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As end users of Google’s suite of productivity enhancing tools, we all  have a right to know that the company is doing everything in its power to protect its billions of users - whether they are working from a desktop, browsing while they are on the go, or working remotely. But what measures do Google have in place to keep all its thousands of users safe and secure in the face of rising cyber crime? How can you be sure that, no matter what device you are using, you stand the best chance of protecting yourself from attack?

With more than one billion people using Google’s search engine on their desktops, and over a billion more accessing it through mobile devices, it is clear that security is – or should be - paramount. Google already claims to protect desktop users with its Safe Browsing segoogle-logorvice, but what about its mobile users?

With cyber threats ranging from the annoying, such as adware, to the unsavoury – hello spyware - and the downright terrifying (ransomware - we’re looking at you), mobile device users are increasingly demanding to know that they are being adequately protected when using Google’s products, tools and services. Therefore,  so as to protect the mind-bogglingly large number of people who are using Google on their smartphones, laptops, notebooks and tablets, Google recently unveiled plans to extend its Safe Browsing service to mobile users - or at least to those who are using Chrome on an Android device.

Whether you regard this as a blatant ploy to get users to switch to Android is something we’ll let you decide for yourself, but the fact is that Google is taking steps to protect its users. Back in August 2014, the company bolstered its Safe Browsing warnings with messages alerting users to unwanted software programs trying to sneak onto their computers by attaching themselves without warning to a legitimate download. In addition, both the Android platform and the Google Play Store have security measures in place to weed out potentially dangerous apps.

However, not every cyber security threat comes from an app or installation so, while Google is doing the right thing by guarding against threats in these areas, there are other issues that require a different means of protection. Enter social engineering, and phishing in particular, which can cause untold harm – such as data or identity theft - to a business or individual.

In order to protect against social engineering, an up-to-date list of malicious websites needs to be stored upon the device – this enables Google to send an alert to the user before they get ambushed. But there are problems with this which Google has had to overcome, not least of which is how to keep the list updated in the face of new threats. Compounding this issue further are factors that are unique to mobile browsing: mobile data speeds can be slow and connectivity patchy, depending where the user is. A fast, stable connection is crucial when the timing of an alert is paramount. Not only that, but using mobile data costs the end user money!

Bandwidth (and battery) limitations mean Google has had to find a way to ensure the data they send to users is as small as possible. Protecting their customers is crucial – but so too is not sapping battery life and data plans. Because this boils down to connectivity and speed factors, a device’s location is now taken into account. For example, if a known phishing scam is only affecting certain locations, only devices that are in that part of the world receive a warning.

Google also prioritises data by sending information on a need-to-know basis - in other words, bigger threats take precedence over more minor issues. They have also designed the software to limit network traffic, and to be as light as possible on memory and processor usage.

Since its announcement in early December, Google is now protecting all Chrome users on Android devices as default, making Safe Browsing part of their Play services from Version 8.1 onwards. Chrome Version 46 is also the first app to initiate Safe Browsing.

How do you know whether you are protected by Safe Browsing mode? Go to your settings in Chrome, and check your Privacy menu.

Google are obviously trying to improve their game, which is great. However, we believe that businesses need as much protection as possible - now. This is why we are constantly researching and  testing extra tools and practices that do assist.

How do you know if your small or medium-sized business stands the best chance of survival in the face of a cyber attack or phishing scam? Talk to us today and we’ll be more than happy to share our up-to-date knowledge with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

A picture is worth a thousand words - and now a selfie may even be worth more. Later this year, MasterCard plans to jump into the facial recognition-based trend of online security with an app that allows users to verify online purchases with a selfie. But is this technology secure? Will it replace traditional passwords for good? Here’s what you need to know.

At the beginning of spring this year, MasterCard acquired the help of 500 customers to test out a new application that enables people to verify their identity and authenticate online transactions with a facial scan. What does this mean? Instead of using a traditional password at the online checkout, MasterCard wants to give you the option to snap a selfie instead. According to the credit card giant, they’ve partnered with every smartphone company in the business to make this mode of identity verification possible.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

A quote from Ajay Bhalla, security expert at MasterCard, suggests this is an attempt by the credit card giant to appeal to a younger crowd of digital natives. "The new generation, which is into selfies...I think they'll find it cool. They'll embrace it," Bhalla recently said.

mastercard-selfie_original
An example of the new "selfie" technology

That said, the “cool” appeal to youth is likely not the only reason for this change. The firm is likely attempting to make online purchases both more secure and more convenient.

HOW IT WORKS

To use this technology, users will have to download a dedicated app, which they can then use to take a photo of themselves at checkout. But how does MasterCard prevent a thief from using a photo of you to fake your verification? Simple - the app requires you to blink to prove that you’re a living, breathing human being.

However, it’s been noted by critics that, in today’s technological world, even a blink can be animated on a static photo. This leaves those of us with security concerns wondering whether MasterCard will make this app more secure before it’s released.

Note as well, though, that MasterCard is not getting rid of traditional passwords completely. Users will still have the option of the more conventional method of verification, as well as the choice of fingerprint scanning to check your identity.

IS THIS WHERE THE FUTURE OF ONLINE SECURITY IS HEADED?

With the release due later this year of a similar Windows 10 security application to identify users using biometrics, it appears that this is where the future of online security is headed. And with ever more applications and online services requiring a password, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average web user to create one that is both unique and secure for each individual service. So whether it’s facial recognition, a fingerprint scan or some other technology that’s yet to be perfected, it seems as though some sort of more advanced security solution is inevitable.

Want more of the latest security news? Looking to implement new security to protect your IT infrastructure from cyber threats? Get in touch with us at Sensible today. Call 1300-SENSIBLE (736-742)

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Leading technology companies have filled the market with tons of tablet options. Here are some key considerations when figuring out which model is right for you.

Intended Use

When shopping for a tablet, first ask yourself "What will I be using this for?" Are you planning on using a tablet for just surfing the web and checking your email? Will you be using it for work or school? Will your new tablet replace your old laptop?

Once you've determined how you plan to use your new tablet, you can figure out which features will work best for your needs.

Operating System

The operating system is the single largest factor when shopping for a tablet. The main players, in order of market share, are Google's Android, Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows.

Android supports a large variety of hardware with numerous screen sizes and features. It's the most customisable operating system. On the other hand, iOS tablets have carefully planned screen sizes and limited features that have been rigorously tested.

If you work on a PC, a Windows tablet may be the best choice for extensive work involving document creation and manipulation. The advantage is you get to use the business programs you already know. Plus, its keyboard/cover combination has yet to be beaten. Microsoft's new SurfacePro 3 is a tablet that is almost a full blown laptop replacement.

Apps

The respective app stores for each tablet operating system are also an important consideration. Google's Play Store currently contains the most number of apps, over 1.3M. The apps in the Play Store tend to be relatively cheap, with up to 80% being free.

In comparison, Apple's App Store offers over 1.2M apps and is by far the most well-maintained. This makes finding apps easier, and the apps themselves tend to be of higher quality, but a bit more expensive on average.

Microsoft's Windows Store is still in its infancy with the total number of apps around 170,000.

Size

Tablets come in a range of sizes and weights. Smaller, lightweight tablets are optimal for commuters and students. Larger models with generous screens enhance work productivity, especially in lieu of a laptop. The best approach is to simply go to a local store and get your hands on a few different models. If you don't have that opportunity, be sure to check weights and measurements online.

Price

Before making a purchase, check if there are similar models on the market that might be cheaper. In addition to the price of the device itself, you should also weigh the costs of accessories such as cases, styluses, and keyboards. 4G access also requires a monthly data plan, so that should be added into the other financial considerations too.

While these factors may not cover every angle of tablet shopping, they will certainly help you narrow your focus. Contact us for more help when comparing the latest in devices and technology services.

Summary

Unfortunately, most tablets are still not full replacements for laptops for business use — but they are getting a lot better. e.g. Microsoft SurfacePro 3

Also keep in mind that there are now a number of very lightweight laptops available that offer full business capability (we especially like Toshiba).

However, you still pay a premium for the lightest and most powerful. If you are unsure, contact Sensible on 1300-SENSIBLE to see what fits you best.

Every year smartphone batteries increase in capacity. Yet, at the same time, it seems new phone models last less and less time before they need to be plugged in. This frustrating cycle leads many smartphone owners to wonder the same thing. Why can't their latest iPhone or Android device stay on longer than a few hours, despite claims of a much larger battery?

The answer is that newer phones can do more things, beyond streaming cat videos, taking photos, and browsing the web. They also have bigger screens, louder speakers, faster data speeds, more sensors, and so on. These improvements not only take more battery power, but lead to increased usage of smartphones.

So what can you do to increase battery life? While the specifics depend on the exact phone you're using, here are some things that will help right away:

Turn On Automatic Screen Brightness

Most phones have an option to automate the screen's brightness based on ambient light levels. This will help keep screen brightness down when it isn't necessary, and save battery life.

Turn Off GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Other Networks and Sensors

Just having these on is considerably draining to the battery life. Turn them off when not in use to make your phone last longer.

Browse Only on Wi-Fi

When possible, turn off 4G connectivity and use Wi-Fi networks to browse the web. Wi-Fi antennas use less power than 4G, and will extend the life of your phone.

Use a Case That Blocks the Wake Button

Most people don't realize how often they bump into the unlock button while their phone sits in their pocket. Every time they do, the screen lights up and steals a little bit of battery life. Using a case that secures this button can go a long way for people whose phones live mainly in their pockets.

ANDROID: Turn Off Auto Sync

Unlike iOS, Android apps update and sync individually, and every time they sync they have to power on the phone's data radio. Turning on the radio takes a lot of power and drains your battery. Instead, keep auto sync turned off and instead, sync your phone manually every half hour or hour.
iOS: Turn Off Active Background, Background Motion, and Background App Refresh

These features, many of them introduced in iOS 7, are visually stunning. They're also a major drain on battery resources.

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