Tech Sensibility: The Newsletter (Feb 2015)
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- Securing your wireless network is important in preventing cyber crooks from using your Wi-Fi to attack your computers and steal your information or use your Internet for illegal activities, such as uploading and downloading pirated movies and music. Make sure that your Wi-Fi device uses encryption, and select the encryption type that starts with "WPA2", for example "WPA2-PSK AES". Any other type is not very secure.
- If your personal information is stolen it is important to act quickly to minimize the potential damage from identify theft. Contact your bank and other financial institutions and close any accounts that have been established fraudulently. In addition, carefully review your credit reports, place a fraud alert on them, and file a police report with local law enforcement.
- If you're looking for a domain name register, consider Gandi. Their website is clean and functional, support is responsive and prices are reasonable. Unlike GoDaddy, whose business practices have been purported to be questionable, Gandi pledges to not up-sell you with unnecessary services every time you need to make configuration changes. It keeps things simple, values your privacy and its DNS services are easy to set up and manage.
- Try to avoid wearing the white Apple earbud headphones in public places - on crowded streets, inside restaurants and on subways - where you could become a victim of crime. They make you a target for thieves and tell the criminal that you have a pricey Apple device in your pocket. Use black headphones cables instead.
- Consider these real-world mail clues in spotting potential identity theft: Keep an eye out for mail that you are not getting. If credit card and bank statements suddenly stop arriving, then thieves might have redirected your mail. Redirecting mail is very simple with a change of request form from the post office.
Pros and Cons of Shadow IT
IT leaders should structure their internal IT department in such a way to enable it to recognize the business needs of their non-IT counterparts. If corporate business units start looking at external technologies, internal IT should help to evaluate them. If a particular external technology turns out to be the appropriate solution, then internal IT should not only help in the implementation, it should consider integrating it into its own IT service offerings, and officially support it to enable other departments to take advantage of the new technology in the future.
Of course, it depends upon what Shadow IT technology is. Some external technologies should not be allowed into internal IT regardless of how useful they may seem, because they compromise corporate security or violate various compliance initiatives which the company is required to implement. Yet external technologies exist that may be advantageous for an internal IT department to examine, evaluate, secure and integrate.
IT leaders should design their IT infrastructure to support Shadow IT technology to a certain extent. There are business advantages in allowing external technologies in a controlled way, rather than its outright banning. When external technology is banned merely because it is external, it only encourages Shadow IT to drop to a lower, shrouded level. IT leaders need to remember that the purpose of IT is to increase the organization.s business performance. Internal IT departments should work with business units and guide them to select the best technology for their particular needs.
The use of Shadow IT within the organization often exposes larger organizational problems, like the lack of communication between IT and non-IT departments, or the unwillingness of IT to work with business units to find the best solutions for their needs. IT departments are risking losing control of their environment if they do not start working more closely with the rest of its organization.
While some have made it their 2015 goal to become healthier, many others are deciding to take control of their borrowing and spending habits. Making everyday purchases on a credit card with an unpaid balance will harm your credit score. Credit card transactions are a large factor in determining credit scores, while debit card transactions are not. So instead, try using a debit card that is linked to a bank account, and that has no overdraft protection, preventing you from spending any more than your account holds. To strengthen your credit score, you should make occasional monthly purchases on the credit card, and then pay off the bill in full each month.
Store credit cards can be very tempting. They lure you in by offering deep discounts on your first purchase. While a 20% discount on your first purchase may seem enticing, remember that store credit cards often come with the largest interest rates on unpaid balances (often 20% or more), much higher than the average rate for regular credit cards. Pay off any balance on store credit cards and subsequently, cut those cards up. They are almost never worth the value that they promise.
Paying down credit card balances with the highest interest rate is very important. Take some time to arrange all your credit card accounts, from highest interest rate to lowest. Start with the lowest- pay the minimum due amount on lower-rate interest card accounts. For the highest interest balances, try paying at least 20% more than the minimum amount due. Once those cards are paid off, redirect that money that to then pay off the balances on the lower-interest cards.
Many supportive resources are available to anyone struggling with debt, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (www.nfcc.org). They can help you find a credit counselor in your area who will assist you in devising a plan. Remember, with strong discipline and solid planning, no amount of debt is undefeatable.
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