Clothing Retailers Invest in the Online Experience

Getting fitted for a suit or purchasing clothes to one's preference are known to be best done in person. But a growing number of innovative retailers are finding ways to recreate these experiences online. These retailers use data to deliver personalization in a meaningful way. They are also not focused only on the purchase, but also on customer satisfaction after the purchase.

Take the suit example. If a customer wants to skip the store, now he can follow online instructions for a self-measurement process and receive a tailored suit within about a month. If the fit isn't right, he has the option of going in person for adjustments. The new measurements will be noted in his online profile, ensuring a smoother experience in the future.

On the more casual end, some retailers are embracing a role as curators of style. In these cases, the shopper provides an overview of his or her taste, spending preferences and social channels. Based on this data, outfits are picked by stylists, and then the shopper has the option to send back anything they don't like. Or, the shopper can answer questions about what type of occasion and/or weather conditions they are dressing for, and receive expert suggestions. Some retailers and brands are even deploying high-powered artificial intelligence to guide this process and automatically build detailed profiles so it will know a shopper's preference on their future visits.

In each of these examples, retailers are using online tools to get to know their customers better. They are offering a more interactive and personalized shopping experience, resulting in satisfied customers.

Millennials now make up the largest share of the population, and they're different from baby boomers. Much has been made about how the new generation of shoppers pairs a lack of loyalty with lofty expectations for a consistent...

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Researchers Say a ‘Tipping Point’ for Grocery E-Commerce Is Coming

It's no secret the grocery industry has been the slowest major retail sector to join the e-commerce bandwagon. But few industry observers expect this to remain the status quo.

A panel session on grocery research, during the recent ShopTalk conference at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas, offered insight into how long it will take for the grocery segment to catch up to other retail sectors and what actions are needed to make this happen.

Changing demographics, a collaboration among retailers and "pure play" digital merchants and a dedicated staffing to support e-commerce are among the factors speakers cited that will facilitate the transition.

'Tipping Point': 2025

Two of the three speakers pinpointed the "tipping point" for the digitization of grocery as 2025. The "tipping point" refers the point in time when digital commerce accounts for 20 percent of a category's sales.

The grocery channel is one retail sector that has yet to reach the "tipping point" in e-commerce, said Cooper Smith, research director at L2 Inc., which benchmarks the digital competence of consumer brands.

The book industry, led by Amazon, was the first retail segment to move online, reaching its digital commerce tipping point in 2005, Smith said. Electrics reached the tipping point in 2008-2009, sporting goods hit in 2016, while apparel will get there this year, he said.

The five things that "genius brands" do well, according to L2 research, are:

?EU?Make it personal. They use personalization to appeal to the individual rather than an abstract demographic.

?EU?Keep checkout close. They integrate content directly into the purchase journey and make sure the checkout page is close at hand at all times.

?EU?Build visibility with "e-tailers." As online merchants build their presence, many are providing merchandising tools to support brands.

?EU?Modernize digital marketing. They are reducing online display advertising in favor of mobile and online video to better...

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Google Employees Protest Drone Work for the Pentagon

Thousands of staff at Google are protesting against the company's work with the Pentagon's surveillance drones program.

Called Project Maven, the program uses Google technology to automate the analysis of objects in the enormous amount of images that are captured by the Department of Defense's unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

More than 3,100 staff signatures have been attached to a letter addressed to chief executive Sundar Pichai which is circulating inside Google with a request that the company pull out of the project.

According to a copy of the letter published by The New York Times, the letter states: "We believe that Google should not be in the business of war.

"Therefore we ask that Project Maven be canceled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology."

There have been almost 30,000 coalition strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria since the US-led intervention in 2014, the intelligence behind many of which is developed by analysis of UAV surveillance footage.

The letter was circulated after Google confirmed that its open-source machine learning software TensorFlow was being used by the Pentagon for a pilot project, in response to a report by Gizmodo.

Google said it had "long worked with government agencies to provide technology solutions".

A spokesperson added: "The technology flags images for human review, and is for non-offensive uses only. Military use of machine learning naturally raises valid concerns.

"We're actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies."

The open-source TensorFlow software is widely used in machine learning applications which attempt to allow computers to be taught how to identify objects in video footage.

The algorithm identifies cars and trees and is designed to assist the limited number of...

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Introducing High Demand Pricing for Security Services

In Summer 2016,  we began offering a site cleaning service for people with hacked websites. In Spring 2017, we added a second service: site security audits. The popularity of both services has grown tremendously since then. We now service hundreds of sites every month.

Our approach to cleaning or auditing a website requires a highly trained security analyst to perform hours of work on each site. We know that there are shortcuts we could take to speed up the process, but only at the expense of quality. That’s not a trade-off we’re willing to make.

At the same time, while demand for our services is consistently strong, it is also highly volatile. In the last year, we cleaned 3.6 times more sites in our busiest week than in our slowest. These increases in demand are driven largely by the success of cybercriminals at any given time, which is impossible to forecast. We continued to work on our ability to adjust our capacity to match incoming demand, but inevitably there were times when demand exceeds our maximum capacity.

To date, we have dealt with this problem by posting an estimated wait time at checkout. This worked quite well for a long time. Unfortunately we hit a point last month where it stopped working. During an unprecedented spike in order volume, our posted wait times grew to 7 business days. That is simply too long to wait. We knew we needed a new approach.

Introducing High Demand Pricing

Beginning today, we are changing the way we handle spikes in demand for our site security services. When the number of orders exceeds a preset threshold, we will be increasing our prices. The price increases will be expressed as a multiplier, eg 1.4x. For example, a single site cleaning purchased during a period where the high demand pricing multiplier is 1.2 would cost $214.80 (1.2 x $179). As demand increases, we will continue to increase the size of the multiplier.

We believe that with this change, price elasticity will dampen demand during spikes, preventing our security services team from getting swamped with orders and ensuring that you receive an acceptable turnaround time.

We will be closely monitoring the impact the pricing multiplier has on order volume and making adjustments as necessary.

A Continued Focus on Customer and Employee Experience

We have always prided ourselves on providing industry-leading customer service. We also work very hard to make Defiant a company that the best people in the industry want to work for. With that in mind, our approach to handling the inevitable mismatch between demand for services and our capacity to serve it could not compromise on the experience of our customers or employees doing the work.

We are confident that this change in approach will allow us deliver on both. We recognize that this will be an adjustment for many of you longtime customers. Your continued support is what enables us to remain the leader in WordPress security and ultimately make the web safer.

The post Introducing High Demand Pricing for Security Services appeared first on Wordfence.

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Facebook: Personal Data of 87 Million People Exposed

Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's chief technology officer, dropped a bombshell yesterday: Facebook might have "improperly shared" the data of up to 87 million people with Cambridge Analytica, the U.K.-based political consulting firm that worked for President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign. Schroepfer made the comment at the end of a lengthy post about the company's new measures to protect users' personal information.

Among those whose information was exposed to the consultancy, 81.6 percent -- more than 70.6 million -- were users in the U.S. Other countries whose residents' data ended up in Cambridge Analytica's hands included the Philippines (nearly 1.2 million), Indonesia (more than 1 million), the U.K. (over 1 million), and Mexico (close to 790,000).

Cambridge Analytica had already been widely recognized for its role in promoting Trump's presidential campaign. However, several recent reports have revealed the extent to which the firm used the data of Facebook users without their knowledge to aim targeted ads and messages at likely Trump voters. Those reports have dramatically turned up the political and public opinion heat on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is scheduled to testify before multiple congressional committees next week.

Facebook To Tell People If Info Improperly Shared

Since dismissing criticisms about Facebook's role in manipulating voters as "crazy" in late 2016, Zuckerberg has repeatedly been forced to acknowledge the extent to which the social media platform has enabled "digital warfare" through the vast amounts of data it gathers, stores, and shares about its users. Over the past month, news reports about improper data usage have led the company to announce a number of new policies, including changes to make privacy tools easier to use and new limitations on information shared with third-party apps and data brokers.

In his news post yesterday, Schroepfer listed nine other changes the company plans to make in...

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Skilled Hackers Gaining Access to U.S. Energy Systems

Cyberattacks targeting computer control operators at U.S. energy facilities have risen sharply over the past two years, as a sophisticated hacking group attempted to gain a foothold in networks that run the nation's critical infrastructure, a recent cybersecurity analysis shows.

A highly skilled and likely well-funded group of hackers has launched an ongoing campaign of online attacks against U.S. energy, nuclear, water, aviation and manufacturing operations since at least March 2016, primarily using spear-phishing emails and watering-hole attacks against administrators and engineers with access to industrial control systems, according to an analysis by iDefense, the cyber-threat intelligence division of Accenture Securities.

The nature of the attacks implies the group, which iDefense calls "Black Ghost Knifefish," has tried to figure out how to manipulate vital control systems and test the response of federal authorities if they were to launch an attack aimed at disrupting operations or damaging facilities, said Jim Guinn, global lead of Accenture's natural resources cybersecurity practice.

"They're gaining access to our systems," Guinn said. "They're able to test our response."

For the U.S. energy industry, vital assets include refineries, power plants, petrochemical facilities, pipelines and drilling rigs.

In private reports prepared for cybersecurity clients and shared with the Houston Chronicle, iDefense, which has tracked the sophisticated hacking group for about two years, said the online assaults against U.S. companies were almost certainly successful because of operators' lack of proper security segmenting networks and basic firewall implementations, among other common lapses.

The firm said the hacking group has gained access to U.S. systems with increasing frequency and is "very likely to continue" prying into operational networks. The hacking campaign, it said, is likely an attempt to establish a "backdoor" into industrial controls "with the intended goal of having the capability to disrupt, degrade or destroy the production of those" critical infrastructure and key resources assets,...

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Skilled Hackers Gaining Access to U.S. Energy Systems

Cyberattacks targeting computer control operators at U.S. energy facilities have risen sharply over the past two years, as a sophisticated hacking group attempted to gain a foothold in networks that run the nation's critical infrastructure, a recent cybersecurity analysis shows.

A highly skilled and likely well-funded group of hackers has launched an ongoing campaign of online attacks against U.S. energy, nuclear, water, aviation and manufacturing operations since at least March 2016, primarily using spear-phishing emails and watering-hole attacks against administrators and engineers with access to industrial control systems, according to an analysis by iDefense, the cyber-threat intelligence division of Accenture Securities.

The nature of the attacks implies the group, which iDefense calls "Black Ghost Knifefish," has tried to figure out how to manipulate vital control systems and test the response of federal authorities if they were to launch an attack aimed at disrupting operations or damaging facilities, said Jim Guinn, global lead of Accenture's natural resources cybersecurity practice.

"They're gaining access to our systems," Guinn said. "They're able to test our response."

For the U.S. energy industry, vital assets include refineries, power plants, petrochemical facilities, pipelines and drilling rigs.

In private reports prepared for cybersecurity clients and shared with the Houston Chronicle, iDefense, which has tracked the sophisticated hacking group for about two years, said the online assaults against U.S. companies were almost certainly successful because of operators' lack of proper security segmenting networks and basic firewall implementations, among other common lapses.

The firm said the hacking group has gained access to U.S. systems with increasing frequency and is "very likely to continue" prying into operational networks. The hacking campaign, it said, is likely an attempt to establish a "backdoor" into industrial controls "with the intended goal of having the capability to disrupt, degrade or destroy the production of those" critical infrastructure and key resources assets,...

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Spying on Chats? Facebook Confirms It Scans Messenger Contents

The private messages Facebook users send to each other through Messenger aren't so private. Facebook, already under fire for how it handles profile data, confirmed to Bloomberg on Wednesday that it scans the text and images people send to one another on Messenger to make sure it follows the company's content rules.

And it blocks messages that don't comply.

The company said it uses the same automated tools to scan Messenger for abuse as it does on Facebook in general.

"For example, on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware or viruses," a Facebook Messenger spokeswoman said in a statement to Bloomberg. "Facebook designed these automated tools so we can rapidly stop abusive behavior on our platform."

The company told Bloomberg it doesn't use data from scanned messages for advertising.

Concerns about whether Facebook was snooping on Messenger rose this week after the site's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, alluded to it in a interview with Vox's Erza Klein . Zuckerberg told Klein about stopping sensational messages about ethnic cleansing in Myanmar being sent through Messenger.

Facebook launched Messenger as a stand-alone app in 2014. That same year, Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp, a chat app similar to Messenger. Messenger topped 1 billion monthly users in 2017. WhatsApp had 1 billion daily users in 2017.

WhatsApp encrypts messages on both ends of the conversation, so the company cannot see them, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny since news broke that private information from about 50 million users was accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm with connections to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Zuckerberg agreed to testify before Congress next week.

The company also announced Wednesday a slew of changes to...

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Spying on Chats? Facebook Confirms It Scans Messenger Contents

The private messages Facebook users send to each other through Messenger aren't so private. Facebook, already under fire for how it handles profile data, confirmed to Bloomberg on Wednesday that it scans the text and images people send to one another on Messenger to make sure it follows the company's content rules.

And it blocks messages that don't comply.

The company said it uses the same automated tools to scan Messenger for abuse as it does on Facebook in general.

"For example, on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware or viruses," a Facebook Messenger spokeswoman said in a statement to Bloomberg. "Facebook designed these automated tools so we can rapidly stop abusive behavior on our platform."

The company told Bloomberg it doesn't use data from scanned messages for advertising.

Concerns about whether Facebook was snooping on Messenger rose this week after the site's founder, Mark Zuckerberg, alluded to it in a interview with Vox's Erza Klein . Zuckerberg told Klein about stopping sensational messages about ethnic cleansing in Myanmar being sent through Messenger.

Facebook launched Messenger as a stand-alone app in 2014. That same year, Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp, a chat app similar to Messenger. Messenger topped 1 billion monthly users in 2017. WhatsApp had 1 billion daily users in 2017.

WhatsApp encrypts messages on both ends of the conversation, so the company cannot see them, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny since news broke that private information from about 50 million users was accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm with connections to President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Zuckerberg agreed to testify before Congress next week.

The company also announced Wednesday a slew of changes to...

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Report: Apple Planning To Dump Intel Chips in Macs

Apple is reportedly planning to drop Intel chips from its Mac computers as early as 2020, replacing them with processors designed in-house in the same way the company manufactures iPhones and iPads.

The plan, reported by Bloomberg, has been rumored for several years, as Apple has taken on more chip design for devices. The company's A-series of processors, currently capped by the A11 Bionic chips used in the iPhones 8, 8 Plus and X, are all designed by the company for specific purposes, and based on an architecture licensed from British firm ARM.

Rumors of the switch contributed to a 6% drop in Intel's share price over the course of Monday, adding specific pain to a general collapse in tech stocks caused by fears of oncoming regulation in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal at Facebook.

Bloomberg reports that the initiative "is still in early developmental stages," but is intended to bring Macs into the same unified architecture that allows all of Apple's other devices to work together "seamlessly."

Apple announced its switch to Intel processors in 2005, after years spent building computers on IBM's powerPC architecture. The change, which arrived in homes with 2006's MacBook Pro, saw the company take advantage of the huge economies of scale that Intel could offer, with its x86 architecture by far the most popular across the computing industry at the time.

That change required a multi-year switchover program, with Apple developers needing to fully rewrite many programs, and the company shipping an emulator -- Rosetta -- that could run older code at reduced speeds. The same would likely be required if it again decided to switch to an ARM-based architecture.

As Apple has grown into the largest company in the world, it has been able to unlock economies of scale that are not reliant on third-parties. The A...

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