Shelter is one of our basic human needs. A home protects us from the elements and predators, provides a sense of well-being and intimacy, and secures our social status in the community. In many ways, a house or shelter represents and defines the quality of life we experience.
Unfortunately, housing costs are the single greatest expense for an average family, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2015, housing costs represented 19.1% of total household expenditures in 2015. That figure doesn’t even include related expenses including property taxes, insurance, or utilities.
For generations, purchasing a home was considered almost risk-free, the value of the home certain to grow over time. Many Americans discovered in the 2008-2009 recession that home prices could decline. According to the National Center of Policy Analysis, more American families lost their homes in 2008 (10 million) than in the 1930s Depression and Dust Bowl.
Affordability should be the primary factor in determining the place and size of your home. Here are some actionable tips to help keep your costs down.
Reducing Your Major Housing Costs
Controlling your housing costs is essential if you want to live within your means. The following tips will help you manage the expense.
In May 2017, more than 230,000 computers around the world were taken hostage by the WannaCry malware worm. Known as ransomware, the unknown developers surreptitiously gained control of computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, encrypted the users’ data, and demanded a payment of $300 in untraceable bitcoins to unlock the system and access information.
Cyber-attacks occur across borders and range from simple email “phishing” efforts to sophisticated software programs that quickly expand the attacks and hide the identity of the perpetrators. Motives of cyber criminals range from vanity (proving one’s technical expertise) to illegal profit. Some attacks are politically motivated while others are rarely publicized, state-sponsored sabotage. The attacks affect individuals, businesses, and governments.
According to a report by the Ponemon Institute, a successful hacker earns $14,711 for each attack and has 8.26 successful attacks per year. Sophisticated hacking tools are readily available on the Internet, especially the Dark Web. The criminals and the curious are stepping up their efforts to invade your privacy and steal your money. What actions can you take to harden the target and protect your assets?
What actions can you take to harden the target and protect your assets?
Understand the Enemy
Malicious software can wreak havoc on your computer or operate covertly in the background. Malware (The Creeper Worm) was first detected on the ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, in the early 1970s. Since that time, spurred by the growth of personal computers and connected communication networks, many different types of malware have appeared, including:
Trojans: The most common malware is based on the Greek strategy to invade Troy: the Trojan Horse. In this case, users are tricked into allowing an outsider unlimited access to their computers by clicking on an unsafe Internet link, opening an email attachment, or completing a form. By themselves, Trojans are delivery vehicles, providing a “backdoor” into a computer or network. As a consequence, they open the door for malicious software to steal data, compromise operating systems, or spy on users. Trojans do not replicate themselves and spread to other devices like a virus or a worm. Viruses: Just as a biological virus is transmitted to unsuspecting hosts, a computer virus replicates itself and infects new computers, then modifies operating programs to malfunction. Some have called viruses “diseases of machinery,” a term first coined in the 1972 futuristic film “Westworld.” One of the early viruses – Love Letter – delivered by an email with the subject line “I Love You” and an attachment “L0VE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT” – attacked 55 million computers worldwide and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage, according to Wired magazine.