Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Avoiding Halloween Email Tricks

This Halloween, Keep Spooky Emails At Bay

It seems like virtually every holiday now comes with an outbreak of computer viruses as people click on "holiday greetings" from strangers. Don't get tricked this Halloween when you're expecting a treat! Be on the lookout for suspicious messages and brush up on a few perennial good email habits:

  1. If you don't recognize the name of the sender or if the subject line is garbled or misspelled, don't open it.
  1. Set your email so that it doesn't automatically display HTML. You can approve the emails whose images you want to see -- for example, newsletters from trusted sources like CMIT! -- while filtering out images you'd rather not see.
  1. Do not send confidential personal information over email. This includes credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and Social Security numbers. 
  1. Don't forward along chain mails. They're a nuisance at best, and at worst can serve as a mechanism for spreading viruses. If you're added to somebody's address book through a chain email, a virus from their computer that spreads by sending a message to all their contacts could end up in your inbox.
  1. Regularly run a virus/spyware scan and download the updates -- after all, your anti-virus/anti-spyware protection is only as good as its last update! File scans do tend to slow down your computer, so you should schedule them for when you know you'll be away for a while. Of course, if you computer is being protected by CMIT's Marathon services, we've got you covered and you don't have to worry about scheduling scans or updating - it's all done automatically.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quick Excel Shortcut That Makes It Easy to Re-Order Lists

Rearrange Items in Excel By Dragging and Dropping

Excel is one of the most powerful programs in the Microsoft Office suite -- and for many users, it's also one of the most intimidating. Let's face it, a lot of the capabilities that really help you make Excel into a lean, mean, productivity machine, like macros and formulas, just aren't intuitive. However, Excel still offers a lot of quick, drag-and-drop features that make simple operations a lot easier.


For example, let's say you have a short list of office supply items:

If you want to rearrange the list and insert Stamps between Adhesive and Paper, you might highlight the row, copy it, click on row 3, and select Insert Copied Cells. But there's an even faster way to do it that doesn't involve drop-down menus.


Just highlight the cells you want to move, grab the top of the selection border, and hold down the Shift key.

You can then drop them into place and all the cells below will automatically move down.

If you don't hold down the Shift key, Excel will ask you if you want to replace the contents of the selected cells. And if you hold down the Ctrl key, Excel will automatically perform a copy of the selected cells.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Social Networking for Your Business

Use MySpace and Facebook to Promote Your Business -- Responsibly

If you’re a small, locally owned business without a lot of formal tech staff, you may be just as likely to have a page on MySpace or Facebook as you are to have a Web page. A MySpace profile is easy to set up and maintain, and these profiles tend to get ranked fairly well by Google if there isn’t a lot of other information about you on the Web. But wading into the murky waters of social networking when you’re a business can carry certain risks. That’s why it’s good to stick to a few core principles:

  1. Professionalism. Make sure your employees know what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable to post – in terms of both content and images. If you run a small brew pub and want local businesses to know you’re available for hosting corporate events, don’t post pictures of your bartender cavorting goofily with patrons.
  1. It’s all connected. Be extra careful about who you “Friend” through these services. The last thing you need is for your reputable business to be affiliated online, however tenuously, with someone unsavory. Make sure employees know only to connect to other businesses or to people whose profiles are professional and in good taste.
  1. Protect your confidential information. Obviously you’ll want to publish general contact information so that potential clients can reach your business. But other information – like a staff directory that shows a clear chain of command and individual phone numbers – should stay firmly offline in order to discourage your competition, headhunters, and others from learning too much about your company.

4.    Stay protected from spyware and viruses. On more than one occasion an outbreak of malware has plagued popular social networking sites. If you’re going to use one of these sites to promote your business, you should take extra precautions to make sure your and your employees’ computers have up-to-date virus definitions and security patches. That way when you’re updating your page or networking on behalf of your business, you’ll still be safe.  



Thursday, October 2, 2008

Preventing a Hacker from Resetting YOUR Email Password

How to Prevent Password Resets

Several weeks ago we all read the headlines about a hacker accessing one of the vice presidential candidate's personal Yahoo! email account. It turned out the hacker didn’t even need to use fancy coding maneuvers or computer wizardry. Instead, he used one of the oldest tricks in the privacy-invasion book: he changed the password to their account.


Many online services that require a login and registration include some means of retrieving your password in case you ever lose or forget it. First you have to offer up some identifying information. Once the service has concluded that you are who you say you are, it will either remind you of your password or provide you with a new one. Either way, it can be pretty easy for an impostor to get access to your account.


In the case of the vice presidential candidate's account, the hacker was asked to answer a simple question that was easily found through basic Internet research.


What can you do to avoid some online ne’er-do-well from accessing your personal accounts through a password reset? A couple of things:

  1. Choose identifying questions that aren't easily answered through basic Internet research. If you keep a blog about Italian cooking, don't make your identifying question about your favorite kind of food.
  1. Invent answers to your identifying questions and keep a separate list. Just because your mother’s maiden name was Smith doesn’t mean you can’t tell Yahoo it was Jones. Just keep a list so that you have your answers straight. It can be as easy and as old-school as writing down all your questions and answers with a pen and paper and keeping the list in a safe.

Internet security experts have thought for some time that the password reset was among the most easily exploited security measures around, and that’s why many services are doing away with it. In the meantime, you might want to take a few minutes to change your identifying questions and answers so that they aren’t easily cracked.