Category: Technology

Protecting against scams – [video]

Scams and Online Security

Online security should be a high priority for both individuals and businesses. Rather than being unconcerned, we should be proactive in reducing our risk. In 2015, cyber security threats are very real and could come in the way of ransomware, cyber espionage, cyber theft and password cracking.

In 2014, “advanced attackers targeted 5 out of 6 large companies”, and “60% of all targeted attacks struck small – medium sized organizations”. “Ransomware attacks grew 113 percent in 2014, driven by a more than 4,000 percent increase in crypto-ransomware attacks … The victim will be offered a key to decrypt their files, but only after paying a ransom that can range from US$300-$500 with no guarantee that their files will be freed”. (Source: Symantec Blog)

National Consumer Fraud Week 2015 was held recently here in Australia, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Institute of Public Accountants hosted a free forum on small business scams and cybercrime. You can watch the replay below, it goes for a while so make yourself a cuppa before you sit down. It is interesting, and scary to learn about the risks we are dealing with each day.


“Are you leaving your personal data wide open for scammers to find and use for fraudulent purposes? Sadly, identity theft is now one of the most common crimes in Australia, and can lead to all sorts of associated illegal activities.

Scammers steal your personal details to commit fraudulent activities. They may make unauthorised purchases on your credit card, or use your identity to open accounts such as banking, telephone or energy services. They might take out loans or carry out other illegal business under your name. They may even sell your information to other scammers for further illegal use.”

SCAMwatch

Although it may be difficult to stop an attacker who decides to target you, there are some simple steps you can take to substantially reduce your risks of falling prey to scams:

Update your software and systems, stay on top of updates

Don’t click links in unsolicited email or messages

Use very strong and unique passwords for each login. Use unique login names and try two-factor authentication when available

Don’t tell people your passwords, don’t leave them written down in public display

Call the person to verify an unusual or unexpected email, or a change in banking details or invoicing methods, don’t respond to unexpected email requests

Be prepared for the worst – so make sure you can restore your systems. Apply the 3-2-1 backup system – 3 backups, on 2 different media and 1 offsite

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Web Technologies Most Frequently Used

Web technologies most frequently used

Going through some stats the other day, I came across a valuable resource from W3Techs , that shows the usage percentages of technologies on websites such as CMS, Social Widgets, Traffic Analysis and much more. If you are looking to explore further then you can follow the link above.

I’ve compiled some current 2015 data for February from W3Techs and displayed below in bar charts, so that you can see at a glance some of this information. For more specifics visit the W3Tech page.

What is the most used Content Management System?

A CMS, or content management system, is basically a computer application that manages the content and delivery of website pages, allowing you to create, edit and publish content to your website. There are many popular systems, but the most popular of all is definitely WordPress as shown below in the graph. Some other well-known CMS didn’t make it onto the graph as their usage was 0.1% or less, including Weebly, Wix, Yahoo Small Business, Webs, and others.

What is the most used Social Sharing Widget?

Social Widgets allow websites to create interaction either from the social channel, or to the social channel and so are a popular way to extend a website’s reach to fans and followers. As expected Facebook comes out on top, but Twitter and Google+ are popular also.

What is the most used Traffic Analysis Tool?

Keeping an eye on your audience provides businesses and individuals with key data that can help to identify what is or what isn’t working on a website. It gives an insight into popular webpages on your site, and also often helps to identify where traffic is coming from and how you are being found online. Google Analytics rules in this area, but not everyone uses Google Analytics. Also some websites may use a combination of tools.

Did you expect to see different results in the graphs above? Information as above can be useful for businesses in determining what technologies may be good to include on their websites.

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QR codes – what they are and how to use

Watch the video above to find out about QR codes and how to create one.

A QR code is a 2-dimensional barcode that is scanned by mobile phones or portable computer devices with cameras. When the QR code is scanned, then the embedded QR information is decoded and interpreted into text. The QR stands for “quick response”, because information is quickly read and decoded by the mobile phone within moments.

Most smart phones of today either have QR barcode reading software included in the phone’s tools, or otherwise there are QR code apps that can be downloaded to the phone from “Google Play for Android” or “Itunes for IPhone”.

Marketers and businesses are starting to incorporate QR codes more into their advertising.

The reason for this is simply the fact that there are so many mobile phones in use. People are on their mobile phones all day long, not just for talking and texting, as it once was, but now even more so for social networking and sharing of daily lifestyle information.

To take advantage of this, a QR code is a simple and effective way to provide information immediately and easily to your market.

If you look around, you will see QR codes on billboards, websites, magazines, advertisements, posters, business cards, product items, t-shirts, cards and much more.

To read the QR code simply activate your QR code app and point your mobile device at the QR code square.

Then the QR barcode will be scanned and the embedded information will be transmitted to your phone and decoded.

What can a QR code be used for?

Any text that can be typed out, can be shared by QR barcode.

  • URL link to your website or blog or a particular web page- this saves the user typing it out, so it is especially useful for long URLs
  • Contact information including phone numbers, addresses, names, and other relevant details
  • Links to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks
  • Special codes for promotions or sales
  • A discount code for purchasing online or in-store

If you want to add a barcode to a product you simply create a code with the required information embedded in it.

To create the code, there are programs out there that can generate a code, but the technique shown in the video is probably one of the easiest and it’s free.

A couple of important tips for creating QR codes:

  • The more information that you embed in your QR code the harder it becomes for a device to read and interpret. So keep the text length down, so it will read quickly and easily, otherwise people won’t bother.
  • You can shorten long URLs so that they take up less encoded space by using a URL shortener

Have you come across any great QR code campaigns, or perhaps you’ve used them yourself… leave a comment below

 


Hi I’m David Tiong, website designer and blogger. If you enjoyed this post, then please share with others or in the comments below. If you want to connect more, then visit HostwithDavid.com or Google+ or Facebook or Twitter

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