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Cluttered Browsers And How To Avoid Them
You install a free program, and the software is fine, it does as advertised, but... you load up Google Chrome or Firefox and you see that your search bar has been changed to some engine you've never heard of, an engine that couldn't snow in Siberia, and there are a dozen other doodads and widgets cluttering up your browser including MP3 converters, Youtube downloaders, shopping apps and all kinds of features you would never download and install on purpose, and will never use.
Here's a few tips for dealing with all that bloatware:
Give Your Browser A Fresh Install
Honestly, this is often easier than sifting through your options and settings and uninstalling and deleting every single thing individually. A fresh install for your web browser lets you chunk the whole thing in the trash and start over without having to Google "How do I get rid of _____" for a dozen different things. You can save your bookmarks, and you won't need to stress about why your browser isn't working.
Check Your Uninstall List
If your new software installed fifty things into your browser, it may have installed other programs, as well. Find your uninstaller ("Uninstall a Program" for most Windows systems), sort by date, most recent to least recent, and look for anything that you don't recognize.
Download From The Source When Possible
There are a lot of apps out there that aren't available from their developer's site anymore. But, when possible, it's better to download from the source than to get your software through torrents or websites that share freeware. People often take freeware and shareware apps and add installers for their own adware to it before redistributing.
Uncheck All Those Installers
Sometimes, a piece of freeware with no developer support can only be attained through questionable sources. No matter where you get your software, no matter what you're installing, pay attention to the installation process. Keep an eye out for anything you can uncheck and keep from installing.
No matter how careful you may be when downloading and installing new software, sometimes it happens, sometimes it's unavoidable, and you wind up with a browser that only shows you about 200x1100 pixels of content with all the extra junk cluttering it up. These widgets are usually not malware, just junk. It's unlikely that you're infected if you find that your search engine has been changed, but it never hurts to run a virus check.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
MOBILE WORKERS + MOBILE PHONES: ARE YOU PREPARED?
If you supply your workers with company cell phones, laptops, BlackBerries, iPads, or other portable devices, and a worker is injured using the device when doing company business off site or off the clock, you could face a costly Workers Compensation claim.
The increasing use of mobile devices in the workplace is challenging traditional notions of work-related mishaps, creating a significant risk-management exposure for businesses.
Picture a woman in her car on the way to work. She has a laptop open on the passenger seat, a GPS on her windshield, another portable device open on the dashboard, a smart phone in her hand, and earphones in her ears, when she runs off the road and suffers a broken leg. Or picture a man walking down the street after he leaves the office. He’s so engrossed in checking work e-mail and texting on his BlackBerry that he’s oblivious to a crosswalk, stumbles when he hits the curb, falls, and is hit by a car. Both of these people might easily argue that their injuries were work-related.
Before the explosive growth of telecommuting and mobile devices, most employees worked in a defined physical location during a specified time. In 2009, 17.2 million Americans worked from home – a number that’s projected to double by the end of 2012. With mobile devices, people can (and increasingly do) work from: their houses, cars, clients’ locations, subways, libraries, bars, airports, parks – even at the beach; a survey by contact manager program Xobni showed that 59% of Americans check their work e-mail while on vacation.
Many of these workers believe that management expects, or encourages, this type of behavior. Even if this isn’t the case, your business could have some responsibility for incidents resulting from it – just as you might in harassment situations
The solution: Ask yourself how much risk your business is willing to accept by delivering these mobile devices to employees in the hope of growing productivity. Then work with your human relations department to set “best practices” rules that define the scope and use of this technology away from the workplace – to create a culture that balances your employees’ professional responsibilities with their personal lives. This can present a serious challenge, especially with younger, tech-savvy employees who tend to blur the personal and the professional by using social media on the job, while checking on their work when they’re away from the office.
To learn more about how to protect yourself from this exposure please feel free to get in touch with our risk management professionals.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
10 Data Security Practices for Your Small Business
Your customers and clients rely on you to keep their data secure. If you don't, their identities, credit cards and other information could be stolen, and you could be sued. Achieve data security in your small business when you take 10 steps.
Perform a Security Audit
The type and amount of data you store and the equipment that data is stored on affects the security system you implement. Evaluate your needs before you implement a security system.
Know Your Industry's Regulations
All data needs to be protected, but different industries have different regulations. Research the guidelines so you can follow the law.
Store Only Essential Data
When possible, err on the side of keeping less data. It's better to delete information and have to ask for it later than to store it and risk a breach.
Store Customer Data Separately
Keep your customer data and business information stored on separate networks. For safety, restrict access to the sensitive customer information.
Improve Your Security
Strong passwords, two-step authentication when accessing systems, pass codes on your firewalls and encryption are four ways to improve your security.
Clean Your Computers
Update and run antivirus and anti-malware software regularly, properly patch software, turn on system logs and archive them monthly, immediately deactivate former employees’ access, allow remote access only through secure VPN and don't use Wi-Fi. You should also follow a written policy that outlines how and when to clean or destroy hard drives, USB memory sticks, CDs and DVDs as you keep your computers clean.
Use a Shredder
Instead of tossing sensitive documents in the trash, shred them. Use a cross cut shredder for best results.
Turn Off Machines
You probably log out of your computers at night, but remember to turn off copiers and printers, too. If they're connected to the internet, the sensitive data stored on their internal hard drives could be compromised.
All of your employees should know how to guard data and how to protect their equipment, including mobile phones and portable storage devices. They should never store credit card information, open suspicious emails or store important anywhere except the company's cloud-based storage system.
Create and Enforce a Data Protection Policy
Educate your entire staff on proper procedure. An official policy gives them something to reference and is easy to update as your security improves.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
Security Concerns When Building Your Own PC
Building your own PC from scratch is a lot of fun. Clicking all the pieces together like Lego bricks, and then turning it on and watching it hum to life. If you want a serious gaming rig, you're a lot better off building a PC than you are buying one that's ready-made. With some gaming computer brands, you're really paying a lot of money for a mid-tier computer with high-end casing.
If you're intimidated by the prospect of putting a powerful piece of hardware together yourself, the truth is that all the research you need to do, you can figure it out in a weekend by checking out recommended components and the minimum requirements for recently-released games.
This being said, security is a major concern when it comes to home-built PC's. A ready-made laptop or desktop usually comes with a free copy of an operating system, as well as free anti-virus software. Building a PC from scratch means that you need to take cyber security into your own hands. Here are some of the common downfalls when it comes to custom-built PC's and cyber security:
Since a custom-built PC doesn't come with a free copy of Windows, you might be tempted to save a little cash by torrenting an OS. The main problem you're going to run into here: No registration means no auto-updates. This may not seem like such a big deal with all the complaints you're reading about Windows 10, but this also means no auto-updates to your security software.
You're On Your Own When Selecting Antivirus Software
With a ready-made PC or laptop, you don't need to worry about it, you can use whatever antivirus software comes included. If you're building your own, you'll need to shop around and find one that you like. Avira, Avast and AVG all offer decent free software packages, while Kaspersky and Norton are leaders in the field if you're willing to pay an annual subscription fee.
"Is It A Virus Or Did I Install Something Wrong?"
It can be hard to tell an infection apart from a hardware problem, and it's easy to assume that you just "messed something up" when in fact you've contracted some malware, or vice versa. The more how-to videos you watch, the more double-checking you do with your diagrams, the easier it will be to know whether you're dealing with malware, or a misplaced component.
Don't let these concerns deter you. Building a PC from scratch is one of the most rewarding things you can do with a spare afternoon.
HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.
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