Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, October 27, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, October 27, 2012


The latest on Business News, Trends and Techniques


By La Quetta M. Shamblee, MBA

While it often seems that stories of high-profile, sophisticated hackers stealing industrial secrets and 
cracking high-security business and governmental systems tend to hog the headlines in the ordinary 
world most security breaches are committed by opportunistic hackers searching scanning for routine 
vulnerabilities that often create a world of hurt for millions of users and small businesses. 

A security report found that in 2011 nearly 79% of the recorded breaches were classified as 
“opportunistic” where the victim was not pre-selected at all but turned up as vulnerable during a sweep 
of a block of potential target systems. In these cases the targets were selected because their machines 
were unpatched or exhibited other easily exploitable weaknesses. Most of these opportunistic attacks 
were possible after the attackers scanned a few well-know ports on the target machine. 

The most commonly scanned ports were: TCP port 3389, Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol 
(RDP), MS SQL server (port 1433) and VNC for remote desktop. Once a promising target has been 
located the next step for the attacker is to look for open network ports with default or easy to guess 

If these two conditions are met, then the attackers either plant custom malware on the compromised 
systems or use the breached system to relay spam. The custom malware often contains key-logging 
software but is only occasionally derived from banking Trojan toolkits, such as Zeus. Opportunistic 
attackers often use very simple techniques, looking for a single vulnerability across many hosts before 
moving on if they don’t immediately locate a target (97.4% the scanning IP addresses that sent packets 
only checked one port). Hackers of this type typically latch onto the first target that is susceptible to 
the particular style of attack they are most proficient in using. 

Opportunistic hackers typically use automated tools to carry out these scans, which can produce a 
huge treasure trove of information when wielded by a sophisticated user. Many commercially available 
firewalls, including the firewall included with the Windows XP, Vista and 7 operating systems, block 
these vulnerable ports by default and also allow an end user to customize their particular product’s 
running configuration. OS’s such as Linux typically come with these ports closed by default. 

Also be sure to note if you have any remote access programs running on your machine that require 
these ports to be accessible. In those cases you will want to secure access to specific machines, ip 
addresses or just plain ensure that the service is secured with a good password. 


With some much talk about tax rates during the current presidential campaign, this is a great time 
to provide an overview of how a tax rate is applied to the income for an individual or a business. For 
the sake of clarity, I will simply the explanation by starting with an example of how taxes would be 
computed for two married couples, both filing joint returns.

This is a scenario illustrating two married couples in their early 50’s with no other dependents. They 
earn an annual total of $110,000 in combined income for their respective households. Both couples 
will file their taxes jointly. Couple A will pay tax on $51,800 but Couple B will pay taxes calculated 
on $102,600 – how is this possible? Couple B has no “tax-deferred income, they rent their home 
and have no other significant deductions. As a result, they are limited to claiming the standard 
deduction established by the Internal Revenue Service, a dollar amount that reduces the amount of 
income on which you are taxed. ($3,800 for each personal exemption for 2012*). Since their total 
deductions do not exceed their combined personal exemptions of $7,600 ($3,800 x 2), this is their 
maximum deduction for the year.

On the other hand, 
Couple A has a 
home mortgage 
and qualifies for a 
significant amount 
of interest to write-
off. Both of these 
spouses contribute to 
a qualified retirement 
plan that allows them 
to deduct the amount 
of their annual 
contribution, and one 
of them participates 
in their employers’s 
pre-tax medical 
benefits plan as well. 
They will also benefit from several tax credits as a result of purchasing major appliances that qualify, 
as well as other energy-efficiency upgrades. As a result of these deductions that exceed $7,600, they 
are able to “itemize” all of their deductions allowed by the IRS, including a few educational expenses 
they wouldn’t be able to include if they didn’t have certain expenses to push them beyond the $7,600 

“Taxable Income” is the bottom line when it comes to planning for your annual tax scenario. This is 
amount on which your actual liability is calculated. It is important to learn about the thirteen types 
of deductions allowed by the IRS to determine what plans you need to make to control and retain 
more of your hard-earned income. Each type of deduction is listed on IRS Form 1040, U.S. Individual 
Income Tax Return under the “Adjusted Gross Income” section.

It is important to make the distinction between “income” and “taxable income.” There is ample wiggle 
room that you can use to your advantage to derive at the lowest possible level of taxable income. 
Learning the basics about tax-deferred income, qualified pre-tax expenses and the availability of tax 
credits can make a huge difference in how much of your hard earned you will be able to enjoy, invest 
or spend as you please.

*Note: For 2012 tax filings, the standard deduction for married couples filing a joint return is $11,900. ($5,950 for 
single individuals and married couples filing separate returns and $8,700 for heads of household).

We’d like to hear from you! What’s on YOUR Mind?

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mountainviewsnews AND Twitter: @mtnviewsnews


The key to understanding Twitter is in the hashtag (the # symbol). People use the 
hashtag (#) before a keyword or phrase in order to group a conversation by topic. 

For example, when the space shuttle was traveling through Los Angeles, the hash tag was #endeavour. 
Lots of people were reporting on where the shuttle was and their experiences, reactions and even 
shared photos as it passed by. It was exciting. If you wanted to know about the shuttle in a real time 
exchange, all you had to do was go to Twitter and put #endeavour in the search field. Why wait for the 
evening news when there were thousands of virtual reporters throughout Los Angeles?

When you click on a hashtagged word in any message, it will bring up all the other Tweets about 
that topic. It slows down the fast river of information that is pouring through Twitter’s news feed. 
During a disaster, these reports can be very valuable to people who are trying to find out news and 
information. During the Colorado wildfires, I used Twitter to get up-to-the-minute information from 
my hometown (news that wasn’t being served on our local stations). People were sharing valuable 
information about evacuations, fire locations, containment; they were providing virtual, real-time 
reports from the field. 

If you are at a convention or special event, find out the hashtag for the event and participate in the 
conversation. It’s a great way to enhance your networking at events. Most people do this with the 
Twitter app they install on their smart phone. Some people give a play-by-play report when speakers 
are presenting, often quoting the speaker. This allows people who couldn’t make it to the event to get 
the latest updates and join the conversation.

Hashtags can be placed anywhere in a Tweet – at the beginning, middle, or end.

They group Twitter conversations and make it a very searchable tool. Hashtags also work the same 
on Pinterest. 

Note: You should only use hashtags on Tweets relevant to the topic. You also want to make sure to 
research a hashtag to determine if it is appropriate or has a related use before selecting it for your 

About MJ: MJ and her brother David own HUTdogs, a creative services business that specializes in 
Social Media Education for business owners. Join their conversation on Facebook and get good tips 
and tricks about social media,

Sign up for their upcoming classes and presentations at: