How Available Is Your Private Information Online?

How Available Is Your Private Information Online?

Just a few years ago, the concept of buying something online was more than a little terrifying. People held their credit cards close, stating they would never release such personal information into the land of the unknown.

Times have changed. Today our personal data is stored in our mobile phones, making purchasing as easy as touching a button. We shop for everything from groceries to a new car, we job hunt, we sign contracts, we pay bills, send in our taxes, and share our latest adventures with the world on social media. In short, our fears are gone and we blast just about everything we do through small electronic devices held in our hands.How Available Is Your Private Information Online?

Yet how did we move so quickly from “never” to “everything” without a second thought? While some of us do question the safety of it all, we usually forget the entire concept when an email comes through and we simply have to buy.

We all hear about the cases of identity theft that destroy a person’s reputation for years. We hear the horror stories about fraud that makes a person lose everything. But that happens to the other guy; not us.

Right?

Sorry. If you use a mobile device, buy anything online, pay a bill, or post to your Facebook page, or even open up an email, you’re at risk. And it goes way beyond that as well. Companies are constantly buying and selling information about you, and sharing it in many ways. Its legal.

The first step is realizing its happening. The second step is to take an active role in what information you do share. And finally, learn how to protect yourself so you don’t end up as a statistic down the road.

How do I protect my identity online?
Before you fill out a form, before you enter any data into a request form, take a step back and analyze the business first. Do they have a privacy policy? What do they really want to do with the information? What are the consequences?

Be careful when providing anything beyond a first name and an email address. If a site asks for full name, full address, date of birth, account number, birthplace, credit card information, or bank account information, be wary before you type in the answer. Only use secure sites – they usually carry the padlock symbol. And when setting up a password, avoid the obvious choices, such as child’s name, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, or any other reference to someone you may be talking about in the online world. A random mixture of letters and numbers is always best.

How do I avoid online scams?
There are numerous scams online, and the number and sophistication grows every day. Even I have looked twice at some of the emails coming through – they are that good and do an excellent job at mimicking actual companies. Phishing is a scam that lures you to websites that have a legitimate look and feel, then try to get you to enter your personal information under false pretenses. Even if an email looks legitimate, question everything before you enter personal data. Is there a reason they are emailing you now? Does the email make sense?

Always look at the email sender’s address carefully, and look at all URL link addresses to verify their true destination. Scammers often will use addresses that are close to the real thing, yet vary the letters just enough to throw you off – PayPal may become PayPaal for instance. At a quick glance, it looks right. Yet clicking on it or submitting your information can set off a spiral of unfortunate events.

What other rights do I have?
You also have the right to stop organizations from sharing information about you. With many items you legitimately sign up for, they will make you an offer to receive additional information about other topics, or from partnering sites. You can opt out at this point, and should always do so unless you truly want the information. If you have any concerns about the way someone is contacting you or using your personal information, contact them and have them explain how they are processing your personal information, and whether they are following the Data Protection Act or not.

4 Laws Of Technology and How They Impact Your Business

4 Laws Of Technology and How They Impact Your Business

We live in a world in which laws define and describe the way things happen every day. They control how we operate as a country; and they control the way we function as a society. In technology, they describe everything from how software operates on a computer, to how you view trends and statistics for your business. They can help you run more efficiently, or can slow you down until you come to a complete stop.

Overall, laws can help you make decisions about core objectives that make your business unique. Once you understand their principles, you can easily use them to improve the practices in your office. Here are a few of my favorites.4 Laws Of Technology and How They Impact Your Business

Moore’s Law
Probably the most famous of all technology laws is Moore’s Law, which states that the performance of hardware doubles about every two years. Named after Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, his prediction back in the 1960s was originally about the number of transistors on a microchip. However the concept grew to include improvements in all types of hardware growth over very short time periods of time. From some of the original computers 30 years ago, the first iPhone on the market was 100 times faster and almost 500 times smaller.

In today’s world, this law continues to apply to all aspects of technology. What are you using out in the field? What programs are you using with what technology? Are tablets a part of your daily routine? Have you integrated wearable technology to make your workload more efficient/timely/organized? Getting comfortable with old technology is not an option if you want to stay relevant for your clients.

Amara’s Law
Amara’s Law was created by the late Roy Amara, a scientist and president of a California think tank. It states that we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run, while we underestimate the effect a technology will have in the long run. We see this all the time when new things come onto the market. When laptops, smartphones, or even social sites like Facebook jumped onto the scene, many pushed to incorporate them into their businesses without really considering what they would do for the bottom line. And if you implemented without seeing the true benefit, it quickly overshadowed its true potential.

New technology may enter the market with predefined goals and applications, but that doesn’t mean adaptation in society will continue down that path. Tablets jumped onto the scene as ebook readers and small devices with quick access to the online world. Yet through weeks and months of operation, they quickly began morphing into true timesaving devices as applications were built to improve efficiencies. In order to stay relevant and be where your customers are, it’s sometimes required to take a second (and third) look at how today’s technology can impact you most.

Segal’s Law
Segal’s Law simply states that a man with a watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure. It refers to the pitfalls of having too much conflicting information about a subject and how it will impact your overall decision making process. When it comes to technology, statistics and analytics, more is often thought of as better when trying to grow a business. Yet in some cases, when data overlaps and provides conflicting views, it can turn into a challenge trying to figure out what to do next.

If you’ve become obsessed with data, numbers, and the trends you see, it may be time to take a step back and look at the big picture. While staying up to date on what technology can do for you is necessary, requiring constant updating to the “latest and greatest” item can allow you miss the power of what you currently have before you. Rely on a staff that has the ability to choose wisely and put the power you need into you hands today, while consistently evaluating newer technology and upgrades along the way. If they have the big picture in mind, they can wisely choose when to upgrade and when to keep things as they are..

Conway’s Law
One of the most applicable laws to a growing business can be observed through Conway’s Law, which states that any piece of software reflects the organizational structure that produced it. In a broader context, this same rule can apply to a host of technological systems and operations, and also allow differentiation from one company to the next.

This is what allows competition to occur in a crowded marketplace, and why there is opportunity for innovation in both products and services on a continual basis. Microsoft, for instance, will produce a product that is true to its internal structure, dictated by the core that has made them a giant in the industry for years. However, a startup can enter the marketplace with a fresh new look at a problem, and bring a similar concept into play with an entirely different focal point.

No matter what business you are in, or what your ultimate end user looks like, there is always room for opportunity. Opportunity comes from within; it’s the culture you create with your team and the structure you move forward with over time. Establishing your business culture early allows you to share that with your team. And when your team is on track, everything they do can stay true to that original goal. This is what makes your company unique, and what will give your business power in the marketplace overall.

Changing Up Your Technology Toolbox

Changing Up Your Technology Toolbox

I travel quite a bit. When I meet someone new and they find out what I do, invariably they ask a question or two about technology trends. “What’s your favorite app? or “What program will help me be better at …” are common.

And I suppose there is a good reason for that. We’re living in a time where technology advances so quickly, it’s hard to keep up with all the changes that take place each day.Changing Up Your Technology Toolbox

Right now there are over a million mobile applications downloadable from either Google Play or the iTunes store, and the growth in both of these marketplaces won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Don’t want an app? Looking for a sophisticated program within your industry instead? There are millions of free, open source, and fee-based programs available to meet all of your needs.

We have more ways than ever to access the Internet. From our laptops and desktop computers in our offices, to tablets and smartphones we take with us wherever the jobsite may be, we never are far from the tools we need most to run our businesses and operate efficiently.

Then there’s the matter of keeping our information safe. And keeping it backed up and updated on a regular basis.

So much to think about; and ultimately that’s where the confusion sets in.

With this much connectivity and this many options available, where do we begin?

It’s no longer a question of IF there is something out there that can make better use of our time; it’s now a question of HOW you find it.

I read an interesting statistic from Nielsen on how our mobile app usage has changed from 2011 to 2013. For all smartphone users over 18, mobile usage has increased over 65 percent during that two year time period. At the end of 2011, a user spent around 18 hours a month using apps, while at the end of 2013 that timeframe increased to just over 30 hours. Yet while the time spent using apps changed dramatically, the number of apps used didn’t. At the end of 2011, the average number of apps used was 23.2, while at the end of 2013 it had only increased to 26.8.

What does that say about our user habits? We stick with the old, rarely venturing out to try something new. Yet it’s the new innovations that can help you save time, get the job done twice as fast, and improve your efficiencies tenfold.

Lets talk for a moment about your technology toolbox. I like using the metaphor of a toolbox for a few reasons.

  • A toolbox is a convenient place we keep our favorite tools ready to grab at any moment. A toolbox has limited space, so we’re required to choose the most useful things and keep them all together in one safe place.
  • If a new tool comes into the marketplace, its easy to take the old out and replace it with the new
  • You have easy access to a variety of tools at the same time. And in some cases, you gain more traction if you use them together.

The thing to remember about having a toolbox is before you even start a project, you have to carefully look at and evaluate the tools available to you before you make your final selections. A toolbox is only as good as the tools inside, so the more help you have at filling it with the right tools, the more successful your project will be. Then as projects appear, reaching into the toolbox and making a choice is easy because the tools there are specifically chosen for your needs. They make your job that much easier, and in some cases automated completely.

They can be updated. They can be improved. But ultimately they were placed inside the toolbox with your goals in mind.  Remember also, that your tools are not the applications that run your business (which is the application portfolio discussed in other blogs), these are tools that increase your personal productivity (like texting or note-to-text conversion, etc).

Now take a look at your technology toolbox. Was it carefully chosen, or was it jumbled together? Have you evaluated any new tools lately? Maybe it’s time for an update.