Mozilla And Google Boosts Anti-Tracking And Security

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

Internet security changes all the time and so does the variety of issues. We have to be sure to run anti-virus, watch out for infections and phishing, and regularly change our passwords just to start the process of being safe on the Internet.

There are people that spend time to create these viruses and other hidden or unwanted system modifications.

While their motivation may not be known (usually money), one of the hazards of using the Internet is dealing with the headaches these things can cause.

On top of regular infections, there are many data gathering processes that can run in the background of your system.

These can be gathering data to send to someone attempting to steal your information. There are also websites that gather data when you visit, login, or create an account.

While there are instances where gathering data is used maliciously as I mentioned, it is also something legitimate sites can be guilty of. In 2019, you may have heard of sites like Google and Facebook gathering information, but what and how much are they gathering? What can you do about it?

Earlier this year, the International Computer Science Institute investigated Google and the Applications linked with its Playstore.

Applications downloaded from Google and the Playstore can gather data, and that can be used to create your Advertising ID. This ID is unique, but is and can be reset.

Many applications were also linking that Advertising ID with the hardware IDs of a device, such as the MAC address. This is forbidden as it allows the data to be permanently stored, even when you erase your history and erase the application data. Google is addressing the issue and already forcing some applications to change its data gathering process.

Google is also stepping up security for mobile devices in another way. Users that are familiar with Chrome and its password storing may know the browser version of Google can suggest a strong password.

This is now coming to mobile devices as well, which will sync security across all devices, prompting you to use a strong and unique password when it is determined your password is weak or frequently used.

Facebook may be the king of data harvesting. I am sure many of you have searched for something on the Internet, then noticed ads on Facebook showing that item. This is part of targeted advertising done by Facebook.

Facebook has the ability to follow you around the web, checking your browser habits and collecting user data anytime you are on a site with a Like or comment section from Facebook attached.

Mozilla Firefox introduced the Facebook Container extension for its browser last year, which keeps Facebook isolated.

While it has been out for awhile, 2.0 was just released, which blocks those sites with the Facebook links from gathering information.

Firefox is stepping up the anti-tracking to another level as well. The browser debuted its new “Enhanced Tracking Protection.” Mozilla teamed up with Disconnect, an open source anti-tracking program to create this new protection that blocks over 1,000 third party websites from gathering data while you browse the Internet.

This feature is enabled by default once the browser is updated to its newest version.

Some may not worry about their privacy online, but for those who do, it’s time to update.

Why Social Networking Is Important For Any Business

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
If you are not currently using social media for your business then chances are that you have fallen behind your competitors.

Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ are great platforms to promote brand awareness, communicate with existing and potential customers, as well as attract new leads.

Up to a quarter of developed nation’s Internet traffic is used on social media and networks. It is free to sign up and use all of these social networks. Why wouldn’t you want to address this market?

Social media sites can help you establish your online presence. Statistics show that over 70% of people trust ads on social networks from friends, while only 10% of people trust advertisements from websites.

Social media is more than just getting your name out there; it establishes trust and lasting relationships with new and existing clients. You can keep in touch in a personal manner, update services that you offer, and offer discounts and coupons on your social sites.

Social networks work like word-of-mouth, but more reliably. Your friends and followers can easily share your content with as many people as they want without interrupting their daily lives.

This is important because if it is a hassle to view your advertising it could be considered a nuisance instead of a promotion.

Instead everyone will check their social sites and see a post from their friend to check out your business. They are already in the mood for reviewing messages, so this is not an inconvenience to read.

Now before you start making a profile on every social site, first consider what you want to get out of social networking. Most businesses could get a Twitter account to share basically anything instantly.

Twitter is great for marketing and reaching many people instantly. Since Twitter is available easily from any smart phone, it is basically like texting all of your followers at once. Your followers can then retweet or share anything that you post.

Facebook is also very popular. It is a publicly trusted location and it performs really well in Google’s search index. This means that if you are having trouble with getting your website to the top results in Google, Facebook can help. Your company’s Facebook page should not take too long to reach the top results if someone is searching for your business.

Each social network is different and attracts different crowds. This can be seen in the usage statistics for each network. This can help you determine which social networks would be best for you to reach your desired audience.

When starting out you want to start slowly. Do not join every social network you can find. It would be best to join Twitter and Facebook at first. Determine who is going to manage the social sites. Then once you have some followers post some polls or special offers to attract more followers.

Once your followers start posting to your page, read their posts and answer them. This will add a lot of value to your business.

You can begin posting articles related to your business to encourage people to spend more time reading your content. Some things to keep in mind would be to not post too often or you may be considered a spammer.

Once you have become familiar with social networks you can expand to other social networks such as Google+ or Pinterest. The most important rule of all is to be patient; you may not see results overnight. However, if you provide quality content, service, and interactions on your social sites you will be successful.

If you would like help determining where you should start or need any help with your existing social networks, give us a call.

Social Media Tips For Non Profit Managers

In the world of non-profit organizations it is not rare for just one person to get assigned the social media duties for the whole company.

They may also have dozens of other demands to deal with that have nothing to do with public relations so they will probably need all the help they can get to be able to come up with fresh content week in and week out.

One good tip is to use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to offer a first look at an upcoming event or newsletter, introduce a staff member, share photographs of volunteers as they are working and ask a trivia question, the answer to which will shed light on your company’s particular cause.

Other good tips include connecting a news story that is currently trending in your non-profit work, sharing a client’s words of gratitude, sharing a success story, thanking a staff member or volunteer, or sharing a photograph that was taken at a special event.

If you take a specific approach on a regular basis, the audience will start looking forward to what is coming next.

Steps To Secure Your Social Media Strategy

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Keeping your internal network secure is one of the top jobs of IT consultants like Tech Experts. You don’t want confidential company or client data to show up on the web.

But what happens when you start marketing your company on social media sites? How do you keep your company secure?

In general, cyber criminals aren’t stupid. They troll sites like Facebook and Twitter, looking to take advantage of useful information employees naively post.

A policy that educates your employees on the “Do’s and dont’s” of social media posting can save your company an enourmous amount of aggravation.

Here are a few steps to include in a social media policy to ensure social media is conducted in a secure manner. It’s important to have a solid policy if you want to ensure that your network and data remain safe from potential social media threats.

Watch where you click
Almost all social media postings contain links to other content. This is the sweet spot hackers are targeting. They place innocuous links to virus and spyware programs, or even worse, hijacked accounts of your friends and business associates.

You should tell employees involved in your social media efforts not to click on any suspicious links. If they receive links from friends that seem uncharacteristic, it’s a good idea to not click on them.

Update privacy settings
Social media sites constantly update and change security settings on their networks, leading to unexpected exposure of information you might not want indexed on the web. It’s a good idea to ensure that all of your profile information is private, and that you regularly review your privacy settings.

Don’t share personal information
This might seem obvious to you, but there are still unsuspecting users out there who share too much of their personal information on social sites. Remember, social media is all about being social. Pretty much everything you share can be viewed by others. The last thing you want is an identity thief accessing your contact information and other personal data.

Log in using HTTPS
HTTPS is a web protocol that ensures the data sent between your computer and a web site is secure and encrypted. Many social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus support HTTPS, and you should ensure that you use it.

To use HTTPS, you simply put an S at the end of the usual http address in the URL bar of your browser. I.e., will open a more secure version of Facebook. By using HTTPS you can eliminate Man-in-the-Middle attacks and other similar types of phishing.

They key thing to remember: If you don’t know them, they aren’t your friend. You’ll be miles ahead if you treat social media interactions like you do real life interactions. You wouldn’t offer a stranger your cell phone number or home address until you knew them well. The same precautions apply to your social media accounts.

Timely Tips For Social Networking Safety

Social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live Spaces are services people can use to connect with others to share information like photos, videos, and personal messages.

As the popularity of these social sites grows, so do the risks of using them. Hackers, spammers, virus writers, identity thieves, and other criminals follow the traffic.

Read these tips to help protect yourself when you use social networks.

Be wary of links
Use caution when you click links that you receive in messages from your friends on your social website. Treat links in messages on these sites as you would links in email messages.

Post judiciously
Know what you’ve posted about yourself. A common way that hackers break into financial or other accounts is by clicking the “Forgot your password?” link on the account login page.

To break into your account, they search for the answers to your security questions, such as your birthday, home town, high school class, or mother’s middle name. If the site allows, make up your own password questions, and don’t draw them from material anyone could find with a quick search.

Watch out for a friend’s hacked email
Don’t trust that a message is really from who it says it’s from. Hackers can break into accounts and send messages that look like they’re from your friends, but aren’t. If you suspect that a message is fraudulent, use an alternate method to contact your friend to find out. This includes invitations to join new social networks. For more information, see Scammers exploit Facebook friendships.

Protect your address book
To avoid giving away email addresses of your friends, do not allow social networking services to scan your email address book.

When you join a new social network, you might receive an offer to enter your email address and password to find out if your contacts are on the network. The site might use this information to send email messages to everyone in your contact list or even everyone you’ve ever sent an email message to with that email address.

Don’t friend everyone
Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you.

Choose your social network carefully. Evaluate the site that you plan to use and make sure you understand the privacy policy. Find out if the site monitors content that people post. You will be providing personal information to this website, so use the same criteria that you would to select a site where you enter your credit card.

Posting is permanent
Assume that everything you put on a social networking site is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily print photos or text or save images and videos to a computer. And don’t forget, Google caches!

Avoid apps and games
Be careful about installing extras on your site. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications to steal your personal information.

To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the web.

Social Media For Your Business: Three Quick Tips

Social media is all the rage – we’ve written about it here, and you’re certainly hearing about it on the news and in your email.

Here are some quick tips to get the most out of three of the most popular services.

LinkedIn Can Help Grow Your Business
LinkedIn has more than 150 million registered users, which is a lot of opportunities for those who wish to use the professional social media site to help them grow their business.

The real worth of LinkedIn for businesses is to be able to connect on a one-to-one basis with other business professionals.

Many of the connections you make on the site can end up not only introducing you to partners and business influencers but potentially also referring your business to possible new customers.

Having a personal LinkedIn profile is often viewed as a digital business card or a form of online resume.

While using it as such is a good place to start, it can be taken much further to help you build a powerful presence online in order to help encourage more business opportunities and is an excellent way of both attracting and managing your business connections.

Using Twitter
Twitter is one of the fastest and best methods of amplifying the message, product and services of a business or an individual in all the social media available in the twenty-first century.
The first thing you need before launching your business on Twitter is a strategy.

Review your marketing and business goals, and don’t make this preliminary step too complicated.

Think about how your business can benefit from social media and how the industry that you are in is using it as a whole. The great majority of the time, social media will be able to fit into your digital marketing efforts.

Some things that you need to think about include what you intend to use Twitter for. Are you using it for customer research or for branding? Are you using it in order to reach a specific segment or target, for customer support, or just to raise awareness?

Another question you need to answer is whether you will be able to come up with enough relevant content to make it worthwhile.

Optimize Your Profile on Pinterest
Your B2B business may by now have created a presence on the popular and ever-growing Pinterest.

This site has achieved incredible growth, which is very hard to overlook when it comes to the potential for B2B marketers to engage with both existing and prospective clientele.
There are some ways in which you can optimize your profile on this site, however.

The About area is the keyword description of your page as it will appear in search results, should someone search for your page.

The image you use needs to be consistent with the profile graphic or avatar you use on your firm’s other social profiles for the purpose of easy recognition, though you also need to keep in mind how the image will look on your followers’ Pinterest streams.

The Social Linking area, if done correctly, can be a great source of content for your other profiles.

Decide whether you want to manually or automatically publish your pins to your Facebook or Twitter pages.

The Hide setting should be turned off so others can find your profile and pins when searching and search engines can index your activity.

Has Your Company’s Facebook Page Converted To Timeline? Here are Some Must Know Tips

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

If you follow social media at all (and you should be!) you know that the landscape changes almost on a daily basis. One place this is very evident is Facebook.

Facebook is constantly working to “improve” your experience and now they’ve done it again with Timeline – not only for our personal pages but for our business pages as well.

Many business owners fought the changes and waited until they were forced to accept the upgrade to Timeline. Now that it’s been switched over, they’re complaining that it’s cumbersome, unattractive and difficult to navigate.

But the Facebook juggernaut is unstoppable – the new layout is here to stay. So, here are a few tips to make the most out of your company’s Facebook page, and dealing with Timeline a little easier.

• Create a cover photo: this is a great way to use Facebook to further build brand recognition.

The options are virtually endless when it comes to this image as long as you remember that you can use a brand or logo but you can’t offer a coupon or discount (no “%” off sales or coupons or similar ploys), no contact information (that’s what your “About” section is for) and no calls to action (that’s what your status updates are for).

• You can get private messages from fans through your business page: this is a new feature and very useful. Before, if your fans wanted to send a message to you through Facebook, it had to be through your personal page.

Now they can contact you directly through your business page. This one may be a little difficult getting used to, so make sure you check those messages – you don’t want to alienate a potential customer!

• Highlighted post option: you can now select a post to be highlighted (this can be those discount, sales or calls to action that you can’t put in your cover image). Highlighted posts simply means your post can take up both sides of the page.

These are just a few of the useful changes that Facebook Timeline brings to your business page. Don’t worry – the new timeline may not fit well with your thoughts about change but it’s all in our best interest. Don’t panic and go with the flow.

Can Employers Ask For Your Facebook Login Info?

A current case that is attempting to define privacy in the era of social media deals with the question of whether your social media account should be visible to current and prospective employers.

The next time you’re asked the typical “name your greatest weakness” interview question, remember it could be much worse: Job seekers applying to Maryland’s Department of Corrections were asked for their Facebook logins and passwords.

Savvy employers already check an applicant’s “digital footprint.” Some companies, like the Maryland Department of Corrections, have gone even further, requesting or even demanding individuals’ social media passwords to look at data not open to the public. Whether this practice is legal remains unclear.

The ACLU filed a written protest in the Maryland case, and the corrections department stopped asking for the information. They then had job candidates log into their Facebook accounts while the hiring manager looked over their shoulder at the Facebook content hidden behind privacy filters.

The officials at the Maryland Department of Corrections said that they did this to make sure job candidates didn’t have any gang affiliations.

The agency told the ACLU it had reviewed the social media accounts of 2,689 applicants and denied employment to seven because of items found on their pages.

One state is banning the practice, and at least 10 other states have bills that have been introduced. A few courts have ruled that such requests violate the federal Stored Communications Act, but the US Supreme Court has not addressed this issue. This legal uncertainty leaves many workers on shaky legal ground.

It’s always good advice to carefully manage the public information posted to your social media sites. For anyone looking to change careers, a review of your privacy settings and friends list is also good advice.

Ensure any sensitive things are limited to your friends (or even a group of just very close friends). It might make sense to have only your basic contact information available to non-friends.

Employers will undoubtedly rely more and more on Internet searches and social networking sites to screen job seekers.

Senators Charles Schumer (New York) and Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut), are planning to ask the Department of Justice to investigate whether employers demanding access to Facebook accounts are violating the law.

In the meantime, review your privacy settings, update so that only the things you want to be available can be seen by the general public.

Are You Ready To Meet Your Social Match?

Whether MagnetU catches on to quite the same extent as social media sites such as Facebook remains to be seen, but for many, the appeal of being alerted every time they are in the vicinity of someone who has the same “social desires” as they do will undoubtedly be enormous.

MagnetU describes itself as the first real-world street network; essentially this little device acts as “a bridge between your online digital life and the real world” by broadcasting your social media profile to everyone around you. Whether you are looking for the perfect love match, want to meet people with similar hobbies or are more interested in making business contacts, all you need to do is go to, fill in your social desires, and then sign in to Facebook, Twitter and other social network sites to receive alerts each time a “compatible” individual passes nearby.

You can even change which particular social desire you wear at any given time so that you can look for your soul mate while you’re out socializing and a potential business partner when you’re at a business conference.

Although critics of MagnetU point out that machines are notoriously bad at people-matching and suggest that society already faces enough distractions from social media without this addition, it could just turn out to be another one of those technological necessities that we can’t do without, if only because everyone else is using it!

Take A Smart Approach To Social Networking For Kids

You can’t escape social networking these days: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and all their online cousins are everywhere. If you’ve got kids, chances are they’re eager to join all their friends in cyberspace.

Worrying about their safety is natural, but hoping social networks will go away isn’t very realistic.

You’re better off working with your children so they don’t hide their online activities from you. Take these steps to help them enjoy social networking safely:

• Start with kid-friendly sites. Facebook is far from the only place for people to go. A quick Internet search will help you locate lots of sites just for children. You’ll want to investigate them thoroughly, of course, but they can serve as a good introduction for your children to the world of online networking.

• Talk about privacy. Have a serious discussion with your kids about guarding their personal information online. They should understand that data like their full names, address, phone number, school, and birth date should be kept private for their own protection.

Emphasize that once something is posted online (a message or a photo), they can’t remove it entirely even if they delete the information from their profile.

• Choose a secure password. A password that your child can remember easily may be simple for a hacker to guess. Come up with a password that includes a mix of letters, numbers, and capitalization so it’s less vulnerable to attack.

• Encourage children to talk to you. Tell your children to let you know if someone online does anything to make them feel uncomfortable. If necessary, report the person to your site’s administrator. At the same time, talk about the need for your children to treat everyone with respect, online as well as in the real world.