Financial Herald Software Review

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The trouble with Zoom

Video conferences are now king. But a popular technology could be putting corporate privacy at risk with little power to prevent it.

Patrick Doyle, James Mortensen and Damian Clifford

As businesses grind to a halt, markets fall and bottom lines plummet as a result of COVID-19 containment measures, there remain a few winners: pharmaceutical companies, medical suppliers and toilet paper mills all come to mind.

Another big winner is Zoom, the online meeting technology used by many of Australia’s big businesses, government departments and universities. As working remotely from home or in smaller groups becomes the norm in these virus-hit times, Zoom has quickly seemed indispensable. But serious and unresolved issues around its security, privacy and data use may mean that the cost of using the platform could be higher than most realise.

Zoom’s video conferencing software has become hugely popular for businesses. AP

In the past year, Zoom has suffered from several critical security vulnerabilities, ranging from allowing hackers into private calls uninvited, to allowing Mac users to be forced into calls without their knowledge. While such vulnerabilities were patched, Zoom’s approach to these concerns has been rather blase. In the latter case especially, Zoom essentially refused to change fundamentally flawed security practices.

Given the sensitivity of the data Zoom handles such an attitude doesn’t inspire too much confidence.

Far from simply providing a meeting platform, Zoom actively collects large amounts of data in order to analyse its own service, and to provide business customers with some powerful features and tools that may be easily abused. These include video and audio recordings, audio-to-text transcriptions, detailed network information, advertising IDs and even detailed and intrusive monitoring of what is on the screen of meeting attendees.

Zoom’s collection of much of this information without first seeking the consent of attendees, or properly informing them of what information is being recorded just increases these concerns.

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Calling in to a Zoom meeting via telephone, for example, garners only a simple message that the meeting is being recorded – users are not alerted by whom, to where, or whether that recording is audio, textual or both. As phone-in callers, there has been no sharing of terms and conditions, no end user agreement, and no way of knowing who is capturing exactly what.

However, even if callers were furnished with the terms of service or privacy policy, it would be unlikely to make them feel happier. From potential clashes with the protections against unfair terms in Australian Consumer Law, to the vague and fragmented privacy policy, Zoom’s obligations to its users’ data security are few and far between.

The Zoom privacy policy outlines a capacity for the platform to capture both data that a user freely provides (such as sign-up information), as well as “passive” information (such as data captured by cookies). Indeed, the policy makes clear that simply by using the service Zoom may collect your credit card info, employer, job title and physical address “Whether you have Zoom account or not”.

By collecting such data without engaging its users, or indeed notifying those who use it without signing up, Zoom destroys any chance of consent and individual control over personal information.

Security alert: Working from home isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Shutterstock.

Essentially, if you use it, you lose it – whether you agreed to it or not.

If you think this state of affairs is abominable, you aren’t alone – a 2020 report suggests that 95 per cent of Australians agree with you. The good news is that Australia’s laws may be tightening to stop this sort of behaviour – though we need more effort to give these changes the support they deserve.

In its recent Digital Platform’s Report, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recommended sweeping changes to the federal Privacy Act in order to modernise Australian data privacy and consumer law and bring it in line with international standards. The recommendations include imposing higher standards for consumer consent and privacy notices – exactly the sort of measures Zoom has not offered its users.

Unfortunately, the Australian government’s response to the ACCC’s efforts has been less enthusiastic than hoped, with only six of the 23 recommendations supported and 10 others with plans for further review. In present times changes to the status quo will not happen anytime soon.

But it in the new world of self-isolation and dispersed working, teleconferencing is king: the quantity and sensitivity of the data to which companies such as Zoom have access to has grown exponentially.

The harvesting and storage of this data – your data, your company’s data –goes further than answering that work call in your underwear, or recording your embarrassing faux pas for all to hear.

As government departments, universities and businesses move to online meetings amid this tense period, the entirety of their operations, banal or extraordinary, are recorded, analysed and cross-referenced. A new titan of big data is being born, and we are a long way off wrestling with the old ones; businesses and governments especially should carefully consider what aspects of their operations they wish this new giant to possess.

How the coronavirus is changing markets, business and politics.

Coronavirus: Need to know. Our daily reporting, in your inbox.

The Financial Herald Review

The Financial Herald is another of the new automated trading systems which have become a regular addition to the binary scene. Unfortunately not all the additional products are genuine; it is essential to review all of them. This review deals with the Financial Herald and whether it is genuine or the Financial Herald scam.

Financial Herald – The Basics

With returns as high as 90% and no cost to use the system you could be forgiven for signing up instantly. The system operates completely autonomously and has a well presented website.

However, unless you are German speaking this site will not be of any use to you. In addition the information supplied regarding the company behind the site is, at best, incomplete. Further warning sides are there in the form of unlicensed brokers and earnings statement which are simply not possible to create.

The Financial Herald promises to provide you with in the region of 100 signals every day. The theory is that this will enable you to make over four thousand in profit every day; in effect you can earn in excess of one and a half million a year! Of course, anyone with a little commonsense will realize that these numbers simply do not add up; you would need to invest thousands to get thousands back every day.

Using the Financial Herald

Your basic information must be entered to create an account with both the Financial Herald and the broker you choose; from their associated list. Unfortunately the majority of these brokers appear to be unlicensed. You can then set your trading preferences and wait for the profits to arrive.

Conclusion – Is Financial Herald a scam or not?

It is simply not possible to call the Financial Herald a scam. But, there are many systems available which offer a more reputable service; ideally you should choose one of these. The lack of important info; poor customer service and a potentially dangerous software system all merge to warn you away from the Financial Herald system.

How to Choose the Best Personal Finance Software and Apps

Personal finance tools can help you take control of your financial life, but they don’t all serve the same purpose.

Some focus on one financial function — budgeting, expense tracking, saving, banking, investing, or taxes — while others handle multiple financial needs.

Here’s how to choose the best personal finance software or app to reach your financial health goals, along with some of our favorite tools.

Manage Your Budget With NerdWallet

NerdWallet has a free app that helps you track your cash, discover new ways to save and even build your credit score. To remain unbiased we chose not to include ourselves in the list below, but we think you’ll love us anyway.

Types of personal finance software and apps

T here’s a wide assortment of personal finance tools. Here we’ll focus on the software that covers most needs.

Budgeting: Budget software and apps help you track and categorize your spending. In most cases, you sync your financial accounts — checking, savings, credit cards, loans and investments — and the tools automatically categorize your spending. You can typically set spending limits by category to set up your budget.

» Check out the best budget apps

Savings: Want to build up your emergency fund or save for a new car? Software and apps make it easy to reserve money each month. Some services automatically transfer money into your savings account or a special account to help you save without thinking.

» Explore NerdWallet’s best money-saving apps

Investment: Investing puts your money to work toward long-term goals such as retirement, but it can be overwhelming for beginners and pros alike. Investment software and apps help you build a portfolio and make trades with confidence.

» See NerdWallet’s picks for the best investment apps

Taxes: Tax software makes it easy to prepare and file your taxes. Most services simplify complicated tax code by asking you straightforward questions and guiding you through deductions.

» Review NerdWallet’s best tax software picks

What to look for in a personal finance tool

Consider your goals, what you need your software to do and how sophisticated you’d like it to be when choosing a personal finance tool.

If you want a hands-off app, look for a program that syncs with your accounts.

If you want a hands-off app that tracks your expenses and income, for example, look for a budgeting program that syncs with your bank and credit card accounts.

A few other factors to consider as you shop around:

Cost: Personal finance tools often have a free version and a premium version that includes extra features for a fee. Consider upgrading if your financial situation is complex — you’re a small-business owner, for example — or if you want the peace of mind the added features bring.

Account restrictions: Certain types of software limit the number of accounts you can add or restricts you to just one type. So if you have checking, credit card and investment accounts to monitor, look for a service that can handle them all.

Spending reports: Are you a visual learner? Look for a tool that breaks down your spending (by category or amount) using charts and graphs. Bonus points if you can customize the reports to fit your financial goals.

Human support: Sometimes you need more than a standard user guide or FAQ page. Look for apps and software that offer additional support — say, one that lets you speak to a human or offers a robo-advisor.

Free credit score: Some tools help you stay on top of your credit score with weekly and monthly score updates, and simulators that show how certain financial decisions could impact your credit.

Automate your budget with NerdWallet

Track spending by category, compare months and spot ways to save.

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