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Author: Will Chatham

Will Chatham is the Security Assessment Engineer for Arbor Networks. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. He started as a web developer, moved into Linux system administration, and ultimately found his place as a security professional. Having most recently conquered the OSCP certification, Will continues to hack his way into various things in an effort to make them more secure.

O, Death

As I recently passed the half-century mark in my life, I find myself contemplating some things now, more than I ever did before.

  • How long it takes muscle strains to heal vs how long it did 30 years ago
  • The strange new places hair grows on, and in, my body
  • The annual upkeep of my physical form and how intimately my doctor is getting to know me
  • Does my doctor go home at night and think about these things as he tries to go to sleep, or discuss them with his wife over drinks on the porch?

The strangest contemplation of them all is dying. Death. It gets closer each day, sure, but it’s more of an interesting proposition than something I find myself dreading or fearing. I don’t know for certain what it will bring, if anything. No one does. Many people think they do, but they don’t.

Not that I am eager to find out, but it’s interesting to think about all the ways we humans have created to avoid it, prevent it, reckon with it, and make ourselves think that there we are certain about what happens when it arrives.

I’m not afraid of being dead, as I’ve been dead before, and I’ll be dead again. Being dead didn’t seem so bad from what I can recall. No, what I’m afraid of is transitioning back to death in a terrible way, such as in a plane crash or slowly and painfully, from stomach cancer. That kind of fear is more a part of being alive than it is a fear of death.

– Me

I saw something online sometime back, and I saved it. Finding it again led me to write this blog post. I’d like to offer it up here, as it makes a lot of sense to me. It’s a eulogy from a physicist. This resonates because it is the most true and accurate thing we can possibly know about death, without conjecture, superstition, or guessing:

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every BTU of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”

Arron Freeman

If anyone know of any physicists for hire to perform eulogies around the time I die, please hire them! They’d be well worth the money.

In the words of Kilgore Trout, ting-a-ling!

How To Ensure Your Personal Growth And Development 

The process of continuously evaluating your beliefs and life objectives while developing your abilities and skills to the fullest extent possible is known as personal development. This can help you become more successful and mature while achieving satisfaction in your life and career. 84% of business CEOs said personal development helped them avoid business blunders. Many people work to increase their personal development throughout their lives to better themselves and accomplish their goals. This article highlights some ways to ensure yours. 

Face your anxieties and fears

You may find it challenging to advance if fear is in the picture. Join an organization that helps individuals become better public speakers or enroll in a program if you are frightened of speaking in front of an audience. You need a mentor to boost your confidence if you hesitate to take chances. Try things you might not feel comfortable doing to grow and learn. Try striking up a conversation or introducing yourself to strangers at a workshop or reception if you are timid. 

Learn something new 

Learn a new topic or skill, whether you want to enroll in a class or do it yourself. For example, you may enroll in a class to learn a new programming language, how to write creatively, or another language. Alternatively, you can also take the Strong Interest Inventory test online to help you know what your interests are so you can tailor your learning experiences in that direction. Consider attending an entrepreneurship or social media marketing workshop as a professional development skill. 

Network with others

You may pick up new concepts and develop your ability to work and communicate with people of various personality types by networking and forming connections. Attend conferences and events on subjects and topical issues that interest you, or make connections through mutual interest groups and industry associations. 

Embrace constructive criticisms

Ask for comments on a recent project or achievement from a manager, friend, coworker, or family member. Make use of both their encouraging and helpful critiques to identify areas for improvement. To see things from a new angle, sometimes you need an unbiased, second opinion. 

Adapt to change 

You need to be flexible to effortlessly adapt to changes in your life and career. Adaptable people can manage several tasks, operate in various environmental settings, embrace new ideas, and perform effectively individually and in teams. This means that you can take sudden changes in stride without losing your edge.  

Work through difficult circumstances 

When faced with an issue, weigh your alternatives and choose the most appropriate course of action. Recognize when to seek wise counsel or investigate various situations. Individuals with strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills are more likely to make wise choices in both their personal and professional lives. 

Keep a little journal

You may improve your self-awareness and develop self-reflection by journaling daily or weekly about your recent experiences, choices, and interests. You may choose to write about your ideas and experiences on a blog or keep a handwritten private notebook. Utilize it for goal-setting and progress evaluation.

Want To Streamline Your Business? Here’s How

Making your business strategies and setup as smooth as possible will guarantee great benefits for your business. 
Streamlining your processes will not only help your business make more sales, but it will also improve client satisfaction, your efficiency, and your results.

Go digital

It makes sense in this day and age to make as many things digital as possible. Digital practices will allow your business to align with modern technology and improve efficiency and accessibility. 

For instance, you might run a salon that provides medical or beauty treatments. There are many things that you can transform using digital technology. One of these alterations involves data collection, which once took a long time to attain, assess, and store. Now, digital technology has made things much easier and more streamlined. 

When a patient attends their appointment, they might feel nervous or wish to feel relaxed. It depends on what type of service you are running. Either way, patients will not want to spend 20 minutes before their appointment filling out forms. It will be much easier and more relaxing for them to do it at home. 

For instance, using a patient intake form service, you can easily collect patient data before the appointment, helping to make the client’s appointment less overwhelming. Plus, it is easier for you to store and manage as it involves no paperwork.

Break down big goals into smaller, easier-to-achieve steps

It is important for every business to have big goals. Big goals will keep your team motivated, as everyone will have something to aim for. 

With these big goals in mind, it is good to sit down and plan how you will achieve them. It is useful to break down big goals into smaller steps, as you will easily achieve them and feel that you are making progress. 

If you leave your big goal unplanned, the process will be easier to navigate and more streamlined. Hence, plan smaller steps so you know what you need to do in order to achieve your goals. As a result, your business will become more successful. 

Assess progress as often as possible

When you are pursuing your goals and working on the smaller steps, it is a good idea to assess your progress. 

Assessing progress will give you a clear indication of what you could do more of or what you need to change. If the progress is going as planned, then continue what you are doing. Yet, if the progress is going in a different direction, steer it in another direction by changing a few things. This will ensure you are on track with your goals. 

Automate certain tasks

Automating various tasks in your business is an excellent and effective way to streamline processes. 

For instance, automating your online ordering system will reduce manual labor and ensure customers receive their products in good time. Instead of you needing to manually accept payments and process the order, the automation tool will do it for you. 

Identify obstacles

Any obstacles that get in your way will only hold your business back from achieving its goals and give you the opportunity to streamline its processes. 

Identifying obstacles can be tricky. Yet, the best thing you can do is continue to assess your business, its results, and progress. From there, you will likely be able to identify what is holding you back, which will allow you to choose between changing your direction or doing more to overcome the obstacles. 

Hire the right people for your team

Every business can streamline its processes and achieve greater results if it hires the right people for the team. 

If you have specialists who can fulfill every task to the highest standard possible, this will mean that your business can achieve greater things. Be sure to understand what help you need and hire those with the right expertise and experience so each and every task can be fulfilled. 

Outsource tasks to freelance specialists

If you cannot afford to hire full-time team members for certain tasks, then it makes sense to save money by outsourcing some tasks to freelance specialists. 

For example, if you do not need a full-time financial accountant yet need help with your taxes and finances, it makes sense to hire a freelancer for a few days each month so you can complete the tasks to the highest standard yet pay less overall.

Offer a live chat service for customers

As well as making your business tasks more digital, you can make your communications digital too. 

For instance, offering customers live chat services will allow them to contact you at any time of day and either attain an immediate response from a human (during business hours) or a robot. Either way, when customers can attain immediate responses, they will be more satisfied with your business and its customer service. They will not be left waiting around for hours to hear back from you. 

These digital communication measures will make a huge difference in how streamlined your business is for your customers. 

Virtual calls

Speaking of digital means of communication, your business will benefit from offering virtual calls to either its employees or customers. 

For example, if an employee works remotely and you need to hold a meeting, you can do so over a virtual call. It will maximize your time and ensure that the employee knows the update within minutes. If you wait for them to come to the office, it will slow down your business’s progression. 

Furthermore, offering virtual calls to customers can also help streamline communications. If a customer wishes to speak about a service you offer but cannot come in-store, you will gain and maintain their business if you can offer a virtual call to speak to them through the description. That way, they can trust you and ask questions without waiting for email or phone call responses. Giving them your time will guarantee their trust and investment, helping you gain more customers and profit.

Smart Pricing Strategies that will Help your Business to Make More Sales

Do you feel as though your business pricing isn’t quite right? Maybe you feel as though you need to make a change because you are losing out to your competition and want to do something about this. Either way, if you take a look below then you will soon be able to make the right changes.

Price Skimming 

Skimming, in terms of business pricing,  involves setting really high prices when you introduce your product and then gradually lowering them as you see new competition hit the market. This type of pricing is best for businesses that are entering an emerging market. It gives you the chance to capitalize on the buzz regarding your business while giving you the chance to undercut competition at a later date. 

Market Penetration Pricing 

Instead of starting with high prices, and slowly lowering them, you will take over a market by undercutting your competition. When you have a reliable customer base, you can then raise your prices. You will have to take a loss up-front here as this will give you the chance to get a strong footing in the market. This is the best way for you to develop a loyal customer base, but it is not for everyone. If you need help with your pricing you can always do a conjoint analysis.

Premium Pricing

Premium pricing is for companies that want to create a high-quality product, and who want to market to high-end individuals. You will need to develop a premium or luxury branding strategy here so you can make sure that you are appealing to the right type of customer. If you have launched your business already then you can experiment with these strategies so you can find out what works best for you.

Economy Pricing

If you adopt economy pricing then this involves targeting customers who want to get things as cheaply as possible, and who want to save as much as possible. Big box stores, including Costco and Walmart, are really good examples here. Adopting this pricing model does depend on your overall costs and the value of your product, so give this some thought if you can.

Bundle Pricing

When sellers pair different products and then sell them for less than they would individually, this is bundle pricing. This pricing method is a very good way to try and move a lot of product in a very short space of time. A good bundle strategy involves getting a lot of profit from high-end items within the bundle, even though a loss is experienced with the low-value items.  If you want to adopt this strategy then you need to make sure that you plan your bundles carefully because it is too easy to lower the price more than you should and then pay for it in terms of your overall profit. 

If you want to make the most out of your pricing strategy then you need to do your research and make sure that you are always taking into account your profit margins.

Five Tips For Training Your Employees Effectively In 2023

As an employer, you want to do what’s best for your employees because it all trickles back down into the success and growth that your business achieves over the course of the year.
Employee training is an important part of maximizing your business growth, which is why it should be a particular focus in 2023. Here are five tips for training your employees effectively this year.

Budget wisely for employee training

Think about how much you have available when it comes to funding your employee training. This varies from one business to another and it’s important to only allocate as much as you can when it comes to employee training.

While employee training is important, it’s not worth it for your business to suffer financially because of allocating too much. Even if you’re presenting one or two employees with a training opportunity once a year, that’s better than nothing at all.

So with that in mind, be careful and selective when it comes to budgeting for employee training.

Set employee expectations

Employee expectations are important to set when it comes to training your employees successfully. Consider what your employees want from the training they receive and whether they have any preferences for the type of training they receive.

For some employees, they might not be as fussed about the type of employee training they get, whereas others are more specific in what they’d like to get from these opportunities. The more you listen to your staff, the more you’ll get out of your employees from training throughout the year.

Offer employees mentors

To help with employee training, one option that might be useful is offering mentors. Mentors are great for helping guide employees and to help them learn more about their role or a role you might want to nurture them to take on in the future.

Think about offering employee mentors where possible to help boost the level of training they’re getting in real-life situations. Rather than just sitting and learning in a classroom, they might find they benefit more from learning from those who are already excelling in the roles or career paths your employee is in.

Invest in a LMS

To help with monitoring and managing employee training processes, it’s worth investing in an LMS. LMS or learning management systems as they’re commonly known, are great for helping track their progress, understanding how much is being allocated to each department, etc.

By using an LMS, you’re going to ensure every employee and every department are getting equal opportunities for training, rather than the budget going back to the same people again and again. It promotes fairness in the business, particularly when it comes to training.

Check up on staff during training

Finally, be sure to check up on staff during their training and to ensure they’re happy with the progress they’re making. Getting feedback on the sessions is useful for understanding how effective or purposeful the training was for those individuals in question. 

These training tips will hopefully train your employees effectively in 2023. Make sure to use these tips to benefit your workforce this year.

What To Do If You Think You’ve Been Hacked

Taking the time to learn about online safety, how to prevent hacks, keep your computer secure, and avoid the most common threats is all well and good. However, many of those tips aren’t going to help if you think you have already been hacked. Here, we’re going to look at how to handle getting hacked as well as possible. Try to stay calm, but it’s important to act decisively and quickly. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

Know the warning signs that you have been hacked

Before you jump to any conclusions, you should take the time to think about whether or not you really are a victim of hacking. There are a few signs of hacking that you should keep an eye out for, such as random popups or email password resets being sent to you that you didn’t request. You may find that you are being redirected to websites you’re not intending to visit when browsing the net. Another common sign is that your friends, family, and contacts will get suspicious or unexpected messages from you. If any of these happen without explanation, it’s time to suspect that you have been hacked.

Lock down your email account

If you have lost access to your email or you find that contacts of yours have been getting unexplained and weird emails from your address, then it’s likely that it has been hacked. If your email has been hacked, then you should assume that it’s an emergency situation. Use whatever options your email provider has to lock your account. Change the password if you can, apply two-step authentication so that the hacker would have to have your phone or another device to able to access it, and even consider creating a new email address if you’re worried about how compromised your current address is. Unfortunately, our email addresses are often so linked to other online as well as financial and business accounts that losing them can mean dealing with a major threat.

Get your other accounts back

If any of your accounts have suspicious activity on them, especially activity from an IP located far from yours, then they will usually send you a warning message, as well as methods on how to reset the account to lock anyone out. If you have lost something like a password manages password or an email account that can be used to access these other accounts, be they for social media, online subscription services, or otherwise, you should follow their instructions to reset them and lock the hackers out as soon as possible.

Let people know

If you’re hacked, then your accounts can become a risk vector for further attacks. Hopefully, friends and family should get in touch to let you know that they’re getting suspicious messages. Otherwise, if you lose an account that has the possibility to reach out to them, then you should get in touch with them as soon as possible, telling them to delete any suspicious messages, emails, or messages that are coming from you and to especially never click links that come from an account that you think you have lost, as it may be a phishing scam or a link that downloads malware, for instance. If you’re not able to get your account back, then they can help by flagging and reporting it, in the hopes that it might get taken down.

Monitor your bank activity

A lot of us have our financial details tied in with our other online accounts. This can include your bank account and other finances. As such, you should make sure that you keep a close eye on them, especially for any untoward transactions. If you have any reason to suspect that they are in your bank account, your PayPal or otherwise, then you need to get in touch with them as soon as possible and ask them to lock your account and help you recover it. Most banks will have some level of protection for your money so that you don’t lose everything, but you don’t want to take a chance on it.

If your PC is taken over

Most hacking attempts, and successful hacks, result in someone getting into your email or other accounts. However, there are cases in which someone might get remote access to your PC. You can check for the signs of remote access if you’re not certain. If you’re able to confirm it, or if you can actively see them controlling your PC, then you should immediately disconnect from the internet, change your online and device passwords, and use antivirus to hunt down and delete any malware. If you’re still getting remote access, then you might want to wipe the device entirely. Make sure that you secure your Wi-Fi router, as well, as it can be a method of attack.

If you get a ransomware message

A ransomware message can be one of the scariest things to receive. A ransomware attack is when someone gets access to your computer or accounts, and uses the threat of exposing or deleting your personal, private, and financial data to get you to pay them. For one, learn to recognize fake ransomware, which is becoming a very popular spam email as of late. If the ransomware threat is real, they will usually be able to prove it, by showing you that they have truly compromising data, or by using methods that show they have already gotten into your system. If you get hit by ransomware, there are steps to follow, including capturing proof, quarantining the affected systems, and reporting it to law enforcement. Whether or not you pay the ransom is something that you have to seriously consider, however.

If you have done all of the above but are still worried about the threat a hacker poses to you, or you’re panicking and not sure you’re able to handle the situation right, get in touch with your local computer security expert. Handing it off to a professional is sometimes the best thing to do.