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7 Reasons Your Data Is Probably Not Safe Online

7 Reasons Your Data Is Probably Not Safe Online

Yo mama's so old, her resume's on a floppy disk...

    Yo mama’s so old, her resume’s on a floppy disk…

    I grew up on computers. Way before smartphones put the internet in the hands of every man, woman, and child in modern society, I sat in my room, staring at a black screen with c:// in a white font. There was no graphical user interface (GUI) back then, so there were no mice, track pads, or touch screens; you had to type everything. The word-processing programs (Word Perfect was the best, by a large margin) changed the pixelated screen from black to blue.

    Technology has vastly improved since those days.

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    I’m one of a shrinking minority of people who understand that your desktop, with all its shiny icons, is not the foundation of your computer. It’s a subfolder within a subfolder within a subfolder at best. Your computer has a structure, and this structure applies also to any network and even the internet itself. This basic understanding gets me into as much trouble as it resolves, but knowledge is power, so allow me to impart a little wisdom to you as to why your data is not safe online.

    1. Your Governments Are Spying on You

    NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked a lot of technical manuals and other documentation to the media. In doing so, he gave us proof that our government is monitoring everyone but themselves. It’s crazy to think we’re the only ones, though. Governments on all habitable continents have been caught snooping on their citizens. No matter where you are, there’s a reason some government agency would want to monitor you.

    No matter how safe you are with your personal data, it’s not safe from government snooping. Some of the Anonymous hackers involved in data breaches of Stratford, HB Gary Federal, Sony, and PayPal used temporary laptops (similar to a drug dealer’s burner phone) and kept all info (including the operating system) on USB drives, and they still got caught. If these tech experts were tracked, even with all of their advanced techniques for evasion, then you don’t stand a chance.

    We are living in the future, and our actions are being judged by anyone with the money to access and analyze it. Keeping your head down will temporarily avoid any trouble, but your only real chance for long-term change is joining the various protests against government monitoring, such as February’s International Day of Privacy, held annually by the Computer Chaos Club (Europe’s oldest and largest hacker organization).

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    2. If You’re Not Hacked, Your Company Will Be

    Let’s say you don’t have any social media accounts, and you never shop online. You likely have an email address, though. You also have an employer and a financial institution, and you shop somewhere. All of these businesses store your information. I don’t even have to hack you to know everything about you; I just have to hack Sony, Target, Facebook, Hotmail, or some other company you do business with.

    It happens all the time. If you use the same username and password for everything, you’re much more at risk of people using your stolen info to further harm you. Mitigate this risk as much as possible by only working with and for honest companies you trust. This way you’ll be less likely to be involved in a beef that has nothing to do with you. Anonymous has issued several statements explaining how companies are targeted not because they’re rich, but because they’re corrupt.

    3. Your Digital Life Will Outlive You

    What you post online will last longer than you; you’re just some meat puppet with a shelf life, but your Twitter account is part of a publicly-owned company. Every app or game you download on your phone wants your personal info and they’ll incentivize you giving it to them with extra features, easier connectivity, and bonus in-game items. Every time you use your Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Disquss, or other social-media accounts to log in to an app, you’re giving them access to your personal information, and they will use and sell this information as they see fit. Did you ever notice many apps and games don’t tell you they’re not sharing your information? That’s because they are.

    With your information already out there and lasting so long, you should be the one in control of how you’re remembered. At this point, you’re better off making your voice heard publicly – at least you’ll control your own narrative. Be proud of who you are, and keep your social media accounts updated with how you feel and what you think. If they’re monitoring us, the least we can do is give them our honest opinions. Don’t ever be afraid of voicing your opinion – how those opinions are accepted by others is their problem. It might be wise, however, to take just a minute think about how you will feel if that opinion or photo you just posted were to be looked at ten years from now by a prospective employer.

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    4. Everyday Threats Are Everywhere

    Losing your phone is like losing your keys, wallet, and everything else in your life. You don’t realize how much personal information is on your phone; it could be devastating if someone stole or found it. Luckily, there are measures you can take to mitigate this risk. Tiffany Rad, a Senior Security Researcher at Kapersky Labs offers this advice:

    “A feature that is useful for consumers is to have is a remote “kill” option should the phone be lost or stolen. There are free apps available that will not only try to locate the phone by pin-pointing the location of the last cell tower to which it connected, but if it is determined that the phone cannot be retrieved, you can remotely erase/wipe the phone.”

    Losing physical possession of your device is hardly the only threat, however. Data-retrieval devices can be anywhere; simply walking down the street exposes your phone to everyone with a wireless signal within 500 feet. Anytime you swipe your credit or debit card, the machine could’ve been compromised (and you’d never know). ATMs are especially vulnerable because the manuals are so easy to obtain online, and laws have made prosecuting ATM theft difficult. No matter what you do, there is a risk associated with it. Keep yourself informed about the many data theft possibilities by Googling the specifics for your particular phone and financial services, as the subject is much too detailed and complicated to go too far into here.

    5. We Want You

    You may think you’re not worth watching, but everyone is worth watching. When you apply for a job, potential employers stalk you. When you meet someone new, they stalk you. Some people you haven’t even met will stalk you to see if you’re worth getting to know. Scorned exes, rivals, friends, and family are all stalking you. People may not talk about it, but everyone snoops. Basic password protection and social media privacy settings can mitigate this risk.

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    6. Hacking Is Easy to Hackers

    The hard part of hacking isn’t breaking into a system. With a few attempts (and, in the worst case, a brute-force attack), you can get into anyone’s network or computer. The hard part is knowing what to look for and where to look once you’re in there. The basics of computer structure explained at the beginning of this piece are easily applied, however, and many people besides me know this…and I just blabbed it to everyone whose reading this. Knowledge was passed on in art, song, and literature well before the internet was invented, so even removing hacking info from search engines won’t delete it from human memory.

    There are efforts to reframe how you think about computers (with the most basic one being to train users into thinking their home screen is the root folder) so fewer people grasp computer hacking concepts, but the knowledge will always be easily available to those who know where to look. There are no good or bad people, just good or bad actions, and people hack for good and bad reasons. Many times, it’s to satiate curiosity, practice, or just for the lulz. The point is, hacking is like playing the guitar; it is easy…it just takes 10,000 hours of practice.

    7. Social Hacking Is Easy

    Even if you’re technically cautious, you may not realize how obvious your social cues are. Social hacking is how most cyber-attacks are executed, not technical programming. Although we all like to feel unique, convincing people to give up their personal data is simple. Data and forensics consultant Steven Burgess explains how social hacking may be responsible for Target’s recent data breach.

    “A careless Target worker, possibly in the IT department, was fooled by a link in an official-looking email – ostensibly from his or her bank, or from a manager or superior in the company–or by visiting an alluring website–to reveal important authorization credentials, which were passed on to the hacker,” Burgess proposes.

    Don’t let this article dissuade you from taking every possible precaution, such as locking and password-protecting your devices, using two-step authorization, encrypting personal data, and using anonymizing services such as TOR and OTR chat.  Following these steps will help ensure your private chats remain private.

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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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