Privacy Concerns Hang Over Social Media

The basic tenet of social media is the ability for individuals to share part of themselves easily. With more computing done on mobile platforms today than ever before, more people are using these applications to share little pieces of their lives. One study conducted in 2018 found that not including YouTube, it was found that 69 percent of all American adults (18+) used some form of social media regularly over the subsequent year. That number continues to grow. So much so that now nearly 40 percent of seniors use some form of social media today, up nearly 200 percent since 2012. With so many people using social media it stands to reason that the number of people looking to steal money, information, and identities would also grow as well. This has proven to be accurate, and now today there are a fair amount of major privacy concerns that all social media users have to be cognizant of. The study also laid out what people use social media for. It won’t be a surprise to those who do use social media a fair amount that a lot of what is done is actually substituting as a social interactions hub to those people that don’t have the time (or the inclination) to interact with people in person or through other traditional methods. In fact, most people cite social media as where they share most of their civil and political views, personal health information, learn scientific information, engage in job, familial, and society-related activities; and, probably most alarming of all, it’s the place they go to get their news. Role of Privacy Privacy has, and will likely always be, dependent on how much an individual prioritizes the security of his/her personal information. If someone wants to keep some semblance of their life private, he/she can still do it, as long as it’s not available for people to steal. This is increasingly a problem. As social media use increases, the amount of direct integration that developers create with these social websites increases, making it easier for people to lose control over their private information. That’s not to say that by allowing social media companies access to some of your most personal information that you will completely lose control over it, but it seems fair to suggest. In a 2014 survey, 91 percent of polled Americans suggested that they had lost control over their personal information (or how it was collected), with 80 percent showing at least some concern over the relationship advertisers and other businesses have with these social media companies. One problem is that over half of Americans are cognizant of the dangers of having personal information fall into the wrong hands, and as a result they are actively monitoring their private information and where it is shared more effectively. The problem that faces them over time is that in order to use social media (or e-commerce for that matter), many companies are now demanding access to personal information that isn’t relevant to the transactions. This kind of data mining is beginning to creep out users as much as some of the content they find on these platforms, and it’s only a matter of time before a new social platform is created that doesn’t present users these problems; or, people just begin leaving […]

Tip of the Week: Building a Knowledge-Based Wiki in OneNote

Wait, What’s a Wiki, Anyways? A wiki is a collaborative space on the web that allows any user to create content and edit what others have contributed. This content is then linked to other pages with relevant topics and keywords. Perhaps the most famous example of a wiki is Wikipedia, and WikiLeaks is known as such because it originally utilized a wiki approach. Of course, when compared to an application that was actually intended to create a wiki, OneNote is clearly the inferior option – but its features make it a passable substitute, and an excellent introduction to the wiki creation process. OneNote allows you to create a web of as many pages as you need with zero limitations, that your team can leverage as reference material. Building Your OneNote Wiki The first step to creating your wiki is to establish an all-inclusive homepage. This homepage should effectively map out how the rest of your database should be constructed. The content within this database is able to be linked to other areas in the database, including other pages, specific paragraphs, and even content from an entirely different notebooks. While this could enable you to create a more complex database, for our purposes here, we’ll keep things simple with a one-layer setup. Our hypothetical database will cover three topics, each topic split into three categories. Linking Your Content There are a few ways that you can link your wiki’s content using OneNote’s capabilities. Linking to Pages This process allows you to create additional pages that are pre-linked to the appropriate text on the preceding page. All you have to do is highlight the text that should link to the new page, right click on it, and select Link to Pages. A new page will automatically be created in your notebook, accessible via the link on your homepage. You can continue to create pages like this, diving deeper into topics and creating additional sections. Linking to Sections Specific sections can be linked to each other as well. Let’s say that we want to connect Example 1.1.3 and Example 2.2.1, as they discuss similar topics. First, you’ll need to highlight the item that you want your link to send the user to. With the destination highlighted, you should have the option to Copy Link to Paragraph, which will add the link to your clipboard. From that point, you need to navigate to the place that you want to link from. Highlighting that text, right-click and select Link. Into the Address bar, paste the link. If your database is still relatively small, you can also select the location directly from that window. Of course, what good is a database if nobody can access it to use it? Plus, wouldn’t it be better if you had some assistance in tackling such a big project? That’s another reason that OneNote is great – it’s very easy to collaborate with others. To invite other users to help, click File, select Share, and make the proper selections. You can also just share your database to a shared part of your network, which also enables others to access it. That’s the long and the short of it. With a bit of time, this process can ultimately result in a fairly workable internal knowledge base for your employees to leverage. […]

Foldable Screens Enter Smartphone Market

OLED Foldable Screens The first thing you should know about the technology that allows a display to fold is that it is an innovation from LED (light-emitting diode) technology. The LED is a semiconductor light source that emits light when an electric current flows through it. It works through a process called electroluminescence. As electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, energy is released as photons. The color of the light emitted depends on how the photons cross the energy gap of the semiconductor. In an OLED display, the electroluminescent anode is made from an organic compound. It is situated between two electrodes, and as the electrons move and recombine, light is produced through the emissive organic layer. Since it already produced visible light and not just a charge of targeted energy, no backlight is needed. As a result, OLED displays typically display deep black levels (which help in image contrast) and can be produced thin and flexible. Over the past five years, many different manufacturers have made use of OLED displays. Some are PMOLED (using a passive-matrix design) and some are AMOLED (using an active-matrix design). The difference is the PMOLED display has control of each line of pixels sequentially, while the AMOLED display uses a transistor to directly access pixel function. Bendable Displays This doesn’t really get us closer to why OLED displays can be so flexible. Inherently, the organic compounds found in an OLED anode are able to be manipulated any which way, as long as the transistor used to carry the energy formed by the electric current is also flexible. Once scientists figured out that problem, it was a simple task of finding a substrate layer that was able to flex while maintaining its integrity while bending. This is why glass, while used in most of the smartphones up to this point, isn’t an option for flexible screens. The flexible OLED displays typically make use of a flexible plastic substrate that provides the right mix of flex and strength that a foldable device needs to be effective. Foldable Options Some of the top manufacturers like Motorola and Apple are rumored to have foldable smartphones ready for market sometime in the near future, but there are plenty of manufacturers, including the world’s most successful smartphone manufacturer, who is ready to launch their first foldable phone. Let’s look at some of the options you may see in 2019: Samsung Galaxy Fold https://youtu.be/7r_UgNcJtzQ Available to the public on April 26, 2019, the Samsung Fold, is the first foldable smartphone to hit the United States’ smartphone market. Reportedly carrying an antenna capable of 5G speeds, it is a seminal phone in multiple ways. The biggest draw, however is the foldable screen. The unfolded screen measures at 7.3-inches and features a new Dynamic AMOLED display. When folded up, there is a 4.6-inch Super AMOLED display on the front of the phone. There is still no word how the software will integrate with the two displays. The Galaxy Fold features a strong 64-bit, octa-core processor and 12 GB of RAM. It comes standard with 512 GB of internal storage. The battery clocks in at 4,380 mAh. There are still a lot of questions being asked, and not many answers to be had about the Galaxy Fold. Huawei Mate X https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_c2KGtZP64 The […]

Security Is a Big Component of Windows 10

The first thing that we should mention in this article is that Windows 7 will be losing support this upcoming January, and with so many people/businesses still using machines running the decade-old operating system, Microsoft knew they needed to make Windows 10 that much more accessible. Their strategy is to provide Windows 10 as a cloud service. In launching Microsoft 365, the software developer has made it easier to upgrade away from Windows 7 and 8.1. For the modern business that depends on their Windows 7 workstations, this provides them with an option to get their business moved over to a platform that’s security is strong and up-to-date. Windows 10 has been remarkably resilient as threats continue to multiply. In fact, there are some people in the industry that argue that Windows 10’s Windows Defender is one of the best antivirus solutions ever made for a personal computer. It may be that for an individual user Windows 10’s built-in security is enough to protect them against a web filled with viruses and malware. For the enterprise, however, it is vigilant to have added security in the form of a dedicated antivirus and powerful spam blocker. That’s not to deride the improvements Microsoft has made to its internal security system, it just provides more control for administrators whose job is keeping these threats from damaging an organization’s operational effectiveness. What to Expect from Windows 10 Enterprise Security As stated above, Windows Defender is a strong antivirus, but the real benefit to Windows 10’s security solutions is the improvement in identity and access management and data protection. In improving Windows 10’s identity and access management systems, Microsoft has made a point to improve security around the access points. They’ve thoroughly overhauled the way they authorize users, groups, and other systems to access data on Windows 10-controlled networks or devices. With this enhancement, administrators have more options to outline the ownership of objects, user rights, and data that is available for reporting. User Account Control (UAC), found in the most recent version of Windows, is enhanced in Windows 10. It works to prevent malware by blocking the installation of unauthorized applications and prevent non-administrators from changing system settings. Another change is the use of two-factor authentication to gain access. By setting up a two-factor authentication system, users will be forced to have access to additional accounts to gain access, mitigating access problems that come from stolen passwords. Additionally, Windows 10’s security includes BitLocker, a data protection feature that integrates with the OS and is used to address the near-constant threat of data theft (or unauthorized exposure). There are also dynamic features such as the Trusted Platform Module, which provides hardware-based security functions, and the ability to secure the Windows 10 boot process. Every security feature should be added into a dedicated Windows Information Protection policy that can be set per device or over an entire network. Windows 10 is one of the strongest operating systems ever created in dealing with threats. Learn more by contacting our IT experts today at (831) 758-3636.

Tip of the Week: This Is What Should You Do When Your Smartphone Gets Wet

One thing to keep in mind is that many manufacturers are making devices that are, at the very least, water resistant. These devices are given an International Protection (IP) score, which is based on the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). This rating is given to any consumer device, and it designates how much protection a consumer can expect from it. For example, a device classified as IP67 is resistant to dust and can be submerged in water no more than one meter deep for up to half an hour. The only difference between this and an IP68 device is that the IP68 guarantees protection in 1.5 meters of water for up to half an hour. Of course, you didn’t come here to learn about the semantics related to device protection classification–you want to know what to do if your device falls in water. Here are some decent catch-all steps you can take to potentially save your device. Turn Off Your Device: Be sure to turn off your device as soon as possible. Don’t try to plug it in or shake it. Don’t blow in it or use a blow dryer to try to save it. Just follow the steps below and don’t stray from them. Remove your SIM card and any other expandable storage. Remove the battery if possible: Some phones don’t have the removable battery, so if it doesn’t, don’t just pry it open. Have a professional do it for you. You can always check out YouTube for tutorials as well. Use an absorbent rag to dab your phone dry: Try not to wipe it around, as this could spread the liquid too much. Place the phone in a plastic bag filled with uncooked rice: The rice will absorb the liquid. Let your phone dry for a day or two before trying to turn it on. Turn it on: If this doesn’t work, try charging it. If the device doesn’t charge, the battery could be damaged. You will want to work with a professional to do this, if you haven’t already done so. If it seems to work right, make sure everything does: Make sure you test the screen for responsiveness, as well as the speakers and microphone. By following these eight steps, you’ll maximize your chances of getting away from a phone-meets-liquid incident unscathed. If you found this blog helpful, be sure to share it with anyone else who might benefit from it.

Are the Messaging Apps You Use Secure?

The Criteria Ask yourself the following questions about your messaging application: Are my messages encrypted (and how encrypted are they)? How transparent is the application to scrutiny? How are messages deleted? How much metadata is kept? We’ll go through each question to help you ascertain if the messaging platform you use is secure enough to use for business. Are My Messages Encrypted? (And How Encrypted Are They?) Encryption can scramble data so that it is difficult to read to all those who don’t have a decryption key. We don’t want to get into too much detail, but suffice to say that encryption can make your data much more secure than it would be otherwise. While most major messaging applications use encryption, not all of them follow the most secure of practices. For example, solutions like Google Hangouts and Skype encrypt the messages that users send, but they also retain a copy of the encryption keys. This is so they can access the messages sent to collect data for advertising purposes. Unfortunately, this also means that the data will be vulnerable if a cybercriminal manages to make their way onto the application’s servers, or if the government were to issue a search warrant for them. Thankfully, end-to-end encryption is more common with these kinds of apps, where the application holds the keys that encrypt the data. The users also have a key to decrypt the data, meaning that no other external party can access the contents of the messages. Some of these include WhatsApp and Signal. While Skype does offer this option, it isn’t enabled by default. How Transparent is the Application to Scrutiny? It’s important that your messaging application provider not only is honest about the state of security, but is also evaluated by an independent and impartial expert that comes to the same conclusion. This means that open-source applications are usually more trustworthy, as they have been the subject of much closer scrutiny over the years. Examples of these applications include Signal, Telegram, and Wickr, while WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger aren’t true open-source, but are based on the same protocol as Signal. An application that is closed-source, like iMessage, trusts the developer entirely to maintain the security of the messages sent. How Are Messages Deleted? What happens to messages after they have reached their destination and been deleted? In truth, deletion might be the best way to ensure the privacy of important information. Applications that automatically delete messages within a certain amount of time can be great for security. For example, Skype, Telegram, and Signal all have this capability. WhatsApp even goes as far as deleting messages within 13 hours. Not all apps feature self-deleting messages, and to be fair, nobody is stopping the recipient from taking screenshots of messages, either. Thus, security is left to the discretion of the recipient. How Much Metadata is Kept? It’s also critical that your chosen application is protected by the metadata it stores. Metadata contributes to security through user profiling, which stores data of both the sender, receiver, time of communication, IP address, and the device used. Thus, knowing what kind of data is stored by the messaging application will help you best preserve the security of this data. SRS Networks can help you implement secure methods of communication for your business. […]

Clarifying a Few IT Stereotypes

Misconception 1: Our vocabulary is limited to “Did you turn it off and on again?” Yes, yes, ha ha. This one has become the go-to punchline for almost any joke having to do with IT. However, consider what humorist Leo Rosten said: “Humor is the affectionate communication of insight.” In other words, jokes tend to poke fun at a larger truth – in this case, IT resources have gained the reputation of asking this question so often because they do ask it quite often. This is because it actually is an effective way to resolve many issues. Reboots have proven their value countless times over, so when we ask you if you’ve already tried doing that, we’re actually taking a lot of explanations for your issue out of consideration. This allows us to more efficiently troubleshoot the actual problem – and if you hadn’t yet tried a simple restart, it might do the trick. Misconception 2: IT is actually, like, super easy to manage. With computers being remarkably more user-friendly than they once were, it also isn’t all that uncommon for many users to assume that everything that IT does, they could probably do for themselves. Technically, in a lot of cases, yes… but it would probably be a mistake. In IT, while a process might be simple in and of itself, there’s a good chance that there are a lot of other considerations to take into account. For instance, let’s look at the process of setting up a new workstation. It’s a pretty plug-in-and-play process, right? Right – except that there’s data transfer, continuity, and security to also consider. On top of that, there’s also the process of getting the new PC ready for use. If done incorrectly, there are a vast amount of ways that your business can be left vulnerable. This is why it is so crucial to entrust these processes to someone who is very familiar with them. Misconception 3: An IT resource is really just a professional Googler. It isn’t uncommon to see an IT professional consulting Google, and sure, it might be unsettling for an end user to see it happening. However, it might help to put things into perspective. IT is one of the fastest-evolving fields in the world, so even the most credentialed and qualified tech might not be completely up-to-date. Therefore, to prevent their actions from causing a bigger problem, a good IT resource will turn to other resources to confirm that they are taking the right course of action. In fact, this makes it actually preferable to bring in a Google-happy tech. It just shows you that the tech is committed to doing their job correctly. At SRS Networks, we’re proud that our technicians know their stuff as well as they do – and know their limits enough to seek out the right answers to your issue. So, next time you experience a problem with your technology solutions, turn your system off and on again, and (if that doesn’t work) give us a call at (831) 758-3636.

Tip of the Week: Create Useful Email Subjects

Email Subjects Benefit the Reader A key aspect of the fine art of email subjects is that it is there to help the reader determine how valuable the message is. This helps them determine whether it’s worth investing time in. While it might seem easy to see a generic subject line and avoid it, it’s even more tempting to bypass one with no subject at all. This is extremely important for messages that go out to a lot of people. Subject Lines Shouldn’t Be the Entire Message While the subject line is important, it shouldn’t be the entire message. The subject line is only meant to be a glimpse of what the message is about. Save the entirety of the message for the actual message subject body. If the message is complicated enough that you need to explain it so thoroughly in the subject line, then perhaps it’s best to have the conversation in person. The best subjects are short enough to be consumed while providing an adequate summary of what the message is about, keeping the majority of the details for the message itself. Make Sure You Use a Subject If someone doesn’t include a subject on their message, you can assume one thing: the sender doesn’t find it important enough to assign a subject. This basically means that anyone who has a considerable amount of responsibility might never get around to reading emails without a subject, or at best be pushed to the side rather than thrown to the top of a priority list. Did you find this tip helpful? Sound off in the comments below for other topics you might want us to include in future tip of the week blogs.

Should Your Business Be Looking to Chrome OS?

Chrome OS If you were to really think about it, what application do you use most on your PC? Regardless of what you do with your machine, there is a very good chance that the answer would be your web browser. Google, understanding computing trends better than many other companies, decided to make a device operating system that functions a lot like their extraordinarily popular web browser. From the user’s angle, Chrome OS is essentially a suped-up web browser, meaning that many of the applications that come equipped on the device are web-based, and therefore not accessible without an Internet connection. That’s not to say that Chrome OS doesn’t feature plenty of software that can be accessed offline, but to get the most out of the OS, like you would Windows, macOS, or any other OS you would use, you will want to be online. ChromeOS’ primary delivery method is through the Chromebook, Google’s mobile hardware option. There are several different versions of the Chromebook from several of the top hardware manufacturers including HP, Samsung, Acer, ASUS, and Dell. A few manufacturers also offer what is called a Chromebox, which, as you may guess, is a PC that runs Chrome OS. There is also the Chromebase, which is a combination system that provides a display and chrome OS in one. There is also the Chromebit, which is a HDMI-connected dongle that can be used to deliver Chrome OS onto televisions and other monitors. The major benefit of these devices is that they offer an exceptionally easy-to-use interface with secure and fast Internet browsing. Application Integration One neat feature that many Chrome OS-run devices have is that they provide access to multiple sources of software. The Chrome Web Store is the browser-based store has many different options for software. Not only does it carry Chrome themes, it also has stand-alone software extensions that have been developed to help people solve all types of computing problems inside of their Chrome browser. Additionally, many of the Chromebooks come with touchscreens. Many of these devices also have access to Google Play Store apps that are typically used on Android devices, while also supporting Linux-based software. This presents the Chromebook user with a substantial cache of applications in which to choose from. Is Chrome OS Right for Your Business? When trying to establish if Chrome OS is a good fit for your organization, you have to ask yourself three major questions. Does your staff utilize cloud-based software like Google’s G Suite for productivity? Do the local programs you use have cloud-based options? Is the cost reduction worth the limited enterprise software options? If you answer yes to all three, Chrome OS-based computing may just be a huge benefit for your company. If your business is interested in being presented cost effective options for its computing, call the knowledgeable consultants at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636.