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November 19, 2018
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A leaky database of SMS text messages exposed password resets and two-factor codes

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A security lapse has exposed a massive database containing tens of millions of text messages, including password reset links, two-factor codes, shipping notifications and more.

The exposed server belongs to Voxox (formerly Telcentris), a San Diego, Calif.-based communications company. The server wasn’t protected with a password, allowing anyone who knew where to look to peek in and snoop on a near-real-time stream of text messages.

For Sébastien Kaul, a Berlin-based security researcher, it didn’t take long to find.

Although Kaul found the exposed server on Shodan, a search engine for publicly available devices and databases, it was also attached to to one of Voxox’s own subdomains. Worse, the database — running on Amazon’s Elasticsearch — was configured with a Kibana front-end, making the data within easily readable, browsable and searchable for names, cell numbers and the contents of the text messages themselves.

An example of one text message containing a user’s phone number and their Microsoft account reset code. (Image: TechCrunch)

Most don’t think about what happens behind the scenes when you get a text message from a company, whether it’s an Amazon shipping notification or a two-factor code for your login. Often, app developers — like HQ Trivia and Viber — will employ technologies provided by firms like Telesign and Nexmo, either to verify a user’s phone number or to send a two-factor authentication code, for example. But it’s firms like Voxox that act as a gateway and converting those codes into text messages, to be passed on to the cell networks for delivery to the user’s phone.

After an inquiry by TechCrunch, Voxox pulled the database offline. At the time of its closure, the database appeared to have a little over 26 million text messages year-to-date. But the sheer volume of messages processed through the platform per minute — as seen through the database’s visual front-end — suggests that this figure may be higher.

Each record was meticulously tagged and detailed, including the recipient’s cell phone number, the message, the Voxox customer who sent the message and the shortcode they used.

Among our findings from a cursory review of the data:

  • We found a password sent in plaintext to a Los Angeles phone number by dating app Badoo;
  • Several Booking.com partners were sent their six-digit two-factor codes to log in to the company’s extranet corporate network;
  • Fidelity Investments also sent six-digit security codes to one Chicago Loop area code;
  • Many messages included two-factor verification codes for Google accounts in Latin America;
  • A Mountain View, Calif.-based credit union, the First Tech Federal Credit Union, also sent a temporary banking password in plaintext to a Nebraska number;
  • We found a shipping notification text sent by Amazon with a link, which opened up Amazon’s delivery tracking page, including the UPS tracking number, en route to its destination in Florida;
  • Messenger apps KakaoTalk and Viber, and quiz app HQ Trivia use the service to verify user phone numbers;
  • We also found messages that contained Microsoft’s account password reset codes and Huawei ID verification codes;
  • Yahoo also used the service to send some account keys by text message;
  • And, several small to mid-size hospitals and medical facilities sent reminders to patients about their upcoming appointments, and in some cases, billing inquiries.

“Yeah, this is very bad,” said Dylan Katz, a security researcher, who reviewed some of the findings.

The exposure to personal information and phone numbers notwithstanding, the ability to access two-factor codes in near-real-time could have put countless number of accounts at risk of hijack. In some cases, websites will only require a phone number to reset an account. With access to the text message through the exposed database, hijacking an account could take seconds.

“My real concern here is the potential that this has already been abused,” said Katz. “This is different from most breaches, due to the fact the data is temporary, so once it’s offline any data stolen isn’t very useful.”

Kevin Hertz, Voxox’s co-founder and chief technology officer, said in an email that the company is “looking into the issue and following standard data breach policy at the moment,” and that the company is “evaluating impact.”

Many companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have rolled out app-based two-factor authentication to thwart SMS-based verification, which has long been seen as vulnerable to interception.

If ever there was an example, this latest exposure would serve well.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump

in Amazon.com/berlin/Bluetooth/breast pump/breastfeeding/connected device/Delhi/Elvie/Gadgets/Hardware/Health/India/Milk/Politics/Pumps/smart technology/smartphone/Startups/Tania Boler/TC/Technology/United Kingdom/United States/Wearables/writer by

Elvie, a Berlin-based startup known best for its connected Kegel trainer is jumping into the breast pump business with a new $480 hands-free system you can slip into your bra.

Even with all the innovation in baby gear, breast pumps have mostly sucked (pun intended) for new moms for the past half a century. My first experience with a pump required me to stay near a wall socket and hunch over for a good twenty to thirty minutes for fear the milk collected might spill all over the place (which it did anyway, frequently). It was awful!

Next I tried the Willow Pump, an egg-shaped, connected pump meant to liberate women everywhere with its small and mobile design. It received glowing reviews, though my experience with it was less than stellar.

The proprietary bags were hard to fit in the device, filled up with air, cost 50 cents each (on top of the $500 pump that insurance did not cover), wasted many a golden drop of precious milk in the transfer and I had to reconfigure placement several times before it would start working. So I’ve been tentatively excited about the announcement of Elvie’s new cordless (and silent??) double breast pump.

Displayed: a single Elive pump with accompanying app.

Elvie tells TechCrunch its aim all along has been to make health tech for women and that it has been working on this pump for the past three years.

The Elvie Pump is a cordless, hands-free, closed system, rechargeable electric pump designed by former Dyson engineers. It can hold up to 5 oz from each breast in a single use.

It’s most obvious and direct competition is the Willow pump, another “wearable” pump moms can put right in their bra and walk around in, hands free. However, unlike the Willow, Elvie’s pump does not need proprietary bags. You just pump right into the device and the pump’s smartphone app will tell you when each side is full.

It’s also half the size and weight of a Willow and saves every precious drop it can by pumping right into the attached bottle so you just pump and feed (no more donut-shaped bags you have to cut open and awkwardly pour into a bottle).

On top of that, Elvie claims this pump is silent. No more loud suction noise off and on while trying to pump in a quiet room in the office or elsewhere. It’s small, easy to carry around and you can wear it under your clothes without it making a peep! While the Willow pump claims to be quiet — and it is, compared to other systems –you can still very much hear it while you are pumping.

Elvie’s connected breast pump app

All of these features sound fantastic to this new (and currently pumping) mom. I remember in the early days of my baby’s life wanting to go places but feeling stuck. I was chained to not just all the baby gear, hormonal shifts and worries about my newborn but to the pump and feed schedule itself, which made it next to impossible to leave the house for the first few months.

My baby was one of those “gourmet eaters” who just nursed and nursed all day. There were days I couldn’t leave the bed! Having a silent, no mess, hands-free device that fit right in my bra would have made a world of difference.

However, I mentioned the word “tentatively” above as I have not had a chance to do a hands-on review of Elvie’s pump. The Willow pump also seemed to hold a lot of promise early on, yet left me disappointed.

To be fair, the company’s customer service team was top-notch and did try to address my concerns. I even went through two “coaching” sessions but in the end it seemed the blame was put on me for not getting their device to work correctly. That’s a bad user experience if you are blaming others for your design flaws, especially new and struggling moms.

Both companies are founded by women and make products for women — and it’s about time. But it seems as if Elvie has taken note of the good and bad in their competitors and had time to improve upon it — and that’s what has me excited.

As my fellow TechCrunch writer Natasha put it in her initial review of Elvie as a company, “It’s not hyperbole to say Elvie is a new breed of connected device. It’s indicative of the lack of smart technology specifically — and intelligently — addressing women.”

So why the pump? “We recognized the opportunity [in the market] was smarter tech for women,” Boler told TechCrunch on her company’s move into the breast pump space. “Our aim is to transform the way women think and feel about themselves by providing the tools to address the issues that matter most to them, and Elvie Pump does just that.”

The Elvie Pump comes in three sizes and shapes to fit the majority of breasts and, in case you want to check your latch or pump volume, also has transparent nipple shields with markings to help guide the nipple to the right spot.

The app connects to each device via Bluetooth and tracks your production, detects let down, will pause when full and is equipped to pump in seven different modes.

The pump retails for $480 and is currently available in the U.K. However, those in the U.S. will have to wait till closer to the end of the year to get their hands on one. According to the company, It will be available on Elvie.com and Amazon.com, as well in select physical retail stores nationally later this year, pending FDA approval.

News Source = techcrunch.com

SAP’s SAP.io Foundry debuts the graduates of its second women-focused accelerator

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SAP, the German-based enterprise software giant, has unveiled the New York-based cohort from its SAP.io Foundry accelerator programs focused on women-led technology companies.

The first program was launched in San Francisco in July 2017, and while the company has launched additional accelerator programs in Berlin and Tel Aviv (with plans for a Paris accelerator in the Fall), it’s SAP’s San Francisco and New York programs that have a specific focus on women and founders of color, according to Vanessa Liu, a vice president in charge of the New York program.

“The first one launched last summer, with San Francisco that was in July. Berlin launched in the fall with TechStars as a partner, Tel Aviv launched with The Junction,” Liu said. 

The partnerships with Techstars in Berlin and The Junction in Tel Aviv were designed solely to gain exposure to those markets, while the San Francisco and New York programs focused on diversity — as well as building out the SAP network among startups.

The Foundry accelerator programs are independent from the company’s $35 million Foundry fund, according to Liu. Companies that progress through the program give up no equity and receive no capital. Rather, the companies involved get access to the SAP network of partners and customers and the companies various technical and support services, Liu said.

“This is more about how do you work together with SAP and customers like GE, Coca Cola, and Stanley Black & Decker,” said Liu. 

For the New York cohort that demoed their wares yesterday, eight of the nine companies that participated were also based in New York, with one group of founders making the trek up from Georgia for the program.

And while there’s been no instance yet where companies that graduate from the accelerator receive a capital commitment later from the Foundry fund, Liu did not rule out the possibility.

That Foundry fund typically will invest between a quarter of a million and one million dollars into companies focused on machine learning, big data, and other enterprise software related applications. Checks are typically $250,000 at the seed stage increasing to $1 million as a company grows into a Series A investment.

In some ways, Liu said, the Foundry fund was a way for SAP to build on the work it had done with startups through its (now independent) Sapphire Ventures fund. That had been the vehicle SAP had previously used to connect with the startup world and early stage tech companies and entrepreneurs.

“We’re definitely not the first to market,” said Liu. “But we’re looking at it not just only in making investments and thinking about how to do that but it’s also about cultivating investments and making sure that we do that right.”

For the Foundry accelerator programs in the U.S. doing it right means focusing on gender and racial diversity. The criteria for the program is that at least one c-suite executive and member of the founding team be female. And of the nine companies in the cohort, only two companies were admitted where women were not serving in the chief executive role, Liu said.

These are the executives and companies that went through the SAP.io Foundry Accelerator in New York.

Tongtong Gong, founder and COO of Amberdata, a provider of monitoring and analytics for blockchain infrastructure and smart contract applications.

Margaret Martin, founder and CEO of CN2, a software service that transforms the CAD, 3D and 2D content they create everyday into compelling mobile X-Reality (AR+VR=XR) applications.

Ariadna Quattoni and Paul Nemirovsky, founders of DMetrics, which enables non-developers to build machine learning algorithms to extract insights from any text, in mere hours, and with zero coding.

Kate Brandley Chernis, co-founder & CEO of Lately, is selling a machine learning-based marketing dashboard to provide more consistent marketing messages across large platforms.

Shirley Chen, founder & CEO of Narrativ, sells a contextually relevant smart linking and ad placement technology

Lisa Xu, co-Founder & CEO of Nopsec, a provider of threat prediction and cyber risk remediation solutions for enterprises to prevent security breaches.

Jade Huang, co-founder & CEO of StyleSage,  which enriches product listings with attributes and then maps those products to eCommerce sites.

Jag Gill, founder & CEO of Sundar, a software service connecting apparel brands and retailers with suppliers of textiles, raw materials and garments.

Susan Danziger, Co-founder and CEO of Ziggeo, an embeddable video recorder/player that captures video and provides insights.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Coya raises $30 million to launch its insurance service in Europe

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Coya, a Berlin-based insurance startup, has raised $30 million in new cash as investors around the world continue to see opportunities in modernizing the insurance industry.

Founded by two early employees at the European credit and risk assessment unicorn startup Kreditech (which raised EUR110 million from the Naspers subsidiary PayU) and two seasoned executives from the European insurance industry, Coya is coming to market in Germany with a new renter’s insurance service.

For Coya’s co-founder Andrew Shaw, the new company was an opportunity to apply his experience creating credit and risk assessment products to an industry whose cumbersome inability to use technology had affected him personally.

The idea for Coya hit Shaw when he was traveling on the Gili Islands off the coast of Indonesia. It was there, while Shaw was trying to get information on his insurance as he recovered from an illness that he decided to start his technologically enabled insurance business.

“I knew I had one or two [policies] somewhere, but couldn’t find them in email or log into the webpage, I felt left alone and realized how insurers are not concentrating on their product experience,” Shaw wrote to me in an email. “A bad insurance experience, plus the opportunity to create awesome technology in an outdated financial space was a challenge I couldn’t ignore.”

In 2016, Kreditech’s first employee launched the company with co-founders Sebastian Villaroel, a fellow former Kreditech employee; Peter Hagen, the former chief executive of Vienna Insurance Group; and Thomas Muenkel, a longtime executive at Allianz and the former chief operating officer of Uniqa Insurance.

Peter Hagen, Andrew Shaw, Sebastian Villaroel, and Thomas Münkel, co-founders Coya AG Berlin/Courtesy: Christian Manthey Photography

The company has raised a total of $40 million for its service from investors including Valar Ventures (the Peter Thiel-backed investment firm), eVentures, La Famiglia, and a slew of angel investors.

With the money, Coya hopes to establish its footprint in its first market — Germany before expanding to the rest of Europe. Powering that expansion is a German insurance license which the company is close to receiving, according to Shaw. Once that license is acquired, the company can access all 550 million European Union residents under the watchful eye of Germany’s regulators.

Although, Coya is starting with renter’s insurance, Shaw and his co-founders have big plans for the company’s platform with insurance products across property, accident, personal liability and personal finance.

The company has 55 people on staff now, and expects to increase its headcount as a result of the new financing, according to Shaw.

Shaw says that Coya is different from many of the other startups pitching insurance products across Europe thanks to its push to receive regulatory approval and issue its own policies. That’s also created more capital requirements for the business starting out.

There’ve been a slew of insurance startups coming to market with novel twists on the service. Among them, Shaw pointed to Lemonade in the U.S., wefox in the Germany, and the UK-based Sherpa as companies bringing innovation to the old industry.

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

The 2017 TechCrunch Include Progress Report

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This is the second annual TechCrunch Include Progress Report. Covering diversity and inclusion in the tech industry cannot be done in a vacuum. As aspects of identity are intersectional, so too should be the way in which media approaches its coverage of the tech industry. With each passing year, companies big and small release diversity data, highlighting the need for more inclusive hiring. As a media company, it is our job to report these stories through a diversity and inclusion lens. You can track our coverage here.

Complementing our editorial coverage is a series of annual events produced by our outstanding events team. Our editorial and events teams work hard together throughout the year to bring you the most unique tech events that give startups from around the world a chance to pitch judges from the most prestigious venture capital firms. In 2017, TechCrunch added to its slate of global events, bringing together startup founders, developers, scientists and technologists. From our Disrupts, Hardware Battlefield at CES, and the Crunchies to our inaugural Sessions and Battlefield X events, we set out to ensure that we had a diverse roster of speakers, judges and contestants.

The importance of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry has generated much attention since we published our last Include Program progress report. At TechCrunch, we understand the importance of diversity, and it begins with hiring. In keeping with our commitments in the core principles and mission for Include 2016, we assembled the following progress report on our initiatives, staff and workplace culture.

As in 2016, our methodology for collecting data on our event participants evolved. To date, we have tracked the gender and racial breakdown of our speakers, judges and Battlefield contestants through observed traits. In 2018, we will be implementing the use of anonymous, self-reporting surveys for all onstage participants in our events.

TechCrunch Events

Disrupt

In 2017, we hosted our TechCrunch Disrupt events in New York, San Francisco and Berlin. We continue to make strides in ensuring diverse attendance numbers in all facets of participation, from speakers, judges, Battlefield contestants, and nonprofit groups. We also host groups of underserved and underrepresented students from local schools, sourced via local groups and representatives.

For all Disrupt events, we offered a Battlefield Scholarship Fund, which we piloted in 2016, to offset the costs of participating in the program. Tickets to Disrupt have been and will always be free for Battlefield participants. Five teams applied and received financial support ranging from $200 to $7,000, which they used to cover airfare, housing and other associated costs.

Finally, to mark the start of TechCrunch Disrupt, TechCrunch parters with organizations to host the Women in Tech(Crunch) event. This is a private event specifically for female speakers, female judges, Battlefield female founders and the TechCrunch editorial team. In addition to our Women in Tech(Crunch) event in each city, we also hosted Women of Disrupt Breakfasts, all of which included programming.

Disrupt New York

The number of women who appeared onstage at Disrupt New York in May 2017 improved over the prior year, with an increase in judges (6 percent) and Battlefield founders (8 percent). However, we saw 8 percent fewer female speakers. We made gains with racial diversity onstage in 2017, as well. Speakers (5 percent) and Battlefield founders (18 percent) saw increases, but we had about 4 percent fewer judges who were people of color.

We hosted 100 female founders, investors and TechCrunch staff at the Women in Tech(Crunch) event in partnership with General Catalyst . And with Live a Moment, we hosted 80 attendees at the Women of Disrupt Breakfast.

Our efforts to ensure attendance from all groups included providing five free Startup Alley tables to nonprofits selected from a pool of over 30 applicants through an open application process announced on TechCrunch. In addition, we provided a 90 percent discount on Disrupt tickets for students.

 

 

 

Disrupt San Francisco

Disrupt San Francisco 2017 in September would be the last time we decided to hold this event at one of the piers off the San Francisco Bay. This year, Disrupt SF will be held at Moscone West, the sheer size of which will require us to step up our inclusion efforts.

In 2017, we saw an improvement over 2016 with female representation onstage, with speakers increasing 12 percent and judges increasing 13 percent. However, female representation on the Battlefield founder front decreased almost 6 percent.

To help introduce students from underserved communities, we hosted 86 middle and high school students from Dev Mission, Bishop O’Dowd High School, Hack the Hood, Founders Bootcamp and Albany High School. Student groups were selected from an applicant pool of over 35 student groups through an open application process announced on TechCrunch.

We partnered with Greylock Partners to host 165 attendees for Women in Tech(Crunch). And for our Women of Disrupt Breakfast, Silicon Valley Editor Connie Loizos moderated a conversation with female founders from Away and Science Exchange and discover Alice, an artificial intelligence platform for women. We partnered with Intuit for this event that held 120 attendees.

We also offered the same student ticket discount and free Startup Alley tables to nonprofits as we had in prior years; this year we expanded on that effort.

 

 

Disrupt Berlin

Disrupt returned to Berlin in December 2017 after three years in London. We saw a 14 percent increase in female judges on stage over 2016. But female speakers and Battlefield founders decreased year-over-year by about 3 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

As part of our inclusion efforts, we hosted 32 refugees learning at the ReDI School of Digital Integration. They brought a group of 30 students who had the opportunity to explore Startup Alley, listen to our speakers on the main stage and have an intimate conversation with Slack co-founder, Cal Henderson. We also supported some of the Battlefield companies with our scholarship fund and continued the student ticket discounts.

Factory Berlin helped us host 65 attendees at our Women in Tech(Crunch) event. In addition, we hosted 80 attendees at the Women of Disrupt Breakfast.

 

 

Hardware Battlefield at CES

In January 2017, we once again hosted a Hardware Battlefield at CES. Female representation for speakers, judges and Battlefield founders were down slightly from 2016. By contrast, for the first time in a Hardware Battlefield, minority founders were represented equally, with 50 percent.

 

 

Battlefield X

Building off of the overwhelming success of Disrupt Battlefield, we decided to spin it out into its own event and give it a new name: Battlefield X. In 2017, we sent teams to Africa and Australia with the intent to showcase startups doing amazing work in their respective corners of the globe.

Battlefield Africa

For the competition in Nairobi in October, we specifically looked for companies targeting social good, productivity and utility, and gaming and entertainment. Sub-Saharan African startups are helping unleash the region’s potential, from last-mile technologies that deliver edtech, agtech, and medtech to remote areas, to mobile-based fintech innovations that ease financial transactions and lending in bustling cities.

 

 

Battlefield Australia

To bring Battlefield to Australia in October 2017, TechCrunch partnered with the ELEVACAO Foundation, whose mission to empower women tech entrepreneurs globally aligns with TechCrunch’s Include program to encourage more diversity in tech. We are also joining forces with Founders for Founders, a group dedicated to supporting tech entrepreneurs across Australia, and Hoist, which is promoting innovation through collaboration between entrepreneurs and corporates.

 

 

 

Sessions

Last year we debuted Sessions, our new one-day events that dive deep on a single topic, bringing together experts in the field and those interested in the theme.

With these events, we intend to drop the barrier between speaker and attendee to allow for plenty of interaction with networking time and a big reception at the end of each day. Our very first event was Sessions: Justice in June followed by Sessions: Robotics in July.

Sessions: Justice

During the one-day event in June around diversity, inclusion and justice in tech, we heard from social justice activist DeRay Mckesson, Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, Salesforce Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet, Safety Pin Box co-founder Leslie Mac, The Last Mile co-founder Chris Redlitz, Cryptoharlem founder Matt Mitchell and others.

TechCrunch Sessions: Justice was the most racially inclusive event we’ve ever put on. That said, we could’ve done better with getting more Latinx speakers on stage. In addition, we collected statistics about gender and sexual orientation.

 

 

 

 

Sessions: Robotics

Our aim with this one-day event, which was hosted at MIT in July, was to bring together the key players in robotics. MIT CSAIL, iRobot, CyPhy, DARPA and Mass Robotics were represented. As you can see from the data below, we need to ensure higher numbers of women and people of color are represented.

 

 

Crunchies

The 10th anniversary of the Crunchies was also the last. In 2017 we renewed our intention to showcase and reward the diversity across Silicon Valley and beyond. We gave Project Include the second-ever TechCrunch Include Award. The goal of Project Include is to make the the conversation a lot easier to have. Led by Erica Joy Baker, bethanye McKinney Blount, Tracy Chou, Laura I. Gómez, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Freada Kapor Klein, Ellen Pao and Susan Wu, Project Include provides tools for tech CEOs to help foster working environments of inclusion for underrepresented groups.

 

 

Include Office Hours

Launched in 2014, TechCrunch’s Include program applies resources uniquely available to TechCrunch, including our editorial and events platforms, to create access and opportunity for underserved and underrepresented founders.

TechCrunch Include Office Hours are a part of this effort. The program, which launched in October 2015, Each month, TechCrunch partners with a VC in New York or San Francisco to host private 20-minute sessions that are valuable opportunities for entrepreneurs to gain key insights and advice from seasoned investors.

In 2017, we hosted eight Office Hours in San Francisco and New York. There were 317 total applications that resulted in 78 founders having meetings totaling 26 hours. The following firms participated:

  • Betaworks Ventures
  • BCV & Matrix
  • Flybridge
  • General Catalyst
  • Canaan Partners
  • Intel Capital
  • Greylock Partners
  • Cavalry Ventures

TechCrunch Staff/Culture

Beginning last year, TechCrunch made it a priority to improve our recruiting and hiring in order to make our workplace more diverse, and we will continue to do so.

With respect to gender representation, TechCrunch is ahead of typical tech companies. Compared to internet-based media companies, however, the TechCrunch editorial staff is in the range of most other publications, with women holding about 27 percent of newsroom jobs. This is far from where we aim to be. We have the most work to do, however, in the area of racial diversity, where we are over 80 percent white on the editorial staff and 78 white percent across all company departments.

As the issue of diversity and inclusion in tech continues to command conversations all over Silicon Valley and beyond, it will remain at the forefront of our coverage and around the world at our events.

With contributions from Alexandra Ames, director of marketing, and Neesha Tambe, Battlefield and Crunch Match manager.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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