NSA data collection exposed

Security_June26_CHong Kong is one of the busiest and freest cities on Earth. It also recently played host to one of the biggest whistleblowers in history – Edward Snowden. In early June, Snowden, an ex NSA (National Security Agency) consultant, exposed their data collection program, causing unparalleled uproar and controversy. For many business operators it also created confusion.

Here is an overview of the story about the US surveillance whistleblowing story of Edward Snowden, with some tips businesses can follow to tighten up cyber security.

The NSA leak
From his hotel in Hong Kong, Edward Snowden sat down with journalists from the Washington Post and The Guardian to disclose that the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI have unprecedented access to personal information and data on the Internet. This program, called PRISM, supposedly monitors all foreign communication that passes through US servers.

The reports in the Post and Guardian noted that Microsoft; Yahoo; Google; Facebook; PalTalk; AOL; Skype; YouTube; and Apple, are all participants in this program and had provided the NSA with direct access to their data. After the articles broke, the nine tech companies denied ever willingly giving information to the NSA, but noted they likely would, or had, handed over information if ordered by the courts.

You may wonder why this is such a big deal, especially when the NSA has said they only target foreign traffic. Well, the answer is muddy, at best, but the vast majority of the traffic on the Internet passes through the US. What was most unsettling was the revelation about what data the NSA collects. According to the Washington Post, this includes, “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs… [Skype] can be monitored for audio when one end of the call is a conventional telephone, and for any combination of audio, video, chat, and file transfers, when Skype users connect by computer alone. Google’s offerings include Gmail, voice and video chat, Google Drive files, photo libraries and live surveillance of search terms.”

Netizens, and many news agencies, were understandably furious because this covers pretty much everything. A report published by the Associated Press confirmed that: “The NSA copies Internet traffic as it enters and leaves the United States, then routes it to the NSA for analysis.” Traffic from within the US, on the other hand, is largely left alone, but it may be connected if the NSA can prove, (with 51% surety), that one of the recipients of the traffic is foreign (not based in the US).

If you are interested in learning more this article in Business Insider covers the highlights of what is going on, or what we know to date.

What about small businesses?
So what can we deduce from this? The NSA primarily targets information flowing through the major tech companies. If you do business with companies outside of the USA, you might assume that the NSA has seen some correspondence, especially if it has contained keywords they have identified and are looking for.

Regardless of this, you should still take steps to ensure that your systems are secure, as you can bet that a number of enterprising criminals will try to cash in on this issue with scams, hacks or other malicious intent.

Here are three things you can do to shore up your cyber security:

  1. Create a security policy - As a business owner or manager, you should take steps to educate yourself about current cyber crime, while having a policy in place that covers how employees access data, what access they have, and what will happen if data is stolen. If you are unsure how to go about this, try contacting your IT Partner, like us. We will be able to help you develop a sound security plan and policy.
  2. Use strong passwords - We’ve said it before, and we will say it again: Stronger passwords help deter hackers. Most experts recommend a password that is at least eight characters long, with a minimum of one number and special character. Also, it is a smart idea to not use the same password for every account.
  3. Use data encryption - If you are protective about your data, it is a good idea to encrypt it both while it’s being stored and when it’s being sent over the Internet. Encryption systems convert data and files into an unreadable format that takes time to hack. Many hackers will simply leave strongly encrypted files alone. There are numerous services out there, so be sure to talk with us, as we may have the best option for you.

This headline making leak is definitely huge and has many people worried as to what could possibly happen to private data. Be sure to stay tuned to the newspapers and blogs as the leak to keep updated as the fallout from this could be huge. If you would like to talk about the security of your systems, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 ergonomic tips for your desk

Productivity_June26_CRegardless of the fast pace of technology or perhaps because of it, we are spending an ever increasing amount of time in the office, at our desks. While this has its upsides, with multi-functioning workspaces, there are downsides that could pose serious risks to not only your productivity but your health. In order to stave off potential health risks that come with sitting all day, it is a good idea to look into the ergonomics of your desk, and whether any improvements can be made.

Here are five ways you can make your desk more ergonomic:

1. Don’t use the keyboard feet
Many keyboards have feet at the top which can be used to move the top of the keyboard up. The reason for this isn’t actually for improved ergonomics, but to make the keys easier to see. If you type with two-fingers, this is effective, but if you are a touch typist, keeping the feet deployed could actually cause strain on your wrists. It’s best to keep the feet folded, and your keyboard as flat as possible.

2. Focus on the location of the B key
In order to reduce muscle, wrist and elbow strain, it’s important that you position your keyboard and mouse correctly. While you are sitting at your desk, you should make an effort to line up the B key with the center of the desk, or directly in front of you if you don’t sit at the center of your desk.

What this does is ensure that your wrists rest in a more natural, and comfortable position. You should also keep your mouse on the same level as the keyboard, and in close proximity. Basically you should move horizontally, not vertically.

3. Adjust the height of your seat and monitors
The height of your seat is vital as the ideal seat height will allow you to sit with your feet flat on the floor, and your arms are at the same height as the desk, or where your keyboard and mouse are.

While you are at it, you should also adjust the height of your monitor. While seated at your desk, you should be looking at the upper 2-3 inches of your monitor. If you find yourself looking at the bottom of the screen, it is a good idea to try and lower your monitor a little, or practice a better posture.

4. Practice good posture
When spending long hours at a desk, it can be tempting to slouch into your chair. While it definitely feels comfortable, it’s not the best for our bodies. The optimal posture is one where your feet are flat on the floor with your heels slightly in front of your kneecaps, back straight, with elbows close to your body and arms at the same height as the desk.

While sitting at your desk, it’s a good idea to maintain this posture, but relax your back and neck muscles. If they are tense, you are putting pressure on various nerves which could cause more problems. For example, the ulnar nerve, which is the main nerve of the arm, runs up through the neck. Having a tense neck could put strain on this and lead to increased chances of a repetitive strain injury.

5. Keep important things within reach
If you find yourself always reaching for something that is just out of your grasp, you could be putting undue strain on your body. You should take a step back and think about what you use the most, then move this within reach. This will reduce strain in the long run, and make you more efficient.

Having an ergonomic desk likely won’t make you noticeably massively more productive, but it will make you productive in the long run, because it can minimize the risk of injury which can take you away from your work. If you are looking into making your workspace more ergonomic-friendly, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 personal reputation management tips

BusinessValue_June25_CCorporate reputation is the focus of almost every business manager and owner. They know that if the reputation of the business suffers a negative blow, they could see lost business, profits, or worse. What they often fail to take into account though, is that their personal online reputation may be just as important, especially if they are the face of the business. Do you take steps to manage your reputation?

Here are five tips that can help you manage your personal online reputation.

1. Be a little vain
Growing up you were probably told that showing a high opinion of oneself isn’t a positive. However, when it comes to your online reputation, being a little vain and promoting your good points, especially in relation to your business, could help define how others perceive you. It is a good idea to visit the major search engines and search for your name – full name, nickname and any aliases and see what comes up.

Be sure to also look at the different categories of search. For example, look at Images, News, Blogs, etc., on Google. You can also set up a Google Alert which will notify you whenever new content mentioning your name is posted. You can do this by visiting Google’s Alerts site, entering your name in the Search Query box, setting how often you want the alerts, (we recommend once a week), and pressing Create Alert.

2. Secure your own little slice of the Internet
It is a good idea to try and buy your own domain name, e.g., www.yourname.com. You can use this to create a website all about you, where you place a personal blog, pictures, etc. If you maintain the site, you can also link it to your social media profiles. If you keep this updated and keep up momentum then you may see a boost in followers. The best part is that this can be fairly inexpensive. Even if you don’t launch a website straightaway, securing a web domain that is your own gives you options in the future, which you might want to use to promote aspects of your business, as well as yourself.

3. One platform to rule them all
There are a wide variety of websites dedicated to content. Sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, etc., are all versatile and allow you to post nearly any type of content, or even create your own website. These sites usually allow you to link your personal domain name to them, so when someone enters this name they are taken directly to your content.

4. Get social
Social media is a powerful reputation tool, and having a personal profile in the same place as your business profile can be beneficial. Be sure to fully fill out your profile information and be as active as possible, sharing content you produce, find, or generally enjoy. If you want to really interact that it is worthwhile to be on the major social media platforms – Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Pinterest.

5. Follow one of the golden rules of the Internet
There are many rules when it comes to being on the Internet. One of the most important is: Watch what you put online. There are many stories of people sending an email, or posting a public Facebook post with content that is harmful to their reputation, when they intended this to be private.

In general, it’s worth remembering that with anything that appears on the Internet, even if it’s private, there is always a chance it will at some point become public. Therefore, you should think twice before posting anything that you definitely always want to keep private, or that could harm your reputation.

If you would like to learn more about managing your reputation, or that of your business, please contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

When should you post on Facebook?

Facebook_June25_CFacebook has become an important marketing tool for many businesses. Just having a profile isn’t the key to success though. You also need to create content and posts that your audience can interact with. One key element is that they see your post. Often people’s profiles show over 100 posts a day when they log in and if yours is one of these then they may miss this. One way around this is to post when they are actually logged-in and using Facebook.

When it comes to posts on Facebook, timing is everything. It is a good idea to post when your audience is online. With higher relevant numbers available to view your content, your brand exposure and engagement will likely be higher as well.

The tricky part comes in knowing when your audience is online. We came across an interesting infographic from LinchpinSEO, that highlights a number of popular industries and when they saw the most engagement from their Facebook posts.

What exactly is engagement?
Before we go over some of the details, we should look into what exactly experts mean when they talk about engagement on Facebook. In the most basic of terms, engagement is any interaction from your followers. This usually means them liking, sharing or commenting on a post. The idea is that if they are sharing or viewing your content, they are interested, (on some level), in your company, and your products and/or services. The chances of them then thinking of your company the next time they need what you provide will be higher. With higher engagement comes the chance of more sales, or at the very least, increased interest.

According to the results in the infographic, engagement breaks down like this:

  • Likes make up 79% of all interaction.
  • Comments equal 15% of all interaction.
  • Shares make up 6% of all interaction.

Some interesting results on when to post
Looking at the different results by industry, it appears that the best time for most industries to post is over the weekend. The reason for this is likely because fewer businesses post on the weekends, and many people are on Facebook much more during this time.

Some popular industries and days when posts saw the most engagement include:

  • Food and Beverage: The highest interaction is, not surprisingly, on weekends.
  • General Retail: The highest interaction is on Mondays, followed by Tuesdays.
  • Finance: Businesses in the finance industry see the highest interaction on Sundays, followed by Fridays.
  • Technology: The highest interaction is on Mondays.
  • Travel and Leisure: Not surprisingly, this industry saw the highest interaction on the weekend, with a peak on Sunday.

What this infographic and the study that it’s based on found is quite interesting. For most businesses, posting on the weekends is more beneficial. A potential issue you may have is that your business isn’t open on the weekends. You can get around this by scheduling content to be posted ahead of time using a tool like HootSuite. If you would like to learn more about Facebook and how it can help drive brand engagement, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Four main types of BI

Data and what businesses do with it has become a popular science. Many take some steps to track and analyze important data, and from that make decisions or changes to their current strategies. The use of data to make better decisions is commonly referred to as Business Intelligence (BI). But, did you know that there are more types of BI you could be using?

Business Intelligence is generally divided into four different categories which are comprised of different types of BI that businesses working with data should be aware of.

Reporting
Reporting focuses on developing documents with valuable information, telling the reader what happened. They usually cover a time span that is determined by the writer of the report and can provide information on the whole company’s activities, or be as simple as a weekly report which looks at your Facebook campaign.

Many BI professionals will call the reports generated from BI efforts Standard Reports – a record of past activities and data.

Analysis
Analysis looks at why something happened. This is an important part of BI, because data by itself is useless. It only become useful when it has been analyzed and turned into something that we can interpret and understand. There are three common types of analysis:

  1. Spreadsheet Analysis - Analyzing data contained in spreadsheets with the goal of evaluating or anticipating company wide, or specific unit performance. E.g., using Excel to track hours your employees work.
  2. Ad-Hoc Query - Software that allows users to develop their own specific data queries. E.g., creating a query that displays how many of one item has been sold in a specific time period.
  3. Visualization Tools - Software that takes raw data and creates a visualization that users can read and understand. E.g., a pie chart that compares the method by which customers contacted you in a one-month period.

Monitoring
One of the more useful functions of BI is that you can often monitor data and information in real-time, or close to it anyway. This can be interesting for getting snapshots between reporting periods or when making decisions. The three main types of monitoring are:

  1. Dashboard - A central location where all useful and actionable metrics and data are contained. They are usually represented graphically to make it easier for users to read. E.g., the new Google+ dashboards which can be accessed by logging into your business Google+ page and selecting Dashboard from the drop-down menu on the left.
  2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - KPIs measure the performance of a specific action or project. E.g., Return on Investment (ROI).
  3. Business Performance Management - A system that is designed to ensure that performance goals for your organization or projects are being met and results are being delivered. E.g., number of new customers acquired. Some businesses and BI providers will call this the Balanced Scorecard.

Prediction
The reason many businesses employ BI methodologies is to try and predict what will happen based on the data currently available and other trends. Prediction can be an incredibly complex form of BI, so many companies often contract this out to firms, or rely on software that automates much of the process. There are two main types of prediction:

  1. Data Mining - Is the act of finding patterns and relations in and between large sets of data. The main goal of data mining is to extract or transform data into something we can understand and further use.
  2. Predictive Modelling - Any modeling that sets out to predict the outcome of an action, or the probability of an outcome.

While Business Intelligence is important and popular among many companies, it can be complex. If you would like to learn more about BI and how we can help you get the most out of your data, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Five low cost security tips

Security_June12_CA common misconception among many business owners and managers is that managing the security of their systems and computers is a time-consuming and costly endeavor. While it certainly can be expensive, how much you spend really depends on the type of security you want and need. In fact, there are security steps you can take that won’t cost you much in the way of time or money.

Here are five low-cost things you can do to ensure that your business is secure.

1. Communication is key
Many companies take adequate steps to ensure that their systems are adequately protected. The thing is, many security breaches come from within the company. If your employees keep passwords written on pieces of paper that they leave lying around their desks, this is a security issue. It is a good idea to agree with employees where to keep important information and ensure they follow these rules.

Beyond that, if you implement security changes or new systems e.g., new virus scanning software, it is important that you talk to your staff to ensure they know how the system works and how they can use it. You would be surprised at how much effective communication can help to minimize security issues, and best of all? It’s free!

2. Educate your staff
One of the more common security issues comes from spam and malware found in emails. It is a good idea to educate your staff on how to spot these different types of emails and other malicious websites, as well as how to avoid them.

It is worthwhile ensuring that your employees know their roles when it comes to security too. If you have a secretary who you believe is responsible for ensuring the office is locked at the end of the night, take steps to ensure that this person understands their responsibilities. The same goes for computers your staff use: If they are responsible for conducting security scans let them know this. While this may take some time, the cost is low to free.

3. Keep track of your keys
To ensure the security of your IT systems and your physical office, you should keep control of your keys. That is, both the physical keys and those associated with your software (the codes you enter to verify software and unlock full versions).

Keep track of which staff members have a key to the office and if possible number them. The goal here is to know where your keys are at any given time, and if a staff member changes employers make sure you ask for them back.

Many software keys or licenses are single use only. If you invest in software and an employees steals this along with the key, you will likely have to purchase the software again. A good tip is to keep software keys secure and separate from the software itself. The best part about this step is that the cost of doing this is minimal.

4. Keep your software updated
Hackers can be a lazy bunch. They will often target those with out of date software, because it’s usually easier to hack. To reduce the chance of being hacked, you should take steps to ensure that your software is up-to-date. This includes your virus and malware scanners, as well as browsers and even software you don’t use.

Get your staff to perform a ‘software audit’ on their computers on a regular basis. This means going through their computer and properly uninstalling software that they don’t use, while also taking time to ensure their system is completely updated. This step is easy to implement and will cost you next to nothing.

5. Keep important systems off site
Many small to medium businesses keep their servers on site. While this is convenient as your systems are right there and easily accessible, this could also create a security issue. One way to minimize this is to work with an IT partner who can host your systems or servers off site or in the cloud. While this involves some cost, working with an IT partner could save you profits and productivity in the long run, as good providers will ensure that your systems are secure and working properly.

If you are looking to make your systems more secure, please contact us today. We may have a solution that will work for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Overview of Intel’s new processor

Hardware_June12_CDo you know what type of processor your computer has? Most people will answer ‘Intel’, because it’s the most popular processor maker there is. If you were to follow processor news, you would know that Intel has recently introduced a new version or ‘generation’ of their popular Core processors that could prove very useful for your business.

While the new processors are not out just yet, many business owners and managers are wondering what exactly this new version will bring and whether upgrading is worth it when it’s released?

Overview of Intel’s processors
If you have looked at buying a computer in the past three years you have likely heard or seen computers being advertised as having an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7. These processors are Intel’s current line or models, used in laptops and desktops.

  • Core i3 processors offer the lowest amount of processing power and are generally found in low-end laptops or desktops. These are best for users who only need computers to check email or browse the Internet.
  • Core i5 processors are the mid-range and can usually be found in mid-range laptops and desktops. These are best suited to most personal users and can handle most computing needs.
  • Core i7 processors are top of the line and are the most powerful processors Intel makes. These are really suited to businesses and high-end consumers who need powerful processors.

Introduced in 2010, these processors have seen updated versions released almost every year. Intel calls each update a ‘generation’ and the latest, introduced in May 2013, is the 4th generation. You can tell which generation of processor your computer has by looking at the model number e.g., Intel Core i7 3xxx is a third generation processor.

This year’s generation is called Haswell by Intel, but many computer manufacturers will not use this name when presenting technical specifications to users. They will instead use the model name e.g., Intel Core i7 4xxx.

Changes made with Haswell
There are numerous changes that Haswell processors bring and here are three that businesses will benefit from:

  • Faster performance - Because the new processor uses a slightly different layout, more processing power has been added. This means computers using this processor will be faster. This chip is also smaller than the previous versions, so you should see smaller laptops introduced with more computing power.
  • Power savings - Intel has said that when they develop new generations of chips, they aim to always reduce the power consumption. This leads to longer battery life in laptops, without having to sacrifice computing power. How much power saving this new generation of processors will bring remains to be seen, but you can be sure that newer laptops will have a longer battery life.
  • Enhanced graphics - With the introduction of the first Core i3, i5 and i7′s, Intel included an integrated video card. Graphics performance is important to a number of different types of users, including gamers, graphics designers and to some extent, businesses. If you use graphics-heavy programs, like Photoshop, on a daily basis, you need a powerful graphics processor. The new update brings an increase to the integrated card performance which should be more than powerful enough for most users’ needs.

A question being asked by many is whether the new processors will bring a price increase. At this time, prices have not been released,but there is rumor that they are going to be higher. Past releases have not generally affected the overall price of laptops and desktops though and if anything has made them less expensive.

Should I upgrade my systems?
From what we can see about Haswell it will be worth the upgrade for businesses with aging systems, or users needing a boost to the processing power of their systems. If you updated last year, or even the year before that, you will likely be better off waiting a while yet.

Another option could be to wait until computers with Haswell processors enter the market, which should be by mid summer. You will probably be able to get computers with a third generation processor for a lot less. Meanwhile, a third generation processor should be more than able to meet all of your computing needs, especially if you have or invest in a Core i7.

If you are thinking of upgrading or would like to learn more, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 benefits of offsite backups

BCP_June12_COne common threat to businesses is disaster. One can strike at any time and can vary in severity. Regardless of whether a company is facing a major catastrophe or something as simple as spilling water on a keyboard, it is a good idea to take steps to prepare for different potential disaster scenarios. A way to prepare for disaster is to back up your data using backup solution, such as one off site.

Here are five benefits and a definition of offsite backup.

Offsite backup defined
The definition of offsite backup can be a bit difficult to nail down, as when many IT providers talk about this idea they are usually referring to one of a number of different kinds of backup. The key idea revolving around offsite backup is that your company’s data and backups are sent out of your physical location(s). In other words, your backups are not stored in your office or building.

Offsite backup is usually done in one of two ways:

  1. Physical transport - This can range from something as simple as copying important files onto a removable hard drive and storing this in another location, to backing up entire systems on tape and storing them off site.
  2. Remote backup - This is a more modern approach to data backup, whereby your data and files are stored on servers located off site. This form of backup is commonly referred to as ‘cloud backup’.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on remote backup as this is the main solution companies are enquiring about.

Benefits of remote backup

1. It’s more reliable
The major benefit of remote backup is that it can be automated. Your files are updated on a daily basis, or you can set the time for the update. Because these solutions work over the Internet, you will be able to recover files quickly. Beyond that, the servers that offer this solution are often located in numerous locations, which ensures that your backups are always available, even if one server crashes.

2. It reduces workload
Traditional backup solutions require a person, whether you or an IT professional, to manually back up or copy files. This can take a long time, and will take you away from your normal job. Many remote backup solutions can be initiated at the click of a mouse after setup, or can be scheduled for when you aren’t in the office.

3. It’s easy to set up
Backup solutions are managed by an IT partner who can work with you to set up which files and data to back up. Other solutions can be set up with a few clicks and even automated, so you can rest assured that your data is backed up and up-to-date.

4. It’s secure
Most backup providers store their servers in secure locations, meaning that your data is physically secure. To ensure that backup data is transmitted securely, most solutions use advanced encryption tools to keep data secure.

5. It will save money
If you have numerous computers with large amounts of data that you back up regularly, you know that physical storage solutions can be costly. The majority of remote backup solutions are billed on a monthly-basis and support a near unlimited amount of backup space. If your company operates in an industry where backups are mandatory, or you have a large amount of files to back up, these options will save you money.

If you are interested in learning more about how offsite, remote backup can help ensure that your business is ready for disaster recovery, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Google+ gets a facelift

SocialMedia_June04_CWhen browsing the Internet, what type of site do you spend most of your time on? For most people, that would be social media. It’s hard not to find someone using social media these days. One of the less popular, yet still important, services is Google+. While the user base is considerably lower than say Facebook, it is growing. In an effort to increase numbers further, Google has recently introduced a number of interesting changes to Google+.

Here is an overview of the new Google+ features recently introduced.

A new layout
One of the first things you will notice about the updated Google+ is the layout has been drastically changed. On the main (Home) screen you will notice that posts have been changed to individual cards, similar to the Google Now cards, and are arranged in either one, two or three columns. These posts now take up more space horizontally which makes it far easier to view more content at the same time.

The menu bar that took up the left-hand side of the previous layout has been moved and is now collapsible. If you hover over Home on the upper-left of the screen the menu will pop out from the left-side. Circles and related feeds have also been added at the top of the window and clicking on a related circle name will bring up content only from your friends in that circle.

Adding new posts has also been turned into a card layout which is found at the top-left of the content stream. The different options e.g., Text, Photos, Link, Video and Hangout, are now big buttons that you can push to create a related post.

Improved Hangouts
Possibly the most intriguing new feature introduced is actually an update to the existing Hangouts. The numerous Google chat functions have been merged into a single chat and video messaging app available for Google+, iPhone, iPad, Android, Gmail and Chrome.

This means that you can host group chats for up to 10 participants which users can access through various systems. What this means for businesses is that you now have an easier way to communicate across multiple systems without having to worry about compatibility.

Better pictures and albums
A key component of any social media platform is visual content like pictures and videos. Google has introduced some interesting photo based features that could help make your content even more attractive. One feature is Auto Enhance, which will touch-up photos by looking at factors such as blur, contrast, saturation, etc. From what we have seen, the touch-ups are effective in making your pictures look better.

There is also a new feature called Auto Awesome, which looks at the types of photos you upload and can do various impressive things. For example, if you upload a series of similar pictures, say a sequence of images taken one after the other in a short amount of time, Auto Awesome will create an animated GIF which you can share on your wall. This function can also create panorama or HDR images.

Auto Highlight is another recently introduced feature which uses an algorithm to analyze pictures and skip over duplicate, blurry or underexposed pictures while uploading them, supposedly leaving you with only the best pictures.

Hashtags
The hashtag (#) has become popular on many social media platforms and is an easy way to find similar content. Google+ has improved the hashtag system and will now automatically add relevant tags to your posts. You will see these as small blue tabs on the right of the card, and hovering over these will show the relevant hashtag. If you click on it, the card will flip over and show you other posts that have the same tag. This could be a great way to find similar content and could help bring more exposure to your profile.

The new Google+ layout is definitely a big change compared to previous versions and could prove to be useful for your company’s profile and online presence. If you would like to learn more about using Google+ please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Four password management systems

Security_May29_CThe password is the main way we identify ourselves online. We need these to access nearly every account and service we use. Hackers know this and often target this area. One way to minimize the chance of your accounts being hacked is by using different passwords for every account. However, the issue is that remembering them all isn’t always easy. A password management system can help, but what type of system is the best?

Below is a brief overview of the four types of password management system you can use.

1. Cloud or Internet-based
These systems are usually cloud based and accessed through an app or browser plugin. Apps ordinarily store your passwords, or generate one to use, and will automatically apply this when you visit a site that requires a password. These systems are great for breaking the one password habit, However, because they store all of your passwords in one place, they could become a target for hackers.

2. Cloud or Internet-based with two-factor authentication
The next step up from the cloud-based password management system is one that supports two-factor authentication. Your passwords are still stored in the cloud, but you will need to provide another piece of information before you can access sites.

The interesting thing is that many of the cloud based password systems actually offer this in their premium offerings. So, not only do you get better password protection, but it’s with the same system meaning you likely won’t have to switch.

The cloud based systems are a good idea if you use more than one system on a regular basis and if you work from outside of the office.

3. Computer-based
Computer-based password management systems are similar to the cloud versions, only the passwords are stored on your computer, and accessed using a master password. Because many hackers usually don’t go after individual hard drives – they have to get through your network and then find the program and try to break the password – the chances of your passwords being exposed are minimized.

The only problem with systems like these is that you normally have to log in for the service to work. If you forget to log out and someone walks by, they will be able to access everything. However, for the manager who wants a secure system, this is a better option than the cloud based versions.

4. USB-based
There are a number of USB devices that have a smart card in them that can store passwords. When you plug in the USB to your computer, the software on the USB can input the stored passwords when needed. These devices are typically more expensive, with some costing as much as USD$100, but they offer the highest amount of security as your passwords are kept with you.

The main downside to these devices is that they aren’t the biggest and are usually about the size of a standard USB stick. This means that they are easier to lose, making getting your passwords back even tougher.

If you are looking for a better way to keep track of your passwords, please contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.