(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.
Music is everywhere, and today’s tech-enabled world makes it easy to enjoy the sounds of your favorite artists and storytellers no matter where you go. Learn about the many ways you can access music and podcasts while on the go with these tips that can make it easy to bring your audio library with you from the family room, to the car, to the gym and virtually anywhere else life takes you.
Take Music and Podcasts Everywhere You Go
(Family Features) Music is everywhere, and today’s tech-enabled world makes it easy to enjoy the sounds of your favorite artists and storytellers no matter where you go.
“In the connected world we live in, consumers want to be able to listen to their favorite music and podcasts wherever they are and however they choose to listen, whether that’s at home, in the car or on the run,” said Sten Garmark, vice president of product for Spotify.
Learn about the many ways you can access music and podcasts while on the go with these tips that can make it easy to bring your audio library with you from the family room, to the car, to the gym and virtually anywhere else life takes you:
Smart speakers are a must for any music-lover’s home with a wide range of devices that come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s listening to motown while you cook, turning up the jazz while you entertain or queuing up your favorite podcasts as you wind down for the night, smart speakers are equipped to stream all types of audio across your home. There are other sources for accessing your music, too. Smart TVs have become true information and entertainment hubs; going far beyond the music channels many cable and satellite providers offer, you can now access an array of apps, including streaming music, on many smart TV models. Another option: game consoles that integrate apps and features beyond their basic gaming function, such as streaming music for the best gaming soundtrack experience.
Also keep in mind that smart home hub capabilities often extend beyond simple device management, such as allowing you to use voice commands to play music and podcasts from streaming services.
In the Car
It’s no secret that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of apps designed to make driving easier and more enjoyable. You’re probably familiar with apps that provide directions or help you locate the cheapest gas nearby, but don’t overlook entertainment apps that can add a little fun to all that function.
If music apps like Spotify aren’t already integrated into your car’s audio system, you can access them through your smartphone then connect via an auxiliary cord or through Bluetooth with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which have in-car display options that make streaming audio simple and stress-free.
On the Run
Streaming music directly from your smartphone’s built-in speaker is almost always an option as well, even without any other device. When you want or need to keep your music to yourself, wireless headphones are an increasingly affordable, hassle-free option. Simply pair the headphones with your smartphone for a private music experience even when you’re in a crowded place.
Explore more options to take your music everywhere you go at Spotify-Everywhere.com.SOURCE:
(BPT) - Smart home products made major strides in 2018. More people than ever now use connected devices in their homes, and smart home hubs are constantly adding new integrations and capabilities. Research from Statista predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes, fueling an exciting new phase for the smart home industry, offering consumers new and improved smart technologies and giving rise to a totally interconnected, easy-to-control environment termed the “smart home.”
This innovation looks to continue in the new year with increasingly intuitive products that make life more enjoyable and interconnected. Here are the new smart home products ready to change the way we live in the new year, coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Laundry made easy
The calendar might have changed, but your laundry needs haven’t gone anywhere. Thankfully, smart home technology is making the chore a little easier with LG’s Ultimate Laundry Room.
The LG Styler is a first-of-its-kind steam clothing care system certified as asthma and allergy friendly(R) by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The Wi-Fi enabled smart LG Styler reduces wrinkles and odor and refreshes garments with the fastest cycle on the market today — as little as 20 minutes — thanks to the gentle power of pure steam technology. Furthermore, LG TWINWash(TM) with SideKick(TM) pedestal washer, an industry-first innovation for laundry, allows users to tackle small loads that are a big deal and can’t wait or wash two loads at the same time.
With LG Styler for daily refreshes, the innovative LG SideKick(TM) mini washer for small loads that can't wait, and LG's award-winning top and front load washers and dryers, the LG Ultimate Laundry Room suite of products can be started, stopped or monitored from anywhere using LG’s SmartThinQ(R) app. Users will receive notifications when a cycle has finished, or they can download new cycles, check energy usage and quickly troubleshoot minor issues using Smart Diagnosis. For added convenience, these home solutions can also be controlled with simple voice commands using the Google Assistant.
Smarter home with smart displays
Laundry is just one example of how smart home technology is making life easier. By adding other connected appliances and devices, you can develop a true smart home ecosystem in which seamless integrations produce valuable efficiency. One of the best ways to anchor your ecosystem is with a smart display like the new LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display. The advanced smart display builds on the capabilities of a Google Assistant speaker with the added convenience of a touchscreen display and, in partnership with Meridian Audio, delivers high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass, despite its compact size.
In addition to its audio and video capabilities, the WK9 enables control of other LG ThinQ products such as LG TVs and home appliances, plus more than 10,000 smart devices from over 1,000 brands that work with Google Assistant. By establishing a go-to hub for all your smart home devices, you can increase connectivity and create a fully integrated smart home environment.
Stay connected on-the-go
As innovation continues, smart home technology is branching outside of the home itself. With new products, you can receive notifications regarding your home from anywhere, making sure you never lose touch with the most important things in your life. The first full-screen smartwatch with mechanical hands, the LG Watch W7 allows you to connect and control your smart devices. With two mechanical hands and a micro gearbox, users can enjoy the full WearOS smartwatch experience with the essence and mechanism of a true timepiece. With mobile connectivity, your life becomes easier no matter where you are.
Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.
In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices. These tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
5 Ways to Boost Home Wi-Fi
(Family Features) In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, thermostats, security cameras and even refrigerators.
However, with the growing number of devices requiring access to your network, and in some cases even the quality of the connection itself, there can be limitations to your Wi-Fi network’s performance. The problem can be compounded by the reality that increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks isn’t just in your own home or office, it’s around the globe.
Some groups, such as WifiForward, are advocating for increased connectivity across America, including greater access to unlicensed spectrum, which are radio frequencies that consumers can use for a wide range of purposes, including Wi-Fi. Ultimately, greater access to unlicensed spectrum can result in benefits like more reliable connections and super-fast “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” as well as cost-effective wireless broadband for unconnected urban and rural areas.
In the meantime, these tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
Use up-to-date Wi-Fi technologies. It won’t matter what other steps you take to improve your network performance if you’re using old technology. Be sure your devices and router are all compatible with the latest network capabilities. Equipment that runs the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is ideal if you’re using multiple devices.
Improve network security. Be sure to regularly update your password and enable WPA2 encryption, which offers greater security.
Know that location matters. Placing your router in an open, centralized area is likely to create a better access point throughout the house. Be wary of walls and other obstructions than can hinder a clear signal transmission throughout the house. An ethernet cable and cable clips are all you need to move your router from its connecting point to a more signal-friendly location.
Reboot your router regularly. Like many devices, an occasional reboot can help improve function. A router that is continually running is processing a great deal of data and even in normal operation some data can become corrupt. A reboot can dump those errors and allow you to resume operations with a clean slate, so to speak.
Update your connected devices. Each device that is actively connected to your network depletes available bandwidth. When a device’s operating system is out-of-date, it can become a data hog, impacting the performance of the other devices you have connected in your home. Check regularly for software and connectivity updates to improve speeds and maximize your experience.
Learn more about constraints of the nation’s current Wi-Fi airwaves and possible solutions at WifiForward.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(BPT) - The pace of business never seems to stop, and thanks to the convenience of cell phones, many people work on the go, even while they’re driving. Yet cell phone use is one of the most common type of distracted driving, and it claims thousands of lives and causes thousands more injuries every year.
More than a quarter of all car crashes involve cell phone use, both hand sets and hands-free, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports. In 13 percent of fatal crashes, the drivers were using cellphones, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says. The actual number of cell phone-related accidents is likely much higher, since many states don't yet compile and report data on cell phone use following a crash.
Employers take up the issue
Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using cellphones while driving on company time.
In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. The ban also covers work related calls while commuting to and from work, even if employees are driving their own vehicles.
“There is a time and place for doing business, and it’s not while you’re driving,” says Melanie Burke, director of health and safety at Cargill, a Minnesota-based privately held company with 150,000 employees around the world.
Even Cargill’s Chairman and CEO David MacLennan is subject to the ban. In announcing the policy to employees in late 2016, MacLennan noted he was 138 days into cell-phone free motoring. “It’s been liberating,” he told employees.
NSC data shows about 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies have instituted cell phone bans, and of those, just 1 percent believe the ban affected productivity.
Replace risk, keep productivity
Taking care of business doesn’t mean you have to risk a crash. Here are six ways to keep up with the pace of business without using your cell phone in the car:
* Use an automated response app to let callers know you’re driving and can’t take their call at the moment. These free apps allow you to personalize the response and set your phone to automatically reply with a text message to incoming calls or texts.
* If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.
* Use shared calendars to block off times when you’ll be on the road and unable to answer a call. The calendar item will help alert coworkers and anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch and when they might be able to reach you again.
* Remove temptation. A study by AT&T found 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours away where you can’t see or reach it. You can place it in your purse, briefcase or messenger bag, and place the bag in the back seat. Further reduce distraction and temptation by turning your device off before stowing it.
* If you absolutely must take a call while on the road, pull over in a safe location. If a call comes in while you’re driving, allow it to go to voicemail until you’re safely pulled over, then return the call.
* Be aware of other dangerously distracting behaviors, such as putting on makeup, tying a necktie or eating while driving. Do all your dressing and personal grooming before you leave home, and if you must snack while driving, choose food that is easy to manage, like a granola bar (unwrap it when you’re stopped), rather than something messy like a burger with all the fixings.
“Before we had cellphones, if you had to take a business call while on the road, you would pull over and find a pay phone,” says Burke. “Productivity was fine and business got done. When it comes to time behind the wheel, safety is everyone’s most important job.”
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