Sun Life marks Financial Independence Month with wealth, health campaign

caption: Sun Life Assets Management Company, Inc. president Valerie “Rei” Pama

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Survey says: Visayans least likely to make an expensive purchase but also least prepared for health needs.

There are a few Visayans planning to make an expensive purchase in the next two years compared to the rest of the country.

This is according to a Social Weather Station Survey commissioned by Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc. which showed that only 38 percent of Visayans intend to make an expensive purchase, while it was at 47% for Luzon, 48% for National Capital Region, and 62 % for Mindanao.

The study also shows that many Visayans are unprepared to handle costs related to a grave illness. Fifty-seven percent say they are not at all prepared to fund expenses that an expensive medical treatment may require. Visayas ranks high in this category, followed by NCR – 46 %, then Luzon and Mindanao – both 38%.

The good news, however, is that with P5,000 one can start investing on financial preparedness, complementing one’s own investment horizon, and continue with a low P1,000 monthly. This according to Valerie “Reina” Pama, president of Sun Life Assets Management Company, Inc.

Confirms Pama that this is Sun Life’s move to embrace the C and D market. “Blue collar jobs can invest through this scheme. They can trust us with our 15 years performance in the Philippines, a 150-year-old mother company in Canada, over 100 licensed fund advisors here in Cebu alone.”

One can sit down with a licensed fund advisor at Sun Life, 3rd floor of Innove Plaza at the Cebu Business Park/Cebu Business District.

June is dubbed “Financial Independence Month,” that’s why Sun Life launches a campaign that urges Filipinos to prioritize financial preparedness for their health needs and employ more appropriate ways of preparing financially for their other needs.

Online portals: brighterlife.ph; sunlifefunds.com.ph; @sunlifeph on FB, Twitter, IG.###

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Hack-tivism is real deep penetration

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, #citizenmedia

So I missed the 8th Rootcon? And I’m about to throw fits. It was in a Rootcon thingie that I got surrounded by 99 hackers, and how it felt sooo good, it aches to be left out.

 

What I remember most is meeting lawyer Al Vitangcol III who inspired me to scribble this piece, which saw print first in Cebu’s longest-running community daily, The FREEMAN. Read on:

“The reality is that the government and even the private firms do not have an established and effective security mechanism to protect computer systems and communication networks, including the Automated Elections System, from determined hackers.”

If you find this at the concluding portion of a report on “…Automation and Electoral Fraud,” penned by lawyer Al Vitangcol III, would you trust the PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines again?

Vitangcol, a treasure trove when it comes to computer/network security, graced the “Rootcon 5 Hackers Conference” here in Cebu City, Central Philippines as one of the event’s valuable resource speakers. However, he refused to give a categorical answer to the question if there was indeed tampering of election results during the 2010 polls given the premise that “no system is 100-percent hack-proof.”

Instead, the Information Technology specialist and the Philippines’ first (and only lawyer) Electronic Commerce Council-certified computer hacking forensic investigator referred me to a report he presented to the Senate during one of the house’s “investigation in aid of legislation” on the alleged vulnerability of the PCOS machines to vote shaving and vote padding.

Vitangcol’s report which also saw print in national newspaper The PHILIPPINE STAR (StarWeek Magazine) read: “The most common question asked by the voting public is whether or not the election results can be tampered with. The answer is possibly Yes.”

He cited the following major technical issues which the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic-TIM have yet to resolve:

  • Software and subsequent voting date of the PCOS machine. It was said that these will be placed in a separate memory card, distinct from the unit itself. Such opens up opportunities for damage, tampering, data alteration, and even memory card switching.
  • Crypto keys. The cryptographic keys, both private and public, to the machine, are both under the control of Smartmatic-TIM – contrary to internationally established cryptographic standards. Thus, Smartmatic-TIM and its associated parties can make changes to the precinct election results without detection.
  • Data transfer. Transmission to the Comelec-Smartmatic-TIM hubs will be done through public telecommunications network. Transmitted data to designated points nationwide may be lost, erased, or even altered, once the Philippines’ AES comes under attack from computer hackers and crackers.

“With the few identified vulnerabilities of the AES,” Vitangcol wrote, “the final question that begs to be answered is this — Is the AES susceptible to hacking?”

He underlined that the Comelec, through its spokesman, had already admitted that it can be hacked, in this wise, “I am not saying that the system cannot be hacked. No system is 100-percent hack-proof. I am just saying that we have made sure that the system will not be hacked.”

“Even the Supreme Court, in its decision in Roque et. al. vs. Comelec et. al. had failed to look into the big picture of the AES relative to computer hacking,” this was also learned.

“Said decision focused only on the PCOS machine – and not on the whole AES infrastructure.”

Pertinent portion of the said decision reads: “Additionally, with the AES, the possibility of system hacking is very slim. The PCOS machines are only online when they transmit the results, which would only take around one to two minutes. In order to hack the system during this tiny span of vulnerability, a super computer would be required. Noteworthy also is the fact that the memory card to be used during the elections is encrypted and read-only — meaning no illicit program can be executed or introduced into the memory card.”

Vitangcol pointed out that the Supreme Court was correct in saying that the PCOS machines are only online when they transmit the results, which would only take around one to two minutes. “There is no question about this. Nobody would even want to hack the PCOS machines,” he added.

“But how about the municipal, provincial and national hubs that will receive the transmission of election results? Are they online for only two minutes? No, they are not,” he stressed.

“In fact, these hubs will be online for a prolonged period of time – from the time that the first clustered precinct will transmit its results to the time that the last clustered precinct will transmit its results to the same hub – effectively exposed and vulnerable to hacking all throughout that time.”

He added that with all due respect to our revered justices, the Supreme Court, in the same decision, “possibly made a lapse when it stated that the ‘memory card to be used during the elections is encrypted and read-only.’ The memory card is not ‘read-only.’ In fact, the images of all the ballots cast, together with the final count of all the votes of all the candidates, will be stored in the same memory card during elections day. If the memory card is ‘ready-only,’ then the results cannot be written and stored in the same card. For sure, the memory card is ‘read-write’ capable.”

What is the significance of this? “This means that the contents of the memory card can be erased, altered, or even manipulated,” Vitangcol said.

The report comes with a reminder that hackers are motivated by challenges, especially when an event of transcendental proportion takes place, and when the organization responsible for that event raises a challenge. According to him, “it is the adventure that primes these hackers to develop a system that can paralyze, if not totally break down, another system.”

And for huge hacking incidents, the involvement of a Filipino explicitly tells how impressive our engagement with technology is. Only that we seem to lose sense when proper application of such is already required of us. Remember the ILOVEYOU computer worm aka Love Letter authored by Filipino computer programming students and released to the wild in 2000? Even the series of defacements of government websites profess the genius of Pinoy IT specialists.

Collectively called Philkers (Philippine Hackers), these smart alecks claim that their invasion is not meant to destroy protected files. In fact, they have a commanding, rallying, engaging description to justify their act of deep penetration: Hacktivism. This, to show to our leaders – smack on their faces – how much work is still to be done; how much knowledge to imbibe; and methods and strategies to relearn and unlearn, when faced with the current and emerging challenges of securing information.###

Selfies may harm Pope — PNoy

by Maria Eleanor E. Valeros, newmedia specialist

Photo from ncregister.com

CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES — Adulation and the desire to take photographs with the self (selfie in cyber lingo) may harm Pope Francis.

President Aquino III, speaking before the media in a conference in Malacanang Palace, in line with Pope Francis apostolic journey in Manila and in Yolanda-struck Tacloban City (Leyte) expounds as to why forces as large as 25,000 personnel will be deployed as security detail, for the Pope’s visit from January 15 to 19, 2015.

He was heard over Bombo Radyo’s early evening news and public affairs program in a nationwide feed yesterday, January 12, pointing out that though there is no direct terroristic threat to the Pope’s life, the eagerness of believers to get close to him in the hope of not only seeing him but taking pictures with him via mobile phones and similar gadgets, as is the fad, may trigger commotion and disruption in peace and order.

Aquino said “in light of this, it is my fervent hope that we treat His Holiness’ visit with reverence and with all the solemnity befitting our faith. As Filipinos, we are well known for our warmth and hospitality, which I am certain we will not fail to demonstrate on this occasion. The Pope’s public engagements are expected to gather millions of the faithful. While such a turnout shows well the devotion of the Filipino Catholic, it also carries the corresponding dangers attached to large crowds: the potential for panic, or commotions that may lead to stampedes, which can threaten the lives of all involved.”

“As such, I call on all Filipinos to exercise the utmost discipline, in order to ensure that our gatherings are peaceful and orderly. Cooperate with the proper authorities, and follow the reminders of both government and the Church. Keep informed, remain vigilant, and take all precautions necessary to ensure your wellbeing and that of your fellow devotees. Three simple rules can go a long way in maintaining a peaceful and orderly celebration: As we participate in the activities, remember to keep calm; do not push; and do not run.””

The conference presented videos of untoward incidents experienced by the past pontiffs while they were either on papal visit or were just carrying out their duties in the Vatican. Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, was shot at by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in carrying out an extremist mission in 1981. He somehow survived and even visited Agca in prison to personally grant forgiveness. Pope Benedict XVI, meanwhile, was attacked by a German national while he was presiding a Eucharistic celebration at the Vatican.###

corresponding dangers attached to large crowds: the potential for panic, or commotions that may lead to stampedes, which can threaten the lives of all involved.”