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Fitbit targets 1 million new users with Singapore government tie-up

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(Reuters) – Fitbit Inc (FIT.N) said on Wednesday it signed a contract with the Singapore government to provide fitness trackers and services in a health program it said could reach up to one million users.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors walk past an advertising billboard for Fitbit Ionic watches at the IFA Electronics Show in Berlin, Germany, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Fitbit will supply its trackers free of charge on the condition users spend S$10 ($7.22) each month, for a year, on the company’s premium subscription.

“The program’s goal is to ultimately reach up to one million people,” a spokeswoman for Fitbit said in an email.

The company’s shares closed up 2% on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The program could be a boost for the San Francisco-based wearables pioneer, which has seen its shares sink in the past two years in the face of competition from Apple (AAPL.O), Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and a raft of cheaper rivals.

“This is Fitbit’s first major integration of a digital health platform and wearables into a national public health program globally,” the company said in a statement.

Singapore, a city-state of 5.6 million people, has the longest life expectancy in the world and widespread access to healthcare. However, the government has raised concerns about relatively high rates of heart disease and diabetes among its fast-ageing population.

Subscribers will receive personalized health advice and nudges to encourage physical activity, healthy eating and better sleep, said Zee Yoong Kang, chief executive of Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB).

Fitbit said the program, which begins in October, will ask users if they consent to share their data with the HPB, which will use the information for health promotions.

Fitbit was among several bidders, an HPB spokeswoman said.

“There were many bidders and some were significant international players,” she said, adding that Fitbit had set the target for one million users.

Apple was among those vying for the bid, Fitbit Chief Executive James Park told CNBC here

Reporting by Neha Malara, Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and John Geddie; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Patrick Graham and Darren Schuettler



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Get advice on the latest growth tactics from Demand Curve at Disrupt SF – TechCrunch

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We’re going to try something new at Disrupt this year, based on the great response we’ve been getting to our startup how-to coverage. We’re going to put service provider experts on our Q&A stage, where you can talk to them directly in-person about key topics like growth, fundraising and recruiting.

To help kick off this experiment, we’ve asked growth marketing expert Asher King Abramson to lead a session where he’ll tear down your landing pages and Facebook/Instagram ads in front of a live audience. He’ll deconstruct how effective they are at (1) conveying what you do (2) and doing so enticingly — so that people click.

If you’re attending Disrupt and want to participate, you can submit your assets to ec_editors@techcrunch.com for him to consider.

Get your Disrupt tickets here (you’ll also get a very large discount on an Extra Crunch subscription).

If you’re not familiar, Abramson is the cofounder of Bell Curve, a growth marketing agency widely used by Y Combinator companies and others around Silicon Valley and the world, the cofounder of Demand Curve (YC s19), and a frequent industry speaker on growth (you can see some of his webinars here). We recently named Bell Curve to Verified Experts, our growing list of service providers who startups love to work with, based on founder recommendations. You may also be familiar with his cofounder, Julian Shapiro, a columnist here at TechCrunch who has covered topics for us including trends in paid channel ad prices, how well different sectors monetize and now a regular column featuring tips from across top growth marketers.

This focus on growth is part of our larger orientation towards building great companies via coverage in our new Extra Crunch subscription product.



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Howard (Hopalong) Cassady, Speedy Heisman Winner, Dies at 85

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His hometown fans did not forget him.

“When they would call out the lineups, you’d just get the usual cheers for players, nothing big,” Andy Phillips, a Yankee first baseman who had played for the Clippers, told The New York Times in 2007. “And then they would call out the coaches at third base and first base. When they got to him, the place would just go crazy every time.”

Howard Albert Cassady was born on March 2, 1934, and graduated from Columbus Central High School.

In addition to working for the Yankees, he founded a company that manufactured concrete pipes and other industrial products after his football years.

His survivors include his wife, Barbara; two sons, Craig, a defensive back with Ohio State and with the New Orleans Saints in 1977, and David; and a daughter, Rayne.

In the late 1990s, Cassady’s Heisman Trophy was stolen from the home he maintained in Columbus.

“The guy that stole it thought it had gold or something in it,’‘ Cassady told The Times. “The garbage man found it in a bag, and the hand was sticking out of it. He pulled it out from the trash and called the school, and they took it to the police department.”

The Heisman was restored to good health and returned to Cassady.

William Boyd, who portrayed Hopalong Cassidy on the screen, and, like Cassady the football player, was an Ohio native, met up with him before the kickoff for the 1955 Rose Bowl game.

“I had his guns on, and I got on his horse,” Cassady said. “He said he was awfully proud that I was called Hopalong, too.”



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Medicine show: Crown Sterling demos 256-bit RSA key-cracking at private event

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Robert Grant, Crown Sterling CEO and founder, emcee'd a demonstration of crypto-cracking at an event yesterday. Cryptographers were not impressed.
Enlarge / Robert Grant, Crown Sterling CEO and founder, emcee’d a demonstration of crypto-cracking at an event yesterday. Cryptographers were not impressed.

Crown Sterling, via YouTube

On September 19, in a conference room at the Pelican Hill Resort in Newport Beach, California, Crown Sterling CEO Robert Grant, COO Joseph Hopkins, and a pair of programmers staged a demonstration of Grant’s claimed cryptography-cracking algorithm. Before an audience that a Crown Sterling spokesperson described as “approximately 100 academics and business professionals,” Grant and Hopkins had their minions generate two pairs of 256-bit RSA encryption keys and then derive the prime numbers used to generate them from the public key in about 50 seconds.

In a phone interview with Ars Technica today, Grant said the video was filmed during a “business session” at the event. The “academic” presentation, which went into math behind his claims and a new paper yet to be published, was attended by “mostly people from local colleges,” Hopkins said. Grant said that he didn’t know who attended both sessions, and the CEO added that he didn’t have access to the invitation list.

During the presentation, Grant called out to Chris Novak, the global director of Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ Threat Research Advisory Center, naming him as a member of Crown Sterling’s advisory board. The shout-out was during introductory remarks that Grant made about a survey of chief information security officers that the company had conducted. The survey found only 3% had an understanding of the fundamental math behind encryption.

The video of the demonstration is here. (The video was briefly marked as private, but is now back again.)
The demo was displayed from a MacBook Pro, but it appeared that it was being run in part via a secure shell session to a server. Grant claimed that the work could be used to “decrypt” a 512-bit RSA key in “as little as five hours” using what Grant described as “standard computing.”

The demonstration only raises more skepticism about Grant’s work and about Crown Sterling’s main thrust—an encryption product called Time AI that Grant claims will use the time signature of AI-generated music to generate “quantum-entangled” keys. Grant’s efforts to show how weak long-cracked versions of RSA are was met with what can only be described as derision by a number of cryptography and security experts.

Mark Carney, a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds, used Msieve, a well-established factoring method, on his laptop. Carney cracked compound numbers larger than RSA keys into primes in about 20 seconds. “These [were] not 256-bit keys, just larger-than 256-bit numbers,” he explained, but “these are using standard quadratic sieve methods. So long as I haven’t messed this preliminary test up too much, this is un-optimized Msieve out-performing Crown Sterling’s algorithm by roughly 50 percent.”

Henryk Plötz, a computer scientist in Berlin, ran a test of his own, with similar results:

Pressed on the issue of performance by Ars, Grant said that the presentation was only to demonstrate the vulnerability of the RSA algorithm. Grant insisted that weak RSA keys were still widely in use. “Some banks still use DES encryption,” he said, referring to the Digital Encryption Standard—the 56 bit symmetric encryption technology developed by IBM in the 1970s that was still a federally approved standard for legacy systems until 2003. So, Grant insisted, the demonstration was still relevant.

Ars shared the video with Jake Williams, the founder of Rendition Infosec and a former member of the National Security Agency’s Tailored Access Operations group. “I’m dumber for having watched that,” Williams said. “Bragging that you can factor a 256 bit RSA key in 2019 is like bragging about hacking an unpatched Windows 2000 box. Sure you did it, but nobody should care.” The 256-bit key, Williams said, was “absurdly small.” (Digital certificates from recognized certificate authorities have used RSA 2048-bit keys for more than seven years.)

Williams had publicly challenged Crown Sterling last month to a third-party assessment of their crypto cracking capabilities:

Nicholas Weaver, lecturer at the University of California Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, reacted to Grant’s latest demonstration with this statement to Ars:

It was previously an open question whether Mr Grant was a fraud or just delusional.  His new press release now makes me certain he is a deliberate fraud.

He received a lot of feedback from cryptographers, both polite and rude, so showing this level of continued ignorance is willful at this point.  His video starts with the ridiculously false notion that factoring is all there is for public key.  He then insists that breaking a 256 bit RSA key or even a 512b key is somehow revolutionary.  It’s not.  Professor [Nadia] Heninger at UCSD, as part of her work on the FREAK attack, showed that factoring a 512 bit key is easily accomplished with less than $100 of computing time in 2015.

His further suggesting that breaking 512-bit breaks RSA is also ridiculous on its face.  Modern RSA is usually 2048 bits or higher, and there is a near-exponential increase in the difficulty of factoring with the number of bits.

At this point I have to conclude he is an outright fraud, and the most likely explanation is he’s looking to raise investment from ignorant accredited investors.  And now I wonder how many other companies he’s started are effectively fraudulent.

In a blog post earlier this month, security expert and Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Bruce Schneier declared, “Crown Sterling is complete and utter snake oil.” Grant laughed at the term, telling Ars he had ordered bottles of Pride of Strathspey Scotch Whisky with custom “snake oil” labels.





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