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Can Your Smartphone Help You Prevent Identity Fraud?

Can Your Smartphone Help You Prevent Identity Fraud?

Communication is an integral part of society, and several advancements in technology only prove just how much importance we give to it and to staying in touch. Mobile devices such as PDAs, tablet PCs, cell phones and smartphones are among the gadgets of choice most people use for communication because they are more portable compared to bulky laptops. You can send text messages, make calls, access your email, post updates on your social accounts, and surf the Internet using these devices.

These gadgets are so handy and convenient that 88% of adults in the US own or use a cell phone for communication and other purposes. Of these cell phone owners, 46% own a smartphone of some kind according to Pew Research Center.

Smartphones as a tool to prevent identity theft and fraud

Taking this statistics into consideration, you’d think that enterprising individuals would already be using smartphones for purposes other than communication, entertainment and accessing the web. What if smartphones could become a tool for identity theft prevention as well? If that were so, than 46% of US adults would definitely have better chances of avoiding ID theft and ID fraud. If your phone can become a medium for additional security measures for, say, online bank transactions, online shopping and logging into your social network accounts, then it will become much more difficult for identity thieves and scammers to target you.

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Currently, some banks are experimenting with providing you an access code which you’ll need aside from your password/pin and account number for online bank transactions. The bank sends you this access code through a text message once you initiate the transaction on the bank’s website. The code is usually only good for one transaction and can’t be used again for another one (or by another person trying to access your bank account online without your knowledge). Security-conscious companies that deal with sensitive data do something similar when employees need to access their systems. Every minute or so, the access codes to their systems change so employees who need access to their networks will need to provide the latest access code apart from their username and password.

For smartphones to become the ideal tool for identity theft prevention, an application similar to SecureID could be developed to run on them. Instead of bringing along a gadget that generates pass codes randomly, you could instead install an app that does the same thing on your phone. This technology is also handy because like most people, you probably bring your phone everywhere you go, making this app conveniently accessible anytime.

Smartphone users also at risk for identity theft and fraud

However, the statistics provided by Pew Research Center also show the number of people who can be potential victims of identity theft and ID fraud. According to a survey released by Javelin Strategy & Research, 7% of all smartphone users became victims of identity fraud in 2011. Identity thieves are targeting smartphone users because the latter tends to be less cautious. Some users also don’t install reliable anti-virus or anti-spyware software in their mobile devices, making them vulnerable to phishing and spyware attacks.

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The recent years have seen a steady increase in ID theft and fraud victims, so like most people, you probably do regular credit monitoring. People’s awareness over how credit monitoring can help in lowering the effects of identity theft and fraud has shifted the criminals’ focus to smartphone users – most of whom keep personal information and some financial details in their phones. Criminals can easily hack into Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections to access these phones and steal information contained in them.

Criminals can also send emails or text messages to your smartphone asking for your credit information. These criminals pretend to be representatives of your bank or lender who ask for your information under the guise of verifying  your details and securing your accounts. These messages might look like the real thing, even containing your bank or creditor’s logo. They might also call your phone directly asking for your details, and if you do give them your credit information, you’ll surely become a victim of credit card fraud.

Protecting yourself by protecting your smartphone

Smartphone use continues to grow and ID theft is growing right along with it. However, security experts believe victims could avoid having this happen. Sometimes, the solution is simple: protect yourself by protecting the gadgets where you store your information.

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As mentioned, not all mobile devices are equipped with reliable anti-spyware and anti-virus software so criminals take advantage of this weakness. One way to prevent hackers from stealing information from your phone is by turning off its Bluetooth connection and avoiding using public WiFi connections. It’s also important that your phone locks automatically after a short period of time and asks for a password before you can access it. These are just a few simple ways to safeguard the contents of your phone.

If you want extra protection for your smartphone, you can equip it with an app that requires your fingerprint to unlock your phone. You can also get a smartphone that uses facial recognition software to unlock it. You can choose whatever security feature you think offers the best protection and is most convenient to use.

You should also be aware of how criminals phish for your credit information by calling you up or sending emails and text messages. Keep in mind that legitimate banks and credit card companies will never ask for sensitive details over the phone and via text or email messages. If someone claims to be a representative of your bank and asks for your information, hang up right away. You should also avoid clicking on links sent to you via email.

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A new level of protection

Credit card companies, banks and other businesses have done a lot to lower the chances of their customers falling victim to identity theft and fraud; however, these means might not be enough to completely avoid these crimes. Criminals, for one, are becoming more aggressive when it comes to tearing down security systems of companies in order to gain access to their database which contain customer information (personal details, credit card numbers and the like). Using biometrics – your fingerprint, for example – for added security during transactions might not be feasible just yet since all cash registers and computers will have to be equipped with fingerprint scanners.

Smartphones are undoubtedly susceptible to security breaches as well, but it’s a tool that a lot of people own or have access to. It can be the medium for the aforementioned security app that generates random access codes, and it’s a tool which banks and credit card companies can use to send passcodes to their customers. It’s a gadget that has multiple uses and can provide a new level of protection when you transact with your bank online, shop online, and log in to your social accounts.

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Published on November 9, 2018

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

How to Improve Your Computer Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

Technology has taken the business world by storm. People and businesses are progressively reliant on technology world these days. As a result, the people with impressive knowledge and experience with a computer are in demand.

Considering this growing market trend, if you too wish to bag a profitable job, this article is apt for you. Here, we will dig deeper into the business and technology world to look into what are the best computer skills one should invest in and what resources to get help from.

So, are you ready? Here we begin.

6 Most-In Demand Computer Skills This Year (and Beyond)

When talking about computer skills, following are the 6 computer skills that can fill your mailbox with endless job opportunities (besides, having an English and Hindi typing speed of 40+ WPM):-

1. Spreadsheets and Databases

Considering the treasure trove of data companies are handling these days, Spreadsheet and Database management skill tops the list. It is considered the most wanted job skill in the market, with a salary of around $53,129/yr for an entry-level position. However, the spreadsheet skill does not confine to auditing data from cells.

To get hired based on this computer skill, you need to become a Spreadsheet ninja. From storing data to organizing them, applying complex mathematics formulas, and creating complex macros, you need to be an expert at all.

In other words, you need to have an expertise at working with:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Access
  • Statistics
  • Data Analytics
  • Adobe Campaign
  • Quickbooks
  • XML Database management system
  • Filemaker Pro
  • MATLAB
  • Hive
  • FORTRAN
  • RDBMS (Relational Database Management System)
  • SAS

2. Social Media, Email, and Blogging

Though people are socially active, not everyone knows how to use the social media tools on the professional front. In such a scenario, having an expertise at writing engaging yet professional emails, writing blogs, and managing social media activities is a ticket to entry in reputed organizations.

Some of the skills related to social media, email and blogging that will have a leg up in the hiring process are:

  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Google Analytics
  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Email Marketing
  • Web Page Design
  • WordPress
  • Digital Media
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Campaign Management Software

3. Graphic Design and Word Processing

A solid grasp of skills to present the gained information in the much readable form is another market need. When considering this computer skill category, you need to enhance your skills at:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • AutoCAD
  • CorelDRAW
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Maya
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Operating Digital Cameras

4. Software and Hardware Design and Development

The Software and Hardware development, in simpler language, means designing, implementing, and testing the computer software/hardware applications. It is the most profitable computer skill, with a different job opening, including Software Architect, Software Analyst, Software programmer, Hardware configuration, etc.

To be capable of developing and testing the software and hardware, you need to peruse your users’ needs and build an application that hits their pain points. You need to work with different web and mobile app coding languages for gaining the attention of your audience, some of which are:

  • HTML
  • C/C++
  • Java
  • Python
  • XML
  • UI/UX
  • LINUX
  • CISC and RISC architecture
  • Embedded Processor Hardware Design
  • Memory Management
  • PCB Layout
  • SQL

5. IT Troubleshooting

Working on computers is one thing and having a knack of looking into the associated issues and resolving them in real-time is another. There are various employees and graduates who work with computer systems in their daily lives, but get confused when it comes to dealing with frozen programs and performing routine maintenance.

So, if you are familiar with the basic anatomy of computers and machines and know the tricks to perform such tasks to streamline the working process, enter the IT support arena. The prime IT troubleshooting skills one needs to work upon are:

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  • Backup management
  • Diagnostics
  • End User support
  • Client-Server management
  • Installation and configuration
  • Issue tracking system (ITS)
  • System administration
  • Tech support

6. Enterprise Systems

Many Enterprises have their own enterprise solutions like PeopleSoft for managing their data and operations.

Becoming a master at using the enterprise solutions mentioned in their ‘Requirements’ area can also lessen the barrier to get a job.

The Roadmap to Excel Your Computer Skills

Now that you know the 6 most popular computer skills in the market, the first decision, you need to take is which computer skill you want to work upon. All the skills are equally considerable for making a career ahead. So, choose one as per your interest.

Once done, look forward to the following resources for boosting your computer skills and getting a reputed, handsome job.

Depending on the computer skill you opt, here are the online courses you can turn to for elevating your career opportunities:

1. Become a Spreadsheet and Database Ninja

a. Microsoft Excel Training Online Course – Basic & Advanced

Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert at working with spreadsheets, this online course has something new for everyone to become excel efficient users.

Divided into 48 interesting lessons, the course empowers you to learn the technique of using mathematical, statistical, logical and text functions, sorting and filtering the data, creating Pivot Tables, building macros, finding a value with VLOOKUp, and much more.

b. Excel- Online Courses, Classes, Training, Tutorials on Lynda

This is another impressive course to unlock the power of Excel. Designed for people from all walks of life and familiarity with Excel tools. This course helps you gain in-depth knowledge from the experts about this data-analyzing tool and make the magic in spreadsheet creation and management process.

c. SQL & Database Design A-Z™: Learn MS SQL Server + PostgreSQL

Build a successful career in the data analytics world with this online course.

Revolving around the two top databases, MS SQL and PostgreSQL, this course will give you a comprehensive knowledge of the working of the databases and understanding of all the related elements, including how to create, update, organize, and safeguard the data.

2. Rule the Social Media World

a. Free Social Media Course by HubSpot

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Introduced by the top experienced inbound professors from Hubspot, here you will get a comprehensive knowledge of Social media marketing.

From understanding how to build relationships on different social media platforms to creating a perfect strategy to engage them, leveraging the benefits of social advertising, and analyzing your social media ROI, this course will bring out the best out of you.

b. Write Professional Emails in English by Coursera

This online course will be the right weapon to look into the differences and similarities between different email styles, improve your English writing skills, write effective subject lines, maintain the formality tone in emails, and more to make a powerful impact on the receivers with your email.

c. Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing Mastery

Founded by Udemy, this online course will excel your skills to build a masterpiece everytime you write.

Here, you will get the guidance from the editors of the top newspapers and websites, and understand what kind of words and tone to use for leaving a spellbinding impact on the readers.

3. Launch Your Own Software or Hardware Equipment

a. Hardware and Software Courses by Coursera

From Big Data to IoT, Sensor Circuit Design, Embedded Software and Hardware Architecture, and Motor Control Circuit, this course will give you a glimpse of all the hardware devices, equipment, and programming languages to build wonders.

b. Free Software and Web Development Certifications Online by Alison

Become the software developer market demands with Alison’s Java, C#, Python, R, PHP, or MySQL database course. From backend to frontend development and software testing.

The course helps you to learn how to design, develop and test software and working in a team while contributing to the team success.

c. Free Online Software Development and MOOCs Course by Class Central

The Class Central online course will make you a master of software development. Here, you will learn the basic concepts of development like Agile, Design Patterns, and Version Control with Git, along with gaining experience of working with the top programming languages.

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4. Live and Breathe Creativity

a. Udemy: Introduction to Graphic Design

It is a top-rated program for the new learners and designers to explore the Graphic Design world.

From the history of communication to the design principles, the course will help the students to learn everything specifically and implement in the real world.

b. Canva Design School

From a beginner to advanced level, this course will provide you with an elaborated and comprehensive knowledge of graphic design. In the form of 4 modules, this course will help the interested graphic designers to try out their skills at Graphics, ranging from fonts to colors, backgrounds, images, shapes, and layouts.

c. Microsoft Word – Basic & Advanced

62 personalized lessons, premium video tutorials, and unlimited tests and quizzes – this certified course has everything that will make your entry to the business world easier.

d. Microsoft Office: Word, Excel and Access Productivity Bundle

The course will make you productive in Word, Excel, and Access through video lectures, articles, and various other supplemental resources.

Besides, it will offer you exclusive tips and tricks to enhance your skills at using Microsoft office.

5. Raise Your Reflexes to IT Troubleshooting

a. IT Troubleshooting Skill Training by Udemy

IT Troubleshooting Skill Training will upgrade your logical concepts over technical components to find and repair faults.

It will provide you with a methodological approach to learn the basics of troubleshooting, practice them via exercises and drills, and enhance your IT troubleshooting intelligence.

b. IT Help Desk Online Course on Lynda

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The Lynda’s IT troubleshooting online course will train you how to respond to the issues related to Windows 10, Office 365, JIRA software, and more, from a local as well as a remote location.

Mobile Apps and Websites to Enhance Computer Skills

The aforementioned online courses will undoubtedly train you for a successful career ahead. But, in case you want a long-term support, turn towards the following websites and mobile apps:

  • Duolingo – Duolingo app will improve your spoken and written communication skills in different languages. With the magic of gamification added to the study, the app will make learning a fun and addictive task.
  • Hemingway – Hemingway app defines the length, complexity, and common errors associated with the sentences. In this way, it helps you to write effectively and go ahead in the career.
  • Udemy – The Udemy, with its 2000+ courses, is a great platform to master new skills, advance your career and explore the newer technologies and programming languages. Enrol a course as per your budget and make a brighter future.
  • eDX – eDX is yet another commendable platform you can look forward to. The platform offers you the best of the tutorials prepared by the business professionals and technology experts, ensuring a great boost in your computer skills.
  • Excel Easy – Excel Easy, as the name depicts, will make working with Excel easier for you via their detailed tutorials and 300+ real-life examples.
  • GCF LearnFree.org – It is a one-stop platform for accelerating your future in the computer world. From graphic design to Microsoft Office, resume writing, enhancing adaptability, and much more, the top experts will guide you with everything on this platform.
  • QuarkXPress – The QuarkXPress will aid you to add soul to your design with its unparalleled collection of font style, size, and typography. The best part is that it is avails all the options in different languages, including English, Spanish, German, French, and Italian to name a few.

Bonus: Tips to Accelerate Your Approach For a Better Career Ahead

Though these resources will make you stand out from the crowd and get hired at once, you need to focus on various other things, such as:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

It is common to forget what we learn. To ensure that you do not miss any opportunity just because you forgot, keep practising.

Make it your routine. Polish your computer skills and you will surely end up getting an offer letter from a recognized firm.

2. Work on Your Efficiency

Remembering what you learned is not enough; practice to enhance those skills to do better.

For example, if you take around 50 minutes to create a design, target for 40 minutes.

3. Look for Shortcuts

Smart work rules over hard work more often. So, look forward to learning shortcuts to do any task. This will increase your chances to crack an interview and get selected.

4. Apply for an Internship

Last but not the least, apply for an internship to see what’s trending in the market and how much you are ready for it. While doing an internship, pay attention to your weak points and work on them. This will ensure a success when you apply for your dream job.

By the late, it’s never too late to be an intern or grab whatever opportunity to learn something new! Here’s how:

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

The Bottom Line

Seeing the current market scenario, it is evident that having computer skills is a boon for a better career ahead.

So, rather than struggling with thousands of other things and trying to crack interviews, focus on the computer skills mentioned in this article. Utilize the resources and experts’ tips shared and look forward to having a successful and prosperous future.

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

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