Tag Archives: Never

Growing up Is Never Easy: The Pains of Recession Should Lead to More Mature Financial Practices

St. Cloud, MN (PRWEB) March 31, 2009

Urging the country to put away childish things, President Obama could have been talking about poor spending habits. Like children, this nation demanded instant gratification. The retail concept of lay-away, so popular just 30 years ago went the way of the drive-in movie. No longer satisfied with buying only what is affordable, Americans embraced run away equity lines and defined themselves by what could be bought on credit. But those days are no more – and maybe it’s for the better.

According to Patricia Hinds, founder of Granite Financial in St. Cloud, “Faced with plummeting investment accounts, declining home values, and the real prospect of job loss, Americans suddenly are doing what they’ve needed to do all along – spend less and save more.”

In fact, in the last three months of 2008, the government reported Americans’ savings rate, as a percentage of after-tax incomes, rose to 2.9 percent. That’s up sharply from 1.2 percent in the third quarter and less than 1 percent just a year ago. Today, a shopping spree no longer appears to be the initial response to a wave of bad news. In February, the Commerce Department reported consumer spending fell for a record sixth straight month in December, dropping 1 percent amid worries about surging layoffs. The hunkering down trend likely will continue. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index plummeted further in February reaching yet another all-time low. The Index now stands at 25.0 (1985=100), down from 37.4 in January. According to The Federal Reserve, although consumer borrowing rose slightly in January, economists still expect borrowing will remain weak this year with news of the unemployment rate surging to a 25-year high.

“With pessimism about the state of the economy increasing daily, suddenly it’s chic to be cheap,” says Hinds. “Frugality is back in style and splurges on widescreen TVs, top-of-the-line kitchens, and designer clothes are out.” Across America, people have not only stopped borrowing, but they are actually paying back debt by paying down those car loans, mortgages and credit card bills. Consumers are actually talking about how to save money – with their neighbors and, more importantly, with their bankers, credit card companies, and household service providers.

The fallout from collective belt-tightening has been referred to as the “paradox of thrift.” That is, what’s good for the people — spending less, and saving more — does nothing to lift the economy out of recession. While many economists suggest that it’s bad news for our recession-battered economy when consumers pay off credit cards, increase their cash reserves, and skip a few pizza deliveries, Hinds begs to differ.

“I believe child-like spending played a role in this economic mess but our increasingly mature attitudes toward money management could make us healthier in the long run,” says Hinds. “Just as growing up can be painful, enduring the difficult repercussions of this recession may pay off by putting an end to bad financial habits.” This recession may be what it takes to help American consumers break free from a lifestyle of greed supported by excessive borrowing, leveraging and spending.

About Patricia Hinds and Granite Financial Inc.

Patricia Hinds, a branch manager for Securities America, Inc. and founder of Granite Financial Inc., has been a part of the financial services industry for over 19 years. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM practitioner and holds the Board Certified in Estate Planning (BCE) designation from the Institute of Business & Finance.

Hinds specializes in providing personal wealth management services to financially established women entering or near retirement. She uses a consultative approach to help develop and effectively implement a financial plan. Her process includes investment consulting, relationship management and advanced planning in four areas; wealth enhancement, wealth transfer, wealth protection and charitable gifting.

Hinds is a member of the Financial Planning Association, the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of Professional Women and the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce. She conducts regular financial planning seminars and has contributed to articles in several leading trade publications including Wealth Manager, Financial Advisor, Investment News, Research and On Wall Street as well as consumer outlets such as Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Minnesota Business Magazine. Visit http://www.granitefinancial.net for more information about Ms. Hinds and Granite Financial Inc.

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Businesses Face a Storm of Anger and Distrust When Customer Data is Breached, and Thats Never a Recipe for Success

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 12, 2013

While intellectual property theft or the compromise of other important ESI (Electronically Stored Information) related to the inner workings of a business can be devastating in their own right, nothing quite compares to the madness that follows when a retailer loses control of their customers data, especially actual credit card information right from a POS (Point of Sale) system. Schnucks, a St. Louis-based privately held supermarket chain with almost 100 stores across the Midwestern US, is the most recent victim of hackers to find themselves in full damage control mode after making headlines because of just such a cyber-heist. Joe Caruso, founder and CEO/CTO of Global Digital Forensics (GDF), took some time to discuss how both the chances of thwarting a data breach, or surviving the fallout should one occur, can be substantially increased with the right solutions in place.

When trust and integrity are shaken, it can be a long road back.

Judging human behavior can often be a real puzzle, but sometimes its not mystifying at all. You could be told a hundred times as a child not to touch the stove because its hot, but did the lesson really sink in until you actually did touch it and got burned? Probably not. But once you did finally experience getting burned, the lesson stayed with you; beware of hot stoves. When your customers get burned by hackers because of a transaction they completed with your business, it works much the same way. Its a painful lesson they will not soon forget, and to them, you become the evil hot stove they want to avoid at all costs. Theyll also tell their friends, family and anyone else who will listen to stay away too. And that does not bode well at all for future success. But with the right approach, like a pre-planned lightning fast response, timely disclosure of the actual facts behind the incident, and appropriate mitigation steps, its not an insurmountable task. Because in the end, everyone is still going to need to use a stove, the trick is convincing your customers, with deeds and facts, not empty talk, that you identified the problem, fixed it, put additional safety measures in place to keep it from happening again, and above all else, prove to them you have their concerns at the forefront of your own. Those are all the boxes we help business check off every day and keep them in the game.

Do not neglect the basics

The very first thing every business owner, executive or manager should know is that in the world of cyber security, covering the basics can go a long way. And it saddens me, frustrates me and even scares me sometimes when we get called into a company for the first time and all we get is the sound of crickets when we start asking basic questions about what kind of security measures are in place. Its almost like a cyber version of Kitchen Nightmares, except its not a disgusting refrigerator with rotten food that provides the shock value, its how absolutely vulnerable their most vital digital treasures are, how haphazardly their customers most valuable and personal information is handled, and how oblivious even owners with everything on the line can be about just how much risk they are shouldering and how far they will fall if the cross-hairs of a cyber attacker should happen to land on them. But we are just as determined to help our clients and we turn over every stone to help them get their kitchen in order so they can succeed in our digital world.

What can Global Digital Forensics do to help businesses deal with data breaches and cyber attacks?

It all starts with a comprehensive cyber threat assessment and penetration test. Our cyber security experts will assess the clients entire digital landscape, from in-house policies which may be outdated, or even worse, non-existent, to any unique regulatory compliance issues they may face. Then we will perform a penetration test, which is basically attempting to hack a network the same way a real-world attacker would, which is a very effective way to provide a baseline for improving cyber defenses on all fronts by identifying all the weak links in the chain. Our testing also includes a social engineering component which we tailor to the clients unique situation to test for weakness and susceptibility to things like USB launched attacks, phishing and spear phishing campaigns, and other popular methods used by cyber attackers. Getting these basics well covered will thwart over 90% of all cyber attacks – without breaking the bank.

But what if an attack occurs anyway?

GDF has experienced and savvy emergency incident responders strategically positioned across the country which allows us to execute cyber emergency response with times unrivaled in the industry. We can also offer no-retainer Service Level Agreements for emergency cyber incident response services after we have done the clients threat assessment and penetration testing for them because well already know the intricacies of their digital infrastructure and data workflow, well know who to work with internally, and we will have already ironed out a detailed emergency response plan which can be instantly executed. And its designed to not only respond to and remediate the threat itself, but also with a strong focus on regulatory compliance issues and disclosure responsibilities, so any negative fallout is kept to an absolute minimum and nervous clients, vendors and investors stay confident everything that can be done for their protection is already being done and shown to them in precise detail in black and white should they desire. The other great thing for the client is they wont have to pay us one additional red cent to have our professional responders on call if there is no cyber incident emergency.

“When it comes to cyber security, an ounce of prevention is worth a lot more than a pound of cure, it could mean the difference between long term success or total failure for any business, so is it really worth leaving the future to pure chance? One call can make the difference.”

*Global Digital Forensics is a recognized industry leader in the fields of cyber security and emergency incident response, with years of experience assisting clients in the government, banking, healthcare, education and corporate arenas. For a free consultation with a Global Digital Forensics specialist, call 1-800-868-8189 about tailoring a plan which will meet your unique needs. Emergency responders are also standing by 24/7 to handle intrusion and data breach emergencies whenever and wherever they arise. Time is critical if a cyber incident has occurred, so dont hesitate to get help. For more information, visit http://www.evestigate.com.