1. Staples customer data exposed in security breach
Staples Inc. says nearly 1.2 million customer payment cards may have been exposed during a security breach earlier this year. The office supply retailer announced in October that it was looking into a potential credit card breach, adding to a long list of retailers recently hit by cyberattacks. Staples said Friday that an investigation shows that the criminals used malware that may have allowed access to information for transactions at 115 of its US stores, which total more than 1,400. Four locations in Massachusetts were affected: Seekonk, Shrewsbury, Plymouth, and Salem. The data include cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates, and card verification codes. The security breach affected different stores at different times between July and September.
2. Airbnb brought 34,000 to Boston in the past year
Airbnb, the online room-rental service opposed by the hotel industry, said in a new report that it created $51 million in economic activity in Boston in a year. The report, which analyzed rentals from July 2013 to June 2014, said nearly 34,000 guests who stayed in the city of Boston using Airbnb paid their hosts $8.8 million. Visitors spent another $26 million on their visits, and the spending and its ripple effects supported 490 jobs, the company said. The most popular neighborhoods were the South End, the Back Bay, the North End, and Jamaica Plain.
3. Chrysler expands air-bag recall
DETROIT — Chrysler has bowed to government demands and will expand a recall of driver’s side air bag inflators across the nation. The automaker said Friday that it will recall nearly 2.9 million older cars and trucks in the United States, as demanded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recalls previously were limited to areas with high humidity. Also, Chrysler is recalling nearly 257,000 older Ram pickup trucks because the rear axle can seize or the drive shaft can fall off. The recall covers Ram 1500 pickups from the 2005 model year. Chrysler says in documents posted Friday by US safety regulators that the rear-axle pinion nut can come loose. That can cause problems that make the trucks spin out of control. The recall comes after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that began in June.
4. Children’s Hospital pays $40,000 over stolen patient data
Boston Children’s Hospital has paid $40,000 to settle a suit by Attorney General Martha Coakley over a 2012 data theft that put the medical information of 2,159 patients at risk. The charges stemmed from a 2012 incident in which a hospital physician’s laptop was stolen. The physician had received and downloaded an e-mail containing unencrypted health information for more than 2,000 patients, most of whom were under 18. Children’s agreed to pay $40,000 and improve its data security practices through new training and the installation of encryption software. On a per-record basis, the amount of the settlement is similar to a November agreement in which Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center agreed to pay $100,000 over the loss of data for nearly 4,000 patients and employees.
5. For whom the bell tolls: Salvation Army donations down
With donations down around the state this year, the Salvation Army has issued a plea for contributions in the final few days before Christmas. Even Governor-elect Charlie Baker lent a hand in the fund-raising effort in downtown Boston. With only a few days of fund-raising left, the annual Red Kettle Campaign is still 40 percent off its $3.4 million goal. Compared to this time last year, donations are down 25 percent in Boston, 24 percent in Lowell, and 27 percent in Athol. At the same time, need is on the rise. More than 6,000 families in Boston registered to receive Christmas assistance: a used coat for each household member, two toys per child, and a gift card to buy Christmas dinner.
6. Doug Banks named editor at the Boston Business Journal
The Boston Business Journal has named Doug Banks as its next editor in chief. Banks, who first joined the publication as a reporter and editor in 1998, left three years ago to become an associate vice president for economic development at the University of Massachusetts. He will rejoin the Boston Business Journal on Jan. 5. “Doug’s knowledge of Boston business and his past experience with the Boston Business Journal and Mass High Tech make this an exciting hire,” said Gale Murray, the publisher of the Business Journal, in an article on the journal’s website. Banks’s predecessor as top editor at the publication, George Donnelly, stepped down in October after 14 years in the position. No reason was given.
7. EMC Bike Path? Sponsorships sought for park facilities
The Patrick administration’s Department of Conservation and Recreation is embarking on its first effort to find corporate sponsors for a number of its facilities and programs. The goal, according to DCR Commissioner Jack Murray, is to raise at least $5 million in 2015. DCR has received corporate assistance for various projects in the past, but Murray said those funds came unsolicited to the agency in those cases. For the agency to actively solicit sponsors for a park, for example, Murray said it needs to be clear that the opportunity is open and available to all comers.
8. Tax breaks extended for businesses, consumers
WASHINGTON — President Obama signed legislation Friday that temporarily extends dozens of costly tax breaks for millions of businesses and homeowners, commuters, teachers, and others. The measure also allows people with disabilities to open tax-free savings accounts. The law extends the tax breaks through Dec. 31, allowing taxpayers to claim them on their 2014 income tax returns. But the fate of the tax provisions beyond this year will again be uncertain. Congress routinely extends the package of tax breaks every year or two, but they were allowed to expire in January. Among the biggest tax breaks for individuals allows people who live in states without an income tax to deduct state and local sales taxes on their federal returns. Another protects struggling homeowners who get their mortgages reduced from paying income taxes on the amount of debt that was forgiven. Other provisions benefit commuters who use public transportation and teachers who spend their own money on classroom supplies.
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