Monday, May 18, 2015

Property manager settles lawsuit in former Marine's murder for $1.5 million (Sun Sentinel)

By Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel

David Lawrence Nelson II, 31, lived at Harbor Town Apartment Homes. He was shot to death July 17, 2012 in a parking lot at the apartment complex. Photo courtesy Eldad Efendi Photography (Handout, Sun Sentinel)

The killer struck with no warning. David Lawrence Nelson, 31, a former Marine who moved to South Florida from the Pacific Northwest two years earlier, lay dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the Harbor Town Apartment Homes in Plantation.

The killer, Jaime Vogel, 47, was arrested and charged with murder.

Last year, Nelson's wife, Marla, sued the apartment complex's management company for negligence, arguing that they should have known Vogel was a risk and never should have rented an apartment to his family.

The Greystar Management Company settled Nelson's claim for $1.5 million.

The lawsuit was filed on the premise that a person who rents a property from a landlord or manager expects proper background checks to be conducted on other renters. Nelson had moved into the complex in 2010 with his then-fiancee. They married in September 2011.

The slaying took place on July 17, 2012. No motive was ever determined. Witnesses at the time said they were unaware of any lingering disagreement between Nelson and Vogel.

Frank J. Mari, executive director of the South Florida Property Management Association, said background screenings are not required by law, but they are recommended by common sense. A landlord, whether he owns a single family residence, a duplex or a complex, checks a potential tenant's background to make sure he'll pay the rent and to provide legal cover in a negligence claim.

"They definitely should take the time to make sure they have reputable tenants," he said. "I have a responsibility as a property manager to the owners and to the community, the other renters, to keep a safe place."

Most landlords know this and conduct background checks, even without a law saying they must do it, Mari said. His association has more than 3,600 members representing rental properties and condominiums in Palm Beach, Broward and other counties.

Christopher Marlowe, attorney with The Haggard Law Firm who represented Marla Nelson, said Greystar had run a background check that revealed Vogel had previously lived in another Plantation property managed by the same company, and that he had been evicted for causing disturbances and making death threats against other tenants.

"The failure by Greystar was in not actually reading the background screening that they had in place," said Marlowe. "They had all the background they needed to know they had been lied to by the applicant," who claimed he had never before lived in a Greystar-managed property.

"How could you possibly represent to anyone that you're offering a safe place to live if you're not paying attention to your own background checks?" Marlowe said.

Vogel never went to trial for the crime. He committed suicide at the Broward Main Jail last March 8. Nelson's wife has since returned to Washington, her lawyer said.

Because it was a negotiated settlement, the outcome of the case won't set any legal precedent.

James Shaw, the attorney who represented Greystar, could not be reached for comment, despite phone messages left at his Miami office.

Negligence suits against property managers stemming from murder cases are rare. When they do arise, they tend to be over security lapses, not failed background screenings, said Mari.

Marlowe said the circumstances leading to the Nelson lawsuit were unusual because security was not an issue and a background check was conducted — "it just wasn't read.", 954-356-4457, Twitter @SSCourts and @rolmeda

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chinese Maternity Tourists and the Business of Being Born American (BusinessWeek)

Inside the Homeland Security crackdown on deluxe services helping Chinese women have American babies

Photo illustration: 731; Photographer: Science Photo Library/Alamy
Fiona He gave birth to her second child, a boy, on Jan. 24, 2015, at Pomona Valley Hospital in Southern California. The staff was friendly, the delivery uncomplicated, and the baby healthy. He, a citizen of China, left the hospital confident she had made the right decision to come to America to have her baby.
She’d arrived in November as a customer of USA Happy Baby, one of an increasing number of agencies that bring pregnant Chinese women to the States. Like most of them, Happy Baby is a deluxe service that ushers the women through the visa process and cares for them before and after delivery.
There are many reasons to have a baby in the U.S. The air is cleaner, the doctors generally are better, and pain medication is dispensed more readily. Couples can evade China’s one-child policy, because they don’t have to register the birth with local authorities. The main appeal of being a “birth tourist,” though, is that the newborn goes home with a U.S. passport. The 14th Amendment decrees that almost any child born on U.S. soil is automatically a citizen; the only exception is a child born to diplomats. He and her husband paid USA Happy Baby $50,000 to have an American son. If they had to, she says, they’d have paid more.
After the birth, He observed yuezi, the traditional month of recovery for new mothers. She, her mother, and her 2-year-old daughter stayed in Rancho Cucamonga, a city about 40 miles east of Los Angeles. Her apartment, in a complex with a pool, fitness center, and mountain views, was rented by USA Happy Baby. Her nanny was supplied by USA Happy Baby. She ate kidney soup and pork chops with green papaya prepared by a USA Happy Baby cook. She secured her son’s U.S. birth certificate, passport, and Social Security card with USA Happy Baby’s assistance.
He’s daughter was born in America as well. He and her husband, educated in Britain and from prosperous families, hoped to send their children to an international school in Shanghai that admits only foreign students. When the kids turn 21 they can petition for green cards for their parents, too.
It was all going well, until four men knocked on the door of He’s apartment on Feb. 23. They said they were fire department inspectors responding to a complaint about someone barbecuing on the balcony. She hadn’t been cooking outside. The men asked to see the adults’ identification. Then they asked the ages of her children. “I felt very weird then,” He says. “I wondered why they were asking me about my children when they came to ask about barbecue.” Afterward she called Phoebe Dong, who ran USA Happy Baby and lived nearby. “I said I didn’t feel safe. She said not to worry.”
A week later, five men from Homeland Security Investigations, the sheriff’s department, and the fire department arrived. At first He thought they’d come from the homeowners’ association. Then she saw the bulletproof vests and handguns. They showed her a search warrant. She recognized the translator from the previous visit. “Then they asked me a lot of questions, and I became nervous,” she says.
The HSI agents told He she wasn’t in trouble. That turned out to be only sort of true. They were investigating the owners of USA Happy Baby—Dong and her husband, Michael Liu—for suspected tax evasion, money laundering, and visa fraud. Although it’s legal to travel to the U.S. to give birth, it’s illegal to lie about the purpose of a visit—or coach someone to do so. For two hours the agents gathered documents, including the family’s passports, and made copies of He’s e-mails and texts. “They took my son’s immunization record, even the paper I used to record his milk time,” she says.
Then two men from the IRS showed up. They asked why He had flown from Shanghai to Las Vegas instead of Los Angeles. She told them friends had warned her that customs officials are tougher in Los Angeles. The IRS men didn’t look very happy with her answers. “After they left, I thought I had a very serious problem.”
He spoke in early April at the San Gabriel (Calif.) office of her lawyer, Long Z. Liu, on the condition that she not be identified by her full Chinese name. She says Fiona is her American name. He, 29, looked like she’d dressed hastily that morning. Her hair was pulled back; she wore no makeup. She spoke softly and quickly, alternating between English and Mandarin. She was often teary during the two-hour conversation, especially when talking about tensions in her family. Neither He’s parents nor her in-laws thought it was worth the trouble to come to the U.S. She wasn’t angry at USA Happy Baby; she mostly seemed bewildered by her predicament.
Homeland Security and the IRS have been investigating the growing business of “birth tourism,” which operates in a legal gray area, since last June. The industry is totally unregulated and mostly hidden. Fiona’s apartment was one of more than 30 baby safe houses that HSI agents and local law enforcement searched in Southern California that day in March. They came with translators and paramedics, almost 300 people in all. The investigators focused on three agencies—USA Happy Baby, You Win USA Vacation Resort, and Star Baby Care—using a confidential informant, undercover operations, and surveillance, according to three affidavits.
On March 3, Homeland Security agencies searched more than 30 baby safe houses.
Dong and Liu’s home was searched, too. Agents found close to $100,000 in cash. “We were running a serious and legit business,” Dong says. “We believe in the justice system in the U.S.” Liu referred questions to his lawyer, who didn’t respond. Kevin Liu, the lawyer for Star Baby Care, says: “There’s nothing to hide, and we’re cooperating with the investigation.”
No one knows the exact number of Chinese birth tourists or services catering to them. Online ads and accounts in the Chinese-language press suggest there could be hundreds, maybe thousands, of operators. A California association of these services called All American Mother Service Management Center claims 20,000 women from China gave birth in the U.S. in 2012 and about the same number in 2013. These figures are often cited by Chinese state media, but the center didn’t reply to a request for comment. The Center for Immigration Studies, an American organization that advocates limiting the scope of the 14th Amendment, estimates there could have been as many as 36,000 birth tourists from around the world in 2012.
Homeland Security declined to discuss the investigation because it is ongoing, but Claude Arnold, the agent in charge, says: “Visa fraud is a huge vulnerability for the country. These women allegedly lied to come have a baby. Other people could come to do something bad. We have to maintain the integrity of the system.” After the raids, which were covered by local media, agents received dozens of tips about other possible “birth hotels.”
The U.S. and Canada are the only developed countries that grant birthright citizenship. For those who believe U.S. immigration policies are too generous, birth tourism has become a contentious issue. “It’s like somebody giving birth in your living room and saying they’re part of your family,” says Ira Mehlman, the spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Legislation to abolish automatic citizenship was introduced into the House of Representatives this year, as it is every couple of years. The Republican leadership doesn’t seem interested, though.
“Some people say these families are taking advantage of a loophole,” says Emily Callan, an immigration attorney in Virginia who’s written about birthright citizenship. “If it was a loophole you could close it, but changing the 14th Amendment would be drastic. This isn’t a loophole or a technicality. It’s an unintended consequence.”
After the March raids, 29 Chinese mothers and relatives were designated material witnesses and ordered to stay in Southern California until the federal court decided they could leave. Fiona He moved from her apartment in Rancho Cucamonga to one in another part of the Inland Empire. “I want my children to have the best they can,” she says. “But I had no idea I would have this trouble. We didn’t hurt anyone. We just found an easy way to stay here to give birth. Is that wrong?” She was interviewed by a federal grand jury on March 11 with the promise of immunity if she continued to cooperate. No charges have been brought against any of the maternity services, nor have any promises been made to the women about their return home. As the weeks passed, He was feeling desperate.
In China, there’s nothing secret about birth tourism. It’s just another way to help a child get ahead. A hit 2013 movie, Finding Mr. Right, told the story of a woman who goes to America to give birth. That same year, 68 percent of people surveyed by Internet provider Tencent said they would want their child to be born in the States “if opportunity allows.” The maternity services maintain blogs and a steady patter of self-promotion. USA Happy Baby featured an ad with a baby lying on an American flag; Dong, the owner, regularly posted pictures of smiling customers, their newborns, and their U.S. passports. “The moms must be missing the time at our maternity center. It was real fun. Everything was taken care of. You lived like a ‘queen,’  ” read a post on social media by another service, called Enchong.

Enchong, which isn’t part of the Homeland Security investigation, is well known in China. One Saturday in late March a dozen potential clients sit in a conference room at the Wuhan Convention Center, a former Communist Party hotel that’s benefited from a sleek renovation. Coco Zhai is an Enchong executive and, like many in the industry, was first a client. She is wearing a traditional Chinese dress and carrying an Herm├Ęs purse that, she tells attendees, was a present from her boss.
As Zhai explains, the first step to becoming a birth tourist is to obtain a tourist visa from a U.S. consulate in China, usually in the early months of pregnancy. U.S. consular officers have discretion in granting visas. They don’t have to turn away a pregnant woman who may give birth in the U.S., nor do they necessarily have to allow her in. If a woman is asked about her plans, she has to tell the truth. There’s already a new phrase in use among potential birth tourists: cheng shi qian, or “honest visa application.” Zhai encourages this. She also recommends entering the U.S. through a city other than Los Angeles. “Las Vegas is really easy because everyone goes there to gamble, no matter if you’re a senior or pregnant,” she says. “If you cannot cross the border, we cannot make money.”
If a woman says she’s traveling to give birth, the consular and customs officers may request proof that she can pay for her hospital stay. (The same would be asked of anybody seeking medical treatment in the U.S.) “Keep every single one of your invoices as evidence that you didn’t use the public charge,” Zhai says, referring to Medicaid. “If you have receipts with big sums, such as a watch worth tens of thousands, or a diamond ring, save those too.”
Enchong rents about 100 apartments in a sprawling complex in the Chinese community of Rowland Heights, about 25 miles east of Los Angeles. Pheasant Ridge, or Pregnant Ridge, as some locals call it, is wooded and secure and within walking distance of grocery stores, a Target, and several Chinese restaurants. After the birth, Enchong provides new mothers five meals a day and all the baby formula and diapers they need. The company that runs Pheasant Ridge, Arnel Management, declined to comment.
All the maternity centers boast of their success helping customers get visas and pass through customs. Zhai says that of Enchong’s 600 clients in 2014, no more than four were turned away at U.S. airports. The centers promise that in California there is no pollution, noise, or crowds—something that can’t be bought in China. They offer trips to Disneyland and SeaWorld; You Win, one of the services under scrutiny, took a group of husbands to a shooting range. The company motto was “Pass the love along.”
Toward the end of the two-hour presentation, Zhai is asked if Enchong could be the next service to be investigated. The raids and their aftermath are regularly reported on by the Chinese-language press. “Many maternity centers are scared,” she says, and some women have decided against going to America. The only change Enchong has made is that employees no longer go to U.S. government offices to collect passports and Social Security cards. They do that by mail. “We don’t want to rush toward the bullets, even though we don’t really know what the trouble might be.”
Fiona He used Enchong to have her first baby. When she was planning her second stay, she opted for USA Happy Baby because it offered housing with fewer pregnant Chinese women around. She wanted the quiet.

On March 3, Homeland Security agencies searched more than 30 baby safe houses.
The investigation that brought agents to He’s apartment began 50 miles away in Irvine, with an anonymous tip about Edwin Chen’s business. Chen had gotten into the birth tourism industry after personal experience. His wife, Jie Zhu, came to the U.S. to have their son in 2011. Zhu live-tweeted the first hours of her labor to friends back in China. When the couple had a daughter a year later, she tweeted from the hospital again. They decided to stay in California and help other Chinese to expand their families on American soil.
Chen opened American Angel 8 and, in January 2013, advertised online: “Give birth to an American baby. Start a wonderful journey.” He offered two options: a $30,000 gold package and a $60,000 platinum package, which promised a U.S. visa for the mother and a U.S. passport for the child, round-trip airfare, a two-bedroom apartment, a hospital room with a view of the ocean, a nanny, and a seminar on buying property in the U.S.
By the fall of 2013, Chen and Zhu were bragging about their success. Zhu posted a picture of a diamond watch on Weibo, the popular Chinese microblogging service. “The world’s only Jaeger-LeCoultre diamond watch, worth $400,000. Saw it in a magazine. Now am touching it. Thank you the rich moms staying at Angel 8.” In another post, Chen said he had bought the watch. (That turned out to be a lie: The maternity service business is lucrative, but not that lucrative.)
One of the rich moms was Dongyuan Li, a client who delivered twin girls in 2013. Afterward, she and her husband, Qiang Yan, made Chen an offer: They would fund a new maternity service in exchange for a majority stake. Chen would manage operations in California; Li and Yan would oversee recruitment in China. Chen shut down Angel 8 and, with Li and Yan, opened You Win USA Vacation Resort in December 2013.
Six months later a man in Los Angeles contacted Chen, saying he needed to help his pregnant cousin in China come to California to give birth. The new client and his “cousin” were actually Homeland Security agents.
According to an affidavit filed by HSI, the agent in China was told by a You Win “trainer” to apply for a U.S. visa with someone who travels regularly and wouldn’t raise suspicions about the purpose of the visit. If she didn’t know anybody, the trainer would supply someone for $9,600. “If the story is convincing and she is good-looking, then the success rate will be pretty high when she goes for the visa interview,” the trainer said. Concocting the story was included in the price. The undercover HSI agent got her visa and made plans to fly to the U.S. Sometime after that, Chen told his client that he might make as much as $2 million in 2014.
You Win’s customers stayed at the Carlyle at Colton Plaza, a gated luxury apartment complex in Irvine. Chen didn’t know it, but the Carlyle also happened to be down the street from a Homeland Security office. Agents could see it out their windows.
Otherwise, the Carlyle seemed like an ideal place for a baby hotel in 2014: It was new, and it wasn’t full. You Win rented at least 12 apartments and converted one into a communal kitchen and dining room. If the women didn’t want to eat there, uniformed chefs delivered their meals. The complex has poolside cabanas, an outdoor fireplace, a fitness center, and a lounge. Apartments rent for $2,800 to $4,300 a month. Homeland Security agents say that several other birth tourism operators may have used the Carlyle, too. The management company, Legacy Partners, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Two highly regarded hospitals are nearby. You Win suggested that the women choose doctors who could deliver babies there. According to the companies’ Chinese-language websites and lawyers for the women, the doctors usually insisted on being paid in cash for prenatal care and delivery. The families often took care of the hospital bill with cash, too, and seemed to receive a discounted rate because of it. The cost of a natural delivery was around $4,000; a caesarean section, $6,000.
You Win also drove the women to South Coast Plaza, which is filled with luxury boutiques. They bought classic saffiano purses at Prada, the sparkly Abel shoes at Jimmy Choo, lingerie with rhinestones at Victoria’s Secret. They were regulars at Chanel and Coach. All the shops employed Mandarin speakers.
Chen and Zhu were sleeping in their apartment in Mission Viejo when HSI agents knocked on their door early on March 3. The agents questioned Chen about alleged visa fraud and tax evasion for about two hours. The agents froze Chen’s bank accounts and seized Zhu’s Mercedes. They took the notebook where Chen recorded client information and his passport. Chen and his wife are permanent residents. The affidavit alleges they got their green cards through sham marriages in Las Vegas; Chen won’t comment on that.
at morning, agents also questioned Dongyuan Li, who lives in a gated community outside Irvine. Among the assets they seized were 10 gold ingots, which she kept in a safe deposit box at her bank. (Their value hasn’t been determined yet.) Neither Li nor her husband could be reached for comment.
“We did what everybody else was doing,” Chen says, speaking on behalf of his wife. “There are no so-called standards.” He denied allegations of visa fraud, saying that You Win outsourced that part of the business to agents in China. “Had I known this industry is not allowed, I wouldn’t have touched it. But everybody said this is a gray area.”
After the raids, You Win shut down. The Carlyle sent eviction notices to the 11 apartments You Win had been renting, says Ken Liang, an attorney representing seven of the Chinese women. “The government said the women could stay in a detention center. No one was interested in that offer.” The doctors, who were paid in advance in cash, continued their care.
Liang says his clients didn’t lie about their pregnancies. “They were told by travel agents to wear loose clothing, but answer truthfully when asked. It could be seen that wearing loose clothing is evasion—but that’s a judgment call.” In the end, the consular officers didn’t ask his clients if they were pregnant, Liang says. All the women entered the U.S. in Honolulu, where customs officers did ask if a few were pregnant. They answered honestly and were let in.
“Birth tourism is a money-making opportunity,” says Liang. “The operators shouldn’t squander it.” He would like them to come out of the shadows and push for regulations. “This could have a long-lasting positive impact for the U.S. Bruce Lee was a birth tourism baby. Maybe we’ll get another genius out of it.”
Fiona He brought her daughter to the Riverside Federal Courthouse on April 7. Judge David Bristow was holding a hearing to determine when—or if—the Chinese women designated as material witnesses might return home. As the other women huddled around a translator, He walked in and out of the courtroom, distracted. One woman was still pregnant; another had a baby in a car seat. After three hours in court, they learned it was unlikely that any of them would be allowed to leave soon. On the courthouse steps, the women were distraught. The men were smoking. Fiona He remained at a distance. “I’m disappointed in the system,” says Liu, her lawyer. “These women are being treated like criminal defendants, not witnesses.”

A week later, He fled to China with her mother and two children on China Eastern Airlines flight 586. Five other women and their relatives—10 material witnesses in all—left on other flights out of Los Angeles International Airport. The women had been given back their documents and traveled under their own names. “This was very embarrassing for everyone, including me,” Liu said a day after learning of He’s departure. On April 26, Liu made public a statement from He. She said her grandmother, who raised her, was terminally ill, and she had no choice but to return to China. She said she would come back to the U.S. to testify. “As a responsible person with integrity, I always keep my promises. I do not intend to make an exception this time.”
On April 30, He officially became a fugitive. The government charged He and nine others with alleged obstruction of justice, contempt of court, and visa fraud and issued warrants for their arrest. “It’s pretty ironic,” says Liu. “She did so much to get passports for her kids. Now they can come to America anytime. But she probably can never come again.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Three cybersecurity consultants pay it forward in Florida (TechRepublic)

From recovering seawater-immersed media to providing security to SMBs, learn how three IT consultants in Florida (two of whom are former NSA employees) are helping clients and students. 

Fort Myers, Florida seems to have an inordinate number of people who have worked for the NSA. Most of these people appear to be -- not unexpected -- successful owners of businesses related to IT. Prime examples are John and Sue Benkert, both former NSA employees, who along with Gregory Scasny own CPR Tools.
CPR Tools, originally called Computer Peripheral Repair and Recovery Services, has been saving companies and individuals from data-loss angst since 1987. The Benkerts started working for CPR Tools in 2004 and in 2011, with Scasny, bought CPR Tools.
Sue and John Benkert
 Image courtesy of CPR Tools and CDS
Over the years, the company has gained a reputation for retrieving what was thought to be lost data from memory devices. CPR Tools has recovered data from:
  • Bubble memory
  • Floppy media
  • Magnetic-tape, solid-state, and optical media
  • MFM/RLL hard drives
  • Water- and physically-damaged media
Some of the more interesting recoveries involved media immersed in seawater for months, media charred in fires, media buried 8 feet underground for 10 years, and hard drives with badly-scratched platters.
One reason CPR Tools is successful is their incessant researching. John Benkert mentioned engineers at CPR Tools study every new memory technology, learn its weaknesses, and what type of recovery methods work. For example, when USB drives were first introduced, CPR Tools built its own as a way of understanding how the device worked.
Besides in-house data recovery, CPR Tools builds and sells the same tools used by company engineers to recover data or the opposite -- to remove data from end-of-life memory devices -- to businesses that want those capabilities in-house. Every piece of equipment they sell is designed and built in the US.
John Benkert, during a conference call, stated, "CPR Tools is different for many reasons, but there are three important ones I believe separate us from the pack for data recovery: price, discreetness, and our advanced capabilities."

Cybersecurity Defense Solutions

While helping clients (mostly small- and medium-sized businesses), the Benkerts and Scasny noticed clients more often than not wanted help with other IT issues, in particular those related to security. The Benkerts and Scasny saw an opportunity, especially Scasny, who is a scary-smart security expert -- the type that always finds a way in during a penetration test.
So, in October 2014, the three started Cybersecurity Defense Solutions (CDS). "CDS was formed to help bring cybersecurity to all companies no matter what size," Scasny wrote in an email. "Our goal is to provide best-practice, easy-to-understand consulting, training, and security products for our clients."


CPR Tools has expertise building data-recovery hardware for data recovery, so it was a natural progression to build security implements, including FLITRAP and TVAP.
FLITRAP diagram
 Image courtesy of CPR Tools and CDS
FLITRAP (Front Line Intelligent Threat Response and Assessment Platform):FLITRAP is a turnkey appliance consisting of a honeypot, intrusion detection system, and alerting system. FLITRAP seemed similar to other offerings, and I asked Scasny about that.
He mentioned that FLITRAP, right from the beginning, was designed for businesses having little to no in-house IT or infosec staff. "Our interview process allows us to pre-configure the device for the client before it is shipped out," explained Scasny. "The client has a true 'set it and forget it' trap to alert them or their contracted IT personnel of anomalous network behavior."
TVAP (Threat and Vulnerability Assessment Platform): "Our approach is hands on -- most businesses are not sure what they need to be scanning or why," explained Scasny. "We gather information from the client even up to the point of scanning their entire network to find what is specifically on the network so that all vulnerable systems can be analyzed. We then configure TVAP using the data we accumulated."
In addition, CDS will run an Intrusion Detection Sensor (IDS) at the furthest point of ingress/egress on the network (typically on the LAN link of the firewall) for a pre-defined number of days. The IDS uses both signatures and anomaly-based behavior heuristics to detect threats that may already be on the network. "Since we have mapped the network in great detail, we know what traffic has no place on the client's network," added Scasny. "Doing so enables us to find insider threats and shadow IT operations on the client's network."

Paying it forward

During my visit, I saw how passionate the Benkerts and Scasny were about making a difference in their community -- that really showed when discussing their intern program. Internships are offered to local college and high school students interested in pursuing a degree in "just about any technological field" said John Benkert. "Our goal is somewhat selfish," said Sue Benkert. "We certainly would love to find awesome employees, but we also believe -- probably more so -- that we can affect a change in attitude by getting students excited about data security."
Gregory Scasny
 Image courtesy of CPR Tools and CDS
Interested students are asked to submit a resume and partake in an interview; this is important to the Benkerts and Scasny. "This is typically the first time a student has created a resume and many times the first time they have been interviewed," mentioned Sue Benkert. "These two skills, resume writing and interviewing, are seldom taught anywhere, and it's a great experience for the students."
"Having worked on both the offensive and defensive side of computer networks, Greg and my unique backgrounds allow us to offer a different perspective than most," reflected John Benkert. "We truly believe that if we teach the basic principles to these students, it will become a habit they will pass on to others."

Friday, May 8, 2015

China's Very High Mountain of Debt (BusinessWeek)

China's debt mountain is casting a shadow over the world's second-largest economy.

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Total debt has reached 282 percent of GDP, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. While other big economies aren't far behind, it's the pace of China's credit expansion that's worrying policy makers, spurring targeted stimulus strikes while trying to avoid a debt sugar hit.Here's how the debt breaks down, according to McKinsey:

Central government debt is low by global standards, giving room for fiscal stimulus if the economic downturn deepens. Local authorities are in a more delicate position, having borrowed heavily via vehicles after the global financial crisis and now grappling with repayments.

While bank debt doesn't flash red alert yet, rising bad loans signal more pain to come. For non-financials, especially real estate developers, the burden is greater, raising question marks over whether monetary policy loosening will spur a pickup in loan demand among already tapped out corporates. Last month, Baoding Tianwei Group, a power-equipment maker became China’s first state-owned enterprise to default on domestic debt.
Now on to the good news: households. China's famously frugal citizens have plenty of scope to take on more credit, spurring hopes consumption can help plug a growth gap that's widening amid the slowdown in investment.
As for who dished out the loans, an estimated 30 percent comes from the shadow banking system -- a lending channel policy makers are trying to rein in due to concerns over transparency. Then there's foreign lending, which could come back to bite if the currency weakens. Even after a slight decrease in the fourth quarter of 2014, outstanding claims on China totaled $1 trillion at the end of 2014, well ahead of $308 billion for Brazil and $196 billion for India, according to the Bank of International Settlements.
There are signs that credit has peaked, with Standard Chartered estimating China's debt-to-GDP ratio is stabilizing. The question for policy makers: will the deleveraging process spark a crunch or can they pull off a smooth landing?
"China's policy makers need to walk a fine line between supporting growth and avoiding a further deterioration in debt metrics," said David Mann, chief Asia economist at Standard Chartered. "They don't want to let that genie back out of its bottle." 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Free for Moms next Mother's Day!


Bayside:     (305) 451-4060
Oceanside: (305) 451-1993

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

14 Secrets to Collecting a Bigger Paycheck (

Earning a promotion is one way to move up the career ladder -- but it's not the only way.
Even if an upward move is not in your near future, there are steps you can take to increase your earnings.

This article explores 14 ways that can help you collect a bigger paycheck

Increase your education

Earning a certificate, an advanced degree, or taking classes in your field can translate into higher earnings.

Check out classes and programs at your local colleges and universities, as well as online distance-learning programs that allow you to earn while you learn.

Keep up with technology

Isaac Asimov once said, “The only constant is change.”

Keeping up with the changing technology in your industry or field will add up to more earning power.

Go with the flow

If you get wind of workplace changes, schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss how you can help facilitate changes, as well as how you can contribute to the new structure.

More opportunity typically goes hand-in-hand with more money.

Ask for more work

Consider using your present position to build more skills, experience, and knowledge. Stretch and challenge yourself.

Not only will you be ready for what's next, you'll be viewed as a hard worker.


Chosen carefully, volunteer work looks terrific on a resume, and can boost earnings potential.

Choose volunteer work that uses skills knowledge necessary in your field.


Sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know.

Get to know the colleagues in your organization, as well as in your industry in general.

In addition to helping you gain contacts, these folks often have invaluable insider advice.

Join career organizations

These organizations will help you stay in touch with what's happening in your industry, can introduce you to others in your field, and frequently offer educational opportunities not available elsewhere

Update your resume

In addition to making sure your resume reflects your most recent accomplishments and experiences, make sure it is appropriately formatted.

In today's world, many organizations file resumes by keyword, so be sure to arrange your resume by skill.

Keep a finger on the pulse of your industry

Know what's happening so you can make sure that your skills, experience, and education are properly aligned

In addition to paying attention to the here and now, look toward the future as well.

Become an expert

Having a skill or possessing knowledge that others don’t will increase your worth -- and your paycheck.

Differentiate yourself

What can you do to make yourself stand out from the other folks in your department or organization?

Choose something valuable to your situation. Perhaps it’s learning the newest technology, or earning a certification.

Think outside the cubicle

 Be sure to accomplish things outside of work. Your ability to excel at a sport or hobby is valued at work, and shows you have the mettle to succeed.

Share your expertise

Teach a class, or mentor someone. Sharing skills and knowledge shows leadership and competence, and also hones valuable people skills.

Do your homework

Don't just ask for more money. Demonstrate compelling reasons why you should get the raise. Know what a competitive salary is for someone with your education, skills and experience

Control your earning potential... and your destiny

When all is said and done, remember that you are in control of your earnings potential. With some thoughtful action on your part, you'll collect a bigger paycheck now, and in the future.