May 14th, 2013
Apple’s iPhone line of smartphones continues to be popular among consumers. Unfortunately, they’re also well-liked by a less savory group, hackers. Business Insider recently documented on a new study that discovered that the iPhone ranks 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 cites research conducted recently by Web security firm SourceFire – “25 Years of Vulnerabilities” – in its story. As outlined by Source Fire, iPhones have registered 210 CVE – Critical Vulnerabilities – reports. In comparison, mobile devices powered by the Android operating system have just received 24 CVE reports. That’s a major difference.
This begs the obvious question: Why have iPhones been hacked so many more times than have Android mobile devices? As with so many other big questions, there are no easy answers. Business Insider ponders whether part of the reason might be the iPhone’s popularity. The devices, in spite of everything, 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.
In an interview with the ZDNet Web site, the author of the SourceFire report marvels if hackers don’t target the iPhone more often because it’s more of a challenge. Since of course, Android relies on an open platform. Consequently it’s relatively easy for criminals and scammers to create malicious apps for this platform. Users can then download them to their phones themselves. Hacking the iPhone, which does not use an open platform, might be more challenging. And that may inspire the nation’s best hackers.
May 10th, 2013
Is it time for it to upgrade your LCD computer monitor? Guess what? It’s not as simple a process as you may think. That’s because not all LCD monitors are the same. Some respond quicker. Others do a better job reproducing colors. And, of course, some are simply pricier than are others. For anyone who is considering a new LCD monitor, you’ll want to take a look at your computing habits. Do you generally use your computer for creating reports, searching the Web and sending e-mail messages? Or do you use it watch movies and TV shows? Perhaps you use it for making art. All of this matters when you’re in search of the best LCD monitor to suit your needs.
The Lifehacker Web site recently took a close look at the various monitors currently available. The lesson from this site? Monitors are definately not created equal. Some, for instance, feature lightning-fast screen response times. These monitors are favored by hardcore gamers who want their video screens to move as fast as their thumbs. Others do a incredible job of reproducing colors and boast clear viewing angles. These monitors might work better for graphic designers and other visual artists, according to Lifehacker.
You’ll find three main varieties of LCD monitors today: TN, IPS and VA. The Coding Horror blog recently sorted out these three types. According to the blog, written by Jeff Atwood, TN monitors are usually the most inexpensive. Additionally they boast the most responsive screen times, making them favorites among gamers. However these models also provide weaker color reproduction and less impressive viewing angles. The IPS monitor doesn’t have as responsive of a screen. But it does easily top TN monitors in color reproduction and viewing angle, making it great for graphic designers and other visual artists. These monitors, though, are usually the most costly available.
A solid middle-ground choice for many might be VA or vertical-alignment monitors. As Coding Horror says, these monitors feature good color reproduction and viewing angle capabilities. Also they are more affordable than are IPS monitors. The downside? Colors shift when you look into these monitors at an angle. And the response time for these monitors is only average.
May 8th, 2013
You protect your smart phone with a passcode that you must enter before it comes to life. But just how much protection does this passcode actually offer? The disturbing answer? Not quite enough, according to a recently available story by the tech Web site Lifehacker. The report details several passcode exploits that hackers have used recently to compromise smart phones. Fortunately, the story does something a lot more comforting, too. It tells users how to best protect the data on their smartphones.
The Lifehacker story details the newest passcode exploits that have made it possible for hackers to compromise Apple’s iPhone and the Galaxy Samsung smart phones. The Apple exploit, enabled criminals to gain access to the iPhone phone app. Hackers didn’t gain total access to phones. But they made it possible to use the app to make phone calls, view pictures and look at or edit users’ contact lists. The exploit focusing on Galaxy smart phones operated in a different way. Hackers were able to flash the phone’s home screen for merely a second. This presented them enough time to launch apps or start downloading an app that awarded them full control over the phone.
As these exploits show, using a lock-screen passcode is no guarantee that hackers won’t be able to break into your phone. As the Lifehacker story says, passcodes today are little more effective at keeping out hackers than are standard passwords. Which means that you need to take the extra steps if you wish to secure your phone from cyber criminals.
As with all things tech, it is possible to do something so it will be more challenging for a hacker to break into your smart phone. First, use a strong password, one containing letters, numbers and symbols, for your lock-screen passcode. Next, make sure you encrypt your phone’s data. Finally, Lifehacker recommends utilizing services such as Apple’s Find My iPhone or the independent app Prey. These apps help you track your smart phone and erase its data if you lose it or somebody takes it.
May 2nd, 2013
Does your work require you to stare at a computer screen for hours at a stretch? If so, eyestrain may become a serious problem. A current story by the everon small-business blog says that workers connected to their computers can face a host of problems, from watery eyes to headaches, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty focusing. The good news? Avoiding eyestrain is actually quite easy, even if you have to stare at the monitor for eight hours. The everon blog offered some simple techniques for reducing the negative effects of eyestrain.
What’s the key to avoiding eyestrain? Employees merely need to follow the 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, employees need to turn away from their computer screens for 20 seconds. They should take a look at an object or image that stands at least 20 feet away. This surprisingly simple exercise will help keep eyestrain at bay. And it can make employees more efficient. And, best of all, 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 telling them when it’s time to take a short eye break. The program will also suggest specific exercises for workers. 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 quick eye exercises.
The Coffee Break App
There’s also the Coffee Break app, though it’s limited to Apple. This app will steadily darken your screen as a reminder your break is coming up. When the break arrives, your screen will be totally dark, and it’s time for you to step away from the computer. Of course, not even Coffee Break can make you give your eyes a rest. That’s up to you. Here’s hoping you don’t skip those important eye breaks.
May 1st, 2013
This has turned into a tablet world. And why not? Consumers can 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 little 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 lamented that these devices falter when it comes to sharing screens with other people. But this, too, is beginning to change, thanks to several high-end screen-sharing apps for iOS now available. Miguel Leiva-Gomez, a writer with the smallbiz technology Web site, took a look at three of the best. Start using these apps and you’ll soon be sharing screens with ease, even on a tablet.
The join.me app comes in free and “pro” versions. To use this app on the iOS operating system, you’ll need to spend about $20 a month for the “pro” version. But as Leiva-Gomez writes, the investment is worth it. The software allows users to share all their screens with co-workers, and it does it without a steep learning curve. It’s exceedingly simple to use. The program also comes with other bonus features, including instant chat capabilities, Internet calling and file sharing.
Leiva-Gomez says that this app will turn your tablet into a whiteboard with such features as multiple pages. Users can use images from their own libraries as the background of their whiteboard and they can make use of 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.
Though it’s a relatively simple app, that doesn’t suggest that Conference Pad isn’t also a strong one. Leiva-Gomez writes that that this app is especially promising in the case of zooming in on documents and PDFs. As he writes, users can perform this without giving up any image quality. The application also is an intuitive one, made to be easy for new users to master.
April 26th, 2013
Smartphones, tablets and laptops are fantastic tools: They enable us to search the Internet, answer e-mail messages and watch video whether we’re sitting on the train or waiting for our flight at the airport. Yet these devices can be harmful, too. Should they fall into the wrong hands, your private information, everything from your online banks accounts to your e-mail messages to your Facebook pages, can fall prey to cyber thieves. And there’s little restriction to the problems they can cause. Luckily for us, there are steps that you can take to safeguard your privacy even in today’s age of mobile computing, and as Forbes says, these steps are really easy.
Password-protecting your mobile devices – your tablets, laptops and smartphones – is your first line of defense. If thieves must first guess your password before they can turn on your iPad or Amazon Fire, the chances are lower that they’ll actually gain access to your private information. As Forbes says, password-protecting your mobile devices is no different than locking your car doors when you park at the grocery store.
To protect your privacy, you might want to find out what people are writing about you online. To make this happen, 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 isn’t any easier way to track what’s being said about you.
You just completed changing your Facebook page. You’ve just transferred money electronically to your PayPal account. What do you do now? Make certain, 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 place. You don’t want the next user to see your accounts and gain easy access because you’re still signed in. All of us are busy. However you are not too busy to remember to sign out.
April 24th, 2013
Are you lamenting the announced death of Google Reader? If so, you’re not alone. Google recently announced that it is shutting down its RSS reader on July 1. The reason behind Google’s decision seems sensible: Reader was losing users. It was not an expanding service. Even so, the death of Reader presents some interesting questions, for both consumers and Google. The main one? What’s to keep Google and others from discontinuing other cloud-based services? The answer? Absolutely nothing.
The impermanence of the cloud
The realm of the cloud is an ever-changing one. Companies add new services. They also pull those that aren’t performing well. That’s what happened with Google Reader. It’s an issue that Farhad Manjoo, a writer with Slate, says that consumers should expect to see more often. Nothing that resides in the cloud is guaranteed eternal life, Manjoo writes. Google promoted Reader as though it was going to be an enduring part of the company. But that obviously isn’t the case. So be warned, Manjoo writes, there’s no guarantee that your other favorite cloud software will live forever, either.
The pitfall with the cloud
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. But you still had access to software, even when the companies behind it terminated it. Since of course, 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.
A bleaker future for Google?
The death of Reader isn’t just sad news for fans of the RSS service. It’s also a challenge for Google, as the Economist magazine argues in a recent story. No one can expect Google to continue funding under-performing products. But, how will consumers react the next time Google unveils a cloud-based product? Will they flock to it? Or will they hesitate, wondering when Google might kill it off? The demise of Reader might seem like a small matter to a company as powerful as Google. Yet the RSS service’s end might post some tricky challenges for Google in the future.
April 17th, 2013
Think your business’s computer systems are protected with conventional passwords? Guess again. Too many of your staff rely on simple passwords that can be simple for hackers to figure out. Others use the same password for multiple Web sites, computers and mobile devices. Consequently once cyber criminals hack that password, they are able to easily gain access to numerous other sites and devices. That’s why a recent story by Biztech Magazine identifies two-factor authentication as a increasing trend among companies that take cyber security seriously.
Why a second step matters
The best way to prevent cyber crimes is to make hacking more of a challenge. That’s the reason, according to Biztech Magazine, two-factor authentication works so well. First, a worker must enter a password. But to gain access to their machines or Web sites, workers must also follow up with a second action. They might need to use a biometric identifier to gain access to a particularly sensitive Web site. Or, they might have to swipe a smart code or insert a token to log onto a computer. By adding a second step, your business will dissuade nearly all hackers.
The starting point
Not all your employees, though, will be happy about two-factor authentication. It requires more effort on their part, after all. But Biztech does provide a few recommendations for smoothing this rollout. First, the magazine suggests that you choose a second factor that will cause the least disruption among employees. As an example, Biztech uses the example of smart cards. Mobile devices such as smartphones are usually not compatible with these cards. That might be deal breaker for some organizations. Companies that have staff that work from a wide range of locations might not do well with physical tokens.
Take your time
Another factor to successfully launching two-factor authentication? You’ll want to take your time. Provide staff members with a window of time to read about the system and ask questions. This will likely boost the odds that your staff members will be on board with the change. If you launch the system without providing the proper education, you’ll quite possibly alienate and aggravate your workers.
April 11th, 2013
It’s not easy 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 in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 could help your business strengthen its technology while paying less for it.
An important tax break
According to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, businesses are now able to write off as much as a rather notable $500,000 worth of new technology and equipment purchases in 2013. This can provide small businesses with the boost they need to more vigorously update their technology. Businesses, for example, might elect 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 upgrades will make small businesses more efficient, and boost their odds of beating their competitors.
Help for 2012, too
The American Taxpayer Relief Act also retroactively permits businesses to write off a greater amount of new tech and equipment expenditures from 2012. As outlined by BizTech Magazine, businesses are now able to deduct up to $500,000 of new tech and equipment purchases they made in 2012. This is an boost from the prior limit of $139,000, and can provide an additional financial boost to small businesses.
What it means to you
It’s important for companies to take advantage of these tax breaks. They are, after all, important financial incentives intended to encourage small business owners to invest in the technology they need to thrive. Businesses must continuously evolve if they want 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 doing this less expensive.
April 9th, 2013
Here’s what attracts cyber criminals: easy targets. This means that you can leave your small business exposed to a cyber attack if you don’t defend your company’s Wi-Fi systems with passwords or if you rely on passwords which are ridiculously easy to guess. In a current story outlining steps that small business owners can take to secure themselves from cybercrimes, Entrepreneur Magazine recommends that you do the small things that may make most hackers move on to easier targets.
Entrepreneur recommends you first encrypt all of your important data, anything from bank routing numbers to credit-card account information to employee Social Security numbers. Hackers like to steal this information. It’s how they eventually drain money from your small business. Entrepreneur’s advice? Turn on the full-disk encryption tools that are included with your computer’s operating systems. On Windows, this tool is named BitLocker. On Macintosh computers, it’s called FileVault. The tool, once activated, will encrypt every file and program on the drive.
The Lockdown Approach
Here’s a surprising fact from the Entrepreneur story: Many businesses end up being the target of cyber crimes only after burglars physically break into their offices and steal their laptops or other devices. Once equipped with your equipment, cyber criminals can potentially gain access to important company accounts and information. That’s why employees should, before leaving for the day, run a cable through the Kensington locks – the small metal loops attached to most computers and laptops – on their electronic devices and lock them to their desks. This may prevent some criminals, obsessed with completing their theft quickly, from bothering with the devices.
Wi-Fi networks are often at risk from hackers. That’s why Entrepreneur Magazine suggests that businesses depend on wired networks preferably. But if your business clearly needs a Wi-Fi network, make sure to safeguard it with a complex password. Entrepreneur Magazine recommends a password made up of letters, numbers and symbols. Record this password and hide it in a safe or other secure location.