According to an article featured at Marketwatch.com nearly 773,000,000 records, including email addresses and passwords were exposed in a data breach.
Security researcher Troy Hunt publicized detail of this breach. The data was evidently collected from a large number of previous breaches and uploaded to the web. For those who would like to read more information about this breach, Troy provides additional detail:
Data theft, financial theft related to the Internet, and ID theft (among others) have been significant problems for years. Many still have the “deer in the headlights look” when it comes to protecting their personal data, financial accounts, and personal identity.
There are many steps that can and should be taken for protection. Using secure unique passwords, unique user names, and 2-factor authentication are three major steps that can go a long way to protecting you.
Consider changing your passwords now and also stay up on IT security issues. It would also be a good idea to discuss both personal and business security with your IT professional. Those with the “deer in the headlights look” are much more likely to find themselves with a serious problem.
One of my favorite quotes came from an old IT consulting group which provided services for our CPA firm. I call this Pollard’s Theorem which goes: ” You don’t have a problem, until you have a problem, THEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM!”
There are some really cool federal individual income tax credit and production incentives for the purchase of solar electricity generating equipment. The attached article provides a general summary, applicable to residential purchases, of some of these benefits. In the right individual circumstances, a fairly quick payback period can be obtained.
Once a system cost has been recouped, you will have the on-going benefit of a significantly reduced electricity bill. In certain cases, with the use of net metering, your annual residential electricity cost may be $0.
It is worth a look! Please let us know if you should have any questions or want to complete some personalized tax planning.
If you file a tax return for a business, the IRS is changing when you need to file your return. For tax years beginning after December 31, 2015, the changes are as follows
Corporation – Form 1120
Previously due March 15, changing to April 15
S Corporation – Form 1120S
Due date will continue to be March 15
Partnership – Form 1065
Previously due April 15, changing to March 15
The due date for all of these returns that file extensions will continue to be September 15.
This change was included in the highway bill that was recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. We believe this provision was added to this bill to have all entities that provide information to owners (partnerships and S corporations) on a Schedule K-1 filing on the same date. It also allows corporate entities filing Form 1120 an additional month before paying tax owing with a return.
For most taxpayers, this change will take effect with their calendar year 2016 returns. 2015 returns will continue to use the due dates from previous years.
We’re happy to discuss these changes with you. Please let us know if you have questions.
My family recently took a trip to Europe to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
We found credit cards were widely accepted in our foreign travels with two significant differences in their use, as compared to use in the U.S.
The built in credit card chip was common-place in Europe and waiters & waitresses would bring their charge card reader to you and not take your credit card.
It appears the U.S. is behind in the adoption of both practices, chip use and card reader use. This may be changing with recent announcements and would be steps in the right direction. Charge card fraud is a significant problem in the U.S. with AP apparently reporting 50% of all credit card fraud in the world occurs in the U.S.
Everyone, including retailers and credit card companies, must become more proactive in their efforts to protect against ID theft and credit card fraud.
There are so many demands on a business owner and it is easy to get into a reactionary mode just dealing with issues as they come up.
There are a number of ways to become proactive with your business. One method is to consider the use of benchmarking. In general, benchmarking is a process for comparing your business metrics with the metrics of other businesses. Benchmarking can be a very valuable tool in your business owner toolkit.
Our firm provides the Profit Cents benchmarking services of Sageworks. We provide the basic service, free to our existing clients.
You utilize Profit Cents services by providing your business metrics (no business name is provided when the data is entered into their databases) and obtaining a summary report comparing your business with similar businesses. You can also obtain industry summary reports for businesses similar to yours if you prefer not to share your financial data.
See below for sample report clips and our website for full Profit Cents reports. Please let us know if you should have any questions regarding Profit Cents and business benchmarking.
It is extremely important to backup your business and personal computer data on a regular basis and have more than one backup. Everyone knows this but few are adequately prepared.
A computer virus making the rounds serves as a stark reminder of how important data backup is. This particular virus encrypts the data on your computer and then demands payment, through Bitcoin or other difficult to trace payment methods, to obtain a key to unlock your data.
The virus is evidently spread by the opening of an e-mail attachment which looks like a FedEx tracking number. The locking and encryption apparently produces the following screen message as detailed in a feature story from the Business Insider:
In a really nasty turn of events, apparently some of the servers facilitating payments and return of the key to unlock your data, have been seized by authorities. While it is great that some of the equipment used by these cyber-thieves has been confiscated it could also mean you might not be able to get a key to unlock your data.
Remember to backup regularly using more than one source! We have spent a significant amount of time developing data backup procedures and processes. Please let us know if you should have any questions.
It is amazing how many different housing developments are underway in the Tri-Cities at this time. Not only are there a number of different projects underway but the scope of some is truly amazing.
The area behind Thompson Hill is great example. The south side of this hill is undergoing a transformation that is unbelievable. This hill received its name from Ken Thompson who built the first home on this hill and local folks just started to call it Thompson hill. (Ken was quite an interesting guy and even sponsored an unlimited hydroplane.)
You can see what use to be the Thompson residence (trees in left center) in this photo. A significant portion of the south side of the hill is under development and some of the lots are now starting to take shape.
There will likely be lots built on the top of the hill to take in the stunning view.