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How reliable is biometric data in tightening bank cyber security?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one important pillar of cyber security in banking. Financial services interests have realised that requiring consumers to provide their personal information before processing transactions can deter data breaches.

And it has worked. Despite the numerous cases of successful high-profile hacking in the past 10 years, involving prominent names in the industry such as JPMorgan Chase and SWIFT, Fortunly believes more people would have been defrauded had there been lax customer authentication policies in place.

However, cyber robbers have managed to exploit a weakness in text-based MFA. In February, The Telegraph reported that Metro Bank and some smaller financial institutions were hacked. The attackers were able to get their hands on the codes sent to customers by capitalising on a flaw in SS7. Telecoms rely on this set of protocols to exchange SMS text messages and calls between one another anywhere in the world.

Clearly, more secure MFA is necessary to protect the integrity of financial services organisations as custodians of sensitive data of billions of people on the planet. This is where biometrics come in.

Unlike texted codes, pieces of biometric data are harder to steal since they are unique to individual consumers. Then again, biometrics are not equal and may not provide different levels of protection.

Fingerprint

Fingerprints, as well as finger-vein patterns, are being used by banks to authenticate customers at brick-and-mortar branches. Scanners for both biological characteristics can deliver fast, accurate results, which allow frictionless in-building and ATM transactions.

The availability of scanners in consumer electronics makes fingerprint authentication a feasible solution to boost cyber security. In fact, it has been adopted by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for mobile banking. With just one touch, fingerprints can authenticate users to complete card payment transactions made via RBS’s mobile apps.

Face

What is advantageous about facial features as biometric details is that they are hard to cheat. Unlike fingerprints that could be reproduced with tape, the distinct qualities of a face could not in any way, shape or form be mimicked.

Voice

Voice biometric technology is sophisticated, for it considers up to 80 of the distinguishing vocal-tract attributes of a person. As biological data, the voice is actually more unique than the fingerprint.

Citibank has been using voice authentication since 2016. The consumer arm of the Citigroup analyses the voice pattern of a caller based on a pre-recorded voice print to help detect identity thieves more accurately.

Online Behaviour

Signatures, keystroke patterns and website browsing tendencies are some peculiar customer identifiers being tested by some banks to prevent fraud. Behavioural biometric tech may require a ton of historical data to be considered helpful, but its readings are claimed to be 99% accurate.

Conclusion

Ultimately, biometrics are imperfect. Physical characteristics and individual behaviours can change, so they can’t be reliable 100% of the time. Nevertheless, biological data is a potent tool for cyber security all banks should adopt to stay ahead in the game of cat and mouse they play with hackers until the next MFA innovation comes along.

5 Rules Of Money Management For Small Businesses

Individuals must know how to manage their money to become rich so you also need to know how to manage your business money to be successful.

Just like an individual, your business also needs to pay for the cost to survive. How to spend money effectively without getting caught in debt or going into debt?

Individuals must know how to manage their money to become rich so you also need to know how to manage your business money to be successful. With businesses, you will have to work with employees, suppliers, tax authorities. How to work with them, you always take advantage of the money you spend.

Here are 5 rules to help you manage money for your small business:

1. Minimise The Cost Of Life

If you are managing your own small business for the first time, the above principle is extremely important in the first few years. Calculate how much money you need to cover your monthly living and withdraw the right amount of income from your business. With the remaining profit, invest back into the company. Let that money serve growth.

It will be exciting to make money from a business, but many new business owners use it on expensive vacations or homes. Resist those impulses. Wait until the business has gone through a few years, then you can start taking those profits to enjoy yourself.

2. Do Not Hire Employee Early

In a fledgling business, the biggest expense, by far, is employee salaries. As the business gets busier and you seem to be overloaded, it’s time to hire a new employee right away. However, make sure it is essential.

Never hire staff until you need them. Always ask your current staff to work hard to make sure they work to the best of their ability.

3. Strategic Use “Jit”

JIT is an abbreviation of “Just In Time”. This is a strategy to reduce the cost of loans and inventory in all business forms.

For example, if you estimate you need to cover your expenses for next year, there’s no need to borrow the entire amount at once. Because if you do that, you’ll have to pay interest on the entire amount when you don’t use it up until the end of the year.

Instead, you will borrow that estimated amount in the first 2 months of the following year (except for the month of the new year holiday). Then borrowed it again for the next 3 months. Following this rule, you will reduce the total amount of interest payable to the bank. So that money will increase and you save a large amount of money after a long time.

4. Agreement With Supplier

When dealing with external contractors or suppliers, such as delivery services, food delivery, electricity, security services, do not hesitate to negotiate contract terms. Choosing a provider that allows you to pay after 30 days of receipt of service bills instead of paying immediately.

That grace period allows you to better manage your money and organise your bills in order of priority. Many peers always allow this but need to be willing to ask when they want to pay immediately.

Year: Do Not Pay Money To Wage Payments

State tax law requires business owners to deduct an amount in addition to employee salaries such as Social Insurance, Health Insurance, Union Funds and Unemployment Insurance for each payment period. Businesses will have a certain extension period before they have to submit this fund report. As a business owner, it’s important to keep those funds separate from other funds. Don’t use this money to invest or cover daily expenses.

Instead, put the money in a separate account that you cannot touch. This will help you avoid spending money that you don’t have to. It’s a good habit to keep your business free from violations at the end of every month. State fines will not tolerate such cases. Nowadays there are a number of maintenance planning training and maintenance planning courses were available online from that you can get more ideas for maintaining your business easily.

How a Trade War with China is impacting Natural Stone Prices

The Trump administration has announced this year that the US will impose a tariff on a massive amount of imported goods from China. Many of these goods fall into the home improvement category in the American market. Things like stone tile, natural stone slabs, hard surfaces and there is no telling on how high the retail price will go for American consumers as the tariffs continue to stay in place. This all comes at a time when China has very lax laws on who and how natural stone can be mined, China has a large amount of undeveloped land with natural stone able to be harvested and they are able to meet the growing demand of natural stone seen in American consumers.

One of the largest questions is how much the price of natural stone countertops will rise within the next year. One particular stone concern is granite, and how much it will cost to purchase and install depending on what project you’re working on. For most questions the answer is to purchase now because the cost of granite is only expected to rise. Using this useful reference, currently, prices for granite countertops start at around $35 per square foot installed, and can go well beyond $100 per square foot for exotic and rare materials. With trade negotiations continuing as they are now it has been projected that the price per square foot of granite is expected to increase to over $200 per square foot by early 2020.

When purchasing your stone, it is also important to research the seller. Big box retailers that provide countertops won’t be as detail oriented as their local counterparts mainly due to the lack of knowledge of the staff that will be assisting you. This is because a big box store has a higher turnover of staff and less of a risk to damage their reputation. Also a large retailer will typically have a more limited selection of stone and a more rigid outline of their services, typically a price is set and adhered to in a large retailer. A local fabricator, more often than not, will negotiate pricing, accommodate specific requests, and handle customers with a higher degree of quality solely based on the fact that they are trying to compete with not only other local business but the large retailers as well. It would be advantageous to look into your local options and weigh them against large retail stores, depending on what you’re looking to have done one might be more beneficial than the other!

Knowing what you’re paying for will also be beneficial as the price of the stone increases with the tariffs. There are a lot of factors that make up the final price of your countertop including, the cutouts, edging, backsplash, finish, and color of the stone. By limiting the extra details you’re able to keep the overall price lower. The type of sink you install has an effect of the type of cutout which then has a price on the slab. Edging the counter will have an effect on the final bill as well because the more decorative the final edge look the higher the cost per foot will be! Some styles can rise as high as $10/foot. Choosing to have a matching stone backsplash obviously will heighten the price of your stone bill, but there are other ways to design a backsplash if this puts your costs too high. Tile is a great alternative or a shorter four or five-inch backsplash can help protect your walls against stains. The color of the actual stone can also play a factor in pricing as blue granite is often more expensive than other colors and marble with a more intricate or unique pattern can fetch a higher price. These are all things that, regardless of the trade war with China, will affect your final budget and should be considered!

These tariffs are not expected to go away anytime soon so if you’re planning a renovation or are in the middle of one currently and have yet to purchase your counters, do it! Having a plan of attack and being in the right place to order them will save you money before the end of the year as natural stone prices continue to rise. Removing your old counters as a DIY project might be a good idea as well in order to save even more in a pinch. There are many ways to try to circumvent these price increases and DIY-ing as much as possible is one of them, don’t hesitate to consult a professional but remember that most home jobs can be done with a little research! However, as long as this trade war holds out between the US and China, expect any and all renovations that involve products made or refined in China to be on the retail mark up until early 2020.

Lower Taxes Without Renouncing Your American Citizenship

Being born in the United States comes with many privileges. But it also comes with many responsibilities. According to Fortunly’s insightful infographic, the United States is one of two countries in the world that implement citizenship-based taxation. The only other one is the northeast African nation of Eritrea.

Interestingly enough, America’s citizenship-based tax system doesn’t only affect its natural-born citizens. Foreigners may also be held liable for income tax if they meet the country’s residency requirements. Spending too much vacation time is a common reason why non-Americans might need to hand over some cash to Uncle Sam.

But, there are legal ways to beat America’s citizenship-based income taxation system.

The most obvious way is to renounce your US citizenship. But this is a major decision that could lead to dramatic consequences. An alternative to such a drastic measure is filing for tax exemptions. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) is a viable option for American professionals who intend to make a living outside of any US territory.

With the FEIE, a portion of a citizen’s total active income can be excluded up to a certain limit, which changes every year. To increase the excludable amount, a foreign housing credit can be added into the equation.

When it comes to income from passive activities like stock trading, the United States considers them taxable as usual. However, there are ways to classify passive incomes as active in order to render them partly excludable.

In addition, using an offshore company to run a business may provide an income-tax reduction. This move can legally separate an American-citizen owner and a business entity for tax purposes.

Pursuing every allowable avenue to minimize citizenship-based income tax liabilities is more practical than unpatriotic.

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Exclusive: A lawyer’s guide to keeping it professional on social media

In today’s environment, social media allows people to instantly share their opinions with the world. However, given the many heated issues that dominate our national discourse, there can be a tendency to post (or tweet) in anger or passion, which can lead to regrets later.

This risk is especially dangerous for attorneys. While attorneys may sometimes view their presence on social media to be in a “personal” capacity, the reality is that the line between personal and business can be blurred, or may not exist at all. In particular, with respect to an attorney’s ethical obligations, it may not be a very effective defence for an attorney to claim that she was acting in her personal capacity, and not as a lawyer, when she violated an ethical rule.

Recognising the rise of these issues in the age of social media, the State Bar of California issued a Formal Opinion in 2012 that addressed the interplay between postings on a supposedly personal social media page and the ethical rules governing attorney advertising. State Bar of California Formal Op. No. 2012-186. At issue were certain posts on an attorney’s personal social media page that highlighted the successes the attorney had on other cases, such as “Another great victory in court today! My client is delighted. Who wants to be next?” The California Bar concluded that, even among posts relating to the attorney’s personal life, such posts and others constituted the solicitation of clients or otherwise “concern[ed] the availability for professional employment,” and thus were required to comply with the rules for attorney advertising set forth in the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

Another potential issue exacerbated by the rise of social media is the potential for “positional” conflicts. Such a conflict may typically exist where, for example, an attorney argues for a certain interpretation of a statute in one lawsuit because it is in the best interests of one client, but then at the same time argues for the opposite interpretation of the same statute in another lawsuit on behalf of a different client. Comment 6 to Rule 1.7 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct (as effective Nov. 1, 2018) provides that such circumstances typically do not create a conflict requiring the client’s informed written consent unless certain factors are present.

However, it is arguably less clear how positional conflicts may function in the context of positions taken on social media. Comment 4 to Rule 1.7 provides that a conflict of interest requiring informed written consent) exists “if there is a significant risk that a lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer’s other responsibilities, interests, or relationships, whether legal, business, financial, professional, or personal.” Interpreting similar provisions, at least one bar association has stated that attorneys sharing information on social media sites should exercise caution “when stating positions on issues, as those stated positions could be adverse to an interest of a client, thus inadvertently creating a conflict.” See District of Columbia Bar Ethics Op. 370.

Although some commentators have suggested that the D.C. Bar’s opinion goes too far to limit attorneys, social media posts can also create sticky client relations issues even if the posts do not rise to the level of a traditional conflict of interest. Below are some tips for avoiding issues when using social media.

Considering Staying Neutral

Social media is generally not a place for balanced, well-reasoned assessments of issues but is used by many to express visceral reactions to news events. While attorneys may feel the urge to immediately share their thoughts with the world, they do so at their own risk.

For example, if Congress is considering passing a law that may impact a client, an attorney may be inclined to immediately offer her or his opinion on that law without regard to whether that position is aligned with the client’s. Even if the attorney’s posting does not create an actual conflict, a client certainly may be less than pleased to see its law firm advocating for a position if that position stands to harm the client’s business, financial or legal interests.

Likewise, commenting on ongoing cases can also be risky, but attorneys who feel compelled to do so can limit their risks by avoiding taking a definite stance and instead presenting a balanced analysis. That could help avoid creating any potential positional conflict with the interests of a client of the attorney and her or his law firm.

Avoid Unprofessional Conduct

Attorneys (typically) understand that their correspondence and briefs should be consistent with the level of decorum expected of members of the bar. Too often, that level of decorum is thrown out the window on social media. However, despite the informality of social media, it should not be considered as a free zone for unprofessional conduct.

A good rule of thumb is to ask whether the comment made on social media would be appropriate if standing outside a courtroom or at a dinner party. Many times, attorneys post comments on social media that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, much less one with a client.

In some respects, comments on social media are worse than face-to-face conversations, as they are generally broadcast to the world and preserved for posterity. Courts and bars are increasingly taking notice of these issues and applying the same bar rules to social media as they do to traditional legal correspondence.

Think First

The most obvious tip can often be the hardest in practice. Before posting on any substantive issue (e.g., legal or political issues), it is helpful to stop and think practically about the post and the possible response from their firms, clients, and potential clients. Where practical, it may be a good idea to first run the posting by a colleague or firm leadership to ensure that it does not create any unintended conflicts or client relations issues.

Too often, attorneys instead let their emotions take over and fire off a post without a second thought. While attorneys certainly can use social media effectively in establishing a presence in their community or in a certain practice area, the undisciplined use of social media can unfortunately create the wrong kind of presence very quickly.

Shari L. Klevens is a partner at Dentons US and serves on the firm’s US Board of Directors. She represents and advises lawyers and insurers on complex claims, is co-chair of Dentons’ global insurance sector team, and is co-author of “California Legal Malpractice Law” (2014).

Alanna Clair is a partner at Dentons US and focuses on professional liability defence. Shari and Alanna are co-authors of “The Lawyer’s Handbook: Ethics Compliance and Claim Avoidance.”

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6 insights on being an agile advisor

If you or your firm are engaged in advisory services, staying relevant to clients by being adaptable and agile should be the key focus for high performing advisors.

1. Stop wasting time on coffee meetings during the sales process

It’s tempting to talk to anyone who’s interested in your services, but focusing on ‘quality rather than quantity’ can prevent days of wasted time each month. Russell Cummings, business advisor from Shifft Consulting recommends:

  • Pre-qualifying leads with a 20-minute call to understand their barriers.
  • Discover if they’re the type of client you want to work with and if you can provide the value they are seeking.
  • Following up successful calls with an email covering your background, evidence of capability and setting up a one-hour meeting (only if required) to gain verbal agreement.
  • Discussing price, value, deliverables and time commitments at the meeting to avoid writing ‘cold’ proposals.
  • Only at this point send a document or email confirming the next steps to doing business together.

2. Build capacity for success

There are many ways you can build capacity for greater leverage, from simply arming yourself with the right tools, to engaging a virtual or executive assistant. Whilst a virtual or executive assistant is a great idea, most don’t understand the economics – if you cannot generate at least twice your executive assistant’s cost in additional fees, then you can’t justify one.

If having an executive assistant is right for you, make sure they do value-added tasks, not just secretarial work – researching prospects and clients, running your contact program, writing blog articles and social posts, creating presentations and client onboarding will all work towards creation of additional revenue.

At a more fundamental level, build yourself a high-performance toolkit for client meetings. Consider what you need in a toolkit if you’re out on the road; tablet, pens for flipcharts, adapters for presentations, printed templates and so on. If you’re running most of your meetings internally, ensure the meeting rooms help you facilitate – use walls that also act as a whiteboard or an interactive screen to capture notes.

Can you log client actions and strategies throughout the meeting in your software? An agile advisor leaves workshops with very little work to do or responses to write. Do you use meeting software such as Zoom with clients?

What other software would be in your high-performance toolkit to allow you to work seamlessly from anywhere in the world to solve any issue? Embrace online coaching to create greater leverage.

3. Facilitate rather than consult

It’s rare to get through a client meeting without straying from the agenda to discuss a ‘hot’ issue. A great facilitator has the confidence to tackle these left-field issues ‘head-on’ by drawing on structured tools and techniques. What’s the key to be a great facilitator in a one-on-one meeting or group workshop?

  • Preparation and planning: Ensure you invest time to prepare well regardless of whether in a larger workshop or one-on-one meeting, interview key stakeholders prior if applicable, note timings on workshop materials and review historic client notes.
  • Orientation: focus on client outcomes in the time available, it’s not about you.
  • Framing: set a clear purpose at the outset, outline the agenda, make sure pre-reading is done, set expectations of roles in the meeting.
  • Structure: ensure your message gets through with the EAS (Expose, Activity, Summary) technique. You could also use ‘Now, Where, How’ to structure your workshops.
  • Delivery: adapt to the time allocated and use a mix of mediums (whiteboard, flip chart, PowerPoint presentation, group work) to keep energy levels high.
  • Interaction: gather regular feedback and ask open-ended questions throughout the workshops, 70 percent of the time spent should be attendees doing the talking or in exercises.
  • Summary and next steps: create a good outline of key points, be clear on the next steps and who does what. Keep the momentum going by booking the next meeting and setting expectations about topics to be covered.

4. Focus your model on achieving profitable growth

Keep your business advisory model focused on services leading to profitable growth, your model should be simple enough for clients to clearly understand the value you can deliver through your service offerings. Too often advisors over-complicate their models, attracting the wrong target market or slowing down sales cycles.

Once you have a clear model you can build your capability and capacity to deliver these offerings flawlessly. Having the capability to facilitate using a broad range of problem solving and strategy tools will save you time in preparation and ensure you can solve any client problem efficiently.

5. Put yourself in the right mindset for success

Probably the most important of all the tips to be a more agile advisor is to be self-aware about the capabilities you need for success, ensuring you’re continually staying ahead of the game in the understanding that best practice is about continuous improvement.

6. 80 percent online, 20 percent face-to-face

Client issues don’t appear conveniently and predictably ‘every second Tuesday of the month at 1pm until 3pm’ when you have a client review meeting. These issues can be random, often occurring a few times a week and then nothing for a month or two. Agile advisors need the ability to be just-in-time for clients, allowing them the flexibility to access the support, training and insights required to address their issues 24/7 in this fast-paced world.

Evolving your client contact cadence by embracing online coaching is key. High performers manage the expectations of clients so that 80 percent of contact is online via Zoom or other web-based meetings, coaching posts, viewing tools and completing online courses and only 20 percent face-to-face for re-setting of plans and work-shopping matters.

Inevitably there’ll be objections from some not wanting to move from the traditional face-to-face only model but point out that it’s going to be more expensive and ‘banking up’ issues and hoping to fix them in a 2-hour quarterly catch up is not feasible. Plant the seed of fixing issues between meetings, keeping up momentum and using face-to-face as an opportunity to reset plans.