Here Are the Dangers of Surfing an Unsecured Site
The US got a little extra shaken up this year about encryption and security, especially after the FBI asked Apple to unlock someone’s phone and basically half the internet got taken down in October. The point of that attack wasn’t to steal our information, thank goodness, but the fact that it was so easy to take down so many big-name sites is pretty disturbing. We’d like to think that it would be a lot harder to take down something that has such a big hand in our digital world. Unfortunately, we often aren’t as secure as we think. But we can take certain steps to decrease the likelihood of getting our information stolen or other bad things happening. We’re going to focus on websites and explain what it is that keeps you safe on the web.
What makes a site secure?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is one of the biggest things that keeps you safe on the internet. It creates a more secure connection when you visit websites. According to Technopedia, “A secure connection is a connection that is encrypted by one or more security protocols to ensure the security of data flowing between two or more nodes.” Whew. That sounds complicated, but basically it means that when you’re securely connected to a site, there’s a lot going on in the background to make sure your info is hidden from malevolent and prying eyes.
Here’s an analogy for you. Using a site with HTTP would be like telling your secrets to your friend where anyone could be eavesdropping. Using a site with HTTPS would be like whispering those secrets to your friend, but also using a secret language so that any would-be eavesdroppers don’t hear anything useful.
Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) built upon former senator Ted Stevens’ analogy that said the internet is like a bunch of tubes, saying, “If you use HTTP, those tubes are totally transparent. Anyone along the way can look inside and see exactly what you’re doing.” Use HTTPS, and “those tubes become opaque. Only people at the end can see what’s traveling through them.”
Here’s how HTTPS is saving your backside.
Why HTTPS Is So Important
1. HTTPS protects your numbers. HTTPS keeps your credit card info and passwords safe every time you enter them online. On a regular HTTP site, that data can be obtained, read and even changed by anyone between you and the site’s server — a hacker on the same cafe WiFi, your internet service provider (ISP) or the NSA. Eek!
2. HTTPS protects your browsing habits. Anything you read or do online that you don’t necessarily want your employer or ISP, etc. to know about is better protected when those sites use HTTPS. No one needs to know when you’re searching for a new job while you’re still employed or using WebMD to figure out what that rash could be. Awk.
3. HTTPS kicks impostors’ butts. HTTPS also gives us peace of mind by assuring us that a site with that little padlock in the address bar is who it says it is. In order to get that padlock, the site has to get a certificate that in theory can’t be faked. The certificate means that when your address bar says https://blahblah.com, you’re really on that site and no one else can see your info.
4. HTTPS ensures integrity. HTTPS prevents anyone on your local network from screwing with the data on a site on its way to you. Without HTTPS, someone (like the government, for example) can block parts of a webpage or even multiple pages on a domain. This could be a big problem, especially with the fake news problems we’ve been having lately, which is why it’s a good thing that many news sites now use HTTPS. Not using HTTPS on a site could let even more malicious things happen; someone could add just one line of code and compromise your whole computer. Scary, right?!
TL;DR: If you care about protecting your info online, make sure the sites you visit use HTTPS encryption. If you take nothing else away from this, remember that. Seriously. No one likes eavesdroppers.
Do you check to make sure sites you visit use HTTPS? What other precautions do you take? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com