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Speaking Like A Local: Why American Accent Training Is A Must In the business world today, English is considered the main language used for communication and transactions. This is why a lot of people are keen on learning the English language. It is also important for a lot of people to acquire an American accent since American English is the preferred version among most people. If you are looking to acquire an American accent and want to sound and feel more confident in doing so, you may want to brush up your pronunciation. If you’re living in the U.S., improving your accent may actually be beneficial to you. Speaking with an American accent may open doors for you, although it is not necessarily a requirement. If you are new to living in the United States, it would be best if you learn how to speak with an American accent since speaking with a foreign accent might present you with difficulties. Having an American accent will definitely help you if you’re looking to get a good job and climb the career ladder. Often times, American employers prefer employees that have American accents rather than those who have foreign ones. This is not due to discrimination but because of fear of miscommunication. For example, a person with a strong English accent can be quite challenging to understand when you’re so used to an environment that is dominated by an American accent. Communication within a business is crucial, which is why many employers prefer those with American accents. You might feel out of place when you notice that you don’t speak the same way as everyone around you, especially when you first move to the United States. It is also likely that a communication gap will develop between you and your peers who speak with an American accent. This is not because your accent is frowned upon, but because you may be speaking English with a different rhythm, timing, and intonation, which can be difficult for others to understand.
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Moreover, many people who do not have English as their first language strive to acquire an American accent simply because they want to avoid miscommunication. Saying something with a foreign accent may offend American natives and likewise, people with American accents could say something that you might misunderstand. In addition, non-native speakers often find it difficult to understand American accents due to their apparent speed in talking.
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Lastly, the risk of facing difficulty in everyday tasks is always possible when you have difficulty in effectively communicating English with your foreign accent. These everyday tasks include navigating the city, buying groceries from the supermarket, and even making friends with your neighbors. Thus, having an American accent is really crucial in oral communication.

Chinese Hackers Breached LoopPay, Whose Tech Is Central to Samsung Pay

Chinese Hackers Breached LoopPay, Whose Tech Is Central to Samsung Pay

WASHINGTON — Months before its technology became the centerpiece of Samsung’s new mobile payment system, LoopPay, a small Massachusetts subsidiary of the South Korean electronics giant, was the target of a sophisticated attack by a group of government-affiliated Chinese hackers.

As early as March, the hackers — alternatively known as the Codoso Group or Sunshock Group by those who track them — had breached the computer network of LoopPay, a start-up in Burlington, Mass., that was acquired by Samsung in February for more than $250 million, according to several people briefed on the still-unfolding investigation, as well as Samsung and LoopPay executives.

LoopPay executives said the Codoso hackers appeared to have been after the company’s technology, known as magnetic secure transmission, or MST, which is a key part of the Samsung Pay mobile payment wallet that made its public debut in the United States last week.
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Like similar mobile payment systems from Apple and Google, Samsung Pay allows consumers to pay for goods using their Samsung smartphones with so-called near-field communications technology, which uses a wireless signal to send payment information from a phone to newer cash registers. But LoopPay’s MST technology has an advantage: It also works with older payment systems by emulating a commonly used magnetic stripe card.

The attackers are believed to have broken into LoopPay’s corporate network, but not the production system that helps manage payments, said Will Graylin, LoopPay’s chief executive and co-general manager of Samsung Pay. Mr. Graylin said that security experts were still looking through LoopPay’s systems, but that there had been no indication that the hackers infiltrated Samsung’s systems or that consumer data had been exposed.
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LoopPay did not learn of the breach until late August, when an organization came across LoopPay’s data while tracking the Codoso Group in a separate investigation.

Both LoopPay and Samsung executives said they were confident that they had removed infected machines, and that customer payment information and personal devices were not affected. They added that there was no need to delay the introduction of Samsung Pay, which had its debut in the United States last week after executing more than $30 million worth of purchases in South Korea.

“Samsung Pay was not impacted and at no point was any personal payment information at risk,” Darlene Cedres, Samsung’s chief privacy officer, said in a statement. “This was an isolated incident that targeted the LoopPay corporate network, which is a physically separate network. The LoopPay corporate network issue was resolved immediately and had nothing to do with Samsung Pay.”

But two people briefed on the investigation, as well as security experts who have been tracking the Codoso hackers as they have targeted hundreds of victims around the world, said it would be premature to say what the hackers did and did not accomplish since they were discovered in August.

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To start, the hackers were inside LoopPay’s network for five months before they were discovered. And the Codoso Group is known for maintaining a hidden foothold in its victims’ systems. Security experts say the group’s modus operandi is to plant hidden back doors across victims’ systems so that they continue to infiltrate their networks long after the initial breach.

In a multistage Codoso attack of Forbes in February, for example, the group infected the website of Forbes.com with malicious code that infected the site’s visitors. But that was just the start. From there, other members of the group used that foothold in visitors’ machines to search for valuable targets in the defense sector.

After a similar attack by another Chinese state-affiliated hacking group on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2011, the chamber believed it had rid hackers from its network only to discover months later that an office printer and even a thermometer in one of its corporate apartments were still sending information back to computers in China.

Samsung introduced Samsung Pay in the United States just 38 days after LoopPay learned it had been breached. On average, it takes 46 days before an attack by hackers can be fully resolved, according to the Ponemon Institute, a nonprofit that tracks breaches. But the time to fix the damage is typically much longer in cases of sophisticated Chinese hackings like the one at LoopPay.

“Once Codoso compromises their targets — which range from dissidents to C-level executives in the U.S. — they tend to stay there for quite a long time, building out their access points so they can easily get back in,” said John Hultquist, the head of intelligence on cyberespionage at iSight Partners, a security firm. “They’ll come back to a previous organization of interest again and again.”

LoopPay hired two private forensics teams to investigate the breach on Aug. 21, just a month before it was set to bring Samsung Pay to the United States, according to Mr. Graylin. Both are still working the case.

But the investigation has been unusual from the start. LoopPay told the teams to look at different portions of its network. One of the firms, Sotoria, which is based in Charleston, S.C., was given a backup of LoopPay’s data and asked to leave the company’s headquarters after just three days.

Mr. Graylin said that was because the team was looking at LoopPay systems that he said fell outside the scope of the initial contract, in what Mr. Graylin described as an attempt to extract more fees. Even so, he said, LoopPay was still working with the company to resolve the breach.

Sotoria executives said they could not comment on the investigation. Mr. Graylin would not name the second computer forensics firm looking into the attack.

LoopPay has not notified law enforcement about the breach, Mr. Graylin said, because his firm believed no customer data or financial information had been stolen.

He also played down concerns that hackers might try to use the information they stole about his company’s technology in order to infiltrate Samsung Pay or create a copycat product. He said if such a thing emerged, LoopPay could file a patent lawsuit. What’s more, he said, it would be viable only if major banks, credit card companies and carriers were willing to team up with the copycat.

News of the breach at LoopPay comes at a particularly inopportune time for Samsung, which is locked in a bitter war for smartphone supremacy against Apple and its immensely popular iPhone, as well as a newer crop of less expensive devices from manufacturers like China’s Xiaomi.

Europe’s Top Court Just Gave U.S. Tech Firms a Huge Headache

Europe’s Top Court Just Gave U.S. Tech Firms a Huge Headache

The Atlantic Ocean just got a lot wider. On Tuesday the E.U.’s highest court threw out a key U.S.-European agreement called Safe Harbor, that for years has allowed companies to transfer their customers’ data back and forth across the Atlantic—the route taken by half the Internet traffic on the planet—without having to ask their permission in advance. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that the agreement violated privacy rights of regular citizens, since they have no control over how their data is ultimately used.

That decision—declaring the agreement null and void—was recently described to Fortune by a business group as the “Doomsday scenario,” which would throw companies’ global operations into chaos. Safe Harbor, which the U.S. and E.U. officials in 2000 when online commerce was taking off, was a way of allowing companies to conduct business on the borderless Internet. “It is fair to say this is a bombshell,” Wim Nauwelaerts, a Brussels partner for the U.S. law firm Hunton & Williams, who represents American companies in the EU, said by phone on Tuesday. “There are thousands of companies who genuinely rely on the Safe Harbor network to transfer data, in order for them to do business.”

But despite those complications, the EU judgement is clear: The Safe Harbor agreement is none too safe. Under EU laws, companies are allowed to transfer their customers’ data only if “the third country in question ensures an adequate level of protection,” the ruling says.

And for that level of protection, the E.U. judges concluded, don’t look to the U.S.

Tuesday’s ruling is a measure of how deep the impact is in Europe of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, more than two years after they exploded. The court decision says the U.S. has failed to show that they collect people’s data in a way that is “strictly necessary and proportionate to the protection of national security.” It also said that both Americans or Europeans have “no administrative or judicial means of redress” if their data is used for reasons they did not intend.

In fact, it was the NSA’s PRISM program that doomed Safe Harbor, and which will now frame future negotiations between the U.S. and Europe about how companies transfer data. In 2013 Snowden revealed that the agency was scooping up mammoth quantities of people’s details, by tapping into the data bases of giant U.S. tech and telcoms companies. Since all those megacompanies were signatories to the Safe Harbor agreement, the Safe Harbor rules proved a legal framework for PRISM, according to Tuesday’s EU court ruling. “Companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo had hundreds of millions of clients in Europe and transferred personal data to the United States for processing,” it says.

The ruling jolted U.S. officials, yet they should hardly have been taken by surprise. In late September the E.U.’s Advocate General Yves Bot published an opinion slamming the lack of data-privacy protections under Safe Harbor, and saying that the U.S. intelligence agencies carried out “mass, indiscriminate surveillance.” In response the U.S. Mission to the E.U. in Brussels said in a statement that “the United States does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone, including ordinary European citizens.” The E.U. court did not buy it.

Now comes the messy process of reworking rules for business. U.S. and E.U. officials have been negotiating new Safe Harbor rules since 2013, and in recent weeks both sides have said they were close to agreement. The new rules would likely include assurances—never before made— that governments will not access data of regular citizens. “It’s vital for companies to be able to function in a multijurisdictional environment and a global trading world,” says Paul Meller, spokesman for Digital Europe, a lobbying group in Brussels representing multinational tech companies. “Most would agree Safe Harbor is not perfect but it’s a pragmatic way of getting over this jurisdictional issue.”

In 2000, it was urgent to figure out how to transfer basic information like credit cards, names, addresses, and other data that now underpins billions of dollars worth of Internet business. Yet few could have foreseen that such data could just as easily be used for governments to conduct mass surveillance. “Hindsight in a beautiful thing,” Henriette Tielemans, a data-privacy lawyer at the Covington law firm in Brussels, said in a statement emailed to Fortune on Tuesday. “We must all remember that in 2015 things are different than they were in 2000.”

Nonetheless, it was the hindsight of one young Austrian student, Max Schrems, that set in motion the downfall of Safe Harbor.

At just 24, Schrems, then a law student in Vienna, spent six months studying at Santa Clara University in California in 2011, when he sat in on a class by a Facebook lawyer. Schrems told me he was shocked to hear the lawyer brush off concerns about data privacy. “I was the only European in the room,” he said. “The basic theme was ‘you can do whatever you want.’” Schrems researched Facebook’s privacy rules for his thesis, concluding that they violated E.U. laws. He lodged a complaint against the Data Privacy Commission of Ireland, where Facebook has its E.U. headquarters. He crowdsourced the funding for his case online and petitioned Facebook to get his data—receiving 1,200 pages of documents, including 300 pages of data he had deleted from his Facebook page.

All that became the basis for the case in the E.U. court, about controlling data-transfer rules with the U.S.—an issue that has grown massively in support among Europeans since the Snowden revelations. Schrems, who turned 28 last week, says he could not have imagined back in California that his youthful student outrage might lead to an entire rewriting of trans-Atlantic rules. Seconds after the E.U. court announced its ruling on Tuesday, he tweeted his satisfied response: “*YAY*.

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