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2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan Equipped with Driver Easy Speak for Parents to Shout at Kids

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Toyota Sienna

Toyota will be releasing their new 2015 Sienna minivan with a feature that will give parents the ability to shout at their kids in the back seat, via microphone.

The feature is called “Driver Easy Speak.” It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent’s voice through speakers in the back seats.

Toyota says it added Easy Speak “so parents don’t have to shout to passengers in the back.” But chances are many parents will yell into the microphone anyway.

This new feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is also being refreshed with a totally new interior. The minivan also has an optional “pull-down conversation mirror” that lets drivers check on kids without turning around.

Plus, the Sienna will have its dual-view entertainment system for the backseat passengers, letting them view two separate things at once.

Other high-tech options include a 7-inch touch screen display to the right of the driver, as well as a 4.2-inch display on the instrument panel, which can show things like turn-by-turn directions. A panoramic backup camera now comes standard, with virtual guidelines to help navigate.

Automakers have been trying to come up with new creative ways to make the minivan more appealing, said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at the Edmunds.com automotive website. Last year, Honda unveiled a vacuum cleaner built into the back of its new Odyssey minivan.

“Such features are important because there’s little automakers can do to make the practical but bland vans more stylish,” Caldwell said. “I think they’re on the right lines of trying to find these features that people are going to talk about.”

Toyota is unveiling the new 2015 Sienna mainly through social media and at a Baltimore arts festival this weekend. It’s due to hit showrooms in the fall.

2015 Toyota Sienna Commercial- ‘Sienna Submarine’

Official 2015 Toyota “Action Kid” commercial featuring the 2015 Toyota Sienna.

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Researchers Found Exposed Database Containing HCL Employee Passwords, Client Management Record, And Internal Reports

Researchers from UpGuard found a database that contains HCL employee data, internal reports and project information. The database is now inaccessible. Click To Tweet

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Researchers from UpGuard found a database that contains HCL employee data, internal reports and project information.
HCL has exposed employee and project data in an unprotected database. Photo: Mike MacKenzie | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Notable IT services company, HCL, has left a database online that includes identifiable and sensitive data of its employees, and the database is open for download from an HCL-linked domain, cybersecurity research organization UpGuard revealed.

The discovery was made on May 1st, 2019 and revealed that the public data exposed included personal information and plaintext passwords of new hires, reports on installations of customer infrastructure, and web application for managing personnel. Following the disclosure to HCL, the company has already made the exposed database inaccessible and secured the known data exposures.

“On May 6, after reaching a reasonably complete level of analysis of the public pages and data, the researcher sent a notification to HCL’s Data Protection Officer at privacy@hcl.com. That notification included links to five subdomains hosting pages with some kind of business information and two URLs for pages as examples of what could be found on those subdomains. On May 7, the analyst confirmed that those two pages could no longer be accessed without authentication but that pages on the other subdomains were still accessible. The analyst sent a followup email linking to other pages with HCL data, and on the next day, May 8, the analyst confirmed that those pages were also no longer accessible to anonymous users,” said the announcement from UpGuard.

UpGuard reveals that the said accessible data were located after days of work because the exposed data were included in multiple subdomains and had to be accessed through a web UI. One of the accessible subdomains located by the researchers contained pages for various HR administrative tasks. While not all pages in the subdomain were accessible, the team said that access to the subdomain also allowed anonymous access to substantial amounts of personal information, “some of it very recent.”

A dashboard for new hires included records for 364 personnel. The oldest was from 2013, but over two hundred records were from 2019. Fifty-four of the records were for people who joined on May 6, 2019. The exposed data included candidate ID, name, mobile number, joining date, joining location, recruiter SAP code, recruiter name, created date, user name, cleartext password, BGV status, offer accepted, and a link to the candidate form.

A redacted sample of employee records who have joined in 2019. Photo: UpGuard

“Among those data points, the most obvious risk is that the passwords could be used to access other HCL systems to which these employees would be given access,” the post reads.

HCL Technologies Limited (Hindustan Computers Limited) is an Indian multinational information technology (IT) service and consulting company headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. It is a subsidiary of HCL Enterprise. Originally a research and development division of HCL, it emerged as an independent company in 1991 when HCL ventured into the software services business. The company offers a vast tech-related product portfolio from software development to cybersecurity, to Infrastructure Management and Engineering. They also provide IoT and cloud services.

Their relationship with their clients is also one of the things that were compromised by the recent exposure of data as customer installation reports were also exposed online for anonymous users to consume.

“The ASP framework used on this site had a security feature that prevents requests from being submitted if they are not from the UI. This prevents the alteration of requests to go beyond the scope of what the user is authorized to access. Because the UI was fully available to anonymous users, this did not protect the data but did prevent bulk downloading of all data by calling the APIs directly. None of the data here included credentials, but there were substantial amounts of information about HCL projects.”

Screenshot of the report index . Photo: UpGuard

Internal analysis reports were also compromised exposing 5700 incidents of “detailed incidences report with the following labels: VSAT ID, Location, ATM ID, Start time, End time, Duration, Reason, and Description. The “Service Window Uptime Report” includes VSAT ID, Consignee, City, Accountable Uptime, Comnet Issue, Non-HCL Comnet, Customer issue, Uptime. There were 450 records for April of 2019, 450 records for January of 2019, and 521 records for January 2018, matching the regularity one would expect from some kind of standard monthly report.

Other data that were anonymously accessed by the researchers are the company’s Weekly Customer Reports, Installation Reports, Escalation matrix for transportation service, and administrative panel for recruiting approval chain.

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Business

What’s The Next Move For Huawei?

Huawei assures users that they will still be receiving security updates and after-sales services amidst the Google/Android ban. Sources also revealed that company is poised to launch its own OS, Hongmeng, anytime soon. Click To Tweet

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Huawei assures users that they will still receive security updates and after-sales services following the Google/Android ban.
Sources revealed that Huawei is poised to release its own OS, Hongmeng. Photo: Open Grid Scheduler | Flickr | CC0 1.0

Following the decision of Google and Android to ban Huawei from contracting their services in conjunction of the government-led war against the Chinese tech giant and the executive order released by President Donald Trump, Huawei crumbles to assure users that current owners of both Huawei and Honor phones will still be receiving security updates and after-sales services.

In a short, unsubstantiated statement, Huawei highlight’s the company’s contribution to the growth of Android globally as Android phones from the company has seen unprecedented growth while other smartphone vendors are shrinking or stagnant. While the company promises the continuance of the services provided by Android to their smartphone users, and the promise extends to those units that were already shipped and in stock in stores globally, no additional guarantees were made beyond that.

“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry,” said a statement from Huawei.

“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally […] We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” they added.

The revocation of Huawei’s license follows after the heightened crackdown by the U.S. government on Chinese companies. Previously, the Trump administration has been lobbying to its allies to ban Huawei’s 5G technology citing that the Chinese government can use the company for espionage and economic sabotage.

The latest blow against Huawei is the decision of Google to revoke the Android license of Huawei, forcing the company to use only the open source version of the operating system. A Google spokesperson confirmed that “Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”

Because of the ban, Huawei is now restricted from using the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), cutting the company off from critical Google apps and services that consumers outside of China expect on Android devices.

While existing phones from Huawei would probably be not affected by the decision, the future of updates and for those phones as well as any new phones Huawei would produce remains in question. But it seems like Huawei has prepared for the day that this would happen and already has a plan B in mind.

Earlier today, the China-based company released its very own operating system, Hongmeng. A source has confirmed that Huawei is set to officially launch Hongmeng, as the company has been working on it since 2012. The company has been testing the new OS on selected devices under closer door and closed environment. The source also said that the testing was accelerated for the new operating system to be ready for situations just like this.

Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether Hongmeng will be the official name of the OS from Huawei. Experts note that even if Huawei can successfully launch its operating system, the company will still be faced with the challenge of establishing an app ecosystem. It would take Huawei a lot of time to build apps that are compatible with the new operating system.

Huawei accounted for 19% of the worldwide smartphone market and became the second largest smartphone manufacturer, overtaking Apple, in Q1 2019.

The blunder faced by Huawei following the Google ban has caused severe market instability not only for Huawei but for the volatile US tech markets as stocks drop following the shocking decision. Huawei is dragging the entire tech industry with it as market uncertainty brought upon by the apparent tech trade wars. As Huawei’s future remains at the limbo, it brings with it the rest of the tech world.

“If this remains enforced, it’s going to create some opportunity, but companies are working with their compliance departments to get out of the way of this Huawei situation,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. That’s difficult because “Huawei has its tentacles in so many parts of the technology sector. That’s why this is not a one-day event.”

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Automotive

Nissan-Renault’s Ghosn: From Hero To Zero

The once-famed Nissan leader has fallen with allegations relating to financial misconduct and dragging the company along with him. Click To Tweet

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Renault-Nissan Alliance. Photo from: Nissan-Global.com

In a time when Nissan was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy, Carlos Ghosn stepped in not only to save the company but help it to rise back as one of the world’s top car manufacturers. Today, Nissan is facing a similar financial crisis, but this time around, the Japanese carmaker had Ghosn removed from the company.

Through Ghosn’s efforts of restructuring and eventually, reintroducing innovations to Nissan, the company rose significantly within the last two decades under Ghosn’s lead. He also made the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi agreement possible that made them one of the leading car companies in the world.

The company had a good track record. But, CNN reported last Tuesday, May 14, that Nissan posted a significant drop in profits where operating profits plunged to 45% at 318 billion yen ($2.9 billion) in the fiscal year that ended in March and revenue fell 3% to about 11.6 trillion yen ($105 billion), while vehicle sales were down 4.4% to 5.5 million.

This is “rock bottom,” Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said during the earnings presentation.

Moreover, analysts also expect Nissan to plunge at decade-low numbers in the coming year. Nissan forecasts operating profit for the fiscal year to March 2020 would fall to 230 billion ($2.1 billion). Also, Nissan shares closed down at 3% in Tokyo.

On Friday, May 17, the Japanese carmaker proposed plans to make changes within its executive board as a reaction to Ghosn’s fallout from the company.

The firm told shareholders that they would start implementing a new board structure composed of 11 members, which 6 of whom would be external.

“With the lessons from the recent executive misconduct still fresh, Nissan resolves to rigorously pursue the separation of supervisory and executive functions,” said the firm.

Thierry Bollore, Renault’s chief executive and chairman Jean-Dominique Senard will both be included in the proposed board.

Nissan conceded to allowing Senard into the board though Bollore’s urges. The Japanese firm isn’t too happy about Senard siding with Ghosn during his arrest.

On the other hand, Nissan’s current CEO Hiroto Saikawa has also been reported to be pressured from vacating his position in the company for doubts that he is capable of turning things around for the company and his close relations with Ghosn.

Saikawa responded that he wishes to stay on the company until he sees it return to profitability and will consider the idea of stepping down “at the appropriate time.”

Additionally, Saikawa told reporters that Renault chairman Senard “has one idea in mind, which is integration or merger.” He also added that “what we’ve told Mr. Senard is this is not the right timing to discuss this matter.”

Regarding the topic of a possible merger between Renault and Nissan, the Japanese company seems to be against the idea since Nissan brings in a lot more profitable compared to the two. But, ironically, Renault holds more stake in the company.

Obviously, the Japanese brand has been struggling to manage internal structures with Ghosn leaving its ranks for multiple cases alleging financial misconduct.

Allegedly, Ghosn is accused of abusing and taking advantage of his power and position in the company to meet personal gains. Specifically, Ghosn allegedly used a Nissan subsidiary to send millions of dollars of payments to a business partner of the company abroad, which then sent money to a third company that he controlled. The actions were taken for the purpose of obtaining a “personal profit,” The New York Times reports.

Prosecutors accused Ghosn of using the method on three occasions from December 2015 to July 2018, resulting in a total of $5 million in losses to Nissan.

As of date, Ghosn has been arrested on four separate occasions including the first arrest in November on charges of underreporting his compensation. The second when he was rearrested on related charges and then a third time on suspicion that he had shifted his personal financial losses onto Nissan’s books.

However, Ghosn and his team of lawyers have consistently denied all allegations about him. In a video Ghosn posted before his fourth arrest, he told that the allegations made against him “is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing.”

Meanwhile, the French carmaker, Renault also made new allegations against Ghosn, claiming that there were “questionable and concealed practices” regarding the expenses made under Ghosn. Moreover, Renault also announced Ghosn’s resignation from its board.

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