Target checkouts hit by outage for a second day in a row

Another day, another Target checkout outage.

Many took to social media to complain that checkouts at the retail giant went down for a second day in a row. Many stores were only taking cash and gift cards. It comes after Target suffered a global point-of-sale machine outage on Saturday. Checkouts were down for more than two hours.

Target said in a statement yesterday that it could “confirm that this was not a data breach or security-related issue” and “no guest information was compromised at any time.” Instead, the company blamed the outage on an “internal technology issue” without disclosing specifics.

The retail giant was forced to pay $162 million in expenses related to a data breach in 2013.

A spokesperson for Target didn’t immediately return a request for comment. We’ll update once we know more.

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American Airlines now offers satellite-based Wi-Fi access across its mainline fleet

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline by fleet size and passenger traffic, has finished rolling out satellite-based broadband Wi-Fi to its entire mainline narrowbody fleet of over 700 aircraft (that is, the Boing 737s and Airbus A319 and 320 that typically fly the company’s domestic routes). All of these satellite-equipped planes also offer access to 12 free channels of live TV that you can stream to your personal device, including on international flights where this hasn’t traditionally been an option.

Unless you are comfortably sitting in business class and sipping on your pre-departure champagne, modern air travel isn’t exactly a fun or relaxing experience, no matter the reason for your travel. If you need to get work done on a flight, though, having access to fast and reliable Wi-Fi can often make a huge difference.

Today’s announcement from American follows a similar announcement from last year, after the airline finishing bringing the same system to all of its widebody fleet. At this time last year, though, American had only brought this same system to a meager 13 percent of its narrowbody planes.

One thing worth noting is that it’s my understanding is that American isn’t counting some of its oldest MD-83s in this count. These will never get a Wi-Fi upgrade because they are currently being phased out for more modern jets.

As for the technology that powers all of this, American Airlines is betting on satellite-based systems that use either Gogo 2Ku or ViaSat Ka. Unlike some of the earlier ground-based systems, satellite systems have the obvious advantage of offering a larger coverage area (including over oceans) and more consistent connectivity. These new satellite-based systems also allow for significantly faster connections. Among American’s competitors, Delta is currently in the process of updating most of its fleet to … Read the rest

Millions of Venmo transactions scraped in warning over privacy settings

A computer science student has scraped seven million Venmo transactions to prove that users’ public activity can still be easily obtained, a year after a privacy researcher downloaded hundreds of millions of Venmo transactions in a similar feat.

Dan Salmon said he scraped the transactions during a cumulative six months to raise awareness and warn users to set their Venmo payments to private.

The peer-to-peer mobile payments service faced criticism last year after Hang Do Thi Duc, a former Mozilla fellow, downloaded 207 million transactions. The scraping effort was possible because Venmo payments between users are public by default. The scrapable data inspired several new projects — including a bot that tweeted out every time someone bought drugs.

A year on, Salmon showed little has changed and that it’s still easy to download millions of transactions through the company’s developer API without obtaining user permission or needing the app.

Using that data, anyone can look at an entire user’s public transaction history, who they shared money with, when, and in some cases for what reason — including illicit goods and substances.

“There’s truly no reason to have this API open to unauthenticated requests,” he told TechCrunch. “The API only exists to provide like a scrolling feed of public transactions for the home page of the app, but if that’s your goal then you should require a token with each request to verify that the user is logged in.”

He published the scraped data on his GitHub page.

Venmo has done little to curb the privacy issue for its 40 million users since the scraping effort blew up a year ago. Venmo reacted by changing its privacy guide and, and later updated its app to remove a warning when users went to change their default privacy settings from … Read the rest

After Equifax breach, US watchdog says agencies aren’t properly verifying identities

A federal watchdog says the government should stop relying on the credit agencies to verify the identifies of those using government services.

In a report out this week, the the Government Accountability Office said several government departments still rely on the credit agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to check if a person is who they say they are before they can access their services online.

Agencies like the U.S. Postal Service, the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ask several questions of a new user and match their answers to information held in an individual’s credit file. The logic is that these credit files have information only the person signing up for services can know.

But following the Equifax breach in 2017 those answers are no longer safe, the watchdog said.

The Equifax breach resulted in the theft of 148 million consumers. Much of the consumer financial data had been collected without the explicit permission of those whose data it held. An investigation later found the breach was “entirely preventable” had the credit agency employed basic security measures.

“The risk that an attacker could obtain and use an individual’s personal information to answer knowledge-based verification questions and impersonate that individual led the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue guidance in 2017 that effectively prohibits agencies from using knowledge-based verification for sensitive applications,” wrote the watchdog.

In response, the named agencies said the cost of new verification systems are too high and may exclude certain demographics from the population.

Only Veterans Affairs implemented a new system but still relies on knowledge-based verification in some cases.

The other downside is that if you have no credit, you simply don’t show up in these systems. You need a credit card … Read the rest

Week-in-Review: E3’s forever franchises and Elon Musk’s submersible Tesla

Hey, weekend readers. This is Week-in-Review where I get hopped up on caffeine and give a heavy amount of analysis on one story while scouring the rest of the hundreds of stories that emerged on TechCrunch this week to surface my favorites for your reading pleasure.

Last week, I railed on Google’s new Stadia game streaming platform. The injection of competition into the tired PlayStation/Xbox gaming rivalry is certainly welcome, but Google is making such a concerted play into a tight niche that it’s hard to imagine them following through. I got some great emails and DMs with a lot of good back-and-forth, most notably pointing out that I didn’t give Google credit for some of the details they did give on multi-player, I also got some less helpful responses, but hey, I guess I’m the one that asked for the feedback.

On that note, check out my comparison of Stadia with Microsoft’s new xCloud service that they revealed this week.


Alright, onto new things. Actually, let’s dig into my week at the E3 gaming expo. I swear this isn’t only a gaming newsletter, but let’s talk forever franchises…

I spent the past few days on the show floor of the conference checking out what the latest and greatest gaming trends were, what I saw looked pretty familiar though.

Entrenched franchises are a special kind of force in the gaming industry.

Walking around it was wild how so many of these studios are coasting off of 20 or 30-year-old characters and storylines. Sega had a massive booth this year showing off some reskinned Sonic the Hedgehog shit. Watching the Square Enix keynote was a special kind of hell, I admittedly do not have a very religious connection to the … Read the rest