Tech Tricks and Treats

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Topics: Cloud, Cybersecurity

It’s hard to believe that we’ve reached the end of October. That time of the year when daylight is disappearing, stores are decorated with cobwebs, spiders and skeleton bones. Pumpkins are carved into scary or funny faces and children dress in costumes and prepare to go trick or treating.

In the spirit Halloween we have decided to take part in the festivities and present you with some technology tricks and tips along with some treats!


By now everyone has heard about the celebrity iPhone scandal that was recently in the news. Hundreds of personal and embarrassing photos were stolen from Apple’s iCloud. To make matters worse, they were published on the Internet for the entire world to see, which compounded the horror for those whose privacy was affected. Unfortunately, many people disregard the dangers of this type of incident and feel that it can’t happen to them, but in reality this type of event is very common.

The way that these photos were obtained was through a method that many of us take for granted—our password. Most websites have a featured link, forgot password, which is accessible upon answering a series of questions. The danger here is that many people use common questions like, what is your pet’s name or what is your mother’s maiden name. Often, all a hacker needs is to access your Facebook page and they can find these answers.

Tip: Do not take these security questions lightly when signing up for an online account. Use questions and answers that even your closest friends would not be able to answer. And revisit your Facebook security settings, which seem to change with scary regularity.


This past year, one of the largest viruses, Cryptolocker, and several variants of this menacing malware surfaced, targeting computers running Microsoft Windows. Typically this virus is spread through email with attached zip files that contain the virus. The email attempts to trick the user into opening the attachment by making it appear to have come from a valid source.

Some of the most frequent disguises that these hackers deploy are to mask the email to look like it’s come from a bank or credit card company. They accomplish this by displaying suspicious activities with your account such as missed payments, overdrafts and other alarming alerts.

Another popular deception for these criminals is to design the email to look like it’s come from the IRS or another government agency that threatens punitive action if the attached items are not addressed. Regardless of the technique, the end result is the same. Users are fooled, a virus is unleashed into their network encrypting files that can only be recovered by restoring the data to a previous point in time. All this leads to a loss of information and productivity.

Tip: Before opening any attachment on an email, validate the source it came from. If you’re not sure, pick up the phone and call the source.


New mobile devices have evolved and now offer more features than ever. Apple recently released this year’s treat, the iPhone 6. Users now have a larger, crisp display, more storage, better camera functions and improved speed. A major redesign of the iPhone has been needed for some time, and Apple delivered in this brilliant new device.

In the Android market, a new mobile device is released every few months with faster processors, more memory, better batteries and more powerful cameras. Their KitKat operating system is a welcome candy this Halloween when you consider their improvements of voice activated commands and optimized memory for faster multitasking.

Not to be outdone, Windows Mobile is making a large push forward with their intelligent assistant Cortana. Microsoft is looking to gain traction in the market on the latest device, the HTC One (M8) for Windows.

Tablet and phablet enhancements keep you connected to all of your important business. The Galaxy Note line is an ever improving mobile device that allows you to use the stylus to take notes without needing to carry around a full sized tablet. Apple has also just entered the phablet arena with the iPhone 6 Plus. The Plus is the first iPhone with a full HD display and it packs a larger battery than previous iPhone models.

The tablet market has more choices available than the phone market, if you can believe that. The good news is that competition is helping to keep their costs at a reasonable level. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S and Apple’s second generation iPad Air have two of the best display screens that we’ve seen in a tablet. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 has all of the features of a new laptop, packed into the frame of a mobile tablet.

Finally, cloud technologies continue to evolve and offer more and more treats each year. Offices can virtualize their entire platform in the cloud for everything including server, applications, email, and even desktops. This technology provides small businesses the largest mobility enhancement the market has ever experienced.