In many ways, smart devices have made life more convenient and enjoyable. Today, you can ask the smart devices in your home to follow a temperature schedule, play music in any room, stream television shows and adjust lighting. You don’t even have to get off your couch to make your environment perfect for you.

Unfortunately, some home technologies put your privacy at risk. If you want to add smart devices to your home, make sure you know effective ways to prevent security and privacy risks.

The Government Can Hack Your Smart TV

In 2014, the CIA worked with British intelligence agency MI5 to develop TV malware called Weeping Angel that could infiltrate Samsung smart TVs. Unlike most television apps, Weeping Angel worked in the background to quietly collect information without the owner’s knowledge.

Weeping Angel poses a threat to homeowners because it has the ability to record audio and capture WiFi keys. Having access to your WiFi keys would make it easy for the government to access passwords, usernames and other sensitive data stored on a home network.

British and American intelligence agencies likely built Weeping Angel so they could spy on suspected terrorists. Considering that the agencies kept their projects secret, though, it’s impossible to know their ultimate objectives.

Assuming that you’re not involved in illegal activity, it’s unlikely that the CIA would try to use Weeping Angel against you. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that the government abused its power to surveil citizens.

You can avoid Weeping Angel by updating Samsung smart TVs to the latest firmware. Keep in mind, though, that other malware may target the update and other smart televisions.

Old Insteon Products Make Hacking Easy

Insteon has been producing and installing home automation technology since 2005. Unfortunately for early adopters of the technology, Insteon products made before 2013 have vulnerabilities that practically anyone can take advantage of. It doesn’t even require basic hacking skills.

When journalist Kashmir Hill began researching Insteon’s products, she discovered that she could access many home networks without usernames and passwords. Insteon had even made it possible for Hill and others like her to find vulnerable systems through search engines.

After some tests, Hill discovered that she could control lights, garage doors, cameras and other devices. She even found some networks that contained sensitive information, including the names of children, the household’s nearest major city and IP addresses.

Avoiding the threat posed by Insteon products only requires buying newer versions. In fact, the company held a recall for the affected devices in 2013.

Computers Can Record Everything You Do or Say

Numerous viruses have the ability to turn your home computer or laptop into a surveillance device that records everything the device hears and sees. Hackers have used viruses to blackmail people caught doing things that they wouldn’t want released to the public.

Luckily, these security risks are easy to counter. If you have a computer with a built-in camera, put tape over the lens to prevent viruses from recording the things that happen in your home. If you have a separate camera, make sure you detach it from your computer when you don’t plan to use it.

You can take similar steps with microphones. Ideally, you should purchase computers that don’t come with built-in microphones. That way, you only need to unplug your external mic to prevent hackers from recording you. If your computer has an internal microphone, you can muffle the sound by placing tape over it. You can also disable the computer’s audio input hardware. Keep in mind, though, that you may not be able to use the internal microphone after you disable it.

Internet technology continues to change the way that people live. As long as you take the right precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of smart devices without losing your privacy.

Creating a competitive advantage should be one of the main concerns you have as a business owner. Utilizing the power of technology is a great way to bring your small business into the 21st century. The longer you insist on using outdated tools and marketing methods for your company, the harder you will find it to grow your customer base. Read on to find out more about the ways technology can benefit your business.

1. A great website helps you create more business

One of the main things you need to bring your business into the 21st century is a website. When done the right way, a website is a visual representation of what your business can offer. Making sure the website you have built is mobile-friendly is important.

Making your business website easy to find is also something you need to focus on. Creating web content and blogs that are filled with relevant keywords is one of the best ways to increase website traffic. With the help of marketing professionals, creating and implementing an effective SEO strategy will be much easier.

2. Social media is powerful

Are you looking for a way to build stronger relationships with existing and prospective customers? If so, utilizing the power of social media is a great idea. A study conducted by the team at Pew Internet Research found that nearly 68 percent of adults in the United States use social media daily. Posting high-value content on your company’s social media pages is a great way to create sales leads.

3. Simplify invoicing

A recent article published by Viewpost states that nearly 18 percent of small businesses in the United States don’t use any type of accounting software. Simplifying the invoicing process and reducing errors is much easier when using software like QuickBooks.

This software allows you to quickly create and track customer invoices. Not only will this program provide you with notifications when customers pay an invoice, it will also send automated reminders to your clients regarding overdue invoices.

4. Increase efficiency with project management software

Does your company have a number of projects going on simultaneously? Keeping up with the progress of each one of these projects is essential to the success of your company. Using project management systems such as Basecamp is a great way to keep the various projects you have on track. These types of programs allow each member of your team to access items such as schedules and client documents with ease.

5. Streamline customer payments

The system you have in place to pay your employees and vendors should be easy to use. If the existing payment system you have in place is cumbersome or outdated, now is the time to make a change. Programs such as QuickBooks make digitizing payments and paperwork simple.

The QuickBooks program allows customers to pay their invoices by credit card or bank transfer. QuickBooks accepts payments 24/7 and provides you with the ability to transfer money to your bank free of charge. This software will automatically match the payments you receive with the corresponding invoices, which saves you a lot of time.

6. Keep customers informed with email newsletters

Providing your customers with routine updates on what your company is doing can help you keep them loyal. One of the best ways to provide this information is via a monthly email newsletter. These types of newsletters will also allow you to market new products and services to an audience that is already interested.

The team at Kenneally Technology Services specializes in helping business owners implement and maintain new technology. Whether you need an information technology security assessment or hosted cloud solutions, Kenneally Technology Services can help you out. Give them a call today to find out more about the services they offer.

The information security threat landscape is constantly evolving, but it’s not getting any less complicated. In 2017, Ponemon Institute research revealed that 1 in 4 businesses in the U.S. suffered a security breach. Threats aren’t equally distributed by business size, 50 percent of small businesses were targeted by hackers and health care organizations were also heavily-targeted by 15 percent of last year’s incidents.

Recent headlines have revealed plenty of scary threats, including ransomware epidemics and the emergence of wiper viruses. While it’s possible 2018 has new super threats in store, it’s likely you’ll face a well-established threat. From social engineering to weak passwords, you may be surprised by today’s most common information security threats.

1. Crimeware-as-a-Service

Some of today’s smartest hackers are selling ready-made crimeware to wanna-be hackers on the dark web by subscription, including malware-as-a-service and ransomware-as-a-service. Last year, 51 percent of security breaches involved malware, which can now be purchased through illegal channels for just several hundred dollars each month. Criminals are getting bolder–one pre-packaged threat called “Philadelphia” was recently advertised openly on YouTube.

2. IoT Vulnerabilities

Experts predict one of the worst trends in 2018 will be security vulnerabilities caused by connected internet of things (IoT) devices. InfoSecurity Magazine’s Tara Seals attributes this to the fact too many “devices are manufactured without security regulations or industry standards.”

If your business isn’t powered by high-tech sensor or beacons, you’re not necessarily in the clear. IoT devices include office technology. Like IP phones, printers, and routers–all of which could represent possible modes of entry into your company’s network. In one survey, 63 percent of companies admitted to a printer-related security breach.

3. New Compliance Requirements

If your company collects data on European Union Citizens, you’ll need to prepare to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May or face fines of €20 million–that’s approximately $24.3 million. Many companies will need to adjust processes and systems to meet requirements from the GDPR, PCI, HIPAA, or other legislation.

While compliance isn’t a threat, it plays an important role in discussions of information security. Just 28.6 percent of companies are still compliant a year after assessment, and failing to meet standards can indicate security risks. Compliance can also demand significant IT resources. If your company is struggling to balance compliance and cybercrime risks, you may need security help.

4. Password Theft

A staggering 81 percent of 2017 security incidents involved weak or stolen passwords, which was often combined with tactics like phishing, hacking or malware. One emerging trend is “password aftershock“–when hackers are able to successfully gain entry to a company’s network using username and password combinations stolen from other breaches due to people’s tendency to recycle the same passwords over and over again.

5. Email Risks

Phishing still works–66 percent of installed malware last year was delivered by an email. Hackers are getting savvier and increasingly employing techniques like social engineering to “spoof” malicious emails into appearing like they were sent by a colleague or personal friend.

Email is a critical business communications tool, but it’s also one of the easiest ways for hackers to get inside your network. Information security awareness training and testing are likely a necessity.

Conclusion: Are You Prepared for These Security Threats?

While 2018 could bring next-generation security risks, businesses are wise to take a look back at the most common threat trends that affected half of small businesses in 2017. Planning for the most common risks–like unsecured printers, weak passwords and phishing–could significantly mitigate your chances of suffering a data breach in 2018.

Avoid the costly impact of a security breach remediation with a complimentary assessment of your organization’s IT security. Click here to learn more.



Bitcoin is all over the news. Seeing as this cryptocurrency surged 150% in value in a single month, a lot of people are now taking a look at blockchain, the technology that allows cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to exist. While it’s a complicated concept, the basic framework is that blockchain eliminates the need for third-party record keeping through its ability to provide a publicly distributed, immutable ledger that ensures accuracy.

While blockchain is clearly making its mark on the financial industry, this new technology is poised to disrupt the way we do business in nearly every field. Here are five industries that will soon see the effects of blockchain:

1. Healthcare

Medical records are some of the most personal and sensitive pieces of information about us. Hospitals often lack the data infrastructure to both securely store these records and share them effectively with necessary providers. Startups and established healthcare companies are working to implement blockchain medical record keeping to ensure integrity and trust in the system.

2. Food Safety

With blockchain, transactions are permanently recorded in a ledger that everyone can access. This means near instantaneous tracking of the supply chain of anything recorded in the blockchain. In the event of an E. coli outbreak, food safety personnel can determine the source of the contamination almost immediately and work to get dangerous food off the shelf that much faster. Not only can that save money, it can potentially save lives.

3. Banking

The reason that Bitcoin has had such success lies in the fact that it has removed the intermediary once needed for financial transactions. With blockchain, banks are no longer necessary for verifying that someone has the money they claim to have. Distributed ledgers will soon come to challenge banks as the sole record keepers of the financial world, opening up the door to new financial tools altogether.

4. Real Estate

Real estate is a multi-trillion dollar industry. However, a lot of that money is tied into the paperwork involved in deeds, records, contracts and plats. While in-person interactions have traditionally handled those types of documents, the ability to put things like title transfer into blockchain will reduce costs dramatically and make fraud much more difficult.

5. Legal

Traditionally, contracts passed back and forth between parties for the purpose of making changes, where others then reviewed and made their own changes. With an immutable record, the once time-intensive process of contract creating, signing and even enforcement can be reduced dramatically, saving time and money. Intellectual property, deed management and public records all stand to see changes with blockchain technology, signaling a bout of disruptions on the horizon for the legal industry.

The blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and other cryptocurrencies. While these are the most well-known uses of the blockchain, its benefits mean it has far-reaching implications for finance and data security beyond the cryptocurrency industry.

The blockchain is a distributed database (a database which is stored on many different devices). This means that recorded transactions are verified by hundreds or even thousands of different actors (also called nodes). The number of nodes makes blockchain far more secure than a simple database stored on just one device: you can’t just change one copy to commit fraud – you have to change thousands.

How does it work?

Blockchain Tracks and Verifies Transactions Using Blocks and Keys

The distributed database holds a list of transactions, which are called blocks. These blocks stack up in a chronologically-linked chain; each one is time-stamped and references the block before it. These blocks exist in a strict order which cannot be changed.

The blocks and the transactions they hold are public, and anyone with a copy of the database can see them. It is impossible to make a change to an old block without the nodes noticing, flagging and rejecting the change.

When a transaction is made, it is verified using two keys: one private, one public. The private key is known only to the account holder and is used as a signature to confirm who the transaction has come from. The public key, which everyone has, can be used to decrypt and authenticate the transaction, but cannot be used to create a transaction; this prevents a user from creating false transactions.

What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Blockchain Technology?

Because of the way it works, blockchain has several key benefits:

An Unchangeable Database – The data held on a blockchain cannot be changed. Every transaction, once logged and accepted, is held on the chain and kept there forever. This makes it highly transparent and makes auditing transactions easy.

Reduced Costs – Transactions are verified by the nodes holding the blockchain, which means that traditional middlemen (such as banks) aren’t needed. Banks are investing heavily in the blockchain because if they ignore it, they might find themselves not needed.

Users Are Empowered – The blockchain allows users to have full control over their transactions and data. For example, the blockchain could enable individuals to have control over who accesses their medical records.
As with any system, there are also disadvantages:

Verification Bottlenecks – The cryptographic system used to sign and check transactions is complex, and requires a lot of computing power. This means there is a limit to how fast transactions can be processed.

More Work – When a transaction occurs it must be processed by every single node that holds a copy of the database (which could be thousands). This is a lot of extra computational work compared to a traditional database, where the transaction is processed just once.

What Can Blockchain Be Used For?

Blockchain can be used anywhere where a transparent, unhackable database would be useful, and businesses and governments are testing a wide variety of use cases. There is a high level of hype and excitement, but in this case, it might actually be justified – blockchain really does have the potential to revolutionize many industries.

For example, blockchain could be used to prevent voter fraud by being used as the platform for an unhackable vote-counting system which would both securely check voter’s identities and prevent changes from being made by a third party.

Another use case is as a means of authenticating ownership of a unique item, such as a piece of art. The art piece would be paired with a digital token, which could then be bought or sold. Even if the art piece was physically stolen, the original owner would still hold the ownership digitally. Any attempt at selling it on would fail because anyone would be able to look up the true owner.

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