Are Companies Doing Enough to Protect Your Information?

Ever since the Digital Revolution began during the mid 1900s, technology has rapidly expanded at a near unforeseeable rate. Computers 50 years ago were big enough to fill entire rooms, yet today would have similar computing power to an old iPhone. To put this in perspective, the four computers used to bring the NASA astronauts to the moon for the first time in 1969 are not as powerful as your everyday pocket calculator or even a basic USB flash drive. This was predicted in 1965 by Gordon Moore, who said that the number of transistors that can fit on integrated circuits will double about every two years. This means every two years, microprocessors are shrinking nearly in half, allowing for a large amount of computing power into a small device like an iPhone. Because of this principle, technology has been able to expand and develop at an exponential rate, allowing for everyday people to have access to the internet and computing abilities through personal laptops and smartphones.

As of June 2018, 55.1% of the world population were internet users. This amounts to over 4.2 billion people, and that number is expected to increase quickly. With this many people accessing the internet, a massive amount of data is created and stored online. This occurs when someone signs up for an account with an online retailer, social media platform, entertainment website, and most other web addresses. Furthermore, data can be created and stored internally on a specific computer often demonstrated when someone creates and saves documents on his or her computer. Additionally, businesses often have software programs that generate and store data internally along with data on each transaction and customer in the system. Data is being created at a rapid rate, with approximately 90% of the world’s data being made in the past two years. .Although data collection has made large advancements over the years, security measures have not evolved in correspondence with this trend.

Since 2013, over 13 billion data records have been lost or stolen. This is enough for nearly every person on Earth to have their data taken twice! The information taken can be used for identity theft, with social security numbers, emails, phone numbers, addresses and credit card numbers commonly being targeted. Because of this, data security should be of the utmost importance to people when utilizing the internet. Nevertheless, this is often one of the last things on someone’s mind as he or she browses online. Data storage and security is the responsibility of the business that keeps the information. For example, Facebook has the responsibility of safely storing all information about each of its users. This includes all email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, relationships with other users, and other information. If Facebook or other tech firms fails to do this, users may be subject to identity theft among other issues.

Although data breaches have been increasing each year, security measures have not developed to match this growth. A few reasons come to mind for this. First, data security is often considered a discretionary cost to businesses. This means that a business will spend money on security measures only if the funds are available after all operating and required costs have been paid. A change needs to be made in the minds of business owners that data security is of utmost importance. The average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million dollars according to a study from IBM, yet this number can greatly increase depending on the severity. Facebook’s recent breach could cost them over $1.6 billion in fines just from European regulators alone. Marriott is a prime example of a company that failed to keep its customers’ information safe as approximately 500 million people may have had their data taken illegally in one of the largests breaches in history. As more information was discovered on the severity of the breach, Marriott’s stock price plummeted to $100.99 on December 24, a 17% decline in share price since the news of the breach broke at the end of November. With countless other costly examples seen in the news (Uber, Equifax, Yahoo, Quora, etc.) it should be evident to businesses that it is more economical to invest in data security than suffer the consequences of a data breach.

If businesses fail to invest in customer data security, then government regulations may be created to increase this involvement. In September of 2018, Congress held a hearing on data privacy and security at top tech organizations. Executives from Facebook and Twitter attended while Google declined the invitation. This congressional hearing displays that the American government is not afraid to regulate the tech industry, and these new rules may be coming sooner than some businesses anticipate. By investing in data security soon, companies can protect their customers, prevent negative effects that come with data breaches, and jumpstart the process of changing how tech companies approach online security. Hopefully in 2019 companies will begin to realize the importance of data security and take steps towards implementing new measures to protect it. And if companies fail to do this, then the government should begin to take action through new laws and regulations.

Canna-business: The Great Marijuana Debate

The stigmatization of marijuana is something almost every American is familiar with and something that has a profound impact, one felt by dozens of American industries. When it was announced in late 2012 that two states, Colorado and Washington, had intentions to legalize the substance for recreational use, many reacted negatively to the legislation. Public protest of the drug’s legalization was widespread, with only 50% of Americans supporting legalization of marijuana in any capacity.

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Despite these obstacles, it seems that the marijuana industry cannot grow fast enough. It was estimated that the nation’s recreational and medical marijuana industries, combined, earned a total of over $9 billion in 2017, with a projected growth up to $11 billion by the end of 2018. These projections become even more impressive as time goes on, with an anticipated valuation of $21 billion dollars in 2021 and expected total spending of over $57 billion worldwide in 2027. By this point, recreational usage will also dominate 67% of the market. All of these growth factors may be why approval ratings for marijuana legalization have launched up to a record high, with 64% of Americans supporting legalization of the substance. Despite opposition by the federal government and a number of reluctant states, the trend of market growth seen within the industry does not appear to be slowing down. In addition to this massive monetary growth, the legalization of marijuana by state legislatures is having a worldwide impact. Europe, for instance, is expected to dominate the medical marijuana industry within the next decade, becoming the world leader by 2030. Several european nations, such as Germany and Italy, are aiming for billion dollar markets by 2027. Israel, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina are also expected to break into the industry within this timeframe and join the U.S. as major investors in both medical and recreational marijuana.

So why haven’t all U.S. states legalized the drug? After all, it seems as though the drug has only helped the states that have legalized its recreational use; Colorado and Washington both boast lower drug possession arrest rates, higher crime clearance rates (even, surprisingly, for non-drug related crimes), and booming economies. The fact is that many Americans are still not “on board” with total legalization of the substance. A glaring lack of evidence as to the long term health effects of the drug is front and center in the debate, leaving many reluctant to detach marijuana from its negative stigma through legalization: if the drug is legal, won’t kids be more inclined to try it? This concern may be warranted: the unprecedented growth of JUUL (an electronic cigarette device that has amassed a user base mostly consisting of young adults and teenagers) has many parents claiming marijuana may see the same popularity spike amongst children following its legalization. This argument opens up all sorts of chaos and introduces further questions as to marijuana’s identity as a gateway drug, its potentially addictive nature (if used for extended periods), and the impact it has on users’ lungs, brains, and overall mental health. But perhaps the biggest questions that demand to be answered have to do with crime rates. While the aforementioned crime clearance figures do seem impressive at first glance, what’s to say they will last? How will geography influence these statistics? Will full legalization increase the rate of intoxicated driving incidents nationwide? These questions are part of the reason many states have been hesitant to enact the legislation to the extent of Washington or Colorado, for example.

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Proponents of total legalization argue that these questions can only be answered with further research, and that this research will be more readily available if marijuana use is decriminalized on a larger scale. The enactment of pro-marijuana legislation will not only provide more subjects for wide scale research activities, but will also grant more funding for government sponsored research through collection of tax money applied to sales of the substance. The lack of credible information as to the effects of the drug on a user’s body can only be remedied through detailed research, something the government could provide best, many argue.

The legalization of marijuana, both for recreational and medicinal usage, has been a major discussion point in the media recently. While reluctance to pro-marijuana legislation amongst the American public has been present over the past couple years, support for its legalization has been steadily increasing over the past couple years and it appears as though this trend will continue. The potential negative side effects of the drug, many argue, should be ignored when focusing on the bigger picture: an immediate and powerful economic boost given by its introduction into the market. As time goes on, it seems more and more like the legalization question is not a matter of “if”, but of “when”. Whether we like it or not — marijuana is here to stay.





Podcast Persuasion: Seven Business Podcasts for Professional Development

Since 2013, the number of United States citizens who listen to podcasts has steadily increased from 10% to 17% with at least 44% of Americans having listened to a podcast at least once in their lives(1). With this increase in podcast listeners, the different categories of podcasts have expanded. You can now find podcasts on topics from news and politics, society and culture, to comedy. Whatever your interests, there seems to be a podcast for you. Podcasts are widely available through the iPhone podcast app, Google podcasts app, and Stitcher (a podcast app available on both iPhone and Android). Due to the vast coverage of topics and availability, podcasts are a great way to continue educating yourself on special interests. The list below gives a brief description of different podcasts that are specific to business.

  1. Women at Work by Harvard Business Review

Women at Work is a podcast that labels itself as “Conversations about the workplace, and women’s place in it.” The hosts discuss topics that specifically affect women, but go more in-depth with the topics by discussing how these issues affect the company culture overall. Special guests are brought in to describe how managers, co-workers, and women themselves are able to address the issues in a professional manner. Episodes have discussed claiming credit for your work to giving and receiving feedback. This podcast brings different perspectives to issues that women face in the workplace.

  1. Dear HBR by Harvard Business Review

Dear HBR is a podcast where episodes are completely based on the listeners. Workplace dilemmas are sent in to the hosts who bring in experts to give advice on how to handle these dilemmas. Dilemmas discussed in past episodes have ranged from working with difficult people to working remotely. Many of the situations are discussed from multiple perspectives within the work place, including employees and employers. Each podcast is about 30 minutes long, giving you practical advice without taking up a lot of your time.

  1. TEDTalks Business by TEDTalks

Don’t have an hour, or even 30 minutes, to dedicate to a podcast? TEDTalks Business is for you then. Learn more about social change, generational differences, or failing mindfully in less than 15 minutes. Each talk is presented by a different person, including Shonda Rhimes, Mohamed Ali, and Elon Musk. TEDTalks Business is a long-running podcast with episodes dating back to 2011, so there are multiple episodes to choose from.

  1. Making Data Simple by IBM Analytics Insights Podcasts

Interested in Big Data, but overwhelmed by all it involves? Making Data Simple is a podcast that is dedicated to breaking down Big Data. Episodes discuss Big Data and how it relates to different areas in the business world. Episodes have included discussing Japanese business culture, data in the retail industry, and data analytics. This podcast is great for everyone, from the people specializing in Big Data to the newcomer who wants to learn more about Big Data.

  1. The THRIVEcast by THRIVEal

THRIVEcast is linked to the THRIVEal network created to engage CPAs through an online community, with occasional real-world networking events. This podcast aids accountants in staying up to date with new information and best practices, as well as occasionally reviewing the history of accounting. Specific topics include learning processes and capacity management, value pricing, and trends to watch out for. Episodes air monthly and are about an hour long.

  1. Nine to Thrive HR by Human Capital Institute

Nine to Thrive HR is a great tool for managers and supervisors to learn new tactics and stay up to date with current events in human resources. However, this podcast is also beneficial for employees to learn more about human resources and gain a better understanding of HR’s role in the organization. Episodes include discussions on performance management, feedback, and diversity and inclusion. Human resources is connected to every individual in the workplace, so learning more about it is great for you and your organization.

  1. Marketing Over Coffee

Marketing Over Coffee covers a wide range of topics related to marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO) and other digital marketing strategies, as well as “old school” marketing strategies (offline marketing). This podcast also keeps its listeners up to speed with current events in marketing and how these events can affect business and strategies. Each episode covers a few topics, helping you to get the most out of your time.

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Knowing that podcasts are available is great, but why spend your time listening to a podcast? Many podcasts typically run an hour or less, which is a great way to productively spend your commute, whether that be driving to work or walking to class. Many people strive to continue growing in their field but have little time to devote to additional reading or research. Listening to a podcast is a great way to jumpstart or continue your professional development when you aren’t able to dedicate time to reading. Listening to podcasts is also a great way to stay informed about the business community in general, which can help during networking opportunities by showcasing your ability to understand multiple facets of the business world.