The Business of Risk

Cyber threats have created an interesting conundrum in which the criminal perpetrators are frequently more tech savvy than those responsible for preventing their crimes or apprehending them. And the situation, at the moment, doesn’t really show signs of improving.

Several national security experts recently issued recommendations to help address the problem. They referred to the issue as a “black elephant — a dangerous crossbreed between the ‘black swan’ risk (capable of producing unexpected outcomes with enormous consequences) and the ‘elephant in the room’ (a large problem that is in plain sight).”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “We Don’t Need a Crisis to Act Unitedly Against Cyber Threats,” from Knowledge@Wharton, June 1, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “RSA Conference: Is Hiring Hackers a New Thing?” from Adeptis Group, May 6, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Security Companies Hire Hackers, Ex-Spies to Fight Cyber Attacks,” from Bloomberg, April 14, 2015.]

While hackers certainly present a grave risk at the national level, frequently the outcomes are more personal. Sure, it’s a real blow to companies like Target and Home Depot for their data to be hacked, but ultimately it’s their customers who may suffer more relative damage.

And as great as technology is, the more we integrate it into our lives, the more risk we face of being personally “hacked.” For example, what a wonderful convenience to be able to lock and unlock our homes and cars using our cellphones, even when we’re out of town. But consider the benefit to a criminal who hacks into a person’s phone and unlocks the house and car, making for easy theft while knowing the owner isn’t home. It kind of makes the old-school, trusty German shepherd seem a bit more attractive for warding off potential burglars.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Data breaches may cost less than the security to prevent them,” from TechRepublic, April 9, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Black Hat 2014: Security experts hack home alarms, smart cars and more,” from CBS News, Aug. 6, 2014.]

Then there are the security breaches that don’t make the headlines. For example, a data breach at a local vendor that results in unauthorized charges to your bank debit card, PayPal account or other online vendor. These sporadic incidents can range in damages from a minor inconvenience to lost hours trying to identify the issue, resolve it and get your money reimbursed.

Naturally, it makes sense to protect your own data as much as possible instead of relying solely on vendor and government solutions. For example, experts recommend using a credit card instead of a debit card. Relevant to this advice, it’s a good idea to revisit any of your accounts where you may have entered your bank account or debit card information, even if you only use your credit card with those accounts. Consider what card information is stored at accounts such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, PayPal, Netflix and other online merchants you might frequent.

And with another nod to the old-school approach, consider using cash instead of credit at places where they habitually take your credit card out of sight for a few moments (long enough to record its information) — such as at restaurants and fast-food joints.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “7 Reasons Your Debit Card Makes You a Target for Fraud,” from MagnifyMoney.com, Oct. 22, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “New ways to prevent credit-card fraud,” from Consumer Reports, May 28, 2015.]

One thing we’ve learned throughout history, no matter the threat, is that the best time to prepare for a disaster is before it occurs. This applies not only to cyber threats, but to health care screenings and creating a plan for retirement security. The more we educate ourselves and the more we plan, the more prepared we are when something unexpected occurs.

We are here to help you feel more confident in your financial strategy — now and in the future. Please give us a call.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.

City Planning for a Better Future

The plight of elderly citizens tends to dominate news headlines. Topics like Medicare, Social Security, health care and long-term care are often referred to as “senior issues.” But as the larger population continues to age — and not die — many more issues will come to light, and we may even drop the word “senior” when referring to them. After all, when issues are large-scale and mainstream, they are seldom relegated to only one demographic.

Consider, for a moment, how a large population hampered by vision and mobility issues would be able to function in an environment dominated by cars. Urban cities can offer boundless challenges while rural landscapes may be marked by fewer resources and potential isolation. With America’s cities and towns facing a crossroads of serious infrastructure and public resource considerations, many are working on plans for a long-term safe and sustainable living environment.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Aging forces cities to rethink everything,” from LifeHealthPro, May 5, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Will Boomers Reshape U.S. Cities?” from Governing.com, Sept. 2012.]

Given the attention sparked by the recent Amtrak collision in Philadelphia, transportation investment is high on the national radar. The seemingly unrelated issue of national obesity should also be part of that conversation, as the rise in weight gain is often correlated with fewer “green spaces” for daily exercise and the rise of non-walking-friendly communities in which families must drive for groceries, school, work and just about every other activity.

According to a new report by the Urban Land Institute:

  • 38% of respondents said their communities lack outdoor places for recreation
  • 54% said shopping and entertainment are not within walking distance
  • 48% said bike lanes are insufficient to make biking a practical mode of transportation
  • 25% said traffic makes it unsafe to walk in their neighborhoods
  • 21% said crime makes it unsafe to walk in their communities

[CLICK HERE to read the article/view the video, “America in an infrastructure crisis: Ray LaHood,” from CNBC, May 7, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “America in 2015: Bridging the Access Gap for Healthier Amenities,” from UrbanLand, May 7, 2015.]

Complex problems often lead to creative solutions, so this particular issue is bound to generate some out-of-the-box ideas. Many communities are trying to integrate city planning with social issues, such as income inequality, health care access and healthier living. Los Angeles has launched a plan with the objective of making 50 percent of all trips taken by city residents to be by bike, foot or public transportation by 2035. Other cities are considering how to incorporate technology and cloud computing so that all residents live in “smart homes” with the entire city interconnected. One activist has proposed urban planning with more narrow streets, like those seen in European cities, to address housing shortages and promote more Old World walking communities.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “L.A.’s New City Plan Will Make You Want to Move There,” from Our World by United Nations University, April 13, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “13 Urban Trends to Watch,” from UrbanLand, March 26, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Building streets for humans rather than cars could help solve the affordable housing crisis,” from Vox.com, May 5, 2015.]

Big problems that must be addressed by towns, cities, states and the federal government are often created by the millions of people who hopefully benefit from the solutions. Likewise, some of the individual problems that we each face are caused by those large entities. We are interconnected; creating problems and then solving them in turn.

We’re here to help relieve some of that everyday stress you may feel when tackling logistical problems. Let us help you address some of the issues that  may be of concern to you and your financial future.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of insurance products to custom suit their needs and objectives.