Tuesday, May 22, 2012
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Change Your Password!
On June 5, 2012, all GCF Online Banker customers will have to change their password before they can continue to conduct online banking activity. This is a mandatory change to comply with new federal regulations.
Those who choose to change their passwords prior to this date will still have to change it again once the mandates are enacted. This is one time being proactive won't help. Our server will require a password change at the designated time, regardless of when it was last reset.
Your new password must contain a minimum of eight characters. It must include a combination of at least one upper case, one lower case and one numeric character. No special characters will be permitted.
GCF instituted its existing password protocol when we first began offering online banking in 2002. Cybercrime was not much of a threat in those early days, so our protocol was established for customer simplicity. Hackers were still driven by the cheap thrill of crippling your hard drive.
Boy, have times since changed. Today's hackers are after your bank accounts along with your identity.
Creating a strong password can be simple. While this example is taken from a joke circulating via email, it really does provide a guideline:
During a recent password audit by a company, it was found that an employee was using the following password:
The best password is one that you, and only you, will remember. It's far too easy for a hacker to guess your address, children's names, your birthdate or pet's name.
Don't use all alpha characters from the same keyboard row, nor only accessible by the same hand. Avoid the obvious.
Come up with a phrase that is meaningful to you. For example, an avid gardener might think: "I love summer when roses are in bloom." And think of her five magnificent bushes.
Take the first letter of each word and the number of bushes to create a unique password nobody could guess. Customize it by web site so you're not using the same password everywhere. Capitalize the first letter of whichever word you choose.
Using the above example, the person's Google password might be: "ilswraib5G".
Or using the email joke: "mMphldDgS".
New passwords must be in place before we make mobile banking available to our customers. Our existing requirements do not offer strong enough security to properly protect mobile banking customers, particularly when you consider how easy it is for a cell phone to be lost or stolen.
GCFlash has featured articles promoting strong password guidelines throughout the years. Find one with excellent tips here.
Don't forget - You can use the Password Help link on our homepage if you have any problems logging into Online Banker.
Star Trek fans will forever think of space as the final frontier. And while that may be true, we learned today that there are still new thresholds to cross in our quest to conquer this frontier.
Private companies have scrambled to fill the void left when NASA ended its space shuttle program. The shuttles were designed for a single purpose: the construction of the International Space Station (ISS).
It was expected a new generation craft would be developed before the aging shuttles were retired. In fact, plans began to do just that not long after the first shuttle was launched.
But it was not to be. As NASA's budget shrank, so did hopes of developing a suitable successor to the STS (Space Transportation System) program.
That left a big problem. How do we transport astronauts and supplies to the orbiting laboratory?
Leasing space on Russian and European Space Agency vessels was considered. But these programs are facing obstacles of their own. We could not rely on their continued availability.
Fortunately, we don't have to. Private enterprise responded.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, today successfully launched its Dragon capsule, delivering about 1,000 lbs. of food, clothing and technology to ISS. It marks the first private company to enter the space market.
Dragon was launched using a two-stage, nine-engine Falcon 9 rocket. It's the equivalent of Boeing's Delta II. The launch is historic, whether or not it successfully docks with ISS.
If all goes according to plan, the vessel should dock with the floating space station on the third day of its mission and remain attached for 18 days before returning to Earth.
SpaceX was built from the ground up when founder Elon Musk put $100 million of his own cash into the venture back in 2002. Is his name familiar? It should be.
Musk is also the founder and CEO of electric car company Tesla Motors. His other venture? He was co-founder of PayPal, which he later sold to eBay for $1.5 billion.
He's not the only player in the private space flight game. Others include Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos with BlueOrigin and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who is an investor in rival Scaled Composites.
The market for private space flight is huge. In addition to cargo transport, the SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket has already launched a low Earth orbit satellite for a private customer in 2009 and contracted to launch its first commercial geostationary satellite in 2013 from a Falcon 9. Contracts are also in place to provide launch services for the American military.
Where will this all head? If Musk's vision is fulfilled, it will lead to a robotic mission to Mars in 2018 in advance of a permanent human presence on the planet.
Private space enterprise may be this generation's call to "land a man on the moon before the end of this decade." SpaceX employs more than 1,700 workers in California, Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C. It could well provide the technological boom our country needs for economic recovery. It most certainly will raise the bar on our youth's educational level. It can restore hope for our future.
Markets reversed their decline this week, as traders once again saw hope that the EU might somehow hold together. It is a sad testament that postponement of the economic collapse of the European continent is somehow viewed as "good" news for the market. Such is the business of low expectations...
Investigate what? JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon announced that, based on a large trading loss yet to be realized, the Bank would suspend the buyback of its own stock. JP will still pay dividends (albeit at a reduced rate). But the stock repurchase, designed to meet new higher Basel 3 capital standards, has been postponed. Such is the "tempest in the teapot" of the Bank's big loss - actually just a speed bump.
The hysteria is ridiculous. The government should have absolutely no interest in JP's loss. The JP stockholders on the other hand, should have a HUGE interest in the nature of the loss. These losses could still widen (or shrink) since the Bank still holds many of the positions, but it is likely that the venerable Bank will still earn 2 billion in 2012 - a period of time that has not exactly been very rosy for Bank income statements.
So what is all the fuss? Most of the pundits screaming about the egregious loss have not, even for a minute, studied the transactions. Banks often hedge positions to reduce, but not eliminate risk. JP attempted to hedge some balance sheet risk, and the market moved briskly against them. So they lost their bet. They didn't bet the ranch, only a quarter or two of earnings.
And every transaction has two sides, so there was an equal amount "won" by other investors. Is the government going to try to claw back those gains? I think not.
This is how markets work, a place where there are always winners and losers. Perhaps the government has a role in monitoring "systemic risk" to our economy. But a 2 billion, or even a 5 billion dollar, loss by JP Morgan Chase is no such event. Not even close. If the stockholders demand Jamie Dimon's ouster for severely impacting 2012 earnings, then so be it. That is precisely how the system is supposed to work.
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