Privacy is dead? It doesn’t have to be

On April 26, 2013, in Uncategorized, by ShariMayo22

In the era of Facebook and Twitter, it may seem that privacy is history. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, Forbes recently ran a story detailing some easy steps you can take to boost your privacy in the Internet era. If you fail to take these steps, then you have no one to blame but yourself if cyber criminals gain access to your bank information, e-mail messages or other personal information.

Password Protect

Forbes recommends you always password-protect your mobile devices. This way, if you ever lose your tablet or someone steals your smartphone, the thief won’t be able to easily access your device and the private data stored on it. Forbes compares password-protecting your devices to locking your home’s front door; it’s just common sense.

The Power of Google Alerts

To protect your privacy, you may want to know what people are writing about you online. To do this, set up a Google Alert in your name. You’ll then receive a message whenever someone says something about you online. As Forbes says, there is no easier way to track what’s being said about you.

Signing Out

Have you ever made the big mistake of checking your e-mail on the computer in your public library and forgetting to sign out once you were done? This can be a dangerous mistake as it could give snoops or cyber criminals easy access to your e-mail account. And once thieves have this access, they can more easily get into your private data. Whenever you use a public computer – or, for that matter, a private computer – sign out of your accounts. It takes only a few seconds and can save you an awful lot of future hassle.


Mourning the death of Google Reader

On April 24, 2013, in Uncategorized, by s1cx54s

Are you lamenting the reported death of Google Reader? If so, you’re not alone. Google recently reported that it is eliminating its RSS reader on July 1. The reason behind Google’s decision seems sensible: Reader was losing users. It was not an expanding service. Nonetheless, the death of Reader poses some interesting questions, both for consumers and Google. The main one? What’s to keep Google and others from discontinuing other cloud-based services? The answer? Nothing.

The impermanence of the cloud

The cloud is an excellent service. It enables us to access programs without having to store them on our computers. But the cloud also isn’t all that permanent. Writing for Slate, Farhad Manjoo says that the demise of Google Reader ought to provide a lesson to all computer users on the web: Nothing in the cloud is forever. When Google launched Reader in 2005, it marketed the service as one that would be around forever. Obviously, it won’t be. And that’s a lesson that consumers need to always remember: Nothing in the cloud is guaranteed.

The pitfall with the cloud

Look at your favorite cloud-based programs today. Think about how much you rely on them. And then allow yourself to get a bit nervous: There is nothing stopping the companies behind these programs from eliminating them should they stop growing or generating money. This is different from the days when we stored nearly all of our software on our computers. If your favorite word-processing service was discontinued, you still had access to it. That’s not the case with cloud services. Gone means gone with regards to the cloud.

Google’s challenge

Consumers aren’t the only ones facing challenging issues with the demise of Reader. Google does, too. As the Economist explains in a recent article, when Google introduces a new product, it expects users to flock to them. But why should consumers do this if there’s a chance that Google will just eliminate the applications? Eliminating Reader might have made financial sense for Google. Nevertheless, it could cause consumers to think twice before embracing the company’s next cloud-based service.


Protect yourself with two-factor authentication

On April 17, 2013, in Uncategorized, by witchanh22

How much protection do you think passwords provide right now to your company’s Web sites, mobile devices and desktop computers? The right answer? Probably not much. Cyber criminals have mastered the art of cracking passwords. And all too often, employees make use of passwords that are easy to guess. This leaves your business susceptible to cyber attacks. Thankfully, there is a solution: two-factor authentication. And, according to a recent story by Biztech Magazine, it’s the simplest way to immediately improve your company’s ability to safeguard itself from cyber crimes.

Why a second step matters

Two-factor authentication works so well because it requires users to take two separate actions to log onto a machine or Web site, according to the Biztech story. That’s enough to chase away the majority of cyber criminals who will go on to target organizations with weaker protection. With a typical two-step authentication setup, users must use both a password and something else to log onto their machines or Web sites. An end user might have to swipe a smart card or insert a token. A business may even rely on biometric identifiers as the all-important second step.

The starting point

Not all of your employees, though, are going to be happy about two-factor authentication. It takes more effort on their part, naturally. But Biztech offers a few recommendations for smoothing this rollout. First, the magazine suggests you select a second factor that will result in the least disruption among employees. For instance, Biztech uses the example of smart cards. Mobile devices such as smartphones are typically not compatible with these cards. That might be deal breaker for some businesses. Businesses that have staff that work from a wide variety of locations might not do well with physical tokens.

Take it slowly

If you want your employees to be comfortable with two-factor authentication, you’ll need to roll out your program gradually. This will give your workers time to adjust to the fact that their log-on procedures are going to be undergoing a fairly momentous change. Additionally, it gives you the chance to educate your employees on how two-factor authentication works and why it’s so critical to the company’s security.


It’s challenging to operate a successful small business today. You’re faced with escalating costs, sometimes unreliable employees, and competition from name-brand businesses with far deeper pockets. But at least your business can take advantage of larger tax breaks for investing in new technology. BizTech Magazine recently covered how new tax breaks created through the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 could help your business strengthen its technology while paying less for it.

A big tax break

According to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, businesses can now write off as much as a quite notable $500,000 of new technology and equipment expenditures in 2013. This could certainly provide businesses with the boost they need to more vigorously update their technology. Businesses, for example, might decide to upgrade their computer operating systems to Windows 8. Or perhaps they’ll make the move to Apple computers. Others might spend money on automated bill paying or payroll software. These improvements will make small businesses more efficient, and boost their chances of beating their competitors.

A 2012 boost, too

The benefits of the taxpayer relief act don’t end with just 2013, either. As BizTech Magazine reports, the act also retroactively boosts the amount that small businesses can deduct for equipment and technology purchases made in 2012. The boost is a considerable one, too, from $139,000 to $500,000. This may again help the bottom line of businesses, letting them write off more of the equipment and technology investments that they have previously completed.

An important boost

It’s essential for companies to take advantage of these tax breaks. They are, after all, important financial incentives intended to encourage companies to invest in the technology they need to succeed. Businesses must continuously evolve if they hope to succeed today. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in new technology and equipment, and the taxpayer relief act makes carrying this out less costly.


Here’s what attracts cyber attackers: easy targets. This means that you can leave your small business open to a cyber attack if you don’t protect your company’s Wi-Fi systems with passwords or if you trust in passwords that are ridiculously simple to guess. In a recent story detailing steps that business owners can take to secure themselves from cybercrimes, Entrepreneur Magazine advises that you do the little things that might make most hackers move on to easier targets.


The best defense against hackers? Encrypt your data. This will make it more difficult for cyber criminals to access your company’s bank accounts, employee information and credit-card data. Hackers can crack encryption if they’re talented enough. Most will see encrypted data and simply proceed to an easier target. Best of all, it’s simple to encrypt your computer data. Simply turn on the full-disk encryption tool that is provided with your computers’ operating systems. This tool is known as FileVault on Macintosh computers and BitLocker on those powered by Windows. Once these tools are switched on, it will encrypt every file or program on your computers’ drives.

Lock it Down

Most computers have a Kensington lock port, a small metal loop that users can run a cable through to lock them to their desks. If you’d like to truly protect your business, require that your employees take this protection measure. It might sound silly, but the Entrepreneur story said that businesses are often hacked after burglars break in and steal laptops along with other devices. A cable strapping a laptop to a desk won’t stop all thieves. But it might scare away those who want to strike especially quickly.

Wi-Fi Vulnerability

Often the easiest way for cyber thieves to get into your company accounts is through your business’ Wi-Fi network. That’s why Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that you do away with Wi-Fi altogether and instead install a wired network. If you can’t do that, at least protect your Wi-Fi accounts with passwords which are hard to compromise. A good bet? Long passwords consisting of a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols.


Only one key employee can access all of your small business’ very important online accounts: your cloud-based payroll software, Twitter account, Facebook account and bank account. That’s fine. But what happens if that employee should die suddenly? Do you know the passwords to your company’s online bank account? What about that cloud-based payroll service? And even if you did, would you legally be able to access the online accounts after this employee dies?

A big issue

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted this issue on its Web site. It might not feel like a problem that your business will suffer. But if your business does have online accounts to which only one person has access, you could be tempting fate. In the event that person dies, are you able to access your online bank account in order to pay your vendors or cut a rent check to your landlord? How about your payroll software? Are you able to cut checks to your employees, all of whom want to get paid on their regular payday? And then there’s Twitter and Facebook. If your business relies on these tools to communicate with customers, you’ll need to know the passwords that give you access.

The cloud isn’t fail-proof

The Wall Street Journal story defines the issue as a matter of trust. To put it simply, small business owners put too much trust in the cloud. They erroneously feel that data they put in the cloud will remain protected forever. This isn’t true, though. The cloud doesn’t offer absolute protection from hackers. And it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to always access your critical business files, data and accounts. In the event you can’t access your online accounts because none of your living employees knows the passwords, having all of your important business matters stored online won’t be much help.

Solving the problem

Solving this problem, fortunately, isn’t complicated: You just need to be sure that more than one employee knows the passwords for your online accounts. And also you need to be equally certain that your important accounts are either registered to your company or to more than one employee. This way, should that key employee die, you’ll still be able to conduct business normally.


Your New Year’s resolution was to expand your small business in 2013. How is that resolution faring? If you’re struggling to improve your small business’ revenues so far this year, it might be time for you to turn to your IT department. Yes it’s true: Your IT department delivers the technical expertise to make your business more efficient. That, consequently, can raise your employees’ productivity and improve your business’ bottom line. Here are a few tech projects that Small Business recommends for small business owners who wish to see their businesses grow in 2013.

Bring Wi-Fi to your business

A growing number of businesses permit their employees to bring their own personal electronic devices – everything from laptops to tablets – to their cubicles. The reasoning driving this movement: When employees work on laptops and tablets that they know well, they work more proficiently. But enabling your staff to participate in the bring-your-own-device movement doesn’t mean much if your office isn’t equipped with a reliable Wi-Fi router that allows your workers to access the Web, send e-mail and post to social media sites while at their desks. Make adding a powerful Wi-Fi network in your office a priority for 2013.

Upgrade to Ultrabooks

Your employees are able to do more when they can tote laptops to meetings with clients. Traditional laptops, though, are too clunky. And small Netbooks are often too slow and limited. Ultrabooks, though, are a different animal. These laptops are both small and light enough to be portable, and powerful enough to allow staff members to demonstrate multimedia presentations and reports to prospective customers. A good way to make your business grow is to provide your employees more options for snagging new clients. Ultrabooks are one of these options.

No more Windows XP

Windows XP was a solid operating system, especially compared with the universally unloved Vista. But Windows XP’s time has come and gone. Microsoft will no longer offer technical support for the 10-year-old operating system come April of 2014. And also the company will stop delivering security updates for the system then, as well. This means that it’s time for you to upgrade any machine still running this operating system. Upgrade instead to Windows 7; it’s one of Microsoft’s more popular operating systems.