CryptoLocker Malware ALERT

We are seeing an increasing amount of malicious email traffic containing the CryptoLocker malware.  This malware can encrypt your business’ data.  Hackers encrypt your data and hold your data hostage and there is no way to decrypt your files without paying them for the key used to decrypt.  Of course, there are no assurances that they will actually follow-through if you do pay.

The best defense is two fold: First, make sure your files are backed up frequently.  The second, and most important way to protect yourself is to NEVER open messages or attachments from people you don’t know or look suspicious.  The majority of these infections are coming from trusted file sharing programs disguised as voicemail messages, faxes or delivery notifications from UPS, FedEx, etc.  Please use upmost caution when opening any attachment.  If you feel you have been infected, please contact us at 215-701-4646. Please also contact us at that number should you have any questions about your level of protection and how we can help you protect your data. 


Tips for Better Holiday Travel

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Thought we would share some of our tips for a better holiday travel. These tips are battle-tested and have proven useful in our travels, so we thought we'd share them.

Apps To Have

TripIt - free and paid versions with no ads. Allows you to organize all of your travel plans in one place.  Easily add flight, hotel, car rental and other information to TripIt via email and put it in one easy to use app.  Access itineraries anytime, on any device or web browser.  Offers ability to view directions, maps and weather for each destination.  I used this app on a trip to Hawaii this summer.  Allowed us to track 9 different flight segments and numerous activities and three sets of hotel reservations easily.  And it makes it easy to share your itineraries with loved ones, staff, etc. with just a few clicks.

FlightAware - Provides Free, live flight tracker and flight status.  Works on iPad, iPhone.  Allows you to track the real-time flight status and tracking map of any commercial flight worldwide.  Provides push notification for flight departure/arrival info as well as cancellation, gate changes, delays and diversions.

Alternative: App in the Air

TripList - the easy to use packing list and to-do manager.  Works only on iOS 7 devices.  Helps you pack smarter and faster by keeping separate lists for each trip.  The app supports reminders, due dates, notes and quantity indicators for each item.

Kindle - Now that you can use your electronic devices, the Kindle app is even more indepensible.  Load it up with books and reduce the amount of weight you're hauling around.  And it's easy to add new books and magazines without having to visit the newsstand.

Dropbox - This one is probably a bit unexpected, but here me out.  Scan your passport, copies of any paper tickets and other documents you might need and upload them to Dropbox so that you can always have access to your imporant documents.

Garmin USA - If you're traveling outside your country or will be traveling in poor coverage areas, having a GPS app that allows you to download maps is extremely useful. This will be help you get you where you're going without racking up roaming or data usage 

Equipment to Have

Chargers for your phone -  Both the "wall-wart" and cables you need to power up your devices.  Make sure they're in your carry-on and not in your checked bags.

Extension Cord - Too often the wall outlet is too far away to make it convenient to power up your devices.  Keeping a cord in your carry-on helps, since you can sometimes find outlets in airports, etc.

Headphones - a good pair of noise-cancelling or noise-isolating headphones help drown out the screaming baby and the chatty person next to you and allows you to hear your music.  Even if you don't plug them into anything, they make good ear plugs too.

Power-bars - Go to GNC, Walmart and other stores to find bars that you like.  Bars higher in protein will help curb your apetite more.  Keeping a few in your bag helps keep you from starving without breaking the bank hitting the food court.

USB Battery Pack - this is a definite nice to have item.  There are battery backs that fit right on your phone, but my preference is to use an external battery pack that can be used with a variety of devices and that have enough juice to charge tablets as well as phones.  Amazon has tons of options here.  Pay attention to battery capacity and output ability.  Also pay attention to weight, as this will be something you’ll keep in your carry-on as well.

 

Safe travels this holiday season. 

Jim Balsillie may have driven Research in Motion into the ground by not changing course in time, but it looks like he at least had a plan for trying to pull it out.  Interestingly, Jim's plan is similar is concept to an idea I voiced to some Gartner folks a few months ago, which is to captialize RIM's data network as a lower-cost data network.  Sure the data might be a little slower, but if carriers offered it as an option for some folks rather than the higher-speed options, I bet there would be a good number of people that would bite.  Check out the article at Reuters for a bit more insight. This plan would allow RIM to still stay in the handset game if they wanted to, but wouldn't be reliant on their own handset sales for revenue.  I think it is really an idea worthy of more consideration, and not just because I thought of it too! :-)

Monitor Your Data Usage to Avoid Extra Fees

With the recent changes to AT&T's data plans and the introduction of Apple's new iPad with LTE, users should start taking steps to monitor their data usage more carefully on their devices to avoid surprises when the bill comes.  K.T. Bradford over at GottaBeMobile.com wrote a great article about a nice app that I have actually been talking about since I got my iPad.  Data Usage is an inexpensive iOS app that will monitor your 3G/4G and WiFi data usage and let you know if/when you're getting close to your data cap.  Check out her article.

AT&T Data Caps: Redux

For those of you who have been following the drama around the AT&T Unlimited Data issue, AT&T would like you to believe that this has all been put to bed.  They decided that it made sense to cap people's unlimited data at 3GB, since people were paying the same price for unlimited as they were for the 3GB plan.  On the surface, a reasonable plan. But there are a few things you need to be aware of with this new change.  The first is around notification.  If you are a heavier data user and don't closely track your data usage, you could easily use up 3GB in a month.  If I forget to connect to WiFi when I'm streaming my Netflix while at the gym on the treadmill, I imagine I could easily rack up that much.  In the first month, they'll send you a text message letting you know you're going over and they'll throttle you.  OK, that's good. But that's the only notification you'll ever get!

If you go over a second month, they won't bother to send you that text message that costs them a fraction of a cent to send.  You'll get no notification at all.  All you'll get is crap service until your next billing cycle starts.  No option to buy more bandwidth.  Nothing.

Notice by the way, that they have effectively changed your plan from Unlimited to 3GB.  That is a change to your contract, but because they didn't actually CHANGE your contract, they don't give you the out you'd be entitled to if they were actually to change it (you're entitled to cancel any contract without penalty if they change the terms of your contract).  And it doesn't take into consideration the universally accepted definition of what UNLIMITED means, which is to have NO limits on how much data you can use.  If AT&T were grown-ups and responsible business people, they would admit that they are no longer comfortable having these contracts out there and take steps to cancel them.  Tell me now that at the end of 2012 you're going to do away with unlimited data contracts and will automatically be switching me over to a 3GB plan.  Just man up and do it and stop playing games with throttling!