3 tips to keep you secure online

The recent Playstation security breach has opened many Internet users’ eyes to the seriousness of online security. If the wrong person gets their hands on your information, there is a possibility that the outcome could be harmful. Luckily, there are plenty of easy steps you can take to better protect your online identity.

Use an encrypted connection

Encrypted connections make it very easy to protect yourself online and they can be found on many of the most popular sites. Often, the settings must be changed to achieve encrypted access, but once it is achieved, your online session will be much more secure.

You can determine whether or not you have an encrypted connection just by checking the URL. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” you have an encrypted connection. If it does not, you can try to change the settings, although it is possible that that particular site does not allow for encrypted connections.

Use strong passwords

Strong passwords can easily be created and often make a huge difference in the fight for online security. Try using a range of numbers, spaces, symbols and upper- and lowercase letters in order to instantly create a strong password.

Also, utilizing a unique password for each site is vital. If you use the same password for multiple sites and one of those sites is hacked, you could be opening up all of your other accounts to hackers as well.

Look out for phishing

Phishing is basically when a hacker poses as a reliable company in order to gain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and account numbers. It is a fairly common practice due to its relative ease – after all, hackers only need your name and email address to pull this off.

The recent breach of Epsilon was a prime example. Thousands of names and email addresses were exposed and the companies affected immediately sent out emails telling their clients not to trust any emails that claimed to be from them. Some browsers, but not all, will alert you if a website looks fake, but you still need to be smart to avoid the scams.

These three tips are unbelievably easy to follow through with and instantly increase your online security. If you’d like more information on protecting your online identity, check out this article.

Doing work from the road can be tricky – simplify it with these tips

Quite a few people that travel for business find that they are less productive while they’re on the road. This can be a result of a number of factors. Luckily, we have some excellent tools and tips that can both increase productivity and keep your belongings secure while you’re on the go.

Tools for easier travel

There are hundreds of tools available that are made to make your business travel less complicated. From computer bags to organizational apps, the possibilities are virtually endless.

One tool that can take a lot of stress out of traveling is TripIt. It is an app that organizes all of your travel information for you. You can email your itinerary to TripIt and it keeps track of your flight times, hotel information, and frequent flier numbers, all in one place.

Good luggage is also vital. It makes getting through the airport easier and can help keep you organized – a big plus when you’re doing business on the road. These are some key features to look for in your luggage:

  • Laptop compartment – It’s best to have a separate compartment for your laptop so that finding it at security, or even once you get to your destination, is easy. Nobody enjoys being the person who’s holding up the security line.
  • A wire pouch – Having a specific spot to place all of your chargers and other wires is perfect for anyone with lots of gadgets. You no longer have to wonder where you placed everything, as there is a designated pocket for it.
  • Convertibility – A convertible bag is ideal for someone who goes on a variety of business trips. If you need to carry everything through the airport one day and carry only your laptop the next, finding a bag that can serve both purposes is beneficial.

Security tools

Many of us travel with our most prized possessions, which just adds to our stress for fear of losing them. Because of that, it’s smart to bring a personal safe and a notebook lock that can keep some of the most valuable items secure when you can’t keep an eye on them.

In general, it’s ideal to err on the side of caution when you’re traveling with valuable items. If it’s something you can’t afford to lose, keep it somewhere safe, or bring it with you. This article offers a number of great security devices that can help protect your gadgets on the go.

Boosting productivity

Productivity can certainly wane while you’re working from a hotel room or coffee shop on the road. General unfamiliarity with your surroundings can slow down certain processes that are usually quick and painless.

For most jobs, it’s essential to have Internet access, especially when you are away from your coworkers. Some hotels do not have access to the Internet, and if that is the case you should consider bringing a wireless card or mobile Wi-Fi device that would let you easily access the Internet and your email.

Another thing to consider is the overall comfort level of hotel desk chairs. Most are not ergonomic or comfortable, so a back pillow would be a great asset. They are typically not too bulky, and can quickly boost your productivity by making you more relaxed.

There are many things that can make working from the road easier and more productive. These tools and tips can be incredibly helpful and help you learn how to be at your best while you’re on the go.

5 ways you can make your business greener

Being green is an excellent way to help the environment as well as save some money. Thankfully, turning your office into a green one is not very difficult to do. Here are some simple tips for making your office greener.

1.    Use double-sided printing whenever possible

If you set your printer and/or copier to double-sided printing mode, you will easily save a lot of paper. This takes minimal effort and can quickly be changed if someone needs to print something single-sided.

2.    Use a water delivery service

Eliminating bottled water in your office can have an enormous impact. Drinking bottled water is not only wasteful it can also be unhealthy. Plastic is made using Bisphenol A (BPA) which contains harmful levels of estrogen and has been declared a toxic substance by some countries. Cutting back on that habit eliminates both waste and potential health risks.

3.    Turn lights and machines off when they’re not being used

Although this may seem like an obvious way to be eco-friendly, many people overlook its necessity. Some people think that it’s more efficient to leave computers and other machines on overnight, but it’s far more wasteful than anything else. If you can afford to install motion sensors, they are always a great option as well.

4.    Use recycled and recyclable products when you can

Virtually any paper product is available in recycled versions at major office supply retailers. While they’re much better for the environment, they are generally comparable in price to non-recycled versions.

Also, if you must use disposable plates and cups, try to find recyclable or compostable options. It’s not enough to simply buy recyclable products, it’s important to have an easy-to-follow recycling program. Stress to your employees the importance of recycling those products, otherwise there’s a good chance they’ll end up in the trash.

5.    Cut down on commuting

If you have a lot of employees who commute to work, try setting up a carpool matching service that connects people who live near one another. Offering incentives like a better parking spot to people who carpool is a great way to generate interest in the idea.

All of these options are incredibly simple and do not take much to implement. If you’re looking for even more ways to make your business greener, check out this article.

Tricks for cleaning your keyboard

You’ve likely heard that your keyboard could be dirtier than a toilet seat – but are the rumors true? Levels of germs on a keyboard vary, but are often quite high. Some keyboards that have been tested have, in fact, shown levels of germs five times higher than germs found on a toilet.

If that alone doesn’t make you want to clean your keyboard, the fact that you use it on a daily basis should be. The germs that accumulate due to sickness, food, and just everyday bacteria can quickly add up and spread to other items on your desk. Luckily, we have some advice that can help you clean your keyboard quickly and effectively.

Detach the keyboard

Regardless of whatever cleaning method you’re using, it’s always best to disconnect your keyboard first. Failing to do so could cause your computer to be damaged. It could also cause you to accidentally type some things or perform actions on your machine that you didn’t intend to.

For a quick fix

Try utilizing a can of compressed air to get out any loose debris that has accumulated inside your keyboard. We’ve all seen how dirty it gets underneath those keys, and this eliminates the majority of that dirt in just a few seconds.

Spray the compressed air while your keyboard is upside down and tap the keyboard until you see loose dirt fall out. You might have to do this a couple of times in order to get rid of the majority of the debris. To make sure you’re really getting it clean, dip a cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol and swab the edges of the keys.

For a more thorough cleaning

If simply cleaning out the dirt isn’t sufficient for you, you can remove the keys for a more squeaky-clean keyboard. The keys can be taken off by gently prying them up with a small screwdriver or something similar.

Once they’ve been removed, use the air compressor to eliminate the loose dirt first. Then wipe the entire keyboard with a moist cloth. Finish it off by again cleaning each of the keys with the isopropyl alcohol.

After a spill

If you only need to know what to do after you’ve spilled on your keyboard, it’s simple. Immediately unplug the keyboard, turn it upside down and use a cloth to soak up all of the excess liquid. Then leave the keyboard upside down for as long as possible to make sure it is completely dry.

If you’d like more keyboard cleaning tips, take a look at this how-to guide.

Suggestions for conducting virtual meetings

Although face-to-face meetings are the standard when it comes to conducting business, virtual meetings are quickly becoming more popular. Virtual meetings are extremely convenient, but can be challenging if you don’t take certain factors into consideration.

Etiquette is vital to most meetings, and it’s no different with those of the virtual variety. This may seem rather obvious, but many people think they can be more informal during virtual meetings – and that isn’t always the case.

Below you will find several additional tips that can help your virtual meetings go more smoothly.

1. Be prepared

Preparedness is key when it comes to professionalism and helping a meeting run smoothly. When you’re gathering the content and resources for a virtual meeting, you should be sure to remember your audience – something that’s not quite as easy during a virtual meeting.

You also want to make sure that you have given everyone the details they need to access the meeting, such as passwords, URLs or call-in numbers. You certainly do not want to be left with no attendees because people could not access the meeting.

2. Engage participants

Although it may seem normal to jump right into the presentation, taking a moment to introduce participants can go a long way. This helps build relationships, and makes the meeting feel less rushed.

Although it may seem cliché, having everyone give a little information about themselves, like their favorite food, or the high point of their weekend, could be a great icebreaker. It allows everyone to see the other participants as more than just a face on a computer screen.

3. No side conversations

Although it may be tempting to hold side conversations when you’re not the one on screen, it can seem unprofessional and is often very distracting. Since virtual meetings often don’t hold people’s attention as well as face-to-face meetings, the last thing you want is to distract people from the task at hand.

These are just a few of many tips for conducting virtual meetings. If you’d like to check out even more tips, take a look at this Inc. article.