Obama seeks over one-third rise in U.S. cyber security funding

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama's budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year seeks $19 billion for cyber security across the U.S. government, a surge of $5 billion over this year, according to senior administration officials. The request comes as the Obama administration has struggled to address the growing risk posed by criminals and nation states in the digital world.The initiative, to be released later on Tuesday, is more than a one-third increase from the $14 billion sought last year and will include $3.1 billion for technology modernization at various federal agencies.It is unclear whether the Republican-controlled Congress will approve the increase.The request for a cash infusion is the latest signal from the White House that it intends to make cyber security a top priority in the last year of Obama’s presidency. The move follows a series of high-profile hacks against the government and companies like Sony Pictures (6758.T) and Target (TGT.N), that were largely met with legislative inaction and administrative uncertainty on how best to address evolving cyber threats.Those difficulties played out publicly last year when the Office of Personnel Management announced it had fallen victim to a massive hack that lifted sensitive information on roughly 22 million individuals from its databases. The White House will also announce Tuesday plans for a presidential commission on cyber security, which will make recommendations on how to strengthen defenses over the next decade. Officials, who briefed reporters before the formal release of the Obama budget, said they would create a new position of federal chief information security officer. A government watchdog report last month concluded that the government’s cyber defense system, known as Einstein, is ineffective at combating hackers.“No matter how good we get, we will never stop 100 percent of intrusions” Michael Daniel, special assistant to the president and cybersecurity coordinator, told reporters in the briefing before the release of the budget plan. Obama will also sign an executive order Tuesday to create a permanent Federal Privacy Council, which aims to connect privacy officials across the government to develop comprehensive guidelines for how personal data is collected and stored.The president’s budget proposal will also call for $62 million to expand efforts to attract and retain qualified cyber professionals working for the government, with things like student loan forgiveness and the creation of a CyberCorps Reserve program, where Americans can obtain college scholarships if they pursue technical jobs in government. (Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Richard Cowan and Andrew Hay) Read more

Coke's showdown between Marvel superheroes will surprise you

Coke enlisted a little help from the Avengers to save its Super Bowl commercial this year. The glossy minute-long spot pits Paul Rudd's Ant Man against the wrath of the Hulk after the tiny super hero robs Bruce Banner of his last mini-Coke can and sends him into a rage. SEE ALSO: Janelle Monáe is timeless, new commercial proves The pair eventually make amends when Ant Man helps the Hulk pry open the soda's tiny tab and gulp it down, but only after a destructive rampage through a downtown cityscape.   The slick Hollywood special effects and high production value were made possible through a partnership between the two brands that gave Coke access to Marvel's movie magic. Coke teased the ad earlier in the week by sending Mashable and other news outlets mini-cans emblazoned with six Marvel heroes. Many speculated that the ad would have tie-ins to Marvel's upcoming Captain America: Civil War. Emmanuel Seuge, Coca-Cola's senior vice president of content, said there are "Easter eggs" scattered throughout the commercial meant to make super-fans go back and re-watch. The brand will also be releasing hidden clues on its social media accounts that hint at the location of a limited number of Marvel-branded Cokes. As more Americans ditch sugary soda for healthier options, Seuge said the ad is an attempt to rope in more young adults and up the profile of its smaller serving drinks. "It's a David and Goliath-style clash between two of the most iconic Marvel heroes," Seuge said. "Those are characters that are extremely appealing to the young adult target so it seemed to us a very natural to partner with them." Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more

Hillary Clinton: Women running for office bear a 'much greater burden'

HENNIKER, New Hampshire — Hillary Clinton on Saturday opened up about the struggles she faces in running for president as a woman, saying in frank terms that there are double standards women face in seeking positions of power in the United States. “I really understand that there is a very much greater burden on women running for political office,” Clinton told a crowd gathered at an intimate town hall at New England College. “I wish it weren’t the case, but it still is.” Her comments about the double standards women face came after an audience member asked her why she thinks people don’t feel like she’s as genuine as other politicians. They were her most frank yet about the challenges women face running for office, and they came just three days ahead of the New Hampshire primary, in which the Democrat trails badly behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. See also: Sanders vs. Clinton race is getting heated in New Hampshire “I was reading a blog post a friend of mine sent me, and she was talking about a young friend of hers, and one of the reason he liked Sen. Sanders was because his hair was a mess and he yelled a lot. Boy that would really work for any women we know,” Clinton said in jest. She added that she’s aware that she holds back more than some of the men running for office. “The fact is I do have a somewhat narrower path that I try to walk,” Clinton said. “And I do think, and I think you’re right about this, I do think sometimes it comes across as a little more restrained and a little more careful.” Clinton added that while she has “just got to laugh” about the double standards, she also takes the criticism she receives seriously. “Part of what I have to do is be my best self,” Clinton said. “I can’t do some kind of personal transformation.” Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more

BlackBerry cuts 200 jobs in Ontario and Florida to trim costs

TORONTO BlackBerry Ltd is cutting 200 jobs at its hometown headquarters in Ontario and in Florida in order to trim costs, it said on Friday, as the smartphone maker moves to turn around its fortunes and put more emphasis on its enterprise software business."As BlackBerry continues to execute its turnaround plan, we remain focused on driving efficiencies across our global workforce," the company said in an emailed statement.The company declined to comment on what percentage of its workforce is affected by the cuts. According to a filing, the company had 6,225 employees as of Feb. 28, 2015. The layoffs will affect 75 manufacturing jobs in Sunrise, Florida, a state government website showed. The company also confirmed that Gary Klassen is one of the people who has departed in the latest round of cuts. Klassen was one of its longest-tenured employees and the inventor of its BBM messaging service. One source familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue, said many of the Canadian cuts were people working on its BB10 handset software at its Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters.A spokeswoman for BlackBerry declined to comment on which divisions will be affected by the cuts, but said the company stood by its commitment to release further updates on its BB10 software. Last September, the company laid off roughly 200 staff, who had worked on the hardware and design of the BB10 devices. The company began releasing the BB10-based devices in January 2013, but despite positive reviews the smartphones failed to win back market share from Apple Inc's iPhone, and the slew of Android-based devices that dominate the global market. In a final attempt to revive its handset business BlackBerry released its first Android-based device in November. It has stated it plans to release at least one more Android-based phone this year. BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen has said he will make a decision on whether the company's handset business is viable in the financial year beginning in late February.BlackBerry has staked its turnaround on enterprise software and more aggressively licensing its trove of patents. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Matthew Lewis) Read more

Foxconn CEO meeting with Sharp execs on Friday; Sharp shares soar

TAIPEI/TOKYO Foxconn Chief Executive Officer Terry Gou is in Osaka to meet executives of Japan's Sharp Corp, a Sharp spokesman said, one day after the struggling electronics maker said it was focusing on the Taiwan firm's takeover bid over a rival offer from a Japanese state-backed fund.Shares in Osaka-based Sharp soared 10 percent in early morning trade, bringing two-day gains to 29 percent.Gou plans to brief the media in Osaka at 0600 GMT (3.00 p.m. Japan time), the Sharp spokesman said. Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, has offered to invest around 659 billion yen ($5.6 billion) in the struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp, people familiar with the matter said.One person said Sharp's board had voted 13-0 to negotiate with Foxconn instead of the state-backed Japanese fund, the Innovation Network Corp of Japan. The people declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The Sharp spokesman declined to comment further. Foxconn declined to comment. A takeover by Foxconn, which assembles various electronics products such as smartphones and television sets for Apple, Sony Corp and many other major international companies, would vastly expand sales channels for Sharp's liquid crystal display (LCD) panels.While a generous Foxconn offer had been flagged, many investors in Japan were surprised to see an overseas firm gain the upper hand over a state fund. The decision comes after months of uncertainty over the fate of the company, whose display panel business has continued to suffer massive losses despite two major bailouts by its banks in the last four years. ($1 = 116.8500 yen) (Reporting by J.R. Wu and Ritsuko Ando; Writing by Edwina Gibbs) Read more

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