Is the camera on your laptop a security risk?

by Michael Haberman on September 26, 2016 · 0 comments


Your computer camera can be used to spy on you in both business and your personal life.

Your computer camera can be used to spy on you in both business and your personal life.

We use the cameras on our laptops and our phones and other mobile devices a great deal. Pictures for Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest and more are post every day. Videos are recorded for those sites and more at an ever increasing rate. People use those cameras for live-streaming as well. People are using them to record their drives, the interactions with others and even their confrontations with authorities. We use them to record our visions of the world, but have you ever thought that your camera may be recording someone else’s vision of you?

Yes, your camera may be watching you

According to an article by Katie Rogers in the June 22, 2016 issue of The New York Times your camera on your device can be used to spy on you. Malicious software can reverse the camera’s functionality and can make it a window into your world, both personal and work. It can be used by any number of people. Rogers reported that it is not just the pervs that want to watch your teenage daughter undress at night, it also includes governments that feel they need to spy on you. It is such a threat that Mark Zuckerberg  and FBI Director James Comey both take precautions to protect themselves. Rogers in her article said that many “high value” individuals and security personnel take precautions to protect themselves from unwanted viewing by electronic peeping Toms. Security professionals suggest that everyone needs to do this.

What about at work?

The warnings about this intrusion on a personal level are more likely to capture our attention than warnings about work, but the potential intrusions at work can be even more devastating the someone catching you in your underwear. Organizations that have highly guarded trade secrets or conduct highly confidential discussions may be a much more attractive target for intrusion that they might suspect. A meeting held in a boardroom while someone has a laptop open may be providing a portal for industrial espionage. Think of all those confidential discussions that could potentially reveal a wealth of information about company operations just by having a hacked laptop.

How to protect yourself

Having a good malware detector on your laptop will provide some of the protection you need to have, but Zuckerberg and Director Comey take additional measures. They cover the cameras with a block of some sort. They can be as simple as a sticky note or a piece of tape, or you can buy reusable decorative stickers or even slides that can be attached to the laptop and opened and closed as needed. By the way your phone needs to be protected too.

Thanks to attorney Patrick Fowler of Snell & Wilmer for the inspiration for this post.

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Future Friday: The vision of retirement is already changing

by Michael Haberman on September 23, 2016 · 0 comments


Older workers eschewing retirement because they want to stay working.

Older workers eschewing retirement because they want to stay working.

The vision of retirement is undergoing a major change. Many people envision that retirement is sitting at the local Starbucks chatting with friends or sitting on the front porch rocking away enjoying “the good life.” However, for many people that is not the good life and as a result the vision of what retirement will look like is undergoing a major change.

Mortality

Many people are eschewing the thought of the good life retirement scenario for a number of reasons. First is the mortality reason. Studies have shown that people who retire early, in their 50’s (which used to be the gold standard for having had a successful career) suffer from an increased mortality rate. One study found that “…embarking on the Golden Years at age 55 doubled the risk for death before reaching age 65, compared with those who toiled beyond age 60…” Even a study published by the Social Security Administration in 1954 found that “A person compelled to retire, it is argued, loses his vitality and tends to die much earlier than if he is allowed to continue in gainful work.” (Excuse the sexist language, after all it was 1954)

Have to continue eating

Many older workers today are not retiring for a number of reasons. One reason often stated is that the recession of 2008-2009 destroyed retirement plans and forced older workers to continue to work just to be able to put some food on the table. Certainly that was an issue for people that had retirement plans invested in certain stocks that they needed to withdraw right at that time. That concern seems to have diminished some in 2016. Yet older workers are still not retiring.

Continuing to work

Today the vision of retirement for many is avoiding the rocking chair and working for themselves. I allude to this in my post of a couple of weeks ago, Future Friday: Will it be the older generations that drive the Gig economy, not the Millennials? A recent article written by Gemma Tetlow, Economics Correspondent in the online version of Financial Times says that the movement toward working as retirement is not only driven by financial necessity, it is also driven “by new opportunities for fulfilling, flexible work.”

In this article based on UK studies Tetlow says “…the type of work older people do — and why they do it — is often different from when they were younger, and from their younger counterparts today.” She goes on to say “Many older workers look for the opportunity to work shorter, more flexible hours. Working men in their late 60s work on average 10 fewer hours each week than those in their late 50s.”

Good for the economy?

Tetlow suggests that because older workers also have some sort of retirement fund “The ability to top up earnings with pension income means some older workers are keen to take part-time jobs that might be unattractive to younger workers looking for higher earnings.” She also says “A desire for more flexibility also partly explains the prevalence of self-employment among older workers.” As I talked about in my Future Friday post reference above many of the jobs that we thought would be taken by Millennials are being taken instead by older workers and bringing to employers skill sets and experience younger workers don’t.

Good for the person

Working a job is also good for the person. Older workers learn new skill sets and a sense of purpose. After having worked all your life, suddenly stopping is for some people more fearful than dying. For me the thought of just stopping to “retire” sounds dull.

Perhaps if I had a job that was physically taxing I might have a different notion, but I don’t. I write, I consult, I teach, and I speak. What is there to retire from? That stuff is fun. I think I am representative of many people my age and those younger that will be looking at retirement age in the next ten years. We will change the vision of retirement.

What does this mean for companies?

In the age of rampant ageism those companies that recognize the human resource that is available to them will have a competitive edge over those that continue to have “hire the young only” mentality. There will be vast amounts of knowledge, talent and hours that workers will bring to the job that other companies will be missing. It is time to wake up and take advantage of the availability of a cohort of people ready, willing and able to work.

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Not disclosing information to a candidate that could alter their decision is not only unethical but it could be found to be illegal too.

Not disclosing information to a candidate that could alter their decision is not only unethical but it could be found to be illegal too.

I came across an article by attorney Shep Davidson of Burns & Levinson, LLP that reminded me of a personal situation I was involved in while I was working for a software company. He article makes companies aware of the potential downfall of not being open and honest about potential opportunities.

Recruiting someone using incomplete information

In Davidson’s story the case involved a financial services firm that recruited another firm’s employee. The wanted him to handle a specific, new, fund. They, according to the employee being recruited assured him of the following:

  • The fund had a good plan and strategy
  • The company was committed to providing the time and resources necessary for success of the fund
  • The hiring company was moving carefully in order to be successful
  • The company was prepared to make a long term commitment to the fund.

This information was important to the candidate because the potential change in jobs required not only a resignation but then a major relocation.

Made the move… and oops

With the assurances the candidate received from the hiring company he tendered his resignation on July 5th with a start date of July 20th. On July 16th the candidate was informed that the company had changed its mind and was no longer going to pursue the fund. Their letter stated:

A recent assessment of the fund’s investment process, philosophy and performance led the CIO and others to conclude that the fund could not succeed without significant investments of time and resources to refine and develop the strategy to match [the companies] expectations. [Company] management assessed these factors and determined that the likelihood of Angleton successfully creating a differentiated product that met the firm’s risk/return standards and attracted a reasonable asset base was too low.

As you can imagine the candidate was none too happy and sued in Federal Court for misrepresentation. The company tried to have the charges dismissed but the judge rejected their claim saying “A party to a business transaction is under a duty to exercise reasonable care to disclose to the other before the transaction is consummated…” Shep Davidson’s take on this was “…if there are factors that that make a new opportunity risky, tenuous or uncertain, you had better disclose them if you want to avoid being in the position that [the company] now finds itself.”

My situation

Back when I was working for a software company I had a similar situation. We were hiring for a district manager. We recruited a top-notch sales person and made her an offer. She came back and said that she had heard “on the street” that our company was having some problems. She said she was hesitant to leave her current situation if our company was so tenuous. The Regional VP of Sales and I assured her we had heard no such rumors and our offer was solid. She accepted, resigned and went on vacation. The next week I learned that the company was indeed in tough financial straits and that I need to rescind all offers made, and we were to terminate employees currently in training classes. So I called my candidate on the beach in Florida on her next to last day on vacation and said “Sorry, the job no longer exists.” I am pretty sure she sued, but since I was then cut back as well (another story) I don’t know what the outcome was. I just know that I felt bad for the candidate and felt like I had been dishonest and unethical, even though I had operated off of information given to me.

Avoid non-disclosure

I agree with Davidson’s advice when he says “So, the next time, your company is trying to convince someone to join in a new business, keep in mind that while true optimism is fine, overstating and withholding important facts can lead to more than just some ruffled feathers.”

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What makes up a competitive workforce?

What makes up a competitive workforce?

Today’s guest post is brought to you by SocialMonsters.org

What makes up the DNA of a competitive workforce?

There are the tangible factors that are easily calculated — average salary, housing costs, dominant local industries — this is the “low hanging fruit” of what makes a city competitive in the workforce. And then there are the intangible factors — job satisfaction, work/life balance, measurement of happiness — that are still measurable in one way or another but much more qualitative than quantitative.

While the fluctuation of competitive workforces is very much organic, it’s up to HR professionals to stay ahead of trends and figure out how to use them, not control them. After all, the changes in the market are going to happen one way or another—it’s up to us to use what we can’t control to help a company either flourish or flounder.

If you live and work in one of these US cities — the most competitive workforces in America — here is what gives them the advantage and how you can make that advantage your own.

San Francisco

The Quantitative

Despite one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, San Francisco (along with San Jose) is the most competitive workforce in the United States. To combat the high living prices in the Bay Area, San Francisco and San Jose also offer the highest median salary of any major US city and report the highest job satisfaction in the country.

The Qualitative

Silicon Valley companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook are notorious for giving employees more amenities than a five-star hotel. When you have free meals, dry cleaning service, and nap rooms, it’s easy to enjoy a quality work/life balance. The Bay Area is also home to some of California’s best parks, art, and culture — simply adding to the list of love for the city.

What You Should Do

Tech startups in the valley are a dime a dozen, and the only way to compete with top companies is to offer the same in-office amenities. Along with a competitive salary, this will attract the new talent.

New York

The Quantitative

Across the country, New York also tops the list of competitive workforces but for very different reasons. It shares some of the same quantitative statistics as Northern California—high median salaries, good job satisfaction (but much less than SF/San Jose), along with high living expenses of course.

The Qualitative

If the tech startups of Silicon Valley are the young guns, then the established corporations of Manhattan are the prestigious veterans. Living and working in New York, especially for one of its more well-known institutions, carries clout that thousands of Americans are after. So while job satisfaction is higher in the Bay Area, the glamour of walking from your New York apartment to that job on Fifth Avenue is a very powerful prospect.

What You Should Do

Your company’s reputation as an establishment will play to your advantage when scouting for new talent. Anything you can do to play up the idea that is “living and working in New York” will only help when candidates consider New York against other cities.

Austin

The Quantitative

Austin is an up-and-comer in the tech space and has made serious strides in the last decade in both salary and job satisfaction. But it’s housing costs that really sit “Silicon Alley” apart from New York and San Francisco. Austin has, what feels like, pennies on the dollar when compared to the two larger cities.

The Qualitative

Austin is also making a name for culture and cool factor. It’s home to the ever-popular SXSW festival and carries a serious reputation as the up and coming city to start a business this decade.

What You Should Do

There is young talent out there looking to make a mark with something new—so long that it shows promise. Use Austin as proof that Texas is the new place to be for growing businesses in America.

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Are Online College Graduates Better or Worse Hires Than Traditional Students?

by Michael Haberman September 20, 2016

Tweet I believe that online degrees and other nontraditional educational opportunities such as MOOCs are gaining in importance. The modern HR professional ignores them at their own peril. Today’s post is written by Vera Marie Reed. Vera is  freelance writer living in Glendale, California. This mother of two specializes in education and parenting content. When she’s not […]

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Is AGEISM growing as the workforce gets younger?

by Michael Haberman September 19, 2016

Tweet Here are some to the headlines I have seen in various news stories lately: And the verdict is… guilty of Ageism Add Hewlett-Packard to the list of Tech Icons sued for Ageism Ageism in the workforce Ex Apple engineer rejected for genius bar job adds fuel to the ageism debate How old are you?- […]

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Future Friday: There is Nothing Bright about a Humanless Management Future

by Michael Haberman September 16, 2016

Tweet Today’s post is a guest post written by Nate Vickery, a business technology expert and a futurist mostly engaged in finding and implementation of the latest technology trends into SMB and startups management and marketing processes. Nate is also the editor-in-chief at business oriented blog- Bizzmarkblog.com. He has written this very interesting post about business […]

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Three Key Issues about Employee lawsuits

by Michael Haberman September 15, 2016

Tweet Daniel Schwartz, an attorney with the firm Shipman & Goodwin, LLP, is an attorney I have read for a number of years. He has been blogging for 9 years and has consistently produced great content. In a post he did the other day he talked about frivolous, or not so frivolous, lawsuits. I wanted […]

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Inspiration for Wednesday

by Michael Haberman September 14, 2016

Tweet I am reading a book about the difference between fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. I makes me think, but I think this quote sums the book up. The book is Mindset The New Psychology of Success. You can find a link below.    

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The ADA and Entrepreneurial start-ups

by Michael Haberman September 13, 2016

Tweet I know that many start-ups don’t consider human resources related laws when they are getting started. They focus on getting their product or service up and running, whether they have the suppliers they need and of course the potential market. If they consider HR at all it is in the realm of payroll. Most […]

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