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AndroPedia Tech Library
As part of our service, it is important to keep our client-partners well informed on IT developments, news, and best practices. Here is just a sampling of typical items from our AndroPediaSM library archive:
To SSL or Not to SSL: What is HTTPs and Why it Matters to You Jan 12, 2018
2017 was a pretty eventful year for tech. Between the WannaCry ransomware virus, the data breach at Equifax and many other less famous incidents – one thing is for certain. 2017 was the year of cybersecurity and 2018 is expected to follow suit.
With cyber attacks on everyone’s mind and radar, businesses are starting to notice a shift in public perception when it comes to the companies they work with when it comes to data security. People want to feel safe – and they want to make sure that their information is safe, even on the web.
So while this has been a growing trend for a few years now, it is safe to say that moving forward, the trend has transformed into an expectation of security and protecting consumer data.
2018 is definitely the year of HTTPs.
What is HTTPs?
To understand what HTTPS means and how it works, you need to know a few definitions.
First – HTTP, HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. Without diving too deep into the technical lingo, this is an application layer protocol. Basically, HTTP is the protocol that involves information sent between a browser (like google chrome) and a website itself. So if you were to interrupt that connection and intercept it, you’d see in plain text what was being communicated between the website and the browser.
This can be very dangerous in certain situations. For example, if you are purchasing goods on a website with a basic HTTP (basic meaning unsecured), your personal information like your address, credit card info and whatever else you submit can be intercepted and stolen.
Nobody wants this to occur – except the thieves – so HTTPs was introduced as a secure option.
Like HTTP, HTTPs stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol but it has an additional Security component; hence the “S”.
By adding additional security components, the language being transmitted between website and browser is encrypted and kept from being read by evil doers and criminals.
Another term you might hear thrown around regarding this security protocol is an SSL or Secure Socket Layer Certificate. Again, this is just another way of saying that your site has the technology in place to securely encrypt transactions between the website and browsers etc.
The types of SSL Certificates may vary, but their basic coding provides security and encryption.
You can always tell if a website is secure in a few different ways.
- https:// precedes the URL destination i.e. https://www.google.com
- A lock shows up in the leftmost corner of your navigation bar
- A green lock shows up in the leftmost corner of your navigation bar
Sounds pretty good, right?
There was a time when this added security feature was mainly used on websites that transfer personal information such as ecommerce, financial, medical, legal etc. but these days the added security of an SSL or HTTPs on your site is more of a standard.
It is something that savvy consumers look for to avoid vulnerability.
Now that we’ve gone through what this feature is and how it operates in respect to your website you might have some additional questions about whether this feature would benefit you. We’ve touched on a few of the most common topics below.
I’m Just A Small Business Website,
Why Should HTTPs Matter to Me?
An SSL Shows Your Customer Base You Care About Their Security
By adding an SSL certificate to your website, and turning it from HTTP to HTTPs, you are providing an extra level of security for your users. They know right away that your website is secure- that nothing they are viewing or how they are interacting on your website is being monitored or watched by a malicious entity. It shows that you care about your customer’s user experience – and that reflects highly upon your company brand.
It Actually Provides Additional Security Against Hackers
Having an SSL certificate installed on your website also helps protect your website from a possible breach or hacking attempt. The extra level of encryption provides an external wall that is harder for hackers to break and infect. So while you might not necessarily need one for the type of website your business uses – it does help you protect yourself against would-be attackers and saves you money on potential cleanup and patches once a website does get infected or breached.
HTTPs Help Improve Website Search Engine Rankings and Traffic
Having this added security installed on your website shows popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing! that you take your user’s experience and security seriously. So seriously that they award your website with increased rankings.
And we all know higher rankings lead to more traffic which you hope leads to more clients/customers.
Google has been favoring websites with HTTPs for a few years now; however, after recent technology-related world events, they have doubled-down.
Starting this past October, websites that use a form or search tool on their website will not have a Not Secure warning when viewed on Google Chrome browser. The last thing you want your prospective clients to see when visiting your site is a message about poor security.
Google also has been blatantly favoring websites with HTTPs over HTTP. About have of all 1st page results on Google are websites with HTTPs, up over 30% since the end of 2016.
Failure to increase security on your site risks lower search rankings and even increases bounce rates. It is also proven that HTTP sites load slower, causing Google to penalize them for site speed as well. Overall, the industry is punishing sites that do not value security.
So, what should you take away from all of this?
An SSL does incur extra costs (but they are minimal) but failure to secure your website can cost you potential new customers, reduce website traffic and impact overall user experience.
Your IT partner or web hosting provider should have the necessary tools to help you with your website security. It should be fairly simple and won’t break your budget either.
Want to take the next step and convert to HTTPs but not sure how?
Andromeda has trained technicians and developers that are more than happy to help you with the conversion. Just give us a call to get started today!
The post To SSL or Not to SSL: What is HTTPs and Why it Matters to You appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Holy Big Brother! Google Location History: An All Knowing Function You Probably Didn’t Know You’ve Enabled Jul 31, 2017
Technology has changed our world forever. What’s the first thing you do before you get out of bed in the morning? Chances are it has something to do with your smartphone. These items open up worlds of possibilities but they can also bring issues and privacy conflicts with them. For this month’s IT article we bring you an article from our President and CEO Jeff Borello on the intersection of instant access (google) and user privacy (location sharing) – focusing on something called: Google Location History. Without further ado . . .
Holy Big Brother
Have you ever heard of Google Location History?
Yeah, me neither.
Let me start by saying I am not a guy that cares about intrusions on my privacy. I don’t care if the government is listening to my phone calls or reading my Emails. I figure I am not doing anything wrong – so if they are interested in my boring life – so be it. Especially if it helps them catch some bad guys.
Now, with that said, even I was a little freaked out when I discovered how much Google and my Google App know about my daily movements.
These days, almost everyone has a Google login and is quite often signed into their account – especially from a mobile device.
So, let’s play a little game. Where were you on January 17th at 4pm? You probably don’t remember, but if you have location services enabled on your device . . . Google does.
Google Location History is a comprehensive (and by that I mean every detail imaginable) history of places you have visited as tracked and logged by your smartphone’s GPS function. Besides being comprehensive, it also has a very long memory – like years.
Give this a try to see if Google Location History is enabled on your phone.
- From a desktop browser, go to Maps.google.com (from your phone you need to open the Google Maps App)
- Sign in to your Google account (if you aren’t already). Top right-hand corner will either show a Letter (first letter of your login) or a Sign In button.
- Click the 3-bar menu in the top left corner and select “Your Timeline”
- If you see some bar graph data there, click the bar for a given day shown from the last month.
- How long did it take you to get to work that day?
- Where did you have lunch?
- Did you walk anywhere during the day?
- Did you take any pictures? (Yes, those might be logged in there as well)
See a screenshot below of my recent trip to Nashville. Yep, lunch at Monell’s (great place BTW) from 12:25 to 2:06 and dinner at 9:14 at the Peg Leg Porker BBQ
Walking, driving, flying. It knows and records those differently.
So, the obvious question is why on earth would you want something this invasive turned on? The answer is convenience. As often is the case, to gain some convenience you need to give up some privacy.
It is this information that Google uses to help you throughout your day. It will inform you of traffic issues based on your travel habits and places you may visit often. The more information the system has on you, the more helpful an AI-powered app (Google Assistant) can be.
Okay, I have Google Location History turned on. Now what?
The good news is you do have control over this. If you aren’t comfortable being tracked, you can turn this feature off. From the Timeline there is an option to Pause that feature, which in effect disables it until you turn it back on. You can also delete your entire location history as well, or just delete individual entries if you wish.
Of course, as long as the GPS is enabled on your phone, there are still plenty of apps out there that could be tracking you. Only truly private solution is to disable the GPS completely (which probably causes you more issues than you think) or just leave your phone at home (yeah, right).
Is Google Location History too much an invasion on your privacy? That is for you to decide but at least now you’re aware you are under the microscope.
The post Holy Big Brother! Google Location History: An All Knowing Function You Probably Didn’t Know You’ve Enabled appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Smart TV’s May Be Tracking You And Vulnerable To Hacks Feb 21, 2018
Do you own a smart TV?� More than half of all television sales in the US last year were smart TVs, so chances are decent that you own one.� If you do, be aware that it may be collecting far more data about you than you think.
Recall that last year, Samsung, (one of the top smart TV manufacturers) found itself in hot water when it was revealed that the TV could listen in on conversations, record them (for better voice recognition) and save them on a Samsung server.
Those issues still persist to varying degrees, but a recent Consumer Reports study underscores something most people in the tech business have known all along.� Smart devices really aren't all that smart, at least when it comes to security.
The Consumer Reports study concluded that most smart TVs and associated technologies like the Roku have only the most rudimentary of security features and can easily be hacked, giving the hackers total control of your TV. This includes the ability to turn it off, on, change the channel, and monitor your viewing habits.� Given that, these TVs can also be voice-controlled. Once a hacker is in control of your set, he could monitor any conversations that take place near it without your knowledge.
In addition, the most recent smart TVs come with a feature called Content Recognition.� For example, if you watch the latest episode of the Walking Dead (whether on AMC or Amazon Prime or some other streaming service), the next time you pull up a web page on your PC or smart phone, you'll start seeing advertising related to the Walking Dead.
This, of course, gives any would-be hacker a much deeper view into your viewing habits and history.
The upside is that most of these features can be deactivated if you have the patience to sift through the television's menu system. Of course, if you do that, then it's no longer a smart TV, and thus, not worth the extra money you spent on it.
As ever, the bottom line is this:� These kinds of risks aren't going to go away on their own.� Until and unless smart device makers start taking security more seriously, we're going to keep hearing about potential or actual abuses.