Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Top Five Consumer Cyber Security FAQs

By Equifax

Business, technology, environmental and economic changes are a part of life, and they are coming faster all the time. All of these changes and advancements can be distracting and make us more vulnerable to cyber scams. That's why protecting your credit is a critical part of protecting yourself from cyber security threats. Security researchers have reported that hackers and scammers are using any opportunity or vulnerability to target both individuals and companies. You may have already seen these attempts in the form of fake emails or calls.

Here are the top five questions Equifax® has received about how individuals can protect themselves from cyber security threats and help to improve your credit protection.

1. How can I better protect my credit?

  • Check your credit reports frequently. You can get free credit reports from the nationwide credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian® and TransUnion®) at annualcreditreport.com. Check your credit reports frequently to closely monitor any unauthorized changes.
  • Utilize key tools. There are many tools available that can help you better protect your identity while staying on top of your credit. You can place a free fraud alert or a security freeze by creating a myEquifax™ account. Other products, like the Equifax ID Patrol™ include features like Equifax credit report lock and lost wallet assistance, in addition to other services for credit protection.
  • File your taxes early to help prevent tax related id theft. The longer you wait to file, the more time fraudsters have to claim an unauthorized refund on your behalf.

2. What are some basic tips to avoid scams and security threats?

There are some key things you should always do to avoid scams and cyber security threats:

  • Always look out for phishing scams, and be careful about clicking links from unfamiliar email or text message senders. Phishing scams and messages are used by scammers to trick you into clicking a link or opening an attachment that will provide them access to your information or download malware onto your computer. Hackers aren't just targeting corporate email accounts – they're also sending messages with malicious links to personal email addresses and even to phones in text messages. Before you click on anything, make sure it is a legitimate link - even if it looks genuine.
  • Install the updates on your devices. If you've been ignoring that pop-up about updating your phone, don't! Install it now. Many updates for phones, tablets, and laptops include patches for known vulnerabilities. In other words, they prevent hackers from using outdated software on your devices to get access to your device or information, making you more vulnerable to a cyber security attack.

3. How do I identify fake websites, scam calls and fake phishing emails?

Be skeptical of any unsolicited outreaches. The saying that “if it is too good to be true, it probably is” applies with scams and phishing. Avoiding fake websites and avoiding phishing scams and emails are similar in that for both, you want to (1) look for clues that they are fake and, (2) if you're suspicious or just want to be cautious, type in the website name or phone number you know to be correct rather than clicking/calling back.

4. What are best practices for securing online conferencing services?

As many businesses utilize online conferencing services, bad actors are taking this opportunity to gain access. The easiest and most effective way to protect yourself is to make sure that you add a password when you organize a call. Most major services give the option to set a password, but it may not be turned on by default.

5. Shopping online continues to become more common and convenient. What are some of the ways I can keep my personal and financial information safe online?

There are several things you can do to protect yourself and avoid credit card scams when providing payment information online.

  • Make sure that you are actually dealing with the correct vendor. Phishing is increasing and before you execute any transaction, check the web address to make sure it is valid.
  • Do not pay with a debit card if possible. A debit card provides direct access to your bank account, while credit cards may offer more protection. Credit cards offer better consumer protections against fraud compared with debit cards linked to a bank account.
  • Enable multi-factor authorization. Again, it may be a hassle, but it drastically reduces your exposure to an issue and offers better credit card fraud protection.
  • Avoid performing financial transactions over unsecured public Wi-Fi networks.

Friday, October 13, 2023

School Choice Passed by Texas Senate

The Texas Senate on Thursday approved a $500 million school choice bill mostly along party lines after hours of passionate debate. It will now head for consideration in the House, where members rejected similar proposals during the regular session.

Senators passed Senate Bill 1 by a 18-13 vote, with one Republican joining all Democrats in voting against the measure. The bill will likely face steep resistance in the House, where Democratic members and many rural Republicans have vehemently opposed such proposals.

School choice programs, also called education savings accounts or vouchers, use public money to help pay for a child’s private schooling.

“We must recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't fit the needs of our diverse student population,” said Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who authored SB 1 and estimated the proposal could serve about 60,000 students. Texas has about 5.5 million children in public schools.

Public schools have failed the American people, especially our young people. This is a change for the better.

Diversity Programs Don’t Make Companies More Profitable

A new study by two scholars at the University of North Carolina and a professor at Texas A&M examined the impact of DEI programs in corporate America and found no evidence that these programs lead to higher returns.

The study reported:

“The business case for diversity” is the dominant rhetorical paradigm for how U.S. corporations debate actions and policies around racial/ethnic diversity. In this paper, we conduct an empirical test of the paradigm by gathering data on the race/ethnicity of the individuals shown on the leadership pages of S&P 500 firms’ websites as of mid-2011, 2014, 2017, 2020 and 2021, and then determining if any of nine measures of the racial/ethnic diversity of these executives reliably predict…their firms’ financial performance over the next fiscal year. We do not find reliable evidence that they do. As such, our results do not support the “business case for diversity” when the claim is assessed using 1-year-ahead financial performance metrics and multiple measures of the race/ethnicity of S&P 500 executives over the last decade.
Diversity may be a goal in its own right – or pure corporate virtue signaling - but there is very little evidence that it benefits shareholders or the sustainability of the business. Firms are better off choosing employees based on their competence, not their gender or skin color.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

The Drawdown of the Strategic Oil Reserve

Given the recent events in the Middle East, how dangerous is this Biden energy policy?

Biden abused his power when he drained our Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an attempt to lower oil and gas prices, so his popularity wouldn't wane. While that didn't work, he has placed this country in a perilous position. As if his open borders wasn't threat enough.

And it's also worth remembering that Chuck Schumer blocked Trump's request to buy 77 million barrels in March 2020, when lockdowns had pushed the spot price close to zero:

The Radical Left Supports Terrorism

They used to embrace Stalin and Mao. So I'm not surprised...

For nearly 100 years, the political Left prided itself on being the side of peace and anti-militarism. The Western left supported peace talks in the Middle East, backed a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and called for noncombatant lives to be spared. 

But over the past week, loud voices on the radical Left endorsed Hamas’ brutal and horrific terrorist attack on Israeli civilians. Several left-wing organizations released statements that appeared to condone the attack. The day after Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) held a protest “in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist 75 years of occupation and apartheid.” 

Thirty-four Harvard student organizations signed a joint statement excusing the murder and kidnapping of women and children. “The apartheid regime is the only one to blame,” the statement read. “The coming days will require a firm stand against colonial retaliation.” Wrote Yale Law Professor Zareena Grewal on X/Twitter, after the attack, “Prayers for Palestinians. Israel is a murderous, genocidal settler state, and Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity.” 

Leaders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) wrote that it stands “in solidarity with our Palestinian family” and called on people to “understand the resistance in Palestine as an attempt to tear down the gates of the world’s largest open air prison.” The Chicago BLM chapter posted a graphic stating, “I Stand With Palestine,” along with a silhouette of a paraglider, referring to Hamas terrorists who had paraglided into a music festival and killed 260 young people...

Friday, October 6, 2023

Life Lessons from Meditations by Marcus Aurelias

1. Obstacles are opportunities

Marcus mastered the art of turning every obstacle into an opportunity. Nothing was universally negative in his mind. In this vein, every hardship has at least one positive aspect.

2. Don't spend time worrying about what people think of you
"Your energy and time are both limited, so don't waste them on what those inconsequential to your life are doing thinking and saying."
3. Focus on the present
"Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or it impossible to see."
4. You are the architect of your perceptions
"You have the power over your mind -- not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength."
5. Value the right things in life and your life will have value
“A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values.”
6. No goal is out of reach
“Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.”
7. Be grateful for what you have

"Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours."

8. Be a good person rather than thinking about being a good person

Marcus says this with such class that we ought to simply quote: “don’t go on discussing what a good person should be. Just be one.”

9. Don't mistake opinions and preference for facts
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

Top Five Consumer Cyber Security FAQs

By Equifax Business, technology, environmental and economic changes are a part of life, and they are coming faster all the time. All of thes...