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10 Essential Security Tips for Your Internet of Things

10 Essential Security Tips for Your Internet of Things

This year, there will be 6.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in use — a 30 percent jump from 2015. But all of this advanced and integrated technology leaves room for potential security threats like hackers and malware. Whether you use one smart device or dozens, boost the safety of your Internet of Things with these 10 essential security tips.

1. Know What’s Connected

Before you can secure your devices, you have to know what is vulnerable to an attack. The average home has five connected devices, excluding computers, tablets, and smartphones. Note your home’s connected devices — including game consoles, media players, and anything with a microphone or camera — and verify what information each has access to.

2. Password Protect All Devices and Accounts

Every smart device you manage through an Internet-based account should be protected with a strong username and password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts — otherwise, if a hacker manages to get in, they’ll have wider access to your devices.

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3. Avoid Using Insecure Internet Connections

When you check on your smart devices remotely from your smartphone or tablet, don’t use any Wi-Fi that isn’t password protected. Insecure connections can make your device vulnerable to hacking. To increase your personal network security, create strong passwords for your own router and Wi-Fi connections, and update them regularly.

4. Keep Your Smartphone Secure

If you lost or misplaced your smartphone, a hacker could potentially access your personal information and smart devices. Mobile security programs can back up your data to an online account, track your device’s location, and remotely lock and wipe your entire phone. A password or PIN on the device itself can also provide another layer of defense.

5. Create a Separate Network for Your Devices

Many routers allow you to set up multiple networks. Consult your router’s manual to create at least one separate network for your IoT devices. The more you segment your networks, the harder it is for hackers to access all of your devices and information.

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6. Install a Firewall

A firewall helps prevent hackers, viruses, and worms from reaching your connected devices over the Internet by denying unauthorized traffic. Some computer systems offer a default firewall, which is sufficient for many users. For an added layer of protection, install a firewall that offers more security functions that meet your needs, or configure a hardware firewall to offer wider network defense.

7. Immediately Update Security Patches

Smart devices regularly release system updates that address user issues and security flaws. Installing updates as they become available helps you stay more protected. Periodically check each device manufacturer’s website for updates or security announcements. Some devices even have a setting that will allow automatic update installation.

8. Disconnect Devices When Not in Use

Turn off any smart devices when you aren’t using them, particularly those with microphones and video cameras. While some connected devices, such as smart thermostats, require a constant Internet connection, other devices — including smart TVs, coffee makers, and video cameras — do not. Prevent a hacker from connecting to your video or audio streams by disconnecting when you can.

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9. Adjust Default Device Settings

Most smart devices and their ancillary apps feature adjustable privacy settings. Depending on your desired level of security, you can enable or disable certain connectivity features. If you are suspicious of any functions, like voice control or motion detection, turn them off. You can always switch them back on if you need those features at a later date.

10. Set Rules for Your Children

If your children will be using any connected smart devices, explain the risks of the Internet and teach them the importance of never sharing personal information online or with a stranger. Supervise their usage of any devices with microphones or cameras, including baby monitors. For even more security, disable all connectivity while your child is using the device.

The Internet of Things allows you to improve your home and simplify your living. As you’re setting up all of your favorite features, dedicate time to increase the security of your devices as well. By taking precautions early, you can help prevent malicious attacks when it really matters.

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Featured photo credit: Secure Cloud – Data Security – Cyber Security via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

1. ScheduleOnce

    ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

    ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

    ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

    Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

    Available on Web

    2. Calendly

      Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

      You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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      Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

      3. Assistant.to

        For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

        From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

        While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

        Available on Web

        4. Acuityscheduling

          Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

          It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

          Available on Web | iOS | Android

          5. Pick

            Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

            At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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            Available on Web

            6. X.ai

              For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

              This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

              Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

              Available on Web

              7. YouCanBook.me

                is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                Available on Web

                8. Doodle

                  Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                  It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                  You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                  While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                  Available on Web | iOS | Android

                  9. WhenAvailable

                    WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                    Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                    Available on Web

                    10. Rally

                      Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                      Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                      Available on Web

                      11. NeedtoMeet

                        Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                        NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                        While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                        Available on Web

                        Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                        In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                        To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                        Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                        A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                        Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                        If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                        Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                        With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                        The Bottom Line

                        Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                        Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                        Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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