Model shares photo of her cellulite on Instagram to encourage women to love their bodies

A body-postive model has posted an empowering photo of her cellulite on Instagram in an effort to encourage women to love their bodies. 

Model Sophie Turner posted an image of herself taken from a photo shoot, expressing how it made her feel “angry” to see her cellulite. 

“It was on my mind but why should it? I am more than cellulite, I am more than the belly rolls, and the back fat, and cellulite is normal!!” she wrote. 

Turner wrote that “it’s natural for us ladies” to have cellulite, and “we need to stop seeing it as disgusting or ugly.”

“I’ve had cellulite since I was about 12 which is normal. After living with something for a decade it’s all a part of being me,” she added. 

Love the skin you’re in ❤️😘 #nophotoshop #noretouchingneeded #nofilterneeded

A post shared by S O P H I E T U R N E R 💋 (@sophieeturner) on

But, she says she’s “still learning to love” her cellulite and “not hate it.” 

“It’s a slow road to self love but it’s the best thing you can do for your confidence and mental health,” she continued.

🙌  🙌  🙌

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Blizzard takes legal action against ‘Overwatch’ copycat

Image: blizzard entertainment

There’s a Chinese mobile game called Heroes of Warfare, which takes as much inspiration as possible from Blizzard Entertainment’s hit game Overwatch. A little too much inspiration for Blizzard’s liking.

Blizzard and its Chinese partner NetEase are suing Heroes of Warfare‘s creators, 4399, for infringing on its intellectual property, Japanese news site PC Watch reported today. Blizzard claims that 4399’s Heroes of Warfare and another game that’s already been shut down is too similar to Overwatch, and is calling for a take down.

Just take a look through this gameplay video of Heroes of Warfare and you’ll see what Blizzard is getting at:

Many of the playable characters in Heroes of Warfare look and play similarly to the heroes in Overwatch, the maps are nearly identical to Overwatch maps, and the heads-up display showing scores, kills, and health is basically the same as Overwatch‘s.

As is common practice for intellectual property infringement lawsuits, Blizzard is asking for 4399 to cease production of its copycat games, for monetary compensation for damages, and that Heroes of Warfare be removed from iOS and Android app stores.

This isn’t the first time a game developer has copied Overwatch‘s aesthetics and gameplay approaches. A different Chinese mobile game called Hero Mission did the exact same thing earlier this year. In fact, Hero Mission and Heroes of Warfare are pretty hard to tell apart.

Also, sidenote to all game developers ripping off existing games: Try to come up with better, less-generic names than Heroes of Warfare. What does that even mean?

H/T Kotaku

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How To “Hack” Your Brain And Get High Without Using Drugs

The human brain is often conceptualized as a supercomputer of cosmic complexity, and like all main frames, it can be hacked into and hijacked for a range of different purposes. Getting high is the most popular of these, as evidenced by the ever-increasing rates of global drug use. Fortunately, no one has to hide anything up their bottom for you to join in the fun, as there are a number of much geekier ways to enter an altered state of consciousness without the use of drugs.

The Broadband Squish

The experience known as “reality” is actually just a trick that our brains play on us, by carefully filtering the sensory information that the world presents to us in order to generate a workable perspective on things. The parameters of our consciousness can therefore be modified by destabilizing these finely tuned filters, and one way to do this is by altering their electrical signals, or brainwaves.

Depending on what you want to feel, you’ll need to choose carefully from the menu of different brainwaves and their associated effects. Theta waves, for example, have a frequency of 4 to 8 Hz and are linked to intuition, but can also lead to excessive daydreaming when they are too high in amplitude.

Heather Hargraves studies the therapeutic applications of altered states of consciousness at the University of Western Ontario, and told IFLScience that, when going into trance, “shamans enter into theta states, which is dreamy, intuitive, open but focused in an internal way.” Because of this, it was previously thought that theta waves were the key to psychedelic experiences, yet this all changed when scientists began performing electroencephalography (EEG) studies on people under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.

Altering one’s brainwaves can produce a psychedelic experience. Andrea Danti/Shutterstock

The results of these studies revealed what Hargraves calls a “broadband squish”, whereby all brainwaves in the range of 0 to 20 Hz are “shut down” in certain regions of the brain, before “rebounding”. This effect was particularly noticeable in a brain network called the default mode network, which regulates consciousness and is largely responsible for maintaining a sense of self.

Of course, anyone who attempts to achieve this using drugs becomes a brainwave bandit in the eyes of the law, but Hargraves is helping to develop a legal biohack to bring about the same effect.


Describing the technique as “like meditation with a mirror”, Hargraves says neurofeedback enables people to learn to control their own brainwaves. As a therapist, she uses it to help trauma patients regulate their alpha and beta waves, which tend to cause anxiety and depression when they are overactive.

Participants wear an EEG cap that measures their brainwaves while they focus on a fractal animation on a screen. As with meditation, they are instructed to empty their minds and shut off their brainwaves in the 1-20 Hz range. Unlike meditation, however, they are given feedback on how well they are doing, making it easier to achieve their goal: When their brainwaves are decreasing, the animation remains visible, but as soon as their thoughts become active again, a white fog clouds up the screen.

According to Hargraves, neurofeedback participants often benefit from an “afterglow” effect similar to that seen in users of psychedelic drugs, whereby brainwaves become better regulated for a period of time after they come back online, leading to better emotional regulation. As a result, patients tend to report increased creativity, more positive mood, and enhanced sensitivity to color and music in the days after their neurofeedback sessions.

Heather Hargraves explains how neurofeedback can be used to produce altered states of consciousness.

Holotropic Breathwork

For those without access to fancy gadgets, there are some more rudimentary methods of altering the mind. In the 1970s, when many psychedelic drugs had recently been made illegal, a Czech psychiatrist called Stanislav Grof began searching for a way to legally induce altered states of consciousness in his patients. The technique he developed, called holotropic breathwork, involves a combination of accelerated breathing, body work, and listening to music, and has remained a key element of Grof’s psychotherapy protocol for the past four decades.

The technique is thought to increase carbon dioxide levels in the blood, thus making it more alkaline and leading to vasoconstriction. This alters the blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that processes subjective conscious experience, thereby creating an effect similar to that of taking a psychedelic drug.

In a recent study of 11,000 patients who underwent holotropic breathwork treatment, 82 percent said the technique produced a “transpersonal” experience, characterised by a loss of sense of self and feelings of universal oneness. And while some might associate this kind of talk with drug-using using hippies, it’s worth noting that many forms of psychotherapy aim at cultivating these same insights in order to improve mental health.

Context Engineering

Carl Smith, director of the Learning Technology Research Centre (LTRC) at Ravensbourne in London, told IFLScience that “we’re using technology to create a whole new range of altered states of consciousness.” Many of these new innovations are aimed towards what he calls “context engineering”, whereby it isn’t so much the content of our sensory universe as the way it is presented that coaxes the brain into changing its take on reality.

Virtual reality headsets, for example, drastically alter our field of perception because they offer a 180-degree scope of vision, and therefore activate our peripheral vision. This marks a major departure from the current norm of staring at a phone, tablet, or laptop screen, which severely restricts our visual girth.

Studies have shown that focusing on peripheral vision causes alterations in alpha brainwaves, which have a frequency of 8 to 12 Hz and regulate our ability to feel calm and relaxed. At the same time, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which enables the body to rest and recover by slowing heart rate and calming the mind.

Smith says that performing peripheral vision exercises helps to place the mind into a more relaxed state and reduce anxiety. “As a result, a lot of athletes do this before a race,” he explains.

Another technique that is becoming increasingly popular involves binaural beats, whereby a tone of a particular frequency is played into one ear, while a separate tone of a different frequency is played into the other. When this occurs, the brain generates a third tone that is equal to the difference in frequency between the two.

So for example, if the left ear listens to a 420 Hz sound and the right ear listens to 430 Hz, the brain will internally generate a note of 10 Hz. By focusing on this binaural sound, it is possible to synchronize one’s brainwaves with this frequency – a phenomenon known as the frequency-follow response – and enter an altered state of consciousness.

Delta waves, for instance, have frequencies of 0.5 to 4 Hz and help to regulate sleep. Smith says that “when people want to go into a dream state they can do a 15-minute delta entrainment so their brain actually goes into the delta state, a sleep state, even though they’re not sleeping – and that’s just through listening to binaural sounds.” By the same logic, listening to binaural beats that produce a theta frequency in the brain could help to induce the intuitive, “shamanic” state mentioned by Hargraves.

Viewed through the prism of context engineering, it becomes apparent that the nature of consciousness is not fixed in the first place, but is entirely dependent on the way we habitually use our eyes, ears and other senses to receive external information and interpret the nature of reality. After all, it is the mind that creates experience, and once you know how to push its buttons the contours of consciousness become magnificently malleable.

Sometimes, all you need is the air that you breath. Created by Jcomp –

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The Shirk Report Volume 443


Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to


I’ve squandered my life
This new caption changes everything
“Forget about the saw Jim we got it”
When the Crossfit gym is closed for the day
Today you become a man
No Reward
Reminds me of Thesaurus, the wordy dinosaur
This guy’s pockets are tiny jeans
That shirt is perfect
Please do not season the birds
I’m a simple man
When your cat is disappointed with your life choices
This would have been a great boomerang
Guy gets into release party with a receipt
When Mom says you can’t play until you’ve hung the laundry
When Dad’s your hero
Faceswapping parents with their babies will always be acceptable
Until next week


Against the Travel Neck Pillow
How Norms Change
Almost 90% of edible tomatoes thrown away based on appearance – research
“Making It” at Rolling Stone
How Steve Kerr revolutionized the Golden State Warriors’ offense on a charcuterie board
The Inside of Every iPhone Ever
Elephants mourn. Dogs love. Why do we deny the feelings of other species?
The world’s first “negative emissions†plant has begun operation—turning carbon dioxide into stone
Is Tribalism a Natural Malfunction?
The science of spying: how the CIA secretly recruits academics

5 VIDEOS + meatballed


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Utah cop who dragged nurse in viral video has been fired


University of Utah nurse Alex Wubbels was seen being forcibly handcuffed and dragged by Salt Lake City police Detective Jeff Payne in a video that went viral last month. It caused public outcry that ultimately led the Salt Lake City mayor and police chief to apologize. Now, more than a month later, the police department has fired Payne from the force.

In the filmed incident, which actually happened in July, Payne repeatedly requested permission to draw blood from a patient who suffered serious burns from a head-on collision. Without a search warrant or the patient’s permission, Payne had no right to draw blood, but he remained insistent with Wubbels. Eventually, after Wubbels phoned her supervisor on the matter, Payne pushed Wubbels outside the hospital and handcuffed her, dragging her to the side. She wasn’t charged, but in the video depicting her arrest, she appears visibly shaken, screaming for help.

During an internal investigation in September, the police department concluded that both Payne and his watch commander, Lt. James Tracey, disregarded the department’s arrest and officer conduct policies when Payne handcuffed Wubbels. In light of the investigation, the department decided to fire Payne, while his commander was demoted back to officer.

“The decision… is in keeping with the high level of accountability we owe the people of Salt Lake City,” Mayor Jackie Biskupski explained, according to CNN. “In making his decision, I am confident Chief Brown balanced the unique stresses each of our police officers deal with daily, and the responsibility they have as leaders in our community.”

H/T Associated Press

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Miles Teller Masturbation Video Allegedly Leaks Online!

A video allegedly of

The War Dogs actor’s face supposedly can’t be seen in the video, but it still doesn’t make it any less of a violation of a privacy if it really is the 30-year-old.

As we’ve previously reported, celebs like Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, and more have been at the center of nude photo leaks and hacks!

We can only hope Miles’ video gets taken down!

[Image via Nicky Nelson/WENN.]

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At least 8 dead after Irma leaves Florida nursing home with no A/C

(CNN)Police are investigating the deaths of eight nursing home residents in Hollywood, Florida, where oppressive heat and humidity set in after Hurricane Irma knocked out much of the power in the area.

The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills said the residents, ages 71 to 99, died “following a prolonged outage of our air conditioning system due to Hurricane Irma.”
The center did not lose power during the storm, but it lost a transformer that powers the air conditioning, nursing home administrator Jorge Carballo said in a statement late Wednesday. He added that the center immediately contacted Florida Power & Light and continued to follow up with them for status updates on when repairs would be made. Outreach was made to local emergency officials and first responders, Carballo said, without specifying when.
    “Staff set up mobile cooling units and fans to cool the facility and continually checked on our residents’ well-being to ensure they were hydrated,” Carballo said. “We are devastated by these losses. We are fully cooperating with all authorities and regulators to assess what went wrong and to ensure our other residents are cared for.”
    CNN reached out to Florida Power & Light for its reaction to that statement and has not yet heard back.

    Questions abound

    The nursing home’s statement was the latest in a day of finger pointing among state officials, Florida Power & Light and the nursing home, leading to more questions than answers about how the sweltering conditions persisted for so long.
    Jeffrey Nova said he learned of his mother’s death Wednesday morning from a reporter who got his name and contact info from a nursing home employee. Communication with the staff had always been like “pulling teeth,” so it did not strike him as unusual that they had not been returning his calls since Sunday.
    Otherwise, he said he never experienced problems with the staff in the eight years his mother, Gail Nova, lived there.
    “The staff has never been in any way disrespectful to me or my mom,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “But it was always a challenge to get them to give me any input when there was things that came up with her care.”
    One resident died late Tuesday at Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and was taken directly to a funeral home. Three more were found dead on the second floor of the facility after rescue units were called in. Four more died in hospitals after the sweltering facility was evacuated Wednesday morning in a chaotic blur of events that prompted checks of other nursing homes in the area.
    By Wednesday evening, the state had issued an emergency moratorium on the facility admitting new patients, and Hollywood Police were investigating whether any laws had been broken.
    In his latest statement, Carballo attempted to clarify some of the outstanding questions.
    “The Center and its medical and administrative staff diligently prepared for the impact of Hurricane Irma. We took part in emergency management preparedness calls with local and state emergency officials, other nursing homes and health regulators,” he said. “In compliance with state regulations, the Center did have a generator on standby in the event it would be needed to power life safety systems. The Center also had seven days of food, water, ice and other supplies, including gas for the generator.”
    Temperatures reached the 90s Tuesday in Hollywood; by Wednesday the heat index was near 100 degrees and low temperatures were in the upper 70s.
    In a statement, Richard Beltran, a spokesman for Florida Power & Light, said: “What we know now is that a portion of the facility did, in fact, have power, that there was a hospital across the parking lot from this facility and that the nursing home was required to have a permanently installed operational generator.”
    The utility said it urges facilities with patients dependent on electricity-powered equipment, and who don’t have power, to call 911 if there is a life-threatening situation.

    Calls come in

    The first rescue crews responded to a call from the facility around 3 a.m. Wednesday, for a patient in cardiac arrest. The patient was brought to the hospital and firefighters were called back to the facility at 4 a.m. to transport another patient experiencing breathing problems. Soon after, a third patient transport call came in, and the fire department sent over more crews, the City of Hollywood said in a statement.
    Police Chief Tomas Sanchez described the second floor “as excessively hot.” Hollywood Fire Chief Christopher Pratt said it was “more than likely” that heat played a factor in the residents’ conditions.
    In all, firefighters evacuated 158 people from the nursing home. Another 18 patients in an adjacent behavioral health facility also were evacuated.
    Some were brought to Memorial Regional Hospital, just across the street from the nursing center, and were treated for for respiratory distress, dehydration and heat-related issues, said Dr. Randy Katz, medical director of Memorial Regional’s emergency department.
    Hollywood Hill’s proximity to Memorial Regional was one of reasons Gail Nova stayed there, her son Jeffrey said, so she could seek care as she needed it.
    “It was literally feet away,” he said. “It fit the things she needed.”

    Governor wants answers

    Apparently, the center was in contact with the state Department of Health after Irma.
    Gov. Rick Scott said officials were in contact with the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills over the past three days. Hospital administrators were advised to call 911 if they had any reason to believe that the health or safety of patients was at risk, Scott said in a statement. Yesterday afternoon, the facility reported to the AHCA that they had power and access to fans and spot coolers provided by Memorial Healthcare.
    “I am going to aggressively demand answers on how this tragic event took place,” he said in a statement. “If they find that this facility was not meeting the state’s high standards of care, they will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
    Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families also launched investigations.
    The nursing home has had a list of safety violations and citations, including two for not following generator regulations in 2014 and 2016. In both instances, the nursing home corrected these deficiencies.

    Patients evacuated to hospitals

    The incident raised concerns about the welfare of residents at other nursing centers. There are 683 nursing homes in Florida with more than 84,000 beds, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which licenses and regulates these facilities. In addition, there are more than 3,100 assisted living facilities with more than 99,000 beds.
    Florida Health Care Association, which represents 81% of Florida’s nursing centers — but not the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — said about 150 facilities out of nearly 700 nursing facilities in the state do not have full power services restored. The association is working with the state to identify homes without power in greatest need so utility companies could prioritize them.
    As a precautionary measure, police checked 42 more nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the city of Hollywood, Sanchez said. One of them was later evacuated because of the heat.
    Police evacuated 79 residents of another nursing home in North Miami Beach on Wednesday, citing safety concerns about lack of air conditioning. Police used city trolleys to transport residents of Krystal Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to another facility, a spokesman said.

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    The New Moon In Virgo Could Have Each Sign Feeling Ready To Reinvent Themselves

    On Sept. 20, 2017, there will be a new moon in the sign of Virgo. If you don’t know what that means, anyone who practices lunar astrology can tell you that the new moon is your chance to achieve your goals, but the sign that moon is in will influence the types of goals you’ll want to set for yourself. New moons are a potent opportunity, and this new moon September 2017 in Virgo will have everyone ready to reinvent themselves. But in order to increase the potency of the new moon, we must adjust our sails to fit the wind, and when the wind is being blown by the sign of Virgo, it’s very particular.

    The most important thing is to understand the sign of Virgo, because it’s often extremely misunderstood. What passes for common knowledge about Virgo is that they’re judgmental assholes without any tact, and that they’re perfectionists. But they’re also gifted at discriminating between what is a constructive use of energy, at rolling up their sleeves and getting down to active work on a project without skipping any necessary steps, at applying their attention to detail by making a list and congratulating themselves and others on accomplishments that seem small, but contribute to the larger picture. In other words, this sign is the perfect one for setting new moon goals and getting those goals accomplished.

    Here are the Virgo-ish types of goals you’ll want to be setting in order to work with this new moon as best as you can.

    Start A New Health Routine

    Virgo is associated with the sixth house of daily activities, work regimens, and responsibilities that we have to others, including pets, our employers, and ourselves. Many Virgos might feel as though their lives are completely controlled by these responsibilities, that they never get to have any fun because the area of their life that they are controlled by is the sixth house. These things can weigh heavily on us if we don’t take care of ourselves, so it’s important to keep yourself accountable to a self-care regimen as well. You might feel as though you don’t have time for any of that, but the energy of a new moon in Virgo will provide the extra boost of motivation (and clarity of mind) you need to follow through.

    Research Your Life

    Virgos excel at making lists, so use the new moon to take advantage of their methods, and take some time to make a list of everything in your life that takes up the majority of your time, check which of those things actually bring you joy, and put a minus sign next to the things that don’t. Then reprioritize, wherever possible, what you do with that time. How can you improve the areas of life you feel drained, and how can you shift your schedule to make more time for the things that don’t?

    As for your new health regimen, do some research behind what you’re doing so that you can do it well. If you want to grow out your hair and you need to start taking vitamins to do it, research which ones will work best. Make doctors appointments to see where your diet might lack in the necessary vitamins and minerals, and then ask for recommendations about what brands of supplements you might take to improve those levels.

    Eliminate Waste

    Lastly, Virgo is all about conservation 0- on both a global and personal scale. Also on a global and personal scale, energy conservation is about eliminating waste. Therefore at the time of this new moon, you will most likely want to look into what- or who- is wasting your energy, and how to get rid of it.

    Yes, this might include removing yourself from certain social situations. If there are people around you who take up too much of your time and who don’t inspire you to work harder and to expand your life in productive ways, you may have to pull away from them. Often, this doesn’t even involve sitting down to have a conversation. In fact, these types of people often fall by the wayside when you occupy your time by making positive changes in your own life. That’s because people who are stuck often subconsciously want to be there- and seeing you making improvements reminds them that they have a choice in the matter.

    Over the next six months, you’ll see these changes taking place in your life, and in true Virgo fashion, you might want to pick up a journal and log your progress. See what happens.

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    New poll shows Republican Party popularity ‘in freefall’

    Voters are increasingly trusting Democrats more than Republicans to solve American problems as the GOP is now viewed unfavorably by a majority of registered voters, according to a new poll.

    A Suffolk University and USA Today poll found that 62 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of the Republican party, a sharp jump from 55 percent in June. The Democrats were seen as unfavorable by 48 percent of voters.

    “The Republican Party is in freefall,” David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston said in a statement. “In March, the GOP had a 48 percent unfavorable rating, in June the negative swelled to 55 percent. Today the GOP unfavorable is 62 percent. What’s next?”

    The poll found that 43 percent of voters trust Democrats in Congress to protect the “interests of their families” when it comes healthcare, compared to 15 percent who think President Donald Trump would protect their interests and just 10 percent of people who think Republicans would have their interests at heart.

    The poll, like others before it, shows Americans continue to have negative views of Trump. Nearly 57 percent of people polled want a Congress to stand up to Trump while only 33 percent think Americans should elect a Congress that goes along with the president’s wishes. Overall, Trump’s unfavorability rating reached 57 percent, according to the poll.

    The poll found that 64 percent of Americans think the country is “on the wrong track,” a jump from 56 percent in June.

    The survey was of 1,000 registered voters from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. The margin of error is 3 points.

    You can read more about the poll here.

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    The White House and Equifax Agree: Social Security Numbers Should Go

    The Trump administration is exploring ways to replace the use of Social Security numbers as the main method of assuring people’s identities in the wake of consumer credit agency Equifax Inc.’s massive data breach.

    The administration has called on federal departments and agencies to look into the vulnerabilities of employing the identifier tied to retirement benefits, as well as how to replace the existing system, according to Rob Joyce, special assistant to the president and White House cybersecurity coordinator.

    “I feel very strongly that the Social Security number has outlived its usefulness,” Joyce said Tuesday at a cyber conference in Washington organized by the Washington Post. “Every time we use the Social Security number, you put it at risk.”

    Joyce’s comments came as former Equifax CEO Richard Smith testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the first of four hearings this week on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers from both parties expressed outrage over the size of the breach as well as the company’s response and grilled Smith on the timeline of the incident, including when top executives learned about it.

    Smith said the rising number of hacks involving Social Security numbers have eroded its security value.

    “The concept of a Social Security number in this environment being private and secure — I think it’s time as a country to think beyond that,” Smith said. “What is a better way to identify consumers in our country in a very secure way? I think that way is something different than an SSN, a date of birth and a name.”

    Joyce said officials are looking into “what would be a better system” that utilizes the latest technologies, including a “modern cryptographic identifier,” such as public and private keys.

    Read more: Five Data-Security Ideas Brought Up During the Equifax Hearing

    ‘Flawed System’

    “It’s a flawed system that we can’t roll back that risk after we know we’ve had a compromise,” he said. “I personally know my Social Security number has been compromised at least four times in my lifetime. That’s just untenable.”

    Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, said one possibility could be giving individuals a private key, essentially a long cryptographic number that’s embedded in a “physical token” that then requires users to verify that the number belongs to them. It could work like the chip in a credit card that requires the owner to enter a pin allowing use. He pointed to Estonia where they have deployed such cards that people use to validate their identity.

    “Your pin unlocks your ability to use that big number,” he said. The challenge is how to create the identifiers and how to distribute the keys. “It’s very promising” and “it’s possible to technically design something like this” but it could be expensive to design and disseminate such material to each American, he said. “This is a pretty big endeavor.”

    The administration is also participating in discussions Congress is having about the requirements of protecting personal data and breach notifications for companies.

    Avoiding Balkanization

    “It’s really clear, there needs to be a change, but we’ll have to look at the details of what’s being proposed,” Joyce said. In the response to the Equifax hack, though, he said, “we need to be careful of Balkanizing the regulations. It’s really hard on companies today” facing local, state and federal regulators as well as international rules, he added.

    The U.S. government began issuing Social Security numbers in 1936. Nearly 454 million different numbers have been issued, according to the Social Security Administration. Supplanting such an ingrained apparatus would not happen over night. The original intent was to track U.S. workers’ earning to determine their Social Security benefits. But the rise of computers, government agencies and companies found new uses for the number, which gradually grew into a national identifier.

    Over the decades, the Social Security number became valuable for what could be gained by stealing it, said Bruce Schneier, a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. It was the only number available to identify a person and became the standard used for everything from confirming someone at the doctor’s office to school.

    Akin to Infrastructure

    “They appeared at an age when we didn’t have other numbers,” Schneier said in an interview. “Think of this as part of our aging infrastructure” from roads and bridges to communications. “Sooner or later we as a society need to fix our aging infrastructure.” 

    He pointed to India’s wide-scale rollout of the Aadhaar card, a unique number provided to citizens after collecting their biometric information — fingerprints and an iris scan — along with demographic details, to almost 1.2 billion people. In the U.S., a more secure system could be designed, “but magic math costs money,” he said.

    Making any changes to the current system, including replacing numbers entirely or restricting who can use them, would likely require an act of Congress, according to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, which advocates for limiting the use of Social Security numbers. 

    Rewriting Laws

    “You’d need to change a lot of existing public law," Rotenberg said. “There would need to be extensive hearings and study about the consequences. It’s a complicated issue." 

    The government’s own record of protecting Social Security numbers has its blemishes. Medicare, the federal health-care program for senior citizens, has long used the numbers on identification cards recipients must carry. After years of criticism by the agency’s inspector general for the risks that creates, new cards with different numbers are currently being rolled out.

    The failure of the Social Security number is that there’s only one for each person, “once it’s compromised one time, you’re done,” Bob Stasio, a fellow at the Truman National Security Project and former chief of operations at the National Security Agency’s Cyber Operations Center.

    Public and private keys — long strings of code — could help validate identities. For instance, the government could issue each person a public key and private key. If people were to open a bank account, for instance, they could provide their public key — instead of a Social Security number — and the bank would send a message that could only be decrypted using their private key. If the private key gets compromised, the government could easily issue another one.

    Saved by Math

    Stasio also cited emerging blockchain technology as another potential tool. It could create a kind of digital DNA fingerprint that’s “mathematically impossible” to duplicate. In place of a Social Security number, each person could receive a blockchain hash — a kind of algorithm unique to an individual — that is stamped on every digital transaction or action.

    That type of technology “could be used as a much more efficient and mathematically sound method of transaction, identification and validation,” Stasio said.

    While lawmakers were unanimous in criticizing Equifax’s response to a breach that compromised information on 145.5 million U.S. consumers, they were divided on how to fix the underlying issue. Democrats on the panel have reintroduced legislation imposing requirements for when companies have to report data breaches, while Oregon Republican Greg Walden noted the company’s human errors, saying “you can’t fix stupid.”

    Smith said the Equifax employee responsible for communicating that the vulnerable software needed to be patched didn’t do so. That failure was compounded when a scan of the company’s systems didn’t find that the vulnerability still existed, the former CEO said.

    Joyce’s comments helped take some of the focus off Equifax’s blunders, analysts at Cowen Inc. said in a note Tuesday.

    The “White House may be indirectly coming to Equifax’s rescue,” they wrote. “This reduces the risk of business-model-busting legislation such as a requirement that consumers opt-in to a credit bureau collecting their data.”

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