Busted! Data-Breaching Cyber-Crooks Indicted; Trump Dumps on China; Campbell’s Soup Aims for Comeback,

So not cool…

Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Prosecutors announced charges today against four very greedy men who hold the notorious distinction of having perpetrated one of the largest data breaches. Ever. They’ll have plenty of time to celebrate that odious achievement in what will presumably be a significant stretch of time spent in an prison cell sans internet. The alleged perps ran their illicit actives from 2012 until mid 2015, where they used their tech skills in the worst way for online casinos, hacking, stock manipulation and an assortment of other cyber-crimes. In the exceptionally unflattering indictment, are the four men are accused of targeting financial institutions, publishers, online stock brokers and software firms. Among some of particularly odious crimes, the alleged perps engaged in perennially classic money laundering, not to mention running an unlawful bitcoin exchange. JP Morgan Chase was one of the 15 unfortunate victims of the online schemes that generated hundreds of millions of ill-gotten dollars and stole data from more than 100 million customers. JP Morgan’s 2014 hack earned the financial institution the dubious distinction of suffering the “largest theft of customer data from a U.S. financial institution in history.” Lucky them.

And here’s where it starts to make sense…or get weird…

Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Keattikorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that SNL is over, Presidential candidate Donald Trump has decided to take on China today in an op-ed piece for “The Wall Street Journal” where he accuses China of “robbing Americans of billions of dollars of capital and millions of jobs.”  He made a pledge that if he is elected, one of his first actions would be to get the U.S. Treasury department to declare China as a currency manipulator. The man is on a mission to put the kibosh on Chinese piracy and counterfeiting of American goods, not to mention stealing U.S. trade secrets. Don’t be so quick to judge. Or laugh. The Donald wants to get China to the negotiating table to establish trade with them that is more, shall we say,…fair. It’s a sentiment echoed by plenty of lawmakers and domestic corporations alike, not to mention millions of Americans who fell victim to competition from Chinese manufacturing. It’s not just Trump who says that China depresses its own currency in order to make Chinese imports cheaper than domestic made products. Economists also say China’s yuan currency is undervalued with estimates ranging from 15% to 40%. It wouldn’t exactly be the first time China received that designation either. They earned that dubious distinction back in July 1994.

Soup-y sales…

Image courtesy of  vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Campbell’s soup is embarking on a new chapter of its condensed-soup life, revamping its classic chicken soup recipe by scrapping ten out of thirty ingredients found in it. Say good-bye to the alleged migraine-inducer, monosodium glutamate, aka MSG, along with some other ingredients that are just as annoying to say and even harder to spell. Basically, nothing you’d necessarily miss. Campbell Chief Executive Denise M. Morrison explains, “We’re closing the gap between the kitchen and our plants.”  A truly touching statement indeed. But there’s a bigger reason for wanting to close that gap: money. The condensed soup company has been losing plenty of it because of shifting consumer tastes that involve the desire for ingredients that are made by mother nature, as opposed to advancements in science. In its last three quarters, Campbell’s saw a 5% drop in unit sales, besides the fact that sales peaked way back in 2012 at $16.2 billion, with sales dropping steadily ever since. If you can’t wait to test drive the new, presumably healthier version, look for the limited edition cans featuring Star Wars characters. Bon Appetit.

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Home Depot Officicially Hacked; Facebook’s New High; Organic Lucky Charms?!

Hacked…

Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Home Depot officially confirmed what was already assumed to be fact as of last week: The home improvement chain was hacked at least as far back as April. Home Depot is definitely in the running for having suffered one of the worst hack attacks. Ever. Banks noticed an unusually high amount of suspicious and fraudulent activity on ATM withdrawals. Information stolen from Home Depot has been surfacing in online cyber-crime shops where criminals can conveniently purchase stolen information. Who knew? Of course, the chain apologized and will not hold consumers accountable for fraudulent activities. Duh. If you’re a frequent Home Depot patron, expect to be issued new cards with chips in them, making it that much more challenging for any would-be criminals to help themselves to a shopping spree on your dime. With 2,200 stores dotting the US and Canada, the cost of the breach has yet to be determined but it’ll likely be sharing the spotlight with Target, whose own data breach is still wreaking havoc. Given the similarities between the two hackings, sources suspect it’s the same group of hacker/cyber-crminals.

Ranked…

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s just another day in the fascinating cyber life of Facebook, whose stock hit yet another high of $77.89, putting the company’s value over the $200 billion mark. Speaking of Mark, Zuckerberg, that is, he himself is ranked as the 13th richest person, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $34.5 billion. That wealth comes primarily from his more than 61% ownership of Facebook. How convenient. Facebook now ranks as the 22nd largest company, comfortably sandwiched between Verizon and Toyota, companies that have been around much longer than the social media website (and Mark Zuckerberg). If you recall (and it’s okay if you don’t), Facebook’s IPO was a modest $38.00 per share. Oh, how hindsight is a bitter, teary 20/20.

Paying the price for organics…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

General Mills is going to get a bit more organic now that it is picking up Annie’s, of the bunny-shaped mac and cheese fame, for the green green price of $820 million. Annie’s boasts over 150 products that are sold in over 35,000 locations and just last year the company hit over $200 million in sales. Not bad for a company that was founded in 1989. Okay, not as good as Facebook, but still not too shabby. While the company was doing okay, an increase in the price of commodities began shrinking its margins, making a sale to a bigger company a worthwhile and fiscally prudent decision. Annie’s now joins the illustrious ranks of Lucky Charms, Wheaties, and one of my personal favorites, Trix. Silly rabbit.