You might consider yourself a tech-savvy type, one that would not fall victim to some of the bad tech habits that increase your odds of being hacked or getting your smart phone stolen. But you may just be surprised at how many of the worst tech habits you practice. Fortunately, PCWorld recently ran a list of many of the most dangerous tech habits. Study this list, make needed adjustments and guard yourself from hackers and computer failures.
Don’t Make Yourself a Target
Your tablets and smartphones are valuable. So don’t make it so easy for thieves to take them. A lot of people practice the bad tech habit of leaving their devices un monitored at a coffee shop or restaurant booth when they take off to get refills or another cookie. While they’re gone, thieves could easily snatch their devices off the table and easily head out of the restaurant. There are also those folks who perform the bad habit of staring so intently into their smart phone screens that they don’t spare any attention for their surroundings. It’s easier for crooks to sneak up close to these preoccupied folks, sock them and then escape with their smart phones or tablets.
Hurting Your Health
PCWorld also listed several bad tech habits that could hurt your health. For example, if you sit hunched before your computer screen all day, you may create a serious case of carpal tunnel syndrome. And when you stare at your computer screen for far too long, you can develop headaches or damage your eyes. Lastly, if you never leave your desk during the workday, you can develop anything from back pain to eye strain to headaches to fuzzy thinking. Destroy these three bad habits and take short breaks from your computer screen throughout the workday. Your body will appreciate it.
Lost Data, Personal Information
Some of PCWorld’s bad tech habits can leave you lacking your most crucial files or reveal your personal data to hackers. Do you use the same password for multiple Web sites? You could be in deep trouble, then, if a hacker cracks that password and gains access to the personal information you have stored at these sites. Are you guilty of the serious mistake of not backing up your critical files? If your computer’s hard drive should crash, you could possibly lose every one of them.
Are you guilty of one of the worst bad technology habits possible? Do you ever use the exact same password and login name for a large number of online sites? If so, you might be putting yourself at severe risk. Clever hackers just might crack your password. And when they do, what’s to stop them from using that password to access all of your favorite online sites – including, potentially, your online bank – while pretending to be you?
According to the story, LivingSocial.com — which offers users daily bargains on everything from restaurants and spas to amusement parks and museums — recently suffered a massive security breach. The breach exposed the names, e-mail addresses and password information for up to 50 million LivingSocial users, according to ars technica.
Too Little, Too Late?
After the breach, Tim O’Shaughnessy, chief executive officer of LivingSocial.com, advised the site’s users change the passwords they utilize to access the deals site. He also advised that users change any passwords that they use to access other sites that are the same or similar to what they use to log into LivingSocial. This, as ars technica reports, is a bit of an understatement. If you use the same password to log onto Netflix, LivingSocial.com and your online bank, stop reading this account and immediately go and change these passwords. And do yourself a favor — do not ever reuse a password from one site at another.
Change it Up
It can be difficult to recall dozens of passwords. And there are occasions when you simply want to log onto a site with a password that you’ve used lots of times before as it’s easier than creating, and writing down, a brand-new access code. Don’t fall victim to this urge. If a hacker cracks your password at one site, it’s not overly hard for this cyber criminal to use the same one to gain access to your other Web sites, too, if you’re too lazy to create unique passwords at different sites. Yes, passwords are imperfect. Even so the more creative you are with them — including creating separate passwords for each and every site you visit — the better off you’ll be.
Apple’s iPhone collection of smartphones remains loved by consumers. Unfortunately, they’re also well-liked by a less savory group, hackers. Business Insider recently documented on a new study that found that the iPhone stands as the most hacked mobile device. And most stunning? It’s not even close – the iPhone is the most hacked by a lot.
The most hacked
Business Insider reported on the latest figures from Web security company SourceFire, which released the report “25 Years of Vulnerabilities.” This report charted the Critical Vulnerabilities and Exposures — better known as CVE — of a host of software and mobile devices. The CVE is the standard that security companies use when charting cyber-exploits. SourceFire found that 210 CVE reports had been filed on the iPhone. For comparison’s sake, Android only had 24 CVE reports.
What’s behind it?
This begs the question: Why have iPhones been hacked so many more times than have Android mobile devices? Just as with so many other big questions, there aren’t any easy answers. Business Insider ponders whether part of the reason could be the iPhone’s popularity. The devices, after all, remain a top seller. But the SourceFire report states that Android has received fewer CVEs in 2012 than it did in 2011. This drop happened even though Android enjoyed a big rise in market share last year.
Going after the king
A recent interview with the SourceFire report author on the ZDNet Web site proposes another excuse for the high number of iPhone hacks: Hacking the iPhone might present a challenge worthy of the most talented hackers. Consider how Android devices work. They make use of an open platform. Consequently developers could create malicious third-party apps that users can download onto their phones. That’s not very much of a challenge for hackers. But hacking the iPhone, which does not boast an open platform? That’s a true test of a hacker’s skill.
Is it time for it to upgrade your LCD computer monitor? Guess what? It’s not as simple a task as you might think. This is because not all LCD monitors are the same. Some respond quicker. Others do a better job reproducing colors. And, of course, some are just pricier than are others. For anyone who is considering a new LCD monitor, you’ll need to take a look at your computing habits. Do you mostly use your computer for creating reports, searching the Web and sending e-mail messages? Or do you use it watch movies and TV shows? Maybe you use it for making art. This all matters if you are in search of the right LCD monitor for you.
The Lifehacker Web site recently took a closer look at LCD computer monitors. And, as writer Whitson Gordon says, size isn’t the only thing that matters. Believe it or not, it may be one of the least important factors. According to Lifehacker, fans of video games will probably prefer what is known as a “TN” monitor because their screens refresh at a quicker rate. Graphic designers, however, would likely prefer an “IPS” monitor that features sharper colors and better viewing angles. The message of the Lifehacker story? You ought to do your research before buying your next monitor.
The Coding Horror blog, by writer Jeff Atwood, says that most monitors sold these days are TN models. This is because these monitors are less expensive. They also have screens that respond swiftly. But TN monitors aren’t perfect. Coding Horror ranks their viewing angles and color reproduction abilities as only average. Computer users can also choose from IPS monitors, which boast excellent color reproduction and excellent viewing angles. Their response times are solid, though not as quick as those of TN monitors. The downside? These are the most expensive monitors out there.
The middle choice?
Consider the VA monitor as the sound middle choice. Coding Horror says that these monitors boast good color reproduction capabilities and good viewing angles. The response time, though, for these monitors is only average. Also, the monitors’ colors tend to shift when uses view them from the wrong angle. These monitors are more expensive than TN monitors but less expensive than their IPS cousins.
Hackers have gotten ever more clever in regards to accessing the data stored on smart phones. And hackers are doing this regardless of whether consumers protect their phones with lock-screen passcodes. As a recent story on the Lifehacker technology Web site says, passcodes have never been a completely foolproof way to secure your smart phone. Thankfully, there are actions you can take to better defend your phone. And there are services you can enlist to protect yourself if you’ve lost your smart phone or someone has swiped it.
According to the Lifehacker story, recent passcode exploits work differently based on if hackers were targeting the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones. For the iPhone, the exploits allowed hackers to gain access to the Phone app, not the iPhone’s home screen. This meant that hackers can use other’s phones to make calls, see users’ contacts and access users’ photos, even though they didn’t gain total access to the phone. For the Galaxy, hackers managed merely to flash phones’ home screens for about a second. That’s a small amount of time, but adequate to allow hackers to launch an app or start downloading one that can unlock your phone entirely.
No magic bullet
As these attacks show, using a lock-screen passcode is no guarantee that hackers won’t have the ability break into your phone. As the Lifehacker story says, passcodes today are no more effective at keeping out hackers than are standard passwords. This means you have to take the extra steps if you want to protect your phone from cyber criminals.
To protect yourself, first be sure that your lock-screen passcode is at least complicated to guess. Lifehacker recommends a passcode consisting of letters, symbols and numbers. Next, make sure you encrypt the data that you store on your smart phone. Lastly, consider paying for services such as Prey or Apple’s Find my iPhone. These services offer the ability to track your phone after it’s stolen or you lose it. Even better, it allows you to erase the data stored on it, so that hackers can’t reach it.
Does your job require that you stare at a computer screen for hours at a time? If so, eyestrain may become a serious problem. A current story by the everon small-business blog says that workers plugged into their computers can face a host of problems, everything from watery eyes to headaches, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing. The good news? Avoiding eyestrain is really quite easy, even if you have to stare at the monitor for eight hours. The everon blog provided some simple techniques for reducing the unwanted effects of eyestrain.
What’s the key to avoiding eyestrain? Employees merely have to follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, employees need to turn away from their computer screens for 20 seconds. They should then look at an object or image that stands at least 20 feet away. This remarkably simple exercise will help keep eyestrain at bay. And it could make employees more efficient. And, furthermore, everon found several worthy apps which can remind employees of when it’s time to take an eye break.
Workrave received high marks from everon. This app will send a message onto employees’ computer screens letting them know when it’s time to take a short eye break. The program will also suggest specific exercises for employees. A more advanced app is EyeLeo. This app will blank employee computer screens when it’s time for their short breaks. Then an animated leopard will guide employees through short eye exercises.
The Coffee Break App
Finally, there’s Coffee Break. This app, available only for Apple products, slowly darkens computer screens. When an employee’s break arrives, the screen will be completely dark. It’s an effective reminder that it’s time for a short eye break. Of course, even the niftiest reminder apps can’t force workers to escape their chairs and turn from their computer screens. It’s up to employees to take care of their eyes.
This has become a tablet world. And why not? Consumers are able to use these nifty and highly portable devices to watch movies, surf the Web, listen to online radio and send and receive e-mail messages while on the go. It’s no wonder that tablet sales have eclipsed the sales numbers of traditional laptop computers. But that doesn’t mean that tablets are perfect. Many users have complained that these particular devices falter when it comes to sharing screens with other people. However this, too, is changing, thanks to several high-end screen-sharing apps for iOS now on the market. Miguel Leiva-Gomez, a writer with the smallbiz technology Website, took a look at three of the best. Start using these apps and you’ll soon be sharing screens easily, even on a tablet.
Leiva-Gomez starts his review with join.me for a good reason. To put it simply, it’s one of the better screen-sharing apps for iOS currently out there. You will, though, need to pay for the program’s “pro” version to use it. After you pay out the monthly fee of just under $20, though, you’ll be able to share your screen with co-workers and friends with ease. The program also comes with such goodies as Internet calling, instant chat and file sharing.
Leiva-Gomez says that this app will turn your tablet into a whiteboard with such features as multiple pages. End users are able to use images from their own libraries as the background of their whiteboard and they can rely on one of five different drawing tools. Users can also use Air Sketch to open PDFs. The application displays everything in real time, creating an environment well suited to collaboration.
Conference Pad is a simple but effective screen-sharing program, one that Leiva-Gomez gives high marks. Users can open and present PDFs and documents with simply a few taps. The application also provides some impressive zooming features, allowing users to zoom without having to sacrifice any image quality.
Google Reader, the widely used RSS reader, is all but dead. Google revealed that it would eliminate the service once July 1 rolls around. This has hit several of the service’s biggest fans hard. The truth, though, is that there are other choices. Google made a decision to close the service because its user base was steadily decreasing. Nonetheless the closure of Google Reader provides an important lesson to consumers: There’s no guarantee that your chosen, free cloud service won’t vanish, as well.
An ever-changing cloud
In an interesting story on Slate, writer Farhad Manjoo wrote about Google’s promotion of Reader when the company first launched it in 2005. In those days, Google talked about the RSS service as if it would be part of the Google universe forever. Consumers believed them, and quite a few embraced the service. Now, obviously, it is disappearing. And the takeaway? Consumers should never be shocked when one of their preferred free Web-based services does the same.
This can be considered a downside to the cloud. In the days when software came on discs and we downloaded it to our computers, there was more permanence. Sure, companies would close shop and manufacturers would discontinue software. Nevertheless, you still had access to software, even when the companies behind it terminated it. After all, it was saved on your computer and you still had the discs. This isn’t the situation with the cloud. When something is yanked from the cloud, it’s gone.
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 consumers to flock to it. But why should consumers do that if there’s the possibility that Google will just get rid of the programs? Eliminating Reader may have made financial sense for Google. However, it may cause consumers to hesitate before embracing the company’s next cloud-based service.
Smartphones, tablets and laptops are wonderful tools: They allow us to search the Internet, answer e-mail messages and watch video whether we’re on the train or waiting for our flight at the airport. But these devices can be dangerous, too. If they fall into the wrong hands, your private information, from your online banks accounts to your e-mail messages to your Facebook pages, can fall prey to cyber thieves. And there’s little limit to the problems they can create. Luckily for us, there are steps that you can use to protect your privacy even in today’s age of mobile computing, and as Forbes says, these steps are very easy.
Forbes recommends you always password-protect your mobile devices. This way, if you lose your tablet or someone steals your smartphone, the thief won’t be able to effortlessly 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.
Online Google Alerts
Do you know what people are saying about you online? You might like to. You don’t want any of your secrets sailing around the Internet. Forbes recommends that you create a Google Alert on your name. That way, each time anyone types it online, you’ll receive a message alerting you. Then you’re able to take a look at what’s being said about you. Consider this to be a very easy way to track your online presence.
You just completed changing your Facebook page. You’ve just transferred money electronically to your PayPal account. What do you do now? Make sure, before leaving the site, that you simply sign out. This is especially important if you’re using a computer at a library or any other public space. You don’t want the next user to see your accounts and gain instant access because you’re still signed in. We’re all busy. However you are not too busy to remember to sign out.
How much protection do you think passwords provide today to your company’s Web sites, mobile devices and desktop computers? The right answer? Probably not much. Cyber criminals have perfected the art of cracking passwords. And all too often, employees make use of passwords that are easy to guess. This leaves your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. Fortunately, there is a solution: two-factor authentication. And, based on a recent story by Biztech Magazine, it’s the simplest way to immediately boost your company’s ability to protect itself from cyber crimes.
How it works
As the name suggests, two-factor authentication requires users to take two different steps to log onto a Web site or device. Usually, people will need to still use a password but will also have to rely on a second device to gain access to their computers or important Web sites. As an example, after entering a password, an employee may need to swipe a smart card, insert a token or use a biometric identifier in order to continue. This two-step process instantly upgrades a company’s online security, according to the Biztech story.
The starting point
To be sure that your company’s move to two-factor authentication goes well, you’ll need to do some research. Biztech Magazine suggests studying the choices for your second factor so you choose one that fits best with how your staff members work. For example, if a lot of your staff rely on smartphones while on the job, a smart card is probably not the best choice. That’s because most smart cards do not work with smartphones. Deciding on the best factor can make a huge difference in selling two-factor authentication to your workforce.
Take it slowly
Give your staff time to get accustomed to the concept of two-factor authentication before you officially launch it. You need to give your workers the chance to ask questions about how the procedure works. This also provides you with time to explain just why two-step authentication is necessary and how it can provide better security to the company.