FALL is FUN!

I love the cooler weather and the smell in the air as a new season starts to kick in. I read somewhere this week that Fall is the second spring. The leaves become flowers in the fall with their beautiful colors. I like that concept.

I will enjoy what my eyes can take in
as the seasons change once again.

Dwayne
dhicks@mwestrealty.com

A Day To Remember & HOPE

I remember what I was doing 9 years ago this morning as I saw our nation under attack using airplanes loaded with people like me as missiles of death and destruction. We have since learned  that these men did all of this in the name of religion. They disdain for the US and our lifestyle drove them to this.

It would be so easy to hate them and their religion, but I’m not sure Jesus would do that. Jesus looks beyond our actions to our heart which drives our actions. He would certainly try to save their soul.

Now please understand, that I believe in consequences for behavior. I do believe that anyone involved in such a despicable act must be punished even if that includes death. I do believe that they can be forgiven. I also believe the ones who need saving are the people who are duped into believing these radical and hate-filled teachings. There is still hope for them.

I will never forget the way I felt on September 11, 2001. I felt fragile and weak. I felt pain and loss. I felt pride as our nation rose to it’s feet. I will always remember, but I will also always put my hope in the Lord – the Creator and Sustainer of all.

Pressing on!
Dwayne

Excellent "Online" Advice

Tips for Safer Social Networking

RISMEDIA, September 9, 2010–The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is continuing to grow dramatically, but not just with users. Cybercriminals increasingly are targeting these sites and their troves of sensitive, personal information.

“While many of these sites are great for finding friends and connecting with business partners, users are sharing more information than ever before — and the bad guys are taking note,” said Andy Hayter, anti-malcode manager of ICSA Labs. “And it is not just about the sensitive data that users are exposing; the threats are also coming from scams, viruses and other forms of malware that can take many forms on these sites.”

ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon Business, offers these helpful tips on how consumers can enjoy social networking while protecting themselves from security threats:

1. Be wary of worms, Trojans and botnets that can infect and take control of your computer. Access to sensitive documents and personally identifiable information poses a significant threat to users. The Koobface worm, for instance, infected hundreds of thousands of Facebook users in June. Users received a video claiming to be from a Facebook friend, but after downloading the video, the worm distributed the malware to a user’s Facebook friends and granted attackers full access to the user’s computer.

2. If you receive a request to connect from someone you do not know, do not accept it. Trojans are infamous for tricking victims into providing sensitive information and are increasingly surfacing on social networking websites. By taking over a user’s contacts or “friend” list, the Trojan sends invitations to the user’s friends to try to infect their computers as well. The ZeuS Trojan is one example of malware that is remotely controlled by criminals who infect computers, wait for users to log on and then try to gain access to their bank accounts.

3. Do not share too much personal information. Hackers can easily piece together different bits of information posted to Facebook and other sites and compile a complete profile of an individual’s identity, especially using birth date information. With this knowledge, hackers can trick users with targeted information that only a “friend” would know.

To safeguard against misuse of personal information, it is important for users to review and understand the privacy policies on social networking sites to make sure they disclose personal information. In addition, users should regularly check their credit report and other financial statements to verify their identity is unharmed.

4. Be careful where you click. Just because a link came to a user from someone the user knows – a “friend” – does not mean it is safe. Users can easily check by rolling over the link for a moment before clicking to verify the Web address is legitimate. Link shorteners, such as bit.ly and tinyurl, are becoming common practice and making hackers’ jobs even easier as they try to mislead victims into clicking on malicious links.

5. Use and frequently update software security programs. Updating security software is the simplest way to protect a computer from malware like worms, viruses, Trojans and clickjacking. Users should make sure that their anti-virus, firewall and spyware products are up-to-date and that they have installed the latest software upgrades. Products should also be certified by an accredited third-party organization, such as ICSA Labs, and meet the appropriate standards.

Added Hayter, “A lot of it comes down to ‘whom do you trust?’ and making smart decisions about who users accept as their friends on these sites. If users pay close attention to whom they are connecting with, what they are clicking on, what they post on these sites and keep their security software updated, they’ll be in a much safer place.”

Don't WIPEOUT in this market!

My youngest son loves the new show on ABC called  WIPEOUT!  It’s a show of several obstacle courses and people race through the course and try not to wipe out. It is mainly a show of watching people fall badly and without much grace!

I’ve been thinking lately about how many people have wiped out in this dismal economic slide. I’ve had several conversations with people in this market and most everyone is trying to figure out how survive.  My favorite commentator is Dave Ramsey who challenges all of us to dump debt and manage carefully. He teaches a class called Financial Peace and challenges the students to live debt free.

I’m definitely working at getting out debt and staying out of debt. People who have little debt are the ones who are making it fine in these tough times.  Wipe out debt before it wipes you out!

Dwayne Hicks
dhicks@mwestrealty.com