COST OF LIVING CONTINUES TO RISE AS AUSTRALIANS FEEL THE PINCH
If it feels like everything is more expensive right now, that’s because it is
If it feels like everything is more expensive right now, that’s because it is
Mortgage interest charges were responsible for the greatest increase in living costs over the December quarter for employee households, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday shows. This uptick in costs follows decisions by mortgage lenders to pass on consecutive cash rate rises by the Reserve Bank of Australia which saw it increase by 300 basis points or 3 percent in 2022.
The statistics, showing price increases across all five Living Cost Indexes (LCI) in Australia — the largest rise since the September 2000 quarter — paint a picture of households under increasing pressure to balance budgets while maintaining their current lifestyles.
While interest rates accounted for a 26.6 percent rise, Recreation and Culture, including travel rose by 5.5 percent over the holiday period, followed by Housing at 2.2 percent and Furnishings, household equipment and services at 1.8 percent.
National electricity prices also increased as the Western Australian Government’s $400 electricity credit offer came to an end. However, this was mitigated by the Queensland Government’s $175 Cost of Living rebate which came into effect in September last year. The Tasmanian Government has also introduced a $119 Winter Bill Buster electricity discount for concession households.
The RBA board is due to meet next week for the first time this year with most experts predicting a further rate rise of 0.25 percent.
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Passwords aren’t enough to fend off hackers; these dongles are the best defense
Strong passwords are very important, but they’re not enough to protect you from cybercriminals.
Passwords can be leaked or guessed. The key to online security is protecting your account with a strong secondary measure, typically a single-use code. This is referred to as “two-factor authentication,” or 2FA, as the nerds know it.
I’ve written about all the different types of 2FA, such as getting those codes sent via text message or generated in an authenticator app. Having any kind of second factor is better than none at all, but physical security keys—little dongles that you plug into a USB port or tap on your phone during account logins—offer the highest level of protection.
Security keys have been around for over a decade, but now they’re in the spotlight: Apple recently introduced support for them as an optional, added protection for Apple ID accounts. Last month, Twitter removed text-message-based authentication as an option for nonpaying users, recommending instead an authenticator app or security key.
Some people are hesitant to use security keys because carrying around a physical object seems burdensome and they come with a $30-and-up added cost. Plus, what happens if they get lost?
I’ve used security keys since 2016 and think they are actually easier to manage than codes—especially with accounts that don’t require frequent logins. They’re not only convenient, but they can’t be copied or faked by hackers, so they’re safer, too.
Here’s how to weigh the benefits and common concerns of adding one or two of these to your keychain.
Many internet services support the use of security keys, and you can use the same security key to unlock accounts on many different services. I recommend two from industry leader Yubico:
Other options include Google’s Titan security keys ($30 and up). In addition to working with laptops and tablets with USB ports, these keys are compatible with smartphones that have NFC wireless. Most smartphones these days have that, since it’s the technology behind wireless payments such as Apple Pay.
Adam Marrè, chief information security officer at cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf, recommends that your chosen key is certified by the FIDO Alliance, which governs the standards of these devices.
To add a key, look in the security settings of your major accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.). During setup, it will prompt you to insert the key into your laptop or tablet’s port or hold the key close to your phone for wireless contact.
Apple requires you to add two security keys to your Apple ID account, in case you lose one.
Typically, when you log in, you just go to the app or website where you’ve set up a key, enter your username and password as usual, then once again insert the key into the device or hold it close. (Some keys have a metal tab you have to press to activate.) At that point, the service should let you right in.
Getting those two-factor login codes via text message is convenient, but if you are someone criminals are targeting, you could be the victim of SIM swapping. That’s where thieves convince carriers to port your number to a new phone in their possession, and they use it along with your stolen password to hack your accounts.
Even if they don’t go to all that trouble, criminals might try to trick you to hand them your codes, by calling you or spoofing a website you typically visit. At that point they can use the code for about 60 seconds to try to break in, said Ryan Noon, chief executive at security firm Material Security.
Security keys protect you in two ways: First, there’s no code to steal, and second, they use a security protocol to verify the website’s domain during login, so they won’t work on fake sites.
You can also add an authenticator app such as Authy to your most important accounts, to use only as a backup. But once you add these secure methods, you should consider removing the text-message code option.
In the rare case that someone snoops your passcode then steals your iPhone, beware: The perpetrator could still make Apple ID account changes using only the passcode, and even remove security keys from your account.
The most important rule of security keys is to buy an extra one (or two).
“Think of your security key as you would a house or car key,” said Derek Hanson, Yubico’s vice president of solutions architecture. “It’s always recommended that you have a spare.”
If you lose a security key, remove it from your accounts immediately. You should have already registered your spare or an authenticator app as a backup to use in the meantime.
Start with your most valuable accounts: Google, Apple, Microsoft, your password manager, your social–media accounts and your government accounts.
When it comes to financial institutions, many banks don’t offer security-key protection as an option, though most leading crypto exchanges do.
Security professionals and tech companies widely agree that passkeys are the future. They’re a new type of software option that combines the high security of a physical key with the convenience of biometrics such as your face or fingerprints. Passkeys are supported across the Android, iOS, Mac and Windows platforms, and some of your favourite sites already let you use them.
You can create a passkey on Facebook in security settings by following the app’s instructions under the security-key option. Dropbox has a similar passkey setup. Once you’re done, you’ll use your face or fingerprint as a second factor, instead of a code or key.
Eventually, physical security keys could be what we keep safe in strong boxes, as backups for our biometric-enabled passkeys. Even then, you’re probably going to want to have spares.
Adidas might sell its struggling Reebok brand, potentially taking advantage of the strength of athletic goods, which have been a bright spot in apparel during the Covid-19 crisis. On Monday, Adidas (ticker: ADDYY) said it was reviewing Reebok’s future, which could include a sale. The news comes ahead of the company’s five-year blueprint, which it is …
Continue reading “Why Now Might Be A Good Time For Adidas To Sell Its Reebok Brand”
Bitcoin soared to an all-time high on Monday, hitting US$19,850 in the morning before again slipping below US$19,500 by the afternoon. It has nearly doubled in just the past two months. The cryptocurrency has been boosted by a flurry of endorsements from traditional investors, favourable government policies, and expanded access on investment apps, as Barron’s noted this …
Continue reading “Bitcoin Hits High of $19,850 As Doubters Become Believers”