Think Tank: Is AI the Future of E-commerce Fraud Prevention? – WWD

Theres a lot of debate about what Artificial Intelligence really means, and how we should feel about it. Will it transform our world for the better? Will the machines take over? Will it simply make processes we already perform faster and smoother? As Gartner says in A Framework for Applying AI in the Enterprise, The artificial intelligence acronym AI might more appropriately stand for amazing innovations that do what we thought technology couldnt do.

One way and another, were talking about smart machines machines that are trained on existing, historical data, and use that to make accurate deductions or predictions about examples with which theyre presented. The applications are wide-ranging, from medicine to retail to self-driving cars and beyond.

For e-commerce, AI means the ability to deliver capabilities that simply were not possible before. There are two main directions in which this expresses itself:

1) Uncovering trends and audiences: A well-trained e-commerce AI can identify trends of buyer behavior, or interests in new products or experiences and adapt quickly.

2) Personalization: The experience can be tailored to each customer in ways that were not an option when companies had to configure/design the experience for everyone at once (or maybe have a few versions based on geographies). Customers can be offered the information and products they want, when they want them, in the ways that are best suited to them.

Why Ive Come to Love AI

As someone who travels a lot, I often have a fairly complex customer story when I shop online. I might be on a work trip to China, using a proxy to shop on a favorite U.S. store with my credit card, which has a New York billing address, sending something to an office in San Francisco to pick up on my next stop. Theres a good chance Ill be on a mobile device, and since I like to explore new things, Im often buying something of a kind Ive never bought before.

All of this makes me unpopular with e-commerce fraud prevention systems. Ive lost count of the number of times Ive been rejected, or delayed for days while my order is painstakingly reviewed. Sometimes Ive moved on by the time the package finally arrives at the place to which I had ordered it.

The thing is, I get it. I was a fraud prevention analyst myself, back in the time before AI was an option. I know exactly how hard these transactions are to get right, from the human perspective. I know how long it can take to review a transaction, and that as an analyst the tendency is always to play it safe even if that means sending a good customer away.

AI isnt a magic tool, but properly leveraging AI can enable retailers to eat the cake driving their sales upward by creating frictionless, speedy buying experiences for consumers and have it, too be completely protected against online payment fraud.

The 3 Unmatched Advantages of AI-based Fraud Protection Systems

Scale:An AI system can look at 6,000 data points in every transaction, and match them with billions of other transactions to look for patterns, discrepancies, and simple coincidences of events in just a fraction of a second. This means that all fraud decisions can happen 100 percent in real-time, regardless of how much traffic the site is receiving, or whether the fraud team is down with the flu.

Accuracy:In the last year a well-built and trained fraud protection AI has proven repeatedly that it outperforms even the best human reviewers in accuracy. For retailers the reduction in false declines (good customers mistakenly rejected as fraud) means more sales, and happier consumers, and the reduction in fraud chargebacks means lower costs, and lower risk. Beyond that, it enables new business models that were previously considered too risky, like the growing popularity of the try-and-buy model.

Adaptivity:In fraud prevention, one of the great challenges is the speed of learning necessary in order to deal with new fraudulent modaoperandi. If a fraudster finds a new technique that works, it will spread like wildfire and hundreds of fraudsters will attack thousands of retailers at once. An AI-based solution is the only realistic way for retailers to fight fraud together in this highly dynamic environment, combining their efforts and sharing data in a centralized way to prevent fraudsters from abusing one retailer after another. In fact, AI has the potential to actually reverse the asymmetry and push the fraudsters back. From the criminal point of view, if a new method to defraud is blocked almost immediately after it is first conceived and tried out, it isnt worth investing in.

AI is the future of e-commerce fraud prevention. It brings scale, accuracy and adaptivity to improve customer experience, block fraud and increase sales. Some retailers have already started leveraging AI, and theyre gaining a competitive advantage in this highly competitive field. Better fraud prevention is about to become standard. No site can afford to get left behind.

Michael Reitblat is chief executive officer of Forter.

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Think Tank: Is AI the Future of E-commerce Fraud Prevention? – WWD

Posted in Ai

How to access the dark web – The Daily Dot

If you think search engines like Google and Bing let you probe the entire web, youre totally wrong. Youre barely scratching the surface of the webliterally. Below the webs outer crustthe one youre accessing right now to read this articleflows other layers of the internet that you cant find through search. But with a little bit of know-how, anyone can dive into the webs deep end to find some hidden treasures (and perhaps a bit more than that). Heres a quick guide to the deep web, the dark web, and what youll find when you get there.

There are basically three parts to the world wide web: surface web, deep web, and dark web.

The surface web is everything thats publicly available and accessible through search or typing a URL into your browser. The deep web, also known as the invisible web, is all the content on the web that is not indexed by standard search engines, such as email clients, online banking websites, or pages that are inaccessible to crawlers, the software that indexes the web for search engines. Some of those pages can still be accessed if you have the URL while others require you to have login credentials. According to expert estimates, the deep web is 500 times larger than the surface web.

The dark web, however, is a totally different beasta tiny fraction of the web that is only accessible through specialized software such as the Tor browser. However, the term dark web is also often used to refer to the darknet, the overlay networks that are used to anonymize communications and obfuscate both the origin and destination of internet traffic. READ MORE:

The main characteristic of the dark web is its anonymity, which makes it appealing to a number of actors. Like all innovative tools, the dark web is an instrument to shady and illegal activities, such as child pornography and the sale of drugs, firearms, and stolen credit card numbers.

One of the most famous cases that involves the dark web is that of Silk Road, the first modern online black market that was created on the dark web. The website was shut down in 2013 and its founder is serving a life sentence in prison. Naturally, many other similar websites have sprouted in recent years. Earlier this month, AlphaBay, another dark web marketplace that made $600,000 and $800,000 a day, was shut down by law enforcement.

However, the dark web is also being used for many other activities that are mostly legitimate (though not necessarily legal, depending on your perspective). Edward Snowden, the famous whistleblower who exposed the U.S. governments mass surveillance program, used the dark web to send information to reporters and media outlets.

Journalists and activists also use the dark web to avoid being traced by autocratic governments or other actors that might want to harm them.

In countries where the government restricts access to specific websites and social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, dark web tools can help circumvent censorship.

The most famous tool to get on the dark web is the Tor browser. With Tor, you can access websites whose address ends with the .onion extension. These are websites that are exclusively available on the dark web and cant be accessed through normal browsers.

Tor enables you to access all the other surface and deep websites with the added benefit that it anonymizes your browser traffic by encrypting it and deflecting it across several computerscalled Tor nodesbefore sending it to its destination.

However, there are several things you should know about Tor:

With those considerations in mind, have fun surfing the dark web, and stay out of trouble.

Ben Dickson is a software engineer and the founder of TechTalks. Follow his tweets at @bendee983 and his updates on Facebook.

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How to access the dark web – The Daily Dot

This Startup Is Lowering Companies Healthcare Costs With AI – Entrepreneur

Healthcare costs are rapidly increasing. For companies that provide health insurance for their employees, theyve been getting hit with higher and higher premiums every year with no end in sight.

One Chicago-based startup experiencing explosive growth has been tackling this very problem. This company leverages artificial intelligence and chatbot technology to help employees navigate their health insurance and use less costly services. As a result, both the employee and employer end up saving money.

Justin Holland, CEO and co-founder of HealthJoy, has a strong grasp on how chatbots are going to change healthcare and save companies money in the process. I spoke with Holland to get his take on what CEOs need to know about their health benefits and how to contain costs.

Related:CanArtificial IntelligenceIdentify Pictures Better than Humans?

Whats the biggest problem with employer-sponsored health insurance? Why have costs gone up year after year faster than the rate of inflation?

One of the biggest issues for companies is that health insurance is kind of like giving your employees a credit card to go to a restaurant that doesnt have any prices. They are going to order whatever the waiter suggests to them that sounds good. Theyll order the steak and lobster, a bottle of wine and dessert. Employees have no connection to the actual cost of any of the medical services they are ordering. Several studies show that the majority of employees dont understand basic insurance terms needed to navigate insurance correctly. And its not their fault. The system is unnecessarily complex. Companies have finally started to realize that if they want to start lowering their healthcare costs, they need to start lowering their claims. The only way they are going to start doing that is by educating their employees and helping them to navigate the healthcare system. They need to provide advocates and other services that are always available to help.

Related:The Growth ofArtificial Intelligencein Ecommerce (Infographic)

Ive had an advocacy service previously that was just a phone number and I never used it. I actually forgot to use it all year and only remembered I had it when they changed my insurance plan and I saw the paperwork again. How is HealthJoy different?Is this where chatbots come in?

Phone-based advocacy services are great but youve identified their biggest problem: no one uses them. They are cheap to provide, so a lot of companies will bundle them in with their employee benefits packages, but they have zero ROI or utilization. Our chatbot JOY is the hub for a lot of different employee benefits including advocacy. JOYs main job is to route people to higher quality, less expensive care. She is fully supported by our concierge staff here in Chicago. They do things like call doctors offices to book appointments, verify network participation and much more. Our app is extremely easy to use and has been refined over the last three years to get the maximum engagement and utilization for our members.

Related:Why Tech Companies Are Pumping Money IntoArtificial Intelligence

Ive played around with your app. You offer a lot more than just an advocacy service. I see that you can also speak with a doctor in the app.

Yes, advocacy through JOY and our concierge team really is just the glue that binds our cost saving strategies. We also integrate telemedicine within the app so an employee can speak with a doctor 24/7 for free. This is another way we save companies money. We avoid those cases where someone needs to speak with a doctor in the middle of the night for a non-emergency and ends up at the emergency room or urgent care. Avoiding one trip to the emergency room can save thousands of dollars. Telemedicine has been around for a few years but, like advocacy, getting employees to use it has always been the big issue. Since we are the first stop for employee’s healthcare needs, we can redirect them to telemedicine when it fits. We actually get over 50% of our telemedicine consults from when a member is trying to do something else. For example, they might be trying to verify if a dermatologist is within their insurance plan. Well ask them if they want to take a photo of an issue and have an instant consultation with one of our doctors. This is one of the reasons that employers are now seeing utilization rates that are sometimes 18X the industry standard. Redirecting all these consultations online is a huge savings to companies.

Related:4 WaysArtificial IntelligenceBoosts Workforce Productivity

What other services do you provide within the app?

We actually offer a lot of services and its constantly growing. Employers can even integrate their existing offerings as well. Healthcare is best delivered as a conversation, and thats why our AI-powered chatbot is perfect to service such a wide variety of offerings. The great thing is that its all delivered within an app that looks no more complex than Facebook Messenger or iMessage.

Right now we do medical bill reviews and prescription drug optimization. Well find the lowest prices for a procedure, help people with their health savings account and push wellness information. Our platform is like an operating system for healthcare engagement. The more we can engage with a company’s employees for their healthcare needs, the more we can save both the employer and employees money.

Related:Artificial Intelligence- A Friend or Foe for Humans

It sounds like you’re trying to build the Siri of healthcare, no?

In a way, yes. Basically, we are trying to help employers reduce their healthcare costs by providing their employees with an all-in-one mobile app that promotes smart healthcare decisions. JOY will proactively engage employees, connect them with our benefits concierge team and redirect to lower-cost care options like telemedicine. We integrate each client’s benefits package and wellness programs to deliver a highly personalized experience that drives real ROI and improves workplace health.

So if a company wants to launch HealthJoy to their employees, do they need to just tell them to download your app?

We distribute HealthJoy to companies exclusively through benefits advisors, who are experts in developing plan designs and benefits strategies that work, both for employees and the bottom line. We always want HealthJoy to be integrated within a thoughtful strategy that leverages the expertise the benefits advisor provides, and we rely on them to upload current benefits and plan information.

Marsha is a Growth Marketing Expertbusiness advisor and speaker with specialism in international marketing.

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This Startup Is Lowering Companies Healthcare Costs With AI – Entrepreneur

Posted in Ai

The 10 Best Bankruptcy Attorneys in Houston, TX 2017

We provide services on family law and bankruptcy. You may call us toll free. Busby & Associates is a law firm that offers professional legal services in the following areas of law: debt consolidation, consumer bankruptcy and family law. We are a debt-relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. If you need a bankruptcy lawyer in Houston, we are the firm to call. Busby & Associates will respond quickly, providing answers to your questions regarding a Texas bankruptcy, divorce or other family law matters. Our law firm offers discounted attorney’s fees. We offer individual attention and high quality professional legal services. Contact us today! Services include but not limited to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, chapter 7 bankruptcy, divorce, foreclosure, auto repossession, credit card lawsuits, temporary restraining orders, waiver divorce, uncontested divorce, agreed divorce, consumerlaw We provide services on family law and bankruptcy. You may call us toll free. Busby & Associates is a law firm that offers professional legal services in the following areas of law: debt consolidation, consumer bankruptcy and family law. We are a debt-relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy Code. If you need a bankruptcy lawyer in Houston, we are the firm to call. Busby & Associates will respond quickly, providing answers to your questions regarding a Texas bankruptcy, divorce or other family law matters. Our law firm offers discounted attorney’s fees. We offer individual attention and high quality professional legal services. Contact us today! Services include but not limited to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, chapter 7 bankruptcy, divorce, foreclosure, auto repossession, credit card lawsuits, temporary restraining orders, waiver divorce, uncontested divorce, agreed divorce, consumerlaw

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The 10 Best Bankruptcy Attorneys in Houston, TX 2017

Fraud Expert: Credit Card Cloning Trend "Going Skyward" – WFYI

Photo by Flickr user Sean MacEntee

A recent weekend getaway with the family turned into a credit card cloning hassle for a Pendleton man. Luke Renner had taken his family to an amusement park, only to discover a few days later that two of his credit cards had been cloned.

My best guess that it probably – whatever happened happened there,” Renner says.

Renner received a fraud alert from one of the banks to let him know that his personal credit card had been hacked. It was only after his business credit card was declined at two different stores that he realized it too had been cloned.

And then it occurred to me that one of the two cards that was compromised never left my wallet, he says.

Renner didn’t take any chances. He and his wife closed their credit card accounts and got new cards. They also did some research on RFID or so-called “tap-to-pay” credit cards that you don’t have to swipe or stick in a machine to use.

They have RFID blocking wallets, card sleeves that stick to your phone and these are just sort of barriers that create an electronic wall of some sort that keep those scanners from being able to retrieve the information off of the cards that are in your wallet, Renner says.

He’s invested in a new wallet for himself and his wife got an RFID blocking sleeve for her cards.

Indianapolis Metro Police Sergeant Steve Walters says credit card fraud continues to escalate. Criminals use skimmers on ATMs and at gas pumps but, he says, they can also scan tap-to-pay credit cards without even touching them.

They can do a card reading right from the pocket of their pants and you have no idea. It could have been someone standing right behind you at the grocery store, Walters says.

He recommends setting up fraud alerts on all your credit cards and regularly – even daily – check your statements online.

Walters warns there may be more to worry about than just getting your credit card replaced.

Make sure in the next couple of weeks once you have had that account shut down, that you run a credit check on yourself to make sure individuals are not opening different accounts using your card information, he says.

Walters also recommends making a police report so they can help put a stop to credit card fraud.


Fraud Expert: Credit Card Cloning Trend "Going Skyward" – WFYI

How can I invest in bitcoin? | Technology | The Guardian – The Guardian

If you are investing, does bitcoin have an intrinsic value, like gold? To me, bitcoins look more like tulip bulbs. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

How can I invest in bitcoin? Id like to invest a few hundred pounds. Andy

There are at least three ways, though only one of them looks rational today. First, you could mine your own bitcoins. Second, you could buy some from an exchange. Third, you could buy shares in a fund that has invested in bitcoins.

Please note that answering your question is not a recommendation, and I am not qualified to give advice on investments. However, as electronic payments expert Dave Birch put it to me on Twitter: one doesnt invest in bitcoin, one gambles on bitcoin.

The problem is that people can make money by buying things that are essentially worthless, such as used postage stamps, Beanie Babies, and (historically) tulip bulbs. Tulipmania operated on the bigger fool theory, also known among stock traders as momentum investing. For example, tulip bulb prices may be insane but they keep going up. I may be a fool to buy them, but I expect a bigger fool to buy them from me. Simply replace buy low, sell high with buy high, sell higher. This works until you run out of fools.

However, you can buy things that dont depend on bigger fools appearing, such as land and gold. Their prices may vary dramatically, but over the long term, they retain real value. When tulip bulb prices were tumbling, everyone wanted to sell. When gold prices tumble, people with money look forward to an investment opportunity.

Bitcoin is a digital currency. If you want to buy a camera for 250, then you need a way to transfer 250 to the seller. In theory, it doesnt matter if you pay cash, write a cheque, email the money via PayPal or use bitcoin. In reality, you have to balance a range of factors including convenience, security and transaction costs. Id use a credit card, if possible, because bitcoin payments are not reversible and offer no consumer protection.

But if you are investing, does bitcoin have an intrinsic value, like gold? To me, bitcoins look more like tulip bulbs.

The price of a bitcoin may increase because, for example, it is attractive to technology enthusiasts, and because we are all reading stories about how people made or failed to make fortunes. But, like tulip bulbs, bitcoins could be worthless when the bubble bursts.

As Henry Blodget told CNBC: Look, this is a perfect asset for a speculative bubble. There is a finite supply. There is no intrinsic value. If anybody is persuading you that it should somehow be related to some GDP or gold put down the Kool-Aid and back away.

You could argue that banknotes dont have any intrinsic value either. However, banknotes are backed by governments that have a strong interest in keeping their value relatively stable. Governments dont (yet) care what happens to bitcoins.

Bitcoins are mined by people solving problems with computers. In the beginning, the best way to make money from bitcoins was to mine them with a home PC. However, bitcoin mining becomes more difficult the more miners there are. Today, you need specialised hardware, and you need to join a mining pool where large numbers of miners work together and share the results. Coins are not pure profit because of the cost of the hardware and the electricity consumed when mining. Also, you dont know what bitcoins will be worth when you start mining them.

However, there must be dozens of digital currencies besides bitcoin, and the CoinChoose website lists a Top 20. Well known alternatives include Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin and Bytecoin. You might find one that is still worth mining, or that might represent a better gamble than bitcoin. CryptoCompare is another useful website.

Ethereum is interesting because its backed by an alliance that includes JP Morgan, Microsoft, Intel, Banco Santander, Credit Suisse Group, UBS and BP. Its designed to perform transactions very much faster than bitcoin, and its hashing system is decentralised by design. It favours individuals, not mining pools.

You can buy bitcoins from a bitcoin exchange or online broker, directly from another individual, or from an ATM. Coin ATM Radar lists about 50 bitcoin ATMs in London, many of them in convenience stores. As when buying foreign currencies, theres a fee, which can range from 3.1% to 17.6%. The website covers 56 countries and you can search for an ATM near you.

A bitcoin ATM usually takes cash from your bank card, though some only accept banknotes. It sends your digital currency (bitcoin, litecoin etc) to your wallet, which could be a smartphone app, or to your email address. Some ATMs can print paper wallets that you can scan later.

If you buy a digital currency from an exchange, it may well offer you an online wallet, but your money is at risk unless you have the keys. When the Mt Gox bitcoin exchange was hacked, around 850,000 bitcoins went missing. It was a $450m loss at the time, but at todays exchange rate, it would be $2bn.

There are dozens of different wallets for different purposes, with hot wallets on smartphones and cold storage wallets held offline on paper, on hardware devices (cards, thumbdrives etc) or on separate PCs. These are equivalent to your spending money and your savings account respectively.

You will need to research wallets. However, We Use Coins has a decent guide, and it recommends BitPays Copay to beginners. Its easy to use and it runs on iOS, Android, Windows and Windows Phone, MacOS and Linux. It can also handle shared accounts.

I used my Android phone to search for bitcoin wallet on Google Play, and gave up when it produced around 200 results. Copay was near the top. It only took two minutes to create a wallet, and it prompted me to make a backup: Watch out! If this device is replaced or this app is deleted, neither you nor BitPay can recover your funds without a backup.

It also warned me that Anyone with your backup phrase can access or spend your bitcoin. I dutifully wrote it down.

Once the wallet is set up, you can use the app to buy bitcoins from Coinbase in 33 countries, and from Glidera in the USA. It can take several days to buy or sell bitcoins via Coinbase.

Some investors presumably ones who do not have teenage children think bitcoin is for the tech-savvy, difficult to buy and perhaps even harder to store safely. This has given rise to funds that buy bitcoins or related assets such as mining companies. Last month, The Motley Fool described one ETF as The Worst Way to Buy Bitcoin. At the time, the story said, shares in the Bitcoin Investment Trust cost about twice as much as the bitcoins it owned, but typically they have traded at an average premium of 39% to underlying value of the bitcoin.

You could buy dollar bills for $1 each, so why would anyone pay $1.39 to invest in a $1 bill which is actually worth less than $1, because of the 2% annual management fee? Answer: the laws of supply and demand.

Other American investors were conned by a Ponzi scheme that offered shares in bitcoin mining machinery.

Stories like that could be signs of a bubble market, but if so, when and how it will end is impossible to say.

Have you got another question for Jack? Email it to

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How can I invest in bitcoin? | Technology | The Guardian – The Guardian

Virtual Reality Is the Future of Shopping – Lifehacker

Online shopping is on the riseits fast and ships directly to your doorstep, sometimes overnight. But with online shopping, you miss the experience of going into a store and picking up items. Enter virtual reality shopping, which tries to give you the convenience of online shopping and the experience of being in a store.

People are already shopping through virtual reality, but its still in its beginning stages. In late 2016, Chinas Alibaba launched Buy+, a virtual reality experience that could be accessed with a virtual reality headset. With Buy+, people could wander around a store, look through items, and add things to a cart by staring at a product for long enough. According to Vice, 30,000 people had already tried Buy+ an hour after its launch.

To use virtual reality shopping, youll need a virtual reality headset, which could range from a $10 Google Cardboard to hundreds of dollars for an Oculus Rift. Like online shopping, theres usually a virtual shopping cart and you can buy things by giving your credit card information upon checkout.

Big companies like Amazon are also working on adding virtual reality shopping in an attempt to increase sales. In May 2016, Ikea let users design their own kitchens with a HTC Vive. Audi also used the HTC Vive to present cars in showrooms. Later in 2016, eBay Australia teamed up with Myer to create the first virtual reality department store, but it simulated a web of floating objects rather than a physical store.

Earlier this month, Ikea started using virtual reality in Australia. You can see the experience for yourself on Android, iOS, and desktop (though the desktop version doesnt have virtual reality).

The Ikea version of virtual reality shopping feels like a more immersive version of Google Street View. You can wander around the store and in between furniture. You can select objects marked with floating blue dots, revealing the items description and price. Most of the furniture isnt marked, though, so youll have to zoom in on the tags and remind yourself to search for it later.

Smaller companies like Gatsby, a startup that creates virtual reality stores, are also looking to create virtual reality shopping experiences.

Were really trying to get close to what its like being there, and we want it to be very intimate, said Anastasia Cifuentes, co-founder of Gatsby. All the little details on how you move, were really focusing on how to have that just right. Gatsby has been experimenting with virtual reality for less than 6 months but hopes to launch an app in the fall.

Using Gatsbys shopping app to buy furniture feels like playing a game. You can look around a room from a fixed point (you cant move around the space yet). Theres a button that let you click on objects and rotate them. Once you select an object, details about the objects length, width, height, and price appear. If you want an item, you can add it to your cart.

The demo I tested was animated rather than based on real photos, which made the experience less realistic. The app is still in development, but Gatsby hopes to use real photos of objects and rooms once the app is finished. Gatsby will be free to everyoneyoull only need something, like a Google Cardboard, to view it through.

Theres an efficiency factor that being online satisfies, but weve lost something in traveling to that, which is just being able to hold the product, said Cifuentes. There are still things we need to see and touch that we have to go to the store for, like furniture.

Virtual reality doesnt completely replicate the in-person shopping experience, but its getting there. Its also getting cheaper and more accessible: now you only need your smartphone and a $10 Google Cardboard set to experience it.

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Virtual Reality Is the Future of Shopping – Lifehacker

Could TenX Make Cryptocurrency More Usable In the Real World? – Investopedia

TenX has big plans to change the world of cryptocurrencies. How will they do it? One word: liquidity. An ongoing issue plaguing the digital currency landscape is the question of how to make use of virtual money in real-world spending applications. Generally speaking, only the top few cryptocurrencies see a large enough trading volume and liquidity in order to be viable in this way and on a large scale. TenX, a startup which recently earned $34 million in seven minutes with their initial coin offering, or ICO, believes that they have a solution.

The startup, a 2017 graduate of Paypal’s incubator program and based in Singapore, has prepared a debit card to facilitate the spending of blockchain assets in the real world. A report by Bitcoinist outlines some of the technology behind the card. On the front end, the card will use a payment system, and on the back, it will use COMIT. This protocol allows disparate blockchains, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, to communicate and interact with one another without having to generate a common token between them. Theoretically, this will speed up transaction times and allow for real-world applications that would not have previously been possible.

Beyond the debit card, TenX has also reportedly developed an app for iOS and Android which will assist in the process of introducing the TenX currency, called PAY, into the real world. reports that the app will act as both a wallet and as a decentralized, fee-free exchange. Beyond that, the app will also include a debit/credit card functionality as well. It seems that TenX may be preparing both digital credit cards as well as tangible plastic cards for use. In either case, the user would theoretically be able to make use of the card at any brick and mortar store where they would use a standard credit card. To further facilitate these transactions, TenX has provided for the card to convert the digital currency which is stored within it into the local fiat currency, allowing for global use. This last point in particular is especially helpful, as a barrier to spending virtual currency in the past has been the necessity to convert it into local currency, adding a timestaking additional step and potential fees.

For the time being, TenX’s platform supports Dash, Bitcoin, and Ethereum, among other lesser-known currencies. The company has ties with Ethereum, as Vitalik Buterin, the founder of the latter, is an official advisor to TenX. The app is fully functional and ready for distribution into the broader world. More and more talk is emerging about cryptocurrency debit cards as a possible way of linking the virtual with the tangible. TenX hopes to lead the charge in bringing cryptocurrency spending into stores across the globe.

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Could TenX Make Cryptocurrency More Usable In the Real World? – Investopedia

Three waiters arrested in Mumbai for fraud and cloning ATM cards … – Hindustan Times

The Bandra police recently arrested three more waiters working for a hotel in Sakinaka for allegedly using skimmers to steal credit and debit card details of their customers to cheat them later. With this, the total number of arrested accused in the case reached eight.

DCP, zone IX, Paramjit Dahiya said, Eight people, including six waiters, have been arrested. Eight skimmers and 50 ATM cloned cards have been seized.

Apart from Bandra police in Mumbai, FIRs have been registered in Thane and Pune districts for duping unsuspecting customers. According to Bandra police, the three waiters were working in Persian Durbar in Sakinaka area in Andheri east. Two other waiters one from Pune and another from Thane were also arrested. The unsuspecting customers coming over to the Sakinaka hotel not only handed over their credit card/debit card to the three waiters but also gave their PIN code to them.

The waiters swiped the card on the three skimmers that have been recovered from them. The stolen information was then used to clone cards with the help of a software and laptop, said detection officer, sub inspector Bhimsen Gaikwad from Bandra police station. Santosh Shetty, general secretary of Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHAR) having 8,000 hotel establishments as members in Mumbai told HT, We have put up sign boards at our hotels as well as we ask our waiters to go up to the table with the payment machine. We ask customers to swipe the card and enter the pin code with their own hands. In general, customers should desist from handing over their card and pin while making payment at anyplace.


Three waiters arrested in Mumbai for fraud and cloning ATM cards … – Hindustan Times

TenX Figured out How to Make Cryptocurrency Spendable Immediately In Real Life –

Entrepreneur’s have officially gotten their hands in the cookie jar of the cryptocurrency world. And believe me that’s a good thing.

TenX, who is launching their highly anticipated ICO this coming Saturday has figured out how to solve one of the biggest problems for people that are involved in cryptocurrency — actually spending the currency.

The worlds of entrepreneurship, cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offerings are officially merged and entrepreneurs are raising 10s of millions of dollars to fund their companies. Bancor, Status and Basic Attention Token were prime examples of tokens/startups who collectively raised millions of dollars through ICOs.

The problem TenX is solving and why their ICO will likely also do very well is that nobody can actually spend cryptocurrencies at 99% of businesses without having to wait days to exchange it through a centralized exchange bankinto Fiat (government issued currency), or jump through other major hoops.

TenX has built an iOS and Android app that serves as both a wallet and a decentralized fee free exchange, then adds a debit/credit card functionality on top of that to let you spend your cyrptocurrency anywhere you could use VISA or Mastercard. (They send you a physical card.) It also converts it to local currency, meaning it pretty much works in any country.

As of right now TenX’s platform officially supports Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Dash, amongst others.

Vitalik Buterin the founder of Ethereum is also an official advisor to the company. Historically, any ICO that he has backed has done phenomenally well. Another big factor for ICOs that typically do well is when they already have their tech built. TenX has a fully functioning and tested iOS and Android version and is ready to get it out in the everyones hands.

The ICO is scheduled for June 24, 2017 at 9am New York Time. 1 Ether will be worth 350 PAY tokens. Here is a link to their full whitepaper.

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TenX Figured out How to Make Cryptocurrency Spendable Immediately In Real Life –

Who Pays to Keep Bitcoin Running? – American Institute for Economic Research (blog)

When you hand someone a dollar bill, gold coin, or bushel of wheat, the transaction doesnt require much effort to execute. The seller holds a physical object, and apart from counterfeiting, knows that he or she has been paid. When you pay someone by credit card, money must be digitally transferred between accounts, but this is all done by a centralized company and requires only a trivial amount of computing power. But when you pay someone with a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, computers in a decentralized network around the world must verify the transfer from one Bitcoin wallet to another. Executing the transaction therefore requires significant real resourcesenergy needed to run computers. Those who spend the time, energy and computing power to execute payments need to be compensated.

This compensation comes in two forms. The more well-known form of compensation is newly created bitcoinsthis is the reason we call those running the software miners. Miners currently earn 12.5 bitcoins for each block of transactions (about 1MB in size) verified, over $30,000 at todays prices. But the code behind Bitcoin is designed so that this reward is cut in half when the all-time number of transactions hit certain milestones (the reward was originally 50 bitcoins). This causes the number of new coins to slow down as they reach the predetermined limit of 21 million bitcoins. The limit isnt projected to be reached for 100 years, but this form of compensation for running the system will inevitably decline in importance.

Miners are also compensated by transaction fees in the form of small fractions of a bitcoin every time you or I make a transaction. Many people dont know about these feeswidely used wallet services like Coinbase have an algorithm to determine how much you pay. Like most things about Bitcoin, the transaction fee system is decentralized, market based, and a little hard for the beginner to understand. You choose the size of the transaction fee you will pay (or no fee at all), and miners decide based on that amount whether or not to include you in a verified block. Transactions with lower fees therefore risk taking a longer time for the system to verify.

Average transaction fees have increased at a staggering pace this year, from 35 cents on January 1 to almost $4.50 today. That works out to a little more than $10,000 on average per verified block. Much of this increase is due to competition as the system becomes more crowded with transactions. But over a longer time frame, this incentive will become more important as fewer new coins are mined. Predicting the future level of these fees is difficult and depends on variables such as future computing speed, energy costs, and the value of a bitcoin. But they will be essential to provide incentives to keep the system running.

Could high transaction fees provide an open door for a competitor to disrupt Bitcoin? Bitcoin makes the verification process even more difficult and energy consuming than it needs to be in order to get the economic incentives right and keep a lid on the number of new Bitcoins. If someone designed a digital currency that solved those problems while making verification more efficient, it could presumably save consumers millions in transaction fees. Such a scenario is yet another reason why hard and fast predictions about the future of Bitcoin are a fools errand.

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Who Pays to Keep Bitcoin Running? – American Institute for Economic Research (blog)

Kathy Jackson gets a refresher on court etiquette – The Sydney Morning Herald

Ex-union bossKathy Jacksonhas long struggled with rules like the finer points of the Corporations Act, which state it is illegal to use work credit cards to pay for personal holidays, clothes or mortgage repayments.

All her time spent unsuccessfully fighting those sorts of claims in a Federal Court civil suit apparently didn’t impress on her howfinicketycourt types get about rules and such.

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Deborah Thomas steps down as CEO of Ardent Leisure, the parent company of Dreamworld, six months after a ride tragedy claimed four lives at the theme park. Nine News

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The stand out listings traded on the ASX captured at key moments through the day, as indicated by the time stamp in the video.

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Treasurer Dominic Perrottet unveils a budget surplus worth almost $12 billion, largely from property stamp duty and asset privatisations. Vision courtesy ABC

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Amazon’s move into the grocery space will threaten and disrupt Consumer Packaged Goods companies globally.

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The credit ratings of ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac have been downgraded due to risks in the housing market.

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Prices are set to drop at Whole Foods Market in the US, as Amazon takes over and takes aim at Wal-Mart’s groceries business, which accounts for more than half of its revenue.

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There’s still time to rip an extra two per cent off the tax man, and it might just be the best thing you could do with your money. Michael Pascoe comments.

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It is almost exactly 10 years since the financial world began a wobble that would swing into what we now know as the global financial crisis.

Deborah Thomas steps down as CEO of Ardent Leisure, the parent company of Dreamworld, six months after a ride tragedy claimed four lives at the theme park. Nine News

On Monday morning, in the middle of a hearing into her alleged theft of half a million dollars of Health Services Union funds, Jackson was given a brisk refresher.

As prosecutors and defence counsel laboured over the slew of allegations against her there are 164 charges on the sheet now the one-time whistleblower got up and made for the courtroom door, but was quickly stopped in her tracks.

“I don’t think you can just leave the court, Ms Jackson,” said magistrateCharlie Rozencwajg. As a side note, the last time CBD spotted Jackson andRozencwajgin the same roomwas when another HSU bossCraig Thomsonwas fighting charges over allegations of credit card misuse. Jackson was along as a prosecution witness.

Anyhow back to Monday’s court room where Jackson turned to the magistrate and mouthed that she needed to use the bathroom.

“Well,”Rozencwajgsaid, “get your counsel to ask.”

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Jackson was eventually allowed to leave.

Given the tenseness of the past week through a series of releases to the media, the extraordinary general meeting of Ardent shareholders on September 4, called by major shareholder Ariadne, should be a fiery affair.

But there are a few hurdles for Gary Weiss and Kevin Seymour’s Ariadne to get over, one being that Ardent has already won support from 8 per cent shareholder Ausbil Investment Management, which said Ariadne was trying to take control of Ardent without paying a premium and without having demonstrated why it would do a better job.

“What they are proposing is a takeover by stealth,” Ausbil chief executive Paul Xiradis said. “Why would shareholders support it and effectively hand over control without a premium?”

According to CBD’s spies, the tough approach of the Sir Ron Brierley protege, Gary Weiss has put off a number of shareholders, as well as the board of Ardent, with one proposed strategy being to sell or redevelop Dreamworld and sell Main Event, the US company now producing more than 50 per cent of the group’s profit.

Prominent Queensland property developer Seymour, who recently bought a $400,000 bright red Ferrari California for his 21-year old grandson, Ben, has already flagged his interest in the Dreamworld property.

But Kevin may have to give Gary a lift in the red car, which he said he may drive “occasionally”, as Mrs Seymour has refused to drive in it, saying it’s too pretentious.

Meanwhile, Gary will be keeping a close eye on what’s happening at the Australian Rugby League Commission, which is about to lose John Grant as chairman.

With Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull struggling in the newspolls, one would think he would be looking to his old mates at the pointy end of the city for some support.

But it seems, even they could be leaving him off the lunch invite list, given how worked up chief execs are about the abolition of 457 work visas.

Of course, the visas are being replaced with temporary skills shortage visas, but this hasn’t done much to win the hearts and minds of the business world generally the heartland of the Liberal Party.

At the Crawford Australian Leadership Forum in Canberra on Monday, a coterie of heavy-hitters didn’t hold back on their disdain of the move, calling the plan, “hypocritical” and “retrograde”.

Even Jamie Briggs, the former Turnbull government frontbencher, who quit after an “incident” in a Hong Kong bar, popped in to see what was happening, wearing his new PwC hat.

The most vocal at the forum were Coca-Cola head, Alison Watkins, whose group employs workers on 457 visas and miner Woodside’s Peter Coleman, who needs a vast array of different staff.

But the PM always assures the voters that he never looks at opinion polls, so we guess it’s more white noise circulating around the alleyways of Canberra.

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Kathy Jackson gets a refresher on court etiquette – The Sydney Morning Herald

Why Students Should Be Able To Declare Bankruptcy On Their Loans – ATTN:

At $1.3 trillion, the student loan debt crisis has eclipsed both credit card and auto loan debt to become Americans second largest outstanding payment, behind only mortgage debts. However, an individual can discharge all of these types of debt by declaring bankruptcy save for student loans.

Before 1976, they were able to do just that. That was the year when Congress changed the bankruptcy code in order to prohibit private or federal loans from being discharged during the first five years of repayment unless they had an undue burden.

An undue burden has been defined by the courts as you basically have no money at all, which means if you have enough money to hire a lawyer in the first place to handle your case then youre likely disqualified, Henry Sommer, former president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), told ATTN:.

Over the course of the 80s and 90s, Congress repeatedly made it more difficult for individuals to declare bankruptcy on their student loans as a part of budget negotiations, according to Sommer.

One example of that came in the form of the Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984, which exempted all private student loans of their ability to be discharged. This gradual, decades-long process reached its conclusion in 2005 when Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act and ensured neither federal or private student loans could be discharged in bankruptcy unless the borrower could prove repayment constituted an undue hardship.

As a result, Congress has made certain that these non-expiring loans are more likely to be paid back and that it would, in turn, bring in an estimated $2 billion in payments in 2016. These actions have not gone without grassroots and legislative backlash, though.

In a May press release, Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) said that the inclusion of student loans in the bankruptcy code was a matter of fairness:

Bankruptcy has long been an option of last resort for individuals facing an irresolvable level of debt; bankruptcy isnt easy or enjoyable, but its a necessary part of our financial system. It doesnt make sense for students with heavy debt burdens to be worse off than someone with credit card debt or mortgage debt.

Delaney has introduced the Discharge Student Loans in Bankruptcy Act for the past three sessions of Congress, a bill that would allow all student loans to be discharged if bankruptcy was declared.

In a statement to ATTN: reemphasizing the last-ditch importance of this option, Rep. Delaney said:

The purpose of this bill is allowing people who need to declare bankruptcy the full clean slate that they need, with student loan debt on equal footing to all other forms of debt. This is not a bill designed to create any sort of incentive to declare bankruptcy when you otherwise would not. There are serious consequences to declaring bankruptcy, and no one should go down that path unless it is necessary. This is a commonsense bill and were going to keep working to build support.

In June, the latest version of the bill was referred to members of the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial And Antitrust Law. If past is prologue, it will languish there without further activity.

If Delaneys bill became law, students unable to payback their loans would be able to wipe away their debts. But it wouldnt be easy.

Declaring bankruptcy has also become harder since 2005, due to means-based restrictions lobbied for by loan companies, according to Sommers. Those individuals who were able to declare bankruptcy would face heavy penalties:

Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires individuals to give up certain property, heirlooms, and savings as part of their repayment. It also creates a ten-year period in which they may have difficulty obtaining new credit.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy still requires a three to five year repayment plan of a portion of the debt.

Both plans prohibit the filing of bankruptcy again for several years and could negatively impact a persons credit.

Many tools are likely going to be necessary if the student loan debt crisis is to end, including reining in the cost of higher education, increasing the amounts of Pell grants, and reducing the interest rates on loans. Perhaps the option to discharge loans in bankruptcy should be added to that list.

Originally posted here:

Why Students Should Be Able To Declare Bankruptcy On Their Loans – ATTN:

Are you skipping that doctor visit or pill you need? – CBS News

With medical costs continuing to rise along with the uncertainty about the future of health insurance coverage, new research shows more Americans are going without the health care they need.

A survey released Wednesday from found that one in four American families have not sought medical care because they couldn’t afford it. Thirteen percent of respondents had no insurance, while the rest had a mix of employer-sponsored, individual and Medicaid coverage. The bulk of uninsured respondents were millennials. Younger, healthier people traditionally go without coverage.

However, “Even insured people found co-pays and deductibles far less affordable than they expected,” said Robin Saks Frankel, credit card analyst at

Two years ago, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that only three in five households have enough set aside to meet an individual deductible of $1,200 or a family deductible of $2,400. Only about half of U.S. households had enough money to cover higher deductibles than those.

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President Obama’s former economic adviser Austan Goolsbee joins CBSN to discuss the costs of the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s replacement …

Health care advocates and economists agree that forgoing health care can have devastating long-term consequences. It can mean patients get sicker and require even more expensive treatment when they end up in the emergency room. These types of unexpected medical bills can lead to a huge financial burden for the patient that could take years to pay off, said Frankel.

If you’re struggling with medical costs or skipping the care you need, here are four strategies that may help make your health care more affordable.

Schedule your annual physical. If you have insurance, there’s no reason to skip this important appointment. Under the Affordable Care Act, annual physicals are 100 percent covered. That means no co-pay, and your deductible doesn’t have to be met beforehand. Spotting medical problems while they’re small can prevent big problems (and bigger medical bills) down the road. If your physical yields some unwelcome results, you can talk to your doctor about the cost of future diagnostics and care. See the next item.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you’re due for an expensive test, procedure or a series of doctor visits, be sure to ask about the price and your out-of-pocket costs ahead of time. You can research the costs at various labs and facilities in your area at websites such as Healthcare Bluebook. Then talk to your doctor or insurer about what you’ve found and how you can get a lower price. Separately, your doctor may offer payment plans or discounts for extended treatments. Be sure to ask.

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When you do receive a medical bill, review it carefully. Always make sure it’s itemized, and check for errors. All health care providers use special billing codes, so mistakes can easily creep in. If you suspect you’ve been overcharged or mischarged for something, check with your provider and your insurer.

Pay less for prescription drugs. For many people, medication is the biggest health expense. Consider ordering regular, long-term medicines in bulk for lower prices. For less frequent medications, shop for the best prices in your area using comparison websites such as GoodRx. And always discuss any possible generic alternative with your doctor. Low-income patients should check with drug companies directly for any prescription relief programs they may offer, especially for expensive specialized drugs.

Sign up for your FSA or HSA. If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account, be sure to take advantage. For an FSA, your contributions are made pretax, and the money can be used, among other things, for co-pays and health expenses before your deductible. HSAs are used if you have a qualifying high-deductible insurance plan. Contributions are also pretax, and no tax is paid when money is withdrawn for qualified medical expenses. Employers often contribute to workers’ accounts as an incentive to get them to sign up for high-deductible health plans.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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Are you skipping that doctor visit or pill you need? – CBS News

How to approach cloud computing and cyber security in 2017 – Information Age

IDC predicts that the cloud computing market in 2017 will be worth $107 billion and, according to Gartner, by 2020 a corporate no-cloud policy will be as unusual as a no-internet policy would be today

The adoption of cloud computing has been on the up since as far back as 2008, when a survey conducted by the Pew Research Institute found that cloud services were used by nearly 69% of Americans. Since then, the industry has experienced hyper-growth and exceeded the already vast predictions of how big it would become.

IDC predicts that the cloud computing market in 2017 will be worth $107 billion and, according to Gartner, by 2020 a corporate no-cloud policy will be as unusual as a no-internet policy would be today. Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine an organisation in 2017 that did not use webmail, file sharing and storage, and data backup.

As the use of cloud computing spreads so does awareness of the associated risks. At the time of writing, there have been 456 data breaches worldwide this year according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC). The ITRC also noted a 40% increase in data breaches in 2016 compared to the previous year. Yet, despite the well-documented cases of data breaches, organisations continue to invest in and adopt cloud computing services because the benefits usually outweigh the risks.

To understand why the growth of cloud computing has continued in the face of high-profile data breaches, look first to what it can offer an organisation.

>See also: Building trust in cloud security is crucial to UKs digital future

Cloud computing is a virtual environment that can adapt to meet user needs. It is not constrained by physical limits, and is easily scalable making it an obvious choice for start-ups. Cloud computing makes state-of-the-art capability available to anyone with an internet connection and a browser, reducing hardware and IT personnel costs.

Cloud services and software applications are managed and upgraded off-site by the provider, meaning organisations can access technology they would not have been able to afford to install and manage on their own. The popularity of the cloud essentially comes down to its provision of advanced, next-generation IT resources in an environment that is cheaper and more scalable than local networks.

The risks involved with cloud computing are mostly security-based. Clouds are often made up of multiple entities, which means that no configuration can be more secure than its weakest link. The link between separate entities means that attacks to multiple sites can occur simultaneously. When cloud providers do not employ adequate cyber security measures, those clouds become a target for cybercriminals.

Yet, its not all bad news. A user survey conducted by one cloud service provider found that concerns about security fell to 25% compared to 29% last year. And as more becomes known about security risks so too does our knowledge around what organisations can do to protect themselves.

The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) released its Treacherous Twelve in March 2016 detailing the top 12 threats to cloud security based on responses from their members. At the top of this list was data breaches.

Any leak or exposure of sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security and health records constitutes a data breach. The organisation, and not the cloud service provider, is ultimately accountable for keeping their data secure.

When a data breach does occur, a company could be fined or face criminal changes, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. Even though cloud service providers will deploy a high level of security measures, the CSA advises organisations to implement a multifactor authentication and encryption system on the user end to protect against data breaches. This could involve single-use passwords, smartcards, or phone-based authentication.

These multifactor authentication processes can also work to prevent the occurrence of compromised credentials, which can expose an organisation to a data breach. Commonly, data breaches and cyber security attacks rely on lax security systems like predictable passwords and poor certificate management.

Allocating permissions within an organisation is another area where credentials could be compromised if they are misallocated or not removed when a user leaves or changes roles. As well as multifactor authentication, companies should prohibit the sharing of account credentials and ensure permissions are allocated or removed as soon as is necessary.

Organisations can also increase their chances of avoiding a data breach by implementing proper training. Innocent mistakes can often look like deliberately harmful insider activity. Would your data administrators ever unintentionally copy sensitive customer information over to a publicly accessible server? The only way to be truly confident in a workforce and prevent mistakes happening in the cloud is to implement correct training and management.

While the cloud may differ to local networks in many ways, its data centres remain just as susceptible to damage or destruction by natural disasters. To avoid losing data to fires and floods, distribute data and applications across more than one zone. Implement appropriate data backup procedures, and adopt best practices in business continuity and disaster recovery.

Consider using off-site storage for data that, if lost, would result in its own kind of disaster. As the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) start date approaches, protecting your data is more important than ever. GDPR sees both data destruction and corruptions as serious breaches.

>See also: What to do when it comes to cloud security?

It would be unwise and certainly a bad business decision for an organisation to not take advantage of the technological advances made by the cloud. More than that, however, cloud computing services and applications also support growth in a way that traditional IT hardware cannot. Whether it is a start-up with a handful of staff, or a multinational corporation with a headcount of thousands, the cloud continues to be the way of the future.

Over the next years and decades, the regulations and laws around data in the cloud will come into maturity. Like many times in the past, governments are moving slower than the technology when it comes to implementing policies and law. Decisions made in the courts will instead set the precedent of who is ultimately responsible for the security of information stored within the cloud. In the meantime, organisations around the world can focus on self-regulation as they tackle cyber security in the cloud.

Sourced from Dean Sappey, president and co-founder, DocsCorp

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How to approach cloud computing and cyber security in 2017 – Information Age

Financial Independence | Tardus | Retire Early | Wealth

You may have seen Tardus featured on

When your passive monthly income exceeds your living expenses, you can stop working. Most people chase passive income, but they never truly achieve it. We’ve created a patented system for creating wealth. By using it, the average person can retire rich in half a decade.

We’ve patented a system for wealth-building unlike anything else. We can help a person with limited income and zero assets to achieve freedom in a matter of years, not decades. The perfect wealth system takes advantage of the banking and credit systems, the tax system, and cash flow to name a few. Thousands of families have succeeded. Now it’s your turn.

What makes our Wealth System so unique?

You dont need special knowledge of the stock market, real estate market or any other market. You dont need to sell assets or deplete your emergency savings. You wont need to sell products or services. We’ve developed an income and cash flow system to put predictable, recurring, monthly passive income into your bank account immediately.

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Dalen in Nepal “You both probably have many direct, financial success stories from your clients; but I wanted to share with you that there are a multitude of indirect stories as well. You are a contributing part of every albendazole pill or bag of rice I hand out. This is my vision coming into reality already, and Tardus strategies have been absolute necessities in getting me this far.”

Paul Whisler “Since I joined Tardus, I’ve paid off I think 15,000 in car and credit card debt and I have about $26,000 in investments generating $850 per month. I’m also looking into buying my first rental property. I think everyone who isn’t already financially free could use Tardus. I’ve been telling everyone about Tardus from family, friends, coworkers, and even a few strangers I just met.”

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Financial Independence | Tardus | Retire Early | Wealth

Financial tips, resources for college grads – WTOP

If your child is graduating, there are several ways you can support their transition into financial independence. (Thinkstock)

Its the season for celebrating graduations and a good time to consider how we all might help freshly-minted graduates as they take on their first full-time jobs.

Todays college graduates are starting out with higher tuition debt, challenging labor markets at graduation and, according to a Pew research study, a significant number of these young adults will choose to stay unmarried well into their 30s. These circumstances impact their ability to establish financial independence and build a solid foundation for wealth creation throughout their adult lives.

So how can grads overcome these obstacles when they go from being a student to starting their fledgling careers? If your child is graduating, there are several ways you can support their transition into financial independence. Beyond providing actual funds, we suggest you encourage them to take these steps:

Grads will be transitioning from living off scholarship or loan money and having their parents pay for tuition and living expenses to the reality of paying their own bills. One of the first reality checks is getting that first paycheck and realizing it yields much less cash to cover living expenses due to taxes and other deductions.

One of the most important lessons you can teach them is to live in a way where their spending falls below their net pay. To get started, you might suggest your graduate follow a simple process of determining their known expenses such as rent, cellphone, car payment and utilities then track their spending on incidentals such as entertainment and clothing. Once this analysis is complete, they can begin to think about longer range goals or whether they need to change spending habits in order to have a sustainable and balanced budget.

Your encouragement and occasional checking in on how theyre doing with cash flow can help build confidence in their ability to independently meet their daily needs while still having something left for discretionary spending.

When creating the initial budget, remind your graduate to include the repayment of their college loans. For the class of 2016, the average graduate had approximately $37,200 in student loan debt. Since students are required to begin repaying college loans within six months of graduation, they need to be sure their spending includes this debt repayment requirement.

Graduates with higher incomes can work to pay off college debt at a faster rate, especially given their relatively high interest rates compared to money market earnings rates and the cost of other types of debt such as car loans.

Michelle Singletary, columnist for The Washington Post wrote a fantastic column, College grads face next hurdle: Paying back student loans, that I encourage parents and grads read. She points out that many grads are under the misconception that all loans must be paid back within 10 years. Actually, there are four options for repayment programs based on a grads income which helps with their ability to handle other living expenses while repaying these loans.

The next important lesson for those entering the workforce is the power of tax-favored savings through company retirement savings plans.

In most families today, at least one parent will have participated in some type of 401k or other retirement savings plan. Your experience and knowledge can come in handy when your graduate receives that stack of participant information from their employer. We suggest you review the investment options with them and make sure they are clear on whether the employer has a contribution-matching program. We encourage all participants, including early career employees, to save as much as possible in these plans and to prioritize contributing at least the amount required to receive the free money that comes in the form of the employer contribution.

We cannot overemphasize the benefit of compound returns which come from ongoing investment over a longtime horizon.

For more savings strategies, read Smart Savings Strategies for Millennials from a Millennial.

Another advantage for many younger investors is the ability to contribute to a Roth IRA. Roth IRAs do have income limits so they will need to confirm that their annual income falls below IRS maximums (in 2017 for singles, the contribution phaseout income limit starts at $118,000). Like company retirement plans, these are tax-favored savings plans making them a great wealth building tool when utilized over a lifetime.

Roth IRAs also have provisions allowing access to funds for education spending. This may be a better way to build up savings for graduate education instead of through a traditional 529 plan which is more restrictive than a Roth. We often suggest that parents consider gifting funds or supplementing investment into a Roth to take advantage of the annual maximum contribution limit of $5,500 in 2017.

Many students are able to establish their own credit history while still in college. This can be accomplished with lower risk by obtaining a credit card with both a low total credit limit and a direct link to a bank account. Many banks offer automatic monthly payment as a way to ensure the monthly bill is paid in full and on time to establish a positive credit history. If your college graduate has yet to manage a credit card on their own, get them started now. Having a positive credit rating will help them save money on car loans, home mortgages and on future life insurance.

Another way to establish credit for the purpose of securing a lease is to pay college rent directly from your students bank account. Even if you are supporting the rental costs, its advantageous to establish a history of on-time rent payment by having funds come directly out of an account in your young adults name.

We believe that educating graduates about managing their financial lives can go a long way to establishing their knowledge of the basics of wealth building. Most of us have never had a class to teach us about the fundamentals required for responsible money management. Topics such as establishing credit, managing cash flow, being disciplined about delaying gratification and building an investment portfolio simply arent covered, even in the best universities. For a good book aimed at closing this education gap, we recommend Why Didnt They Teach Me This in School?: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live By by Cari Siegel.

For young women, encourage them to build personal financial strength as a way to ensure flexibility and life choice equal to their male counterparts. Heres where the gift of the book Youre So Money: Live Rich, Even When Youre Not by Farnoosh Torabi can play a role. Torabi is well-known for her role in empowering young women financially and this book is highly rated for its entertaining yet practical advice on personal finance.

With your guidance and these financial tips, your graduate will get off to a positive financial start with the tools to establish healthy lifelong financial habits.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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Financial tips, resources for college grads – WTOP

International grifter gets 5 years in prison for Denver credit card cloning scam – The Denver Post

A 27-year-old Romanian with a crime record trailing through Europe and the Middle East was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for his role in a credit card cloning scam in Denver.

A jury convicted Laurentiu Urziceanu on Jan. 19 of 22 felony counts including possession of a fraud device, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. He was acquitted of one count of bulk cash smuggling.

Urziceanu and an accomplice cloned credit cards of customers at two Denver banks using sophisticated electronic devices, cameras and computers, said Tim Neff, a prosecutor inthe U.S. Attorneys Office in Denver.

Initially afraid that he would be returned to Romania upon his arrest in Chicago, Urziceanu sought political asylum by claiming that he was a gypsy who was the target of persecution in his homeland. His temporary stay in the U.S. will be behind bars.

Urziceanus arrest happened because of an observant Denver Greyhound bus teller, Neff said at Urziceanus sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Denver. The teller apparently believed Urziceanu might be a terrorist.

On Jan. 25, 2016, when Urziceanu tried to send fraud devices in a package through Greyhound, the teller noticed he seemed unusually hurried and his claim that the package contained a toy and sweaters was dubious. A bomb squad was calledand when they examined the contents of the box, they discovered seven pin-hole cameras and credit card skimming devices that wereplaced inside ATMs to steal credit card numbers.

Special Agent David Lauber of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security resealed the package and sent it to Chicago. When Urziceanu, using the alias Brazovics Balazs Peter, of Italy, retrieved the package, federal agents arrested him following a chase through the crowded streets of downtown Chicago, Neff said. At the time, had a forged Hungarian drivers license in his possession.

The tiny pin cameras were used to record bank pin numbers from more than 100 bank customers.

Urziceanu and his accomplice had allegedly stolen credit card information from 19 Wells Fargo Bank customers, court records indicate. They cloned credit cards and used them to withdraw $6,600 from bank accounts. The pair was in Denver only three days before going to Chicago, Neff said.

At one point, Urziceanu went to a Boulder post office on Jan. 25, 2016, and mailed a box of money to his girlfriends mother, Domnica Iovan, in Chieti, Italy.

While in Chicago, he had sent another box containing $22,000 in cash hidden in a speaker box to a family member named Ionescu Ecaterina in Rome, Italy.

Urziceanu entered the country on foot illegally near Rio Grande City, Texas, on Jan. 7, 2015, court records indicate. Neff said the international griftercame to America with larceny in his heart. Urziceanu was arrested in Texas on an immigration hold, but paid a $15,000 bond and fled the state, court records say.

The Rome Crime Squad arrested Urziceanu on April 28, 2011, outside the S. Paolo IMI Bank in Rome after he wascaught installing equipment that taped transmissions in an ATM. That July he was sentenced to from one to six months in prison.

Neff said Urziceanu was later arrested in Israel in a similar case but was not convicted of that crime.


International grifter gets 5 years in prison for Denver credit card cloning scam – The Denver Post

Scientists are finding more genes linked to IQ. This doesn’t mean we can predict intelligence. – Vox

Last month, researchers announced some astonishing findings in Nature Genetics: Theyd found 40 genes that play a role in shaping human intelligence, bringing the total number of known intelligence genes up to 52.

This study was a big deal because while weve known intelligence is largely heritable, we havent understood the specifics of the biology of IQ why it can be so different between people, and why we can lose it near the end of life.

The Nature Genetics study was a key early step toward understanding this, hailed as an enormous success in the New York Times.

And there are many more insights like this to come. The researchers used a design called a genome-wide association study. In it, computers comb through enormous data sets of human genomes to find variations among them that point to disease or traits like intelligence. As more people have their genomes sequenced, and as computers become more sophisticated at seeking out patterns in data, these types of studies will proliferate.

But theres also a deep uneasiness at the heart of this research it is easily misused by people who want to make claims about racial superiority and differences between groups. Such concerns prompted Nature to run an editorial stressing that the new science of genetics and intelligence comes to no such conclusions. Environment is crucial, too, Nature emphasized. The existence of genes for intelligence would not imply that education is wasted on people without those genes. Geneticists burned down that straw man long ago.

Also, nothing in this work suggests there are genetic difference in intelligence when comparing people of different ancestries. If anything, it suggests that the genetics that give rise to IQ are more subtle and intricate than we can ever really understand.

Were going to keep getting better at mapping the genes that make us smart, make us sick, or even make us lose our hair. But old fears and myths about genetics and determinism will rear their heads. So will fears about mapping ideal human genes that will lead to designer babies, where parents can pick traits for their children la carte.

To walk through the science, and to bust its myths, I spoke to Danielle Posthuma, a statistical geneticist at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, who was the senior author on the latest Nature study.

Theres a simple understanding of genetics were all taught in high school. We learn, as Gregor Mendel discovered with pea plants, that we can inherit multiple forms of the same gene. One variation of the gene makes wrinkled peas; the other makes for round peas. Its true, but its hardly the whole story.

In humans, a few traits and illnesses work like this. Whether the bottom of your earlobes stick to the side of your face or hang free is the result of one gene. Huntingtons disease which deteriorates nerve cells in the brain is the result of a single gene.

But most of the traits that make you you your height, your personality, your intellect arise out of a complex constellation of genes. There might be 1,000 genes that influence intelligence, for example. Same goes for the genes that lead to certain disorders. Theres no one gene for schizophrenia, for obesity, for depression.

A single gene for one of these things also wont have an appreciable impact on behavior. If you have the bad variant of one gene for IQ, maybe your IQ score … is 0.001 percent lower than it would have been, Posthuma says.

But if you have 100 bad variants, or 1,000, then that might make a meaningful difference.

Genome-wide association studies allow scientists to start to see how combinations of many, many genes interact in complicated ways. And it takes huge data sets to sort through all the genetic noise and find variants that truly make a difference on traits like intelligence.

The researchers had one: the UK Biobank, a library that contains genetic, health, and behavioral information on 500,000 Britons. For the study, they pulled complete genome information on 78,000 individuals who had also undergone intelligence testing. Then a computer program combed through millions of sites on the gene code where people tend to variate from one another, and singled out the areas that correlated with smarts.

The computer processing power needed for this kind of research this study had to crunch 9.3 million DNA letters from 78,000 people hasnt been available very long. But now that it is, researchers have been starting to piece together the puzzle that links genes to behaviors.

A recent genome-wide analysis effort identified 250 gene sites that predicted male pattern baldness in a sample of 52,000 men. (Would you really want to know if you had them?) And theres been progress identifying genes that signal risk for diabetes, schizophrenia, and depression.

And these studies dont just look at traits, diseases, and behavior. Theyre also starting to analyze genetic associations to life outcomes. A 2016 paper in Nature reported on 74 gene sites that correlate with educational attainment. (These genes, the study authors note, seem to have something to do with the formation of neurons.) Again, these associations are tiny the study found that these 74 gene variants could only explain 3 percent of the difference between any two people on what level of education they achieve. Its hardly set in stone that youll flunk school if you dont have these gene variants.

But still, they make a small significant difference once you start looking at huge numbers of people.

Its important to note that Posthumas study was only on people of European ancestry. Whatever we find for Europeans doesnt necessarily [extrapolate] for Asians or South Americans, [or any other group] she says. Those things are often misused.

Which is to say: The gene variations that produce the differences between Europeans arent necessarily the same variations that produce differences among groups of different ancestry. So if you were to test the DNA of someone of African origin, and saw they lacked these genes, it would be incredibly irresponsible to conclude they had a lower capacity for intelligence. (Again, there are also likely hundreds of more genetic sites that have something to do with intellect that have yet to be discovered.)

Posthumas work identifying genes associated with intelligence isnt about making predictions about how smart a baby might grow up to be. She doesnt think you can reliably predict educational or intelligence outcomes from DNA alone. This is all really about reverse-engineering the biology of intelligence.

Genes code for proteins. Proteins then interact with other proteins. Researchers can trace this pathway all the way up to the level of behavior. And somewhere along that path, there just might be a place where we can intervene and stop age-related cognitive decline, for instance, and Alzheimers.

We’re finally starting to see robust reliable associations from genes with their behavior, she says. The next step is how do we prove that this gene is actually evolved in a disorder, and how does it work?

Understanding the biology of intelligence could also lead the way for personalized approaches to treating neurodegenerative diseases. Its possible that two people with Alzheimers may have different underlying genetic causes. Knowing which genes are causing the disease, then, you might be able to tailor the treatment, Posthuma says.

As more and more genome-wide studies are conducted, the more researchers will be able to assign people polygenic risk scores for how susceptible they might be for certain traits and diseases. That can lead to early interventions. (Or, perhaps in the wrong hands, a cruel and unfair sorting of society. Have you seen the movie Gattaca?)

And there are some worries about abusing this data, especially as more and more people get their genomes analyzed by commercial companies like 23&Me.

Many people are concerned that insurance companies will use it, she says. That they will look into people’s DNA and say, Well, you have a very high risk of being a nicotine addict. So we want you to pay more. Or, You have a high risk of dying early from cancer. So you have to pay more early in life. And of course, that’s all nonsense. Its still too complicated to make such precise predictions.

We now have powerful tools to edit genes. CRISPR/Cas9 makes it possible to cut out any specific gene and replace it with another. Genetic engineering has advanced to the point where scientists are building whole organisms from the ground up with custom DNA.

Its easy to indulge our imaginations here: Genome-wide studies are going to make it easier to predict what set of genes leads to certain life outcomes. Genetic engineering is making it easier to assemble whatever genes we want in an individual. Is this the perfect recipe for designer babies?

Posthuma urges caution here, and says this conclusion is far afield from the actual state of the research.

Lets say you wanted to design a human with superior intelligence. Could you just select the right variants of the 52 intelligence genes, and wham-o, we have our next Einstein?

No. Genetics is so, so much more complicated than that.

For one, there could be thousands of genes that influence intelligence that have yet to be discovered. And they interact with each other in unpredictable ways. A gene that increases your smarts could also increase your risk for schizophrenia. Or change some other trait slightly. There are trade-offs and feedback loops everywhere you look in the genome.

If you would have to start constructing a human being from scratch, and you would have to build in all these little effects, I think we wouldn’t be able to do that, Posthuma says. It’s very difficult to understand the dynamics.

There are about 20,000 human genes, made up of around 3 billion base pairs. We will never be able to fully predict how a person will turn out based on the DNA, she says. Its just too intricate, too complicated, and also influenced heavily by our environment.

So you could have a very high liability for depression, but it will only happen if you go through a divorce, she says. And who can predict that?

And, Posthuma cautions, there are some things that genome-wide studies cant do. They cant, for instance, find very, very rare gene variations. (Think about it: If one person in 50,000 has a gene that causes a disease, its just going to look like noise.) For schizophrenia, she says, we know that there’s some [gene] variants that decrease or increase your risk of schizophrenia 20-fold, but they’re very rare in the population.

And they cant be used to make generalizations about differences between large groups of people.

Last year, I interviewed Paul Glimcher, a New York University social scientist whose research floored me. Glimcher plans to recruit 10,000 New Yorkers and track everything about them for decades. Everything: full genome data, medical records, diet, credit card transactions, physical activity, personality test scores, you name it. The idea, he says, is to create a dense, longitudinal database of human life that machine learning programs can mine for insights. Its possible this approach will elucidate the complex interactions of genetics, behavior, and environment that put us at risk for diseases like Alzheimers.

Computer science and biology are converging to make these audacious projects easier. And to some degree, the results of these projects may help us align our genes and our environments for optimal well-being.

Again, Posthuma cautions: Not all the predictions this research makes will be meaningful.

Do we care if we find a gene that only increases our height or our BMI or our intelligence with less than 0.0001 percent? she asks. It doesn’t have any clinical relevance. But it will aid our scientific understanding of how intellect arises nonetheless.

And thats the bottom line. The scientists doing this work arent in it to become fortune tellers. Theyre in it to understand basic science.

What most people focus on, when they hear about genes for IQ, they say: Oh, no. You can look at my DNA. You can tell me what my IQ score will be, Posthuma says. They probably dont know its much better if you just take the IQ test. Much faster.

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Scientists are finding more genes linked to IQ. This doesn’t mean we can predict intelligence. – Vox