Social Networking : Be Careful What You Share Online.

Ah, the internet.

The “anonymous, I can be whomever I want and no one will ever know” internet.

Social Media

Pretty much everyone now-a-days, from the very young to the very old (and even some people’s pets!), have at least one social networking profile, they are a member of at least one online forum, a blogger or a commenter on blogs and so much more that keeps them commenting and posting all of the intimate details of their lives all over the world wide web. The one thing most people don’t think about is how those posts can affect their real lives.

Somehow everyone seems to think that what they write, especially when using a fake/made-up user name, can’t be traced back to them. The internet is a wide open and easily sifted medium where pretty much anyone with the desire and know-how can find out more information about you than you would ever want them knowing. There are even quite a lot of people out there who are paid very well to find out exactly what you are, or have been, doing online… and they are very, very good at their jobs.

I see people constantly posting detailed things about where they are, whether or not they are at home, how long they will be gone, what their children are doing, what the rest of the family is doing, photos that generally shouldn’t have even been taken of all of the important people in their lives, photos of their houses and cars and finally the most damaging, information and photos of illegal or downright poor judgment activities. All of those drunken college parties can come back to bite you in the butt years later while looking for a job.

So, you have to ask yourself, who is looking at all of this information? What does any of what you post have to do with life outside of the internet? How about current or prospective employers? Maybe you apply for a job and the employer does a quick search and finds out that the person who looked so good on paper (via a resume) they come to find likes to take illegal drugs, drinks heavily, parties on work nights, and generally makes very bad judgment calls in many areas of their lives? Do you think you are going to get that job you applied for? If you already have a job, don’t forget that at least one person at your company is looking over the information you are tossing all over the web.

What about someone who has something against you personally? You anger a neighbor or ex-friend or ex-lover and they watch your profile for your posts about how much you are enjoying your vacation and that you will be gone for another few days… What about what your kids are posting? What underage shenanigans are your kids involved in? The “hide profile” button and other security features are actually quite easily circumvented and whatever you post on the internet is pretty much there forever. The only way to truly get rid of those photos or those posts is for the servers containing that information to be wiped clean or be destroyed. You may click that little “delete” button and feel safe… but I guarantee that information isn’t gone.

Don’t get me wrong, social networking isn’t all bad. If done correctly it can link people, companies and communities for mutually beneficial reasons. Just be smart about what you post online.

~TeCHS

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V2V Testing in the United States

How cool would it be if cars could talk to one another? Talk to the roads?

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication recently underwent its first major real-world test in the United States! The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute was awarded millions of dollars to move forward with a test in the Ann Arbor area which will get 3,000 short range radio equipped cars on the road.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) believes that if cars can effectively communicate with one another and with the road that we can reduce serious collisions and other traffic issues by about 80%. The cars can tell their drivers if it is unsafe to pass, whether a car is approaching at an unsafe speed, or even when a car ahead of them slams on its breaks. The cars that can share information will not only be more efficient but they will also be much safer for everyone on the road.

Thanks to the Ford Motor Company spearheading this endeavor, other leading automakers and safety leaders all over the world are all jumping on board to bring everyone better and more affordable intelligent vehicle technology.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Programs Office (ITS-JPO) is sponsoring the research being conducted by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), which is a joint research group founded by Ford and General Motors.

Together all of these companies are working on a standardized platform for advanced wireless systems that will allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to other vehicles (V2V). If vehicles can communicate in harmony with one another we can reduce crashes and congestion on our highways. According to reports issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), intelligent vehicles could help in preventing up to 81% of all reported vehicle crashes. Interoperability standards and the complete research phase for this project should be completed by 2013!

Totally cool and futuristic!

I hope that the vehicles talk like Kitt from Knight Rider.

~TeCHS

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Microsoft “Retires” XP and Office 2003

In case you haven’t heard – support for XP and older Office software ends in 2014… are you prepared to upgrade your old equipment/software?

Keep in mind that some older equipment is not compatible with the newest version of Windows (Windows 7). Peripherals such as printers or wireless mice may also need to be replaced/upgraded when you change from XP.

If you need help – call us!
We can upgrade your old system or build & configure a brand new system just for your needs. We also transfer all of your personal data to your new machine for you… we make the switch as easy as possible for you.

You can read more about the “retirement” from Microsoft here:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/endofsupport.aspx

~TeCHS

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Celebrating One Year as TeCHS!

Did you know that TeCHS has used to be called Leader Creative Services?

Leader Creative Services began in 2003 as a small graphic design house. As the years went by we added more and more services to our offerings and finally on June 03, 2011 we decided to change the name of the business to better reflect all of the technical solutions we offer Ventura County. Thus TeCHS was born!

We are proud Ventura natives that want nothing more than to keep everyone’s digital life running smoothly and to keep business and money in our beautiful and wonderful county! From the home to the local business – we provide affordable, fast, friendly and reliable services for all of your needs.

TeCHS Flyer 2011

How can we make your digital life easier?

~TeCHS

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Your Digital Life Simplified!

A few more tips to safeguard yourself, your identity and your loved ones.

Part 3 of 3.

Criminals are always looking for new ways to catch people unawares and take advantage of them. They will use any means necessary to commit whatever crime they have in mind and a lot of the technology we use everyday leaves everyone open for a possible attack. There are quite a lot of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims.

Part 3: Medical records, credit reports, junk mail and documents.

Your medical records contain your entire family history as well as your personal contact information. It details your relationships (husband, wife, children, etc), your sexual behavior, any illnesses, diagnosis, treatments, prescriptions, you name it! Unfortunately even these records aren’t that difficult for a savvy criminal to obtain, especially since most medical providers now keep their patient records digitally. You can keep an eye on your records by visiting the Medical Information Bureau’s web site or calling them.

Always keep an eye on your credit reports. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Never assume that your credit report is accurate, human beings enter the data into these reports and errors happen. Plus, if you know what is on your report you can identify possible identity theft or credit card fraud since information of that nature will be detailed in your report.

When you need to dispose of bills or bank statements – never simply throw them in the trash! Criminals frequently “dumpster dive” for these documents. Shred everything. Everything! Credit card statements, bills, old debit or credit cards, bank statements, old pay stubs, anything of that nature. Cross-cut shredders are very inexpensive and can save you a lot of hassle.

Do not fill in any personal information that you do not absolutely have to when filling out documents. If the fill-in box states that it is optional – keep it to yourself. If you must fill in something, keep it as brief as possible. For example, don’t fill in your full legal name – use your initials. A lot of junk mail comes from people filling in all of their personal data when they really did not have to.

Lastly, to keep telemarketers from calling you – simply include your name in the Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov).

Protecting yourself from victimization truly is in your hands. Making small changes in your life and keeping an eye on your assets, your information and your technology can keep you and your family from identity theft or other problems.

~ K. McMillan-Ralph, TeCHS

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Your Digital Life Simplified!

A few more tips to safeguard yourself, your identity and your loved ones.

Part 2 of 3.

Criminals are always looking for new ways to catch people unawares and take advantage of them. They will use any means necessary to commit whatever crime they have in mind and a lot of the technology we use everyday leaves everyone open for a possible attack. There are quite a lot of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims.

Part 2: Computers, spyware and deleting files.

Your personal computers contain a wealth of your most personal and valuable information as well as avenues for exploitation and theft by savvy criminals. The easiest way for a criminal to steal information off of your computer is to actually physically steal the computer. Laptops are prime targets for theft and you should never leave it unattended. Never leave them in your car, do not stow them in overhead bins while traveling and even when you are home, store them someplace that they are not readily seen by everyone in your home.

On top of that always secure your computers with good, strong, not-easily-guessed passwords. Do not use common words, do not use sequential numbers or letters and never use personal names or dates of important events. If you can remember them it is best to use alphanumeric passwords, passwords that contain a random set of numbers and letters – both uppercase and lowercase. If that isn’t do-able for you, use an odd sentence. Keep in mind that the longer your password is, the more characters it contains, the harder it will be to guess.

Other ways to safeguard your computer include making sure your firewall is always running, make sure that you have a good spyware program installed on your computers and that you run them at least once a week and never click on any links you do not recognize or are unsure about. Criminals are very good at embedding malicious software into seemingly innocuous programs that can wreak havoc on your computer and your personal life.

Truly deleting files is not as easy as it sounds. You may think that once you delete something from your computer that it is gone forever. A lot of times that is not the case. Unless you go through the trouble of wiping your hard drives or physically destroying them, it is possible to recover that “deleted” data. There are quite a few programs on the market that will “wipe” a hard drive truly clean… but be careful! USB thumb drives or flash data cannot ever be truly wiped clean.

Next week: Medical records, credit reports, junk mail and documents.

~TeCHS

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www.ezDigitalLife.com

Your Digital Life Simplified!

A few more tips to safeguard yourself, your identity and your loved ones.

Part 1 of 3.

Criminals are always looking for new ways to catch people unawares and take advantage of them. They will use any means necessary to commit whatever crime they have in mind and a lot of the technology we use everyday leaves everyone open for a possible attack. There are quite a lot of things you can do to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims.

Part 1: Landlines, cell phones and leaving on vacation.

Always keep private conversations private. In order to ensure that private conversations are not being spied on these types of conversations should really be done in person and in a private location. Using any sort of telephone (landline or cell) your conversation can be easily spied on. You can purchase cheap devices at places like Radioshack that will allow you tap into any landline telephone.

Same goes for your cell phone. When it is not in use you should keep in unplugged and powered off. Cell phones are even less secure than landlines are and with the right technology your cell phone signal can be intercepted from just about anywhere. When your cell phone is on it can be tracked and even remotely activated so that the person snooping can hear everything being said around the phone. Also, there is quite a lot of personal information stored on your cell phone – from your social security number, your full name, your address, and even bank accounts and credit cards.

When you leave your home for any length of time, say for a vacation, always have the post office hold your mail. On that same note, if you do not have a mailbox with a lock on it – get one! Your mail is a goldmine of information for criminals to use to steal your identity; bills, checks, credit card offers, bank statements, you name it. Some people even go as far as renting secure mailboxes inside of their local Post Office to make sure their mail (and in turn their identity) isn’t being stolen.

Pay close attention to what is happening in your neighborhood and around your home; installing simple things like flood lights and security gates can deter a possible break-in. If you feel that you live in a less-than-safe neighborhood, consider purchasing firearms, pepper spray or stun guns to keep around your home in case of a break-in.

Always keep valuables hidden in your home; don’t leave things like jewelry boxes sitting on top of dressers in plain sight. Small portable fire safes are great for keeping your valuables safe from fire… but if a criminal finds one in your home, you saved them the trouble of having to collect your valuables in one place. They will simply pick up the tiny safe and take it home to break into later. If you need a fire-proof safe install one that is large enough to not be lifted easily by one person and make sure it is bolted secure into concrete.

Next week: Computers, spyware and deleting files.

~TeCHS

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Heat Hacking

 
Another thing to watch out for at your local ATM: The heat from your fingertips is actually leaving behind traces of heat that can be seen with a simple digital infrared camera. The camera can pick up which keys were pressed with about 80% accuracy even a full minute after you have left the ATM behind.

A criminal can definitely determine which keys you pressed but thankfully it is rather difficult to figure out in what order the keys were pressed. This sort of key identification only works well on plastic keypads as well since metal retains too much heat noise to allow the camera to accurately pick up which keys were recently pressed.


At the moment this sort of crime is in its infancy and there isn’t a large chance that you will be caught unawares but as technology gets better and better this sort of theft will become easier and more wide-spread. The ATM is not the only place technology of this nature could be used to infiltrate – keypad safes, security doors, keypad activated garage doors and car doors, and basically anything that uses plastic keypads is potentially vulnerable.

Right now, to prevent any possibility of reading which keys you have recently pressed, simply place your hand over the entire keypad for a few seconds once you are finished – then every key will be just as warm as the one next to it.

~TeCHS

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Social Media and Biometrics Make Undercover Work Impossible

Social media has been on the rise for years and is now a staple of most people’s daily internet usage. Since pretty much everyone now-a-days uses social media for connecting with people and sharing photos – odds are good that there are multiple photos floating around of almost everyone on the internet whether that person uploaded them there or someone else did.

Now, social media coupled with biometrics could spell trouble for undercover police activities. For people whose livelihood truly depends on their anonymity social media and biometrics are making undercover operations no longer an option.


There are plenty of apps on the market that use biometrics to easily identify people based on their internet photos. Anyone can easily and cheaply pick up rudimentary biometric software for their computers and particularly for their smartphones. Police use these apps regularly to ID people on the street and mine social media for clues and help find suspects. The social media sites themselves use these apps to help you “tag” people in photos you upload. So if law enforcement is using these apps, doesn’t it make sense that criminals are too?

~TeCHS

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Cellebrite, the Smartphone Data Grabber

A new device on the market has been causing quite a bit of commotion. It’s called Cellebrite Cell Phone Extraction Device (UFED) and it is a rugged hand-held device that is used to grab information from cell phones and GPS devices. The manufacturer’s web site touts the Cellebrite as a solution for cell phone repair centers to be able to transfer a customer’s cellular data from their broken phone to a new phone.

You would be surprised at how much data a smartphone really stores and exactly what can be accessed with a device like Cellebrite. The news has been talking quite a bit about this device since it recently surfaced that Michigan State Police have been using the tool to access cell phones during traffic stops. Hopefully devices like this will stay in the hands of trustworthy people and only be used with the consent of the phone owner.

~TeCHS

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