The growing threat of Cyber-Attacks

The data breaches at big-name companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Target, Kohls, Sony and this week Anthem Health raises questions about the effectiveness of the private sector’s information security. According to FBI Director James Comey, “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. Those who’ve been hacked…and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked”. A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute showed the average cost of cyber crime for U.S. retail stores more than doubled from 2013 to an annual average of $8.6 million per company in 2014. The annual average cost per company of successful cyber attacks increased to $20.8 million in financial services, $14.5 million in the technology sector, and $12.7 million in communications industries.

Below is a list of most known cyber attacks on private U.S. companies since the beginning of 2014. This list includes only cyber attacks that have been made known to the public. Most companies encounter multiple cyber attacks every day, many unknown to the public and many unknown to the companies themselves. Experts say that these firms should be doing more to build secure infrastructures for the data they house, and are now suggesting people actually take out Cyber-Insurance. OMG, seriously, create another profit center for the Insurance companies that are already stealing billions from people? I disagree 100%. The problem is simple. The technology being sold to people and businesses is subpar. Very little thought has been put into developing “secure” platforms. Instead companies rush to go live with weak databases or most commonly, promote useless apps and peddle them like candy to children hoping to increase users (downloads) in the hopes of being acquired or going public. Of course the primary cause for this has been and always will be greed. Money is main driver for commerce. Data has been the “be all” “end all”. Otherwise useless applications would never have a chance to be built and brought to market before they solve a problem or are useful. Every day I read the tech journals and cannot believe how many new apps are launched that serve no purpose. Additionally, it lacks mindfulness that venture capital is throwing billions at these useless apps in hopes of gathering more data on all of us.

The data breaches below are listed chronologically by month of public notice.

  • Target
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Michaels
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Aaron Brothers
  • AT&T
  • eBay
  • Unnamed public works (energy and utilities). According to the Department of Homeland Security, an unnamed public utility’s control systems were accessed by hackers through a brute-force attack on employee’s log-in passwords.
  • Feedly
  • Evernote
  • F. Chang’s China Bistro
  • S. Investigations Services (services). U.S. Investigations Services, a subcontractor for federal employee background checks, suffered a data breach in August, which led to the theft of employee personnel information.
  • Community Health Services
  • UPS
  • Defense Industries
  • Home Depot
  • Google
  • Apple iCloud
  • Goodwill Industries
  • SuperValu
  • Bartell Hotels
  • S. Transportation Command contractors
  • P. Morgan Chase 
  • Dairy Queen International
  • Snapsave
  • Sony
  • Kohls
  • Anthem Health


As cyber attacks on retail, technology, and industrial companies increase so does the importance of cybersecurity. From brute-force attacks on networks to malware compromising credit card information to disgruntled employees sabotaging their companies’ networks from the inside, companies and their customers need to do more to secure their data. John Hering, co-founder of mobile security firm Lookout, told CNBC recently. “In the current state of the world, there’s almost no way for companies to protect their date from cyberattacks”.

“For any given unit of time that goes by, the probability of an organization being compromised is trending to 100 percent,” he said in a recent Squawk Box interview.

Health insurer “Anthem” announced on Wednesday that the personal data of about 80 million customers and employees had been compromised in what it called a “very sophisticated” cyberattack. While the breach did not expose financial information, the hackers gained access to names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information.

“We need to move to a world where security is not reactive, but proactive and predictive,” he said. In the case of the Sony hack, which exposed corporate emails and leaked unreleased films, Hering said there were indications that the system had been compromised six months before the breach became public. Banks in particular are very focused on cybersecurity and have controls and protections in place. He noted that most consumers are not liable for attacks that compromise their bank accounts.

However, the insurance industry—which like health care is consolidated and large—has not taken cybersecurity as seriously as the financial services industry, he said.

This leads me to my final point. The Cloud makes no sense. Years ago, we all secured our data on our own hard drive. Then the push to cloud came and everyone got on board while the big three pushed it on us like bad loans by the banks in 2003. We were all told it would be easier to have it in the cloud right? Sure, access your data on “any” device, cool. It’s all BS people. It’s always about control. Everything resides in the cloud now and for many of us who use it – even temporarily, we have found it is more difficult to get down from the cloud once you’re up there. It’s not heaven. Nope, it’s hell.

What is more difficult for a hacker? Hacking 1 million people separately, or hacking one company and getting a million people’s data all in one place?

In 2014 I pulled everything off the cloud and it was not easy. There’s still stuff up there that I cannot remove, so how’s that for effective?

I’m not sure if it will happen and when, but it seems logical to me that we all migrate our personal data back to our own hard drive and secure it as well as we can. We all know that our data is not safe with the firms that store it, but at least we can secure the data we “do” have control over ourselves.


Online Privacy Policies and our Government

Here’s the difference between your legal right to privacy online and your legal right to privacy offline:

If the government wants to obtain a document stored in your home file cabinet, the law requires a warrant signed by a judge. The warrant needs to show that there’s probable cause that such an intrusion of your privacy will expose proof of illegal activity.

Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, however, some government agencies argue that they don’t need a warrant to access your online data. They simply send a subpoena — which doesn’t require a judge’s signature or the same burden of proof — to the Internet service.

Sign the “We the People” petition to let the White House know that the law should protect the privacy of your electronic communications.

To be clear, Google requires a search warrant before releasing any data relating to contents of Gmail or other Google services.
That said, the number of requests from law enforcement to Google are growing — in the first half of this year, Google received 10,918 requests for information about our users from government investigators in the US. That’s an increase of 205% since 2009.

It’s time for the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect our privacy in more than name only — a warrant should always be required when the government wants to read your email or any other form of online communication.

Do you agree? Sign the White House petition now:


Another Happy Client

When Mr. and Mrs. Dominguez hired 360 Group in March of 2012, they were referred by a family member who had experienced a 45% reduction in their mortgage payment in just 90 days. The mod went so quickly they assumed that this would be the case for them.

During this period, home values where quickly increasing in the metro Phoenix area and unannounced to the Dominguez family, the banks were slowing down their processes. After all, delaying files made the banks more money as value rise. With significant follow up effort and having to escalate the file on more than 3 occasions, 360 Group got it done. It took a year, but after all, the end result was worth it. Shortly thereafter, 360 Group began work on their HELOC attempting to settle that debt completely for a fraction of what they owe. Simultaneously 360 Group began work to settle some unsecured credit card debt as well. Once all this debt is settled they will have a fresh start to move forward from.

During the vital pre-qualification process, 360 Group uncovered debt ratio’s that made them a good candidate for the negotiations. With one income being lost and only a single income helping to maintain their limited lifestyle, the Dominguez family had a legitimate hardship and had to cut back in a variety of areas. 360 Group helped advise them on areas within their lifestyle that could save them $200 per month. The successful reductions came just in time as Mrs. Dominguez just got accepted for a new job.

We’re proud of the work Mr. and Mrs. Dominguez did to cut back and live on the limited income, as well as always being available to send in updated financials when requested to keep the file on track. The hard work and patience paid off.

Banks profit while tax payers suffer

Banks profit while tax payers suffer

Let me begin by saying I do not believe in hand outs. Especially to the people who take advantage of the system designed to help those in need. Responsibility lies with each person who applies for a loan or refinances their home. One must educate them self  in order to understand risk. For some reason, few have learned the lesson of 2008. That said, Goldman Sachs quarterly profit doubled, beating Wall Street estimates by a wide margin, as the bank made more from investing its own money and from underwriting says the media giant known for misquoting 75% of its news.Greed

Goldman’s net income rose to $1.86 billion, or $3.70 per share, in the second quarter from $927 million, or $1.78 per share, in the same quarter last year says today. Revenue in the bank’s fixed income, currency and commodities, or FICC, trading unit, which reflects income from client trading, rose 12 percent to $2.46 billion.

All this in the wake of serious questions regarding their underwriting guidelines for homeowners in trouble.

Here are just a few of the issues we find on a daily basis the banks have yet to address.

1.  No process in place to confirm modification submission was received.

2. Employee’s leave or are re-assigned and their files just stay in limbo until someone realizes no one is working their files.

3.  No accountability of when the file came in, so technically no start date for the mod process, that way when they are audited they can make it up.

4.  Requesting updated documents via phone not mail, so there is no paper trail, and most people don’t return calls so the file goes dead.

5.  Keeping the file under a certain code that has no time parameter, so the account manager has no open tasks to complete.

6.  File is reviewed by a robot not a person, so specific details are missed, such as hardship for disability/death/newborn.

7.  File notes are vague, so there is no accountability for anyone who reviews or touches the file.

8.  No call logging, so they can’t confirm or deny that someone called for info/update.

9.  Delaying valuations so that prices can increase during peak months.

10.  Changing servicing close to approval, so file starts over for mod or short sale.

11.  Changing investors during review, so file starts over due to new investor guidelines.


Maybe Elliott Spitzer should be re-elected as it seems he was the only one that had the balls to go after the big banks and challenge their fraudulent practices during the boom of 2004. Does it really matter who he has sex with? Today the banks have more power than ever and they are creative in the ways they leverage their profits. Illegal activities are more prevalent today, just in a different way. Instead of lending free money to people who don’t qualify and stealing their equity, they are foreclosing on homes that earn them the most profit, and only help the ones that don’t. The U.S. Attorney Generals have brought suit against many of the banks they bailed out and have received billions in fines. So where does all that money go?

Perhaps people should just stop borrowing so the banks will have less control over your money?

Until people stop using credit, nothing will change. IN ORDER TO CREATE CHANGE THE CAUSE MUST BE ADDRESSED. If you have loans or are being held hostage by your bank, take personal responsibility and get out of debt and end the cycle because no one will be able to stop the runaway train.





Technology = No Privacy

Have you ever taken the time to read the privacy statement of the sites you visit online? Below are just a few of the very basic details you will find within these statements. I think they should be required to title it the NON-PRIVACY STATEMENT.

Information THEY Collect

  • Contact information, such as your name, address, telephone number, and email address
  • Login and access credentials (such as username and password)
  • Payment information, such as your payment card number and expiration date.
  • Date of birth.
  • The geolocation of your device (such as if you opt to use the “Find Near Me” feature of the mobile-optimized portion of our websites or our Mobile Applications).
  • Social media IDs, such as for Facebook or Twitter
  • Personal information you submit in connection with a job application on the Career Websites, such as your name, contact information, Social Security Number, date of birth, employment status, employment history, education information, references, résumé, immigration status and ability to work legally in the United States, driver license information, personal or family employment, criminal record.

Information THEY Collect by Automated Means

When you use most websites, they may collect certain information by automated means, using technologies such as cookies, Web server logs, Web beacons and JavaScript.

Cookies are files that websites send to your computer or other Internet-connected device to uniquely identify your browser or to store information or settings on your device. The Site may use HTTP cookies, HTML5 cookies, Flash cookies and other types of local storage (such as browser-based or plugin-based local storage). Your browser may tell you how to be notified when you receive certain types of cookies and how to restrict or disable certain cookies. You also may be able to delete your Flash cookies or adjust your Flash cookie settings by visiting the Adobe Flash Website Storage Settings Panel and Global Storage Settings Panel. Please note, however, that without cookies you may not be able to use all of the features of their Site or other websites and online services.

In conjunction with the gathering of information through cookies, many Web servers may log information such as your device type, operating system type, browser type, domain, and other system settings, as well as the language your system uses and the country and time zone where your device is located. The Web server logs also may record information such as the address of the Web page that referred you to the Site and the IP address of the device you use to connect to the Internet. They also may log information about your interaction with the Site, such as which pages you visit. To control which Web servers collect information by automated means, they may place tags on the Web pages called “Web beacons,” which are small files that link Web pages to particular Web servers and their cookies. They also may send instructions to your device using JavaScript or other computer languages to gather the sorts of information described above and other details your interactions with the Site.

They most certainly will use third-party Web analytics services on the Site, such as those of Google Analytics. These service providers use the technology described above to help analyze how users use the Site. The information collected by the technology (including your IP address) will be disclosed to these service providers, who use the information to evaluate your use of the Site.

They may use the information collected through automated means to provide a better tailored shopping experience and for market research, data analytics and system administration purposes, such as to determine whether you’ve visited them before or are new to the Site, and THEY WILL SAY for compliance with their legal obligations, policies and procedures, but it is to sell you shit!  They also may use your information to target custom content and ads to you on this and other websites, including as described in the Interest-Based Advertising section FINE PRINT.

Information Collected Automatically by the Mobile Applications

If you elect to install the Mobile Applications, the information they collect may include the following:

  • Your geographic location
  • Information about your use of the Mobile Applications
  • The type of device you use and its operating system
  • Identification details of your device (e.g., unique device identifier)
  • IP address

This information will allow push notifications and other targeted marketing designed specifically for your shopping preferences such as special offers based upon areas in which you may be shopping, and shopping lists with specific items located for your convenience when you are shopping a particular stores, as well as for other in-store mapping and routing services. It also may be used for the other purposes specified in their specific Privacy Statement.
Information Collected Automatically by Store Wi-Fi

If you elect to use the free Store Wi-Fi, they will collect information such as the following:

  • The URLs and content of the pages you visit on any website using your mobile device, and, on some websites, information you submit through online forms.
  • The apps on your mobile device that use the Store Wi-Fi.
  • Your geographic locations within a store and the surrounding area within the range of the Store Wi-Fi.
  • How long you use the Store Wi-Fi at particular locations.
  • The type of device you use and its operating system.
  • Identification details of your device (e.g., unique device identifier and MAC address).
  • Browser information and IP address.
  • The address of the store where you use the Store Wi-Fi.

This information will allow targeted marketing designed specifically for your shopping preferences such as specific coupons based upon the sites and pages you visited, special offers based upon areas in which you may be shopping in the store, including competitive offers based upon other websites that you may be viewing, shopping lists with specific items located for your convenience when you are shopping a particular store, as well as for other in-store mapping and routing services. It also may be used for the other purposes specified in their own specific Privacy Statement.

Sharing of Information

THEY may share personal information they collect on the Site with certain service providers, some of whom may use the information for their own purposes. For example, (i) their websites may feature live chat functionality, and the information gathered in the chat feature may be collected by or shared with a provider such as LivePerson, whose privacy policies are available at, (ii) information you submit on any Site in connection with a product review may be collected by or shared with a product review company such as Bazaarvoice, whose privacy policy is and who may publish the information in locations not affiliated with the store you shopped such as the website of the manufacturer of the product you review, and (iii) information submitted on their Careers Website is collected by or shared with the Careers Website providers.

They may disclose information about you (i) if required to do so by law, regulation or legal process, such as a court order or subpoena; (ii) in response to requests by government agencies, such as law enforcement authorities; or (iii) when we believe disclosure is necessary or appropriate to prevent physical, financial or other harm, injury or loss; (iv) in connection with an investigation of suspected or actual unlawful activity; or (v) to assist in collecting debt owed by you.

They reserve the right to transfer personal information they have about you in the event they sell or transfer all or a portion of their business or assets (including, without limitation, in the event of a reorganization, dissolution or liquidation). Should such a sale or transfer occur, they will use reasonable efforts to direct the transferee to use personal information you have provided to in a manner that is consistent with their Privacy Statement. Ya RIGHT SURE, because they really care about you!

So in a nutshell, the decision to be connected in this connected world means that you no longer have any privacy and all the data they collect about you, your device, where you go, and personal information such as your social security, drivers license, home address and more is for sale. So keep depositing those checks from your cell phone, because it’s easy, and keep doing your banking from your cell phone because it’s easy. But don’t be surprised when your identity is taken and your account is drained because you handed them the means by which to do it.

John Callahan

Facebook supports mass consumption

America has become the nation of mass consumption. There are few places other than open nature where you are not tempted to buy and consume. Technology has only increased this problem with seemingly necessary applications sold to make our lives easier. I talk to people who are doing everything they can to stay away and remain immune to this, however, it’s getting more difficult to separate ourselves they say.

In late February 2013, Facebook announced partnerships with four companies that collect lucrative behavioral data, from store loyalty card transactions and customer e-mail lists to divorce and Web browsing records. Public records are a vast treasure trove of information that is analyzed to target you for purchases.

They include Acxiom, which aggregates data from a variety of sources, including financial services companies, court records and federal government documents; Datalogix, which claims to have a database on the spending habits of more than 100 million Americans in categories like fine jewelry, cough medicine and college tuition; and Epsilon, which also collects transaction data from retailers.

Acxiom and Datalogix are among nine companies that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating to see how they collect and use consumer data.

Facebook’s fourth partner is BlueKai, based in Cupertino, Calif., which creates tracking cookies for brands to monitor customers who visit their Web sites. That data can be used to show an advertisement when those users log on to Facebook.  “Our goal is to improve the relevance of ads people see on Facebook and the efficacy of marketing campaigns,” Gokul Rajaram, product director for ads at Facebook, said in a recent interview.

In announcing the partnerships, Facebook said it would allow, for example, a carmaker to customize an advertisement to users interested in a new car. The push to refine targeted advertising reflects the company’s need to increase its revenue. Its shares are worth far less than its ambitious initial public offering price of $38 a share last May, and Wall Street wants to see it take concrete steps to prove to advertisers that it can show the right promotions to the right users and turn them into customers.

The partnerships are part of a continuum of efforts by Facebook to hone targeted advertising. Last fall, it invited potential advertisers to provide the e-mail addresses of their customers; Facebook then found those customers among its users and showed them ads on behalf of the brands.

Invited to share email address! Seriously?

JackThreads, a members-only online men’s retailer, tried this tactic recently. Of the two million customer e-mails it had on file, Facebook found more than two-thirds of them on the social network, aided in part by the fact that JackThreads allows members to sign in using Facebook login credentials. Facebook then showed those customers ads for the items they had once eyed on the JackThreads site. The nudge seemed to get people to open up their pocketbooks. Sales increased 26 percent at JackThreads, according to AdParlor, an agency that buys the company’s advertisements on Facebook.

Money in hand

Targeted advertising bears important implications for consumers. It could mean seeing advertisements based not just on what they “like” on Facebook, but on what they eat for breakfast, whether they buy khakis or jeans and whether they are more likely to give their wives roses or tulips on their wedding anniversary. It means that even things people don’t reveal on Facebook may be discovered from their online and offline proclivities.

Facebook says that in devising targeted ads, no identifying information about users is shared with advertisers. REALLY? Seems to me that what we just read suggests that everything they do is open to be exploited! E-mail addresses and Facebook user names are encrypted and then matched. Users can opt out of seeing specific brand advertisements on their page, but we all know those settings change frequently without notice. In order to completely opt out of receiving any targeted messages you must visiting each third-party data partner’s Web site which in and of itself is a very daunting task.

Bottom line, as you consume in America, you will tempted to increase your consumption which keeps retailers happy. Anything you post or provide to any application, will be shared whether you like it, give consent or not.

John Callahan is committed to teaching people how to mitigate debt and minimize unnecessary purchases. He also teaches people how to control the sale when purchasing high ticket items.

Is the Internet driving us mad?

Questions about the Internet’s negative effects on the mind are becoming serious discussions. The recent Newsweek article has some serious things to say and we all need to pay attention. Even among Web skeptics, the idea that a new technology might influence how we think and feel—let alone contribute to a great American crack-up—was considered silly and naive. Not anymore! The Internet was seen as just another medium, a delivery system, not a diabolical machine. It made people happier and more productive. And where was the proof that it caused harm? After all it helped us communicate better and faster.

Now, however, the proof is starting to pile up. The first good, peer-reviewed research is emerging, and the picture is much gloomier ( as I have been saying in my blogs for years ) than previously believed to be. The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic behavior. Our digitized minds are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.

Is the web driving us mad?

Teens fit some seven hours of screen time into the average school day; 11, if you count time spent multitasking on several devices. When President Obama last ran for office, the iPhone had yet to be launched. Now smartphones outnumber the old models in America, and more than a third of users get online before getting out of bed.

Meanwhile, texting has become like blinking: the average person, regardless of age, sends or receives about 400 texts a month, four times the 2007 number. The average teen processes an astounding 3,700 texts a month, double the 2007 figure.

The research is now making it clear that the Internet is not “just” another delivery system. It is creating a whole new mental environment, a digital state of nature where the human mind becomes a spinning instrument panel, and few people will survive unscathed.

The web can cause disorders

“This is an issue as important and unprecedented as climate change,” says Susan Greenfield, a pharmacology professor at Oxford University who is working on a book about how digital culture is rewiring us—and not for the better. “We could create the most wonderful world for our kids but that’s not going to happen if we’re in denial and people sleepwalk into these technologies and end up glassy-eyed zombies.” Does the Internet make us crazy? Not the technology itself or the content, no. But a Newsweek review of findings from more than a dozen countries finds the answers pointing in a similar direction. Peter Whybrow, the director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, argues that “the computer is like electronic cocaine,” fueling cycles of mania followed by depressive stretches. The Internet “leads to behavior that people are conscious is not in their best interest and does leave them anxious and does make them act compulsively,” says Nicholas Carr, whose book The Shallows, about the Web’s effect on cognition, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It “fosters our obsessions, dependence, and stress reactions,” adds Larry Rosen, a California psychologist who has researched the Net’s effect for decades. It “encourages—and even promotes—insanity.”

Fear that the Internet and mobile technology contributes to addiction—not to mention the often related ADHD and OCD disorders—has persisted for decades, but for most of that time the naysayers prevailed, not anymore!

“There’s just something about the medium that’s addictive,” says Elias Aboujaoude, a psychiatrist at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he directs the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Clinic and Impulse Control Disorders Clinic. “I’ve seen plenty of patients who have no history of addictive behavior—or substance abuse of any kind—become addicted via the Internet and these other technologies.”

We may appear to be choosing to use this technology, but in fact we are being dragged to it by the potential of short-term rewards. Every ping could be social, sexual, or professional opportunity, and we get a mini-reward, a squirt of dopamine, for answering the bell. “These rewards serve as jolts of energy that recharge the compulsion engine, much like the frisson a gambler receives as a new card hits the table,” MIT media scholar Judith Donath recently told Scientific American. “Cumulatively, the effect is potent and hard to resist.”

Recently it became possible to watch this kind of Web use rewire the brain. In 2008 Gary Small, the head of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center, was the first to document changes in the brain as a result of even moderate Internet use. He rounded up 24 people, half of them experienced Web users, half of them newbies, and he passed them each through a brain scanner. The difference was striking, with the Web users displaying fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes. But the real surprise was what happened next. The novices went away for a week, and were asked to spend a total of five hours online and then return for another scan. “The naive subjects had already rewired their brains,” he later wrote, musing darkly about what might happen when we spend more time online.

So whats the answer?

1. Be responsible and monitor your usage.

2. Resist the urge to spend more time online and unplug

3. Dont allow the phones (devices) to be present during mealtime

4. Keep time with others, be present, be focused on the face time with others which is becoming more rare and we must all try to bring back. This is the quality time between people.

5. Read a book about self help. So few people understand what really matters in this world. Avoid drama, media is not truth, resist the urge to place your value on how many FB friends you have…they are not real friends you know.

6. Find a Spiritual pursuit, it will ground you to what matters and help you avoid the seduction of the web.

7. Finally, reduce debt. You don’t need the most recent and fancy device to be a worthwhile person on this planet. 🙂 After all we now know that it will just make you stressed, unhappy and crazy!