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Take time off, IoT devices as services, Email sigs as marketing

Worthy of a reminder again is to take breaks from your computer. If you get caught up not paying attention to time, then try Time Out for the Mac (dejal.com, that is an ell not a one after deja), or Workrave (workrave.org) for PC. Micro breaks are for just looking away from your screen, and breaks are for actually moving around, getting off your seat.

If you have WiFi security cameras in your house or business premise, check some simple settings to ensure that they are less hackable. First, make sure that the video footage is being streamed to some website via SSL and that you view it via SSL. Second, make sure it is not publicly viewable, that you have to use a login and a secure password to access that video (remember, some cameras just use a default login and password which you should always change.) Third, just like your computer, you should always check for security updates for your security cameras.

Email signatures are great informational and marketing opportunities that are often made overly complex by corporate ideals or the kitchen-sink analogy of including all possible information. Name, title, company and phone numbers make sense, but you don’t have to include your email address, that is already part of the email you are sending. Keep your information on four or fewer lines, and list various bits of related information on the same line, separated by hyphens or vertical bars. Using complicated HTML or vCard formats to get a fancy look is likely to backfire as not all email programs handle HTML and vCard the same way. Think of having multiple signatures, to reflect seasonal wishes or to strip information in a reply if the recipient already has seen it. And, always test your signature by sending it to people using different email programs, such as Outlook, Apple Mail, Windows Live Mail, Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, etc.

10 pieces of information may be more than enough to steal your identity so try to protect the following: Social Security Number; date and place of birth; driver’s license or passport number; all your bank, credit card and other account numbers; weak or easy to guess PINs for bank cards; card expiration dates and security codes; physical and email addresses; phone number; full name; and all sorts of other employer and affiliations you have with groups. Many of these bits of information are public and yet can be used to impersonate you or “phish” you, getting you to share even more and maybe even swindle you.

When you buy a “smart” device, like one of those internet connected thermostats or one of those smart controllers lights and such in your home, you may think you are buying a product. You are really buying a service that at any point a company may pull for one of their products, literally shutting it off. Google bought Revolv a few years ago, which made a product competing with one made by one of their other purchased companies, Nest.  As of May 15, all Revolv products die, “the Revolv app won’t open and the hub won’t work.” They claim these Internet of Things (IoT) devices can become security holes in your house or business and that a company’s talent and efforts must be focused on the newer and more secure products they are making. This makes early adoption, before there are industry or governmental standards, very costly.