How Google Password Checkup Can Protect Your Data

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

While the terminology between a data breach and data leak may not seem very important, being prepared to react to compromised data is. Let’s start with knowing the difference between a breach and a leak.

A data breach is an unauthorized intrusion into any private system to access any sensitive data. Data breaches are typically the work of hackers.

A data leak may result in the same end game scenario, but differs greatly in that a leak is data left exposed or accessible, often accidentally.

While the hope is that you are protected and that your passwords are all secure, this realistically isn’t the case. You can have the strongest password possible, but depending on what information may be sold or accessible, the security can be entirely out of your hands.

Worse, a breach or leak won’t always make national news or show signs of unauthorized access.

If you see an out of state charge on your debit card, you’ll have a good idea that you didn’t make the purchase and suspect that you’ve been compromised. In the case of seeing unauthorized charges, the issue is clear.

However, say your email is compromised. It isn’t so obvious.

Perhaps the person with your credentials will monitor for a time in order to find valuable information on you or others.

There are so many ways to be compromised and so many types of information that someone with access to your account may be looking for.
In the past, I have used a few different websites to periodically check. This is obviously problematic, as reputable sources for compiling breached information are not overly abundant.

Being an IT professional, I felt comfortable looking for these sources. I do not recommend the same for just anyone.

Luckily, you no longer have to search to find any potentially compromised accounts. Google’s new extension “Password Checkup” is here to help.

Google Password Checkup is a browser extension that alerts you to any potentially compromised accounts.

While the browser extension is installed and enabled, it checks any account you log into using Google Chrome.

Now, this is not a foolproof protection blanket. While this is a great tool, it only checks against any data breaches that Google is aware of.

These are the same type of searches I mentioned earlier. While I would have to search before, Google Chrome can handle the work here.

If there is potential that your account is compromised, you should ensure you take steps to recover the account and change the passwords.

While there is no surefire way to remain safe, stay diligent. Remember to make sure your computer isn’t compromised by regularly running your anti-virus software.

Much like you lock your door at home, make sure you are taking care of your personal information.

Using Google’s Password Checkup is a great start, but it’s only a start. Change your passwords regularly and keep them unique.

A passphrase is a great way to have a password that is easy to remember but difficult to guess.

How Can You Use Google Trends For Small Business?

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

Google Trends is a tool that has been around for a while, and has great potential for improving exposure and sales for businesses. It is entirely free to use, and its simplicity makes it accessible to virtually anyone with basic computer knowledge.

Here are some specific ways in which you can use Google Trends to enhance your small business practices:

Brainstorming Topics
For instance, if your business website contains a blog, it’s common to quickly run out of content ideas that will not only interest your readers but also tie into the products or services your business offers.

Choose a phrase that describes a broad idea for a blog post, and Google Trends will show you how popular that phrase is and also suggest related topics. With one simple search, you could potentially come up with ideas for dozens of different blog posts, and relevant content is the best way to build your business website. [Read more…]

Five Great Google Search Tips

If you have ever felt discouraged when trying to find something specific on the web but Google search lists a ton of sites that aren’t relevant, you’re not alone.

Try these handy tips to hone your search terms and help Google locate precisely the information you need:

Sometimes, the most obvious things are the most overlooked, and tabs at the top of search results are no exception. Get closer to your desired results simply by clicking the tab that best describes what you want.

If you need a picture, for example, select Images, and you will see nothing but images. The same holds true for news and more.

Word order is often crucial to finding the right information, but Google search doesn’t naturally take this into account.

For example, you may want to locate information about the movie Simon Birch, but your search turns up results for a guy named Simon talking about birch trees. Simply put quotation marks around your term to search for a precise phrase.

There also may be words or phrases you wish to exclude from your search results. In this case, put a hyphen in front of the term to indicate you don’t want to see information that contains that term.

For example, if you wish to learn about antique dolls but are not interested in Barbie dolls, input antique dolls -Barbie.

Colons to Search Specific Sites
If you need to restrict your search results to a specific site, add a colon followed by the site address after your search terms to let Google show results only from that particular website. When you want to read news about the ebola virus just on CNN, for example, type in ebola virus:

This is also useful to search your company’s website. Simply use the word site, a colon, followed by your company’s website address. This will display all pages Google has indexed from your website.

Related Sites Search
Sometimes, you want to discover similar sites to ones you already enjoy. Let’s say you like the types of articles on Elephant Journal but have already read everything there. You can find new and similar reading material by searching related:

Are You Losing Customers Because Of Your Website’s Loading Time?

The amount of time a page takes to load is undoubtedly an important part of any website’s user experience. The fact is that website visitors care more about speed than all the bells and whistles you add to your website.

In fact, page loading time also affects your search engine rankings. Here are a few additional facts to consider:

On average, consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds, with a significant portion of online shoppers abandoning a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Additionally, customer satisfaction is decreased by a 1-second page load delay and discourages them from buying from the sПечатьame site in the future.

Measure your website speed
Page Speed Online is Google’s free web-based tool that allows you to easily and accurately measure the speed of your website online.

It also provides an overview of the high, medium and low priority fixes that would help increase your page speed.

However, the suggestions may be fairly technical, and you might need professionals to let you determine which ones are feasible for your site. Some of the ways you can decrease page load time include:

•Enable GZIP compression to reduce the bandwidth of your pages and reduce HTTP response.

•Optimize your images by selecting the ideal size, format and source code.

•Enable browser caching to reduce the number of components that need to be downloaded for subsequent visits.

•Use a content delivery network (CDN) to deliver content more efficiently to users based on their location.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Making Use Of Google To Help Your Day Run Smoother

The Internet is a very big place. Anyone who wishes to use the Internet in an effective manner needs to be familiar with search engines.

Google has become the primary choice for millions of users, although there are some others.

One of the main reasons for Google’s popularity and general reputation as being the best of the search engines is that they keep on coming up with new methods for surfing the Internet.

For instance, if you wish to look up a news story or current event, then allows you to instantly have access to news stories that are literally just a couple of minutes old.

Anyone who is looking for a picture of just about anything is almost sure to find it at, which is quite possibly the largest image search engine in the whole world.

If you’re looking for map or address information, check out – hundreds of thousands of addresses now have street view, showing you the actual view from a car in front of the building you’re looking for.

Google also has specific search engines for books, videos and even stock market developments.

Google Makes “Plus One” Available Web-Wide

If you’ve seen those “+1” widgets are at the bottom of a lot of websites, articles, and links, then you’re in tune with Google’s latest social networking push.

Think of the “Plus One” as being similar to Facebook’s “Like” button or a thumbs-up icon. It’s a way to indicate that you find a page helpful or useful.

Clicking on the +1 does more than just increment a counter. Clicking a +1 widget requires that you have a Google account. The first and most visible thing that a +1 does is add the page to your Google profile.

Your profile page can be public or private, serving as a personal list of pages that you found valuable.

You’ll start seeing +1 icons appearing in US search results, too. If you see the icon underneath a search result, that’s an indication that a friend (or friends) have found that link useful. Your Google “friends” are contacts you’ve stored in your Google Account.

As time goes on, search results will become more useful as you can see which links and options are recommended by your friends, and might be useful.

How Does Google’s Personal Search Affect Your Business?

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

Consider this statement: “On Friday afternoon, Google made the biggest change that has ever happened in search engines, and the world largely yawned.” That quote is from a December 7, 2009, post on Search Engine Land, a website that covers Google, Bing and the other Internet search engines.

Don’t worry if you didn’t read the post. Since it was early December when Google announced that it would start personalizing all search results, we were getting ready for the holidays.

It isn’t clear at first glance just how significant this change will be. A closer look, though, reveals nothing short of a revolution in the making.

Here is what Google did, according to Google: “Today we’re helping people get better search results by extending Personalized Search to signed-out users worldwide, and in more than forty languages. Now when you search using Google, we will be able to better provide you with the most relevant results possible.”

A real world example: I do a lot of searches for recipes, and often click on results from Knowing this, Google might rank higher on the results page the next time I look for recipes.

Other times, when I’m looking for news about the University of Michigan’s football team, I search for “Michigan wolverines.”

Because I frequently click on, Google might show me this result first, instead of search results about the animal.

Google is able to do this because they are now cataloging all of your searches for over 180 days. It then uses your search history to customize your results.

If you’re not signed in to your Google account, a cookie on your browser keeps a record of your queries.

Sounds pretty innocuous, doesn’t it? Better search results? Tailored to exactly what I need? I like this change! Others, however, might squirm at the Orwellian aspect of an omniscient Google knowing exactly what you want. Whether the change is good or bad is debatable, but it’s certainly going to be big.

Until now, search engines have largely delivered the same results to everyone. Two different people could search for Barack Obama and get back the same set of results.

The days of “normal” search results that everyone sees are now over. Personalized results are the “new normal,” and the change is going to shift the search world and society in general in unpredictable ways.

How might this change shift the world? Here are a few scenarios:

Narrowing your Internet experience
This change could curtail what we’ll call “search-engine serendipity.” Search-engine serendipity happens when you search Google with a preconceived notion of what you’ll find, but instead you end up exploring new ideas and virgin territory. Personalized results may repeatedly channel you through the same grooves, limiting your exposure to things outside your experience.

Confirm your personal biases
Search Engine Land’s Dan Sullivan picks up on this possibility in his post: “Is a search for Michelle Obama showing a racist image? Maybe for one person, but not for another.”

For the xenophobic Googler, every search may reinforce his xenophobic worldview because personalization filters sites that don’t jibe with his tastes. Another example: Once Google has you pegged as a bleeding heart liberal, it may serve up Huffington Post for every query.

Polarize our political system
You can see where we’re going with this. If personalized results reinforce our beliefs, we’ll soon have Google red and Google blue. The folks in Mountain View have tried to comfort people by saying that it wants “diversity of results.” But that poses another troubling question: Who will define diversity? Google?

It could reduce the visibility of your website
Since no one but Google knows how its personalization algorithm works, it’s hard to know how far-reaching the change will be. But it’s plausible that a business’ website would no longer rank for certain keywords among certain prospects. If, for example, a person went on an book-buying spree, Google might take note and start displaying for a majority of product-related queries, which is great … if you’re

It could skew your SEO efforts
Since there is no longer a ‘normal’ set of results, it becomes more difficult to optimize your website. There isn’t one bull’s eye to aim for anymore: there are millions of them and they’re moving all the time as Google refreshes its 180-day cache of your search terms.

Personalized Search for Everyone

Local Search: Raking In Business From Your Own Backyard

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

So you’re in the mood for a pizza. You turn to Google (because no one uses phone books anymore). Instantly, 10 local pizza shops are displayed in your search results. You order. It’s a win-win. You have your pizza, and the pizza parlor shop has your business.

What made this so easy? Local search – a type of search engine query that’s intended to produce local information, often about nearby businesses, products and services. What it does is help customers in your own town, city and neighborhood find you quickly and easily.

All of the big players – Google, Yahoo and Bing – have local search capabilities. So do the Internet Yellow Pages, various business aggregation sites and review sites, as well as directories created specifically for different cities.

As you can imagine, there are several business directories for Monroe. One of the best is:

I want my local listing!
How do you get your company listed? There are two ways: Navigate the process of submitting your business information to each of the local search engines yourself or save some time and hassle by hiring professionals to do it for you. Either way, getting listed on local search doesn’t happen automatically.

So many directories, so little time.
It’s not a matter of if you should submit your business information to a local search directory, it’s a matter of choosing which ones. To help you make the best decision, consider:

Location. Be sure to understand which geographic region or regions the directory serves. Some are very specific, while other serve a larger geographic area. Check to see if you’re able to list your company within a radius of your zip code.

Price. Many directories are free, or charge a nominal fee to enhance your listing or include additional information. If it’s free, why not list? If there’s a cost, make sure you understand what extras you’re getting for your dollars.

Relevance. Make sure a relevant category exists for your business. Some directories focus on a single industry, like hotels.

If you own a gourmet restaurant, you don’t want to be listed under fast food. Be thorough. If the specific category doesn’t exist, don’t list there.

Popularity. One characteristic of a good local search directory is the amount of traffic it gets. More traffic potentially means more potential people will find you.

A quick way to determine this is to go to a web traffic metrics site, like Alexa ( The higher the ranking, the busier the site.

No matter what you’re selling – computers, sandwiches or shoes – local search can help bring local customers to your door.

That is, people who could possibly return again, generating repeat business, and who will tell their friends and family about your company. First, they need to be able to find you. Think about the last time you used a phone book, versus a search engine. Local search is where you need to be.

Bing, Bing, Bing! Microsoft’s Search Engine A Hit!

If you haven’t heard, Microsoft has released their own search engine in an effort to compete with Google in the search engine market. Originally the search engine that was going to be called “Kumo” has been released and the name is “Bing.”

Microsoft is off to a pretty good start according to the marketing research company that provides marketing data and services to many of the Internet’s largest businesses,comScore Inc. Microsoft has improved their search market share by 1.7 points to 15.5% in the week following the release of Bing.

So what is causing all these improvements, and catching the eyes of the public? What does Bing have to offer that Google hasn’t already thought of? Here are a few of the features Bing has integrated into the search engine. Interface features, multimedia features, instant answers, product search, webmaster services, mobile services, toolbars, gadgets, advertising, and many more.

So let’s talk about some of these features and what they mean to us – the end user.

The interface feature is one of my favorites, probably because it’s so appealing to the eye, and got my attention right from the  very first visit to Bing. The background image changes each and every day, taking you to the most remarkable places in the world, with vivid colors, and great angles.

You can even view the information about the subject of the image by hovering over the image.

Video previewing has never been so cool. By hovering over a video thumbnail, the video actually will automatically start playing, and give you a taste of what the site offers, before you actually click on the result.

The image search is very impressive as well, allowing image searching with continuous scrolling images, with adjustable settings for size, layout, color, and style.

In addition to its tool(s) for searching WebPages, Bing also provides search offerings for health, images, local, maps, news, shopping, translator, travel, videos, and xRank. Most of those are pretty self explanatory, but what about xRank?

XRank is a feature that actually allows users to search for celebrities, musicians, politicians, and bloggers. You can read short biographies and news about them, and track  their own personal trends and/or popularity rankings.

All in all, it sounds like a pretty good engine Microsoft has put together, but will it be enough to compete with the market dominator Google?

Google is the king of search, of course, but the problem with Google’s results is that they’re based soley on mathematical calcualtions, whereas Bing employs some artificial intelligence. Only time will tell. In the meantime, go check Bing out first hand via and decide for yourself.

Researcher: Don’t Trust Google Toolbar

Makers of some of the most popular extension software used by the Firefox browser are not doing enough to secure their software, a security researcher said Wednesday. The problem is that many widely used Firefox extensions, including toolbars from Google, Yahoo, and AOL, do not use secure connections to update themselves, according to Christopher Soghoian, a security researcher.

The Indiana University doctoral student discovered the Firefox issue last month while examining network traffic on his computer. He noticed that many of the most popular Firefox extensions are not hosted on servers that use the very secure SSL Web protocol.

Although the corporation behind Firefox, Mozilla, hosts the majority of Firefox extensions on its own SSL-enabled Web site, it is common for commercial extension-makers such as Google to host their software on an unsecured site, Soghoian said in an interview.

This leaves users vulnerable to a “man-in-the middle” attack, where Firefox could be tricked into downloading malicious software from a site it mistakenly thought was hosting an extension.

It wouldn’t be easy for an attacker to pull this off, however. In one scenario, the hacker would set up a malicious wireless access point in a public area where people are using wireless connections. He could then redirect extension update traffic to a malicious computer. “An attacker who sets up a wireless access point can then infect anyone who connects to it,” Soghoian said.