Monthly Archives: February 2015

Obama; The First Cyber President

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaPresident Obama can lay claim to the title of America’s first cyber president. Since his first election victory as our Commander-in-Chief the president has demonstrated the power of cyber space and using social media to connect with voters, raise money and address issues. As president he has stepped up to address cybersecurity issues facing the nation.

Beginning with his first presidential campaign the Obama camp seized cyber space high ground by using social media to connect with younger voters and spark grass root movements.

 The Obama campaign had the advantage from the beginning by hiring 24 year old Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook,  as a key social media strategist.  Hughes’ social media strategy was simply unstoppable from social networking sites to podcasting and mobile messaging.

Candidate Obama was rarely seen without his BlackBerry throughout the campaign. The Obama campaign leveraged every possible social media platform including Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, BlackPlanet, LinkedIn, AsianAve, MiGente, Glee, and many others. In the new era of cyber and social media campaigns McCain never had a chance.

Against Romney the Obama campaign had an established social media machine. The Romney campaign was not as inept as McCain’s but they could not achieve the traction that the Democrats had. The Romney campaign required as many as 22 approvals for a single Twitter message. Contrast that with the Obama campaign that used Twitter quickly and creatively.

In his first administration President Obama stepped up to the plate to recognize the need for cybersecurity and protection of American prosperity. In his May 2009 speech the president showed he was solidly focused on cyber security.  

“America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.”

President Obama-2009

Under the president’s leadership the administration has moved the nation toward enhancing cybersecurity through the following initiatives;

  • 2009, 60-day Cyberspace Policy Review, spearheaded by Melissa Hathaway, who recommended a number of ways to enhance U.S.cybersecurity efforts. One of which was the creation of a Cybersecurity Coordinator position within the White House.
  • 2009, Obama  named Howard Schmidt to the position.
  • U.S. Cyber Command was established in June of 2009. U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) is responsible for America’s defensive and offensive cyberwar capabilities. Under President Obama the unit is expected to see a 500% manpower increase from 2014 through 2016.
  • The FBI has started to embed cyber investigators abroad with foreign police units in the Ukraine, Estonia, and Holland.
  • 2009, President Obama initiated a 60-day interagency cyber security review to develop a strategic framework to ensure the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) is being appropriately integrated, resourced, and coordinated with Congress and the private sector.
  • 2009, Homeland Security Department released a draft of a government plan to designate the roles and responsibilities of agencies and industry in responding to cyber incidents.
  • 2010 Senator Joe Lieberman (D, CT) introduced the Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. It became known as President Obama’s Internet kill switch. The bill would permit President Obama, at his discretion, to declare a “national cyber-emergency.”  This authority would include limiting or even cutting off connections to the World Wide Web for up to 30 days. The bill is extremely controversial and has not been signed into law even though it has bi-partisan support.
  • 2013 President Obama signs Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.
  • 2014 President Obama signs five cyber security bill into law
    • Federal Information Modernization Act
    • Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act.
    • Cyber Security Workforce Assesement Act.
    • National Cybersecurity Protection Act.
    • Cybersecurity Enhancement Act.
  • 2015 President Obama establishes the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center to combat cyber attacks. Its mission will be to fuse intelligence from around the government when a crisis occurs.

Just last week President Obama gave the keynote address at the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection at Stanford University. The president called cybersecurity the most serious economic national security challenge the country faces today.

President Obama presented his basic principles for dealing with threats to cybersecurity, consumer privacy and emphasized the importance of the government and private sectors working together to eliminate the threat.

The President presented a number of policy proposals and asked Congress to pass legislation including finally establishing a national data breach notification standard. If passed Americans will be notified within 30 days if their information has been stolen. He also proposed the Student Digital Privacy Act and a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that would give Americans a baseline of protections, like the right to decide what personal data companies collect and the right to know how companies are using that information. Finally the President signed an Executive Order Promoting Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing.  

From his first day on the presidential campaign trail to last week’s cyber summit President Obama has shown he understands the incredible impact of the Internet as a communications and economic tool. There is no doubt that his campaign strategy will be studied by political strategist far into the future.Historians will also consider his election the turning point of election communications.  History will remember him as not only the first African-American president but also the first cybersecurity president. 

Now you know

See also; President Obama Launches Cyber Offensive , Part 2 & Part 3

App of the Week – Hi.Q Health App

HiQIconWe all do it. The New Year’s resolution to lose twenty pounds. The promise to get in shape this year, eat better, smarter and get healthy. Not many of us succeed. We need some help. That’s why HiQ is the App of the Week

Hi.Q is an inquisitive app with 10,000 questions covering 300 topics about health and fitness. It is designed to get you healthy by educating you. To start using the app you answer 30 preliminary questions that cover your basic nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle. As you become accustomed to it you can start taking quizzes on the topic of the day. You can also examine more niche subjects like the Paleo diet, heart disease, or running.

With the frightening obesity epidemic among African-Americans we really need to improve our eating habits. We need to become more aware of what we are doing to ourselves. African-Americans consume more fast food than any other race. Top that with our traditional ethnic diet and we have a problem.

Many people, including black people, are focused on getting healthy. The popularity of health and fitness apps is up 87 percent compared to other app categoriesAnd do we need to talk about the billions of dollars spent on exercise equipment that ends up in the garage?  Or at a garage sale.  But for black people the trick has to be education. It can be hard if we don’t know, or get bad information on how to go about getting healthy, more active and losing weight.  For example, all those diet fads that say you can lose twenty pounds in ten days. Hi.Q attempts to give users all the best information without the tedious Google Search.

With the Hi.Q app you will find both the questions and their answers are vetted by health and fitness professionals like Harvard Med School physician Dr. James Colbert and U.S. Olympic Team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Hacker. Most answers link back to scientific studies or the articles so you can learn more about the topic.

The Hi.Q quiz app can be fun. When you complete a quiz you’re given a score. A high score earns you status and titles such as “Elite.” Other titles included “Health Guru” or “Health Pioneer.” You can share this with your social media friends or diet buddy.

The social media aspect of the app keeps you interested and connected with other users. Hi.Q CEO and co-founder Munjal Shah created the title and scoring system to validate user credentials. So when a user claims he or she is an expert on this topic you can check their scores and see for yourself.

HiQ is a fun and useful tool. But the real benefit is what you get out of your increased knowledge. And for African-Americans knowledge is the way to a better more healthy life. Hi.Q can help us learn and understand the benefits of daily exercise and proper diet.

Hi.Q is free and currently available only on Apple.

ALERT! Superfish Contaminates Lenovo ALERT!

 

CompanyLogos_Lenovo%20LogoThe holiday season has passed and of course many African-Americans got cool new techno-gadgets for Christmas, If you purchased a Lenovo computer it’s time to pay attention.

Lenovo, the world’s largest computer maker, has been selling computers  with an adware/malware known as Superfish. Superfish is the name of a marketing company that produces software called Visual Discovery along with other products.This adware allows ads to be placed in front of the user based on the images they are looking at.

This function involves analyzing images that appear on your computer screen. It matches these pictures against a giant database of images in the cloud. It then places similar images on your computer screen.

For example, if you’re looking at an ad for a new digital camera, Superfish, going by the example in its database, presents matching cameras.

superfish_416x416The Superfish software on your new Lenovo laptop monitors which websites you visit, what you are looking at and searches for related sites. All this based on images instead of the old-fashioned keyword search we are used to.

Sounds good so far right? You probably have no objection to greater choice in shopping or cheaper prices.  But that is if you are aware that Visual Discovery was installed on your computer in the first place. And of course assuming that the software works in a way that doesn’t put your online privacy and security at risk. Sadly many people who purchased these Lenovo computers had no idea this was happening. That is why Lenovo is catching hell and you could be vulnerable.

We like to keep it simple at the AACR so lets tell it like it is. This software opens you up for what hackers call a classic man-in-the-middle attack. See Visual Discovery doesn’t just work inside your browser to see what you are looking at. This adware/malware contains a proxy. This component intercepts network traffic outside your browser so it can keep track of what you are doing, like online banking, user names and passwords. Starting to get the picture? Its an open door to hackers! I don’t think I need to go any further than that.

According to Lenovo the company only installed Superfish on consumer laptops between September and December last year. During the holiday shopping season! Do think that was an accident? Really?

Chrome and Internet Explorer browsers are affected because they use Microsoft’s Windows store of trusted certificates. If you use the Firefox browser the Electronic Frontier Foundation found as many as 44,000 Superfish certificates were run by users of Mozilla’s browser.

How do you know if your computer is infected?  Check Windows’ list of trusted certificates. Go to Control Panel and search for “certificates”.  A list of Administrative Tools will come up. Select the “manage computer certificates” option. Click on the “Trusted Root Certification Authorities” option and then “Certificates”. If you see one with Superfish Inc. attached to it then consider yourself officially infected.

This is the nasty part. Even if you do find it, uninstalling the program does not solve the problem since it does not remove the certificate. So if you believe that Superfish is floating around inside your computer back up your data and update it to a new operating system; a new more secure OS. This is probably going to cost you some money but you can get that back and then some by joining the class action lawsuit.

Lenovo will no longer be using Superfish adware in its devices and will help customers remove the malware from their computers as quickly as possible. Lenovo also issued the following statement via Twitter: “We’re sorry. We messed up. We’re owning it. And we’re making sure it never happens again.” Lenovo also issued detailed instructions for removing the adware/malware as well as how to determine if the troublesome Superfish digital certificate is installed, and how to remove it. You can also find a published list of all machines on which Superfish was installed. You may want to check your machine.

 

 

 

Secure Payments Arrive For Black Consumers

credit-card-safeHackers have been having a absolute field day breaking into store payment systems and stealing credit card data with impunity. The problem is intolerable for the consumer and costing everyone money everyday. Kaspersky Labs reported that over $1 billon dollars has been stolen from banks using sophisticated malware. Not to mention the additional billions lost in fraudulent credit card purchases and ATM fraud.  Last year that number topped $5 billion. In the end its always the consumer, that’s you and me, that pays for this fraud.

Securing the payment systems of American consumers has become the single most pressing cyber security problem for banks, pay services and merchants. Americans fear cyber crime and identity theft more than being murdered.

Thankfully credit card and technology companies are devising new more technologically advanced ways to combat data breaches and credit and debit card fraud. This is vitally important to African-Americans who are frequent Internet shoppers. And the last thing we tolerate is something funny happening with our money. As I have said many times before, black people don’t play when it comes to our money.

Black consumers, like all American consumers, should learn and quickly adopt the new ways that payments are being secured not only online but in brick mortar stores. Advances in technology allow payments to be made directly from a smartphone, new PIN and Chip technology prevents duplication of credit and debit cards and some systems are implementing single use tokens. The age of secure payments has arrived.

 

US-WhiteHouse-LogoThe White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection

This event, held at Stanford University, saw multiple companies and trade organizations announce new initiatives aimed at securing Internet transactions and reducing fraud.

A White House fact sheet revealed the efforts of the major players in the payment industry. Visa, for example, is committing to tokenization or substituting credit card numbers with randomly generated tokens for each transaction. They plan to initiate this system by the end of March.

The other payment giant, MasterCard, is investing more than $20 million in new cybersecurity tools that include the deployment of Safety Net, a new security solution that will reduce the risk of large-scale cyber-attacks.

SafetyNet is designed to add an extra layer of security by working with a bank or processor’s own security systems and detecting attacks before they happen.

Intel is releasing a new authentication technology that eliminates the password. The technology employs biometrics or personal physical measurements such as fingerprints or retinal patterns. American Express also announced a new multifactor authentication technology for consumers. MasterCard and First Tech Credit Union revealed a new pilot program that would allow consumers to authenticate and verify their transactions using a combination of biometrics, such as facial and voice recognition.

The president launched the BuySecure initiative in October of 2014. The initiative priorities include;

  • Securing payments across the economy, by advancing federal efforts to transition to more secure payment systems, building public-private awareness about more secure authentication, and calling on industry to enhance the security of their own systems and offer more secure options for their customers.
  • Helping Americans secure their good name, by improving resources to identify and remediate identity theft. This includes supporting credit score transparency and improving identity theft resources available to American consumers.
  • Enhanced information sharing, by enhancing the ability of federal agencies and industry to regularly exchange information about consumers’ compromised accounts.

what-kind-of-cr-1

Apple Pay

The AACR wrote back in September of Apple’s debut of the new Apple Pay technology. While everyone was raving about the new iPhone 6 Apple murdered the credit card.

Apple Pay replaces your credit card and the traditional swipe at the register. Apple Pay has made the act of purchasing easier by allowing you to just wave your phone in front of a reader in order to make a payment.  Apple claims the system is more secure than regular credit cards since the number is never stored on the phone or Apple servers and no one ever sees it. The credit card number is replaced by a “unique device number.”

Your credit cards will be stored in Passbook. You can add cards to your phone by taking a picture of the card or typing in the necessary  information like the credit card number, expiration date, and security code. It works with pretty much all credit cards and banks. According to Apple over 220,000 merchants are currently accepting Apple Pay.

MasterCard

MasterCard announced in October 2014 that it was partnering with Zwipe to develop a payment card with a built-in fingerprint authentication sensor.

The card allows customers to make contactless payments, using their fingerprint to confirm their identity. This eliminates the need for PINs and passwords thus increasing security.

VISA

A recent study from Visa Europe indicates that the new generation of banking customers would rather use biometric security devices than PINs and passwords for authentication.

Visa found that 75% of 16- to 24-year-olds said they would have no problem using biometric security, with 69% expecting it to be faster and easier than a password or PIN.

Visa also launched the Visa Token Service (VTS) in September 2014. The one time use token replaces the 16-digit account numbers, expiration dates and security codes, with so-called tokens. The tokens are a unique series of numbers that can be used to make payments without exposing the sensitive credit data such as the numbers, security code and expiration date.

Over 500 financial institutions have already implemented VTS according to Visa. The service will be expanded this year to additional payment environments. Visa also says tech companies and device manufacturers will deploy VTS on mobile devices. Merchants will also start using the solution to secure transactions made through mobile payment applications. Online merchants are also expected to deploy the tokenization service.

American Express

Tokenization has also been embraced by American Express, and the retail industry is seeking to develop a universal tokenization standard.

Amex will replace traditional 16-digit credit card numbers with a digital token. Consumers using the card supporting the token can make purchases online, with a mobile application, or in person using Near Field Communication (NFC) devices similar to Apple Pay technology.

The movement to more secure payments methods comes as retailers see the October 2015 deadline to support chip-and-pin credit payments getting closer. Merchants are being crushed under repeated data breaches costing ten of millions of dollars in repairs and legal costs.

Breaking It Down

Alright so what took so long? If you read this article you saw that the credit card companies have until October of this year to move to the new PIN and Chip cards. They had no choice. This situation is bad for everybody. Everybody is losing money and everybody is getting sick of it and everybody sees that no end was possible as long as the hackers had the upper hand. These payment companies, merchants and banks were locked in a cycle of one data breach after another and each more expensive than the last. The government was going to force a change this so they decided to get ahead of the wave. They had no choice. They could look out from their lofty corporate towers and see the angry flames of consumer torches gathering in the street below. It was not going to be pretty and they knew it. So now after losing hundreds of millions of dollars and looking stupid compared to the hackers, they have decided to act. They had no choice. They want you to believe that they did this on their own. But this could have been done at least two years ago. Europe has had the PIN and Chip technology for at least five years. These companies decided that since no one was making them do it why do it. But then the bleeding started. Hackers were draining the life out of these corporate clowns and their bottomline. The math was starting to swing against them and the government was getting involved. That is the only reason they decided to act. They had no choice.

 

 

 

App of the Week – HeartThis

163901-9e310a0a4f0a82a5101c5c254f62e9ec-medium_jpgWhen it comes to shopping online the African-American shopper is ready, willing and able. A new study of African-American consumers revealed that black people use mobile devices for shopping more than the general population. African-American shoppers are leading the way when it comes to using their mobile devices to shop according to Target Market News. African-Americans use smartphone and other mobile devices to comparison shop, price match, and research product details.  Black people take their product research to the next level by also investigating the product in the store and are actually more likely to buy online.That is why HeartThis is the App of the Week.

HeartThis shopping app allows the user to shop more than 330 stores.  The store available include Dillard’s, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, J. Crew, Target, and others. Not only can you shop but the app also shows you if there are any promo codes available to save you a few additional dollars.

To get started with HeartThis, the user selects their favorite stores and categories of apparel including active wear, shoes, bags, accessories or swimwear. This creates a customized feed of items in a Pinterest like layout. The user then “hearts” the items they like adding it to their collection. If the user decides to buy the item they can do so with a tap of the “Buy” button that directs them to the retailer.

HeartThis is different from its mobile shopping app competitors because it doesn’t just offer high-end stores. The app is also helpful to the online budget conscious shopper by providing an alternative way to shop from mainstream stores like Target and those at your local mall and online retailers like Amazon and others. Budget shoppers will appreciate HeartThis’s ability to track down promo codes saving them time hunting for the best deal.

HeartThis is free and available on Apple.

Roy Clay Sr., The Godfather of Silicon Valley

Roy Clay Sr. Technology Pioneer

Black History Month is a celebration. The month is dedicated to the abilities and accomplishments of African-Americans. It also speaks to the determination of black people to be part of American greatness even in the face of racism. 

The African-American Cyber Report is about technology and black people. We cannot put the words African-American and technology together without speaking the name Roy Clay Sr.

Roy Clay Sr. is known as the Godfather of Silicon Valley. Mr.Clay was at the cutting edge of computing and technology before Microsoft and Apple were ever dreamed of.

Born in Kinloch, Missouri Clay lived in a home with no indoor plumbing, his neighborhood had no streetlights and black boys faced police harassment if found outside the small town after dark.

Clay was educated in the Ferguson, MO. school district. The same community where Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. Clay himself had unfortunate run ins with the police. But unlike many other young black boys before the civil rights era Clay was inspired rather than discouraged.

Speaking of his hometown Clay said; “Everybody cared.” Clay said his first teacher “inspired me to do well. By the time I left that little school, I thought I could learn to do anything.”

Clay went on to be the one of the first black men to attend Saint Louis University in 1946 when there was no such thing as computer science. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics.

It was shortly after his graduation in 1951 that he was first introduced to computers. In those days computers often took up entire buildings, had to have carefully controlled environments and rarely ran long before crashing. Today’s technology was nothing more than science fiction.

In 1958, Clay found himself working as a computer programmer at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, now known as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. His job was writing software that demonstrated how particles of radiation would spread through the atmosphere after an atomic explosion.

Clay was present at the birth of the technology industry in the U.S. Today the buzz word is code writing. Bot Clay was writing code even before the emergence of the civil rights era. In 1963 he was employed by Control Data Corporation working on a computer language known as Fortran. For us laymen Fortran is a general-purpose, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing.

Word of Clay’s work got back to David Packard co-founder of Hewlett-Packard and in 1965 he recruited Clay to set up HP’s computer development business. Packard’s idea was to build computers that worked with other HP instrumentation products. Clay was vital to this effort because Packard knew almost nothing about software. 

“He trusted that to me,” Clay said.

HP 2116A “mini” computer

Clay led the team that brought HP’s computer, the 2116A, to market in 1966. He also wrote the software for the 2116A as well. That computer Clay and his colleagues designed was about the size of a typewriter. It not only reduced the size of the computer but improved its reliability.

But Clay was unconventional and his practices did not always sit well with the other half of HP, Bill Hewlett. He built an atmosphere around HP’s computer-development business that inspired creativity. His  staff would start the day by playing golf at sunrise and would often not get to the office before 9:00 am.

Hewlett, not pleased with Clay’s methods,  said to Clay, “That’s not the HP way.” That attitude changed when Hewlett discovered Clay’s team still working away at 10 p.m. on a Saturday when he called for help with his computer.

Clay was a vital piece to the rise of HP to technology prominence.  He established the software development facility, managed the computer division and guided the companies emergence as an HP Computer company. Clay became the highest-ranking African American at HP. 

The computer industry began to emerge and its home was the northern California region that became know as the Silicon Valley. Roy Clay Sr., because of his work, became known as the Godfather of Silicone Valley. His work in the computer field caused an industry to grow. When industry grows so do the investments in that industry. Clay was the guiding hand behind the technology  investments made by capital investor group  Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers . The group invested in Tandem Computers, Compaq Computers and Intel Corporation. Today Intel corporation is the leading maker of computer chips for just about every computing device you can buy. In 2013 Intel reported over $52.7 billion in revenue.

In the mid-1970’s, Clay discovered that Underwriters Laboratories was going to require a safety test on electrical products to ensure that they wouldn’t shock or cause a fire. Clay was an entrepreneur and he formed his own company, Rod-L Electronics. Clay could very well be one of Silicon Valley’s first technology start ups.

At Rod-L he invented the first electronic equipment safety testing device to be certified by Underwriters Laboratory (UL).  Clay soon partnered with his former employer HP as well as IBM, AT&T and Xerox. His ROD-L tester was soon found on each company’s computer production line. The ROD-L sticker  was found on these companies computer products as evidence that they were certified by UL. According to Clay, “If it didn’t have Rod-L on that rear panel, it meant it was not a real IBM computer.” The Rod-L tester is still the standard today.

Clay also focused his intellect and leadership abilities on local politics by serving as the first African-American on the Palo Alto, California City Council in 1973. Palo Alto, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, is home to Stanford University as well as Hewlett-Packard. He also served as the city’s vice-mayor.

Clay was motivated to action by the Nixon administration policy proposal of “benign neglect.” This policy was aimed at urban African-American communities and designed to withhold resources from these neighborhoods. Clay’s response was to organize networking events for Black technology workers. He believed, “The way to get through “benign neglect ‘was to get African-Americans in positions to do things so we can get others in positions to do things.”

But with so much accomplished in his life Clay has to be introspective.  Clay grew up in the community of Kinloch, Missouri next door to Ferguson where Micheal Brown was killed by a police officer. Clay had his own incident with police when he was young and was told by the police; ” “Nigger, don’t let me catch you again in Ferguson.” Clay’s mother told him after the incident, “You will experience racism for the rest of your life, but don’t ever let that be a reason why you don’t succeed.”

Clay’s mother was prophetic and he took it to heart. Clay’s first attempt to find employment after college was at McDonnell Aircraft. Not knowing he was a black man Clay was invited to interview for a position with the company.  Once they got a look at him he was told “Mr. Clay, we are very sorry but we have no jobs for professional Negros.” Clay would not be defeated and five years later he was hired for the job.

In 2003 he was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council’s Hall of Fame. Mr. Clay was honored for his pioneering professional accomplishments alongside his former employers Bill Hewlett and David Packard of HP and Robert Noyce the co-founder of Intel.

Today Roy Clay Sr. still lives in Palo Alto and is CEO of Rod-L Electronics.

Now you know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Women and Online Dating

canstockphoto10309990

Valentine’s Day is near and there are a lot of sistas left out in the cold on the day of love. Black women are the least coupled and least dated of all races and the problem is getting worse. Is online dating the answer? Black men have embraced interracial dating. Is it time for black women to do the same?

 

Why are black women single?

First, few single black women said they were looking for long-term relationships (LTRs). But single black men, almost 43 percent according to a 2013 National Public Radio poll, said they are looking for a long-term partner. A Yale University study found that 42 percent of African-American women in the United States were unmarried.

NPR surveyed African-American singles between 18 and 49 years who were divorced, widowed or never married on a wide variety of topics. These questions touched on communities, finance and dating. The question we are most interested in is, are you currently seeking a long-term romantic commitment?

Majorities of single black women and men said they weren't looking for long-term relationships.

The majority of African-American men and women, 57 percent, said they were not looking for a LTR. So the question must be asked, are single black people even interested in a LTR? It would appear not.

There is no shortages of theories about this phenomenon. Some black women blame interracial dating while others say a racist criminal justice system that imprisons black men in horrendous numbers is to blame. Still others blame drugs, disease, economic factors, gay black men being on the “down-low” and even black churches for keeping black women single.

Some black women believe that the skills learned to be a successful professional do not equate to being a successful mate. J.J. Smith a black woman and a dating and relationship expert says “Our credentials don’t attract men.” Smith published a potent list of reasons why black women are single on the BlackNewsOne.com website.

What is happening to black relationships?

Courtesy: Samuiblue

Courtesy: Samuiblue

Black men and women struggle to relate and communicate with one another. As a result black women are finding it hard to find a worthy mate. Why? The U.S. Census revealed that there are 1.8 million more black women than black men. Black women graduate high school and college at a greater rate than black men. Black women are also more likely to be employed in professional occupations than black men and are higher income earners.

And when they do meet a black man of interest they have to deal with his emotional or past challenges with another black woman and vice-versa. As a black man myself I have dated women whom I have had to deal with the damage and garbage the last brother left her with.

Black women on the other hand will say, “I’m not going to raise a grown man.” Black women will  become turned off when the man seems unable to “handle his business.”  A black woman shuts down quickly when she feels like she’s starting to settle or lower her standards in the relationship. For strong black women their guard goes up and they begin to move away, quickly if necessary. There is advice for black men dealing with strong black women .

Economic and educational differences between black men and women create problems managing power and expectations in a relationship. Does a black woman need to be submissive to her man? Is a black man’s pride threatened by a strong, educated, assertive black woman? The issues and questions are powerful and often answered only in individual situations.

 Is online dating the answer?

Black women have it tough even on the Internet. According to OKCupid.com men replied to e-mails sent by African-American women less often than notes sent by women of other races. Men, including black men, respond to African-American women at about a 20 percent lower rate than others.

Ama Yawson founder of LoveEssence.com said “I don’t think we should take these statistics too seriously. Black people who go to a main stream site like OKCupid.com aren’t necessarily black people who are interested in meeting other black people online.”

AKl-MiaTSome black women who venture into online dating for the first time admit they refrain from sending e-mails to men fearing they may not get a response. But that’s not to say that black women are being rejected across all dating sites. Other dating sites such as BlackPeopleMeet.com are where black women find themselves in greater demand. Men from all races join African-American dating sites to meet single black women.

But strangely some black women said they receive more messages from black men on interracial dating sites than they do from men of other races. Experts say that black women who are interested in meeting a mate need to cast a wider net. Don’t limit your search or profile to a single website when looking for love. Black women are also encouraged to not let the negative information about your chances at finding love online discourage you.

Ron Worthy, Executive Director of BlackPeopleMeet.com, said that the black singles dating market is fast growing and effective. “In an ever wired society, online dating has become recognized as one of the most effective ways for people to meet and black singles are one of the fastest growing populations in this segment. As the population migrates from urban centers to suburban settings, an online community acts as a common meeting ground, a place to gather and find each other. Compared to traditional methods of meeting other singles, online dating offers the greatest pool of potential relationship partners, and its certainly the most affordable option in today’s difficult economy.”

Should black women date interracially? 

Research indicates that this may not be a good option either.  Segregation thrives in online romance. Researchers at the UC Berkeley found that it is highly unlikely that whites initiate contact with black people.

The UC Berkeley study revealed that 80 percent of communication initiated by whites went to other whites with only 3 percent going to African-Americans. Black people were ten times more likely to contact whites.  And black men were more likely to contact white women than black but only slightly.

The study revealed black women were the least likely of all groups to be contacted. But the study also revealed  that although black women were more likely than white women to contact a man of another race their primary choice was black men. 

Is it even a choice?

Even though black men are dating interracially, black women seem to be forbidden the same choice. It seems that black people are not accepting of black women dating other races. Even fictional characters are not immune to criticism. Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, the central character in the television series ‘Scandal‘ is routinely attacked online for having a fictional affair with the show’s married, white president of the United States.

“People don’t understand. They think it’s no big deal, but it is,” said Christelyn Karazin, co-author with Janice Roshalle Littlejohn of the book “Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed.”

“Black men date or marry interracially at more than double the level women do,” she said. They are given a pass. They can date anyone they want to — black women, white women.”

But do black women want to date white men? What are the reasons black women don’t choose to date outside their race?

So what is a sister going to do? Damned if you do! Damned if you don’t! When it comes to romance, relationships, sex and life black women are in a nearly impossible position.

Black women understand beyond anything I can write here what is happening. And if you think they are going to just give up you would be wrong.

Now you know

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

App of the Week – Fixed

Nothing is more infuriating than returning to your car and finding a big stinking parking ticket on it!  That’s why Fixed is the App of the Week. Fixed is a mobile app that fights parking tickets for you. Let’s be real, fighting a parking ticket takes time. Fixed is the tool that gives you a fighting chance.

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Source: nasirjones.com

Fixed is a start up backed by rapper Nas. Since the app is so new it has only been available in San Francisco. It is now expanding across the bridge to the neighboring city of Oakland. Fix plans to add a new city at a rate of about one per month, the company says. More on that later.

The concept for the Fixed app is really simple yet genius . Victims of renegade meter maids simply snap a photo of the offending parking ticket with their smartphone. The app checks for a variety of common errors then writes a customized letter to the city protesting the ticket for you. Fixed co-founder David Hegarty says there is more to the app. The company checks Google Street View for the proper street signage in the area you received the ticket.

According to Hegarty the City and County of San Francisco is not exactly happy with the way the startup has helped automate the ticket contesting process for locals. “Over 50% of tickets have an issue or error that makes them invalid,” he explains. “But we get frustrated because the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) doesn’t play by the rules of what’s valid versus invalid. They’re a complete stickler for the rules when issuing the ticket…but they have a very lax interpretation of the rules when it comes to arbitrating disputes,” he laments.

Fixed-Logo-1024x461According the to the Fixed website more than 50 percent of parking tickets are dismissed when challenged. But Hagerty says the success rate for tickets contested by the Fixed app is only 20-30 percent. Hegarty thinks it would be higher if the city honored the rules. He says the company is even thinking about taking further legal action to make that happen. The site also claims to have a team of experts on parking laws.

The long term plan for Fixed is  to bring the app to the top 100 cities around the U.S., starting with major markets like New York and Chicago before working its way down. And therein lies my only gripe with this app. The rollout needs to be faster and more wide spread. An app with this potential could change the way parking laws and meter maids operate. Its called democracy and the people have the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. This app is great tool for the power of the people. Fixed needs to step up their roll out!

Fixed has grown its customer base and is now processing around 700 to 800 tickets per week. That equates to $4 million in annual parking fines. The company only makes money when it beats a ticket. The success fee is 25 percent of the original fine. If the app loses there is only a convenience fee for handling payment of the ticket on your behalf. But that fee alone is not enough to keep it in business. Fixed needs to beat the system more often than 20 percent of the time to survive and become profitable.

Fixed is free and only available for Apple

ALERT! Anthem Insurance Hacked ALERT!

Anthem Blue Cross Blue ShieldAnthem Health Insurance formerly known as WellPoint and owners of the famed BlueCross BlueShield service reported today that hackers had penetrated its computer network gaining access to a treasure trove of customer and employee information including that of company CEO Joseph Swedish.

Anthem is the nation’s second-largest health insurer covering nearly 37 million people. The company said it was contacting customers impacted by the “very sophisticated” cyberattack and was working to figure out how many of its customer are at risk due to the hack.

Anthem reported that the hackers gained access to customer’s names, birth dates, email addresses, employment details, Social Security numbers, income information and street addresses of people who are currently covered or have been covered in the past.

The Indianapolis-based insurer said credit card information was not lost and it has no evidence that medical information, insurance claims or test results were targeted or obtained.

The insurer admits that all of its product lines were affected including Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Amerigroup. 

Anthem sells mainly private individual and group health insurance and dental and vision coverage. It also sells plans on the public insurance exchange and Medicare and Medicaid. 

Anthem is working with FBI to investigate the attack and the company has hired Internet security company Mandiant to bolster its network defenses. The insurer will provide free credit monitoring and identity protection services.

The FBI urged Anthem customers contacted by the insurer to report suspected instances of identity theft.

Breaking It Down

Another sophisticated attack with millions of identities lost. There are a few things you need to pay careful attention to in this news story because I smell what the bull left in the yard.

First of all a company of this size has the methods and the budget to protect customer information from any attack no matter how sophisticated. I’m betting it was some failure on their part that this happened and if you watch the news in the next few weeks it will come out. I promise you that!

Second, who cares if the CEO’s information was lost?  Thirty-seven million people are at risk from this attack and Anthem thinks it makes a difference that the CEO is one of them. Tell him I said welcome to the club! And who gives a damn if no insurance records or insurance claim information or credit card information were compromised? If I read the reports right what was lost included customer’s names, birth dates, email addresses, employment details, Social Security numbers, income information and street addresses of people who are currently covered or have ever been covered was stolen! So what else does the hacker need? The person or persons took exactly what they wanted and has no need for the rest of that crap!

Finally, when this type of attack is revealed then the FBI should be looking at the company as being criminally negligent in the protection of your data. Why? Because as the customer who lost this sensitive information, you can’t do a damn thing to them! Let me make sure you understand this. The courts have ruled you can’t sue for any compensation for your lost information unless you can prove some harm came to you as a result of the loss. So you need to go through the hell of finding out someone stole your identity, bought a house and car, took a vacation to Fiji and stuck you with the bill. Then you can get a lawyer and file a lawsuit and go up against a major corporation with a multi-million dollar legal budget to fight you. I told you, I smell what the bull left in the yard!

 

The Deadly Internet – Drug Dealing Online

canstockphoto1370843Shopping online is a great way to expand you choice of merchandise and get the best price. The Internet is the world’s greatest marketplace and drug dealers know it. The dark web has become a vast drug market where dealers and users can do bussiness in complete privacy. Law enforcement knows this is happening but are almost powerless to stop it. Its happening on the deep, dark and dirty web.

The one thing every drug dealer wants is privacy and anonymity. The dark web is the perfect place to buy and sell drugs and perform other associated tasks. These include moving and hiding money, buying and selling weapons and even taking out the competition if need be.

Have you heard of Silk Road? From 2011 to 2013 Silk Road became known as the “Amazon.com” of online black marketplaces. This dark web site  was selling a staggering variety of drugs that included heroin, LSD, marijuana and assorted paraphernalia to customers around the world. By 2013 Silk Road was thought to have earned as much as $1 billion in sales. This money accumulated in the currency of the Internet, bitcoin.

But within months Silk Road, targeted by law enforcement, was shattered. The alleged master mind, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking, soliciting murder and other charges. Ulbrict, who authorities claim also goes by the handle of Dread Pirate Roberts is currently on trial.

Another dark web culprit recently pleaded guilty to helping Silk Road. Charlie Shrem, founder of the digital currency company BitInstant, pled guilty  and was sentenced to federal prison for aiding and abetting and illegal money transfer company. Shrem and co-conspirator Robert Faiel pled guilty separately.  Both men agreed to forfeit $950,000 to the government as a condition of their deals.

US Attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said that Shrem and Faiella sold $1m in bitcoins to “outlaws” on Silk Road, which led to their conviction.

Silk Road was nearly re-born in the “2.0” mode in late 2013 but was shut down in February of 2014 by hacker attacks. But as any cop will tell you the lure of big money is too great. As soon as Silk Road was sunk a whole new collection of online drug markets popped up in its place challenging U.S. and international drug enforcement agencies.

A report  issued by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) reveals that illegal online drug sales has not only grown larger but have taken on more risk, selling to more people and selling more dangerous substances. Dark web drug sites have evolved into a form that resembles traditional online marketplaces.  A new dark web site, DarkList, stepped into the void where Silk Road once dominated. This bold endeavor connected buyers and dealers in a Yelp-style arrangement.  This was followed by Agora in September 2014. This site offered more product listings, including weapons, than any other online black market. These were followed darker and more dangerous online vendors such as Deepbay, Sheep Marketplace and Black Market Reloaded. The Black Market Reloaded website labeled itself “Silk Road without morals”. The site made offereed not only drugs but weapons and child pornography and took only untraceable bitcoins for payment. This protected users by providing anonymity. Sales figures for dark websites are impossible to accurately estimate but are thought to be only a small fraction of the global drug trade. But even that fraction of a hundred billion dollar industry still provides these sites mind boggling income.

Silk Road was a marketplace and did not actually sell drugs directly. It provided the meeting place for users and dealers to meet.  Michael Duch a heroin dealer and addict told the jury at the Silk Road trial what it was like to sell drugs online and how he made as much as $70,000 month doing it.

Some people believe that the use of the Internet to deal drugs is really a good thing. Advocates and studies of online drug dealing point out that if users are buying drugs online they are less likely to patronize local drug dealers and contribute to the crime and violence that is always a by product of street level drug markets, especially in inner cities and minority neighborhoods. Advocates believe that by pushing those sellers out of the equation it results a reduction in violence overall.  But is that true?

However, not all drugs used strictly for getting high are sold illegally. The Internet has thousands of websites that sell substances and paraphernalia that are perfectly legal. Simon’s Legal High blog offers a good listing of the substances you can buy to get high that are perfectly legal. The list includes alternatives to LSD or legal psychedelics, light drugs or marijuana substitutes and drugs that create a feeling of delirium. All legal and available online. Simon’s Legal High Discount Wall provides substances from all over the world and a listing of websites that provide these legal highs for sale and the prices.

Now you know