be able to switch seamlessly between platforms and pick up the game from where they left off. Along with game progress, their achievements will also be saved across platforms. Further, the game has also been optimised to work with the Xbox One controller.

Just recently, Bethesda rolled out version 1.9 update in beta for Fallout 4 on PC, which brought along support for high-resolution textures to the game on platform. As per the company, recommended specifications for Fallout 4’s version 1.9 update included an Intel Core i7-5820K or better processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 8GB, and more than 8GB of RAM. Apart from this, users need an additional space of 58GB on their storage drives to download the update.