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Christmas devices

Buying Tech in Time for Christmas

Christmas time is back with us again. The latest devices and gadgets are hitting store shelves just in time to keep up with the rush. Magazines, television, and the web are brimming with advertisements and reviews of the latest tech your money can buy.

Before you rush out to buy the gadgets you’ve been waiting all year for, consider a few important questions before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Does This Technology Do What I need?

First, you must ask what problem you are trying to solve with a new piece of tech. The most important thing to consider is how adopting your new device will improve on what you had before.

In some cases, a sleek new gadget or device for fun is good too.

When you’ve answered this question, you should consider whether there is other tech or competing devices out there that can perform even better.

Should I Become an Early Adopter?

Early adopters are people that anticipate the release of new tech, wait in line on release day, and pride themselves on having the latest gadgets to hit the shelves. If you recognize yourself in this description you are likely to snap up the latest devices the day they are released. This eager anticipation, however, is not always the way to get the best deals or the best gadgets.

Companies often rely on new product hype to give sales an early boost. Waiting for the marketing and hype to subside, even a little, can save you a lot of money.

After initial sales fall, companies often mark down their prices to keep their devices attractive and sales high. When newer, faster, sleeker devices hit the market, companies cut prices to maintain strong sales figures. For the budget smart consumer this is an opportunity for a bargain. A device good enough to buy on launch day is well worth waiting for.

Have I checked The Reviews?

We are fortunate enough to have access to seemingly unlimited amounts of information at our fingertips. Often weeks before a product is released, reviews are available across the web.

One of the best things you can do when considering a new device, particularly a high-cost purchase, is to watch and read a wide variety of product reviews. It pays to be cautious of reviews that are particularly glowing, or too downbeat. Keep an eye out for middle of the road reviews that fairly weigh the pros and cons of each device.

Have I Found the Best Deal?

There are many ways to keep an eye out to make sure you get the best deal on your device. If you can, monitor prices over time to see how they rise and fall to find the best time to purchase.

When purchasing online, many sites include a box to add a coupon code when you are ready to buy. It sometimes pays to jump over to Google and search the website name and ‘coupon’ or ‘voucher’ to find out if there are any good deals on.

A quick search can save you as much as 10, 15, or 20 per cent on some purchases. Sometimes companies send out offers to appeal to groups they want to market to. A companies Facebook page may get different offers or vouchers than its Twitter followers or newsletter for example.

It can pay to search around for offers and vouchers to get money off before you checkout. Five minutes work can save huge amounts of cash.

Purchase in Confidence

If you have asked yourself these questions, done all your research, and found the answers you’re looking for then you may well be ready to buy.

You can do so with the confidence that you’ve done all your homework and you’re getting the best deal and gadget for your money.

Lost Phone

How Losing a Mobile Device Puts Your Entire Business at Risk

Losing a mobile phone or laptop is an experience that everyone dreads. The expense and inconvenience of buying a new device is unpleasant, but only represents a fraction of the damage done when a device is misplaced. The cost of data contained within every device can add up to many times more than the total value of the device itself.

Chances are, you already use automatic login on a large variety of online services. Each of these services are vulnerable to an attacker having possession of your device.

Usernames and passwords – An obvious place for an attacker to start is the likely long list of usernames and passwords saved for future use by your browser. This is often done to save time when logging into sites that you visit often. Almost universally, people opt to save login information so that they don’t have to attempt to remember it every time they return.

In only a short amount of time, a browser is trained to log in to your Facebook, cloud storage, and bank details just by visiting the page using your regular device. These details, called up by the browser, are saved in a single list accessible to anyone with access to the device. For an unscrupulous stranger with a found device, this list represents a goldmine of information. Simply by finding a phone misplaced in public they may gain access to a huge array of services.

The problem can be made many times worse where a single password or a combination of similar passwords have been used across several accounts. In some instances, an attacker need only gain access to a single one and reuse the same stolen credentials across many sites and services.

Email – Email accounts are a key target for attackers looking for access to your personal information. It is a service that many take for granted, logging in once the first time they set up the device and using automatic login every time after. It is a service that also unlocks a great deal more than just private messages. Of course, an attacker having free access to read your personal emails is bad news, but with email access a malicious user can gain access to many of the most commonly used web services online.

Using the “forgotten password” button on many sites triggers a response that emails a password reset link to the email address registered on file. An attacker may use this feature to reset account passwords to one of their choosing. Doing this both grants themselves access to your account and denies you access to rescue it.

Contacts – One of the best features of instant messaging is that your contacts know the messages come from you. When a message is sent from your device to someone you know it displays along with your name, details, and likely a photograph too. This can lead to identity theft, one of the biggest concerns of a lost or stolen device.

With contact information already programmed in an attacker has an opportunity to impersonate you when speaking to anyone in your contacts list. Using your identity, an attacker may attempt to steal yet more details about you and your contacts.

Social Media – Your social media accounts are often the face of your brand. They can be a primary way to reach out and contact customers. They are almost always the first point of contact a client has with your business. They are also extremely vulnerable to being hijacked from a stolen device.

Fraudulent social media access can allow attackers to harvest both client and business data. Even without profiting directly, posting privileges can be used to cause irreversible damage to a business.

Protecting your business – Services, accounts, and entire businesses can be put in great danger by something as simple as misplacing an unsecured mobile phone or laptop computer.

We can help you to stay secure and remain in control even in the face of losing a device. Give us a call at 570-779-4018 and let us help secure your business.

New ‘KRACK’ Wi-Fi Security Issue: This Affects All of Us

The invention of Wi-Fi has been a science fiction dream come true. We can use our laptops anywhere in the house, our phones are using home internet instead of sucking down our cellular data, and our gadgets are all communicating. It’s essentially the backbone of the smart tech boom for home and business alike. Most networks are password-protected with an encryption called “WPA2” and this has been safe and secure, until now.

Recently, a security flaw called KRACK was discovered that allows hackers to break into Wi-Fi networks – even the secured ones. Your laptop, mobile phone, gaming console and even your smart fridge are possibly vulnerable as a result.

How KRACK works: The Key Reinstallation AttaCK isn’t a problem with your device or how it was set up. It’s a problem with the Wi-Fi technology itself. The attack gets between your device and the access point (eg router) to reset the encryption key so hackers can view all network traffic in plain text. Since we rely on Wi-Fi so much, this might mean hackers have a front row seat to your credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos and more.

NOTE: The hacker must be in physical range of your Wi-fi to exploit this flaw, it doesn’t work remotely like other attacks we’ve seen recently. Given most Wi-Fi ranges extend well past your own home/business, this is small comfort, but important to know.

How to protect yourself

Run your updates: Software updates are being released which fix the flaw. Microsoft has already released one for Windows, Apple has one coming in a few weeks. Take a few minutes to make sure you’re up to date with all your patches on any device that uses Wi-Fi (your smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, game consoles, etc). Unfortunately, some devices may be slow to get an update, or if they’re older, may not get an update to fix this issue at all. If possible, consider using a cabled connection on those older devices or upgrade to one with support.

Be very careful with public Wi-Fi: While your local business center, library or school campus has expert IT professionals keeping guard over your security, it’s a very different matter at your local coffee shop. It’s unlikely small locations such as this will be on top of security patches. Remember, a hacker exploiting this flaw only needs to be in the same Wi-Fi area as you, so be careful you don’t give them a dollop of private information with their coffee.

Check your browser security: Before sending anything secure over the internet, check you’re using a HTTPS site. You’ll know these by the little padlock you see next to the URL, and the address specifically begins with HTTPS. Major sites like Facebook, Gmail and financial institutions already use HTTPS.

If you need help updating your devices, or want us to check if you’re safe, give us a call at 570-779-4018.