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Former Equifax chief will face questions from U.S. Congress over hack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers are due to question the former head of Equifax Inc (EFX.N) at a Tuesday hearing that could shed light on how hackers accessed the personal data of more than 140 million consumers.

Richard Smith retired last week but the 57-year-old executive will answer for the breach that the credit bureau acknowledged in early September.

Late Monday, Equifax said an independent review had boosted the number of potentially affected U.S. consumers by 2.5 million to 145.5 million.

In March, the U.S. Homeland Security Department alerted Equifax to an online gap in security but the company did nothing, said Smith.

“The vulnerability remained in an Equifax web application much longer than it should have,” Smith said in remarks prepared for delivery on Tuesday. “I am here today to apologize to the American people myself.”

Smith will face the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday but there will be three more such hearings this week.

Equifax keeps a trove of consumer data for banks and other creditors who want to know whether a customer is likely to default.

The cyber-hack has been a calamity for Equifax which has lost roughly a quarter of its stock market value and seen several top executives step down alongside Smith.

Smith’s replacement, Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., has also apologized for the hack and said the company will help customers freeze their credit records and monitor any misuse.

There has been a public outcry about the breech but no more than 3.0 percent of consumers have frozen their credit reports, according to research firm Gartner, Inc.

Smith said hackers tapped sensitive information between mid-May and late-July.

Security personnel noticed suspicious activity on July 29 and disabled web application a day later, ending the hacking, Smith said. He said he was alerted the following day, but was not aware of the scope of the stolen data.

On Aug. 2, the company alerted the FBI and retained a law firm and consulting firm to provide advice. Smith notified the board’s lead director on Aug. 22.

Patrick Rucker contributed from Washington; editing by Clive McKeef.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Inside sales companies have raised only $150 million this year and may soon face consolidation

Image Credit: RIngDNA

With seven transactions totaling $ 150 million, including the $ 90 million financing for new unicorn Anaplan, the first two months of 2016 have been quiet on the funding front for inside sales. The future will tell us if it is a reflection of the overall technology slowdown, or if we have reached an investment peak that precedes industry consolidation.

Inside Sales Landscape

A high-resolution version of the VB Profiles Inside Sales landscape is available here. (Disclosure: VB Profiles is a cooperative effort between VentureBeat and Spoke Intelligence.)


The $ 30 million funding from NewVoiceMedia is the largest financing from a pure-play Inside Sales Technology. This externally led round was smaller than the last one, which totaled $ 50 million. NewVoiceMedia scored a second big win with the addition of Moni Manor, former Five9 CTO, as chief product officer. With a total $ 140 million raised since inception, NewVoiceMedia has captured the market’s attention. Originally a Contact Center cloud software provider, NewVoiceMedia has expanded into the Inside Sales space by first repackaging its core technology and later by adding gamification capabilities.

Social Engagement received some attention with two small financings. Insightpool sits at the crossroads of Sales and Marketing, mining social networks to find influencers and prospects. Initially targeting the B2B market, it has been expanding its efforts to encompass B2C. Socedo is a pure-play sales company focused on lead generation on Twitter.

Although not an event of the previous month per se, I came to recognize the growing importance of coaching. You can expect it to become a dedicated category in the next iteration of my Inside Sales technology landscape.

Coaching importance grew because many of the inside sales roles are entry positions into the sales profession. It is also a way to address the high learning and growth expectations of younger generations. Inside Sales initial successes were fueled by email communication, which is text-based. As the market matured, companies have rediscovered the importance of engaging in-person with prospects. It hinges on good conversation skills that are best taught by coaching.

It is not a surprise that voice solution vendors have experienced strong customer demand for recording and coaching. RingDNA, for example, made it a central theme of its roadmap, introducing a Coaching module in its latest release. It departs from legacy recording offerings that target compliance by making sales behavior the focal point. We have also seen the emergence of pure-play providers such as ExecVision trying to innovate the market with a mobile application to make coaching on the go easier. Their vision is to make coaching pervasive in the organization by enabling anyone to listen to his/her calls and mark the important moments.

Nicolas De Kouchkovsky is the principal of CaCube Consulting. You can track his 340+ company Inside Sales Landscape on VBProfiles.com.



Microsoft, U.S. face off again over emails stored in Ireland

A dispute between Microsoft and the U.S. government over turning over emails stored in a data center in Ireland comes up for oral arguments in an appeals court in New York on Wednesday.

Microsoft holds that an outcome against it could affect the trust of its cloud customers abroad as well as affect relationships between the U.S. and other governments which have their own data protection and privacy laws.

Customers outside the U.S. would be concerned about extra-territorial access to their user information, the company has said. A decision against Microsoft could also establish a norm that could allow foreign governments to reach into computers in the U.S. of companies over which they assert jurisdiction, to seize the private correspondence of U.S. citizens.

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