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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.

4 Surprising Everyday Tech That Can Misuse Your Data

According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland there is, on average, a hacking attack on computers happening every 39 seconds in the United States. The study doesn’t quantify how many attacks occur on other devices, but it’s fair to say that hackers are an innovative and hard-working bunch. Your smartphone and your favorite everyday gadgets can also become a target. In fact, by 2020, it’s expected that the Internet of Things will reach out around 200 billion connected devices in the US only. To put things into perspectives, there are already 25 connected devices per 100 inhabitants. The trend is expected to continue to grow. After all, when you think about it, you probably already have no far from 25 devices just for yourself. From your fitness tracker to your smart home system, modern households have made themselves more and more vulnerable to data breach attempts. How so, you ask? By increasing the reliance on IoT devices for everyday activities. The question is not whether your data are safe, but how your IoT data can be misused against you. The chilling answer you might not have expected is that some of your favorite gadgets could be the source of data (mis)interpretation. Your home is not data-safe, on the contrary!

Don’t let your ISP track your activities

Cybercriminals keep an active eye on innovative technologies to access loosely protected data – or data without any form of protection. Not only businesses, but individuals are vulnerable to hacking attacks. From using unreliable security software packages that fail to protect you to lacking common sense when you receive suspicious emails, you need to educate your household to the best way of managing your data privacy. However, what you may not know is that your Internet Service Provider, or ISP for short, can gain full access to your location, your searches, and your browsing history. While it shouldn’t matter, legal authorities can demand to see those data or can be alerted in the event of questionable activities. Admittedly, while this might be advantageous to target terrorists and other criminals online, you could be exposed to legal actions for something as innocent as essay research about controversial topics. Additionally, your geolocation can block access to specific content. The addition of a free VPN to your household network can ensure that your data are not getting used against you. A virtual private network will hide your data from the ISP.

Don’t let Alexa orders anything on your behalf

Alexa, the voice assistant introduced by Amazon on the market a few years back, has made a reputation for itself by helping you to organize your household and your online orders. But this apparently useful gadget has also developed a nasty habit; it can pass orders on your behalf without your knowledge. Does it mean Alexa has developed a form of intelligence of its own and can make decisions for you? Of course not. Alexa is and remains an AI tool that learns at your contact but never enough to become its own ruler. These unexpected orders are the results of data mishaps on Alexa’s part. The most famous story is about a little girl in Dallas who started a conversation with Alexa about cookies and a dollhouse, which led to the accidental order of the dollhouse. When the news reported the incident, Alexa devices picked up on the news segment and ordered further dollhouses, proving that the device is always listening.

Your fitness tracker reveals the location of secret military bases

Your fitness tracker might be your best ally if you’re trying to get in shape, but it knows far too much about your life to be trusted. Wearables are designed to collect data all the times, aggregated information and providing access to companies to analyze your performance and the one of the devices. And that’s precisely where the problem lies. Users of the Strava app realize that the heatmap could reveal not only the location of military bases but also the names and APIs of the individuals on each running route. In short, a fitness tracker could expose the entire position and routines of the armed services. Who needs spies anymore?

Don’t let burglars know about your habits

Who doesn’t love the ease-of-use and comfort of a smart home installation? But you might reconsider your choices when you discover that your smart home data could be used against you. Indeed, experienced hackers could gain access to your smart data, discovering your home routine and more importantly the times when you’re not at home. From ransomware attacks that threatened to take over your house to targeted burglary, smart home does not mean safe home.

Can you trust your everyday tech? While it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use any device that connects to the IoT, it’s fair to say that exercising caution and common sense should be your default position at all times.

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Yes, New Tech Will Help Your Business Grow

Some business owners can be wary about introducing new tech into their business. But, this shouldn’t be the case as new tech is going to be able to help you grow your business like nothing else can. You might be wondering how tech is going to help your business grow, and many people will be asking the same question. As this is the case, in this article I am going to be discussing a few of the ways in which new tech can do this for your business.

Reaching New Customers And Clients

One suggestion that I have for you here is to use a live chat on your website. This allows your clients to talk to you directly without having to wait in a queue on the phone, or wait for a reply by email. This means that they can ask you questions that they might otherwise avoid, which could potentially lead to a higher conversion rate. This is going to be great for your business, and you will see a rising number of customers if you use this tool for your website.

Delivering A Better Service

Do you want proof that tech can you deliver a better service that will lead to increased success? Just look at the medical industry. Every year, medical companies are investing in tech like new cardiac ultrasound machines that deliver a faster solution to their patients with more reliable results. This gives them the edge over competitors, and yes, competition does exist in the medical world. At its core, it’s just like any other business.

If you look at other industries, you will see that the same thing applies. The more tech that you have in your business, the better service you will be able to deliver. Whether this is using ipads instead of paper copies of files, or tech that allows for better quality pictures, you will find that your level of service increases.

Introducing Scalability And Cutting Costs

If you don’t already know what scalability is, it’s the ability to grow your business, at the same rate as your profits. So, if you want to grow your business but you are spending too much money at the moment, you need to think about cutting costs. You can invest in tech to do this, as you will no longer need to hire a full workforce for the jobs that the tech can do. Many people prefer this option as it means they only have to make a one-off payment for the tech to work (even if it is a pretty big one), and then they don’t have to pay a salary afterward.

Tech can go a long way when it comes to saving your business money and allowing it to grow, but you need to think about this carefully before you commit to it.

I hope that you have found this article helpful, and see how new tech will indeed help your business grow. Don’t be afraid to come into the era of tech, you might find that it benefits you more than you think.

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Social Media Trends To Be Watching For

Can you quite believe that another year has nearly been and gone? 2018 has been a bit of a whirlwind for a number of reasons, with all sorts of things going on around the world. So when you look back it, it can be easy to only look at those things that happened throughout the year that weren’t all that great. But in reality, there have been so many good things that have happened. One sector to look at in particular is the internet and things like social media channels. They have been changing and changing, and look very different to what we knew about them when they first started out. Naturally, they change and evolve to keep up with demand, as well as the technology that is available.

Gone are the days when social media was for just sharing memes; you can now stream live video, make short 15-second stories to view, and make your face into a dog at any given moment. Social media influencers are on the rise too, so the social media networks are finding ways to make sure that the content is able to stay relevant and can help influencers (because when they do well, the social channels do well too). But what is on the horizon for the year to come? What changes do we think we will see in social media over the next few weeks, months, and year? Here are some trends that are set to popular. Get to know them, so that you can make the most of them and use them to your (or your business’ advantage).

More Relevant Content

When social media content is irrelevant to the person scrolling through it, it can be very frustrating. When you think of it from a business or an influencer point of view, it can be very frustrating when their content is coming up to the right people or customers are having to wade through a whole heap of other stuff to see what you have to offer. Which is why targeted personalization is a growing trend for social media and online marketing and content marketing in general. Having the right kind of data to help them and their audiences will mean that content can be tailored, as well as the content reaching the exact audiences that they want to see.

Machine Learning

In a similar vein to what is mentioned above, sites like Facebook and Google could never write specific rules to choose the ads a particular social media user is most likely to click on. But that is where machine learning comes in. It helps to identify patterns in user behavior and determine which  advertisements are most likely to be relevant to which social media user. You could take a look here if you are interested in looking at more of machine learning, but it is something that is going to become more and more prevalent in our world, especially the digital world. Simply because machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that means systems are able to automatically learn and improve from what has happened before.

Video Content

For a lot of people, they won’t have the time or inclination to sit down and read a lengthy blog post, unless it is something that they are really invested in. Which is where video content comes in. How many times have you seen video content, such as a cookie decorating video or a video of ‘hacks’ as you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed? Video content is really key and it does start to stop you in your tracks. The algorithms of many social channels have changed, and will continue to change, making video content more and more valuable. As well as conventional methods of creating video, you can do some off-the-cuff videos with things like IG-TV and Instagram stories. In fact, more and more users are using the Instagram video tools than the ‘original’ Snapchat video feature. So you can see just how quickly things change, and how they can grow and grow.

Influencer Marketing

You might have seen plenty of #ad disclosures or the ‘paid partnership with’ disclosures coming up on your social media feed over the past year. But the truth is, this is going to get bigger and bigger. Influencer marketing is something that is really new, but it is getting bigger and bigger. It hasn’t been something that has been trialled before it started, and now over 90% of companies that use influencer marketing strongly believe that it is successful for them. So it can be worth it to get an influencer on-board if you’re a brand, so be prepared to see plenty more of where that came from.

Publishing Content

You can share links on social media channels, and have been able to do that for a while now. But something that is becoming really novel is using social media channels for publishing content. Take the site LinkedIn, for example. Over the past year or so it has got busier and busier with users, and has become more and more popular to be used as a publishing outlet. You can see many companies, as well as individuals, using the platform to boost their marketing by sharing some inspiring, informative, or influential content.

Along similar lines, there are other social channels like Instagram that are making it easier for people to ‘swipe up’ to read articles or visit a website where something was bought from. This kind of feature is only available to a certain number at the moment, as you have to have over 10,000 followers, but could the future of it being allowed for everyone, no matter the number of followers? Social media and content marketing isn’t just about creating great stuff on your website. It is all about how it is shared and promoted on social channels as well now.

Do any of these trends interest you as we enter 2019? It would be good to hear what you think and what you preferred social channel is.

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Bespoke Software Development Tips

Software lies at the core of business efficiency. It may be a lot cheaper to go for a software solution that is bought off of the shelf. However nothing meets the efficiency and effectiveness that can be reaped through implementing a bespoke software solution. This type of software will be completely tailor-made in order to suit your business; the size of your company, the activities you need to carry out, the data you need to store and your goals for expansion in the future. Read on to discover the top seven tips for having your own bespoke software developed.

Feasibility check

A lot of people overlook this point; however a feasibility check is essential. What is the purpose of developing your software? How is it going to provide you with improved efficiency? How will ROI be affected?

Technology infrastructure plan

Draw up a plan compromising of all the technologies and servers utilised in your business at present. This is essential because the software you develop needs to be compatible with the technology you use if you are to benefit from a cost efficient and time effective software development process.


Outsourcing can ensure your software runs effectively for a lifetime. You can of course take advantage of the fantastic professionals out there who are trained and qualified in software development. But what a lot of people do not realise is that not only will you have the peace of mind that your software development is in the hands of the best, but you will also know you are covered in the future should any glitches occur. This is because these businesses provide substantial care and after support.

A long testing period is essential

Whether you are getting a company to develop your software or you are doing it yourself testing is imperative. This does not merely relate to a quick hour of playing around on the software. You need a testing period of approximately a month in order to ensure everything runs properly.

Find a robust software programming language

Believe it or not, but all software does not speak the same language! From Visual Basic to Java to C++, the choices are vast. Don’t try and go for something unusual – this will make bespoke software development and integration of other systems extremely difficult. Make sure you opt for a robust option. Aside from the three just mentioned other good options include; VB.NET and C#.

Web-based software application

Web-based software solutions are on the rise, with so many options, from SD-WAN to productivity apps. These are seen as highly beneficial as the only thing that is required is an internet connection for it to run. This type of software is seen as the future.

Lots of features are not always a good thing

It can be very easy to get distracted and build a software solution with a monumental number of different features. However, if these are not necessary, then don’t include them. The whole point of bespoke software is so that you can manage segments of your business efficiently. Pointless features simply complicate it.

If you follow the seven tips given in this article then you should have no issue when it comes to developing the perfect bespoke software solution for your business.

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Launching a Music Career – Tips on Going Pro

For a musician, music is one of the prevailing passions of life. There’s no feeling quite like hammering out a day’s worth of stress on the drums, or transforming a life experience into an intricately-formed set of interwoven lyrics and guitar lines. If music is in your blood, it’s impossible to extract it, nor would you want to; music helps musicians get through life and gives them a creative outlet.

Practising music in an amateur capacity is one thing, but structuring an entire career around the art form is quite another. It’s not easy to break into the music industry; in fact, music is probably one of the most competitive and difficult careers you could choose for yourself. As a trade-off, though, it’s also one of the most consistently rewarding and downright enjoyable careers you could pursue. Here are some tips on getting your music career off the ground.

Build your finances

It’s boring, sure, but one of the most important things you need to do as a musician is to try and build your finances to the point where a few failures aren’t going to damage you significantly. Music as a career is rife with opportunity, but with opportunity comes failure; you’re going to play quite a few gigs to nobody in particular, so you need to be prepared to be out of pocket from time to time. Plus, you might need money to buy that new guitar you’ve been lusting after; how else are you going to finish your magnum opus? There are several ways to go about this. You could apply for a loan to bolster your cash reserves a little; if you’ve got a vehicle, we’d strongly recommend this logbook loan lender as a reputable and trustworthy source of money for that first van to transport all your gear. Alternately, you could simply put your nose to the grindstone and save a portion of your income until you feel you’re ready. Whatever you decide, you’ll need a decent wad of cash behind you before you embark on a music career.

Treat music as a business

One of the most heartbreaking things every musician has to learn about a musical career is that many aspects of this life will swiftly become just as boring and numbers-focused as any job would. Music is a commodity; it’s bought, sold and bartered for. As a result, you’ll need to make sure your music is adequately catered for in the business department. Get yourself a savvy management team who know how to negotiate proper fees for you and your band (if you have one); optimise the sound quality and distribution method of your music to make sure it’s getting to as many people as possible; make sure you understand the ins and outs of the legal side of music and, if you don’t, hire people who do. Obviously, most of this doesn’t apply until you find yourself making money, but there are too many stories of musicians falling foul of this side of the industry for you not to make sure you’re covered.

Hone your craft

Don’t make the rookie mistake of thinking the songs you wrote when you set out will sustain you for life. Keep writing, keep improving on your instrument and if you’re in a band, keep playing together to improve your chemistry. Eventually, the same songs and the same performances will start to bore the audiences who loved you to begin with, and besides, as the old adage goes, a huge amount of creators claim to despise everything they wrote more than five years ago. If you don’t want to keep writing songs and expressing new stories and emotions, then maybe this isn’t the business for you. While it’s true that many songwriters (lookin’ at you, Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain) weren’t technical wizards on their instruments, they still have a unique style which they honed over the course of their musical career. Whatever your musical niche might be, keep learning and evolving and don’t allow yourself to stagnate.

Don’t give up

This is one of the most crucial pieces of advice any budding musician could take on board, so it’s very, very important to say it: don’t give up. No matter how many times you’re rebuffed by venue owners who say they just don’t think there’s a place for you here; no matter how many times people tell you your music sucks (and they will, whether it does or not); no matter how many times you read a scathing review of a gig or single in a local music magazine. You are your own worst critic, and you only need to listen to yourself and the opinions of those you trust when it comes to improving your art. Obviously, reviews should be read and taken on board; you need to learn to deal with criticism if you’re going to be a professional musician. Whatever gets said about you, though, and whatever business setbacks you find yourself suffering, remember your love of music and let that carry you through the hard times; it’ll come in handy during the good times, too.

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Handling The One Million Tasks Of An Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is about more than just having an idea and bringing it to the world. You’ll also need to take care of somewhere in the region of a million tasks to make sure your company is running smoothly. OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it’s kind of true! As more and more tasks accumulate, the more under pressure you’ll begin to feel. The good news is that you don’t need to drown under the pressure of making sure everything is taken care of. Below, we take a look at a few helpful tips that’ll have you more in control.

Make a List
You’re going to feel like tasks are coming at you from all angles if you’re waiting for them to arrive before handling them. You might be in the middle of something you actually enjoy working on, and then realize that, ah, you haven’t yet sent that crucial form. From nowhere, your concentration has been lost, and you’ve lost some of the day! To prevent this from happening, make sure you’re making a list of things you need to do, and then set aside a block of time to work through it.

Cut It Out
Not everything that’ll be on your “to-do list” is essential. It’s just the things that you would get through in an ideal world. Well, it’s not an ideal world, not when you’re an entrepreneur! Sometimes, the best solution is just to strike a line through it entirely. If you’re sure that it’s not something that positively has to be completed, then stick in a pin in it until your schedule is a bit clearer, and revisit it then. Your time will be better spent doing other things.

Rope In Help
You don’t need to struggle through all of your responsibilities alone. We mean, you could, but why put yourself through it when there’s help available? Look at roping in help by outsourcing some of your tasks. If you have tasks that are easy but time-consuming, or overly complicated and thus you spend too much of your time just trying to figure things out, then you should outsource the work. You’ll have to pay for it, of course, but think of it as an investment; you’ll have more time to focus on things that will actually grow your business.

Work Efficiently
For the tasks that you must do yourself, make sure you’re doing them efficiently! There’s a whole range of software that can simplify the process of work. For example, the best online tax software will make managing your taxes a breeze, while there is also software for things like accounting and data management. With the right tools, you can limit the amount of time you spend working on these tasks.

Structured Day
Finally, make sure you’re structuring your day. It’s much easier to work efficiently and productively if you’re taking a proactive approach and planning your day out. Studies have shown that a routine is the best way to get things done!

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