The Simple Trick to Making an Easy-to-Remember and Nearly Impossible-to-Hack Password

The Simple Trick to Making an Easy-to-Remember and Nearly Impossible-to-Hack Password

The Simple Trick to Making an Easy-to-Remember and Nearly Impossible-to-Hack Password

access_time Aug/10/2017

"My sincere apologies for any inappropriate messages you may have gotten, my account was hacked."

That is a message that none of us want to write, but sadly they've become more and more common. Want to stop the hacking madness? Watch the above interview Green Beret Sergeant Major (retired) Karl Erickson conducted for his YouTube show Tactical Rifleman. In this video, you'll see and hear a method used by military personnel in all of the branches of Special Operations for creating a password that is easy to adopt and nearly impossible to crack.

Hacking is a huge problem for individuals, small businesses and mega corporations alike.

Related: The Worst Reported Hacks of 2017 (So Far)

Most recently, hackers broke into HBO servers and stole 1.5 terabytes of data. Aside from Game of Thrones and Ballers spoilers, the cyber criminals grabbed employee data and “thousands of Home Box Office (HBO) internal documents,” according to the security company hired by HBO to prevent the information from showing up on Google.

A lot of damage can happen very quickly if your accounts get hacked, so use every weapon at your disposal to make it harder for the bad guys.

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What the Amazon Whole Foods Acquisition Has in Store for Supermarkets: Digital Disruption

This summer, a group of Democrats in Congress urged the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a review of Amazon's plan to buy Whole Foods. The lawmakers asked that the review include consideration of what effect the $13.7 billion deal might have on our access to healthy foods.

Related: Amazon Is Buying Whole Foods for a Whopping $13.7 Billion -- Is It a Good Deal?

This may seem like an overreaction to a deal that Wall Street analysts say will have no significant immediate impact on Amazon's overall valuation. However, an examination of the deal within the context of Amazon's strategy starts to paint a picture of an industry on the brink of a massive disruption.

The nature of that disruption? It's clear Amazon is not merely expanding into the grocery business, but is seeking to fundamentally change the way we buy and receive our food.

Amazon's pursuit of value vacancies

If you define Amazon's market as the home delivery of products, goods and services, how does this acquisition fit the company's strategy? Simply put, by purchasing Whole Foods, Amazon is pursuing a value vacancy, or market opportunity that can be exploited through a digitally enabled business model.

Value vacancies, as defined in "Digital Vortex: How Today's Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive Competitors at Their Own Game," are those categories in which the competition hasn't caught up to opportunity. Amazon has exploited these opportunities time and time again in publishing, apparel and sporting goods -- with well-documented success. Now, the groceries segment, too, has fallen squarely into Amazon's crosshairs.

Related: The Winners and Losers in Amazon's Whole Foods Deal

In the grocery industry, competition is lagging while the size of the opportunity is immense -- potentially $668 billion, according to some estimates. Consumers are able to go online and click once or twice to order everything from clothes to cars, but a vast majority still drive to stores, navigate crowded aisles to find items and then stand in line to pay for their food.

On the other end of the value chain, grocers -- the middle men between food producers and consumers -- must establish and service chains of stores nationwide. This system is hardly the most convenient or economical, and that makes it ripe for digital disruption.

While groceries are not new to Amazon, this particular acquisition is the company's first significant investment in the industry. In spite of Amazon Fresh, groceries is one of the last large retail sectors where Amazon does not have a significant share. At the same time, the food-delivery market represents a significant revenue opportunity.

According to a recent research by Morgan Stanley, the delivery market could reach a value of $210 billion annually in the long term, rising dramatically from around $11 billion today. A report by Whole Foods itself shows that online ordering represents less than 1 percent of the company's current revenue. This is probably true for the retail grocery sector overall, meaning that the market is still nascent and fragmented, with no established business value model.

Why Whole Foods?

The most limiting challenge to date for home delivery of groceries has been the ability to deliver perishable foods quickly. However, the short shelf life of fresh food is a competitive advantage for a leader in fast delivery. Amazon, through its logistical expertise, has been able to dramatically reduce delivery time over its competitors'. However, quicker delivery is still needed to make online food shopping a reality and one-day delivery remains an exception.

To achieve this, Amazon needs a presence closer to its customers. And Whole Foods fills that vacuum. Its hundreds of stores offer a hyper-local presence in areas with the highest density of high net worth individuals. This high-end positioning is the best fit in the industry for Amazon's pursuit of consumers with discretionary income.

What can Amazon bring to the industry?

Amazon has made its fortune by selling products at prices most competitors can't match while driving revenue through membership programs and other services. In essence, Amazon doesn't have to operate at a profit as others in the industry do. If Amazon operates the fresh groceries business at a very low margin, while driving profitability through its Prime membership and cash from other areas, many grocery chains won't be able to compete.

This model has been proven elsewhere in the grocery industry through membership-only warehouse clubs. Costco, the largest of such retailers, extends deep savings on bulk items to its members, deriving most of its revenue from annual membership fees. In fact, in 2017, membership fees accounted for 73 percent of the company's operating income.

In addition to this advantage in cost savings, Amazon can also provide customers with an unparalleled shopping experience. Those who have been to a grocery store the day before a holiday have likely felt the pain of a business competing primarily on cost rather than experience. Stores offer promotional prices to lure as many customers into the building as possible, but pay little mind to how the customer feels when inside.

Amazon will not only save the post-deal customer time; it will be able to apply its established services of automated checkout and "intelligent shopping."

Further, Amazon will maximize the spend of customers in a way brick and mortar retailers are simply unable to do. This will be possible through use of its analytics capabilities, to predict just what customers will need plus its one-click replenishment through its Dash Buttons, and its ability to suggest additional, complementary products.

Time is of the essence.

Amazon's unique model and position in the marketplace afford it many advantages in entering the grocery industry. However, the behemoth must act quickly to maximize the value it gets from the acquisition. Value vacancies like this one are notoriously fleeting. Disruptors will soon attack any profitable new market, so companies must win them and maximize revenue and profit margin while they can.

Competitive players are already experimenting and growing their revenue in this area: Instacart, Uber EATS and Google Shopping Express are all disruptive players in the market that could pose a competitive threat if they establish leadership in this segment before Amazon does.

Amazon appears to be taking this threat seriously, though, with rumblings of more acquisitions planned in the grocery industry. Supermarkets with membership business models similar to that of Prime will be able to help an Amazon-fueled Whole foods expand on a private label brand. They'll provide more brick and mortar bases from which to improve delivery times.

Related: With Its Whole Foods Purchase, Amazon Just Bought a Playground for Big Data

Although all this is just speculation right now, one thing is certain: Amazon is not nearly done with its plans to reshape how we buy food.

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Why You Must Allow Mistakes in Your Life

How often have you beaten yourself up over making a mistake?

Maybe it was small, or maybe it was big, but did it really serve you and your bigger goal to get down on yourself? If you’re being honest, the answer is likely "no."

That’s because everyone makes a lot of mistakes in their lifetimes, and those mistakes often turn out to be our biggest teachers.

But they can’t teach us anything if we shame ourselves when we make mistakes.

Instead, I invite you to practice gratitude for each mistake, see it as an opportunity to learn and let it add fuel to your fire to become better.

Sharing my thoughts on this in 5 Minute Friday, Episode 516.

Subscribe on iTunesStitcher RadioGoogle Play or TuneIn.


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Love Your Job? Put an Exit Plan in Place Anyways.

When you hate your job, you often think about leaving it. But when you are happy with your work putting an exit plan into place seems somewhat bizarre. Nevertheless, smart employees should always be prepared to quit their job tomorrow.

Related: 4 Career Failings You Should Forgive Yourself For

The reason is that the future is always unknowable. Just because your job satisfaction is sky-high today doesn't mean that tomorrow your company won't announce mass layoffs, or hire a horrible new boss, or commit an ethical transgression that you do not wish to comply with.

An exit plan is about giving yourself options. Our jobs are usually the only means we have of paying rent, buying groceries and supporting ourselves and our families. Job-hunting is tough and can take a long time. Being unprepared, therefore, means risking getting stuck at a workplace you've suddenly found you hate.

Convinced of the need for an exit plan but confused about its practicalities? Here's what yours should look like:

1. Have unemployment savings

The majority of us -- 63 percent -- are one paycheck away from homelessness. The reason? A lack of savings; one-quarter of workers save nothing at all each month. For those in steady employment, this might not seem like a big deal. But what if you were made redundant tomorrow?

Make it a personal goal to have a savings account that would allow you and your dependents to survive several months of unemployment. How much you need to save depends both on your necessary outgoings (rent, bills, etc.) and the average length of time it takes someone of your position and industry to find a new job.

Quitting a job without another source of income guaranteed is rarely a good idea, but sometimes circumstances may force your hand. Knowing that you have emergency savings to fall back will alleviate some of the stress of these situations and give you enough time to get fully back on your feet.

2. Network, network, network

The widespread statistic that 85 percent of jobs are filled by networking may be an exaggeration, but the power of personal connections is indisputable. Professional contacts can alert you to industry openings, put in a good word for you with their employer, hire you on a freelance or contract basis, provide references and recommendations and generally smooth your job hunting process considerably.

Related: 3 Ways Being a Bookworm Translates to Career Success

You don't have to be actively looking for a job to be actively sourcing, building and maintaining these relationships. Keep in touch with useful business contacts. Attend relevant conferences and industry meets. Be ready to provide assistance and favors to people who could be useful to you in the future. Expand your network by soliciting introduction to new contacts from current ones.

In short, build a reputation as a competent, friendly and dynamic person that people want to hire and work with.

3. Do your freelance prep

Thanks to the twin forces of globalization and digitization, many jobs can now be performed on a freelance or contractor basis. If that is applicable to your job, it's worthwhile investing some time in figuring out how it would work and laying some groundwork. That could mean building good relationships with potential clients, making sure your LinkedIn page and other websites are top-notch, and gathering together suitable examples for a portfolio.

It may even be appropriate to dip your toe in the freelance waters by taking on some side-projects (assuming your company doesn't prohibit this). The idea is to get everything in a place where you could easily ramp it up if necessary.

The same logic should apply to any side-projects you've got an interest in doing. If you enjoy spending your weekends making jewelry or writing science-related blog posts, explore the ways you could turn it into a money-spinner if needed. Personal businesses always require some initial capital to get going; whether for printing business cards or buying a website domain name. Covering those initial costs while employed means you wouldn't have to worry about multiple out-of-pocket expenses when you're not.

4. Keep your skills polished

There are undoubtedly specific skills that help you do your job well; invest time and effort into ensuring they're consistently honed, updated and expanded upon. Research the attributes that would be required for a job at the level above you, and start working on them now, whether in work or outside of it.

The internet is filled with free online courses that can teach you everything from coding to Adobe Photoshop. Take advantage of them. Not only will it benefit you in your current position, it'll ensure your CV is kept up-to-scratch should you need to pull it out in a hurry.

Related: 4 Things You Need to Start Rewarding Yourself For

In conclusion...

It may be that you never need to use your exit plan at all. Great! You'll benefit from the strong network, polished skills and rainy-day funds regardless. You'll also be able to enjoy your awesome job in security and confidence, and be better placed to tackle any arising issues or rough patches with the mindset that working through it is a choice, not a requirement.

Exit plans are there to give you relief if things go wrong in the future, but they will also make you a better, happier and more confident employee in the present.

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Chatbots for Enterprise Customer Service

Chatbots have proven to be an extremely versatile tool. They're currently being used by a huge number of companies that operate within different industries. Not only this, these automated assistants are also used for an array of purposes, some of which include collecting information, providing assistance with various issues, being used as marketing tools, assisting sales teams, and much more.

Organizations of all sizes have implemented both internal- and external-facing enterprise chatbots that help their team members; in other words, they create chatbots that specialize in either helping their customers or their employees. External-facing assistants, also called customer service chatbots, are the most common types of enterprise bots. They help customer care teams handle the large volume of inquiries they receive every day.

Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your Business

Not only do enterprises handle a large quantity of customer service inquiries, they also provide help for a huge variety of different issues. These are often spread throughout different departments, and not all customers end up speaking to the right representatives. Enterprise chatbots work extremely well as filters that can either solve problems that don't require human assistance or allow a human to jump in and take control when necessary.

One of the main disadvantages enterprises have is making their customers feel like they're receiving their undivided attention. Even if this is possible through live support, it’s neither cost-effective nor productive to dedicate so many team members to helping clients. Artificial intelligence-powered enterprise bots offer a great option that can hold conversations with current and future customers, making them feel more appreciated.

While chatbots are a great option for enterprises, finding the right combination requires hard work and time investment. With feedback from customers of ChattyPeople, I've put together a list of characteristics that make an effective chatbot for enterprise customer service.

Related: Enterprise Chatbots Platforms and the Future of Work

Creating a Customer Service Chatbot for Your Enterprise

Before selecting any features, you have to find a reliable chatbot-building platform that is dependable.

Now you can start thinking about the features you want your bot to have. This is one of the most critical parts in the success of your chatbot, so think about your target audience and decide on what they deem as important. You need to consider details about your target audience, such as:

  • Age range
  • Location
  • Social status
  • Gender
  • Any details that will help set tone of voice and personality

Remember, the first edition of your chatbot will probably not be your final version. You should integrate your chatbot with tracking tools so you can measure the performance of your virtual assistant. You can then make changes based on the information gathered to improve user experience and increase efficiency.

Related: Enterprise Chatbots and the Conversational Commerce Revolutionizing Business

Characteristics of an Efficient Customer Service Chatbot

Customer care is one of the most important aspects of any enterprise, regardless of the industry in which it operates. Supporting current and future customers by addressing their issues will help earn your company a reputation for quality and reliability.

There are certain features that most effective customer care chatbots have in common. Keep in mind that enterprises have slightly different needs than smaller organizations. The sheer volume of requests can be overwhelming, so keep these features in mind when creating your enterprise chatbot.

Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without Coding

The Ability to Understand Natural Language

Chatbots have come a long way since they were first developed. In the early stages, chatbots could only respond to specific commands and weren't able to understand different variations. Now, AI-powered bots can understand natural language and can fulfill requests without depending on a specific command line.

Proactivity

Keep in mind that AI assistants are fairly new, and most users have never interacted with them. Encourage your target audience to use your chatbot by making it proactive. When users open a text window to talk to your bot, it should automatically introduce itself and provide a list of options from which they can choose.

Related: Make Chats With Chatbots Work

Integration with E-commerce Platforms

Chatbots are very versatile, to the point where they can take orders through Facebook Messenger and comments. Integrating your bot to e-commerce platforms can help you monetize your social media pages easily and efficiently.

A Defined Set of Features

Chatbots can have a huge number of features, but your best bet is to start simple, with a well-defined set of options. This will allow you to tweak your bot to perfection while giving it time to learn and adjust to its responsibilities. Once it has mastered easy tasks, you can give it the capacity of fulfilling more complex operations.

Optimum Functionality

From a user's point of view, there's nothing more frustrating than a chatbot that says it can do something when it really can't. Make sure your bot is able to carry out all tasks you advertise; that way, your audience will never be disappointed with your virtual helper.

Related: The How-To: Using Chatbots As A Tool For Customer Service

Logical Structure

It's important to think about how users will navigate through your bot and figure out a logical design. Presenting all features at once will overwhelm your users, so you have to present just a few at a time. Your bot should be able to ask questions and follow a logical sequence in order to present the adequate options to address the issue at hand.

User Experience Facilitators

Remember that bots are there to help your customers, so implement anything you think will help users solve their issues. Buttons, links, and the ability to be transferred to a human are good examples of features that facilitate user experience.

Predictive Capabilities

AI-powered chatbots have the ability to learn from each interaction. Besides gathering information for advertising purposes, these bots also learn to become predictive and offer a solution before the user brings up any issues.

A Touch of Personality

It's always tricky to give bots personality, especially enterprise ones. Giving a chatbot a little likeability can encourage your team to interact with it and even become a healthy office mood-setter. Remember that your chatbot's personality should always represent your brand's overall tone.

Regular Updates and Optimization

I mentioned before that chatbots should be connected to tracking tools so you can review their statistics. You should use these to make adjustments and fine tune your bot to improve user experience and productivity over time.

Finally...

Although enterprises have different requirements than other organizations, chatbots still provide a great solution to their customer service needs. Gone are the days where your current and future customers have to call in during office hours for some assistance. Enterprise chatbots can now answer questions, serve as a self-serving tool, and even provide specific information about your products and services on demand. Use the tips I outlined above to create an enterprise bot that helps you build a lasting relationship with your audience.

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Silicon Valley: Human Trafficking Bill 'Overly Broad'

A new Senate bill aims to target sites that facilitate human trafficking, but internet firms like Facebook and Google are concerned they will get swept up in the "overly broad" legislation.

Introduced on Tuesday, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 wants to "ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensure that websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice," according to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican.

The bill, which is backed by 19 other lawmakers from both parties, would update section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to "ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that victims can get justice," Portman says.

The bill would be able to seek justice against these websites. Secondly, it would eliminate federal liability protections for websites that "assist, support or facilitate" violations of federal sex trafficking laws. Finally, it would enable state law enforcement officials -- not just the Justice Department -- to take action against individuals and businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.

Portman said the bill is the result of a nearly two-year Senate investigation, which found that Backpage, a classified advertisement website, "knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and then covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits."

Backpage shut down its adult section last month after the Senate report came out. But it said the investigation was primarily intended to intimidate it into going dark. Backpage rival Craigslist shuttered its adult section in 2010, also following government investigations into its role in sex trafficking.

The proposed bill, however, could also affect companies like Facebook and Google, according to Recode, which points out that the proposal is "already drawing opposition from Silicon Valley."

The Internet Association, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization that represents the aforementioned tech giants and a number of other internet companies, says the Justice Department "must hold criminal actors and facilitators of human trafficking -- including rogue operators like Backpage.com -- responsible to the fullest extent of the law." However, the proposed bill is "overly broad and will be counterproductive in the fight to combat human trafficking," it says.

The Internet Association argues that it would "create a new wave of frivolous and unpredictable actions against legitimate companies rather than addressing underlying criminal behavior." Further, it "jeopardizes bedrock principles of a free and open internet."


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