Planet Business

This week: Email blackouts, password panics and Fabergé eggs

Image of the week: Easter egg
One man's trash, is a 19th-century Tsarina's treasure. The story goes that an unidentified scrap metal dealer from the US Midwest picked up this gold egg trinket at a flea market and planned to melt it down, but nobody wanted to buy it off him. Hmm. Wasn't there this bloke who made precious, ultra-rare jewelled eggs which are now synonymous with antique jackpots? Yes, there was! After Googling a Daily Telegraph article about the work of Peter Carl Fabergé, the scrap metal trader discovered his egg was worth about $33 million. London antiques dealer Wartski duly acquired the Lost Third Imperial Easter Egg for an unidentified private collector it is now going on public display for the first time in 112 years at Wartski's showroom near Bond Street from April 14th to 17th. Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters

In numbers: Less is more

Number of hours a day employees at a Swedish city council will be working with full pay under an experiment based on the theory that, after six hours, workers become tired and productivity plummets .
Number of hours in a new window for sending work emails in France in a legally-binding charter signed by several tech industry employers and unions. Many companies have now agreed not to contact employees electronically after 6pm or before 9am.
Sum Apple was ordered to pay a group of workers at its French stores last year after requiring them to work after the stores closed. French law forbids shifts between 9pm and 6am unless the work plays an important role in the economy or has a social benefit.

The lexicon: Heartbleed Bug
Described as "the massive security flaw that's taken over the internet", the Heartbleed Bug is this week's runaway winner in the online peril competition. So named because it causes a "leak of memory contents", the flaw was discovered last week in OpenSSL software, a common method of digitally scrambling sensitive data as it passes through servers.

Although some people logging on to some services during a lengthy “window of vulnerability” may have had their passwords harvested, there is so far no evidence that any hacker exploited the bug. Tumblr, one of the sites affected, nevertheless recommended that “this might be a good day to call in sick and take some time to change your passwords everywhere”.

But while Heartbleed Bug sounds like a perfectly valid excuse for a duvet day, security experts have advised waiting until all sites had fixed the problem. There’s still plenty of time to panic about how you’re possibly going to remember a new bunch of passwords.

Getting to know: Lilly Ledbetter
The first Bill that Barack Obama signed into law as president was known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 2009, named after an Alabama woman who, after a 19-year career at a Goodyear tyre factory, sued the company for paying her less than her male counterparts. The US Supreme Court denied her claim because she had not filed her suit within 180 days of her very first pay cheque, and Obama's Act duly loosened up the time requirements. Ledbetter, author of equal pay battle memoir Grace and Grit, was invited to the White House this week as Obama signed two executive orders – one that will oblige federal contractors to give a breakdown of pay by sex and race, and another that will prevent contractors from "retaliating" against workers who discuss their pay.

The list: Cheque-mate
The National Payments Plan has warned businesses that Government departments, local authorities and other State agencies will stop sending and receiving cheques from businesses from September 19th, aka "e-Day". How can the NPP persuade the 77 per cent of companies who use cheques on a monthly basis that they should end their love affair with paper payments? By pointing out the chequebook's many flaws.
1 Bank charges: You may need to write a cheque to cover the bank charge on writing cheques.
2 Stamp duty: It's now 50 cent per cheque.
3 Postage: Say no more.
4 Late payments: There is a "cheque is in the post" culture of late payments, according to NPP manager Ronnie O'Toole. So no more cheques will mean no more late payments then . . . How wonderful.
5 Time spent making lodgments: Do bank branches still exist?