Thursday, February 21, 2013

Keeping Safe Online in a Connected World

With the massive adoption of the internet nowadays, people have never been connected like we all are. But with this connectivity, access to the internet, email and other resources come all sorts of risks. Phishers are trying every means to direct us to fake versions of the websites we use to steal some kind of information which they can profit on. Hackers are trying to break into our computers or computer network s and steal sensitive information. There is the risk of losing devices you use to access the internet with the potential hazard of having our sensitive information in the wrong hands.
So what exactly can be done?

Here is my list of tips that can keep you safe online no matter with what device or devices you access the internet with.

1. If you use social networks like Facebook or twitter know, that while they ask for your email address to login, they don't need you to use the same email address password as your password.

2. Use different passwords for every email, social media or service account if you can.

3. When you get those spam emails promising everything from easy money to exclusive pictures of some superstar, don't click on the link they offer you.  Delete the emails in a breath and have the same attitude to such links on Facebook or Twitter too.

4. No matter how good an anti - virus is, it will be no good unless it is updated regularly.  Regular updates can be as frequent as every 4 days. Most antivirus will update automatically so checking and noticing your antivirus is no longer updating is probably a sign that it has already been compromised. If this is the case you might need a new installation.

5. Never use your smart phone or tablet without having a password active on the device.  While the password will not stop a thief from stealing the device it will at least protect your information from the thief.

6. For devices like smart phones which have memory cards. There is always a function to encrypt the card. So if a thief steals your device, they won't be able to have access to the files on the memory card. Make sure you always use this feature.

7. Blackberry protect allows you to remotely find your device if lost. So you may want to make sure Blackberry protect is active on your device. The only problem is a tech savvy thief will find a way around this.

8. The iPad and IPhone also have a feature to find your device if missing. Make sure you turn it on.

9. Most free email services including Yahoo and Gmail have password reset features to take back your email account in case a hacker takes over them. These features allow you to set another email account to use for a password reset. Make sure you have this feature in place too.

10. Know that hacking is big business now so handle everything you do online with caution but not necessarily fear.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sharing Short URLS to an Audience

I went to an event some weeks ago and at the end of it there was an advert for additional content and instructions on how to download the mobile applications for different mobile platforms.  The links were shared with short urls like the popular bitly, tinyurl etc  and that was when I realized that sharing short url on a screen is a bad idea. While they work excellent for sharing links within Twitter or Face book by cleaning the look of the URLs and reducing the character count, they don't work well visually.

Short urls generated by services such as bitly are case sensitive but a lot of us are used to typing in our web addresses directly without ever using the shift button on the keypad or not caring any less because we all believe writing it all in small letters or capital or mixed does not make a difference. Well in the world of short urls. Type case makes a difference. 

I believe the best method to share a link to your mobile applications, website or any resource on a screen is to get your webmaster to do a re-direct from your website to the links you want to share.  For example, he/she can do a redirect from " " to your mobile application. This will be easier to do and less prone to errors than using a short URL.   

Another easy way will be to give an email address where your audience can send a mail to get the link. They may only need to send a blank email. This method even allows you to still use a short URL.

One option I like is for them to send an SMS with a keyword to a phone number Of a SIM placed on a SMS gateway or server solution. The system can detect the keyword they sent and send back a link to their phone numbers. This method not only allows the use of short URLs and will seem easier as most people feel closer to SMS on their mobile device than E-mail.  This is actually my favourite of the options in this article even though it sounds a little bit techy. ( OK, full disclosure after spending a while developing a solution like this, it has to be my favourite)

Any of these methods though will reduce the potential problem of displaying a short URL on a screen which will be hard to type onto the mobile phone browser or will create an impression of the site been available if the wrong case of characters is typed in.

The general idea in the world we live in today where there is every possibility to want to share links at the end of an event is to look for a method that will ensure the accuracy of the links you need to send.

You can follow my thoughts on Twitter @folarinoye