A MoviePass Security Gaffe Leaves Tens of Thousands of Accounts Exposed

zhuzhu/iStock via Getty Images
zhuzhu/iStock via Getty Images

When MoviePass launched a $9.95 subscription service in 2017, it was heralded as nothing less than a revolution in the moviegoing experience. The monthly fee allowed once-daily admission to first-run theatrical films at all of the major chains. Roughly 1 million people signed up for the app in the first four months alone. But AMC and other exhibitors resisted the business plan, leading to dwindling benefits and bad press.

Now, MoviePass is dealing with another issue: Leaving the customer card numbers of at least 58,000 users, plus many credit card numbers, easily accessible on a server.

According to TechCrunch, the data was first discovered by Dubai-based security firm SpiderSilk and security researcher Mossab Hussein. The cards were left unencrypted and available to review on the server without the need for a password. MoviePass cards are issued by Mastercard and operate like conventional debit cards, with pre-loaded balances that pay the full admission price at theater chains. The unsecured server also had conventional credit card information for customers that are used to pay the MoviePass subscription. These records included billing addresses. TechCrunch stated that among the records they reviewed, some contained enough information to make fraudulent purchases.

The database was taken offline this week, but it’s believed it had been open and accessible for months. Security researcher Nitish Shah said he discovered the database earlier in the year, wrote MoviePass to warn them, but received no reply. In a statement, MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe said the company was looking into it and would notify affected customers. In the interim, it's probably wise for MoviePass subscribers to monitor affiliated credit cards for any suspicious charges.

[h/t Gizmodo]

The University of Texas at San Antonio Is Offering Free Tuition to Thousands of Students

Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a resident of Texas with college ambitions but face some financial hardship, there’s good news coming out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. This week, the school announced a program called Bold Promise, which will cover tuition for thousands of students annually.

To be eligible, enrollees must be first-time freshmen living in the state, ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class, and have graduated less than 16 months prior. Once enrolled, they must maintain a 2.5 grade point average each semester. The adjusted gross income of their family cannot exceed $50,500.

UTSA is currently ranked 293 to 381 by U.S. News and World Report in national universities. The school hosts roughly 32,264 students, with an average annual tuition of $9722 for Texans and $24,722 for out-of-state attendees. The acceptance rate is roughly 79 percent.

Incoming students have until January 15 to submit an application, but no separate Bold Promise form is required. The program officially begins with the fall 2020 semester and will cover four years of education. UTSA says the cost will be covered by scholarships, grants, and other exemptions on the state and federal levels. Students will also have the chance to apply for financial aid to cover boarding expenses. UTSA estimates 4000 students will be eligible for the program.

The University of Texas-Austin instituted a similar offer earlier this year, with free tuition for a four-year program offered to students with household incomes of $65,000 or less. Colleges in Michigan and New York have also implemented tuition programs.

[h/t KSAT]

How Much Are You Spending on Streaming Services? This Handy Calculator Can Tell You

LightFieldStudios/iStock via Getty Images
LightFieldStudios/iStock via Getty Images

With the recent debut of both Disney+ and Apple TV+, not to mention upcoming launches for HBO Max, NBC’s Peacock, and more, streaming services are officially coming for cable television’s throne—and might sneakily empty your bank account while they're at it.

While a monthly fee of $10 to $15 seems easy enough to justify if you’re willing to sacrifice a burrito bowl or fancy cocktail once a month, the little voice in the back of your head is probably whispering, “but it still adds up.” To find out just how much, MarketWatch created a calculator that will not only tell you how much you’re spending on streaming services every month; it’ll also add up the lifetime cost of all those entertainment expenses.

The calculator covers Netflix, CBS All Access, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, Disney+, Apple TV+, and YouTube TV, and it also includes a whole host of add-ons that you might not even have realized were available. Through Amazon Prime, for example, you can subscribe to HBO, Showtime, and other premium channels—but there are also more niche options like Hallmark Movies Now and NickHits (with iCarly, The Fairly OddParents, and other Nickelodeon classics).

As you check off services and add-ons, you’ll see your monthly bill on the right side of the total box, and the lifetime cost—which accounts for 50 years of streaming, adjusted for inflation—will balloon before your eyes on the left side. Below that, there’s an even larger number labeled as the lifetime “true” cost, which estimates how much you would’ve made if you had invested that money instead.

For example: If you sign up for basic monthly subscriptions to Netflix and Disney+ for $9 and $7, respectively, your lifetime cost totals around $16,200. However, if you had opted to invest that money, the 50-year prediction sees you walking away with almost $74,000.

Having said that, it’s understandably hard to look that far into the future, especially when Disney+ is tempting you with the Lizzie McGuire series, Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian, and practically every beloved animated Disney movie from your childhood.

[h/t MarketWatch]

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