You hear about it on the evening news; you see it the headlines on various news sites; you may have even had the misfortune to receive a personal notice via e-mail: “Hundreds or thousands of persons affected by loss of customer/personal data!”
Your business has many customers and their critical information is in your hands where it is stored in the form of pulsing, electronic data that flows back and forth from your server to company desktops, e-mail systems, laptops and mobile devices. It’s likely that you have spent time and money to make sure the information is secure. However, what if the unthinkable happens and, due to a glitch or, worse, hacking, your client information is breached and becomes accessible to unintended parties?
Despite the best security measures and procedures, which you likely have installed and followed, protection in the form of cyber liability and data breach coverage with sufficient limits is an absolute necessity! If you do not already own this valuable protection, it merits your immediate consideration. Contact me!
Technology is an integral part of our goal to make the Earth a greener place. We are now able to work from home by teleconferencing thereby using less fuel in our cars and airplanes. We are able to save trees by opting to receive our bills electronically. Using these examples, on the surface it looks as if we are making a choice to live in less energy intensive ways.
As data centers house more and more data in the ‘cloud’, more and more electricity is required and consumed. 3% of the electricity produced in the U.S. is giving power to data centers. Apple’s new iData Center in North Carolina is going to require enough electricity to power 80,000 U.S. homes. The appeal North Carolina has to Google, Apple and Facebook comes from local utilities companies offering attractive electricity prices for coal and nuclear power after the loss of textile and furniture manufacturing companies.
With the rising need for more and more data centers, therefore more power, principals in the IT sector are working to use less ‘dirty’ energy and develop greener forms of energy. Data centers are being designed now to use ‘free cooling’, the use of outside air instead of high energy consumers, chillers to keep servers from overheating. i/o Data Centers is putting in 5000 solar panels on it facility in Phoenix. i/o will also have thermal storage technology that will reduce the energy drain of cooling during the heat of the day. Google has signed a 20 year agreement with a wind energy company in Iowa. In Iceland, GreenQloud, a hosting and storage company, is powered by geothermal and hydropower energy.
In 2010 Greenpeace published “Energy [R]evolution 27, a practical blueprint for the worldʼs renewable energy future“. “Energy [R]evolution” demonstrates a pathway for the world to phase out fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions, while ensuring energy security. In order for IT to truly be green, renewable energy sources such as wind power, solar power, hydro-power, bio-energy, geothermal power and marine/oceans power have to be deployed to replace dirty fuel.
Since I have a Mac, I wanted to do some “Myth Busting” on the notion that Mac’s don’t need antivirus software.
According to the Apple website, Mac OS X has me covered. Mac OS X has a multi-layered system of defenses against viruses and other malicious applications. Apple responds to potential security threats with software updates. Files downloaded in Safari, Mail and iChat are screened. There is a preconfigured firewall and FileVault that lets me encrypt all the files in my home folder. Safari contains anti phishing technology that protects me from fraud such as password theft. Apple does advise that since no system can be 100% immune from every threat, antivirus software may offer additional protection.
Antivirusmac.com supports Apple’s advise to be safe rather than sorry. Popularity has given hackers reason to write malicious code in the form of Mac related spyware and viruses. According to Antivirusmac.com, there are 5000 confirmed strains of malware that target Mac and that number increases by 500 a month.
The editor’s at CNET Download.com, don’t really think antivirus software on a Mac is necessary. “Arguably, the best anti-virus software for the Mac is already on your machine: the Mac OS itself, with its secure, Unix-based architecture and relative obscurity compared to Windows. There has never been a major virus or malicious software outbreak for OS X, so any antivirus app is of questionable usefulness–but iAntiVirus can provide some free peace of mind for anyone worried about future threats.”
I guess the conclusion is, it’s really up to me. Do I want to take the chance that my Mac’s security features will keep me safe or do I want that extra peace of mind? I will have to think about it as should any Mac owner. If extra peace of mind is what you prefer, Antivirusmac.com gives the highest rating, 5 out of 5 stars, to Norton Antivirus 11 for Mac that runs $49.95 for one year. CNET Download.com gives 4 out of 5 stars to iAntiVirus that’s free. Since it seems the threat is minimal and economic times are hard for us all, I think I may opt for the free software.
Sometimes business owners take what they think is the easy way out and just assign all employees network administrator rights. This way they won’t be called away from what they are doing to enter in a password when a computer’s software has to be updated, for example. Mr. CEO might also think, “I hired Joe and I trust him. He wouldn’t do anything malicious”. This way of thinking is naive and asking for trouble on your business’ computer network.
When all employees are administrators, each can do anything he/she wants with the configuration of your network’s environment, possibly by mistake. A window appears asking the administrator to answer yes or no to a question he doesn’t have the faintest clue of how to answer. He guesses the answer is yes and clicks. The entire system shuts down and won’t boot up to the desktop. Now there’s a black screen with white letters and a colon blinking. Oh no! Great! There’s half a day wasted to calling the technical help desk to explain what happened.
Two of your employees were dating (against company policy) but last night they broke up. Julie is so mad at Sam, she doesn’t care if she loses her job for looking into his employee file. After all, you gave her access so why not go in and take a look? Wow! Look at that! Sam was written up last month! Julie decides she is going to post that write up to Sam’s Facebook page. Without administrative rights, Julie would not have been able to act on her impulse to ruin Sam’s name and might have been able to keep her job.
A company full of administrators is a Hacker’s dream. A Hacker only has to get one password to install a virus that causes your computer network severe damage. It’s an adrenaline rush for him but a nightmare for you. You may not be able to recover your business from such a disaster.
Running a business is hard work. You may not have the time to give the attention necessary to your business’ technology needs. Do you know who has administrative rights? Do you know if the passwords are strong enough to detour a hacker? Is your anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date and protecting you from outsiders? Are all your files backed up securely? If you aren’t sure of the answer to these questions, Verus Technologies can do a free network assessment and let you know any areas of concern. Our Managed Services Plan will maintain your network’s software updates, back-ups, equipment warranties and more, usually remotely so you don’t ever have to be bothered by computer headaches and downtime again.
If you are interested in the Verus Technologies Managed IT Services Plan or know of a business colleague that could benefit from this service, contact us at email@example.com or 214-432-5400 x100.
Too Young for Facebook?
What age is too young for a Facebook profile? Facebook’s age limit is 13 so if your child is under 13, they are legally too young. There are people that lie when creating a FB profile and Facebook has mechanisms in place to detect liars. There are 20,000 children’s accounts deleted daily. A suggestion might be to have a family FB profile that all in the family can access. If your child already has a FB profile and is under 13, take steps to insure their safety online. Chair of the cyber-safety committee Dana Wortley said, “We know there are potential risks that young people face including cyber-bullying, identity theft and privacy issues, illegal content and contact from online predators.”
1. Get your child’s user name and password & check on them often. If they are not happy about this, don’t let them have an account.
2. Don’t let your child be friends with anyone outside of their age range. Older people may post things a child should not see.
3. Limit the number of friends they can have. For example, my 12 year old niece is only allowed 20 friends and all friends must be approved by Mom and Dad.
4. If you’ve decided your child is too young, you can block the site on your computer with an administrative password. Here’s how to set the parental controls on a Mac and on Windows 7.
I had a conversation with a client last week regarding a new laptop. She asked me my opinion about replacing a laptop that had been stolen. This was to be her personal laptop, and corporate standards didn’t really come into play. She could get anything she wanted. When digging further, it seems she is still scarred from a virus incident she experienced last year which rendered her computer completely unusable for a week and was extremely difficult to remove. “Get a mac” I told her. “But I don’t know anything about macs” was her immediate response. In truth, it’s much easier said than done. Take everything you’ve known for possibly your entire computing life, and just jump in to something new. There are programs that don’t necessarily translate directly to a Mac equivalent. Quicken users have long bemoaned that the Mac version gets short shrift when compared to the Windows version. So, what to do when you’re knowledgeable and comfortable with your Windows based PC, but scared to death of getting a virus?
There are 2 main ways a virus can make its way onto your PC. Via email, and via browsing the web. Hopefully, you’ve got an email solution that includes some amount of spam and virus filtering. To tackle the second problem, I recommend you pick a different program to do your web browsing. What it will do is decrease the ability for virus to get on your computer. Many of the Windows and IE specific exploits are used and unknowingly bring down yuckiness onto your computer. You’ll still need antivirus software, but it won’t have to work as hard. Instead of clicking instinctively on the blue E, learn to use a different program. I’ve been using 2 non Internet Explorer browsers almost exclusively for nearly a year and have not run into any problems. I continue to purchase online the way I always have, and all banking institutions I use have operated without a problem. Nearly all websites look and load without any problems, and if you run into a site that just won’t work right, you can always switch over to IE just for that site.
I recommend using either Firefox or Google’s Chrome . Both of these browsers offer common features such as bookmarks/favorites and tabbed browsing. Both support flash and shockwave based sites and browsing the web just isn’t all that different in these browsers. It’s important to actually make one of these alternate browsers the default browser for your machine. Another plus is if you DO get a mac, there are versions of Firefox and Chrome for the Mac platform so you won’t have to learn yet another interface. Some might advocate for Safari, the default and included browser for the Mac. Yes, there is a Windows version, and it runs well enough on a Mac, but in my experience it doesn’t run all that well on Windows.
Some last tips on keeping your computers virus free.
- Everytime Adobe tells you there’s an update. Do it. Period.
- If you get a window on the screen that you don’t recognize and it says you’ve got 150 viruses and you better click here now to get rid of them, DON’T CLICK. It’s a very, very, VERY good fake. Look very carefully for the X in the top right corner and click to close. If you’re not sure, just shutdown your PC w/o clicking anything. Then when your PC comes back up, don’t go back to whatever website you were on when that popped up.
If you’d like to read more about it, search on alternative browsers and/or check out this site. http://alternativebrowseralliance.com
Until next time.
We’ve all come to love our smartphones and the things they can do for us. There pretty much isn’t anything a smartphone can’t do these days. The new phrase “There’s an app for that”, is pretty much right on. But with the jump in popularity of online social networking sites, coupled with geotagging, you may not realize the information you’re putting out there, and how it could be used against you.
This article from August (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/12/technology/personaltech/12basics.html?_r=1) gets into details about geotagging and how this information can be used. Geotagging is basically the embedding of your GPS coordinates into the picture you just took. As stated in the article, some sites (most notably Facebook) are taking measures to strip this data from posted images. But this is far from the norm in my opinion, and still doesn’t absolve us from being aware of what is going on.
Mark Mason, CEO of Mubaloo – the largest mobile application developer in the UK, said, “2011 is already proving to be the year of the tablet computer. The influence of tablets on our lives and businesses is only going to grow. Have no doubt; the tablet market is going to be huge.” According to IDC research, we can expect to see 42 million tablet sales in 2011. All Things Digital is saying tablet sales will more than triple this year compared to 2010.
The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off this week in Las Vegas. Most predict there will be 80 tablets from HP, ASUS, RIM, Toshiba, Dell, Blackberry and more. Apple’s iPad is about to be 1 year old so we may see a second generation iPad out soon but we won’t see it at the CES. Apple likes to keep new releases a surprise.
Google’s been adding services to their list of products at a very quick rate. One of their services that has recently started gaining more momentum is their Google Voice service. With other services out there like Skype, Yahoo Instant Messenger with Voice and others, Google knows it’s a good time to build this up. How did they do it? Like they normally do. They found GrandCentral, and integrated it with their Gmail service. Here are some of the published features you get with the free service:
- A single Google forwarding number to all of the user’s phones
- Unlimited free calls and SMS (text messages) within the US and Canada, up to three hours in individual length.
- Calling international phone numbers with rates starting at US$0.02 per minute
- Call screening. Announcement of callers based on their number or by an automated identification request for blocked numbers
- Listening in on someone’s recording of a voice message before taking a call (press 2 while answering, * to “pick up”)
- Blocking calls from specified numbers
- Send, receive, and store SMS online
- Answering incoming calls on any configured phone
- Call routing. Selection of phones that should ring based on calling number
- Voicemail transcripts. Reading of voicemail messages online
- Listening to voicemail online or from a phone
- Notification of voicemail messages via email or SMS
- Personalized greetings based on calling number
- Forward or downloading of voicemails
- Conference calling (press 5 when answering call)
- Call recording and online archiving (press 4 while on a call)
- Switching of phones during a call
- Viewing the web inbox from a mobile device/phone
- Customize preferences for contacts by group
- Ability to change your number for a fee
- Specifying an existing phone number instead of the Google Voice number on initial setup for use with limited functionality, such as some voicemail functions and using the voice mail system for the user’s phone number (mobile devices only).
I think it’s a great way to give out a number that you’d like to use as a boundary between you and the outside world. For example I just used it in an online classified ad to sell a car.
Go ahead and sign up and get your free number. Play with it, and use it if you think it’s a good fit for you. After all, it’s Google, so it can only get better with time, right? :)
Finally, the wait is over. Video calling with any Skype user from your iPhone, no matter where you are! I’ve tested on both WiFi and on 3G, both were great quality, and audio was better than a cell phone call!