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Password Security

December 23, 2014 Rhys Kenworthy
 
password security

Online security has always been important, but many view their wireless connections, bank accounts, and health information as the items that need to be secured. While these items are clearly important, what about your career? When you think about securing your online accounts, would you have placed your social networks at the top of your list? Most people would not.

Recently, social network LinkedIn was hacked and a file containing 6.5 million hashed passwords was posted on an online forum in Russia. In March 2012, there were 161 million active LinkedIn users, so roughly 4% of accounts were compromised. LinkedIn reacted by changing passwords on all compromised accounts, placing a link on their page to easily change your password, and proactively sending an email to its users requesting them to update their password.

Many people have one password that they use for all of their accounts. If your security is breached on one account, all of your accounts could be at risk. Below are some tips to create secure passwords.

  • Use letters from a phrase
  • Use upper and lowercase letters
  • Use numbers or even spell them out
  • Use different passwords for different sites (Email, banking, ecommerce sites, etc)
  • Separate words with symbols
  • Create a keyboard pattern that is easy to type, but not easy to guess (dfgh&^%$)

Password Security

January 17, 2015 Vanessa Kenworthy
 
keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to save time. Shortcut keys are an easier and generally quicker method of navigating software programs. Shortcut keys are different depending on the operating system you are using. Windows access via the Alt key, Apple the command key, or the CTRL or Shift in conjunction with a single letter. The de facto standard for shortcuts is the modifier key, a plus symbol, and the single character. So "CTRL+V" is telling you to press the CTRL key and the V key simultaneously to perform the shortcut.

Here are some of the most common keyboard shortcuts. For a comprehensive list of Windows shortcuts, visit Microsoft's site. For a list of Macintosh commands, visit Apple's site.

Popular Windows Commands:

  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+V: Paste
  • CTRL+Z: Undo
  • CTRL+B: Bold
  • CTRL+I: Italic
  • CTRL+U: Underline

Popular Apple Commands:
  • Command+X: Cut
  • Command+C: Copy
  • Command+V: Paste
  • Command+Z: Undo
  • Command+B: Bold
  • Command+I: Italic
  • Command+U: Underline

 

 

Maintain your system so it's ready to perform when you are

March 28, 2015 Rhys Kenworthy
 
computer maintenance

Although your computer may be working fine, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need regular maintenance. There are several items to address on different schedules. Regular maintenance can be scheduled on your system to run at night, avoiding any interruption while you are performing your computerized tasks. The first items are temporary files and cookies. These files are stored on your system and can slow it down if they are not removed regularly. Most people are using the Internet, some of us more than others, and the web is the place where you will rack up the largest amounts of these files. They are not harmful to your computer, but they do need to be maintained. Programs that are no longer being used can be uninstalled and others that are not used frequently can be removed from your system startup to optimize your processing speed.

Another important item is to defragment your hard drive. When files are too large to store in one location, your computer will "fragment" it into segments, requiring your system to open all "fragments" which can slow your system down. A disk defragmenter can be scheduled to run at night as well. Registry maintenance is recommended as well, but only by a computer technician. Registry keys are necessary for you system to run and deleting one that is required can be disastrous.

Protection from viruses and malware has become increasingly important. Ensuring that your virus definitions are up-to-date can help you avoid the inherent headache when you realize that you’ve clicked through something or downloaded something that you shouldn’t have. The creators are making them more and more difficult to identify and have taken to cloning anti-virus software screens in an effort to convince the user that it is legitimate. Current anti-virus software will help protect your system.

Your computer not only needs to be maintained and protected, but it also needs to be updated. Operating systems will send updates with necessary patches, etc.

Other software such as Microsoft Office will send updates and some software will provide updates on their website, but they are not sent to the user. Many websites requires the latest version Java or Flash to view their site and enjoy full functionality. You want to ensure that your system is maintained, protected, and updated so that when you are ready to use it, everything will work correctly. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to complete a computerized task only to find that your computer isn’t capable, because maintenance has been performed. Take a few moments to set up some scheduled tasks and set reminders for those manual tasks; the return on your time investment will be priceless.

Contact us today to schedule remote support and fix your computer without leaving the comfort of your home.

Mobile shopping trends

February 28, 2015 Rhys Kenworthy
 
mobile shopping

We know that the mobile age is here and each day more retail sites can be easily viewed from a mobile browser or app. What are the habits of people who shop using their mobile device? A recent Mashable article gives the following seven surprising mobile trends:

  1. Mobile shopping doesn’t equal mobile purchasing.
  2. Men are more likely to consult their phone.
  3. Mobile devices often trump computers.
  4. Mobile phones hardly impact shopping habits.
  5. The mobile experience is good.
  6. But it still needs some work.
  7. Touchscreens are preferred.

Mobile shopping doesn’t equal mobile purchasing and men being more likely to consult their phones can go together. Shopping at a brick and mortar store is convenient and you can take the product home that day. If you are able wait for that product to ship and buy it $10 cheaper online, wouldn’t you? Men are apparently more likely to comparison shop in the stores and there are apps such as Google Shopper or Barcode Scanner that make this easy. You just scan the UPC of the item you want to comparison shop and you can pull up local and online results for other stores who offer the same product and their prices.

Mobile devices often trump computers. Employers frown upon their employees spending vast amounts of “on-the-clock” time comparison shopping for personal items. Although the rate of shopping through the typical workday is high, many would rather shop on their mobile device so that they are not connected to their employer’s network.

Mobile phones hardly impact shopping habits. Have your shopping habits changed since you began mobile shopping? Probably not. We still look for the same items as we did from a desktop; this is just a new way to search.

The mobile experience is good, but still needs some work. This is obvious to us when we land on a page that is not meant to be viewed by a mobile device. Flash sites are not able to be viewed on Apple devices, so while the effect is neat, a company can lose a huge part of their demographic by not having a mobile-ready website. Businesses are creating apps, losing the Flash, and creating feature-rich content to be view by mobile users, but this is a process and we need to be patient.

Touchscreens are preferred. As an early adopter of tablets, we can honestly say that the larger screen on a tablet (10.1”) can make a shopping experience much easier. As for smartphones, the Galaxy Note, a new phablet, has a screen size of 5.3” and comes with a stylus which makes navigation a piece of cake.

The bottom line is that while we now have another way to shop, we still shop for the same items and businesses are still adapting to the mobile trend, so sometimes it’s not as easy as we’d like it to be. Ten years ago, I would have given anything to be able to comparison shop for the two most expensive things on my shopping list at the time: diapers and formula. Having the mobile technology at our fingertips with a few frustrations is better than not having it at all.

Clocking in From the Couch

April 30, 2015 Vanessa Kenworthy
 
social media policy

An interesting article was recently published by Maximize about social media policies within the workplace. Many of us have been asked to sign these policies and most people don’t pay too much attention to what they are signing. Commonly, these policies contain language regarding what you cannot post to your social networks as it pertains to your place of employment. In other words, your company doesn’t want you to publicly post anything negative about your company or anything that could be negatively associated to your company. Non-compliance with these policies can result in disciplinary action and termination in some cases.

There is a long-standing debate about what your company should be able to limit in terms of an employee’s social media posts on personal time due to our first amendment rights to freedom of speech. If someone posts something negative on Facebook about their boss (not naming the person specifically) after a hard day at work, most people would see nothing wrong with that, as so many of our friends regularly post these types of things. However, social media policies are becoming more and more common in the workplace and they are more detailed as we move forward in a blossoming social media age.

The biggest concern is that companies are placing what is being referred to as a “gag order” on any negative or defamatory remarks about the company or its management. According to the National Labor Relations (NLR) Act, employees have the right to express personal opinions and this includes discussing “employment terms and conditions publicly or with each other”. Many companies are requesting passwords to employees’ (and even potential employees during the interview process) Facebook accounts. This is a clear violation of Facebook’s terms of service. Policies often prohibit employees’ from publicly stating their opinion of the workplace, wages, etc which is also in direct violation of the NLR Act’s Section 7. Finally, most policies state that employees may not “friend” each other.

Recent litigation has upheld that all of these policies violate the NLR Act. While a company must protect themselves and the company’s reputation, they must stay within the law while doing so. In such a technological world, our laws are beginning to adapt to our online environment. The best advice is to have an attorney review your social media policy prior to providing it to your employees to ensure that your policy is in line with the National Labor Relations Act.

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