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McDonald's sent an email announcement as well as posted a message on its website on Saturday to its "valued customers" that "there is a possibility that the limited information you provided to McDonald's through its websites or promotions was improperly accessed by an unauthorized third party."

I was one of those valued customers who received the email.

The announcement goes on to state that:

"By way of background, McDonald’s asked Arc Worldwide, a long-time business partner, to develop and coordinate the distribution of promotional emails.   Arc hired an email service provider, a standard business practice, to supervise and manage the email database.  That email service provider has advised that its computer systems recently were accessed by an unauthorized third party, and that information, including information that you provided to McDonald’s, may have been accessed by that unauthorized third party.  Law enforcement officials have been notified and are investigating this incident."

McDonald's says that the database accessed did not contain Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers or any sensitive financial information like credit card numbers, but did contain "name, postal address, home or cell phone number, birth date, gender, and certain information about your promotional preferences or web information interests."

The information was provided by McDonald's customers when they submitted "information or subscribe to McDonald’s during an online promotion or through one of [eight] McDonald’s websites at McDonalds.com, 365Black.com, McDonalds.ca, mcdonaldsmom.com, mcdlive.com, monopoly.com, playatmcd.com, or meencanta.com."

McDonald's has not provided any indication of how many customers around the world were affected by the breach (a story in ZDNet Asia states that McDonald's customers in Australia were not) - or when it happened or how far back its database of customer information goes - but it has to be a potentially huge number.

For instance, there has been an online version of its immensely popular Monopoly game beginning in 2004 and which has been promoted heavily by McDonald's in several countries ever since. Other McDonald's promotions also have tremendous power in pushing adults and especially children to its websites.

Arc Worldwide, McDonald's business partner mentioned above, has a case study on its US web site discussing how its McDonald's Shrek movie tie-in campaign alone successfully pushed children worldwide to McDonald's online Shrek game, which resulted in increases in Happy Meals sold by 16% and overall store sales by 8.7%, Arc Worldwide claims.

Arc Worldwide also said parents' trust in McDonald's grew by 11.15% because of its Shrek campaign as well. It may well drop some once parents figure out their children's information hasn't been protected.

McDonald's is warning customers that if they "are contacted by email or otherwise by someone claiming to be from McDonald’s asking for your sensitive financial information, do not provide it.  McDonald’s does not ask for that type of information on-line or by email.  Instead, please call us at 800-244-6227 and let us know so we can contact the authorities."

Or, using a phrase that the headline writer for ZDNet Asia came up with, don't bite on that McDonald's Filet-O-Phish. 

The Conversation (0)

Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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