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.

 

https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

https://www.iflscience.com/technology/how-much-data-does-the-world-generate-every-minute/

https://breachlevelindex.com

https://news.vice.com/en_ca/article/mbw9v3/facebook-data-breach-europe-fine-hack

https://pittbusinessreview.com/welcome-to-the-hill/

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/marriott-says-data-breach-compromised-info-500-million-guests-n942041
https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/mar

The Global Implications of a Rising US Dollar

There are a lot of great things to be said about the United States economy right now. As US markets celebrate their longest ever growth streak, economically, a lot of Americans are satisfied with their financial well-being. Unemployment fell to a 50-year low, falling from 3.9 to 3.7 percent in September, as the US economy added another 134,000 jobs and companies have been steadily announcing payroll increases. In the third quarter, wages grew 3.4 percent, the fastest pace in over a decade. Amazon shocked the country by announcing its new $15 minimum wage for US workers, a policy that will go into effect next month, and is yet another sign of the best labor market in over a decade.

In the midst of this positive growth, the US Dollar continues to perform well as we enter the fourth quarter. US treasury yields are their highest since 2011, the dollar hit an 11-month high against the yen, and even the pound slipped to below $1.30 as the Dollar continues to sneak up. This means many Americans will enter the holiday season not only more eager to spend, but perhaps more eager to travel, as the Dollar’s value continues to rise globally. While spelling great news for US citizens, what does this mean for others around the world? Specifically, emerging markets across the globe are very aware of the recent trend of the Dollar, and in many cases, are facing potentially severe implications if the rapid growth continues to be a trend.

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Currency exchange rate sign in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the Argentine peso has fell significantly in 2018.

One key indicator of economic and monetary prosperity is the Federal Reserve benchmark interest rate. The Fed tends to raise rates during a strong economy to contain excesses and make sure the economy continues to grow stably, and tends to lower rates in times of economic struggle, in an effort to boost spending and borrowing. Currently sitting at a range between 2% and 2.25%, the Fed raised the rate for the third time in late September, and plans to raise it again sometime in December, and the plans don’t stop there. In June, when the Fed laid out its long-term objectives, it tentatively planned three more interest rate increases for 2019, and one more for 2020. The rates can also help ensure inflation rates are steady. The current inflation rate of 1.9% is very close to the Fed’s target of 2%. This is a very significant outline, as it tells us that the Fed predicts the US’s growth to continue through 2020.

 While signaling stability for the US Dollar, the Fed’s interest rate increases can negatively affect foreign markets, especially those who have borrowed heavily in US Dollars. As it stands, the US is still, by far, the dominant global reserve currency, accounting for 63% of global reserves. Many countries around the world issue Dollar-denominated debt, and debt levels become exaggerated with the rise of the Dollar. While interest rate increases work in strong economies such as the US’s, the same increases constrain countries where economies are not doing as well. It hurts policy options in regions with tight financial conditions and high trade tensions. While the US market enjoys a growth streak, the markets of emerging countries have on average been declining throughout 2018.

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The Indian Rupee hit an all-time low this year vs. the US Dollar.

Emerging markets, which often rely heavily on foreign investment, will be hurting the most. In emerging Asian markets, the Indonesian rupiah hit a 20 year low in 2018, and the Indian Rupee hit an all-time low vs the Dollar, hitting 73.77. In South America, the Argentine Peso, which was placed at 18 vs the US Dollar in 2017 and was relatively stable, rose to over 40 in 2018. The Brazilian Real hit 4.15 this year, while being in the low 3s during 2017. In the Middle East, the Turkish Lira, which has been in the 3s for the last half decade, has reached above 6, and in Africa, the South African Rand has increased to over 15 despite being as low as just 11 last year. While these are some of the more extreme examples worldwide, and while there are plenty of other internal issues at play, it still marks a global trend of struggle against the US Dollar. The reality is, foreign investors are crucial to the success of emerging economies, and investors become more and more reluctant to invest abroad in times of such volatility.

This brings up an intriguing ethical debate, that is, should we, as Americans, really care about the economic struggles abroad? After all, with turbulence abroad, investors have turned to the relative stability and strength of the US markets, increasing investment in 2018. With our government’s “America First” policy, jobs have finally been increasing again over the past few years. Despite this, I worry about the tough implications that emerging economies are facing right now. Worldwide market collaboration and investment drives innovation and success and can move different people and cultures together forward Of course, the reality is a lot more complicated, but I still see success, especially in emerging markets, as a positive thing, and it is important to keep in mind that US markets affect these markets more than we think.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/31/argentina-peso-sell-off-stops-as-investors-await-governmnet-plan.html

https://www.thenational.ae/business/economy/us-dollar-here-to-stay-as-main-reserve-currency-says-moody-s-1.770003

https://www.thenational.ae/business/money/us-dollar-takes-centre-stage-in-the-financial-universe-1.728368

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/indian-rupee-is-not-alone-here-are-5-worst-performing-currencies-in-the-world-352157.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-tricky-part-of-the-feds-next-rate-increase-1536831001

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-fed-raises-interest-rates-2017-12

https://www.ft.com/content/bcfa7bf0-b4a1-11e8-bbc3-ccd7de085ffe

https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/article/2167616/how-stronger-us-dollar-and-higher-crude-prices

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/04/soaring-us-dollar-threatens-trouble-for-emerging-markets

Controversy on the Court: What Will the Tennis World Do Next

On September 8th, Serena Williams faced Naomi Osaka in the US Open Final match when it quickly spun out of her control. Williams became engaged in a heated dispute with the match umpire Carlos Ramos after she was handed a series of code violations that made her lose points at a critical time in the match.

Ramos first gave Williams a violation for making eye contact with her coach who was in the stands watching, which is illegal as players cannot receive coaching during their matches. Ramos then gave her a second violation that resulted in the loss of a point for her smashing her racket on the ground in frustration. For the last straw, she finally received a game penalty for verbal abuse after she confronted the umpire, claiming that he stole a point from her and that he was a “thief.”

In the aftermath of the controversy, the International Tennis Federation defended Ramos and said he was within reason for handing out the rule violations. Williams unfortunately ended up losing the match. In her news conference afterwards, she claimed that she did not believe that what she said was bad in comparison to what male players say to umpires. As the dispute started trending on every website and social media, former players also backed her up on this.

Famous tennis player John McEnroe admitted that in his playing days he said much worse without getting penalized for it. Billie Jean King, a tennis legend and equal rights advocate, tweeted, “When a woman is emotional, she’s “hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s “outspoken” & there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard. More voices are needed to do the same.”

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King was one of many athletes that emerged to support Serena Williams.

If there is to be a stop to this type of sexism in the tennis world, Serena is the best to lead and advocate for this change. The greatest female tennis player ever, and the face of the tennis world, her entire career she has dealt with people loving to hate her not only because she is a female, but also because she is a minority. People don’t just dislike her, they love to hate her. This passion is not over a specific reason. They don’t hate her because of the way she acts or who she is. It is purely because they don’t want to like her and want to see her fail.

There is a glaring double standard in the way that men and women are treated in the sports world, but also in tennis specifically. What women are allowed to say, what they are allowed to wear, and how they should go about being angry or frustrated is all held to a different standard than men.

For example, Serena received backlash from the president of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Giudicelli in August after she wore an all-black catsuit in one of her French Open matches. He cited that it was disrespectful to the game. Williams countered by saying that the suit was not just for aesthetic reasons, but that it in fact helped her from developing blood clots during the match, something she has struggled with since becoming a mom last year. Men have always worn colorful outfits during their matches and suffered no backlash from it. Why can’t women do the same? Isn’t this entertainment after all?

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Beyond that, however, inside women’s tennis, there are also different standards for how African American women are allowed to conduct themselves on the court. Serena and her sister Venus always have to deal with things differently compared to other female players in the specific outfits they wear, the way they style their hair, and how well-spoken they are in off-court interviews.

Not judged for their tennis skills on the court, they have to play opponents while people are in the stands wanting to see them not succeed. The mental strength it must take to actually stay strong through that and stay focused on their tennis goals and not be affected from other people cannot be understated.

The tennis world needs to make a change. While such a big event like this made us take a hard look at the sexism that is in the sport, we need to realize that problems like these have been happening for a while. Only when we acknowledge the misogyny around us can we begin to make steps to fix it.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-what-tennis-umpires-need-to-learn-20180913-story.html#

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/09/us/serena-williams-sexism-tennis-controversy/index.html

 

https://www.tennisworldusa.org/tennis/news/Serena_Williams/60311/john-mcenroe-defends-serena-williams-i-have-said-far-worse-/