Will Chatham is the Application Security Engineer at a cyber security research and development firm. Since Netscape 2.0, he has worked in a wide array of environments including non-profit, corporate, small business, and government. His varied background, from web developer to search engine optimizer to security professional, has helped him build a wide range of skills that help those with whom he works and teaches.

From Retail To Product Manufacture – The Safe Path

If you’ve been running an online retail store or estore for a while, you’ve probably spent a fair bit of time and money making sure it’s secure. You’ve also probably worked your backside off trying to get any share of the market in this saturated world of online sales. If you’ve got great marketing skills, then you might be thinking about where your next product line is coming from. You understand your customer base, and you know what they’re looking for. So where can you find it?

Invent It

Tech savvy entrepreneurs know that new innovations and gadgets can create entirely new markets. If you’re struggling to be heard (or found), then maybe it’s time you thought about creating the products you know your customers will love. You can guarantee your own quality. You’ll know the product inside out. You’re perfectly placed to undertake all the research and development. So what’s stopping you?

The Idea

Creative people often have dozens of good ideas. What you need to do is narrow that down to the one great idea you can develop and turn into a real-life product. Be wary of how you do this. You need to make sure you’re offline, or you’re on a secure intranet or network. The last thing you want is someone stealing your ideas. Worse still, they might wait until you’ve done all the development first!

The Tech and Support You Need

Next, you need some third party support you can trust. Just getting your printed circuit boards designed is going to take time and a good CAD system that’s secure. If you look at websites like altium.com, you can find out more about how the big companies tackle this in their R&D stages. As a smaller enterprise, you might be slower too. You need the time and the tools to refine your product ideas and create the tech that will work.

Getting Ready To Test

Testing is another phase of manufacture that can be high-risk if left unsecured. You should also integrate some marketing tests at the same time to check customers actually understand what your product is about. Think about your POS and consider where social media campaigns can work to generate hype and excitement. Focus groups are best here, but if your testing circuits and networks, you need to monitor your equipment and outputs.

Launching

Before the big day, you are going to have to release some newsworthy PR about your new product. There is no hiding it now. Of course, once it is announced, it is technically safe. However, you need to be absolutely certain it’s not vulnerable. Hackers can and will get into any connected system, especially if you’re planning to profit from what you’ve built! Make sure there are fail safes against any direct invasion too. You can’t afford for your new product to become dangerous in any way.

Security is a big deal in product development. Make sure you can close the gates on any vulnerabilities. So what’s your big idea?

Are Your Browsing Habits Putting You At Risk Of Fraud And Identity Theft?

For many years now, the internet has opened us up to a wide range of possibilities, with the power to be able to do pretty much anything from anywhere you feel like, it can be easy to forget about making sure that you’re safe online.

With the increase of fraud and identity theft, hackers are thriving because many people around the world fail to ensure that they’re safe online. Sometimes, something as simple as not logging out of your Facebook account can give a hacker an opportunity to access many other aspects of your life and ruin them. Why do they do this? It’s usually with the hope of gaining information like your card details so they can take your money, but some hackers simply do it for ‘fun’. This article is going to give you some tips on how you can stay safe online.

  1. Always logout of accounts even if it’s something as simple as a social media account. Once a hacker knows who you are they can do further digging and gain information on you.
  2. Consider buying data protection for your systems so that you can rest assured that hackers can’t access your information. This is achieved by creating further obstacles for hackers to overcome, and being able to detect when something is out of the ordinary.
  3. Be wary when using public WiFi. Many hackers gain access to people’s bank accounts by simply creating a ‘middle man’ when people are using internet banking through public WiFi. They do this by putting a page in front of the user that looks like what they were expecting, now all the user has to do is enter details and the hackers have full access to their accounts. If you need to check your bank, do it using a secured connection to prevent the chance of being hacked.
  4. Create passwords that don’t make sense. Rather than using your dog’s name, try a series of symbols and letters (in upper and lower case) so that it’s harder for hackers to penetrate. Another good piece of advice when creating a password is to use a word twice because hackers’ systems wouldn’t detect that. For example, using ‘puppydogdog%£$$’ would be much safer than simply using ‘puppydog’.
  5. Use a password protected router at home and work so that all of your information is encrypted. The more passwords the better.
  6. Be careful with what links you’re clicking on when you’re browsing the internet. Links that you see on social media might not be safe and even a short period of time on that website could give hackers all of the access that they need to your information.
  7. Always look for the green lock symbol within your browser to be able to identify if the website is safe. If you can’t see the lock, get off that webpage.

Apply these seven steps to your browsing routine and you will be able to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft! Stay safe on the internet!

The Power Of Privacy

The online world is both weird and wonderful. It’s safe to say that the internet has opened us up to so many possibilities, it’s incredible. We can connect with family around the world, do business deals from our bedrooms, and shop for just about anything, from anywhere – all before sunrise! But there is a flip side to having such much access. Not only are you able to access pretty much everything that you can, but the internet also has access to you. And it’s this side of the online world that can be pretty worrying to most of us. When you think about it, how much privacy do you really have online? Sometimes, not much! But you can change that by working with the right tools.

Domain Privacy

If you have a website or a blog, or any kind of online space that you have your own personalized domain for, you can often feel pretty great. You have your own corner of the internet to share the things that interest you, and owning your own domain can be a cool part of that. But it’s not always private. When you register your domain, your personal details such as your name and address can be visible to anyone. And that can be quite scary. So, you should opt for domain privacy when you’re buying your domain. That way, the details are the company, such as Bluehost, details, not yours.

Online Anonymity

When you’re browsing the internet, you can often assume that you’re safe and that nobody can see what you’re doing – even if you’re just looking on Facebook. But that’s not always the case. You can often be seen, even by the CIA or FBI! So you might want to use a VPN to keep your activity private. Take a look at some VPN reviews to see if they’re for you. You may feel more comfortable knowing that companies can’t always access your search history if you do.

Cookies

We all know about cookies. We often clear them regularly to keep our computers working well and to avoid too much of a trail online. But if you find that advertisers are still tracking you with what you’ve browsed, then why not think about blocking third-party cookies? You can do this in the settings, and it will allow advertisers to stop tracking you altogether, for a bit of peace of mind.

Social Privacy

Then you’ve got your social accounts to think about. Are you happy with anyone and everyone being able to see your social accounts? If not, then you’re going to want to go private. That way, your online social life can be kept to those that you’re happy to share it with.

SSL

Finally, you may also want to check that you’re secure online. We often see SSL when we’re logging into financial accounts, for example. But not everyone uses it. If you want to keep your privacy up, you need an SSL connection. Not every browser users them, but you can get extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere that can put that SSL connection onto a range of websites for you, just for extra measure!

Left Brain vs Right Brain: Can You Have a Creative Career in Coding?

Left brain or right brain? It’s a question that seems to be forced on us all the time as if making a binary choice between the world of tech, data and coding and the more creative career options out there is all we can do. But increasingly these days, people are looking to combine their interest in the arts with the possibilities of a technology-led career, and the choice certainly doesn’t have to be either/or. In fact, the point where creativity and logic meet can be startlingly inspiring. If you’re looking to combine the two areas, here’s just a flavour of the kind of arenas you could be operating in –  and who knows where you might be in ten years time:

Digital Product Design

An eye for technology and processes combined with ergonomics and splash of creative flair could well lead you down the path of product design. From web apps to digital products to physical objects out in the world, like cereal packaging design, you’ll need to drive projects with a vision that combines technical know-how with computer-aided design and a knowledge of aesthetics and what has consumer appeal. Knowing how things work and being able to apply that to a host of applications and products is a highly marketable skill. Familiarise yourself with multi-variate testing, graphic mock-ups, wireframing and site mapping to really understand your niche.

User Experience

Closely related, UX is big business these days, from disruptive start-ups to blue chips, as everyone competes for our shrinking online attention spans. UX articulates the emotional response of a consumer to site design and seeks to continuously optimise these in a relentless march down the sales tunnel to conversion nirvana. Constructing the architecture of a successful app or website is as much art as it is alchemy – there’s a ton of insight to be found in analytics, but a lot of subjectivity in design that leaves room for creative souls. From streamlining purchasing processes to creating branding guidelines, the scope of the work is highly varied.

Big Data Analytics

With data mountains stacking up around us all the time, and companies pushing to collect more and more information, there are heaps of untapped data lying around with companies desperate to analyse consumer behaviour and monetise it. It might be Machiavellian, but if you’re a bit of an armchair psychologist, such untapped access to behavioural analytics can be a playground. Defining user profiles, spotting macro and micro trends and translating them into workable strategies requires a keen eye for statistics, but also a massive dash of creative intuition to make the leap into saleable insight. Plus, the depiction of big data can literally be an art form if you’re feeling exceptionally creative…

Digital Animator

Web developers can use their coding magic to turn static designs into fully functioning realities, and creative problem solving and thinking outside of the box are skills in definite demand when it comes to this profession. There are opportunities to develop custom animations all round, and web development is definitely a skill best learned on the job. In fact, coding can be entirely self-taught, and can then lead you down the path of creating animations for other sites as a source of freelance work.

So there you have it – left and right brain, not destined to be mortal enemies after all, but creating viable and profitable careers paths in the brave new world.

The Ethics Of Food

When you sit down to your evening meal, it’s unlikely that you take a moment to think about where the food has come from. We have all become accustomed to having what we need, when we need it, from gluten-free options to low-carb keto-friendly recipes. We can eat strawberries in January and exotic fruit from the other side of the world, such are the delights of the modern diet options.

While you should always enjoy your food, it is worth spending a moment thinking about the ethics behind how we eat. There tends to be a price — sometimes financial, sometimes environmental — for everything that hits our plate. Sometimes, that price can be extortionately high, and one you might not be willing to pay if you know the extent of it.

Below are three examples of the ethical questions surrounding modern food, and how you can make small changes to address some of the issues raised.

#1 – Fair Trade Food

For third-world countries, globalization has meant that there are more work opportunities than there might otherwise have been. However, it’s wrong to assume that the citizens of these countries are in work that pays well and supports their living. Sadly, multinational corporations have a terrible history of exploiting their third-world workers in an attempt to boost their profit margins.

The Fair Trade movement is an effort to combat this issue. Farmers who work within Fair Trade practices are paid a fair wage, one that is enough for them to live a decent life on. If you’re curious to see how this works, you can find out more about the Fair Trade movement at fairtradecertified.org.

One note: Fair Trade food is a little more expensive than non-Fair Trade items, but the difference is relatively small– and can make a huge difference to the lives of farmers around the world.

#2 – Overfishing

Overfishing is becoming a huge problem throughout the world. Fish are being caught at such a rate that the declining populations don’t have the chance to reproduce and replace.

Companies who produce fresh and tinned fish are well aware of this issue. That’s why some companies have banded together to try and increase sustainability in their offerings. If you’re curious about these programs, then visit globalsalmoninitiative.org for more information on one of the leaders in this area, and see the difference these initiatives can make.

You could then put that knowledge into practice, and ensure that you’re always

#3 – Food Miles

Being able to eat any food you want at any point in the year is wonderful, but there’s a serious downside when it comes to the carbon footprint of that food.

Out-of-season and exotic fruit has to travel a huge distance to reach our stores, as it can’t be farmed naturally in the US. All of that travel is catastrophic for the environment, which is then made worse by the sheer volume of food waste the world creates.

It’s far better for the environment if you stick to locally-grown produce. Yes, you will be restricted to fruit and vegetables that are in season, but it can be fun to branch out and see the meals you can create with only local goods.

As it turns out, the food that goes onto your plate and the process is went through to get there is more complex than you might have originally thought. With a few small changes, you can be sure that you’re eating as ethically and sustainably as possible.