(BPT) - Resourceful thieves and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to hack U.S. consumers’ sensitive personal information. Dumpster diving, stolen or lost wallets and mail fraud should still be concerns, but the digital age of tablets, smartphones, PCs and Wi-Fi networks leaves people more vulnerable than ever.
Have you ever stored credit card information on your phone for added convenience to make payments in a checkout lane? Do you ever store passwords in apps to transfer funds between accounts? And what’s to keep hackers from accessing a wireless network you check your email on while you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee?
”More than 15.4 million people a year will experience identity theft, with an average loss of more than $1,000,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “When one access point closes due to added levels of security, cyberattackers find another. Insurance companies like Mercury provide services that allow homeowners and renters to enjoy the convenience of accessing their connected devices at home and on the go, while also helping to protect customers from the potentially devastating effects of criminal infiltration, cyberextortion and identity theft.”
The following five do’s and don’ts can help stop criminals in their tracks and protect your connected devices, as well as your electronic identity.
Li recommends homeowners and renters speak with their local insurance agent to learn more about the endorsements they may be able to add to existing policies to help safeguard their finances if their identities are compromised or connected devices are attacked.
“It can be daunting to try to regain your financial footing if a criminal takes advantage of you,” said Li. “Insurance exists to help protect consumers from unexpected events and, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
(BPT) - As the pace of technology advances, cybersecurity threats do, too. Data breaches, identity theft, phishing and malware make headlines seemingly every day. Internet-connected devices, social media, digital assistants and mobile apps have become indispensable in our everyday lives, but their connectedness makes us increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Recent reports estimate that damages relating to cybercrime are expected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021.
“It’s impossible to predict when you will be affected by cybercrime,” says Bashar Abouseido, chief information security officer for Charles Schwab Corp. “The best defense is to stay informed.”
It can be helpful to envision your computer and digital devices as a house where you store your personal data. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to make sure your digital house is secure. The first step is to understand the ways cybercriminals may attempt to access your data.
Types of cybercrimes
Data breaches occur when there is unauthorized access to sensitive personal information. These incidents often make headline news and can affect large numbers of consumers.
Malicious software, also known as malware, spyware, ransomware and viruses, refers to software programs designed with the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to a mobile app, digital device or computer.
Phishing is one of the most common forms of online fraud and cybercrime. Cybercriminals try to lure you with a fake email sent from what they have designed to appear to be a trusted source or contact that encourages you to click a link or open an attachment in order to extract personal account information.
5 tips to protect your digital house
1. Remodel your digital house: Installing updates is an essential first step.
Think of system updates as basic maintenance to your digital house that is keeping your personal data safe. It can be annoying to see those system update prompts on your computer or mobile device, but software developers are constantly improving their software to repel the latest malware. By keeping your operating system and apps updated, you are making sure that your digital house is as secure as possible.
2. Don’t have a leaky house: Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks.
Using public — and often free — Wi-Fi networks is convenient, but it is a common entry point for criminals to use malware to infect your devices and apps. Use only networks you trust or use your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot if you have one. Never update your devices when you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
3. Keep your keys secure: Choose unique access credentials.
Access credentials — usernames and passwords — are the keys that keep your digital house safe and secure. Select credentials that are unique and don’t include personal identifying information such as a name, address or birthday. For added protection, choose two-step verification to access critical online accounts for your banking, retirement or investment accounts. Two-step verification is typically a key or another code provided by the service provider in addition to your primary access credentials to verify your identity.
4. Secure doors and windows: Use only secure websites and app stores.
Web browsers and app stores are like the doors and windows in your digital house. Make sure they are secure by using web addresses that start with “https” and downloading apps only from the Apple App Store, Microsoft Store and Google Play store.
5. Don’t open that door: Delete suspicious emails.
That knock on your cyber front door is the sound of a cybercriminal sending you a phishing email. Be suspicious of emails that come from unknown senders. Use your cursor to hover over questionable links and email addresses to reveal the true identity of the link or sender. When in doubt, don’t click on any links or open any attachments and delete the email immediately.
For more information on more ways to educate and protect yourself from cybercrimes, visit SchwabSafe.
When you are trying to drive more local traffic to your website, there are several strategies you can utilize. As an added bonus, many of them are free. Understanding the area you are targeting, the people and other businesses are important. This offers improved insight. Then, you can take a strategic approach because your decisions are better informed. If you desire more local traffic, you know that attaining this goal will improve your bottom line. Here are nine tips to consider to increase local traffic for your business.
Keep Directories Up to Date
Forty-six percent of all searches on Google are local. So, if you want to be found, there is a very good chance you can be by simply keeping all online directories up to date. It is a good idea to create an account and list your business website on the relevant directories local to the area you are targeting. Google Business and Bing Business are two directories that you are strongly encouraged to get started with as soon as possible. Yahoo!, the Whitepages and the Yellow Pages are others.
Signing up usually requires the creation of an account. You will complete a form that asks for your company's information including your website's address. Adding pictures is strongly encouraged for those who have an accompanying storefront or office. When available, adding video snippets is worthwhile, too. The more complete the profile, the more legitimacy it grants your company, business and website. Legitimacy helps increase local traffic as well as the bottom line.
Before you begin driving local traffic to your website and business information, you must ensure that your website is in good shape. The tools available to website design professionals is vast, so the perfect website for your company can easily be designed and developed. While your site does not have to include all the latest bells and whistles, it should at least include a couple of features like being responsive, updated information and architecture that operates as expected. Today's consumer is demanding, has high expectations and can be fickle. If your website has broken links, information that has not been updated for over a year or a design that screams 2002, your website and company are going to lose credibility.
Again, it is not mandatory that your site consists of the latest software, but it should deliver on the basics. More consumers are viewing websites on their smartphones and tablets. This means that your site has to be optimized for tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches. This helps your bottom line because it helps retain traffic as opposed to driving it away.
Once your website's architecture is sound, think about creating a couple of social media accounts and adding them to your website. There are several social media platforms to pick from, but ideally, you will start with the ones most relevant to your company and the audience that you are targeting. Narrowing down the accounts you should create is easier because there are clear leaders in some categories.
The power of social media is undeniable. Food trucks have really harnessed this power to let their followers know where they will be on any given day of the week and time. For some of these food trucks, this is the only marketing and advertising they execute. It has been beneficial and profitable for them. It can be so for you as well.
Optimize All Digital AssetsAnother great way to drive local traffic to your website is to ensure that all of your digital assets are optimized for the search engines. Search engine optimization was not such a big deal just a few years ago. Today, it is a must. Since more than 80 percent of consumers will look up information online before completing a purchase, the search engines have become powerful, too.
Search engines are trying to keep individuals with nefarious intentions from gaming the system, so changes to the indexing algorithms are released with short notice. The intention is to keep the rankings pure. SEO is completed by melding together several tactics. Relevant keywords will be chosen, they will be added to the site's architecture and used in subsequent marketing campaigns. Within those keywords, geographic locations are also chosen.
If professionals are completing your site's SEO, they will also double-check that your company's information has been submitted to relevant online directories, content is posted, and backlinks are created. Successful SEO campaigns will attract more traffic. The beauty of SEO is that it helps find qualified traffic, too. Qualified traffic is how your website will see more interested customers that are best for closing more deals, which all help the bottom line.
As the traffic to your website begins to increase, it is a good idea to capture the email addresses of interested users. Once a healthy email list has been built, it gives you the opportunity to level up your marketing campaigns. Marketing emails are a great tool because you can announce upcoming sales, events and remind those on the list that your company exists. Email marketing helps drive local traffic to your site because you are encouraged to add a link that leads the recipients to a landing page. From there, something interesting could catch their eye and they may browse additional pages on the site. If you can get physical addresses as well, direct mail can accomplish many of the similar things with direct mail.
Study the Analytics
The amount of information available to business professionals and consumers is vast. As a business professional, you should study analytics because they are easily at your disposal. The analytics can outline the effectiveness of marketing campaigns as well as what is driving the bulk of the traffic to your website. This is important because there may be mediums where you are heavily investing but not receiving a solid return on investment. Understanding the analytics directly impacts how well local traffic is driven to your website and your company's bottom line.
Guest blogging is a great way to expose a new, local audience to your website. Guest blogging is one way to set yourself up as an authority in a relevant topic. It allows you to create backlinks to your website to bring more traffic. Plus, it allows you to enter niche markets that would otherwise be difficult to reach.
Of course, reaching out to strangers and offering them free content can seem a bit...sketchy. So if you’re looking to build a successful guest post strategy, make sure that your content offers benefits for the host site as well as your own. No one likes a self-serving guest poster, and chances are that you won’t even get a response to your initial email. Also, don’t go halfway on the content — make sure to put plenty of time and effort into crafting a high-quality post that the host’s audience will actually want to read.
Build Business Partnerships
Business partnerships go a long way for impacting how much local traffic your website receives and increases revenue. This is especially true if you are trying to, once again, reach a specific, local niche market. Plus, the partnership company benefits, too.
When you’re starting out, make sure to set clear expectations about where you want this partnership to go and what each party will get out of the relationship. That being said, be human. Include them in your inner circle and consider them an essential part of your team. Be honest and transparent with them. And, like any good relationship, don’t squeeze everything out of it right from the get-go — these things take time to nurture before blossoming.
We all know that our military personnel works hard to keep the United States and help keep the world safe. However, it’s easy for the general public to take advantage of the technology that the military has brought about for granted. These three ways that military technology has made the world safer for all of us.
Bollards Protect People and Property
Most people have seen bollards used in public but are unaware of the role they play in public safety. Even though these posts may seem decorative in nature, they keep vehicles away from pedestrians and buildings in a certain area. These posts can be very valuable in preventing further damage during an accident. Bollards have major importance in preventing vehicular terrorist attacks that involve ramming. According to Atlas Security, the most deadly vehicular attack was the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, which killed more than 80 people. With such attacks remaining a threat, the role that these structures can play in preventing further such attacks is vital.
Sensors Protect Soldiers and Civilians
According to The Heritage Foundation, sensors have played an important part in guiding weapons and detecting hostile forces. Drones are an example of how sensors help provide information that command centers and troops in the field need. One of the outcomes of using this technology is keeping more soldiers and other service members safe. Another major impact that these technology systems offer is helping to protect civilians from attacks. A real-life application of this technology is in the GPS systems that many electronics use today. Information that these systems collect makes it easier to relay necessary information to first responders, as an example.
Advanced Communication Systems Protect Everyone
According to the Defense Systems blog, military operations have always involved an important emphasis on communications. Both military members and civilians are at risk when communications systems are inadequate. Advanced communications systems should prevent interference from hackers to prevent the disruption that such threats can cause. One example of advanced communications that everyone can identify with is the Internet. Even though most civilians don't use the same security level online as the military, the Internet stands out as an example of a communications system that has much of its origins in the military.
Technology originally used in the military has done a lot to keep people both in the US and around the world safe. The more we see how this technology is used in everyday life, the more we can appreciate its importance.
Here’s another article you might like: Why Veterans Make the Best Entrepreneurs
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have become growing parts of technological advances over the past few years, impacting almost every sector from transportation to medicine. In the 20th century, when computer programs were first developed, each line of code had to be written by a programmer outlining exactly how the computer was to respond in any given situation. However, with machine learning, computers are starting to figure out the rules on their own.
According to Tricentis, learning requires following a set of rules presented to the machine as an algorithm. These systems are often used for math-based applications like accounting because it is easy to show the machine what to do when certain conditions are met. With learning systems for artificial intelligence, the machine can begin to add to the programmer-developed rules and come up with its own, potentially better, way of solving problems.
More recent approaches to machine learning are focusing highly on pattern recognition. This is especially the case in fields like medicine and transportation with the goal of creating fully autonomous machines that can solve problems like diagnosing cancer from a scan or expertly navigating a traffic situation.
Currently, AI needs to be fed information from sensors and image data that has already been labeled and processed by humans. This is an incredibly labor-intensive process. According to Deepen AI, a single hour's worth of driving data can take up to 800 man-hours to label and analyze. However, as technologies improve and the methods of machine learning become more robust, computers will begin to take on the analysis task themselves. Simple prototype traffic cameras are already in place in New York City, and similar programs are expanding to other places.
The iterative method uses an initial guess to generate a series of approximate answers that keep being refined. What makes machine learning particularly strong is its ability to improve over time, creating a final program whose details even experts in the field cannot explain. The key to this is using a dataset to repetitively test the program. For example, a simple program can be created that can differentiate pictures of numbers. Programmers can then test the machine with hundreds of photos, and based on the results of the test, the machine can alter its rules, take the test again, and see if it has improved.
Machine learning is becoming a growing part of the technology field, and its applications are only increasing each year. Ultimately, machines will not only learn enough to help us with day-to-day problems but will also understand how to teach themselves new techniques to keep up with human needs.
Read more: What Businesses Need to Know to Get the Most Out of Their IT Team
At home, you have ultimate control over your entertainment environment. Now, with today’s technology, you can create the same viewing experience wherever you are, even if that means you are miles away from your favorite spot on the couch. Consider these ways streaming services make it easier to stay up to date on the latest in entertainment.
How Streaming Can Make Watching Favorite Shows Easier
(Family Features) At home, you have ultimate control over your entertainment environment. Now, with today’s technology, you can create the same viewing experience wherever you are, even if that means you are miles away from your favorite spot on the couch.
With a video on-demand service like Tubi, which offers access to more than 15,000 movies and TV shows – more than double the content library of other popular streaming providers – you can watch your favorite shows both new and old on more than 25 different streaming devices, including Android and iOS mobile devices, video game consoles and more.
Consider these ways streaming services make it easier to stay up to date on the latest in entertainment:
“Now that our season of ‘The Bachelorette’ is available on Tubi, we’re excited watch it again from the beginning,” Lindsay said. “It’s nice that fans of the franchise have the opportunity to relive some of our happiest memories as well as those of other couples that have found love on the shows.”
To learn more and start streaming for free, visit Tubi.TV.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (women watching TV)SOURCE:
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