Senate cancels postal service hearing; Trump's Amazon crusade delayed

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A Senate hearing about reforming the U.S. Postal Service that could have scrutinized what Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and others pay for package delivery has been delayed, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, moving back President Donald Trump’s effort to hike the world’s largest online retailer’s rates.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Trump has repeatedly attacked Amazon on Twitter for treating the Postal Service as its “delivery boy” by paying less than it should for deliveries and contributing to the service’s $65 billion loss since the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, without presenting evidence.

The president ordered a task force in April to study the Postal Service, an independent establishment of the executive branch of the U.S. government, looking at its financial health and what it charges customers such as Amazon for package deliveries, in a report due Aug. 10.

However, the White House has decided it will not yet release the report, forcing the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to postpone a hearing on postal reform that was planned for Sept. 5, the sources said. One said the hearing was postponed “indefinitely.”

That means any legislation that raised the Postal Service’s rates on Amazon and other shippers has been kicked further into the future.

The task force briefed the president on its preliminary findings and recommendations earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Department, which is in charge of the task force, told Reuters.

“The task force will continue our work to identify solutions to strengthen the USPS business model driving toward a public report before the end of the year,” she said. “It is clear that the governance of USPS must be fixed and we encourage Congress to take actions towards that goal.”

The rates the Postal Service charges Amazon and other bulk customers are not made public. Federal regulators that review contracts made by the service have not raised any issues with the terms of its deal with Amazon.

Trump’s attacks on Amazon have gone hand-in-hand with attacks on its founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, who privately owns the Washington Post, which has published several articles critical of Trump’s campaign and presidency.

Trump has described the newspaper as Amazon’s “chief lobbyist.” The Washington Post’s top editor has said Bezos has no involvement in its news coverage.

The president’s tweets attacking Amazon temporarily knocked down its stock earlier this year on fears that government action prompted by Trump might hurt the company’s profits. The shares have since recovered and Amazon is on track to become only the second U.S. publicly traded company with a stock market value of more than $1 trillion, alongside Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

Amazon did not return a request for comment.

The retailer and cloud-computing firm is only one of several that have attracted Trump’s ire. He attacked Boeing Co (BA.N) over a previous Air Force One deal. Earlier this week, he accused Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) subsidiary Google’s search engine of promoting negative news articles and hiding “fair media” coverage of him, without presenting evidence.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Ginger Gibson in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Bill Rigby

China's Meituan Dianping sets HK IPO valuation at up to $55 billion: sources

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (Reuters/IFR) – China’s Meituan Dianping, an online food delivery-to-ticketing services platform, has set an indicative price range of HK$60 to HK$72 ($7.64-$9.17) per share for its initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong, valuing itself at up to $55 billion, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said. Meituan, already one of China’s most valuable internet firms, could raise as much as $4 billion before the exercise of a “greenshoe” or over-allotment option, whereby additional shares are sold depending on demand.

Visitors look at a Meituan Autonomous Delivery (MAD) vehicle of Chinese food delivery platform Meituan-Dianping, at the first Smart China Expo in Chongqing, China August 23, 2018. Picture taken August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

The company is discussing a valuation of $46 billion to $55 billion with potential cornerstone investors including its main backer, gaming and social media company Tencent Holdings Ltd, for its float, the people said.

Meituan plans to secure about $1.5 billion from the cornerstone investors in the IPO, they added.

Meituan declined to comment when reached by Reuters. Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

The Beijing-based firm filed plans for the city’s second multibillion-dollar tech float this year after smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp’s blockbuster IPO of nearly $5 billion.

Meituan is also – after Xiaomi – the latest company with a dual-class share structure to file for a Hong Kong listing, under the city’s new rules designed to attract tech companies.

However in late July Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX), the operator of Hong Kong exchange, said it would delay changes that would allow companies to hold shares with more voting rights, as more time was needed for investors to become accustomed to recent rule changes.

Meituan was valued at around $30 billion in a fundraising round late last year.

Xiaomi started trading in July after a closely watched but disappointing initial public offering that valued it at almost half the $100 billion that industry analysts had initially estimated.

Reporting by Julie Zhu in SINGAPORE, and FIONA LAU of IFR in HONG KONG; Writing by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Susan Fenton and Adrian Croft

'Hey Google, ¿Hablas Español?' 'Mais Oui.'

Most people on Earth can speak two or more languages, but voice-operated virtual assistants have always forced them to pick and use just one—at least until today.

Google Assistant is now the first multilingual virtual assistant. Users can specify that they want listening done in two languages in the app’s settings on their phone or Google Home smart speaker. Then, a person can call out requests or commands in either language. Yell “Hey Google, turn off the hallway light!” as you walk out the house, and darkness will fall. “¡Hey Google, apaga la luz del pasillo!” will work too.

Johan Schalkwyk, a vice president on Google’s speech engineering team, says that new flexibility should help people feel more natural when talking to the company’s smart speaker, Google Home—particularly in households where not everyone speaks the same language. “I expect we may see some different behaviors, and an uptick in usage,” he adds.

Dylan Zwick, cofounder of Pulse Labs, which helps companies test applications for voice platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa, agrees. In homes with grandparents or other family members that don’t speak the family’s primary language fluently, knowing Google Home is multilingual could make the device more useful, he says.

For now, Google Assistant can be set to work in any two of six languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese. The company says it will add the five others supported by the assistant—Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, and Thai—but declines to specify when.

As the list expands, the new feature might help Google’s ambitions to sign up new users in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia, where online ad markets are growing faster than in the West.

To make the multilingual feature work, Google had to train its algorithms to reliably determine which language a person was speaking. As a first pass, the assistant tries to identify the language just by the sound of the person’s voice—similarly to how a person unable to speak German or French can still know when they hear those languages spoken. To double check, the system also runs the audio through the recognizers for both languages a user has activated. Examining the output to see which makes most sense helps the assistant decide in which language to respond.

[embedded content]

Google has made multilingual speech technology before. Its voice search and mobile voice typing services allow a user to use up to six languages. Schalkwyk says it took longer to bring that feature to the assistant because it’s more challenging to correctly identify a language in a conversational setting—and the stakes are higher when software will take action based on what it thinks you want.

In testing over the past nine months, Google Assistant’s ability to detect the language a person is using has improved to roughly 99 percent from around 90 percent. That’s the point at which a voice technology feels useful and can be let loose in the wild, according to Schalkwyk. “If it fails one in 10 it sucks,” he says. “One in 100? Wow, awesome!”

Part of that improvement came from training algorithms to be better at spotting when a person with an accent associated with one language, such as English, is actually speaking another, like French.

Emre Akkas, cofounder and CEO of Globalme, which gathers voice data used by companies developing voice interfaces, says Google’s move to make the assistant multilingual shows the technology is maturing: “It’s a complicated and ambitious thing to do.”

Akkas is curious to see how Google’s new system holds up in the variety of voices and situations in users’ homes. When Globalme helped The Washington Post test Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa on different accents, they found that performance varied. Google Assistant was better at understanding people hailing from its Silicon Valley home base of California, than those who speak with a Southern US accent, for example. Spanish and Chinese accents—hardly unusual in America—were misunderstood even more frequently. “Practical studies show this technology still has a long way to go,” Akkas says.

Schalkwyk of Google acknowledges that the technology isn’t perfect, but says more multilingual usage will provide example data that can be used to train algorithms to cope better with different accents. He’s also thinking about how to make it more truly multilingual.

One challenge: colloquial combinations of two languages, such as Spanglish, or the mixture of Hindi and English spoken in some communities in India. Schalkwyk dreams that one day Google Assistant will be smart enough to join in those conversations. “A future challenge is to build a single recognizer that can just recognize all the languages that you may speak,” he says.


More Great WIRED Stories

PayPal partners with Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Digital payments firm PayPal has announced on Wednesday a partnership with Brazil’s biggest private lender Itaú Unibanco Holding SA to offer its services to the bank’s clients.

FILE PHOTO: The PayPal app logo seen on a mobile phone in this illustration photo October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

PayPal’s general-director in Brazil Paula Paschoal said that the company expects to add 1 million users to its current 3.8 million client-base in Brazil in two years as a result of the partnership.

Reporting by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

UBS to sell digital SmartWealth platform to fintech startup

ZURICH (Reuters) – UBS (UBSG.S) is closing its British digital wealth management platform and selling the intellectual property rights to wealth management startup SigFig, executives at the Swiss bank told staff on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The offices of Swiss bank UBS are seen in the financial district of the City of London, Britain October 31, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

UBS decided to discontinue the SmartWealth pilot program, launched in Britain in early 2017, following a review that found limited short-term potential for the service, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

The contents of the memo were confirmed by UBS.

“While we were satisfied with the initial commercial progress, at this time we believe the near-term potential is limited and have therefore decided to close our digital-only offering in the UK,” Eva Lindholm, head of Wealth Management UK, and Reto Wangler, chief operating officer of Global Wealth Management, said in the memo.

“We’re pleased, however, to have entered into an agreement to sell the intellectual property relating to UBS SmartWealth to SigFig – a financial technology firm that we have an equity stake in and with whom we’ve been working for two years in the U.S.,” the memo added.

Clients would be informed during the course of the day, Lindholm and Wangler said.

The sale was reported by Citywire earlier on Wednesday.

The launch of the pilot program, which provided digital real-time advice to customers with a minimum of 15,000 pounds ($19,300) to invest, marked a foray into a far broader clientele for the world’s biggest private bank, which counts millionaires and billionaires amongst its wealth management customers.

The bank was considering a wider rollout of the program as recently as December last year.

However, following a wealth management reorganization under which its North American and international businesses were folded into one global unit, prompting senior management changes, the bank decided to invest resources elsewhere.

Founded in 2007, SigFig sells software to large financial institutions to enable them to offer new digital services such as automated wealth management, known as robo-advice. It also provides robo-advice directly to consumers.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

($1 = 0.7769 pounds)

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by David Holmes

Crytocurrency storage firm Kingdom Trust obtains insurance through Lloyd's

(Reuters) – Kingdom Trust, a company that stores digital currency for investors, has secured insurance coverage through Lloyd’s of London SOLYD.UL to protect against theft and destruction of those assets, the company said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The move by Kingdom Trust, which has $12 billion in assets, is the latest example of a once-reticent insurance industry stepping up to offer protection to companies that store cryptocurrency, a volatile and loosely regulated, but rapidly growing business.

Kingdom Trust, which has offices in Kentucky and is regulated as a trust company by South Dakota, has been looking for insurance since it launched in 2010 but more actively pursued coverage during the past year, said Chief Executive Officer Matt Jennings.

“From the very beginning we saw insurance as a key factor to bring institutional investors into the marketplace,” Jennings said in an interview.

A spokesman for Lloyd’s, the world’s largest insurance marketplace, declined to comment.

The move comes as the nascent cryptocurrency industry looks to attract more mainstream investors, the majority of which have steered clear so far because of concerns about lack of traditional safeguards. Large custodian banks do not yet handle crypto assets, and brand-name auditors are seldom disclosed as being involved with companies in the space.

Kingdom Trust says it is qualified under U.S. financial regulations to hold assets on behalf of investment advisers, securities brokers, and retirement plans, according to its website.

Some insurance companies have been reticent to publicly disclose that they are covering digital currency businesses, an industry in which investors have lost billions from dozens of cryptocurrency hacks, technical errors and fraud. Many hacked exchanges later shuttered.

The young cryptocurrency industry also lacks troves of data that insurers usually rely on in designing and pricing coverage.

Jennings declined to comment on the identity of the insurer that underwrote Kingdom Trust’s coverage through the Lloyd’s marketplace or the policy’s cost and specific terms.

But Kingdom Trust received a “drastic discount” because of its technology, a type of “cold storage,” in which digital coins are stored offline, Jennings said.

Most insurers in the cryptocurrency market avoid coverage for coins kept online, or in “hot storage,” because of high risk of hacking and will only cover offline “cold storage,” which is also generally preferred by cryptocurrency companies. (Graphic:tmsnrt.rs/2DNRkFu)

Kingdom Trust provides storage services for over 30 digital assets, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple and ZCash, the company said.

Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn and Anna Irrera; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

Facebook bans Myanmar army chief and other military-linked pages

YANGON (Reuters) – Facebook (FB.O) said on Monday it was removing several Myanmar military officials from the social media website and an Instagram account to prevent the spread of “hate and misinformation” after reviewing the content.

FILE PHOTO: A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

It also said it removed dozens of accounts for engaging in a campaign that “used seemingly independent news and opinion pages to covertly push the messages of the Myanmar military”.

Facebook’s action means an essential blackout of the military’s main channel of public communication, with pages followed by millions of people in a country where the social media giant is virtually synonymous with the internet.

The move places further pressure on the generals, coming hours after United Nations investigators said the army carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent”. Their report said the commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces and five generals should be prosecuted for orchestrating the gravest crimes under law.

“Specifically, we are banning 20 Burmese individuals and organizations from Facebook — including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military’s Myawady television network,” Facebook said in a blog post.

“We’re removing a total of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook Pages, followed by almost 12 million people,” the Menlo Park, California-based company added. bit.ly/2PHwRZy

It is the first time Facebook has imposed such a ban on a country’s military or political leaders, the company later said it response to a query from Reuters.

Facebook spokeswoman Clare Wareing said by email that the site took this step “since international experts, including a UN-commissioned report, have found evidence that many of these officials committed serious human rights abuses in the country”.

Colonel Zaw Min Tun, an official in the military’s public information unit, told Reuters he was not aware the pages had been removed. He declined to comment further.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay was not immediately available for comment. He was quoted by local media as saying Myanmar had asked Facebook for further details on the reasons for the ban.

A preview of Min Aung Hlaing’s Facebook page was still accessible immediately after the announcement and showed it had been “liked” by 1.3 million people. When Reuters attempted to return to it later it had been removed.

HATE SPEECH

Earlier this month, Reuters published an investigative report about how Facebook had failed to combat a campaign of hate speech against the Rohingya and other Muslims.

The piece – which found more than 1,000 posts, comments and images attacking Muslims on the platform – demonstrated that Facebook, despite repeated warnings, had devoted scant resources to controlling the problem in Myanmar, where it is the dominant social media force. (For the Reuters investigation on ‘Why Facebook is losing the war on hate speech in Myanmar’ click, here)

Facebook said a day after publication of the investigation it had been “too slow” to address hate speech in Myanmar and it was acting to remedy the problem by hiring more Burmese speakers and investing in technology to identify problematic content.

The U.N. investigators highlighted the role of social media in Myanmar in Monday’s report. “Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate, in a context where for most users Facebook is the Internet,” said the report.

Facebook said it took the step “since international experts, including a UN-commissioned report, have found evidence that many of these officials committed serious human rights abuses in the country”, Wareing said. “And we want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions.”

Min Aung Hlaing has built a substantial social media profile in Myanmar, with the commander-in-chief’s page sometimes updated several times a day.

Some of the military’s Facebook posts from last year included detailed accounts of clashes with Rohingya militants, often accompanied by pictures.

A year ago, government troops led a crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents on 30 police posts and a military base.

As a result, some 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh, according to U.N. agencies, bringing stories of rape, arson and arbitrary killings.

Myanmar has denied allegations made by refugees, saying its troops engaged in lawful counterinsurgency operations against Muslim militants.

Last week, Facebook – along with Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) and Google’s Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) – removed hundreds of accounts tied to an alleged Iranian propaganda operation. Facebook also said it had removed pages that the U.S. government had previously named as Russian military intelligence services.

Russia and Iran rejected Facebook’s accusations.

Facebook said the removal of accounts covertly pushing Myanmar military messages was similar to what the company had done in the previous two cases.

“This is part of our effort to identify and disable networks of accounts that mislead others about who they are. We ban this kind of behavior because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook,” said Wareing.

Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru, Simon Lewis, Aye Min Thant and Antoni Slodkowski in Yangon; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier, Robert Birsel and Alex Richardson

3 Ways to Make Anything More Shareable Online

Millions of pieces of content are published every single day. It’s true that trends in social media have affected how your audience engages with your content — but that doesn’t really soften the blow that, according to BuzzSumo, only 5 percent of content gets more than 343 shares.

Now, if your audience is really only your mom, then 343 shares isn’t bad. Hell, if every single one of my mom’s Facebook friends shared an article of mine that she posted, that still wouldn’t add up to 343.

But you’re not targeting an audience of one. You might be using a social distribution strategy and a variety of marketing tools to reach and engage a specific audience, sure, but that audience is made up of many different people.

You’re using content to grow your company and achieve actual, measurable goals for your business, and to do that, you need your content to get in front of the right people. That means creating highly engaging content people actually want to share. Here are three simple ways to do that:

1. Put in the work to develop a good, shareable headline.

I sometimes feel like a broken record when I talk about headlines, but honestly, I can’t stress enough how important a good headline is to the reach and success of your content.

If you want people to visit your website, you need to entice them with headlines and titles that will capture their attention and compel them to engage with you. The same rule applies to any off-site content you contribute, too. According to “The State of Digital Media 2018,” 93 percent of online publication editors measure the success of guest content by looking at page views, and 69 percent use social shares as a metric.

Your headline is what grabs people’s attention, gets them onto the page, and even makes them more likely to share content. For some reason, though, many marketers put all their work into the written content, tack on a basic headline once they’re done, and publish. No one is going to see that content if they don’t click on it first. Your headline deserves at least as much effort.

2. Don’t hide the payoff.

After you put the work into a good headline, the last thing you want to do is wait until the end of the article to make your point. You’ve used your headline to set up your content — don’t make your audience work that hard to find the payoff.

Think about it: Audience members clicked on your content. Of all the messages they were exposed to on a particular day, they chose to check out what you have to say, and they’re putting trust in you to deliver on what you promised. If you want to keep that trust, become a resource, and make it easy for them to share your content, then you need to clearly deliver that value early on.

3. Go big or go home.

And speaking of your actual content: If you’re only publishing content for the sake of publishing, then you’re going to have a hard time creating anything that’s worth sharing in the first place.

Consider the fact that if your content is being shared and seen, that means your message is circulating. Any piece of content could be someone’s first impression of your brand, so do what you can to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward. Take the time to write a high-quality article for a publication. Invest in producing high-quality video for your site. Be intentional about the content you share on your social media accounts.

Every interaction is a touchpoint with a potential client, partner, or brand advocate. The better able you are to make those touchpoints positive and engaging, the more likely it is that your content will pay off in more than just share count totals.

Content is an extremely valuable tool for accomplishing pretty much any business goal you have. How useful it is comes down to how well you use it to engage the right people. Follow these steps to make your content worth the share, and you can use it to reach, engage, and grow your audience.

We Need Software to Help Us Slow Down, Not Speed Up

Online commerce has made it easier than ever to shop, right? Maybe too easy. A recent study by comparison-shopping site Finder revealed that more than 88 percent of Americans admitted to spontaneous impulse buying online, blowing an average of $81.75 each time we lose control. Clothes, videogames, concert tickets. One in five of us succumb weekly. Millennials do it the most.

“The main emotion that people feel after this impulsive spending is regret,” says Jennifer McDermott, a consumer advocate for Finder. While it’s not an impartial estimate, Finder calculates that we spend more than $17 billion on impulse buys—which is a lot of regret.

So McDermott’s team decided to help us rein in our impulses. They created Icebox, a Chrome plug-­in that replaces the Buy button on 20 well-known ecommerce sites with a blue button labeled “Put it on ice.” Hit it and your item goes into a queue, and a week or so later Icebox asks if you still want to buy it.

In essence, it forces you to stop and ponder, “Do I really need this widget?” Odds are you don’t.

This is a lovely example of what I’ve come to think of as “friction engineering”—software that’s designed not to speed us up but to slow us down. It’s a principle that inverts everything we know about why software exists.

Most of the time coders labor to increase our throughput by reducing friction. Speed often improves life. But the recent techlash has been driven in a fundamental way by the grim side effects of this acceleration. Facebook’s Newsfeed made it frictionlessly easy to spread misinformation; Twitter let trolls engage in coordinated harassment campaigns; Amazon enticed me to buy crap I manifestly don’t need and is helping to denude towns of local businesses.

Related Stories

In contrast, inserting friction can bring intriguing wins. Consider the case of Next­door, the site that lets real-life neighbors create online hubs to talk to one another. The service includes a crime-reporting tool that made it easy to report suspicious activity. The problem was that jittery residents would too often write a racist alert whenever any black person so much as walked past their house.

So Next­door redesigned the crime-­reporting tool to slow things down. Filing a report now requires listing specific details—what the suspicious person was wearing, their age, their actions. Using the tool suddenly involved more work. It helped: Next­door says racial profiling in its crime section dropped dramatically.

Others have tried to inject friction into the hummingbird metabolism of social media. Entrepreneur Andrew Golis created This, an app used to post only one link a day. “The goal,” he tells me, was to encourage high-quality curation, “to create something that was like showing off your bookshelf, the things you really love.”

What unifies these experiments is that they encourage deliberation. Why am I buying this? Why am I reporting this “suspicious” incident? Friction engineering ought to be taught in computer-science and design schools everywhere.

It’s a Sisyphean battle, I admit. Offered the choice, we nearly always opt for convenience. Golis’ This app died after less than two years of gathering only a small but devoted following; Icebox is brilliant but hasn’t yet taken off. Socratic deliberation improves our lives—but, man, what a pain!

It’s certainly possible to slow our software, and thereby ourselves. But it’ll happen only when we become too unsettled by the speed of our journey.


This article appears in the September issue. Subscribe now.


More Great WIRED Stories

Q&A: Rapid7 CEO Corey Thomas on Cybersecurity, Privacy, and the Corporate World’s Challenges

IF ANYONE UNDERSTANDS your digital flaws, it’s probably Corey Thomas. A veteran of Microsoft and AT&T, the Rapid7 CEO has seen firsthand the security problems bedeviling corporate America. (He’s also betting his company on it: Rapid7’s annual revenue has almost doubled over the past two years to more than $200 million.) In conversation, Thomas makes the case for why it may be a while before we stop hearing about major breaches.

FORTUNE: It sees like every day another attack or heft of personal data is reported. What’s the state of cybersecurity in corporate America?

Cory Thomas: Our society deploys technology faster than it can manage it. The management and maintenance of our technology is the root cause of our cybersecurity challenges. In the rush to get some feature or functionality online, people don’t pay attention to the side effects.

Is it hopeless?

There are so many vulnerabilities that we know are out there—it’s low-hanging fruit we can address. People who are trying to compromise systems don’t have to put in that much effort because there are so many holes and gaps.

Are we making it harder for law enforcement to do its job?

We are, but you must have basic principles as a society. Having an infrastructure that is knowingly insecure so law enforcement’s job is easier is clearly not the solution. If it’s easier for law enforcement, it’s easier for everyone else too.

How effective is the government at protecting its own assets? Are there critical problems?

There are still a lot of problems, but things are improving. You can argue—and I do—that progress is going too slow. But I’d be hardpressed to say it’s not being made. The challenge is that it’s just not being made fast enough for the exposure and the risk that we have.

That’s the big picture. What about the small one? What do you recommend that friends and other ordinary citizens do to stay secure?

Start with the fundamentals: Don’t reuse your passwords. Get a password manager like LastPass, owned by LogMeIn, a local company in Boston like us. Use two-factor authentication anywhere you can. And just like you engage in spring cleaning elsewhere in life, periodically review the privacy settings on your top five major Internet services. It will take only an hour or two, but it’s well worth it. Many times, people aren’t aware of the control that they have. You have a whole privacy tab on your phone. Just look at it once a year.

This article originally appeared in the September 1, 2018 issue of Fortune.