06/27/2019 E-Newsletter: Business Social Media Reputations and Free Wi-Fi Worries
Wait! Know the risks before connecting to public Wi-Fi. Get an email asking you to update your 1&1 Ionos account information? We did too, luckily we were able to tell it was a SCAM. Lastly, we helped garner hundreds of job applications easily. You can too!Read More
Social Media After Death
As of this year, at least 2.34 billion people worldwide are social media users. In the United States alone, 79% of people have a social media profile. Something we don’t really think about when signing up for these accounts is what will happen to them when we pass away. Should we write your passwords down somewhere? Can someone gain access to them after we’re gone? What happens to your social media after death? It is reported that around 8,000 Facebook users die every day. It’s important that policies and protocols are put into place.
Facebook & Instagram
Facebook and Instagram are the only major social media platforms that “memorialize” your account.
With Facebook, you can set up a “legacy contact”. This is the person who will manage your account after you’re gone. To set up your legacy contact, go into your Facebook general settings and select Manage Account and choose the person to take this role. As seen in this screenshot, the person you choose to be your legacy contact will not be able to post as you or read your messages. If you don’t want to have a legacy contact, you can also request for your account to be deleted when the time comes. To request for an account to be memorialized, contact Facebook here.
Instagram does things a little bit different. There is no legacy contact that can manage your account for you when you die. Once a family or friend sends a report and the account is memorialized, it appears mostly the same. However, the account will not show up as a recommendation anywhere on the app (such as in the explore section). Nothing can be deleted or changed on the account after it is memorialized.
For most other social media platforms (including Twitter), there are no memorialized profiles, therefore a family member has to request the removal of a deceased user’s account. In general, social media platforms will never give login details to anyone but the account owner, even immediate family members. This would violate most terms of service. If you want someone to have full access to your social media, it may be smart for you to put this in writing with something like a digital will. This will hand over ownership of your accounts after you pass away. This helps avoid violating any terms of service.
Computers and Devices
That great password you’ve set up on your computer or device to keep others out will do just that after your death. As a rule, device manufacturers will not grant access to others to get around your pass codes and passwords. Keep in mind many of your online accounts also have 2-factor authentication too. Banks and other service providers are happy to work with whoever holds your power of attorney posthumously, but email accounts and other online accounts will need to be accessed with the information you leave in your digital will.
Though it may be odd, it is important to have a plan for what happens to your social media and online accounts after death. Set up your legacy contact on Facebook today. Also, inform your friends and family by sharing this with them! Subscribe to our bi-weekly e-newsletter for more helpful information like this!
Maintaining Your Company’s Social Media
Being active on social media is almost required to run a successful business these days. We also know that it can be difficult to gain and maintain an active following. This is why it is extremely important to make sure you create and approach your social media accounts in a professional manner.
Creating Business Social Media Accounts
One of the most important things to do when creating profiles for your business is to use a business email address (for example: email@example.com). Do not allow an employee to use their own email when setting up social media accounts. We’ve seen companies let go of employees and lose access to accounts because they hadn’t been set up using a business-owned email address.
Employee retaliation can even result in the account being deleted with no option for recovery. This means you would lose access to the audience you worked so hard to build up. You’ll have to start all over which can be a large waste of time and money. Make sure to use a company email and keep track of your passwords!
Posting to Your Business Social Media
Nowadays, there are too many social media platforms to keep up with. It is time-consuming to jump from platform to platform and make individual posts. Thankfully, there are tools available which make this process much faster and easier. Using a program like Hootsuite helps by enabling you to schedule posts to almost any social media platform from one location, all at the same time. It will also allow you to schedule posts out for days when you aren’t going to be at the office. Scheduling ahead like this also gives you time to proof each post before it goes live. You can even send the draft around internally to get another set of eyes on it before any embarrassing mistakes go out to your audience. If Hootsuite isn’t your cup of tea, there are many other alternatives for you to choose from.
Having Social Media Guidelines
Making sure you have a company social media policy in place is important. Your social media policy should outline that an employee’s online activity reflects on the company and employee. It should remind employees of your company’s privacy and confidentiality rules. Setting rules in a policy ensure that nothing gets posted that shouldn’t. Your policy should educate and train your employees about using social media on behalf of the company while presenting a consistent corporate image. Keeping your posts on-brand and relevant will help them stand out from the crowd.
To maintain the security and longevity of your social media accounts, make sure they are created with company credentials. Use a scheduling program like Hootsuite to plan and proof posts before they go live. Lastly, have a clear social media policy in place to ensure the appropriateness of the content being posted. You can always call in a professional to handle your company’s social media. Appletree MediaWorks has an on-staff Social Media Specialist that is experienced in managing social media accounts for businesses like yours.
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06/07/2019 E-Newsletter: Did Microsoft call? How to Make Strong Passwords
Take a look at the new and improved Asphalt Management Inc website! On top of that, check out this easy method for creating secure (but easy to remember) passwords! Let us also help you not fall victim to these popular scams making the rounds. Read More
05/22/2019 E-Newsletter: Welcome to Appletree’s E-Newsletter
Vulnerabilities were found in popular applications you may use. Make sure you update! Another week another scam..stay up to date with us here! On the bright side, W. Soule has a nice new site, fully responsive with a custom programmed management system. Also, have some old technology lying around? There is a right and wrong way to get rid of it!Read More
Microsoft Scam Calls are Still Rampant
Microsoft scam calls have been around for a while, but they’re still detrimental. In 2018 alone, it’s estimated that tech support scammers managed to take a whopping $55 million out of the bank accounts of over 140,000 innocent people. These scammers call you out of the blue to catch you off guard. This is why it is important to know exactly how to handle scam calls and get real support when needed.
How to Identify Fraudulent Support
Unsolicited calls from anyone claiming to work for a software company and asking for bank information are not real. Similar calls telling you that your computer/device is infected are usually not real. The best thing to do would be to hang up, report the incident, and block the number. Unfortunately, some of these scams are becoming a little more sophisticated. Sometimes Microsoft scam calls may appear on your caller ID as the real number for Microsoft. This is called caller ID spoofing.
Caller ID spoofing is done through a computer program that allows the user to change the outgoing number to anything. This makes it harder to block and report the scammers.
In the event that you receive a call from any company such as Microsoft, you can always hang up and contact them yourself to confirm if the call was real or not. On Microsoft’s website, they have an option to instantly chat with a real Microsoft support person. You should be able to verify if you were actually being contacted by Microsoft or not. You can also find their real customer service numbers on the Microsoft website if you prefer talking on the phone.
If you are ever prompted with a pop up telling you to call immediately because something is wrong with your computer or information has been stolen, you can rest assured that it is not real. Microsoft error and warning messages will never have a phone number for you to call. Follow the steps below to get rid of and avoid these pop-ups.
How to Get Rid of Pop-Ups
If you are browsing the web when you receive a pop-up, all you have to do is close out of it. The best way to do that is by pressing CTRL+W. This will close the tab that is currently in focus without you having to click on anything. This minimizes the risk of you accidentally downloading malware by clicking a false X or initiating other hidden downloads. If you see something did get downloaded, do not click on it in the downloads bar. Go to your downloads folder of your computer and delete the download, followed by clearing your recycling bin to make sure it is completely off your machine.
To avoid browser-based pop-ups like this, make sure you have your pop up blocker enabled. We also recommend that internet users download an ad blocker like Adblock Plus. It is completely free and blocks any intrusive or misleading ads, but whitelists legitimate ads that are clearly labeled as advertisements. If pop-ups persist, check your browser extensions and make sure to uninstall any extensions that you do not recognize.
In the case of receiving odd system pop-ups, this is probably caused by a virus that is already on your computer. If these pop-ups are new and you recently installed some software, you might have missed something in the installer that was packaged with the software. Make sure to uninstall any non-native programs that you do not recognize. If you’ve been having pop-ups for a while and can’t pinpoint where they’re coming from, scan your computer with Windows Defender Antivirus which is built into Windows 10 (if you’re not running Windows 10, make sure to update soon to keep your computer secure).
Never Be Too Sure
It’s important to never immediately trust any email, phone call, or computer message that you receive. Make sure to confirm that you’re talking to the people you think you are to avoid falling victim to a scam that has claimed the dollars of so many. Keep your computer and your money safe and sound. Appletree clients frequently forward us emails and text messages that they’ve received. Many of these scams appear to be legit until we look closer at them. Check out our blog for how to spot a scam email.
When in doubt, feel free to contact Appletree, we’re happy to provide peace of mind.
Windows 7 End of Life Approaches
The Windows 7 end of life date is quickly approaching. If you’re still behind, you should mark your calendar. Microsoft is ending extended support for this popular OS on January 14, 2020. After this date, they will stop patching security holes. Users who do not upgrade will be exposed to an ever increasing number of online threats. If you are still using Windows 7, what should you do to prepare? Read our simple guide below to find out!
Keep applying patches – especially now!
Although we always recommend updating your software, it is especially important to apply updates frequently through July of 2019. This is because Microsoft will be changing the way it supplies patches to its users. If updates were not applied leading up to July, Microsoft will stop supplying security updates altogether. This would potentially open your system up to attack a full 6 months before the official sunset date.
Upgrade to Windows 10
Since Windows 7 will no longer be viable after January 14, it is important to upgrade your operating system before that crucial date. Although there are many operating systems to choose from (we recommend Linux if you have the know-how), for most the obvious choice will be Windows 10. This offers the easiest transition since in most cases you do not need to convert any files. Also, your favorite programs will continue working without any interruption. Follow these steps to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10.
- Make sure your device can support Windows 10. The latest version of Windows requires a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of hard drive space. Read the full requirements here and make sure your system or device will work. If not, you may need to upgrade your hardware as well.
- Purchase Windows 10. The free update period expired back in 2016. Although some people have reported that they are still able to upgrade for free, the rest will need to purchase a new Windows 10 product key from microsoft.com.
- Create a full backup. Although this upgrade process is usually seamless, it can sometimes fail and you may lose data. To avoid any problems, it is best to make a full backup of your system so that you can roll back if necessary. Windows 7 comes with a System Image Backup tool to make this process easier.
- Uninstall unnecessary software. Windows 10 will do its best to migrate all of your programs. However, some outdated or uncommon programs may cause problems. To minimize this possibility, we recommend using the Programs & Features tool to remove any software that you no longer need.
- Download and install Windows 10. Finally, download the Windows 10 Disc Image (ISO File) tool. Once downloaded, run the executable and follow the on-screen instructions. When prompted, select “Upgrade this PC now” and later on, be sure to select the “Keep personal files and apps” option. During this process, you will be prompted to enter your Windows 10 product key. Use the key you purchased from microsoft.com.
Not happy with Windows 10? Is your device a little too old to handle the latest system requirements from Microsoft? Fortunately, Linux still runs on most anything and is available for free. There may be a bit of a learning curve, but popular distributions such as Ubuntu have made it much more user-friendly over the years.
If you decide to install Linux, be sure and make a full backup of all your essential files and documents on a thumb drive or external disc before making the jump. Remember that most Windows programs do not work natively in Linux, although there are workarounds and Linux versions available for some of them. Overall, prepare to re-learn some tasks and to spend time searching for alternative programs. This option is for moderate-to-advanced users who aren’t trying to do anything essential or time sensitive during the transition.
Can’t upgrade it? Recycle it!
If all this seems a little daunting, you may be better off just buying a new system with a more recent operating system already installed. In today’s market, low- to mid-level desktops are very affordable, especially when you subtract the cost of a Windows 10 license. If you go this route, a simple thumb drive can be used to transfer files and documents from your old system to the new.
Once all of your documents have been transferred, read our guide on recycling to learn how you can safely recycle your old system without compromising on security. Remember that old systems and devices contain batteries (whether you can see them or not), so it is important to discard them properly so they don’t leak toxic chemicals into the water supply.
How to Recycle Technology Responsibly (without compromising your security)
Did you ever wonder how to recycle technology responsibly? Earth Day is a good time to think about how our daily lives affect the planet we call home. If you’re like us, staying updated with the latest gadgets often results in boxes full of outdated tech. With Spring in the air, it can be tempting to just toss all that tech in a fit of Spring cleaning fever, but don’t be too hasty!
Did you know that old computers and gadgets often contain toxic chemicals that seep into the ground from landfills? What about the possibility of scavengers harvesting sensitive financial data from one of your tossed PCs? Never fear, there are ways to recycle technology responsibly without hurting the earth (and without compromising your sense of security). Follow these simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to a cleaner home – and a healthier planet!
Avoid throwing batteries in the trash
Batteries contain toxic chemicals which leak into the soil from landfills. These chemicals eventually wash down into our watershed and can get into the water supply. This affects everybody! Many grocery and department stores now have battery recycling drop-offs where old batteries can be recycled the safe way. This goes for rechargeable batteries as well. Not sure where to drop them off? Lowe’s hardware started a rechargeable battery recycling program in 2004.
Also, keep in mind that most hardware (such as laptops, PCs, game consoles, etc) have batteries embedded inside. These should also be removed and recycled separately before recycling the rest of the hardware. If you’re not sure how to remove the battery from your device, searching Google for your device name and “remove battery” will usually provide step-by-step instructions.
Wipe your data first!
Recycling a computer or device that holds personal or financial data? Be sure and clean out any internal storage drives and thumb drives completely before hauling them away. Format these drives using a full wipe option (erase everything). Do not select the “quick wipe” options since those do not fully remove data from the disk. Many programs even offer “multi-pass” wiping for added security, but you really only need to wipe the data once. Multi-pass grew in popularity due to an urban legend and now only serves to ease the paranoia of the uninformed.
Donate your tech if possible
If your product is still functioning and might still have some use, consider donating it to a reputable reuse organization. These organizations will refurbish products and donate them to schools and charities wherever needs arise. A couple of good ones include The National Cristina Foundation and World Computer Exchange. Some local robotics teams and HAM radio clubs also seek laptops and monitors for their organizations, seek them out and see if they would like any of your items.
Take your computers to a responsible e-Steward in your state
If your product is too old or broken down to donate, the next best thing is to recycle it. Although any recycling program is better than none, the best option is to use one which takes part in the “e-Steward” network. These follow high standards to ensure that nothing goes to waste or ends up shipped overseas to landfills in developing nations. E-Stewards are located all around America – click here to find one near you.
When all else fails…
If you cannot locate a technology recycling program near you, many big-box retailers offer their own programs. Staples and Best Buy, for example, will be more than happy to recycle your old devices and computers for you. If you don’t have one of these stores nearby, most manufacturers also offer their own free recycling programs which allow you to ship them the hardware from anywhere. Contact each manufacturer directly to find out how to take part. The manufacturer’s website often contains detailed information as well.
What about this smart phone?
After wiping your data clean and resetting your phone to factory default settings, cell phones can be shipped to one of several nationwide recycling programs which specialize in providing this service. Call2Recycle is one such well known and respected program. Best Buy also maintains cell phone drop-off recycling kiosks near the front of their retail locations.
How Does Facebook Know Everything About Me?
You may have noticed Facebook and its subsidiaries (Instagram, Messenger, etc.) seem to know exactly what you’re thinking and saying. It’s almost like Facebook is listening in on our private lives. There are a few resources that Facebook uses to achieve this level of creepiness.
Facebook Has Its Sources
Privacy International conducted a report in December 2018 on apps that instantly send information to Facebook whether you’re logged in or even have an account at all. Research in the past has shown that up to 42.55% of free apps on the Google Play store alone share data with Facebook.
The report addresses how app developers use Facebook’s software development kit (SDK) to track and transmit your information to them. 34 apps, all with between 10 and 500 million installs each, were analyzed for this report. All were found to transmit data to Facebook. 61% of the apps send information as soon as they’re launched. This data is sent to Facebook along with a unique Google Advertising ID which can be used to link user behavior between different apps to build an in-depth profile. All of the info sent from the apps you use combined with your internet browsing habits can flesh out an extremely detailed profile.
Let’s be honest, most of us have taken at least one of those “harmless” Facebook quizzes before. You see your friends and family sharing their results constantly. It plagues your time line. But is it just the results to the quiz that are being shared, strictly with friends? You would think so – and hope so.
NameTests is a huge Facebook quiz platform. It was found that up to 120 million people’s information was being exposed due to a security flaw. This was the case for years. Information like names, birth dates, photos, and statuses were all exposed. This flaw is demonstrated here. A random website linked to NameTests with an access token from Facebook would be able to pull information for up to two months, even after the user deleted NameTests from their profile.
Turn Off Facebook Permissions
To protect yourself as much as possible, it is probably smart to clean up your Facebook permissions periodically. This will help you know exactly what each app and game you use with Facebook has permission to do.
- Next to the notification and quick help button in the top right corner of Facebook, hit the dropdown and click Settings (second from the bottom).
- On the sidebar to the left, the last section contains Apps and Websites, Instant Games, and Business Integration. Click on each and complete steps 3 and 4 for all of them.
- Go through all the apps and websites displayed and get rid of the ones you don’t use.
- Click View and edit to review what the apps you use have permission to do.
Another thing to look out for is permissions that mobile apps ask for. Most people don’t think twice before giving the OK to install an app on their phone. A lot of apps these days will randomly request access to your microphone, camera, contacts, and more when it’s not really necessary. Usually, you will be able to turn some of those permissions off. Google Play Store users have to be especially careful. This is because it is easier for a malicious app to get listed on Google’s Play Store than it is with Apple’s App Store.
Should You Leave Facebook?
With everything we’ve talked about here AND last year’s security fiasco, it is completely reasonable to contemplate this. Facebook has always been a fantastic tool for keeping in touch with friends and family. It’s useful when looking for old friends or trying to read the latest update from your favorite restaurant. Businesses can connect and networking has never been easier than it is now. The cons are the security risks. Can we trust Facebook to keep our information private? Can we trust Facebook to tell us when there is a security issue? For some people, these problems are huge. If you’re looking to leave Facebook, you have a couple of options.
How to Deactivate Your Facebook Profile
This option is for those who may contemplate returning to the site someday. Deactivating will hide your profile entirely, apart from your name in your friends’ friend lists and previous messages that you’ve sent to friends. You can reactivate just by logging back in.
To deactivate your account, click this link and select the FIRST option that says “Deactivate Account”. You’ll be prompted to type in your password to continue.
How to Delete Your Facebook Profile
Before you go through with deleting your account, you might want to download your information. There is no getting it back after you click that final button. Also, any apps or websites you log into with Facebook may also be deleted. Change your login information on those sites first, if possible.
When you’re ready to proceed, Click this link, and at the bottom, click Delete Account. Facebook gives you a few day grace period to log back in and cancel your deletion. After that, they say it can take up to 3 months to fully erase your information from Facebook servers, although you’re completely untraceable on the platform.
In the end, we can’t be sure exactly what is happening to our information beyond deletion since this only removes your data from Facebook’s servers and not 3rd parties which may have already saved it off site. The best thing to do is to be selective about what you share, what you download and what information you hand over to 3rd party websites and apps.
Google Plus Will Soon Be Negative
Google Plus has remained unpopular since its start in 2011. After multiple security flaws, the social media platform is shutting down….for consumers at least.
In October, 2018, it was found that the information of over 500,000 accounts was made vulnerable to app developers, even though the information was marked as private. This included the names, email addresses, occupation, gender, and age of users. The bug went unnoticed for about three years. With that, Google claimed they found no proof that any developers misused the private information or even knew about the bug. Google then announced the initial plan to shut down Google Plus in August of 2019. Then in December of 2018, they announced that a software update done the previous month exposed the private information of users again. This time, 52.5 million users were affected. The bug was found in November of 2018 and fixed within a week. The shutdown of Google Plus for consumers moved up to April.
The Future of Google Plus?
Amid the shutdown of Plus, Google will be investing more into the enterprise version of the platform for corporate users. Google Plus will remain part of G Suite. G Suite is described by Google as a group of “intelligent apps that make working together easier, for faster decisions and better business results.” Google Plus will be a social network strictly for internal business, and it will be completely rebranded from before.
Save Your Data
If you are one of the few people who spends more than 5 seconds on the site (yes, really), although there is no rewinding its demise, there is a way to save your data. You can learn how to do that here. Make sure to jump on that before April 2nd, when Google begins deleting data.
Tips for Businesses on Google Plus
- Remember to remove any G+ icons that may linger around your website, email signature, and other social media platforms.
- You can capture an image of your Google Plus page by using a program like Fireshot. If you’re only worried about info, just be sure to save your data.
- It might be smart to jump the gun and delete your Google Plus account now for security reasons. Instructions to do that are here.
Some people may say it has been a good run for Google+. Others may say they still don’t know what it is. Either way, it’s time to say goodbye to this social media beast as it’s laid to rest for consumers.