Thursday, December 29, 2011

Few consumers trust Facebook storefronts to prevent fraud -- 11:25:33(CST)12-27-2011

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011 ? 11:25:33 (CST)

Few consumers trust Facebook storefronts to prevent fraud

San Jose, Calif. & Traverse City, Mich., Dec. 23, 2011 -- ThreatMetrix?, a leading provider of integrated cybersecurity solutions, today announced results of a joint study with The Ponemon Institute, ?Mobile Payments & Online Shopping Survey of U.S. Consumers.? The survey, which looked at U.S. consumers who self-reported they are active users of the Internet, revealed that 53% of consumers do not believe Facebook storefronts are committed to protecting them against fraudsters. A quarter of respondents (23%) were unsure about Facebook?s fraud prevention tactics.

While Google came out ahead of Facebook in terms of fraud prevention intentions, findings also showed more than half of consumers feel Google is more effective than Facebook at actually keeping them safe from online criminals. In fact, Google recently announced it is aiming to enhance its online retailing strategy, which some say will challenge Google would partner with major retailers and shippers to enable consumers to shop for goods online and receive orders within a day for a low fee.

?If Google moves forward with this service, it introduces another set of fraud prevention concerns,? said Alisdair Faulkner, chief products officer, ThreatMetrix. ?With online shopping becoming more convenient and affordable for consumers, fraudsters will be even more eager to take advantage of underprepared retailers.?

Consumers Have Yet to Shop Via Social Networks

Survey results indicate that consumers have yet to really adopt online shopping habits through social networks. Only 32% of consumers surveyed have browsed a company?s Facebook page and then bought something on the company?s website. In turn, only one in five consumers indicated that they have purchased something directly within a Facebook storefront.

?Consumers have yet to adopt social shopping habits because it?s largely unavailable, with many retailers still trying to figure out their strategy in offering their products via social outlets like Facebook,? said Faulkner. ?And with the current consumer perception that Facebook isn?t doing enough to protect against security breaches, Facebook storefronts still face hurdles in gaining widespread adoption.?

The spam attack on Facebook accounts this past November did little to comfort consumers about security and fraud on the site. According to Faulkner, the security breach sparked concerns about the site?s vulnerability to hackers even though the attack didn?t compromise users? data.

?With new account registration, you have fraudsters who will sign up with social networking sites like Facebook in order to gain access to current user information,? added Faulkner. ?Having a comprehensive fraud prevention strategy is vital for social networks and strategic to their operations, especially if a user experiences spam directly within the site.?

For more information on today?s most prominent fraud threats and how to protect against fraudsters please see ThreatMetrix?s videos: ?Fraud Prevention Recommendations,? and ?Current Trends in the Online Fraud Environment?? Download the full ThreatMetrix report at .

About ThreatMetrix
ThreatMetrix is a leading provider of multichannel cybersecurity solutions that enables brands to safely and securely accelerate online transactions in real-time. The ThreatMetrix Cloud-Based Fraud Prevention Platform, incorporating ThreatMetrix SmartID? cookieless device identification, provides online businesses with the ability to protect themselves and their customers by verifying new accounts, authorizing payments and transactions and authenticaticating user logins. The company serves a rapidly growing international customer base across a variety of industries, including financial services, e-commerce, social networks (dating, gaming), government, affiliate marketing and payments. For more information, visit or call 1-408-200-5755.

? 2011 ThreatMetrix. All rights reserved. ThreatMetrix, the ThreatMetrix Cloud-Based Fraud Prevention Platform, ThreatMetrix SmartID, ThreatMetrix ExactID, and the ThreatMetrix logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of ThreatMetrix in the United States and other countries. All other brand, service or product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or owners.

Source: Company press release.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Santa Barbara Historical Museum Wedding

This is our last wedding before Christmas and we thought we would leave you with a really beautiful wedding from Braedon Flynn Photography.? A black and white stylish affair held at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

The entire event is positively chic without even trying. The bride goes into more detail about the venue, special moments and how she create a vintage look for less that you must read. Be sure to see all of the beautiful images in the full gallery by clicking here.

From the bride, Megan

The morning of the wedding, as I was getting ready with all the girls in the hotel room, we got a knock on the door. It was Dave?s brothers and they had a gift for me that they brought that was from Dave & Dave?s family. Dave?s mom, Lucy, had a cross necklace made for me as a wedding gift; it was a replica of a cross necklace, that she has had in her family for years. It was so special to her to be able to pass this on to the her ?new daughter? as a way to welcome me to their family. It was a gold cross with pearls and a green precious stone in the middle. It was so special to me to be given something so beautiful and something that has such meaning. Unbeknownst to Lucy, I had borrowed a vintage family bracelet and earrings from my grandmother to wear for the wedding. Pearl earrings and a vintage green emerald bracelet. When I paired all three together and put them all on with my dress, the combo of all three was perfect. It meant the world to me to be wearing such beautiful pieces that came from both my family and my new family.

Walking down the aisle with my dad was another one of my favorite moments. My parent?s toast to us was also incredible. Having been married for 35 years, they gave us words of wisdom, advice and told such great stories. Every guest came up to my parents to thank them that night and that meant so much to us.

Once we met with our florist Kim, from Toast Santa Barbara and we chose all of our white flowers (hydrangeas, garden & polo roses, anemones, white veronica, etc. , we realized that we could save a lot of money by providing our own flower containers. We began collecting all of our flower containers? vintage mason jars, vintage milk bottles, small glass jam jars (peeled labels off), french lemonade bottles from Trader Joes, Starbucks Frappuccino bottles (labels off)? literally anything in a glass jar that I found in my kitchen, I examined to see if I could use it as a flower jar?When it all came together on our long banquet tables, I really loved the look of all the different shapes and sizes of the glass bottles as our floral centerpieces. Such an easy way to save some money & create a vintage look for less.

For the ceremony aisle (and along the entire length of the grape pergola) we envisioned hanging mason jars hung with twine filled with white flowers, succulents and greenery next to hanging jars with lit candles. We rented 2 wine barrels to be the focal point at the end of the aisle and covered them with a lush spread of hydrangeas, succulents and candles.

DANCING! Our band and our DJ were INSANE. They played back and forth all night long. The best thing you could ever wish for when throwing a great party, is that the dance floor never be empty. The dance floor was never NOT FULL.

View Entire Gallery

Photographer: Braedon Flynn Photography
Event Designer: Soigne Productions
Venue: Santa Barbara Historical Museum
Makeup: Makeup by Jenny at TEAM Hair & Makeup
Hair: Kristina Feher
Cake: Enjoy Cupcakes
Caterer: Baby Blues BBQ
Coordinator: Soigne Productions
Dress Designer: Monique Lhuillier
Flowers: Toast Santa Barbara
Groom?s Attire: Burberry
Shoe Designer: Jimmy Choo
DJ: friend of the couple


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Medal of Honor recipient drops defamation lawsuit (AP)

SAN ANTONIO ? A Medal of Honor recipient has dropped a lawsuit against his former employer in which he accused the defense contractor of ruining his chances of landing work at another company by saying he was mentally unstable and a poor worker.

Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer said in a statement Thursday that he is dropping the defamation against BAE Systems OASYS and a former supervisor, Bobby McCreight, because they settled their differences amicably.

The company says it is pleased the matter is resolved. No terms were disclosed.

Meyer filed the lawsuit in San Antonio last month alleging the company undermined him after he expressed disapproval that it had pursued selling certain weapon components to Pakistan.

Meyer received the Medal of Honor for his actions during a 2009 battle in Afghanistan.


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

EU to probe China on climate intentions (AP)

DURBAN, South Africa ? The European Union, championing a deal to get all major countries to agree to binding pollution targets, says it will explore new signals coming from China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

A 192-party U.N. conference moves into its decisive second week Monday, seeking agreement on future pledges by industrial countries to cut emissions and to finalize arrangements for a $100 billion annual climate fund for poor countries.

EU Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said she will ask China about its signals in the last week that it is willing to begin negotiating on bringing major developing countries into a legally binding deal on their emissions controls.

Hedegaard said it is unclear how far China will commit to an international emissions accord.


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

China cuts bank reserves in policy shift to lift economy (Reuters)

BEIJING (Reuters) ? China's central bank cut reserve requirements for commercial lenders on Wednesday for the first time in three years, a policy shift to ease credit strains and shore up an economy running at its weakest pace since 2009.

China's policy change came just hours before coordinated action by major central banks, including the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, to ease credit strains in world markets buffeted by the euro zone debt crisis.

Official concern is rising that the global economy is on a slippery slope as the euro zone struggles to decisively tackle its two-year crisis. Global markets rallied on the combination of central bank news.

China's central bank said on its website it lowered the amount of cash that banks have to set aside by 50 basis points, effective Dec 5. That cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for the biggest banks to 21 percent from a record high 21.5 percent, freeing up funds that could be used for lending.

"This is a big move -- this is easing," said Stephen Green, China economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong. "It's a clear signal that China is on a loosening mode. The next move will be another RRR cut in January."

The cut releases between 350 billion yuan and 400 billion yuan ($54.8 billion to $62.7 billion) into the banking system, analysts estimated.

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) joins the central banks of Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand and the euro zone, among others, in easing monetary policy, a reflection of the alarm that the euro zone debt crisis and a sluggish U.S. economy could drag the world back into a recession.


China's unusually high reserve rate requirements have made life difficult for private-sector companies. While they account for 75 percent of urban employment, they find it far harder to secure bank loans than politically well-connected state-owned enterprises.

Worried about a destabilizing jump in unemployment, Beijing is eager to lend them a hand. In recent weeks, China has seen a spate of major strikes in its export powerhouse in the Pearl River Delta.

Ten of 19 analysts in a Reuters poll on Tuesday had predicted China would cut its bank reserves in December by 50 basis points. Eight had expected a move in the first quarter of 2012 and one not until the second quarter.

Purchasing managers' data on Thursday could confirm the pressure on China's manufacturers from the global slowdown after a flash PMI from HSBC last week suggested the sector was shrinking.

As recently as the middle of 2011, China was still tightening monetary policy to combat stubbornly high inflation, which rose in July to a three-year high of 6.5 percent.

However, as the economy felt the chill of a slowdown in global activity and inflation eased, Beijing adopted a policy of "fine tuning" that included loosening credit for cash-starved small firms.

Beyond growth concerns, capital outflows driven by the global market jitters also help explain the central bank's move, said analysts. Capital inflows have been the main source of money supply growth in China.

"I think the move is partially driven by capital outflows in November. Also, it may indicate that the economy has weakened quite bit and that the official PMI reading does not look very good," said Zhiwei Zhang, China economist at Nomura.

There are fewer maturing central bank bills due in December, which also put strains on liquidity conditions for banks.


The cut in the reserve ratio was the first since December 2008 and marks a monetary policy shift to an easing bias.

"The move sends a clear message that the central bank is ready to relax its policy stance," said Shi Chenyu, an economist with the investment banking unit of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

The central bank could have achieved the same loosening on credit quietly, said Mark Williams, chief economist at Capital Economics in Britain.

"The fact that it chose to act in this more public way is a signal not only that policymakers are loosening but that they want to be seen to be doing so. Accordingly, we see this as a decisive shift in policy stance," he said in a note.

Ting Lu of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch expects the central bank to cut reserves requirements three times, by a total of 150 basis points, before the end of next year.

Analysts said the China news would boost riskier assets on hopes that easing policy in China will boost the country's demand.

World stocks jumped 2.6 percent on the combined news from global central banks and China markets are expected to rally when they open for trading on Thursday.

Few analysts expect China to start cutting interest rates anytime soon though.

China's interest rates are already negative when adjusted for inflation. Policymakers worry that cutting them now would only prompt savers to pull money out of the banking system in search of better returns elsewhere, thus crimping bank lending.

China's economic growth has eased for three straight quarters due to tight credit at home and flagging demand overseas. The economy grew 9.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, its weakest pace since the second quarter of 2009.

Data since has suggested a further slowdown. The red-hot property market is showing signs of cooling as sales fell in October from a year earlier for the first time in six months.

A flash purchasing managers' index from HSBC on Nov 23 showed that China's manufacturing sector shrank in November, reviving worries of a hard landing for the world's fastest growing major economy.

HSBC releases the final figures on Thursday alongside an official survey that analysts forecast will show that the factory sector stalled in November.

Such data would back a forecast this week from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast that China's growth will slow in 2012 to below 9 percent for the first time in a decade.

(Additional reporting by Lu Jianxin and Shao Xiaoyi; Editing by Neil Fullick and Don Durfee)


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Friday, December 2, 2011

Analysis: China brings forward easing to stay in step (Reuters)

BEIJING (Reuters) ? As the world's major central banks hurriedly announced measures to ease stresses in global funding markets, China may have felt compelled to bring forward a move to relax policy that it could otherwise have delayed for a few weeks.

China's announcement on Wednesday it was reducing the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves left no doubt that the world's second-biggest economy was doing exactly as it did in October 2008: joining a global effort by policymakers to stabilize a rattled financial system.

That somewhat surprise move achieved a lot. For Beijing, it was an opportunity to show how big a part of global policy-making China is and the stake it has in the stability of world markets. It helped that China needed to prop up its own economy.

It has also however meant that the timetable for China's hitherto subtle and selective policy easing has been pushed out into the open, and speeded up.

"The timing of the cut is earlier than I expected," said Andy Xie, an independent China economist. "The global coordinated action to ease dollar liquidity by six central banks is probably the trigger for China's move."

China would have cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks eventually. The economy has slowed, inflation has eased and, most worryingly, capital outflows have accelerated.

A Reuters poll earlier this week had forecast the first cut in China's bank reserves would come in December and the consensus was for the ratio to be trimmed 200 basis points from the peak 21.5 percent through 2012. Wednesday's 50 basis points cut has altered those expectations quite significantly.

Kevin Lai, a senior economist at Daiwa Capital Markets in Hong Kong, said he now expected a further 200 basis points in reserves cuts over 2012, more to prevent the economy from crash landing than to drive another boom.

Economists at HSBC expect 150 basis points of further cuts to be packed into the first half of 2012.

To some extent, the policy easing has acquired an urgency because of the worrying pace at which global funding markets are drying up and as banks caught up in the euro zone debt crisis scramble to sell assets and cut their loans.

Money markets are getting as tight as they were in the weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008. For China, the risk of more capital outflows could cause further stress in already tight credit markets.

The U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks, including China's, cut policy rates simultaneously in October 2008.

This time, it is a synchronized supply of cash. Central banks in Europe, Japan and elsewhere extended agreements with the Fed giving them access to even cheaper dollars.

China released cash from bank reserves and Brazil cut policy rates.

"It's clear we are all in it," said Frederic Neumann, economist with HSBC in Hong Kong. "China, as everybody else, has a stake in the stability of the global financial system and China's contribution is primarily through strong growth domestically."


But the concerns over a rare but steady drain of foreign money from the economy appear to have been the primary reason for the cut in the banks' reserve requirement ratio, the first such move in nearly three years.

Preliminary data suggests capital flowed out of China in October for the first time since 2008. China had to cut bank reserves if it wanted to keep money supply stable, given bank deposits were falling and the trade surplus was shrinking.

Freeing up the money banks can lend, rather than cutting benchmark interest rates, also makes sense when inflation is still quite high at 5.5 percent, and China's policymakers are determined to deflate a property bubble.

"Obviously, they were thinking about it (cutting the RRR), and they have the hot money outflows, so it was a perfect timing for them," said ING's chief Asia economist Tim Condon.

Weak demand from China's huge developed world trading partners has sapped exports, but the economy is growing at 9-percent-plus, and domestic investment is healthy.

Neither do private economists expect the central bank to embrace other forms of aggressive easing, such as by setting a higher money supply or lending target for next year.

Annual inflation eased to 5.5 percent in October from a three-year high in July, but the real returns on bank deposits remain negative considering the one-year benchmark deposit rate was only 3.5 percent.

Any cut in interest rates could exacerbate the flight of savings into higher-yielding wealth management products or even the fledgling underground lending markets that the government is seeking to control.

"It's the start of a relaxation cycle, and the central bank is expected to take more steps -- the economic slowdown is there, and capital inflows are set to fall further, and many banks are finding liquidity shortages," said Hua Zhongwei, analyst with Huachuang Securities in Beijing.

"However, I still don't think China will cut benchmark interest rates in the coming months because that would mark a fundamental change, rather than a fine-tuning."


The central bank raised the reserve requirement for banks 12 times between January 2010 and June this year, taking the ratio to a record 21.5 percent for big banks and 19.5 percent for smaller ones.

The first step in what could be a series of cuts comes just before the Central Economic Work Conference, at which China's leaders chart the course for economic policies in 2012. There again, they are expected to reiterate a policy of keeping monetary policy "prudent" but fine-tuning it when needed.

Still, because the central bank has been injecting liquidity into the banking system and selectively releasing loans to cash-starved small firms, it could be less willing to cut reserves repeatedly.

The central bank has injected a total 159 billion yuan into the banking system the past five weeks via its open market operations. It has also allowed yields on bills it auctions to fall steadily through November.

In addition, the finance ministry is likely to shift at least 1 trillion yuan of its surplus funds to commercial banks in November and December, providing a boost to their deposits.

Yet, as Wednesday's announcement showed, China may be compelled to ease policy if financial markets threaten to descend into chaos at the turn of the year. Or if its banking system freezes before the Chinese New Year break in January.

"Once central banks move, it is never a one-off. So we certainly expect more from China," said HSBC's Neumann.

(Additional reporting by Aileen Wang; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan)


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