Details of a significant web security problem were released in a number of stories on the evening of April 8th. This potential security problem involves OpenSSL which is used to protect and secure communications between users and websites. It is likely you use this security in some form or another. (For example, those that have online banking may be using this security among many others.)
It may be possible for those exploiting the vulnerabilities of this specific bug, known as Heartbleed, to gain access to user names and passwords.
If you are a business using the web, we would encourage you to speak with your IT provider and to ensure all possible steps have been taken to protect your business against Heartbleed. There are a number of articles describing this bug that you can read by Googling the name.
Individuals who use HTTPS secured sites (most sites with logins) may want to consider changing critical passwords after evaluating whether the websites they use are affected by the OpenSSL bug, and determine if these websites have been patched.
While it is difficult to determine the extent of the problems caused by Heartbleed, understanding your potential risks and taking action to protect yourself and your business, is important.
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 difficult to determine exactly what our government is doing with regard to required health insurance and what is required of businesses. The Department of Labor’s website provides information on your current requirements as an employer.
In the FAQ section at the Department of Labor website detail is provided about the content of the required notice. There are also links to model notices (click below):
Notification to your employees is required by October 1st, 2013. The FAQ at the Department of Labor’s website indicates an employer cannot be fined for failing to provide the specified employee notification.
It is interesting to consider the political wrangling going on now regarding the providing of mandated health insurance. Funding is being challenged and the primary provisions for employers have been delayed a year. Stay tuned…..
Are you familiar with the ACH (automated clearing house) rules that apply to your bank accounts? ACH is the primary electronic funds transfer (EFT) system used by banks for personal and business transfers. Your account may be open to ACH transfers and you do not even know you are at risk for loss.
There was a recent theft using the ACH system involving a Leavenworth hospital that I would encourage you to read about. The headlines were:
“Cybertheft Heists $1 Million from Leavenworth Hospital”
Cyber thieves apparently stole nearly $1 million from a bank account of the Cascade Medical Center transferring the funds by ACH transfer to nearly 100 bank accounts. Some of the funds have been retrieved but there will be a significant loss.
You must generally notify your bank of incorrect ACH transfers on your business account within 24 hours. Miss this notification period and you may not be able to recover your funds.
We suggest you review this matter with your bank and review your accounts on a regular basis. You may wish to put an ACH stop on certain bank accounts.
The rules are different for personal bank accounts but you should also have an understanding of how these rules apply to your personal bank accounts. If you do not understand the rules you run the risk of being ripped-off with no way to recover your cash!
Our tax season has ended temporarily and what a difficult tax season it was for most in our profession. We will provide some additional information on the complexity encountered and detail on continuing problems in a future blog post. There is a current story developing that is timely, hard to imagine, and rather scary.
It appears that the Cyprus banking system is in the process of seizing the savings accounts of those with funds over 100,000 pounds at the island’s biggest bank. In return, for the savings that is taken, depositors will receive stock in that bank worth 37.5% of the cash value taken.
The funds are evidently being seized as a condition of bailout from the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
This was mentioned in an article in Barrons and also the subject of a recent story featured in the publication “The Independent”.
This is scary stuff and makes one wonder about the safety of their savings deposits. Greece has faced significant monetary and economic problems but many other countries face similar problems to varying degrees. What are the chances of this happening elsewhere?
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.
Robert E. Marple was born in Eastern Washington State in 1929 and grew up on small farm. Some of the difficulties experienced with his farm chores and Barley farming convinced him grain farming in the Palouse area of Washington State, was not for him.
It was off to Washington State College (now Washington State University) where he initially pursued a degree in music. He also played a clarinet in a Big Band and wrote music to make some extra money and it appeared music would be his future. This changed when a music professor was playing a few notes on a piano and asked him to sing the notes.
It was a defiant “no” to that singing request, out the door of that classroom, and a change to accounting as a major (Bob was already taking an accounting course and liked it and liked math too). Continue reading →