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Lenovo Shipped Laptops with Security Flaw, Experts Say



The Lenovo Flex 15D laptop is pictured on April 25, 2014 in Atlanta. (Ron Harris/AP Photo)

The Lenovo Flex 15D laptop is pictured on April 25, 2014 in Atlanta. (Ron Harris/AP Photo)

BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — If you’ve recently purchased a laptop computer made by Lenovo, you may want to hear this: Experts say the world’s biggest computer maker shipped laptops with pre-installed software that could let hackers steal passwords or other sensitive information when you use the web to shop, pay bills or check email.

Lenovo said Thursday that it has disabled the offending software, known as Superfish, and will provide customers with a tool that permanently removes the program from their computers. The company initially said its own investigation didn’t find “any evidence to substantiate security concerns.” But it later removed that sentence from a statement on its website.

The problem affects an unknown number of computers: Lenovo said it shipped “some” laptops with Superfish between September and December last year, before it stopped because of customer complaints. That could cover a large number of machines. Lenovo shipped more than 16 million laptop and desktop machines in the fourth quarter.

Superfish wasn’t intended as malware. Lenovo has said it was designed to show targeted ads by analyzing images of products that a user might see on the web and then presenting “identical and similar product offers that may have lower prices.” Lenovo said the software doesn’t track users or collect any identifying information.

But some users initially complained the software shows unwanted “pop-up” ads. And this week, several independent experts reported that Superfish works by substituting its own security key for the encryption certificates that many websites use to protect users’ information. “This means that anyone affected by this adware cannot trust any secure connections they make,” researcher Marc Rogers wrote on his blog.

What’s worse, experts said, is that Superfish appears to re-use the same encryption certificate for every computer, which means a hacker who cracked the Superfish key could have broad access to a variety of online transactions. Robert Graham, chief executive of Errata Security, boasted in a blog post Thursday that he was able to figure out the Superfish encryption password in a few hours.

So far, there’s been no evidence that hackers have used the vulnerability to steal information. To do that, some experts said, a hacker would probably need to search for owners of laptops that have the Superfish software and are using a public Wi-Fi connection to visit secure websites.

But some critics blasted Lenovo for acting irresponsibly by installing the software. “Lenovo has not just injected ads in a wildly inappropriate manner, but engineered a massive security catastrophe for its users,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet advocacy group, in a blog post Thursday.

Superfish is made by a tech startup based in Silicon Valley and Israel. A spokesperson wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Many PC-makers ship computers with pre-loaded software from other companies, often in exchange for commissions or fees. Lenovo said its arrangement with Superfish is “not financially significant.” The company said it stopped selling laptops with the program in January and added: “Our goal was to enhance the experience for users; we recognize that the software did not meet that goal and have acted quickly and decisively.”

“We’re not claiming it wasn’t a mistake,” Lenovo spokesman Brion Tingler added Thursday. “We do due diligence and it wasn’t good enough in this case.” He added that the company is reviewing its procedures.

While Lenovo says it stopped shipping computers with Superfish in January, some may still be in stock at retailers. Lenovo posted detailed instructions for removing the software and the Superfish encryption certificate from its computers. They can be found at:

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Utility Company Recruits Black Californians for Tech Scholarships, Jobs

The scholarship will cover tuition and needed tools. It will also provide support services, such as transportation and childcare, through an agreement with Brotherhood Crusade, a charitable nonprofit.



In an effort to increase Black representation in its workforce and the tech industry beyond it, Edison International (EI), a Los Angeles County-based utility company, has developed a four-year, $1 million program to provide scholarships of up to $25,000 to eligible students. 


The scholarship program initially focuses on Black men and women in California, but military veterans are also encouraged to apply, according to the company. 


“We believe a diverse applicant pool and workforce that reflects the communities we serve to make for better business,” said representatives of the company, which also invests in energy services and technologies, in a statement. 


Edison International provides renewable energy and distributes electric power through its main holding company Southern California Edison. 


The annual scholarship will include tuition and targeted support services while students are enrolled at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College for the Powerline Mechanic Certificate and Class A license programs.


Eligible applicants must enroll at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College for the Fall 2021 semester, enroll in the Powerline Mechanic Certificate program, and have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) equivalent.


Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States, possess a valid driver’s license, and be eligible to obtain a Class A license.


Applications must be submitted by May 17.


The scholarship will cover tuition and needed tools. It will also provide support services, such as transportation and childcare, through an agreement with Brotherhood Crusade, a charitable nonprofit. 


According to Edison, the program’s graduates may qualify for a job at Southern California Edison (SCE), and those who pass new employee assessments will be eligible to start as “groundsmen,” employees who maintain and service equipment and facilities. 


Program administrators say the scholarship is being offered in partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 47, which also distributes funding for the program.


For more information, visit


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Marian R. Croak Invented Technology So You Can Make a Call Using Computer

Marian R. Croak (1955–) has not only been in the forefront of the field, she has contributed to the expansion of technology, specifically Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), throughout her career.



Marion R. Croak is now a vice president of Google

A 2016 study by the New York Times revealed that Black and Hispanic workers who graduated with computer science or engineering degrees were more likely than their white and Asian counterparts to hold jobs outside the fields of technology or engineering. These biased-hiring practices have historically limited opportunities for people of color.

Despite these challenges, Marian R. Croak (1955–) has not only been in the forefront of the field, she has contributed to the expansion of technology, specifically Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), throughout her career.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), VoIP is the technology that converts your voice into a digital signal, allowing you to make a call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other data-driven devices.  It may also be referred to as IP telephony, internet telephony, broadband telephony, or broadband phone service.

Croak began her career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1982. During her tenure, she served in various positions within voice and data communication. Among the more than 200 patents she holds in several areas, 100 are in VoIP. She has helped advance VoIP technology, including calling and text messaging on cellular phones.

Currently, Croak has more patents under review, and has applied for and been granted more than 350.

During her tenure at AT&T, Croak was aggressive in climbing the ladder. While serving as vice president of Services Network in Research and Development, she was responsible for more than 200 programs dealing with AT&T’s wireline and wireless services, supervising engineers and computer scientists who would assist her in running the programs.

She was later promoted to AT&T’s senior vice president of Applications & Services Infrastructure, where she supervised more than 2,000 computer scientists and engineers. She was also in charge of development, testing, service planning, and product realization.

Croak left AT&T in 2014 for a position at Google. There she served as vice president for site reliability engineering, overseeing hundreds of staffers who troubleshoot complicated software problems across the conglomerate. She was responsible for getting the internet into areas of the world where there was none.

According to a 2020 Wall Street Journal article, that accomplishment makes her “one of the highest-ranking Black female executives among Google’s roughly 200,000 full-time and contract workers.” Only 2.6% of Google’s leadership is Black.

Little has been documented about Croak’s early life. We know that she was born in Pennsylvania and that she often spoke of her father as having an influence on her success. Throughout her childhood, she said, he “pushed her to pursue her passion for science through as many creative ways as possible, such as building a chemistry lab in their home.”

Croak started out on her journey toward engineering and technology in the New York City public schools. She later attended the University of Southern California and Princeton University, earning a PhD in Qualitative Analysis and Social Psychology  in 1982.

During a 2020 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Croak said: “I do care more about doing well at work, and yet many of the things I hear people say they’ve experienced, I’ve experienced as well. I feel immensely comfortable having white colleagues and friends and relatives, but sometimes there’s just this slight unawareness that we live in parallel universes.”


Image:  New America –

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Barbershop 2.0: The App That’s Putting Black Health in the Palm of Our Hands

Last week, he launched a high-tech digital tool that he hopes will save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic — and beyond. He also hopes it will turn around the troubling disparities that exist when it comes to the health of Black Americans. 



Photo credit: Black Doctor 24/7

Dr. Bill J. Releford, a Los Angeles County-based physician and founder of the Releford Foot and Ankle Institute in Inglewood, is putting Black health care in their own hands.

Last week, he launched a high-tech digital tool that he hopes will save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic — and beyond. He also hopes it will turn around the troubling disparities that exist when it comes to the health of Black Americans.

The “Barbershop 2.0,” Releford’s new app, allows users to access Black physicians from anywhere in the world. Dr. Releford says he is building on another project he launched in 2009, the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program. With that initiative, he worked to screen 500,000 Black men for diabetes and high blood pressure in over 100 barbershops.

Releford says during the development process, he has had to keep some of the features of his software program under wraps before it officially launched last week. In a one-on-one conversation with California Black Media contributor Charlene Muhammad, Releford talked about the benefits of the app — not just for Black men, but for their families and communities, too.

CBM:  Congratulations on your creation, Dr. Releford. It appears uniquely positioned to have an immediate effect on Black men’s health.  Barbershop 2.0. Tell us what’s it all about?

BR:  With my first health initiative for Black men, we were going to Black-owned barber shops across the country, screening men for diabetes and high blood pressure, with nurses and volunteers. Now, we have COVID-19. It has been bittersweet.  We know the bitter part very well, but some of the things that have come out of it have been beneficial. The sweet part would be the fact that it’s forced people to leverage a lot of technology that has always been there but has never been optimized.  Number two, we are launching the Black Barbershop Physician Network, where you can see a Black physician, on your phone in the comfort of your home.

Health disparities have a number of driving factors. One of the most prominent driving factors, other than the racism, of course, is that studies have shown that African Americans prefer to get care from Black doctors, and studies also have confirmed that outcomes are better when patients are treated by Black physicians, particularly Black men.

Study results that were particularly granular in their data showed that white doctors tend to make less eye contact with Black patients as compared to their white patients. White doctors also touch their Black patients less than their white ones.

One thing that I have been hearing over the decades in practice, is a Black patient will come to me and say, ‘Wow! We’re so glad to see you, because they act like they didn’t want to touch me at such-and-such office.’  I hear it all the time, not knowing that there was some scientific confirmation of the things that people were just saying to me organically. 

How does the app work?

You’ll be able to see a Black physician on your phone, in the comfort of your home, using telemedicine. We also have a remote vitals component, where I can check your respiration, your heart rate, and your oxygen saturation from your phone, just by downloading the app. We can check your vitals anywhere, around the world — whoever downloads this.

 Is this just for Black men?

It’s not just for Black men, but the focus, our main brand has been, of course, dealing with health disparities, focusing on African American men. It’s available to anyone who wants to use the application, but a lot of our messaging is related to African American men.

When is your launch?

The app was fully operable on December 19, however, I needed to give myself a little time to get the kinks out. It launched last week on all major digital app stores.

The urgency is now. It’s a health risk just being Black in America. We do live in the most technologically advanced country in the world. However, African

Americans usually are not beneficiaries of that technology until maybe it’s antiquated or never at all.  So, we know the bittersweet part, but the sweet part of this is I’m hoping we can start having some genuine conversations about our health.

How did you come up with this idea, and what was the draw for Black physicians?

Number one, they’re passionate about our people, and this is a program where money is not the driving force. Love has to be the driving force first.  People first, then money, then things.  I discourage people to join our network if their first question is, “well how do I get paid?” That’s not going to be for them.  Although there’s money to be made, I don’t want that to be your primary objective. Before you ask for money, tell me how you can serve, first.  How can you add value, first. Or add value, then ask.

So, there is a spiritual component so to speak?

It’s got to be!  It’s got to be.  So, this is a program that’s not for everybody.  An old man told me, “Men count numbers, but God makes numbers count.”  I’m passionate about this. Not just me, but for me to serve.

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