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Stay Safe from CyberStalking: Disable Picture Geotags on your Cellphone

Posted on: August 13th, 2013 by under Computer Security | 1 Comment

Did you know: If you post pictures online from your smartphone, hackers can easily pinpoint your location.  How easy, you say? Take a look at this short video:

Pretty scary, huh?  Thieves, child predators and other criminals can easily find where you live, where you like to eat lunch, what park you take your kids to play in, etc.

This is not something new, but it’s shocking how many people are unaware of this threat and expose themselves to criminals.

Now that I have your attention, I have some good news. There is an easy way for you to disable geotagging on your cellphone pictures, while leaving it on for applications that need it, like your phone’s GPS.

Here are easy-to-follow instructions for your phone.  Don’t delay – Disable picture geotags now!

iPhone: Go to Settings, select General, then Location Services, and set the camera to off.

Blackberry: Open the camera, select the settings, and set Geotagging to off.

Android:  Open the camera, select the location icon, select off.

To get an even better idea of this threat, view the following news report, it’s eye-opening.

Five Simple And Really Useful Google Search Tips

Posted on: September 10th, 2012 by under Apple, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software | 1 Comment
Simple and Useful Google Search Tips

Simple and Useful Google Search Tips

Wait, I know… There is no shortage of articles about Google search tips on the web. Frankly, most give you too much information – you’re just never going to remember it all.

So I decided to go through them all and come with five tips that are so simple and useful, you’re bound to remember them.


1) Phrases: Perhaps the most powerful tool that I’m amazed more people don’t know about is the use of double quotes around phrases. Let’s say you are searching for cars that double as boats.


cars that double as boats  –  Without the quotes, you’ll get a wide variety of search results – most not what you’re looking for.


“cars that double as boats”  – With the quotes, you get the results you want.


2) Definitions:  If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the “define:” command.

define: plethora

define: passive aggressive behavior


3) Calculator: No need to search for your calculator or open up the calculator program on your computer. Just use the google search box like a calculator:

Type in 24/3+2=

and you get  back: 24/3+2=10


4) Flight Status Finder: Enter the airline and flight number into the Google search box and get back the arrival and departure times right inside Google’s search results.

delta flight 1223 status


5) Conversions: Quickly convert just about anything:

24 teaspoons in cups

100 dollars in euros

1255000 megabytes in bytes


Have some of your own Google search tips? Let’s hear them!

Hackers & Cyberthieves Continue to Target the Under-Protected: Small Businesses

Posted on: July 23rd, 2012 by under Computer Security | No Comments
Hackers, Cyberthieves, Cybertheft and Cyber Security

Prime Target: Small Businesses

As a small business owner, most state laws will put the responsibility completely on you if you are a victim of cybertheft. If your company bank account is hacked and your money is stolen, tough luck – you should have had better controls in place. Surprised?

Conversely, if your personal account suffers a similar fate, most state laws will hold the banks responsible.

The general reasoning here is that companies should be more sophisticated and knowledgeable than individuals and should have the proper controls and security measure in place.  Of course, we all know the reality of the situation is that there is a big difference between a large company with it’s own I.T. staff and a small business. Hackers and cybethieves know this as well and are exploiting the vulnerability of small businesses with fervor. Small businesses have proven to be “soft targets” for cybercriminals.

The Wall Street Journal has been all over this this topic lately and I encourage any small business owner to read the following articles referenced. The knowledge and awareness you gain could very well save you from experiencing a major cybertheft incident.

First came an article about the general problem of hackers targeting small businesses.  Standing out in that article is this quote:

About 72% of the 855 data breaches world-wide analyzed last year by Verizon’s forensic analysis unit were at companies with 100 or fewer employees.”

Are you looking over your shoulder yet? Are you wondering how this can happen?  Here is a case study of a company that had 1.2million wiped from it’s accounts by cyberthieves in the course of several hours. They thought they had protections in place (firewall and anti-virus), but the systems were not all current and they had no controls on their online banking accounts that would restrict such large withdrawals.  (Call your bank NOW and discuss what controls can be implemented)

As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, historically small businesses have been left to fully bear the burden of cybertheft committed upon them. But there is some good news. Two recent court rulings went in favor of small businesses suing their banks to recover funds lost due to cybertheft.

From that article is this quote that sums up the problem small businesses face: “The truth is there are millions of small businesses that have no clue of the sophistication of the threat that is out to get them,” says Brian Krebs, author of Krebs on Security, a blog that covers cybercrime and Internet security. “You’ve got one lady who’s in charge of payroll, and she works nine to five and…God bless her, she’s up against the Russian mob.”

So what can small businesses do? I’ll tackle that topic fully in my next post, but in the meantime, call your bank and put some controls in place that would limit your exposure to theft.


Cyberthieves Hit Owners:

Cut IT Spending in Tough Times? Not so fast.

Posted on: February 29th, 2012 by under Company News, Hardware | No Comments

Information Technology SpendingInformation technology spending has always been an easy target for CFOs when budget-crunching time comes around. Delaying projects or doing without the latest technology can offer significant savings. But what will cutting IT Spending do to your business?

In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, the companies that are thriving are the ones that are truly technology-driven. Investments in technology boost productivity and profits. Falling behind in use of technology has been the final tipping point for many failed companies.

While this could certainly be considered a self-serving position, that doesn’t mean it’s without value. What brought this topic to mind was an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, called “Cut Those Costs! (But Not Tech).”

The article lays out the new landscape that companies are presented with; how to cut costs without losing your competitive edge and hurting the business. One example given is an Engineering firm in Colorado, CH2M Hill. From the article:

 The Englewood, Colo., engineering firm is cutting back on expenses like corporate events and bonuses for employees, yet it plans to boost its $100 million-a-year information-technology budget by as much as 20% this year. In part, the money will go to fund new systems that will make it easier for workers to use a variety of mobile devices on the job.

“We’re very concerned about the economy and trying to take some measures to cut costs,” says Mike Lucki, CH2M’s chief financial officer. “But this is an investment that we need to make to stay competitive. If you don’t do it, you’re not in the game.”

Mr. Lucki is not alone. A recent survey by Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business found that CFO’s are planning to increase IT spending on average by 10% in 2012. Compare this to 2008, when plans were to hold even or decrease spending. Needless to say, the tech explosion has opened more than a few eyes of financial decision-makers who were once quick to make technology their sacrificial lamb.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy or fool-proof. Increasing IT spending in tough times requires careful planning and even more careful evaluation of specific technologies and the potential returns to the business. But if you’re not thinking this way now, as Mr. Lucki says in the article, you’ll never make it to your 2015 plan. I recommend you read the whole article (link above). It’s a worthwhile 5 minutes out of your day.

Online Holiday Shopping Security Tips – Beware of Cyber Crooks and Scams

Posted on: November 27th, 2011 by under Computer Security | 1 Comment

Cyber Monday marks the unofficial beginning of the Online Holiday Shopping season. As I write this on the eve of  Cyber Monday, you can be sure that cyber crooks are ready to unleash a  variety of scams intended to separate you from your hard-earned money.

The odds are very good that every  of us will come across such a scam over the next few weeks. How we handle the situation could make the difference between a joyous holiday season and a sad one. Here are some tips to help keep your Holidays happy ones:

1) Learn to identify fake web sites in emails.

You get an email from “Amazon.com” that says you can get a free Apple ipad if you spend $1000 on Amazon. Or they are selling them for $100 below the regular price. First thing to do is STOP and THINK. What are the odds Amazon is giving away ipads? zero. What are the odds they are selling them at $100 below normal price? zero. Apple controls pricing and their products are not discounted. These are just some simple examples, but the point is, just a little common sense is often all it takes to smell a  scam.

But suppose the offer you get is thoroughly believable  or you don’t know enough about the items to know what is reasonable. Before you click on the link in that email that says “Buy on Amazon.com,” just put your mouse cursor on the link without clicking. Somewhere on your screen (depends on which email program you use), the actual URL of the link will appear. Sometimes it will be an obvious fake, ( like usamza.com). But many times, they will includes words in the URL that can fool you. (amazon.com.ipad.store.usamza.com/online_store).  Look carefully at what the last .com (or .net, .biz, .info, etc.) says. That will tell you the real domain name for the link you are about to click on. In this case, it’s usamza.com. The “amazon.com.ipad.store” at the beginning is just there to trick you.

Note: This is also a very common tactic when it comes to online payment sites, like PayPal. You are bound to get emails saying they are from PayPal and you need to login to your account to fix a problem.  Two things: First, remember to closely inspect the link and second, the real PayPal will probably never send you such an email.

2) Beware of  store emails with attachments.

Chances are good you are on some mailing lists from legitimate stores and shopping sites.  Chances are just as good that they will never send you an email with an attachment. For example, you get an email claiming to be from Macys.com, and it tells you to open the attached PDF file for details on a specials friends and family sale – STOP right there and immediately delete the email. Legitimate retailers do not send emails with attachments.

Keep in mind that often times the emails look quite authentic. They’ll have the Macy’s logo, and links to legitimate pages on the real Macy’s site, all designed to make you believe the email is legitimate. It is not.

3) Don’t use store links from search engines.

A favorite tactic of cyber crooks is creating entire fake web sites that are mirror images of a real site. This has been done with banking sites, hoping you will enter your real BankofAmerica username/password on a fake BankofAmerica site they have created that looks just like the real thing. The same tactic is used with shopping sites. If they can create a fake “buy.com” and get you to go there and put in your real buy.com password, they can then go to buy.com and buy things using your account.

The problem for cyber crooks is, how to get you to go to the fake site? One way is with faked emails, as described in #1 above. Another is through search engine results. Let’s say you are looking for a special cooking utensil as a gift for a friend. You do a google search, and one of the first matches is a link for “cooking.com”. You click on the link and are taken to a web site that says Cooking.com” all over the page. You probably wouldn’t notice that the actual URL says “cookingz.com”. It’s a complete fake. Once you are on the fake, they can try to gather personal information or just install malicious software on your computer.

What should you have done? When a search result for cooking.com came up, instead of clicking on the link in the search results, you should open another browser tab or window and manually type in cooking.com. Now you know you are at the real cooking.com. Then, once you’ve used a web site and you know it’s legitimate, add it to your favorites and only use the favorite link to go there in the future.

4) Only enter your credit card info on a secure web site.

The Better Business Bureau online shopping division highly recommends that you ALWAYS use credit cards when purchasing online (built-in fraud protection) and ONLY use web sites that use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) on their payment page. You’ll know you are on a secure page if the page URL starts with “HTTPS://”  instead of “HTTP://.”  The data transfers on secure pages are encrypted, which protects your confidential  information, even if the data is intercepted by a malicious program on your PC that is “listening in” on the transaction.

5)  Use internet security software.

This may seem kind of obvious to some of you, yet you wouldn’t believe how many home PCs we see  that either have no security software installed or have an old, un-updated version that has expired. Seriously folks, it’s almost 2012. You’re being seriously irresponsible if you are not running some type of security software. Here are 3 I recommend for home use. Two even have basic FREE versions, so you have NO excuse. However, I highly recommend you spend some $$ on the more comprehensive paid versions.

Avast (my favorite free program): http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download

AVG: http://free.avg.com/us-en/free-antivirus-download

F-Secure (what I use at home): http://www.f-secure.com/en/web/home_us/protection/internet-security/trial

Be SMART and be SAFE.

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