Advantages and Disadvantages of U.S. Convergence Between GAAP and IFRS



For over the past decade, there has been a growing demand in the corporate world for U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) to converge to form one set of universal accounting standards. In 2002, members of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and members of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) met and issued a memorandum laying out framework for the adoption of IFRS by the U.S. Known as the Norwalk Agreement, the two boards agreed to make “existing financial reporting standards fully compatible as soon as practicable”, and to “coordinate future work programs to ensure compatibility is maintained” (Kieso, 2012, p. EP-2).

Critics against the adoption of IFRS in the United States argue principle based accounting standards leave too much of a judgment call in the hands of the preparer. In other words, IFRS is open to more interpretation than rules based GAAP, and can lead companies to release fraudulent representations. Additionally, disadvantages include an increased ability to manipulate transactional accounting, increased variations in accounting approaches for similar transactions, and fewer rules to consider in determining how to account for a transaction (“Which is Better — Principles or Rules?”, 2011). According to a global fraud report issued by Kroll Inc. for 2012-2013, American and European companies have a higher rate of fraud (60% and 63%, respectively) compared to global averages (“Global Fraud Report”, 2013). Changing accounting standards to be open to greater interpretation may attract higher cases of internal, or company fraud.

Another disadvantage to IFRS is the cost expected to be associated with transitioning from GAAP based standards and accounting information systems to IFRS based accounting information systems. However, while these costs may be high, they are short-term in nature and it is estimated companies will save money in the long term. “Studies suggest that a major impact will be the cost of transition to IFRS. According to research, the benefits to U.S. investors may not exceed costs. Additionally, due to U.S. GAAP’s high standards, financial reporting improvements will be minor. Research also suggests that these costs and benefits will vary across firms and will be difficult to trace upon adoption” (Bolt-Lee, 2009). These costs will burden small to medium sized companies that lack the capital and resources that large MNCs possess. And, according to KMPG, the largest component of IFRS conversion costs are IT costs, estimating that 50 percent to 70 percent of a typical conversion effort’s costs relates to IT (Krell, 2009).

A major holdup in the convergence of IFRS and GAAP rests with control. In the U.S. the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has the power when it comes to accounting standards. Although the FASB sets the standards, the SEC oversees and ensures public companies are complying with laws, practices and acting in a manner that facilitates ethical behavior and decision making. “Under the present system, the SEC attempts to ensure uniformity and consistency in financial reporting. However, regulators cannot enforce uniformity in a principles-based system” (Thompson, 2009). If the U.S. converts, the SEC is sure to lose a great deal of control and influence over the accounting and reporting practices.

One benefit to IFRS is standards that are based on principles, unlike GAAP which relies on rules-based standards. Principles-based standards allow more leeway as to how corporations can portray their financial performance (Galuszka, 2008). According to a survey of corporate executives, many of them listed IFRS and principles-based standards as “more intuitive” and “easier to use” than their GAAP counterpart.

The distinction between the two approaches lies precisely where their respective descriptions suggest: principles-based standards are based on a clear hierarchy of overarching principles, contain few or no provisions and rely heavily on the exercise of judgment as to what constitutes fair presentation; rules-based standards are characterized by several anti-abuse provisions and allow relatively less scope for the exercise of judgment in their application. (International GAAP, 2010)

Under rules based accounting, it is sometimes the case that a “transaction must be accounted for in accordance with the rule even if the applied accounting is misleading” (“Which is Better — Principles or Rules?”, 2011). Using IFRS allows a company to use judgment to best represent financial performance, and increase comparability among companies with similar transactions over different industries. “Rules-based accounting has not worked in practice. Critics argue that the present U.S. system does not produce accurate reporting. It focuses on “checking the boxes” more than portraying an underlying economic reality” (Thompson, 2009). IFRS tries to curb this problem through greater interpretation of the accounting principles.

Replacing GAAP standards with IFRS accounting standards will enable interested users of financial statements to make more informed decisions. Currently, “over 115 countries have adopted IFRS, plus the European Union now requires all listed companies in Europe (over 7,000 companies) to use it” (Kieso, 2012, p. EP-2). Most of the developed nations, especially those members of the EU currently practicing international standards, have a higher degree of transparency and reliability amongst financial information. Working towards convergence of accounting standards will make international investing easier, as well as make it easier for users to dissect financial information if located in foreign regions.

Adopting IFRS will, in the long-term, help to reduce cost. Many firms such as Nike, Microsoft, IBM and Apple have operations in several different countries, and therefore must prepare several different accounting books and records under each set of standards. In addition, users of financial statements must be knowledgeable in both GAAP and IFRS to completely dissect the financial information reported by multi-national corporations (MNCs).

Adopting IFRS will open the doors for firms across the globe to hire new talent. According to Matthew Birney, a manager in the financial reporting department responsible for International Financial Reporting Standards at United Technologies says some of the positives to IFRS is access to a wider talent pool (Krell, 2009). In an increasing globalized economy and workforce, hiring may no longer be restricted to hiring new applicants within the country’s borders.

As the world continues to shrink and business becomes even more globalized, a universal set of accounting standards is desired to help harmonize global accounting practices. The benefits of increasing comprehension and creating one set of accounting standards will help facilitate the flow of assets and increase overseas investment. Adopting a principles based approach to accounting will allow preparers of financial information to more accurately portray financial performance relative to the operations of the company. As global business environments improve, it is inevitable that one set of accounting standards is needed.

References

Bolt-Lee, C., & Smith, L. (2009, November 1). Highlights of IFRS Research. Retrieved September 20, 2014.

Galuszka, P. (2008, August 28). Pros and Cons of IFRS. Retrieved September 18, 2014.

International GAAP. (2010, January 1). Retrieved September 18, 2014, from http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-403632.html

Kieso, D., Weygandt, J., & Warfield, T. (2012). Intermediate accounting (14th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Krell, E. (2009, April 2). Biggest IFRS Cost? IT. Retrieved September 18, 2014.

Krell, E. (2009, April 6). IFRS Pros and Cons. Retrieved September 19, 2014.

Thompson, R. (2009, September 14). Principles- vs. Rules-Based Accounting. Retrieved September 19, 2014.

Which is Better — Principles or Rules? (2011, April 5). Retrieved September 18, 2014.

2012 / 2013 KROLL GLOBAL FRAUD REPORT SURVEY. (2013, January 1). Retrieved September 19, 2014.

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Source by Andrew B Johnston

General Liability Insurance Explained



You do not need to have a business owner to benefit from a general liability insurance plan, nor do you have to be a homeowner. But if you are either, and especially if you are both, such broad insurance protection absolutely is one of the best plans for protecting against potential lawsuits and other financial issues.

A general liability plan provides protection for goods or services arising from commercial activities as well as property coverage in case damage or destruction of another person's property occurs. Many people choose to work from home, and with the Internet facilitating the proliferation of home-based businesses, many business owners also choose to reduce overhead by engaging in commerce from their homes.

Whether doing online sales or providing a professional service, such as accounting or real estate sales, or possibly simply engaging in commerce away from home, general liability policies offer property coverage as well as protection for potential liability arising from work performed or goods sold to others . Most commercial policies offer such combined covers, and homeowners can request it as well if they have any kind of commercial activity tied to their homes, such as storage for landscaping services provided for other properties.

And if there are damages or other losses tied to the goods or services offered, the policy will pay up to stated limits and help prevent a possible lawsuit or other financial loss that could cause a bankruptcy filing. Among perils coverage are bodily injury, personal injury, property damage or other losses that negatively could have impacted a commercial enterprise regardless of its size.

Combining the two coverage under one policy helps make it more affordable while extending a broad range of protection at rates that are lower than they would be if bought in separate plans. The property portion of the plan reimburses others up to policy limits for any damages caused by the goods or services offered by the insured party. And the liability portion offers coverage only for possible lawsuits arising from business activities that cause a loss for customers or other people.

Although broad in nature, such policies do not apply to criminal acts, intentional acts or gross negligence. Gross negligence is generally defined as failing to act in a reasonable manner when a problem is known and a possible loss may occur. If aware of a faulty weld on a piece of heavy machinery and failing to fix the problem, for example, any loss arising from the potential failure of that equipment due to that bad well and any damage done likely would not be covered.

Still, having the combined coverage provided by such plans can mean the difference between staying in business and going bankrupt in the event of a lawsuit arising from general commercial activities.

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Source by Mike Heuer

Understanding Self-Insured Retention (SIR) Programs – Healthcare Equipment Maintenance



The current economy has forced healthcare organizations across the country to search for ways to save money. As a result, many organizations are investigating the annual cost of maintaining their healthcare equipment inventory. In the past, it was common practice for healthcare organizations to purchase Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) service agreements for all their healthcare systems from patient monitoring to sophisticated diagnostic imaging systems. However, OEM service agreements are often quite expensive, service options are limited, and reports on financial cost benefit analysis, vendor issues, or equipment performance are rarely provided.

As a means to reduce maintenance costs and gain control over their maintenance budget, many healthcare organizations are challenging the rising cost of OEM service agreements by building in-house service capabilities, purchasing multi-vendor service programs, and working with providers of Equipment Maintenance Management Programs for customized solutions. Many healthcare organizations have found that a hybrid solution, using a combination of in-house biomedical staff with an Equipment Maintenance Management Program (EMMP) and the selective purchase of necessary OEM service agreements, provides the best long-term and cost effective solution. This approach provides the greatest level of control, vendor flexibility, and cost containment possible to handle the wide range of equipment utilized by healthcare organizations.

Over the past few years, insurance brokers have been promoting an insurance solution to address the healthcare maintenance cost issue – the Self-Insured Retention (SIR) Program. In insurance terms, this product is known as a deductible program. While the SIR Program is currently offered by a handful of insurance companies, aggressive insurance broker marketing of this product in the healthcare space has created interest, questions, and some confusion.

The SIR Program is explained in detail below. It is important to note that the potential financial benefits of the SIR Program rely on many variables and can be overstated by the insurance broker if they rely upon unreasonably low maintenance cost assumptions. In order to evaluate the potential benefit of the proposed SIR Program, it is imperative to consider all the factors described below.

What is the SIR Program?

SIR stands for Self-Insured Retention, which is an insurance policy using an aggregate deductible structure as a means for limiting overall maintenance costs for insured equipment. Unlike your typical personal insurance experience, whereby a homeowner’s policy may include a “per event” deductible limit, the SIR Program is an aggregate deductible. This means the insured must pay for the cost of maintaining their equipment, and the insurance policy will provide no financial protection, until the policy deductible limit has been satisfied. At that point, the deductible policy begins to function like a traditional insurance policy and future maintenance expenses, “losses”, may be eligible for reimbursement.

The SIR Program replaces OEM service agreements with an insurance vehicle for limiting maintenance costs. The healthcare organization identifies specific equipment to be insured, cancels the OEM service agreements, and enters into the SIR Program to limit maintenance cost exposure for that equipment. The insured (healthcare organization) pays the provider insurance premium for the coverage, plus an administrative fee to cover account servicing and insurance broker commissions. The insurance coverage only becomes relevant when the client has satisfied the policy deductible. The insurance company unilaterally determines what maintenance expenses will be applied to the deductible. The client is responsible for paying all maintenance costs for the covered equipment until such time as the insurance company agrees that the maintenance expenses were both eligible for coverage under the contract and have reached an aggregate level equal to the deductible.

Example 1: $100,000 in OEM Service Agreement

SIR Premium Plus Administrative Cost $25,000

Insurance Policy Deductible $60,000

Total Cost $85,000

Proposed Savings $15,000 (15%)

Insurance brokers will often present proposals that demonstrate the additional savings possible to the client should actual maintenance costs be less than the deductible.

Example 2: $100,000 in OEM Service Agreement

SIR Premium Plus Administrative Cost $25,000

Insurance Policy Deductible $60,000

Actual Maintenance Costs Paid By Client $30,000

Maintenance Costs Reimbursed By Insurance Policy $0

Clients Net Maintenance Costs $30,000

Total Program Cost ($25,000 + $30,000) $55,000

Illustrated Savings / Losses $45,000 (45%)

Under this example, the insurance broker can argue that potential savings will be a minimum of 15%, but could be much larger (45% illustrated above). Unfortunately, it is more complicated than described above and like any insurance deductible program, the devil is in the details. The insurance contract defines what types of maintenance events are eligible for coverage under the policy. It is critical that the SIR policy coverage exactly match service agreement coverage or there will be coverage gaps that lead to unexpected higher costs for the client. It is possible that some maintenance events will be declared ineligible for coverage under the insurance policy leaving the client responsible for the payment. Further, it is the responsibility of the insured (healthcare organization) to track all maintenance activity, collect all maintenance documentation required by the insurance company, and submit the information and documentation to the insurance company in a timely manner in order to have the claim applied against the policy deductible (or reimbursed once the deductible is satisfied). Unless the healthcare organization has the systems, personnel, and processes in place to handle all this additional administrative work, there is a good chance that potentially covered maintenance events may not be counted against the deductible or ultimately reimbursed under the insurance contract.

In the following example, we consider the possibility that maintenance expenses incurred are declared ineligible for coverage under the policy. The resulting financial impact to the healthcare organization could result in a significant increase in maintenance costs relative to the original OEM cost baseline. Please note that insurance contracts terms and conditions, policy exclusions, and defined coverage levels will dictate the level of protection provided by the SIR Program. It is critical that potential purchasers of these insurance programs conduct their own review of the specific contract.

Example 3: $100,000 in OEM Service Agreement

SIR Premium Plus Administrative Cost $25,000

Insurance Policy Deductible $60,000

Actual Maintenance Costs Paid By Client $99,000

Maintenance Costs Reimbursed By Insurance Policy $10,000

Clients Net Maintenance Costs $89,000

Total Program Cost ($25,000 + $89,000) $114,000

Illustrated Savings / Losses ($14,000) (-14%)

Example 3 demonstrates that the SIR Program could actually result in the client paying more than the original OEM Service Agreement cost. In the case of diagnostic imaging equipment, that contain proprietary X-Ray tubes that can cost over $200,000, one maintenance event declared ineligible for coverage or not applied against the deductible can turn the economics of this type of insurance program upside down for the client.

Who can utilize the SIR Program?

Any healthcare organization that currently purchases equipment maintenance contracts on their electronic equipment is able to utilize the SIR Program.

When is the SIR Program beneficial to the client?

The SIR Program may be beneficial to a healthcare organization if:

1) They possess the internal systems, personnel, and controls to administer the insurance claims submission process;

2) The policy coverages and limits contained in the SIR contract mirror and conform to the prior service agreement coverages; and

3) If actual maintenance expenditures incurred are favorable (less than normally expected for healthcare equipment).

The client is typically required to take on all the administrative duties of processing and tracking every claim on every single piece of equipment under the program. Every maintenance event must be paid immediately by the client with satisfactory documentation and proof sent in a timely manner to the insurance company. The insurance company reviews the claim, determines coverage eligibility, and either denies the claim, seeks additional information, or applies the claim against the deductible policy. Because the very nature of the SIR Program is to utilize a sophisticated insurance contract to insure the maintenance cost exposure of healthcare equipment, it is imperative that the client be familiar with all policy inclusions and exclusions. It is important to note that the maintenance requirements of complex healthcare systems do not always conform to the straight-forward “black and white” terms and conditions of the insurance contract.

Where is the SIR Program sold?

The SIR Program is sold by insurance brokers nationwide in the healthcare market segment. This type of product, which is primarily an insurance deductible policy, is generally sold to healthcare organization risk managers and CFO’s.

Why is the SIR Program sold?

The SIR Program is sold as an insurance vehicle to address the financial risk associated with equipment maintenance. The insured pays the premium upfront, pays all maintenance expenses, and submits claims to the insurance company to be applied against the deductible or for reimbursement once the deductible is satisfied. If the client’s actual maintenance expenses are less than the deductible, and everything works as promised, it is possible for the client to save money relative to the original service agreement cost baseline. If maintenance costs are high, if the client lacks the internal staff and processes to handle the additional administrative workload, if claims are not submitted in time, or the insurance company denies submitted claims due to coverage limitations or policy exclusions, it is possible the client may actually pay more than the original service agreement cost baseline.

Conclusion

The SIR Program is an alternative to Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) service agreements. This type of program is a sophisticated insurance vehicle designed to transfer some of the financial risk of maintaining healthcare equipment to an insurance company. Like all insurance policies, it is critical that policy coverage levels, inclusions, exclusions, and policy terms and conditions provide coverage equal to (or greater) than what was provided by the OEM service agreements. The SIR Program client must also possess the tools and resources necessary to track maintenance activity throughout the year. There should be no question as to which invoices were paid, denied, and reimbursed. Finally, it is critical that the actual equipment maintenance cost performance, and the types of maintenance events incurred, fall under the insurance policy defined coverage levels. The SIR Program can provide a wide range of financial outcomes based upon a number of variables. The healthcare organization would be wise to perform significant “due diligence” and not rely upon the optimistic promises offered by the insurance broker, who is not an expert on healthcare equipment maintenance. In other words, caveat emptor or “Let the buyer beware.”

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Source by Jennifer Daugherty

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Corporate Financial Reporting



Corporate Financial Reporting is part of corporate reporting that consists of financial statements and accompanying notes that are prepared in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The financial statements are summaries of business transactions during the financial year of the corporation. The business world has many forms of organizations ranging from the for profit sole proprietorship, partnership and incorporated businesses with limited liability to the not for profit organizations whose existence is not mainly driven by financial gain.

Regulations that govern the preparation of financial statements largely apply only to the incorporated entities. This has given rise to accounting standards setting bodies and legal provisions that form the frameworks used when preparing the financial statements. The process of preparing the reports in accordance with the GAAPs and legal requirements presents advantages and disadvantages to the organizations and to other interested groups. The International Financial Reporting Standards are increasingly being adopted by many national accounting standards setting bodies leading the way to a single set of accounting standards all over the world. It is therefore worthwhile to look at the advantages and disadvantages of financial reporting to create an awareness of the complexities that corporations and accounting professionals contend with.

THE ADVANTAGES

A number of advantages of corporate financial reporting can be enumerated and perhaps among the most important is that organizations are able to compare their individual performance with others in the same industry or line of business. This is because the established principles, standards and regulations ensure that there is a benchmark to be followed in the preparation of financial reports. Recognition of income, expense, assets and liabilities is standardized by the existing framework and any deviation can be countered with disciplinary or legal action. Organizations strive to prepare their financial statements to closely match the set frameworks as much as possible. In some countries for example Kenya, this has been translated into an annual competition (the fire award) where companies performance in this area is assessed by professional bodies including the national accounting professionals body with the aim of awarding the company with the best prepared financial statements. This in turn promotes staff and professional development which is a desirable aspect in the growth and wealth creation of the corporate organizations.

Investors and owners of companies in jurisdictions where corporate financial reporting follows strong established and clear frameworks can make the appropriate investment decisions. Corporate reporting in this case enhances the development of understanding of the activities of the companies and at the same time keeps the companies themselves on their toes as the wider society is well-informed of the expected reporting standards. This also acts as an incentive to managers to perform at their best and to institute control measures that aid the organization to comply with the frameworks.

Requirements of corporate financial reporting lead to timely preparation of financial reports. This is desirable to the stakeholders who may be more interested in the organizations immediate past rather than wait for a long time before the outcome of their input is known. When financial reports are prepared and published within the stipulated time, it is possible for necessary actions to be taken to correct any anomalies that may have led to undesirable outcomes. In a more serious case where a material error happens to be discovered, it can be corrected and the necessary measures taken to avoid a repeat of such occurrences.

IFRS give room for flexibility as they are based on principles rather than rules. As principles are based on value, corporations can adopt the standards that best suit their circumstances as long as fair value is adequately reported. This also encourages professional development as accounting standards setting requires qualified academics who can develop the required standards after lengthy and rigorous discussions and considerations to come to a consensus.

Overall, corporate financial reporting acts as a control measure as management, owners, employees, customers, creditors and the government are dependent on the reports in their decision-making. For instance the government in taxation of companies relies at the outset on the financial reports prepared and examined by qualified public or certified professionals. Trends on the growth of the companies can also be quickly determined by comparing sets of reports for different periods.

THE DISADVANTAGES

Corporate financial reporting does not bring desirable results only. There are some undesirable outcomes that should be mitigated against. The consideration of cost guides many companies in their operation. In preparing corporate financial reports in accordance with laid down standards and rules, expertise is required and the company has to engage highly qualified professionals for this task. The fee payments to qualified professionals can be prohibiting especially to small companies controlled closely by their owner managers. Compared to larger companies the small entities do not have adequate resources to implement adoption of the standards or even to train or employ qualified staff. In many instances such small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are tempted to forgo compliance with certain aspects of the standards or rules leading to problems with regulatory bodies including the government.

Freedom to adopt standards that suit the particular circumstances of the company leads to manipulation of reports. Disclosure of important information is in jeopardy as there is no legal enforcement for implementing the standards. Even where the government imposes legal obligations on what financial reports are to be prepared, there are still loopholes that can arise especially when the accounting standards and the legal stipulations are not in conformity in some areas.

For multinational companies, there are challenges in preparing their consolidated financial reports especially where operations are in countries with different accounting standards and legal regimes. There are also other challenges in dealing with for instance exchange rates, interest rates and transfer pricing where treatment of such aspects may be considered differently in different countries. Taxation and existence or non-existence of dual taxation treaties also poses another challenge.

CONCLUSION

It can be concluded that corporate financial reporting is essential and the gains from following accounting standards based on principles far outweigh the disadvantages as freedom to prepare reports in whatever way organizations deem appropriate may lead to financial chaos.

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Source by Peter K Maina

Beginner’s Guide to Computer Forensics



Introduction

Computer forensics is the practice of collecting, analysing and reporting on digital information in a way that is legally admissible. It can be used in the detection and prevention of crime and in any dispute where evidence is stored digitally. Computer forensics has comparable examination stages to other forensic disciplines and faces similar issues.

About this guide

This guide discusses computer forensics from a neutral perspective. It is not linked to particular legislation or intended to promote a particular company or product and is not written in bias of either law enforcement or commercial computer forensics. It is aimed at a non-technical audience and provides a high-level view of computer forensics. This guide uses the term “computer”, but the concepts apply to any device capable of storing digital information. Where methodologies have been mentioned they are provided as examples only and do not constitute recommendations or advice. Copying and publishing the whole or part of this article is licensed solely under the terms of the Creative Commons – Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 license

Uses of computer forensics

There are few areas of crime or dispute where computer forensics cannot be applied. Law enforcement agencies have been among the earliest and heaviest users of computer forensics and consequently have often been at the forefront of developments in the field. Computers may constitute a ‘scene of a crime’, for example with hacking [ 1] or denial of service attacks [2] or they may hold evidence in the form of emails, internet history, documents or other files relevant to crimes such as murder, kidnap, fraud and drug trafficking. It is not just the content of emails, documents and other files which may be of interest to investigators but also the ‘meta-data’ [3] associated with those files. A computer forensic examination may reveal when a document first appeared on a computer, when it was last edited, when it was last saved or printed and which user carried out these actions.

More recently, commercial organisations have used computer forensics to their benefit in a variety of cases such as;

  • Intellectual Property theft
  • Industrial espionage
  • Employment disputes
  • Fraud investigations
  • Forgeries
  • Matrimonial issues
  • Bankruptcy investigations
  • Inappropriate email and internet use in the work place
  • Regulatory compliance

Guidelines

For evidence to be admissible it must be reliable and not prejudicial, meaning that at all stages of this process admissibility should be at the forefront of a computer forensic examiner’s mind. One set of guidelines which has been widely accepted to assist in this is the Association of Chief Police Officers Good Practice Guide for Computer Based Electronic Evidence or ACPO Guide for short. Although the ACPO Guide is aimed at United Kingdom law enforcement its main principles are applicable to all computer forensics in whatever legislature. The four main principles from this guide have been reproduced below (with references to law enforcement removed):

  1. No action should change data held on a computer or storage media which may be subsequently relied upon in court.
  2. In circumstances where a person finds it necessary to access original data held on a computer or storage media, that person must be competent to do so and be able to give evidence explaining the relevance and the implications of their actions.
  3. An audit trail or other record of all processes applied to computer-based electronic evidence should be created and preserved. An independent third-party should be able to examine those processes and achieve the same result.
  4. The person in charge of the investigation has overall responsibility for ensuring that the law and these principles are adhered to.

In summary, no changes should be made to the original, however if access/changes are necessary the examiner must know what they are doing and to record their actions.

Live acquisition

Principle 2 above may raise the question: In what situation would changes to a suspect’s computer by a computer forensic examiner be necessary? Traditionally, the computer forensic examiner would make a copy (or acquire) information from a device which is turned off. A write-blocker[4] would be used to make an exact bit for bit copy [5] of the original storage medium. The examiner would work then from this copy, leaving the original demonstrably unchanged.

However, sometimes it is not possible or desirable to switch a computer off. It may not be possible to switch a computer off if doing so would result in considerable financial or other loss for the owner. It may not be desirable to switch a computer off if doing so would mean that potentially valuable evidence may be lost. In both these circumstances the computer forensic examiner would need to carry out a ‘live acquisition’ which would involve running a small program on the suspect computer in order to copy (or acquire) the data to the examiner’s hard drive.

By running such a program and attaching a destination drive to the suspect computer, the examiner will make changes and/or additions to the state of the computer which were not present before his actions. Such actions would remain admissible as long as the examiner recorded their actions, was aware of their impact and was able to explain their actions.

Stages of an examination

For the purposes of this article the computer forensic examination process has been divided into six stages. Although they are presented in their usual chronological order, it is necessary during an examination to be flexible. For example, during the analysis stage the examiner may find a new lead which would warrant further computers being examined and would mean a return to the evaluation stage.

Readiness

Forensic readiness is an important and occasionally overlooked stage in the examination process. In commercial computer forensics it can include educating clients about system preparedness; for example, forensic examinations will provide stronger evidence if a server or computer’s built-in auditing and logging systems are all switched on. For examiners there are many areas where prior organisation can help, including training, regular testing and verification of software and equipment, familiarity with legislation, dealing with unexpected issues (e.g., what to do if child pornography is present during a commercial job) and ensuring that your on-site acquisition kit is complete and in working order.

Evaluation

The evaluation stage includes the receiving of clear instructions, risk analysis and allocation of roles and resources. Risk analysis for law enforcement may include an assessment on the likelihood of physical threat on entering a suspect’s property and how best to deal with it. Commercial organisations also need to be aware of health and safety issues, while their evaluation would also cover reputational and financial risks on accepting a particular project.

Collection

The main part of the collection stage, acquisition, has been introduced above. If acquisition is to be carried out on-site rather than in a computer forensic laboratory then this stage would include identifying, securing and documenting the scene. Interviews or meetings with personnel who may hold information which could be relevant to the examination (which could include the end users of the computer, and the manager and person responsible for providing computer services) would usually be carried out at this stage. The ‘bagging and tagging’ audit trail would start here by sealing any materials in unique tamper-evident bags. Consideration also needs to be given to securely and safely transporting the material to the examiner’s laboratory.

Analysis

Analysis depends on the specifics of each job. The examiner usually provides feedback to the client during analysis and from this dialogue the analysis may take a different path or be narrowed to specific areas. Analysis must be accurate, thorough, impartial, recorded, repeatable and completed within the time-scales available and resources allocated. There are myriad tools available for computer forensics analysis. It is our opinion that the examiner should use any tool they feel comfortable with as long as they can justify their choice. The main requirements of a computer forensic tool is that it does what it is meant to do and the only way for examiners to be sure of this is for them to regularly test and calibrate the tools they use before analysis takes place. Dual-tool verification can confirm result integrity during analysis (if with tool ‘A’ the examiner finds artefact ‘X’ at location ‘Y’, then tool ‘B’ should replicate these results.)

Presentation

This stage usually involves the examiner producing a structured report on their findings, addressing the points in the initial instructions along with any subsequent instructions. It would also cover any other information which the examiner deems relevant to the investigation. The report must be written with the end reader in mind; in many cases the reader of the report will be non-technical, so the terminology should acknowledge this. The examiner should also be prepared to participate in meetings or telephone conferences to discuss and elaborate on the report.

Review

Along with the readiness stage, the review stage is often overlooked or disregarded. This may be due to the perceived costs of doing work that is not billable, or the need ‘to get on with the next job’. However, a review stage incorporated into each examination can help save money and raise the level of quality by making future examinations more efficient and time effective. A review of an examination can be simple, quick and can begin during any of the above stages. It may include a basic ‘what went wrong and how can this be improved’ and a ‘what went well and how can it be incorporated into future examinations’. Feedback from the instructing party should also be sought. Any lessons learnt from this stage should be applied to the next examination and fed into the readiness stage.

Issues facing computer forensics

The issues facing computer forensics examiners can be broken down into three broad categories: technical, legal and administrative.

Encryption – Encrypted files or hard drives can be impossible for investigators to view without the correct key or password. Examiners should consider that the key or password may be stored elsewhere on the computer or on another computer which the suspect has had access to. It could also reside in the volatile memory of a computer (known as RAM [6] which is usually lost on computer shut-down; another reason to consider using live acquisition techniques as outlined above.

Increasing storage space – Storage media holds ever greater amounts of data which for the examiner means that their analysis computers need to have sufficient processing power and available storage to efficiently deal with searching and analysing enormous amounts of data.

New technologies – Computing is an ever-changing area, with new hardware, software and operating systems being constantly produced. No single computer forensic examiner can be an expert on all areas, though they may frequently be expected to analyse something which they haven’t dealt with before. In order to deal with this situation, the examiner should be prepared and able to test and experiment with the behaviour of new technologies. Networking and sharing knowledge with other computer forensic examiners is also very useful in this respect as it’s likely someone else may have already encountered the same issue.

Anti-forensics – Anti-forensics is the practice of attempting to thwart computer forensic analysis. This may include encryption, the over-writing of data to make it unrecoverable, the modification of files’ meta-data and file obfuscation (disguising files). As with encryption above, the evidence that such methods have been used may be stored elsewhere on the computer or on another computer which the suspect has had access to. In our experience, it is very rare to see anti-forensics tools used correctly and frequently enough to totally obscure either their presence or the presence of the evidence they were used to hide.

Legal issues

Legal arguments may confuse or distract from a computer examiner’s findings. An example here would be the ‘Trojan Defence’. A Trojan is a piece of computer code disguised as something benign but which has a hidden and malicious purpose. Trojans have many uses, and include key-logging [7], uploading and downloading of files and installation of viruses. A lawyer may be able to argue that actions on a computer were not carried out by a user but were automated by a Trojan without the user’s knowledge; such a Trojan Defence has been successfully used even when no trace of a Trojan or other malicious code was found on the suspect’s computer. In such cases, a competent opposing lawyer, supplied with evidence from a competent computer forensic analyst, should be able to dismiss such an argument.

Accepted standards – There are a plethora of standards and guidelines in computer forensics, few of which appear to be universally accepted. This is due to a number of reasons including standard-setting bodies being tied to particular legislations, standards being aimed either at law enforcement or commercial forensics but not at both, the authors of such standards not being accepted by their peers, or high joining fees dissuading practitioners from participating.

Fitness to practice – In many jurisdictions there is no qualifying body to check the competence and integrity of computer forensics professionals. In such cases anyone may present themselves as a computer forensic expert, which may result in computer forensic examinations of questionable quality and a negative view of the profession as a whole.

Resources and further reading

There does not appear to be a great amount of material covering computer forensics which is aimed at a non-technical readership. However the following links at links at the bottom of this page may prove to be of interest prove to be of interest:

Glossary

1. Hacking: modifying a computer in way which was not originally intended in order to benefit the hacker’s goals.

2. Denial of Service attack: an attempt to prevent legitimate users of a computer system from having access to that system’s information or services.

3. Meta-data: at a basic level meta-data is data about data. It can be embedded within files or stored externally in a separate file and may contain information about the file’s author, format, creation date and so on.

4. Write blocker: a hardware device or software application which prevents any data from being modified or added to the storage medium being examined.

5. Bit copy: bit is a contraction of the term ‘binary digit’ and is the fundamental unit of computing. A bit copy refers to a sequential copy of every bit on a storage medium, which includes areas of the medium ‘invisible’ to the user.

6. RAM: Random Access Memory. RAM is a computer’s temporary workspace and is volatile, which means its contents are lost when the computer is powered off.

7. Key-logging: the recording of keyboard input giving the ability to read a user’s typed passwords, emails and other confidential information.

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Source by Jonathan Krause

Concessions to Start-Ups Regarding Labor Laws in India



In order to promote the Start-Up ecosystem in the country and incentivizing the entrepreneurs in setting up new start-up ventures and thus catalyze the creation of employment opportunities through them, the Ministry of Labor & Employment has issued an advisory to the States / UTs / Central Labor Enforcement Agencies for a compliance rule based on self-certification and regulating the inspections under various Labor Laws. It has been suggested that if such start-ups furnish self-declaration for compliance of nine labor laws for the first year from the date of starting the start-up, no inspection under these labor laws, wherever applicable, will take place. The nine labor laws, included in this advisory are:

• The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947;

• The Trade Unions Act, 1926;

• The Building and Other Constructions Workers' (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996;

• The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946;

• the Inter-State Migrant Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979;

• The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972;

• The Contract Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970;

• The Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; and

• The Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948.

From the second year onwards, up to 3 year from the setting up of the units, such start-ups are required to furnish self-certified returns and would be inspected only when acceptable and verifiable complaint of violation is filed in writing and approval has been obtained from the higher authorities.

The advisory to State Governments is not to exempt the start-ups from the ambit of compliance of these Labor Laws but to provide an administrative mechanism to regulate inspection of the Start-Ups under these labor laws, so that start-ups are encouraged to be self-disciplined and adhere to the rule of law. These measures intend to avoid harassment of the entrepreneurs by restricting the discretion and arbitrariness. Punitive action shall, however, be taken whenever there is a violation of these labor laws.

Start-ups not only help the country to develop and grow financially but also provide a lot of job opportunities to unemployed people of the country. The labor opportunities generated also helps the people of the country to gain employment. The Department formed for this in the government has come up with 9 labor laws which need to be looked up in case of violation or complaint filed against the start-up.

Therefore the government is promoting start-ups and alongside generating labor opportunities for unemployed people of the country.

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Source by Poonam Jain

What Is The Need For Incoterms Shipping Rules?



Incoterms or the International Commerce Terms are defined as the set of terms which are standardized and used in case of international trade. Companies engaged in the shipment of goods or enterprises that receive goods from the international markets via ships must be aware of these terms. They help in deciding the terms of delivery between the seller and the buyer. It also specifies which party is liable for the insurance of the goods and which party is supposed to bear the unloading and loading charges of the products. When these terms get clarified between the parties, there is hardly any confusion to deal with. Thus, for the ease of international transactions, the Incoterms first came into existence in the year 1936.

ICC is the organization which laid down these rules which govern the cross-border trades even today. There have been many changes incorporated in the terms to suit the changes of the global business environment. Using the incoterms correctly and wisely helps businesses in enjoying several benefits. The shipping rules mentioned in the incoterms must be adhered to by the parties for more clarity in transactions. The latest amendments to the shipping rules are available in the Incoterms 2010 which have brought about many useful modifications in the system.

Reduction Of Risks:

The most important benefit of the shipping rules mentioned in the Incoterms help in minimizing business risks. It is known that international transactions take place between different countries that follow different languages and business cultures. Thus, it is always wise to have everything in writing to avoid any type of misunderstandings. The use of correct incoterms makes the contract much valid and simplified. Thus, there is no risk involved in transacting with a foreign company.

The contract of sale must have all the obligations of the seller and the buyer engaged in export and import of the products. This removes any type of confusion related to the rules of transporting the goods from one point to the other. Thus, the transacting parties know when the risks and costs involved in the goods would be transferred in the process of the shipment.

Understanding Of The Rules:

  • The E Rules: As per this rule, the agreement specifies that the goods are to be delivered EXW meaning “ex-works”. This indicates that the goods would reach either the factory of the seller or at his warehouse. Thus, the seller is not liable for any expenses relating to transportation, loading charges, and customs tariffs
  • The F Rules: This rule involved three terms- FOB, FCA, FAS. Here, the seller sends the consignment to the carrier whom the buyer appoints. In this case, the seller is responsible to bear the expenses of delivery and thereafter all other costs are borne by the buyer.
  • The C Rules: In this type, the seller contracts for carriage but does not take into account any risk or damage of the goods after the shipping of the products. The related terms here are- CIF, CFR, CIP, CPT.
  • The D Rules: The seller takes up any risk that is involved in delivering the goods at the doorstep of the buyer. The terms used are- DAP, DDP, DAT.

So, you see each risk factor has been defined so well in the rules that both the parties can clearly understand what their obligations are. There is no room for confusion if one understands the terms well. It facilities not just smooth transactions but is also helpful in strategic logistics management.

Most of the small businesses prefer transacting under the C-terms. This ensures that the buyer is having more grasp when the shipment is in huge quantity. Till the time the cargo reaches the origin port, all the costs are borne by the seller. Thereafter, the buyer takes on the responsibility of the costs up to the discharge port. So, more or less the burden of risks and costs get divided equally among the parties. The latest version of the Incoterms which came out in 2010 has also well defined the FOB Incoterms. This has made the segregations quite understandable and comprehensible.

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Source by Yash Pal Singh

The Main Subject of This Article Is Health and Fitness Programs



Health and fitness programs

The health of a human being is of two types. One is the mental health and the other is the physical health. The happiness of a human life mostly depends on being healthy. So it is very much important for a human to remain healthy and fit. It has been proved that human being can stay fit by taking some steps. A human body can only be fit by maintaining many fitness rules. The age of today is the modern age. The people of today are very much aware of staying healthy and fit. Many employers are implementing these types of programs into their workplace with the goals of improving and maintaining the health of their employees and increasing worker productivity. Now a day’s many satellite channels are broadcasting many health and fitness programs.

Not only that they are also providing many useful diets, exercise by depending on ages and those are taught by professional instructors and also giving information about those foods which are bad for health. Many health and fitness programs are introducing the health and fitness instruments or products. So people are being benefited and they personality is improving and so as their confidence level. That’s why large number of people is attracting to these kinds of programs. As the days are passing these numbers are spreading. In the current world companies whom are offering jobs are mainly searching people having best personality and confidence. Health and fitness programs are helping people to get many exciting jobs.

It has now become one of the major concerns. This made life active and alert. Now, life has become more simple and easy. Everything an individual need is just a step away. This easy life has restricted humans to do that bit of physical exercise which is required to keep the body fit and healthy. We get instant, spicy and variety of food which lose their nutrition during the process. It can make all that difference in one’s life. These kinds of program are facilitated by a Certified Athletic Trainer who will help individual to develop an exercise program for his/her specific needs. These programs has helped them to address health issues such as being overweight, having high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels, reducing risk factors for heart disease, back pain and other balance disturbances. However, research is still being conducted to determine if these programs are an effective means of achieving these goals.

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Source by Lionel Messi Fernandez

ArielBank PLC | FCA

Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by us.

However, some firms act without our authorisation and some knowingly run investment scams. 

This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.

ArielBank Plc

Address: 121 Kingsland High Street, London, E8 2PK, United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 7810 007102

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://arielbank.com/

How to protect yourself

We strongly advise you to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us, and check the Financial Services Register to ensure they are. It has information on firms and individuals that are, or have been, regulated by us.

If you want to check a consumer credit firm that may not yet have been authorised by us, please also check the Interim Permission Register.

If a firm does not appear on the Register but claims it does, contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

There are more steps you should take to avoid scams and unauthorised firms.

You should also be aware that if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.

Report an unauthorised firm

If you think you have been approached by an unauthorised firm or contacted about a scam, you should contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you were offered, bought or sold shares, you can use our reporting form.

#

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Schroeder Law Firm | FCA

Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by us.

However, some firms act without our authorisation and some knowingly run investment scams. 

This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.

Schroeder Law Firm

Address: 290 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210, United States

Telephone: +1 617 372 9035, +1 617 372 9591

Email: [email protected], [email protected]

Website: www.schroederlawfirm.com

How to protect yourself

We strongly advise you to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us, and check the Financial Services Register to ensure they are. It has information on firms and individuals that are, or have been, regulated by us.

If you want to check a consumer credit firm that may not yet have been authorised by us, please also check the Interim Permission Register.

If a firm does not appear on the Register but claims it does, contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

There are more steps you should take to avoid scams and unauthorised firms.

You should also be aware that if you give money to an unauthorised firm, you will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.

Report an unauthorised firm

If you think you have been approached by an unauthorised firm or contacted about a scam, you should contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. If you were offered, bought or sold shares, you can use our reporting form.

#

Source link

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