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No One is Safe from a Cyber Attack, Part 1

Hard work can extend our lives

More boomers in workforce, but age discrimination still a fact of life

Older workers forced to take low-paying jobs

Study finds older people happier

No One is Safe from a Cyber Attack, Part 1

So says top cyber expert Scott Schober, CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems and author of “Hacked Again.”

The dangers of cyber warfare have been around for more than a decade. Today, it’s beyond a mere danger or threat, it’s a horrifying reality that could do far more than cripple infrastructure, it has the potential to kill millions of people as well. Cyber attacks have catapulted over the past 12 months.

In  spite of this looming fear that hangs over  us like an ominous cloud, Schober said many of us fail to incorporate simple, best practices when it comes to taking preventive steps such as creating passwords or engaging with social media.

Schober witnessed the cyber security threat worsen every year. He witnessed the Target attack in 2013, and the turmoil it can inflict on business.  He said lax security standards led to this breach which prompted Target to dig into their coffers and commit $100 million to technical upgrades.  Schober witnessed a cyber war heating up threatening not only the bastions of capitalism, but the security of every American. The Target hack was only the tip of the iceberg.  Corporate giants Nieman Marcus, Adobe, Yahoo, Michael's, and hospitality industry leader White Lodging (which includes Marriot, Hilton, Sheraton and Westin) were also hacked.

Equally disturbing, Schober said that 95 percent of cyber attacks are the result of human error.

What can be done to protect ourselves from being hacked?  Schober offers the following tips:
Create strong passwords
Schober said passwords are like memory keys that only you know, but can be stolen by anyone in the world looking in the right places for the right clues. Create passwords that are hard to find.  Don’t use personal information. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.  Secure passwords are long, strong, complex and secure, said Schober. He suggests using an automatic password generator and a password strength meter to verify the strength of a password.

This cyber security expert also said to be careful whom you share your Wi-Fi password with. If you shared your password, change it immediately to a stronger one.

Malware and ransomware are growing threats
It wasn’t long ago that it was obvious detecting when we were being scammed online because the email lacked basic English, grammar or included an overtly fake link,  said Schober. The current crop of hackers is sophisticated and they’ve fine-tuned their hacking techniques. It’s important to question emails, links and other forms of online content. Unless we’re 100 percent certain that our computers haven’t been compromised, don’t click on suspicious email. Schober also said that today’s malware also includes ransomware, which is a type of hack that locks your computer or access until you pay some sort of ransom. Be conscious of this hack, and backup files frequently in case you’re attacked.  Never pay ransom to a cyberhacker and never click on any attachment or link in an email sent to you, no matter how legitimate it might look. And make frequent backups in case you are a victim of ransomware.

That’s not all. Schober has more cyber security tips I’ll include in my next and last blog on the subject.

Posted on: September 23, 2016 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Hard work can extend our lives

Many older Americans who once dreamed of lounging around the house in retirement are waking up each morning to get ready for work.

A recent Pew Research Center study showed that the percentage of Americans 65 and over still employed is on the rise, having reached 18.8 percent as of May, up from 12.8 percent in 2000.

Depending on an individual’s situation, though, working past traditional retirement age may not be such a terrible thing.

“Some people say they keep working because they can’t afford to retire,” said John Eikenberry, president of Eikenberry Retirement Planning (, a wealth-management company in Sidney, Ohio.

But “Some people don’t want to retire because they love what they do,” Eikenberry added.

Eikenberry, 68, falls in the latter group. His keep-at-it attitude worked in his favor after a surgery in February.

A medical professional told Eikenberry that being active helped him get well quickly. But if he was retired, it would have taken him a lot longer to recuperate.

There are advantages to working in retirement, according to Eikenberry. He listed the following:

• Relief from financial stress. One of the biggest worries retirees have is running out of money, Eikenberry said. With people living longer, that’s a legitimate concern. Even just a part-time job that brings in a little extra cash can help alleviate some of the stress. He has clients who work just a few days a week and that works well for them, he said.
• Physical fitness. It’s no secret that, as people age, they tend to suffer more physical problems, such as joint pains. Many jobs can keep them active and moving, making for better health.
• Mental fitness. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Neurology this year found that activities that challenge our brain may help delay symptoms of dementia. “Talk to people in their 50s and 60s and you’ll see that does scare us,” Eikenberry said. “Work gives us the ability to keep our minds active.”

Anyone considering working in retirement does need to be aware of the financial implications with Social Security, Eikenberry said.

If you wait until your full retirement age to draw Social Security — 66 to 67 for most people — you can earn as much as you like.

But if you claim Social Security early, at age 62 for example, earnings are limited to $15,720 annually.  “For every $2 you make over that amount, $1 is deducted from your Social Security,” Eikenberry said.

That changes beginning with the year in which you reach full retirement age. At that point, $1 is deducted for every $3 earned above a different limit. In 2016, that limit is $41,880.  But the only earnings counted are those before the month in which you reach full retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration.

Eikenberry is happy with his decision to remain on the job beyond retirement age and many of his clients find it rewarding, too.

“For me, there’s nothing negative about working in retirement at all,” he said.

Posted on: August 30, 2016 05:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

More boomers in workforce, but age discrimination still a fact of life

It’s no secret that job participation rates of baby boomers no longer drop as a result of aging.  For more than a decade, this has been a fact of life — although thousands of employers vehemently say different. But statistics prove differently, especially since the Great Recession when older people have been entering the work force in increasing numbers.

Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, said that between 2007 and 2014, the largest growth in the labor force among all age groups was 62 to 64; men’s participation grew 2.9 percent, and women’s grew 4.5 percent.

This is in marked contrast to a mysterious decline in the labor force participation rate by prime age workers.

Compared to prior generations, there are several reasons why there are older workers in the labor force today.

For starters, fewer older workers have pensions. Many had their finances severely damaged during the recession.

People are living longer and healthier lives, and work is less physically demanding than it used to be.

Extended unemployment benefits.  A longer benefit period created an incentive for people who otherwise would have retired to continue looking for work.

Still, compared to younger job hunters, older workers have to deal with the following: fewer choices, more rejections, and lower pay. And, job discrimination is a fact of life for aging boomers.

David Neumark, an economist at the University of California at Irvine, headed a study that sent out 40,000 fake résumés to employers who had posted openings. Neumark and his colleagues learned that résumés suggesting an applicant was 64 to 66 years old got a response 35 percent less often than résumés suggesting that the applicant was 29 to 31.

Labeling it discrimination is a touchy issue. Neumark said that “the one thing that people always point out is that acceptability for age stereotyping is extremely high. The number of people who make age-related jokes are way more frequent than people who make race-related jokes. For whatever reason, the social stigma for age discrimination is really weak.”

Putting the issue of fairness aside, evidence has proven that there are many benefits to keeping older people in the workforce.  For example, it keeps them happier, healthier and mentally engaged.  Neumark said that “Governments all over the world are trying to figure how to get older people to stay at work longer. If we have discriminatory barriers, then all these reforms will be less effective.“

Posted on: August 30, 2016 05:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Older workers forced to take low-paying jobs

When economists and the media report that the U.S. generated more jobs at the end of the month, stocks surge, and the economists and business analysts are delighted because it signals continuing prosperity. But the pundits seldom explain that most of the new jobs are low level, semi-skilled jobs.

And most of these low-level jobs are gobbled up by older workers because job pickings are slim. After knocking on doors for as long as two years, or more, sadly they discover that the higher paying professional jobs they once had are permanently closed to them — even though they’re abundantly qualified.

Older workers over 55, and certainly over 60, quickly learn that the kinds of jobs available to them dramatically narrow each year they log on another year.

Research by Matthew Rutledge, an economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, found that older workers are being corralled into what he calls “old-person” jobs. 

Old-person jobs are a mix of high-skilled service work (managers, sales supervisors and accountants) and low-skilled service work, such as truck drivers, janitors and nursing aides. The list doesn’t include jobs requiring a good deal of physical labor. And jobs in farming, manufacturing and repair represent less than a quarter of all new hires in this age bracket.

While there have been spotty increases in many manufacturing jobs, for the most part they’ve experienced a steep decline over the past 20 years.  Even in this shrinking sector, older workers are less likely to be hired over younger ones. Workers ages 55 to 64, for instance, are less likely to get machine-operator jobs and 58 percent less likely to get metal-worker jobs.

Older workers find that they have no choice but to settle for lower-skilled service jobs.  For example, they are 65 percent more likely to find work in child care, 93 percent more likely to work as cabdrivers and twice as likely to find jobs in the retail sector.

By using a database that classifies each job based on the kinds of skills it requires, Rutledge also observed patterns in jobs that favor older workers. Jobs that older workers are landing require higher levels of dependability (outdoor work, for example), lower levels of learning, numerical ability and physical skills. Older workers, for the most part, are not considered for engineering jobs, but have little trouble qualifying for real estate sales or property management positions. Rutledge also found that for the most part these jobs paid less. It’s no surprise that these jobs paid 6 to 11 percent less than jobs that favor younger workers, mostly because these jobs call for fewer skills.  Despite the jobs’ shortcomings, Rutledge said people kept on showing up for work.

Why is Rutledge surprised? Even diehard by-the-book researchers must consider very human factors that need no scientific explanation. How about a simple commonsense explanation, such as, they need the money? 

Posted on: August 29, 2016 05:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Study finds older people happier

With all the negative articles about aging circulating, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry finds that despite the normal and expected ravages of aging, older people are surprisingly happier than their younger counterparts.  People in their 20s and 30s had the highest levels of anxiety, depression and stress, and the lowest levels of satisfaction, wellbeing and happiness.

The study’s researchers analyzed data collected from a random sample of 1,546 people from ages 21 to 99 in San Diego. The study’s author Dr. Dilip Jeste, a geriatric psychiatrist and director of the Center on Health Aging at the University of California, San Diego said “There’s this idea that old age is bad, it’s all gloom and doom and older people are usually depressed, grumpy and unhappy.”

But that’s not the case, according to the study’s findings. As people get older, things started getting better for them, Jeste said. “It suggests that with age, there’s a progressive improvement in mental health.”

Study findings shatter the myth that our 20s and 30s are the best years of our lives. Jeste found that after adolescence, real life begins, bringing educational, career and financial demands.  “There is constant peer pressure: you’re looking at others and always feeling bad that you’re not succeeding like some of them, and you feel like you have lots of choices but you’re not really making use of them.”

Older people are better able to cope with life’s twists and turns, Jeste said. They’re able to shrug off  stressors and “accumulate a valuable thing called wisdom.”  Generally speaking, older people have achieved emotional stability, and they’re able to make smart social decisions, Jeste said.

There is also evidence suggesting that life today is easier for older people than it used to be.  Another study found that depressive symptoms in late life have declined from 1998 to 2008.

While it’s hard locking into definitive reasons why older people tend to be happier, Jeste added that “it is conceivable that the changes in societal functioning because of progressive globalization, technology development, increased competition for higher education and for better paying jobs and changing roles of women in the society are likely to impact young women and men more than they might affect older people.” And, “Any relatively rapid changes tend to bring in stress for the people most affected,” he said.

Posted on: August 26, 2016 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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