Cyber Attacks Continue as Malware Hits PoS of Four Food Outlets

Cyber attacks in business systems will continue to rise, reaching a point of becoming a norm, as forewarned by the Global Risks Report in 2018,. In the recent past 2 days, four food businesses, namely Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, Schlotzsky’s and Hy-Vee Supermarket, came out with reports that their Point of Sale (PoS) machines were infected by a malware that was able to steal customer information.

Focus Brands, the owner of the three food chains, said the company’s network was infected with malware that copied information from cards that entered point-of-sale payment systems across different locations. All three Focus Brands food outlets are spread through 1,500 different locations across American states.

Hy-Vee supermarkets,on the other hand, operate in about 254 retail sites in convenience stores, drug stores, groceries and fuel pumps.

Synopsis of Focus Brand’s Report on PoS Malware Attacks

According to Focus Brands, cyber attacks that infiltrated their network via the three food subsidiaries had started on three different dates. Although cyber security experts were able to end the malware intrusion on July 22, 2019, the report did not give specific details about the customer cards that had been scraped for information.

The malware operation began last April 11 at a Schlotzsky’s outlet, while the attacks at McAlister’s and Moe’s began in April 29, 2019.

Synopsis of Hy-Vee’s Report on PoS Malware Attacks

Unlike the malware that attacked the three Focus Brands food chain for only about a month, the HY-Vee malware had been present in the PoS systems since November 2018. It was detected only in July 29, when unauthorized activities started registering on some of their PoS processing machines. It was only then that cyber security experts were called upon to conduct an investigation.

The malware operation in fuel pump PoS transpired since December 14, 2018, while the attacks in PoS drive-thrus and restaurants began in January 15, 2019. Yet in six still undetermined locations, experts suspects that the malware may have operated by as early as November 09, 2018.

Hy-Vee’s latest update about the cyber attacks included a lookup tool for identifying the Hy-Vee fuel pumps, restaurants and drive-thru coffee shops, and restaurants whose PoS were compromised. That way customers can determine if they had used their payment card payment during the periods indicated.

University Professors Analyze Customer Reactions to Data Breach Incidents

In the wake of revelations about data breach among major companies, professors in different business disciplines at the Birmingham University in New York, took time to analyze how consumers react to this type of untoward occurrences. The most recent being the Capital One Bank, which became aware of the data breach only after a concerned individual alerted the bank.

 

The hacker who goes by the name of Paige A. Thompson bragged about her Capital One hacking activities at GitHub. GitHub is a web-based platform where web developers meet to exchange ideas and suggestions on how to make better codes for their project.

The thing is, the hacker was apparently advertising herself and her skills, by providing details on how she was able to extract more than 700 data folders stored in the cloud server of the Amazon Web Service for Capital One, from March 12-17, 2019. Thompson, even included the IP address of the specific server in which Capital One’s sensitive data were stored.

A Separate Birmingham University Study Analyzed Customer Reactions to Data Breach Incidents

Distinguished Marketing Professor at B.U. School of Management, Professor Subimal Chatterjee, reported that consumers are likely imagining worst-case scenario once they learn about large-scale data breaches.

They tend to look for answers to questions about the safety of their credit card information, causing them worries that their personal info may be used for entering into unauthorized transactions. According to Chatterjee, the degree of fear felt by consumers determines decisions they make, whether they intend to purchase or transact with the company again.

Professor Chatter collaborated with other Birmingham University professors; with Cihan Uzmanoglu, assistant professor of Finance, with Sumantra Sarkar, assistant professor of Management Information Systems, and with Xiang Gao, a Binghamton University PhD graduate currently working at Minnesota State University’s Paseka School of Business.

The professors categorized some as fearful customers, This being the group who were more interested in finding out if the data breaching incident affected 100 customers, or if as many as 10 million customer information were hacked. Naturally, the larger the scope and size, the greater the fear created.

In comparison, the academicians noted that some customers were merely angry, to which their anger was focused on the perpetrator rather than on factors that indicate the robustness or weakness of the system or infrastructure.

The significance of their analysis about customer reactions to data breach is that the stock market reacts to how consumers react to such incidents. According to the professors, fear of the scope of data breach makes the stock market sensitive to the conditions. On the other hand, angry consumer reactions make the stock market less, or not at all sensitive to the scope of the data breach.

Why Buying a Genuine Hermes Birkin Bag Poses as a Lucrative Investment

If you happen to own an authentic Hermes Birkin bag, be sure to keep it in the best condition because that particular article is considered a lucrative investment asset. A study conducted by Baghunter, a reputable online trader of luxury handbags revealed that during the past 35 years, Hermes Birkin bags commanded higher investment returns than Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) shares and even gold.

Baghunter sales analysts made a comparative study of the return on investment (ROI) yielded by each of the three (3) commodities. On the average, stock market shares had a nominal ROI of 11.66 percent and an actual ROI of 8.65%. Gold, on the other hand, showed an average ROI of 1.9 % per annum, while posting a lower actual average return of -1.5%.

In contrast, the performance of Hermes Birkin bags over the same period were far more exceptional than the two; because not a single Hermes Birkin creation had a value that fluctuated on a downward trend. Initially, Hermes Birkin bags appreciated in value by 14.2 percent and went on to peak in prices through the years. In 2001, the surge in prices reached a substantial 25 percent from the original selling prices.

It is nor surprising therefore, why in 2015, a record-breaking sale of a pink crocodile-skin Hermes creation commanded a remarkable selling price of $223,000. In 2016, a diamond edition Birkin bag fetched as much as $300,168 at an auction.

Why are Hermes Birkin Bags Ultra Expensive?

First off, only the creme de la creme of high society and the super-moneyed, can afford to be first hand owners of a Hermes Birkin handbag. Some can afford to buy more than one and keep them as priceless collections. Some others tend to be more practical, by first selling their Birkin original to reputable high-end traders of pre-owned luxury bags, before buying the latest edition. The most exclusive of course are those that were commissioned as custom made specifically for a single owner.

A single Hermes original can come with a price tag ranging from $12,000 at the least, or up to $200,000 at the most. It takes about six years before a new version of a Hermes handbag comes out. Since only a few will be released, the privileged few who get to buy them are those at the top of the waiting list.

Every bag is made from genuine premium leather and embellished with buckles, keys and locks plated with precious metals, either gold or palladium. Most important of all is that each Hermes bag was handmade by an expert craftsman, skilled at sewing bags using a special kind of stitch that is said to be 2 centuries old.

When buying pre-owned or pre-loved Hermes Birkin branded bags, be sure you know how to authenticate them or bring along someone who knows how to distinguish a genuine from a faux pas. Fake or knock-off versions have practically landed at online stores, so if you are looking to buy not just to own one but also to bank on it as a long term investment, make sure you will be buying from reputable dealers who also maintain a reputation for trading only with genuine luxury bags.

Understanding the Basics of Fixed Maturity Plans as Investment Products

Fixed Maturity Plans (FMPs) are touted as safer debt instruments, with potential to earn higher than bank savings account and fixed-deposit. The popularity of FMPs appeal to investors who prefer to lock their investments at higher interest rates, when and where the trend for such rates are currently on the rise.

Higher earnings though are not assured as FMPs offer only indicative yields; denoting that actual gain that can be realized from investing on FMPs has chances of being lower or higher than the indicative yield stated at the time the FMP became available as New Fund Offer (NFO).

How Do Fixed Maturity Plans Work?

First off, FMP investment product becomes available by way of a New Fund Offer (NFO) coming from a mutual fund company. The latter intends to pool money that will be loaned out to a particular business at a fixed interest rate, over a fixed maturity period coinciding with the maturity date as the FMP investment. FMPs are heavily debt-oriented but protects the returns of investors from interest fluctuations.

Yet, in the event the business entity on which the debt scheme was awarded, fails to pay at maturity, this denotes that FMP investors will not receive the entire maturity value indicated during the launch of the NFO.

Who Invests in FMPs?

In light of its long term nature, FMPs however, are recommended as ideal investment products for investors who can park their money on long term investments of up to 3 years at the least, to 5 years at the most. The need to stay invested throughout the term is to harness the benefits of indexation of taxes pertaining to capital gains derived from long term investments.

FMP investors therefore who do not have liquidity requirements for the next 3 to 5 years, have better opportunities at raking in returns at a lower tax expense to earnings ratio.

Benefits of indexation of Taxes on FMPs relate to a specific tax rate on Long Term Capital Gains. As opposed to Savings or Time Deposit to which interests earned are immediately reduced by corresponding taxes withheld on interest earnings realized during short periods. The difference in taxation though, benefits those who have no liquidity requirements for at least three years.

Asset Manager Bitwise Submits Analysis to Show that 95% of Bitcoin Trading are Hoaxes

Bitwise, the company that pioneered crypto asset management and founded the world’s first cryptocurrency index fund, conducted a study that revealed 95% of bitcoin trading reported are mere hoaxes. The asset management company followed up a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal in light of concerns voiced by regulators about cryptocurrency market, and its vulnerability to trading manipulation.

While in the process of listing the first bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF), Bitwise met with officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to submit its analysis. The firm reviewed the top data furnished by CoinMarketCap.com and analyzed the volume of top 81 crypto exchanges. The analysis revealed that of the aggregate $6 billion reported by CoinMarketCap as average daily bitcoin volume, only $273 million worth is legitimate.

Matthew Hougan, Bitwise Global Head of Research remarked,

“People looked at cryptocurrency and said this market is a mess; that’s because they were looking at data that was manipulated. The idea that there’s fake volume has been rumored for a long time; we were just the first people to systematically look at which exchanges were delivering real volume,”

Salient Points of the Bitwise Bitcoin Trade Analysis

In assessing the $27 million average trade volume (ATV) reported by San Francisco-based company, Coinbase Pro, the asset management company established a bitcoin “median spread” of one (1) cent. Median Spread is significant because it pertains to the difference between a bitcoin seller’s asking price and the price a bitcoin buyer would be willing to place as exchange. On Bitwise’s evaluation, Coinbase Pro’s trading scenario is legitimate.

Pitting the Coinbase Pro data against those that made a showing of having the biggest reported exchanges tracked by CoinMarketCap.com, Bitwise found bitcoin exchanges in most entities have extreme median spread.

Reported exchanges at CoinBene for one, resulted to a $15 median spread, which Bitwise found as dubious. CoinBene’s AVT was 18 times greater than that of Coinbase Pro. It therefore came as a surprise that such volume would come from a trading company that has a median spread that is 1500 greater than a cryptotrader like Coinbase Pro that has 1 cent median spread.

Not surprisingly, further analysis of reported bitcoin trading revealed median spreads as extreme as $300 and higher.

The fake exchanges are driven by fees awarded to those who can attract listings for fresh initial coin offers (ICO), targeting those seeking to have their cryptocurrency placed on where heavy trading transpires. Autonomous Next previously reported data showing fees ranging from $1M to $3M per listing; whilst suggesting the crypto cycle incentives promote fraudulent behavior from bad actors.