Hyatt Falls Victim to Data Breach

Today's topics include a data breach at the Hyatt hotel chain, Microsoft is combating peer phishing, Nest has issued an update to remedy glitches in its smart thermostats, and IBM has teamed up with the University of Michigan to create a conversational computer.

Hyatt is the latest hotel chain to admit that it has fallen victim to malware that steals customer information from payment systems. The breach began at some Hyatt locations as early as July 30 and extended until Dec. 15, 2015.

Hyatt has published a list of affected locations, which spans 250 hotels around the world. According to Hyatt, the malware's purpose was to steal credit card data from payment-processing systems and collect cardholder names, card numbers and expiration dates.

Microsoft is combating email-based insider spoofing, making it harder for the employees of Exchange Online Protection customers to fall for phishing emails that appear to come from their bosses and work colleagues.

With a new update, the company has massively improved its phishing detection rates. Fortunately, by built-in intelligence that leverages big data, strong authentication checks and reputation filters, Exchange Online Protection has strengthened its counterfeit detection by over 500 percent.

Google-owned smart thermostat maker Nest has released a software update to address an issue causing the battery in some of its devices to either shut down completely or behave in an erratic manner.

Nest spokesman Bill Burnett said the over-the-air update has been pushed out automatically and should alleviate the situation for a "vast majority" of affected customers.

Nest users still experiencing problems with their devices even after the update might want to do a manual restart of their thermostats.

How would you like to have a conversation with your computer to plan your vacation or to do your taxes, or literally hold a discussion with your car about the best way to get home through traffic?

Well, if a new project from IBM and the University of Michigan goes as planned, that may not be so far off. The University of Michigan and IBM have launched a $4.5 million collaboration to develop a new class of conversational technologies that will enable people to interact more naturally and effectively with computers.

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