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Microsoft Abandons Windows 8.1: Take Immediate Action Or Be Cut Off Like Windows XP

P Photo/RichaHit: Windows XP (2001)

Microsoft MSFT +0.43% has been on a roll lately. Office for iOS (and soon Android), free Windows licenses for small devices, universal Windows and Windows Phone apps, Siri rival Cortana, even a promise to eventually return the start menu before Windows 9. But when it comes to Windows 8, it seems the company has a permanently loaded pistol aimed squarely at its feet.

So it fits that just one week on from the launch of ‘Windows 8.1 Update 1’ (the smart upgrade mouse and keyboard users have long awaited) stupidity would strike once again.

“Windows 8.1 Update is a cumulative update to Windows 8.1,” said Microsoft Senior Product Marketing Manager Ben Hunter in an apparently innocuous blog post aimed at IT professionals. Then came the clanger: “It also becomes the new servicing baseline for Windows 8.1, so next month’s security updates (on May 13th, the next ‘Patch Tuesday’) will be dependent on Windows 8.1 Update.”

In English: Windows 8.1 will no longer receive security updates after 13 May. This is your 4 week countdown warning.

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For many it is no big deal. Just update and be quick about it. But for anyone who chooses not to install every Microsoft update the moment it appears, like mainstream users or – let me think – most businesses around the world… it is another matter entirely.

So come 13 May Microsoft will issue security patches that detail flaws they are fixing and those flaws will be left unpatched for all Windows 8.1 users. A nightmare scenario. It is also the same scenario Windows XP users now face after Microsoft cut off security updates this month, a generous 13 years after its initial release. Come 13 May Windows 8.1 will be 8 months old.

An argument could be made that Microsoft is merely determined to keep all its users up to date. That argument is somewhat undermined by the fact users still on Windows 8 will keep receiving security patches until January 2016.

Furthermore Microsoft’s decision has terrible timing. It is announced against the backdrop of Heartbleed, a security bug which this month exposed user details on 17% of the world’s supposedly secure web servers. Heartbleed has hit headlines around the globe and made users paranoid about security. Microsoft could not see it coming, but in refusing to give Windows 8.1 users more time in its wake the company looks antagonistic.

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It gets worse because Microsoft recognises Windows 8.1 Update 1 has problems. In a TechNet post Senior Microsoft Consultant Steve Thomas confirms there is “an issue regarding Windows 8.1 Update preventing interaction with WSUS 3.2 over SSL connections” and until it is fixed the deployment of Update 1 will be suspended to affected machines.

For affected users who have already downloaded Windows 8.1 Update 1 Thomas says “we recommend that you suspend deployment of this update in your organization until we release the update that resolves this issue.”

Yes, Microsoft faces a race against time entirely of its own making. It is a no win situation. Even if Microsoft issues a fix before 13 May every day spent is a day less for administrators to check for compatibility issues and apply Update 1 across all their Windows 8.1 machines.

And yet perhaps the most frustrating aspect to all of this is Windows 8.1 Update 1 is a great update. In fact it is arguably the best and most important update Windows 8 has received.

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Amongst other things Update 1 intelligently boots users without touchscreens to the desktop by default and uses desktop apps by default, it reduces the sensitivity of hot corners, highlights newly installed apps and dramatically improves the Modern UI for keyboard and mouse users. It also cuts its install size in half (from 32GB to 16GB) on SSDs, runs faster on slower hardware and drops minimum memory requirements from 2GB to 1GB of RAM. The end result is a darn good operating system.

Cynics will quite rightly point out it is the OS which Microsoft should have released from day one, but nevertheless Windows 8 is now starting to realise the company’s lofty ambitions.

All of which has probably come too late. Love or loathe Windows 8, it has been a sales flop. It changed too much too soon, alienated large numbers of users and ever since Microsoft has fought to restore confidence. Windows 8.1 Update 1 looked to be the incarnation to do it, but in needlessly condemning Windows 8.1 to the same fate as 13 year old Windows XP it has all but confirmed its latest OS will never be remembered with the same fondness.

 

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5 Common Causes of Prevalent Tax Mistakes

taxes_(2)Whether you’ve filed for an extension on your taxes this year, or have waited until the last minute to complete paperwork, or want a better strategy for the future, chances are you could be doing a better job throughout the year to save on income taxes, says seasoned investment advisor Paul Taylor, a member of the National Ethics Bureau.

Forty-nine percent of Americans think they personally pay more than their fair share in taxes, according to 2013 Rasmussen reports.

“Come tax time, many of the other half could be doing more to legally and strategically save money,” says Taylor, an architect-turned-founder and owner of Capital Advisory Group & Tax Planners of Lake Norman and Capital Investment Advisors, Inc, (www.CapitalAdvGroup.com).

He cites mistakes that many taxpayers are liable to make now and in future years.

• Not knowing which tax deductions are available. Tax reform measures are enacted frequently by Congress, which makes it hard for U.S. taxpayers to know which deductions are currently available for maximizing savings. One of the most overlooked deductions is state and local sales taxes. Taxpayers may be able to take deductions for student-loan interest, out-of-pocket charitable contributions, moving expenses to take a first job, the child care tax credit, new points on home refinancing, health insurance premiums, home mortgage interest, tax-preparation services and contributions to a traditional IRA.

• Misunderstanding deduction value for medical expenses. The Affordable Care Act has altered the guidelines for tax-deductible medical expenses. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, the new policy increased the threshold for the itemized deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income to 10 percent of adjusted gross income for regular tax purposes. The increase is waived for individuals age 65 and older for tax years 2013 through 2016.

• Confusing when taxes must be paid on IRA and employer-sponsored retirement funds. Traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans are tax-deferred accounts, which mean they are typically funded with pre-tax or tax-deductible dollars. As a result, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn. Exceptions are the Roth IRA and the Roth 401(k) and Roth 403(b). Roth accounts are funded with after-tax dollars. That’s why qualified distributions – after age 59½ and the five-year holding requirement has been met – are free of federal income tax.

• Overlooking tax-advantaged investments. Tax-advantaged investments can include real estate partnerships, oil and gas partnerships and suitability, which refers to how appropriate an investment may or may not be to an investor. Two of the most common types of real estate partnerships, for example, are low-income housing and historic rehabilitation. The federal government grants tax credits to those who construct or rehabilitate low-income housing or who invest in the rehabilitation or preservation of historic structures.

• Uncertainty when accounting for gift taxes. The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living. The federal estate tax, on the other hand, applies to property conveyed to others, with the exception of a spouse, after a person’s death. There are several exceptions to gift taxes, including gifts of tuition or medical expenses that you pay directly to a medical or educational institution for someone else, gifts to a spouse who is a U.S. citizen, gifts to a qualified charitable organization and gifts to a political organization.

About Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor is the founder and owner of Capital Advisory Group & Tax Planners of Lake Norman and Capital Investment Advisors, Inc. Taylor, a fully licensed investment advisor, has more than 20 years of experience in the industry and is committed to providing personalized service to those he serves. Since 2007, he has been a member of the National Ethics Bureau, which acknowledges individuals who prove they are committed to upholding the highest ethical standards in their practices.

 

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THE INTERNET’S TELLTALE HEARTBLEED

By Rusty Foster -

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The cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, who has been writing about computer security for more than fifteen years, is not given to panic or hyperbole. So when he writes, of the “catastrophic bug” known as Heartbleed, “On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11,” it’s safe to conclude that the Internet has a serious problem. The bug, which was announced on Tuesday—complete with an explanatory Web site and a bleeding-heart logo—is a vulnerability in a widely used piece of encryption software called OpenSSL.

Heartbleed is as bad as it is possible for a security flaw to be. It can be easily exploited by anyone on the Internet without leaving a trace, and it can be used to obtain login names, passwords, credit-card information, and even the keys that keep our encrypted communications safe from eavesdroppers. The bug first appeared in OpenSSL code that was released in March, 2012—so the vulnerability has been open to exploitation for more than two years. The Internet-security firm Netcraft reported that up to five hundred thousand sites thought to be secure were, in fact, vulnerable—including Twitter *, Yahoo, Tumblr, and Dropbox.

When you log on to a secure Web site—your bank’s, for example—you see a green-padlock icon at the top of your browser window, which confirms that your connection is secure. In order for browsers to communicate securely with servers, there is a standard set of steps that both sides must perform to create, and to maintain, that secure connection. This protocol is called Transport Layer Security, or T.L.S., and everything that it requires from both sides of a secure connection is laid out in a document called RFC 5246, which describes something like the Platonic ideal of a secure Internet connection. Of course, RFC 5246 cannot, by itself, be used to keep your bank account safe. To do that, someone has to write software that will make your Web browser and your bank’s Web server actually follow the steps that RFC 5246 delineates.

Among programmers, cryptography is notorious for its difficulty—even a tiny mistake can render your seemingly secure code worthless—and the conventional wisdom is that, whenever possible, the implementation of cryptography should be left to the experts. Since 1998, one way that programmers have been able to avoid implementing encryption protocols themselves has been to use an open-source library called OpenSSL. A code “library” is just a set of common functions that programmers can use within their own code, rather than having to write them from scratch. If many people are all using the same library, and the code is open-source—so that anyone can check it for bugs—it should be more reliable and more secure than a code that one person or firm could create alone.

Heartbleed is a bug in OpenSSL’s implementation of a small part of the T.L.S. protocol, called the heartbeat extension. A “heartbeat,” in this context, is like the “beep… beep…” of a hospital heart monitor: a quick way to check that the other end of a secure connection is still there. One side sends the other side a small piece of data, up to sixty-five kilobytes long, along with a number indicating the size of the data that has been sent. The other side is supposed to send back the exact same piece of data to confirm that the connection is still active. Unfortunately, in OpenSSL the replying side looks at the stated size of the data rather than at the actual size, and it always sends back the amount of data that the request asked for, no matter how much was sent. This means that if the stated amount of data is more than the amount actually provided, the response contains the data that was sent plus however much additional data, drawn from the contents of the computer’s system memory, is required to match the amount requested.

Here is why this is so bad: the heartbeat response can contain up to sixty-four kilobytes of whatever data happens to be in the server’s random access memory at the moment the request arrives. There is no way to predict what that memory will contain, but system memory routinely contains login names, passwords, secure certificates, and access tokens of all kinds. System memory is temporary: it is erased when a computer is shut down, and the data it holds is written and overwritten all the time. It is generally regarded as safe to load things like cryptographic keys or unencrypted passwords into system memory—indeed, there is little a computer can usefully do without temporarily storing pieces of sensitive data in its system memory. The Heartbleed bug allows an attacker to “bleed” out random drops of this memory simply by asking for it. Heartbeat requests aren’t usually logged or monitored in any way, so an attack leaves no trace. It’s not even possible to distinguish malicious heartbeat requests from authentic requests without close analysis. So an attacker can request new pieces of system memory over and over again; it’s almost impossible for the victim to know they’ve been targeted, let alone to know what data might have been stolen.

Among the items that can be found in a server’s system memory are the keys to cryptographically secured connections and the certificates that allow servers to prove they are what they claim to be. An attacker who steals cryptographic keys could use them to decode and read encrypted data that had previously been intercepted; an attacker who steals certificates could use them to mimic a secure site and to intercept communications. In other words, your browser could be tricked into thinking that it’s connected securely to your bank and instead be connected to an intermediary that can read all the data flowing back and forth.

In the worst-case scenario, criminal enterprises, intelligence agencies, and state-sponsored hackers have known about Heartbleed for more than two years, and have used it to systematically access almost everyone’s encrypted data. If this is true, then anyone who does anything on the Internet has likely been affected by the bug.

But, before you panic, it is worth remembering that, at this point, we don’t know how close we are to the worst-case scenario. It is possible, though improbable, that the security researchers who exposed this flaw were, in fact, the first people to find it, which would mean that it has only been known about, and exploited, for a few days. (It was found, independently, by a team of security researchers at Codenomicon and Neel Mehta, of Google Security.) At the same time the bug was announced, a new, secure version of OpenSSL was released, and updating most of the affected servers is a straightforward task. Major services like Google and Yahoo have already patched the vulnerability. Engineers did not need to stay up all night in a mad scramble to make repairs, but, as one system administrator told me, the nature of the bug made this something more than a routine update. “It’s an update, a configuration change, and a notification to your users that there’s no way to know if their data was stolen or not,” he said. To be safe, identity certificates for servers and users must be revoked and then reissued. The fix, in other words, is both urgent and tedious, which is the worst kind of job for a programmer or system administrator.

As a user, what can you do to protect yourself? Not very much, unfortunately. The standard advice is to change your passwords, but if a service is still vulnerable then changing your password just makes it more likely that it will be the one sitting in a leaked chunk of system memory. It is also not easy to determine whether a particular service you use is still vulnerable. If a provider suggests that you change your password, it should be done immediately; otherwise, it may be better to wait a few days. If you have the option to enable two-factor security, which requires more than just a password, you should do so on every service where it’s available.

How did such a catastrophic bug remain undetected for two years? OpenSSL, which is used to secure as many as two-thirds of all encrypted Internet connections, is a volunteer project. It is overseen by four people: one works for the open-source software company Red Hat, one works for Google, and two are consultants. There is nobody whose full-time job it is to work on OpenSSL.

The project’s code is more than fifteen years old, and it has a reputation for being dense, as well as difficult to maintain and to improve. Since the bug was revealed, other programmers have had harsh criticisms for what they regard as a mistake that could easily have been avoided. Theo de Raadt, the project leader for an open-source operating system called OpenBSD, put it bluntly in a message to a mailing list: “OpenSSL is not developed by a responsible team.” The portion of the code where the bug was found is written in a programming language called C, which was first developed, at Bell Labs, between 1969 and 1973. C is a finicky and old-fashioned language that puts great demands on programmers to manage the use of system memory. No modern language would let this sort of memory leakage take place, because newer languages automatically manage memory use.

Unlike a rusting highway bridge, digital infrastructure does not betray the effects of age. And, unlike roads and bridges, large portions of the software infrastructure of the Internet are built and maintained by volunteers, who get little reward when their code works well but are blamed, and sometimes savagely derided, when it fails. To some degree, this is beginning to change: venture-capital firms have made substantial investments in code-infrastructure projects, like GitHub and the Node Package Manager. But money and support still tend to flow to the newest and sexiest projects, while boring but essential elements like OpenSSL limp along as volunteer efforts. It’s easy to take open-source software for granted, and to forget that the Internet we use every day depends in part on the freely donated work of thousands of programmers. If open-source software is at the heart of the Internet, then we might need to examine it from time to time to make sure it’s not bleeding.

 

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3 Tips for Practicing Mindfulness in a Multitasking Workplace

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Google, eBay, Intel and General Mills offer classes on it. So do Harvard Business School, Ross School of Business and Claremont Graduate University, among other campuses. Mindfulness is not just a corporate trend, but a proven method for success.

Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for a business’s bottom line.

How can people practice it in a workplace where multitasking is the norm, and concerns for future profits can add to workplace stress?

“Even if a company doesn’t make it part of the culture, employees and managers can substitute their multitasking habits with mindfulness in order to reduce stress and increase productivity,” says Dr. Romie Mushtaq, www.BrainBodyBeauty.com, a neurologist with expertise in Mind-Body medicine and Mindful Living.

“The result that you and your colleagues will notice is that you’re sharper, more efficient and more creative.”

Dr. Romie says the physiological benefits of clearing away distractions and living in the moment have been documented in many scientific and medical studies.

“Practicing mindfulness, whether it’s simply taking deep breaths, or actually meditating or doing yoga, has been shown to alter the structure and function of the brain, which is what allows us to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory,” she says. “Advances in neuroimaging techniques have taught us how these mindfulness-based techniques affect neuroplasticity.

“Multitasking, on the other hand, depresses the brain’s memory and analytical functions, and it reduces blood flow to the part of the right temporal lobe, which contributes to our creative thinking. In today’s marketplace, creativity is key for innovation, sustainability and leadership.

Romie offers these tips for practicing mindfulness in a multitasking business:

•  Focus on a single task for an allotted amount of time. You might say, “For 15 minutes, I’m going to read through my emails, and then for one hour, I’m going to make my phone calls,” Dr. Romie says.

If your job comes with constant interruptions that demand your attention, take several deep breaths and then prioritize them. Resist the urge to answer the phone every time it rings — unless it’s your boss. If someone asks you to drop what you’re doing to help with a problem, it’s OK to tell them, “I’ll be finished with what I’m doing in 10 minutes, then I’m all yours.”

•  When you get “stuck” in a task, change your physical environment to stimulate your senses. Sometimes we bounce from one task to another because we just don’t have the words to begin writing that strategic plan, or we’re staring at a problem and have no ideas for solutions.

“That’s the time to get up, take a walk outside and look at the flowers and the birds – change what you’re seeing,” Dr. Romie says. “Or turn on some relaxing music that makes you feel happy.”

Offering your senses pleasant and different stimulation rewires your brain for relaxation, and reduces the effects of stress hormones, which helps to unfreeze your creativity center.

•  Delegate! We often have little control over the external stresses in our life, particularly on the job. How can you not multitask when five people want five different things from you at the same time?

“Have compassion for yourself, and reach out for help,” Dr. Romie says. “If you can assign a task to somebody else who’s capable of handling it, do so. If you need to ask a colleague to help you out, ask!”

This will not only allow you to focus on the tasks that most need your attention, it will reduce your stress.

“And who knows? The colleague you’re asking for help may want to feel appreciated and part of your team!”

While it is possible to practice mindfulness in a hectic workplace, Dr. Romie says she encourages business leaders to make it part of the company culture. Stress-related illnesses are the number one cause of missed employee workdays.

“Offering mindfulness training and yoga classes or giving people time and a place to meditate is an excellent investment,” she says. “Your company’s performance will improve, you’ll see a reduction in stress-related illnesses and you’ll be a more successful businessperson.”

About Dr. Romie Mushtaq

Dr. Romie is a mind-body medicine physician and neurologist. She did her medical education and training at the Medical University of South Carolina, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Michigan, where she won numerous teaching and research awards. She brings to healing both her expertise of traditional Western medical training and Eastern modalities of mindfulness. She is currently a corporate health consultant and professional health and wellness life coach at the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine in Orlando, Florida.  She is also an international professional speaker, addressing corporate audiences, health and wellness conferences and non-profit organizations.  Her website is www.BrainBodyBeauty.com.

 

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Is Corporate Culture Part of Your Business Plan?

Business People at Beach

Whether you’re launching a new business or wondering why your existing company isn’t performing as well as predicted, longtime corporate executive Larry Katzen suggests taking a careful look at your business plan.

Did you include a section describing the workplace culture and the steps you’ll take to foster that culture?

“When you look at why businesses fail, it almost always has something to do with the culture,” says Katzen, author of, “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” www.larrykatzen.com. “For nearly half of the startups that fail, incompetence is cited as the major cause, according to Statistic Brain. Tolerating – or not tolerating — incompetence is part of corporate culture.”

Katzen, a former managing partner at one of the world’s top five accounting firms, said his experience taught him a great deal about what kind of culture results in successful businesses. It was sadly ironic, he says, that Arthur Andersen, which held integrity chief among its values, was wrongly convicted of fabricated accusations related to the Enron scandal. The Supreme Court eventually exonerated Arthur Andersen, but the damage was already done.

“Today’s business leaders cannot leave culture to chance,” Katzen says. “They must decide what values and beliefs will form the foundation of their company, and they must ensure those values are integrated every day through example, communication, policy and incentives.”

He lists four cultural values and behaviors your company must have to be successful:

•  Integrity – from the top down. From the executive level to part-time support staff, each individual must adhere to a code of values and ethics that’s based on doing the right thing, Katzen says. “It’s absolutely essential that you and your managers make decisions based on honesty and fair play. When appropriate, take the time to explain to employees the reasoning behind big decisions, to reinforce that they’re made in accordance with ethical considerations.” Have a consistent, well-publicized policy for dealing with integrity breaches among employees, and a zero tolerance policy for breaches among management. Managers and executives who don’t adhere to company values will sabotage the culture.

•  A positive perspective at the executive level. The business leaders set the tone for the company, and if executives or managers have negative attitudes, especially in times of crisis, employees will, too. “You and your employees are not just doing jobs, you’re on a mission to improve people’s lives with the product or service you provide,” Katzen says. “The team that embarks on a mission with no hope of achieving that mission will not achieve it.”

•  Be a leader in the office and in the community. As a business leader, you should take an active role in working with organizations that benefit the community. Find ways to encourage employees to volunteer time as well, even if it’s a corporate project to which you allow each employee to dedicate a certain number of their payroll hours. “We’re all more gratified when we know we’re contributing something meaningful to the greater good,” Katzen says. “And remember – healthy communities grow healthy businesses.”

•  Make health and well-being a company priority.  Employees who exercise regularly, make healthy lifestyle changes and get regular checkups and vaccinations are doing you a big favor. They’ll be more productive and energetic and you’ll have less absenteeism. Make it easy for employees to schedule time for doctor visits, especially if you have a 9-to-5 office. Have health fair days, where employees can get free screenings and flu shots.  Reward trips to the gym, weight loss, smoking cessation and other healthy choices with drawings for prizes. And keep in mind, this is already a value among millennials – the teens to early 30-somethings who will soon make up half the work force. “They’ll enjoy being a part of that culture,” Katzen says.

Sometimes, Katzen says, CEOs with firmly held values conducive to an energetic, thriving workplace will naturally and unconsciously create a great corporate culture. But those who take time to think about the culture they want, spell out the details and exemplify and communicate them have a greater chance of success.

“Make it part of your business plan, because it’s as important as anything else in that plan.”

About Larry Katzen

After graduating from Drake University in 1967, Larry Katzen started working at Arthur Andersen and quickly rose through the ranks to become the Great Plains Regional Managing Partner. An honorable, hard-working man who devoted his life to Arthur Andersen, Larry was there from the company’s meteoric rise to its unjust demise. He stayed with the firm for 35 years, serving clients globally until 2002. He recounts his experiences in, “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” (www.larrykatzen.com).

 

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4 Ways the Workplace Has Become More Dangerous

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Tips for Preventing & Handling Disaster
& Distress on the Job

Disgruntled employees, workplace bullies, active-shooter situations, illegal drug use, ex-spouses and dissatisfied clients – all can be found in a random sampling of the 2 million people affected by workplace violence in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Of course, of the millions of reported cases, there are many more that go unreported; workplace violence includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site,” says Timothy Dimoff, one of the nation’s leading voices in personal and corporate security who has worked with the U.S. Army, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, corporations, universities and non-profit groups.

“From demeaning jokes to sexual innuendos to genuine fear of shots fired at work, hiring managers and their bosses need to understand these problems of human nature and know how to react. In my decades of experience with law enforcement and as a security entrepreneur, I’ve seen the evolution of workplace violence and management often do not know how to respond.”

Dimoff, founder and president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., (www.sacsconsulting.com), which analyzes and overhauls security for large public and private facilities, reviews today’s problems and offers a path for conflict resolution and prevention.

•  Inadequate use of hiring tools: Know who you’re hiring! “I can’t emphasize this enough; this is the age of information, yet potential employees often provide falsified or misleading details,” Dimoff says. “With so many candidates and so much information available today, employers often overlook useful tools in a hurry-up effort to maintain productivity with a premature hire.” There are many resources, including drug testing acknowledgment and consent forms; fully understanding laws including the Fair Labor Standards Act, equal employment opportunity guidelines and military leave guidelines; and simply knowing how to ask revealing questions to applicants.

•  Workplace intimidation & cyberbullying: Bullying is not exclusive to the schoolyard; it can follow adults into the workplace, and even home via email, texts and social media. “The first and best thing employers can do is prevention, and you do that by creating a positive and fair company culture,” Dimoff says. “Next, implement a zero tolerance policy for bullying; encourage employees to document and report bullying, and take those accusations seriously. Hold occasional staff meetings so that employees are taught to recognize signs of bullying and everyone is reminded of the zero tolerance policy.”

•  Gun violence: It can happen at what appear to be the most secure places in the world, and it can happen to the most innocent among us. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist turned jihadi, shot 13 fellow soldiers to death at Fort Hood, Texas. Twenty first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School never had the chance to become second-graders. We hear story after story about shootings in movie theaters, parking lots and neighborhoods. Train managers to recognize and attempt to de-escalate the situation, which can include talking to the potential aggressor in an empathetic, non-judgmental way. Fail that, there are situations for which heroes are necessary.

•  Violence against women: Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace, according to OSHA. Of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides. Once again, this comes down to a zero tolerance policy for bullying and sexual harassment, applicable to all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel, such as an ex-spouse. A well-designed on-site security protocol can significantly reduce the risk of severe violence.

About Timothy Dimoff

Timothy Dimoff, CPP, founder and president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. (www.sacsconsulting.com), is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities in high-risk workplace and human resource issues, security, vulnerability assessments and crime. A former award-winning narcotics detective and SWAT Team member, Dimoff analyzes security for churches, businesses and other places where people gather, develops a customized plan for each, and implements it. He has multiple certifications, including as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP™), a designation that is recognized worldwide.

 

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ClickBank 3.0 Launch Adds New Features That Boost Sales Revenue For Online Merchants

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Digital entrepreneurs have more ways to drive growth with ClickBank 3.0 including Affiliate Finder, a data-driven tool matching online merchants with qualified affiliates

 

April 2, 2014, DENVER – ClickBank, the digital commerce & marketing platform serving tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and online merchants, today launched ClickBank 3.0 with a suite of new e-commerce features. ClickBank 3.0 includes an Affiliate Finder, which uses data to match entrepreneurs and online merchants to the best affiliates to promote their digital products. Also added to the digital platform to help online merchants increase sales: a new subscription management system, customizable purchase forms, and more.

“The launch of ClickBank 3.0 combined with Pytch, our mobile offering, is in direct response to the feedback we’ve heard from our online merchants as well as their customers,” said Matt Hulett, ClickBank Chief Executive Officer, who joined the company last year. “And the timing is perfect as the independent workforce is expected to rise over the next five years as more people aim to increase their personal success.”

Along with a visually stunning new look and feel, ClickBank 3.0 provides entrepreneurs and online merchants with a single digital destination to manage their sales and marketing operations. No other payment processing service or affiliate network currently on the market provides online merchants with the same range of features as ClickBank. That means online merchants using ClickBank have more opportunities to drive sales than on any other digital commerce and marketing platform, and they can begin using these new features today:

  • Affiliate Finder. Online merchants using ClickBank can tap one of the largest affiliate networks in the world in 2014, according to Revenue Performance, and easily find relevant marketers who can help drive more traffic to their site thanks to today’s launch of Affiliate Finder. Now online merchants can be matched with qualified affiliates that can best promote their digital products, thus generating more traffic and sales on their sites.
  • Subscription Management System. Online merchants can now offer their customers flexible subscription options, which are all effortlessly managed within the ClickBank dashboard. Subscriptions can be changed, suspended, extended or reactivated via the new ClickBank dashboard, which was designed from the ground up for entrepreneurs and online merchants of paid lifestyle-centric content in the areas of health and wellness, relationships, wealth creation and more.
  • Advanced Custom Order Form. ClickBank now provides a highly customizable customer order form for online merchants, helping keep a consistent brand presence throughout the purchase cycle. Online merchants using other payment processors often have little to no control over their brand presence on the order form at the time an online sales transaction takes place. But with ClickBank, online merchants can now add images, testimonials and even change the layout of their order forms to increase brand recognition and ultimately drive conversions.
  • Automatic Upsell. Only with ClickBank can online merchants earn affiliate commissions from consumers at checkout, further boosting their revenues. Once an online purchase of a digital product is complete, ClickBank will automatically recommend other digital products targeted to that consumer on the confirmation page. ClickBank has extensive visibility into the entire transaction process, and digital products recommended are based on historical event data collected over the past 15 years, such as related products viewed or purchased by consumers.

ClickBank 3.0 launches almost one year after Hulett took his post as CEO of the digital platform company. Since joining ClickBank, he has successfully lead new growth strategies for the digital platform company by strengthening and expanding end-to-end experiences for online businesses and their customers.

“We’re excited to open up even more business opportunities for online merchants in 2014 and beyond with the launch of ClickBank 3.0,” Matt added.

ClickBank serves entrepreneurs and online merchants offering digital goods and educational content with a full suite of digital commerce, sales and marketing tools designed specifically to help them increase revenues. The ClickBank platform, which has one of the most reliable and simple e-payment systems in the world, has already paid out more than $2.5B in the past 15 years to its clients.

For more information about ClickBank 3.0, please visit: www.ClickBank.com.

About ClickBank

ClickBank is all about helping entrepreneurs worldwide reach their financial goals. By combining its digital commerce and marketing platform with its global marketing network, ClickBank has helped hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs create, manage and sell digital products (e-books, how-to videos, audiobooks). From getting in shape and dating advice to learning how to start a business, ClickBank’s digital products are some of the hottest selling products online, which is why ClickBank consistently ranks as one of the most highly trafficked e-commerce platform with 30,000 digital transactions per day across 190 countries. For more information, visit www.clickbank.com.

 

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