(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.
(BPT) - With the rise of mobile devices, you might wonder what the future holds for desktop computers. While the total number of mobile users surpassed desktop users around 2014, the number of people still using desktops might surprise you. The desktop is alive and well, and a new crop of task-specific desktops are rewriting the look and utility of the original personal computing device.
Personal computing workhorses
People still find desktops useful for a number of reasons. They provide a level of computing power, flexibility and durability that many portable devices are only beginning to achieve.
From a usability perspective, a desktop allows people greater display versatility and visibility. It may be difficult to see the spreadsheet numbers you're crunching on the smaller screens of tablets or laptops. A smartphone screen just isn't large or robust enough to give you a visually rich gaming experience. Online shopping on a desktop makes it easy to enlarge catalog images, work out of multiple tabs and comparison shop. In addition, you can speak to Cortana, the personal digital assistant, on your Windows 10 desktop and rely on her for notifications.
In fact, one study found that nearly 75 percent of U.S. adults own a desktop or laptop computer. Multiple studies point to the idea that people choose desktops for more complex digital activities, and tend to spend longer on web pages when they use their desktops versus mobile devices.
New look, new tasks
While desktops continue to play an important role in people's digital lives, desktop designers aren't resting on their laurels. Instead, they're producing new Windows 10 desktops designed to facilitate specific tasks - and look cool while doing it. Three key areas of focus are gaming, productivity and consumer use.
Gaming desktops emphasize high-resolution, realistic and immersive graphics, as well as virtual reality capabilities. For example, the Dell Alienware Area-51 is virtual reality (VR)-ready, making it ideal for gamers. Its support for super-high resolution 4k displays and multi-tasking power also make it a preferred platform for developers and programmers. Running Windows 10 and up to 10-core Intel Core i7 Extreme processor options, the PC's unique tricorn outer casing is also designed for versatility and utility. The desktop can easily be turned onto any one of its three corners for ease of access to ports when attaching and removing cables.
PC manufacturers are challenging conventional desktop designs and coming up with breakthrough devices. New designs take into account that personal tastes and preferences can influence PC selection as much as the type of tasks people will perform on their desktops. For example, the new futuristic Samsung ArtPC Pulse marries leading-edge styling with powerful computing capability.
Running Windows 10 and equipped with a 6th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, the PC delivers exceptional graphics, smooth visuals, easily expandable storage, and 360-degree Omnidirectional Sound.
Finally, if you're looking for the perfect device for your home office or family use, new desktops like the HP Elite Slice offer big power in compact casings. Small and sleek, this Windows 10 PC is powered through a USB connection to a monitor, minimizing the need for cables on top of your desk. Specialized casings and attachments allow the PC to act as a speaker phone, multi-media player or wireless device charger.
While laptops and other PC form factors can be a good choice, the desktop certainly has a special seat at the table. New designs, expanded capabilities and outstanding versatility make today's desktop computer as powerful, useful and preferred as ever.
To learn more about today's desktop computers and for a list of deals and where to buy, visit your local Microsoft Store or microsoftstore.com.
Here are four basics you can focus on right now to promote your business and grow your customer base online.
Digital marketing basics for businesses
(Family Features) Consumers today increasingly rely on connected devices to research products and services before making purchases – so it’s no secret that small businesses need to focus more of their marketing resources than ever before on online strategies.
As the journey from consumer query to purchase becomes more complex – incorporating multiple devices, websites, apps and offline activities – so too do the options for tracking consumer behavior and leveraging online media for targeted advertising.
There are companies today specializing in almost every aspect of online marketing, leaving business owners with a dizzying array of options. For many the question is not the value of online marketing, but rather where to start and how much they need to do to accomplish their marketing objectives.
Fortunately, there are some foundational activities that are effective, manageable and comprise an important starting point for leveraging digital media to grow your business.
Here are four basics you can focus on right now to promote your business and grow your customer base online:
If your website is difficult to navigate from a mobile device, you can lose business to your competitors – especially since mobile searches are often about more than finding information. Consumers are using their mobile phones to take action after visiting a site, including calling a business, checking store hours and mapping directions. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly and easy to use from a variety of devices so you don’t miss out on potential customers.
The time and money you invest in search marketing can be undermined if you neglect the basics such as making sure your company contact information is accurate, consistent and easy to find on your website, in online directories and anywhere else your business appears on the web. Think about what makes your life easier when you’re searching for a product or service that you need and then strive to provide that same experience on your own website.
Keep in mind that each social media channel has its own rules and user base, and not all may be a fit for your business. Find the channel(s) that makes the most sense for you and your business, and be sure to incorporate social links in all of your marketing efforts to further grow your network.
Content and character
Does a local business really need a website?
Websites are how local businesses get found via directories and search engines. It’s the “home base” for pertinent information about your business, including hours, location, products, services and more.
Remember that keeping your website information current and correct is extremely important. Inaccurate information can get picked up by other sites and directories, which, in turn, makes it harder for your potential customers to find and engage with your business.
Summit fuels growth
For more information on YP’s Local Breakthrough Summit, visit adsolutions.yp.com/breakthroughsummit.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images
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