Doorbell Security Cameras Not So Secure

scamalert.securitycam

When parents hear, “Mommy!” yelled from their child’s room, it’s usually the result of a minor ouchie, or perhaps a stomach ache.

But, for recent users of a doorbell security camera, hearing, “Mommy!” come from their daughters’ bedroom turned their dreams of peace of mind into a nightmare.

Hackers have recently been gaining access to users’ homes via their systems’ two-way talk features. Two-way talk allows users to see what’s going on in their homes and talk to the occupants from a remote location via smartphone or tablet.

One recent attack involved an 8-year-old girl who was told by a male voice over the Amazon Ring security camera in her bedroom that he was Santa Claus and wanted to be her friend—all after calling her racial slurs and telling her it was OK to mess up her room and break her television.

The frightened girl could be seen and heard calling for her mother in the video provided to the media.

In another instance, a woman was awakened while sleeping in her bedroom by a strange voice coming from her Ring security camera. The voice was yelling for her to wake up and calling her dog.

Google’s Nest Cam security cameras are not immune to hackers, either.

One couple experienced hearing a man’s voice over the camera system. It was talking to their baby and then yelling obscenities at them before asking why the homeowners were looking at him (the crook). They also reported that the hackers had made adjustments to their thermostat.

In yet another Nest Cam incident, hackers warned a family about a supposed North Korean missile strike.

A spokesperson for Ring told The Washington Post in a recent statement that the Santa incident “is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security. Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously.”

They added that the hackers “often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services.”

Nest’s parent company, Google, told CBS News that Nest’s system was not breached, adding that reported incidents stem from customers “using compromised passwords … exposed through breaches on other websites.”

The Ring spokesperson told the Post, “Consumers should always practice good password hygiene and we encourage Ring customers to change their passwords and enable two-factor authentication.”

To prevent these incidents from occurring, CNET.com urges companies to require two-factor authentication (2FA), not just suggest using it.

“2FA would need a second form of identity, often a one-time code sent to a phone after a username and password are entered, or a physical token that’s plugged in,” according to CNET.

The report adds that hackers are using a technique called credential stuffing, a practice of acquiring lists of stolen usernames and passwords and then trying to use them on different accounts. Software tools have been created to specifically hack Ring cameras.

Ring’s representatives told Vice, “As a precaution, we highly and openly encourage all Ring users to enable two-factor authentication on their Ring account, add Shared Users (instead of sharing login credentials), use strong passwords, and regularly change their passwords.”

Take precautions before hackers take your peace of mind via your home security system.

Your Turn: How do you protect yourself from home security camera hackers? Tell us in the comments.

2020 BUSINESS MEETING OF MUTUAL CREDIT UNION

NOTICE TO THE MEMBERSHIP

January 10, 2020

Mutual Credit Union’s annual BUSINESS meeting will be held February 20, 2020 at 6:00 PM in the Cherry Street branch lobby located at 1604 Cherry Street, Vicksburg, MS. This meeting is a chance to review the state of the credit union and the 2019 annual report.

This is a business meeting of the membership, there will not be door prizes or refreshments available during this event.

Elections for the volunteer board of directors and supervisory committee will be open from January 13 through February 14, 2020. Voting will be held electronically through a secure portal on the mutualcu.org website, or by accessing the voting site directly at mutualcu.cuballot.com. You may also request a paper ballot by contacting us at 833-282-6595. Voting is fast and easy!

Working with financial information

How Men And Women Manage Money Differently

man and woman digital banking with laptop

Over the last century or so, society has made tremendous strides toward gender equality on every level — and this includes basic money management. Today’s culture has further narrowed the gap between the sexes, and the caricatures of the “overspending wife” and “overworked husband” have nearly become extinct.

Despite society’s advancements, there are still significant differences in the way each gender relates to and manages money. Dozens of studies have been performed on this subject, with research culled from around the globe. Being aware of these innate differences can help us understand the ways we deal with our finances so we can stop fighting our financial strengths and work on building them instead.

Attitudes toward shopping

Men and women look at shopping very differently. A study by the Wharton School of Business titled “Men Buy, Women Shop” found that women are more likely to view shopping as a recreational activity, while most men just want to get out of that store with their purchase as quickly as possible. Because of this, women will be quicker to notice and care about a store’s environment and the way they were treated by the salespeople.

Spending habits

Consumer Expenditure Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics studied the spending choices of single women and single men. Here’s what they found:

●       Overall spending: Single men outspent single women, but only by a slight margin. Men spent an average of $35,018 a year as opposed to $33,786 by women. It’s important to note, though, that the men earned roughly $10,000 more per year than the women.

●       Food: Single men outdid women here, too. Their annual food bill was $4,173, as opposed to $3,680 for the ladies. They also spent more than double what women spent on alcoholic beverages, at $537 a year compared to the women’s $234.

●       Clothing: Women came in first place in this category. They spent an average of $1,140 on a category titled “apparel and services” while men spent $813. Typically, women’s clothing costs more than men’s even for similar items.

●       Cars: Men outstripped women in this category, spending a total of $5,507 a year on personal transportation costs, compared to women’s $4,273.

●       Entertainment: Men and women spent similar annual amounts on entertainment, but they chose to spend those dollars differently. Men spent an average of $835 on “audio and visual equipment and services” but only $206 caring for pets. Women spent $725 on their home entertainment and $488 on their pets.

It’s not just the spending numbers that set men and women apart, though. There are multiple studies proving that women are more price-conscious shoppers than men. According to PaymentSense, 71% of women say the last item they bought online was on sale, compared to only 57% of men.  Coupons are also used more commonly by women than men, with CouponFollow’s 2017 Millennial Shopping Report showing that 74% of millennial women will look for coupons when shopping online, compared to 65% of millennial men.

Financial goals

Which gender has bigger dreams?

That question is difficult to answer, because men and women tend to have different priorities for their savings. A recent survey by The Motley Fool found that men are most likely to name saving for a vacation as their top financial goal, followed closely by paying off credit card debt. Women had identical goals, but they put their credit card debt first and their dream vacation second.

Savings

Although men and women have similar financial goals, there’s a vast difference between how much money each gender sets aside for those goals. A recent report by Mylo Financial Technologies found that men had set aside nearly twice as much money for their long-term financial goals as women. A BlackRock survey published by CNBC had similar findings:  American women nearing retirement age had an average of $81,300 in retirement funds, while their male counterparts had $118,400.

However, if you look at the percentage they save from their paychecks, women come in first place. A recent Vanguard study found that women are more likely to participate in workplace retirement plans, and that they put up to 8 percent more of their pretax earnings into these plans than men in the same earnings bracket.

The discrepancy between the dollar amounts saved and the percentages of incomes earmarked for savings is due to the reality that the average woman is still earning less than the average man. As a result, a female employee saving 10 percent of her salary might have less money stashed away than a male employee who is saving only 8 percent of his paycheck. Add compound interest into the mix, and you have the current gap between the accumulated savings of men and women.

Investing

There have been copious studies performed on the different investment habits of men and women. Most of them conclude that, of the two genders, men tend to be more confident in their financial knowledge and more open to risky investments, while women are the more cautious investors with an eye toward the future. Not surprisingly, studies have found that the average woman’s investment strategy and eventual performance tends to be more stable than the average man’s.

Men also seem to take more of an interest in investing. The Black Rock Survey found that 70 percent of millennial men enjoy managing their investments compared to just 36 percent of millennial women.

There is no right or wrong approach to finances. However, with an open mind and the willingness to learn about our natural strengths and weaknesses, we can all improve our money management skills for building a life of financial wellness and success.

Your Turn: Do the money habits of most of the men and women you know match up with the findings of these studies? Tell us about it in the comments.

Word of the Month: Appreciation

Receiving a gift young girl from relative

Uncle Bill was visiting for a week, and Gabi was thrilled.

Gabi loved her Uncle Bill. He had a long, gray mustache that stuck out on the sides like whiskers, a deep, gravelly laugh, and he told the best stories. Gabi especially loved when Uncle Bill talked about growing up in South Chicago with Gabi’s mom and their younger sister, Jenna.

“I was always getting into trouble,” Uncle Bill would laugh. “But your mom? She was always the goody-goody, never stepped out of line.”

Today, Uncle Bill had brought down a small, wooden box and opened it on the coffee table.

“Come here, Gabi,” Uncle Bill said. “I want to show you something.”

Gabi didn’t need to be asked twice. She hurried over and looked at the box.

“What’s inside?” she asked. “Can I see?”

Uncle Bill wagged a finger at her. “Uh-uh,” he said. ”Not yet. First, I want to tell you a little story.”

Gabi settled back against the couch with a little sigh. She really wanted to know what was in the box. But a story from Uncle Bill was definitely going to be good.

Gabi wasn’t disappointed. Uncle Bill started talking about back when he was 9 years old and really into baseball.

“I used to collect Topps,” he said. “Baseball cards, especially ones from my favorite team. I got myself some really good ones, too.” Uncle Bill’s eyes took on a faraway look, and Gabi knew he was getting lost in his memories.

“One time,” Uncle Bill continued, “your grandfather promised me a quarter for every A I got in school. I had a really tough teacher that year, and all of her exams were super hard. But I wanted those cards! So I studied and studied; I did my homework every night; and I skipped lots of fun outings with my friends. I earned those A’s and I got those quarters. And this is what I bought.”

He unlatched a lock on the box and pulled the cover open with a small creak. Inside was a small pile of baseball cards. Each card was wrapped in plastic and they looked very, very old. But Uncle Bill was obviously very proud of them.

“You see this one here?” he said, pointing to a card. “It’s a genuine Ron Santo; it’s worth more than a thousand dollars today. And this one here, this old Ernie Banks card, is worth double that!”

“A few thousand dollars for a little baseball card?” Gabi couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“It’s not just a ‘little baseball card’,” Uncle Bill said, smiling. “These are collectors’ items. They’re very, very valuable.”

Gabi looked at the cards again. Something just didn’t add up.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “How could you pay that much money for these cards when you were just a little boy? How many ‘A’s did you get?”

Uncle Bill looked at her and then he burst out in huge, rolling laughs.

Now Gabi was even more confused. “What’s so funny?” she asked. “What did I say?”

Finally, Uncle Bill calmed down enough to explain. “Do you know how much money these cards cost me when I was a little boy?” Without waiting for an answer, he said, “Just fifty cents, that’s all!”

“But, you said they’re worth thousands of dollars today!”

Uncle Bill smiled again. “They are!”

“How is that possible?”

Uncle Bill carefully put the cards back into his little box, snapped the lid shut and leaned against the couch.

“Let me teach you an important money word,” he said. He spoke slowly and carefully: “The word is app-re-ci-a-tion.”

Gabi knew she shouldn’t interrupt, but she didn’t understand. “Appreciation? What does that have to do with anything?”

“Not the appreciation you’re thinking of,” Uncle Bill explained. “When something appreciates, that means it goes up in value. It’s worth more over time.”

Gabi nodded, thinking.

“Like these cards here,” Uncle Bill said. “They’re worth a lot more today, because they aren’t in print any more. They’re rare and old, and that makes them worth a whole lot of money. Do you get what I’m saying?”

Gabi thought she did. “Does appreciation only work for baseball cards?”

“Well, if you hold onto your sneakers for 50 years, I don’t think they’ll be worth thousands of dollars,” Uncle Bill said, winking. “But limited editions of things that are collected, like stamps, and coins—and baseball cards, of course—usually go up in value over time. And it also works with houses.”

“Houses?”

“Yes. My house is worth a lot more money today than it was when I bought it 35 years ago. The neighborhood has gotten very popular, and lots of people are interested in moving there. If I sell it, I would make a lot more money than what I paid for it all those years ago.”

Gabi thought about what Uncle Bill had said. It sounded very interesting.

“I want to save something for a long time, too!” she told Uncle Bill. “But I don’t own anything that can really appreciate.”

“How about I give you a little something to start you off?” Uncle Bill asked with a twinkle in his eye.

“Oh, would you, Uncle Bill? That would be awesome! Thank you!”

Gabi watched as Uncle Bill reached deep into his pocket and pulled out a coin.  Gabi already knew it wasn’t going to be an ordinary quarter. She couldn’t wait to look up exactly what kind of coin it was. And then she was going to put it away somewhere safe, where she could hold onto it until it was worth a whole lot of money.

Just like Uncle Bill.

Talking points:

●       Why do you think collectors’ items appreciate over time?

●       Do you think Uncle Bill’s cards will continue to go up in value each year? Why or why not?

●       As Uncle Bill mentioned, houses usually appreciate over time. In comparison, cars tend to depreciate, or go down in value, instead. Can you think of a reason houses appreciate over time but cars do not?