Is Your Smart Phone Spying on You?

Is your smart phone spying on you? In short, yes. Follow the simple guide below to find out how to protect yourself.


smart phone spyingFrequent Locations

iPhones track your location data down to the minute.

Who uses this information:

  • Third party advertisement: If you visit a shoe store, you might receive shoe advertisements.
  • Apps: Apps may request permission to access your frequent locations. This may be useful for some things such as viewing local weather or calculating ETAs from your location.

smart phone spyingHow to stop it:

  • Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services > Frequent Locations
  • There is a toggle for turning on and off frequent Locations and Improve Maps
smart phone spyingIdentifier for Advertising (IDFA)

This allows developers and marketers to track your activity. They use this data for targeted advertising on apps and web pages.

smart phone spyingHow to stop it:

  • General > About > Advertising
  • There is a toggle to turn on Limit Ad Tracking


smart phone spyingWindows 10

The new updated Windows 10 tracks just about everything you do.

Here is a section of the Windows 10 terms:

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to: 1.comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies; 2.protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone; 3.operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or 4.protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.

smart phone spyingHow to stop it:

Many methods are available, with varying effectiveness:

  • InPrivate Mode – Setting you browser to InPrivate mode does not completely cover your tracks
  • Unchecking all tracking pages upon opening – This has been tested (even with a DisableWinTracking tool) and found it still tracked some information.


smart phone spyingVoice Commands

Every voice command you make on your android phone is logged.  These recordings should only be available to you but the idea of possibly having any personal information stored may be unnerving to some. Every Google device records and stores voice commands.

smart phone spyingHow to stop it:

  • Settings > Account > Google > Sign In > Personal Info & privacy > Activity Controls > Voice & Audio Activity
  • There is a toggle to turn this off. You can also delete all saved recordings.

smart phone spyingLocation Tracking

Just Like Apple, Android tracks your location. Google doesn’t limit their tracking to cell phones. They continue tracking you from your desktop computer, if you leave your Google account logged in.

Who uses this information:

  • Third party advertisement: If you visit a shoe store, you might receive shoe advertisements.
  • Apps: Apps may request permission to access your frequent locations. This may be useful for some things such as viewing local weather or calculating ETAs from your location.

smart phone spyingHow to stop it:

  • Settings > Account > Google > Sign In > Personal Info & privacy >Google Location History
  • The you can toggle this off and you can delete location history
smart phone spyingAndroid Advertising ID

Similar to Apple’s Identifier for Advertising, Google takes information from your search activity to use for targeted advertising. You see these within apps downloaded from Google Play.

smart phone spyingHow to stop it:

  • Settings > Account > Google > Sign In > Personal Info & privacy > Ads Services
  • This will take you to a web page to manage the ad settings. Then you can toggle it off.
  • You can also reset the ID which clears past data. This can be helpful if you still want to see ads tailored to you but not about something you recently searched about. You can even delete and add interests to better tailor the ads.

This will not stop the ads but will stop the targeted ads based on your search history.





How to Download Apps Safely

As of July 2015, the Google App Store has 1.6 million apps and the Apple App Store has 1.5 million apps. With an ever-growing universe of apps available, the chances of getting a compromised or infected app are on the rise.

More than 85 billion apps have been downloaded from the Apple App Store since October of 2014 and that number is growing substantially. All that traffic leaves a lot of room for hackers to gain a footing. To stay safe, you should take precautions, learn which download sources are reputable, and do a little research.

Take Precautions

Before even looking for apps for you device you need to guard yourself against any malware that might get through. Before installing anything new, make sure that your device’s operating system and existing software are fully up to date.

how to download appsAnti-virus and Firewall – Use an anti-virus application that scans every app you install. It should also scan updates and block malware.

Stay Updated – Update your web browsers and operating systems. Updates to these often include important security patches. Once a security patch is released to the public, you have very little time to apply the update before hackers have figured out how to exploit it. This is why it is so important to update early and often!

Where to Buy and Not to Buy

Buy from Here…

Google App Store, Apple App Store, Windows Store – For all devices, use the default app store that comes installed with the device. Most app stores have a screening process which weeds out most malicious code. If you do happen to find something bad, you can report the app to:  GoogleApple, or Windows

Not from Here…

The DarkSideLoader is a rogue app store for iOS phones and tablets. This app store lets user download unusual, unapproved apps alongside normal apps which are offered free of charge (as in stolen).

What are the Dangers?
Downloading compromised apps from DarkSideLoader can make you lose control of your phone and receive unwanted installations. Compromised or malicious applications can be very dangerous to your phone and personal information. Here are a few examples of what these “rogue apps” can do to your phone:how to download apps

  • Operating System Access Through API Access
  • Root Devices
  • Install Apps Without Permission
  • Communicate With Malicious Sites on Internet
  • Malware Installation

Any third party app store can have these potential problems

Check if you have a rogue app on your Android device

Do Your Research

There are many things you can look for to check if an app is dangerous. While it can be easy to just click download, you should do a little research beforehand. Here are a few common safety checks:

how to download appsReviews – Read some reviews about the app. If there is a known problem it will most likely be expressed in a review. You can find reviews in the app store you are using.

Developer Information – Research the developer to find out how popular they are. Make sure the developer exists in the real world. Usually there is a link in the app store to the developer’s website. Browse through some of the top app developers of 2016.

Permissions – Make sure to read and understand the permissions before granting anything to a new app. Learn more about permissions and why apps need access to certain things.

Star Ratings – Similar to reviews, a star rating will most likely be fairly low if users experienced problems with the app. Again, this is available on the app store you are using.

Download Count – If an app has a high download count the chances of it being safe are higher.

how to download apps

Outside Forums – Still not sure? Google the app and find out what others are writing about it. Users love to post information like this to Reddit or other discussion forums.

Technology for Christmas

technology for christmas‘Tis the Season to be Jolly and show how festive technology can be. Technology certainly does not ignore the fact that billions of people are celebrating the Holidays. Christmas cheer is being spread within mobile apps, Websites, and Blogs. Even Christmas decorations are redesigned using technology. Also, Google has done a lot to show their holiday cheer this year. Check out some of the ways you can enjoy all this festive technology for Christmas.

Mobile Applications

Did you know that Christmas is also the unofficial Developers App Day?

technology for christmasAccording to Flurry, 328 million apps were downloaded on Christmas Day last year in the United States. This is not too surprising though. With mobile devices being one of the most popular gifts to give during the holiday season, it is only natural that people will be downloading apps, often sharing them with friends and family.

App developers work tirelessly leading up to the holiday season. This past September, developers were already hard at work polishing their apps for the Christmas rush. Some developers have even added exclusive seasonal content.

App Icon Festive Dress up

I’m sure you have noticed your mobile apps updating their icons to something festive for the Holidays. This is one way app developers celebrate the season.

Here are some popular apps showing off their holiday spirit with a festive new icon:

Word Brain Christmas App Icon Farm Heros Saga Christmas App Icon Angry Birds Fight Christmas App Icon
The Sims Christmas App Icon Zedge Christmas App Icon Angry Birds Epic RPG Christmas App Icon

Photos from: and

Top Christmas Apps this Season

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Interactive storybook narrated by Peter Robbins (the original Charlie Brown voice).

NORAD Tracks Santa
Apple and Android Free

Track Santa throughout the world and see what he is doing and how you can help him.

Christmas Story Books
Apple and Android Free

Collections of Christmas stories such as “A Christmas Carol” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.

Android Free with extras to buy

Turn your friends and family into elves and make them dance to a Christmas song.

Talking Santa
Apple and Android Free

Talk to an animated Santa. Tap the screen to make him respond in various ways.

Christmas Radio
Apple and Android Free

Choose from 50 unique Christmas-themed Internet radio stations.

Websites and Blogs

Make your Website Festive

Use WordPress Plugins – Add things easily to your WordPress Site such as Advent Calendars, Countdowns, Holiday Popup Messages, and Christmas animated images to spruce up your website for the holidays.
Don’t have WordPress? Use these ideas to add extra flair to your site with some simple for christmas

Creating a Landing Page – Create a temporary landing page for your site as just a way to wish happy holidays or to highlight a promotion on your site. Make it easy to to dismiss so your visitors don’t get frustrated trying to bypass it.

Make a Festive Logo – Take your signature Logo and dress it up to make it festive. Use Photoshop, Gimp, or just hand it off to your graphic designer. It does not need to be a big change, just some extra flair your customers will notice.

Don’t Forget Your Social Media – Take all of what you have done and incorporate it into your social media. Change your profile picture to your the festive logo. Change your cover photo to a matching image. Then send out a post telling your followers to check out the changes you made to get more attention and clicks to your website.

Christmas Lighting

Technology Controls Christmas Lights

The new thing is to make a light show on your house with your Christmas Lights. Control when the lights turn on and off and even coordinate it with music. You can do this using computer software or even a smartphone app.

Smartphone Apps

For the Advanced create a light show using Raspberry Pi
Check out the DIY instructions

How Google Celebrates the Holidays

This year Google has been showing off their holiday spirit with Christmas logos, a Santa Tracker app, and more.

  • This holiday season, Google is celebrating with new, festive logos:
Google Doodle December 24
December 24
Google Doodle December 23
December 23
Google Doodle Winter Solstice December 22
Winter Solstice December 22
  • Google is also famous for hiding Easter eggs depending on what you search. To celebrate the holidays they created Easter eggs if you type “Christmas“, “Kwanzaa“, and “Hanukkah
  • Santa Tracker – You can play on your phone or on your desktop. Play Christmas related Games and Learn about Christmas too.
  • Google Spotlight Stories Presents: Special Delivery

  • A company named Boston Dynamics, with Google X, used their tech skills to create robotic reindeer to pull a sleigh.


How the Internet Helps in a Crisis

Everyone has heard about the recent Paris Attacks on November 13th. Many people have found that the Internet helps in a crisis. The Internet can help to coordinate relief efforts while providing essential communication services to the unfortunate individuals involved in a disaster.

Google Crisis

internet helps in a crisisGoogle has created some powerful tools to help save the day in times of crisis.

Crisis Response – Because Google’s crisis response team analyzes each crisis, each response may be slightly different.
A specific response may include:

  • Creating a Resource Page – This is a simple web page containing the most relevant emergency information and tools available for a given crisis.
  • Launching Google Person Finder – This is an application which connects friends and loved ones following a disaster. This is useful when there is a large number of missing people and traditional communication lines are unavailable.
    • How it works: Google’s Person Finder page lists current disasters. Click on a disaster and you can then choose from either “I’m looking for someone” or “I have information about someone”.internet helps in a crisis
  • internet helps in a crisisHosting a Crisis Map – This is a map that displays information concerning the disaster such as storm paths, flood zones, evacuation routes, shelter locations, and power outages. This includes official content and user-generated content.

Tools For Responders – Do you think your organization may be able to help in a disaster? Google also provides some tools for responders.

  • Google Public Alerts – An organization can send emergency alerts if they are relevant to an ongoing crisis. These alerts will appear on Google’s search results, maps, and android devices (using Google Now).
  • Person Finder – This can be embedded into your company’s website.
  • Crisis Map – This can be embedded in your company’s website.
  • Other Google Tools Docs, spreadsheets, and Earth are all useful tools for responders.

Facebook Safety Check Tool

internet helps in a crisisThe Facebook Safety Check Tool was originally created for natural disasters. After the Paris Attacks, it has opened up to man made disasters as well. Basically, the Safety Check tool notifies friends and loved ones that you’re safe during a disaster.

This was original inspired by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and was then released on October 15th, 2014.

How It Works:

  • Affected Area Notification – Facebook sends you a notification if you are in an affected area and asks if you are safe.
  • “I’m Safe”Facebook Safe Button After receiving the notification, if you click or tap “I’m Safe” it adds a green “I’m Safe” box next to your name so others can see your status. Other friends may also confirm whether or not you are safe.
  • Safe Friends Notification – After the tool has been activated you will then receive notifications when your friends have marked themselves as safe.

internet helps in a crisisWays Facebook responded to Paris Attacks:

  • Enabled their safety check
  • Created a profile picture filter of blue, white, and red

Twitter Alerts

  • internet helps in a crisisWhat? This is an alert that contains vital real-time information during a fast moving emergency. Since this feature is intended for crisis, disaster, and emergency communications, these alerts consist of:
    • Warnings of imminent dangers
    • Preventive instructions
    • Evacuation directions
    • Urgent safety alerts
    • Information on access to essential resources
    • Information on critical transit and utility outages
    • Crowd and misinformation management.
  • Who? Only these groups are authorized to send an alert:
    • Law enforcement
    • Public safety agencies
    • Emergency management agencies
    • City and municipal governments
    • County and regional agencies
    • Select state, federal, and nation agencies and NGOs
  • When? Twitter Alerts are used when traditional ways of communication are not available. Such emergencies may include:
    • internet helps in a crisisNatural disasters
    • Severe weather
    • Biological incidents
    • Chemical or hazardous materials emergencies
    • Nuclear
    • Radiological incidents
    • Explosions
    • Food and agricultural incidents
    • Cyber incidents
    • Terrorism incidents
    • Crime
    • Major transportation incidents
  • Where? Twitter Alerts send as SMS notifications. Also, an orange bell displays next to alerts on your timeline.

Think your organization qualifies? Complete the Twitter Alert Enrollment Form

How do I get Twitter alerts?  Twitter Alert Setup

Ways Twitter responded to Paris Attacks:

  • Use of hastags
    • #PorteOuverte – Translates to Open Doors. This means you need a safe place to stay or you have a safe place (with open doors).
    • #PrayForParis – Used to show support for Paris
    • #RechercheParis – Translates to Search Paris. Friends and loved ones used this to find each other.

Airbnb Disaster Relief Program

internet helps in a crisisAs a result of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, many people in New York opened their doors to stranded individuals.

Airbnb, the unique online rental listing company, wanted to do the same during a disaster. They eventually created their very own disaster relief program. Airbnb even partnered with local government agencies and disaster relief organizations to make this program as effective as possible.

How it works Airbnb first sends out emails to room hosts in affected areas asking if they are in a position help. Hosts may then choose whether or not to participate. Finally, participating hosts open their doors (for free) to help people affected by the disaster.

  • Airbnb still offers 12/7 customer support, trust & safety tools, host guarantee and all other services.
  • Airbnb also uses their network to provide disaster information to the guests and hosts.

Ways Airbnb responded to Paris Attacks:

  • Activated their disaster relief program and many hosts in the affected areas opened their doors to help keep people safe.

Other companies that helped during the crisis

Uber – Turned off their city price surge.
Verzion, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Google, and Skype – Made calling and texts from United States to France available for free


How to use Web Analytics for your business

How to use Web Analytics for your business

Analytics is data analysis that usual involves taking past data to find trends and effects or decisions or events. It can also compare old data with new data using a given tool or scenario. In the sense of your online part of your business this can help measure engagement to your website and your social media. It can help steer you in a direction of gaining new customers and keeping current ones interested.

There are several tools out there to measure analytics on your websites and almost every social media sight has their own analytic tools. The important part of analytics is not just knowing that you can get this data but knowing how to use it to improvement you online content.

5 Key Analytic Points

computer-mouse-with-traffic-light_fynjN3Ud_LVisits – Usually your goal with this is to have as many visits as possible. Since this is a pretty general analytic there isn’t much specifically you can do with this information to raise your visits.

Traffic Source
  – A better way to understand your visits is seeing where they are coming from. There are 5 main sources:

organic-seo-3d-text_zyqWnFFO_LOrganic Search
Traffic comes from a search engine that is unpaid.

Improvent: Improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

This includes(but not limited to):

  • Keyword list
  • High-quality content
  • Page titles
  • Meta description

add-money_G19SuL8__LPaid Search
Traffic comes from a search engine that is a paid. Most recognized in Google as top section when you search.

Paid search includes: 

  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – You pay every time ad is clicked
  • Cost-per-impression (CPM) – You pay every 1,000 times ad appears on page
  • Google Adwords – Uses both of these types.

Traffic comes from directly typing in the web address to browser.

Best practice: 

  • Have a memorable domain name.
  • Use your business name – customer directly types your business name in the browser instead of a search engine.

Traffic comes from a link inside another website.


  • Sponsor or speak at local events
  • Guest posts – Guest blog post on another site. Learn some do’s and don’ts.

Traffic comes from social media such as Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, etc.


  • Have your website on your profile
  • Have posts (but not much) that link back to your website – Could be promoting a recent blog post, product, service, etc.
  • Get your pages on social bookmarking sites such as Stumble Upon

Bounce Rate – A bounce is when someone enters your site and then exits without seeing another page on the website. The goal is to keep this low. One condition this is not true, if the web page has a “phone number that the user is looking for, they may find the page, call the number and exit the site: This will count as a bounce but it’s a good bounce!” B2C

exit-door_zyyLoO9_Usually is a visitor bounces it means 1 of 2 things:

  1. They did not find what they were looking for
  2. The webpage was difficult to use.

How to Improve:

  • Using proper keywords – This will attract the correct audience so they find what they are looking for.
  • Make website User-Friendly – Webpage user difficulty could be from a bad layout, confusing navigation menu, not mobile friendly, slow page load time, pop-up or self-loading ads, difficult to read.

counter_M1ACxIDdTime On Site – This measures the time spent on your site as a whole. Such things that influence this is how interesting your site it, how good the navigation menus are, links to other pages on site.

Pages Per Visit – This measures how many pages were viewed in one visit.

Some other things to think about:

  • Location – tailor your site to the most popular cities the your viewers are from.
  • Monitor size – tailor you site to the most popular monitor size your users are using, ultimately try to make it optimized for all especially mobile sizes.

Top Web Analytics Tools

Google Analytics 
Church Analytics
Open Web Analytics




Google Event. The Good and The Bad.

Google held their press event on Tuesday, September 19th in San Francisco announcing many new products such as the Nexus 6P and 5X, the new Chromecast 2, Chromecast Audio, and the Pixel C. They also announced their new Operating System.

Top Rated StampNexus 6P

This was the most anticipated product coming out of Google and is considered the “flagship”. While there are a lot of great features in this new phone some have found minor complaints about the Nexus 6P

5.7 Inches
1440 Resolution
Metal Exterior
Gorilla Glass 4
7.3mm Thick
Snapdragon 810 Processor

                Complaint: Users disappointed in this version of Snapdragon

Android 6.0 Marshmallow Operating System

                Complaint: Future is looking at 4GB and some worry this will not be enough RAM

Project Fi (WIFI) Availability
Updated Camera – 8 Megapixel front-facing and 12.3 Megapixel Back facing (4K video and slow-motion shots)

                Complaint: There is a camera bump (similar to the iPhone bump) and an “ugly” black bar

                Complaint: Does not have optical image stabilization (OIS)

2 Front Facing Speakers
Nexus Imprint – Fingerprint sensor. Used to easily unlock phone and can be used to authorize payments on android pay or the play store.
Larger Battery
USB Type-C port charging – “can charge the device twice as quickly as an iPhone 6 Plus” – The Verge

               Complaint: Need to buy new cord.

                Complaint: Future is leaning towards the wireless charging. Users disappointed that was not incorporated.

Colors – Frost White, Aluminum, and graphite
Cost – $499

Best Price StampNexus 5X

The Nexus 5X is considered the affordable alternative to the Nexus 6P over $100 cheaper. Even that being said it still has a lot of great features but the biggest worry it is not worth the update from their current phone. (ibtimes)

5.2 Inches
1080 Resolution
Gorilla Glass 3
Equipped with Android Marshmallow
Project Fi (Wireless Network) availability
Bigger battery
Nexus Imprint – Fingerprint sensor. Used to easily unlock phone and can be used to authorize payments on android pay or the play store.
USB Type-C port charging – “can charge the device twice as quickly as an iPhone 6 Plus” – The Verge

               Complaint: Need to buy new cord.

                Complaint: Future is leaning towards the wireless charging. Users disappointed that was not incorporated.

Snapdragon 808 processor – Many like this processor better than Nexus 6P’s Snapdragon 810
12-megapixel camera (4k video)
Cost – $379

Chromecast 2

Chromecast has gotten some updates but luckily the price did not change. A new look along with better Wifi are only a few update. Some features are still yet to come in the next year.

Wifi Updates – Supports 5GHz Wi-Fi and has 2 antennas for better streaming
New Look – A small disc with bendable HDMI arm
Colors – red, yellow, and black
Cost – $35 (no change)
Google ChromeChromecast App Update – Universal voice search tool – “fast Play” videos google thinks you want to watch – “what’s On” popular content (youtube and Netflix) – adding new apps, showtime, sling TV, NBA, and NHL and Spotify

                Only Complaint:  Does not support 4k TVs

Chromecast Audio

Google announced a brand new product called Chromecast Audio. A neat way to put life back into your old speakers. You can connect and send music. Many were happy to here Chromecast now supports Spotify. With it’s cute look it seems to be a hit.

Plugs Into Speaker – 3.5mm audio port
OS Support –  iOS/Android/Chrome
Supports RCA or optical outputs
Connect and Send Music –  Using google play, Pandora, NPR one, Rdio, and Spotify (controlled by phone lock screen and android smartwatch or android and chrome tab)
Cool Look -Looks like a mini vinyl record
Cost – $35

                Complaint: Users are concerned with compatibility with speakers.

Android TabletPixel C

Top feature of the tablet Pixel C is that fact it is light but solid. The keyboard connects well and feels stable. While there is not a release date Google promises it will be out by the holidays.

10.2 Inch Tablet
Detachable Keyboard
USB Type-C port charging – “can charge the device twice as quickly as an iPhone 6 Plus” – The Verge

                Complaint: Need to buy new cord.

Nvidia X1 Processor

                Complaint: Users likes Intel Processor and not sure why they switched. 

3GB of RAM
Android Marshmallow       

                 Complaint: Users want the Chrome OS. Using a mobile OS limits some of the things that can be done on the tablet.

Cost – $499
Keyboard cost – $149

                Complaint: Enter and delete key take time to getting used to placement.
Complaint: No touch pad. Sometimes the touchscreen is not optimal e.i. word documents.

androidAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow

Android’s new ‘M’ operating system is the 6.0 Marshmallow. It comes with some desirable improvements.

Notifications  – More consistent
Improves Battery Life
Fine-Grained Privacy Controls
Now on Tap – Google searches and voice interaction in individual apps
Doze – Power-saving mode – shuts down processes when hasn’t been moving or used

Not released to enough phones to have any known complaints

Devices to get Android Marshmallow:

End of 2015 – HTC One M9, One M8

Early 2016 – HTC M9+, HTC E9, HTCME, HTC E8, HTC M8 EYE, HTC Butterfly 3, HTC Desire 826, HTC Desire 820, HTC Desire 815

Samsung has yet to say except their new devices will not be launching with it. – techRepublic


Protect Your Smartphone From Malware

With the recent scares about Android’s ‘StageFright 2.0’ bug, that you get by opening a MP3 or MP4 file, it might get your wondering more about whether you have or had a bug on your phone. Different malware includes adware, bug, spyware, Trojan horse, virus, and many more (Learn more about Malware types ) There are some signs that your phone is being attacked and many ways to prevent your smartphone from getting malware. Already have a virus? There are ways to get your phone back in your control.

Has your phone been bugged? Here are some signs your phone is being tapped into:

  1. Difficulty Shutting Down – You may experience a delay in shutting down your phone. Often you will notice the back-light is still on even after it’s shut off.
  2. Odd Activity – This can consist of distortions on your screen or even application being installed by itself.
  3. Smart PhoneCall Interference – During phone calls there may be unexplained background noises, clicks, echoes, or static.
  4. Data Use Increase – Drastic increases in data without a good explanation. Not sure how to tell… “Look at how much data your device is using, and see if there’s a big discrepancy between how much data you’re using, and how much your applications are using. Any difference involving 10MB or more might be a sign of ‘parasitic activity’” – DarkReading
  5. Low Battery and High Temperatures – Both paired together could be caused by a constantly running application tapping into your phone.
  6. Coded Text Messages – This is a strong sign your phone has been tapped

The 2015 Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec showed that data breaches surged by 23 percent last year, and nearly a million new pieces of malware (“malicious software”) were created per day. Almost 1 in 5 Android apps available last year were actually malware in disguise, says the same report. The more popular smartphones and downloading apps become, the more popular malware and other viruses are becoming as well. Be smart and keep your smartphone safe from these bugs.

How do you prevent your phone from getting infected?

Strong Lockscreens – The stronger your passcode to get your phone unlocked the more secure your phone is.

Get A Security Program – Ultimately the best ones would include anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spam, anti-phishing defense, and a firewall.

Update Your OS – There is a reason they come out with updates and new operating systems. The longer you put off updating your phone, the more susceptible it is.

Use Trustworthy Companies – If you are downloading applications, ringtones, wallpapers, etc. always use trustworthy companies, take the time to read reviews too.

Avoid Suspicious Websites – If you feel suspicious there’s good reason.unsafe website

  • How do you tell a website is unsafe? (SpyRambly)
    • Poor layout
    • Bright and flashing buttons, banners, or images
    • Constant pressure to download
    • Manipulation used to click on unsafe links

Turn Off Bluetooth – When you are not using the Bluetooth, have it set to off

Take Out Battery – Although this make not as practical for frequent users but if you know you won’t be using your phone for a while, take out the battery.

Don’t Jailbreak – If you jailbreak your phone this leaves you much more susceptible to viruses.

Use the Two Step Verification – This is an extra security step.

Encrypt Sensitive Information – Another extra security step to help keep you safe.

BackupTIP: Backup Your Information – No matter how hard you try to prevent it there is still a chance you will get infected. It is always a good idea to have your information backed up in case you have to wipe your phone clean.

My phone is infected! What do I do now?

  1. Take out your SIM card at first sign of malware
  2. Restart your phone in ‘Safe Mode’
  3. Delete Depending on the severity of the infection:
    • Uninstall the application or remove file/software from where the malware came from
    • Reset to factory settings – you can do this on your own or take it to your provider (This is where backing your information up is important)
  4. Run an anti-virus scan
Mobile Friendly

How to Avoid Mobilegeddon on Your Website

Google is now ranking mobile-friendly websites higher than those that are not mobile ready.

How to Avoid Mobilegeddon


Is Your Site Ready for Google?

Listen in to Appletree MediaWorks on on 4/28 at 1:30pm for help.

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

If not, Google may now penalize your ranking for it.

The other day while browsing the web on my phone during lunch, I clicked on a link to an article that sounded interesting, only to find that the site was impossible to read. The text was tiny – I could zoom way in, but then I had to scroll to the side repeatedly to read anything. It was a frustrating experience, and I hit the ‘back’ button before getting far.

Mobile-friendlyDon’t let users have that same experience on your website.

How can you tell if your site is mobile-friendly?

1) If you search for your site in a mobile web-browser, do you see the words, “Mobile-Friendly” next to your search entry in Google search? If not, Google isn’t seeing your site as mobile-friendly.

2) If you view your page, is text very small? Do you have to pinch-and-drag to read the site?

3) Do things seem too wide to view properly?

4) Is your site very difficult to navigate without zooming way in? Are links small and too close together to touch accurately with your finger?

Mobile-Friendly TestIf you still aren’t sure, Google has a Mobile-Friendly Test to check your site out on.

What if your site isn’t mobile-friendly?

The Mobile-Friendly Test will give links and tips on why your site isn’t mobile-friendly, and what to do about it. The most complicated issues can generally be resolved by converting a website to a responsive WordPress theme.

Mobile-Friendliness is not the only the thing to determine Google rank, but small businesses and organizations are most likely to lose out since the change. And with many people using their phones to look up information and local websites, making sure your website is accessible to everyone can only help.

We here at Appletree MediaWorks use responsive, mobile-ready themes when building our most recent websites for clients. If you’d like some help, give us a call and we can work you through your options.

links puzzle showing website content

Good Links or Bad Links?

Are links good or bad?Are Links Good or Bad?

Are links to and from your website good or bad? To most people this probably seems to be a no-brainer. Of course links are good, that’s what the web is all about, right? Google’s robots crawl the links, it’s how the Web Was Won.

But, Google says that links can be too much of a good thing. For years people have bought and sold links, created link farms, and used other bad tactics to beef up their SEO via links. And then one of Google’s updates hit, and fears spread that links were bad and to be avoided.

What is the truth here?

The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. Practical, useful links to and from other sites are important. But people tend to be afraid of any change Google makes, and take the extreme opposite stance.

Good Practices

  • Directory and Citation Listings. Linking to your site from high quality directory listings makes sense because your website is supposed to be a hub for your online company or brand to begin with. It is common sense to send people from directories to your site so that they can have access to as much information as possible.Web Links are part of SEO
  • Blog Posts. If you are writing for topical, appropriate blogs then it makes sense to link back. Google may penalize for back links that make no sense, but if you are a social media expert doing a guest post on a website blog, one expects a link to additional information. Google is said to have made bad judgment calls here with their penalties, but taking extreme measures does no good either.
  • Social Media. Social media has been a nice way to spread information and even today this makes sense. Like directory listings that point to your web as the hub of your brand, social media is an active way to share info and let others pass it along.

Bad Practices

  • Link Farms. According to Google, a link farm is “a set of web pages Web Links can be usefulcreated with the sole aim of linking to a target page, in an attempt to improve that page’s search engine ranking.” Paying a company for the sheer purpose of spamming the world with links is a sure way to offend the Google Robots.
  • Black Hat SEO. From link manipulation, to automated Google queries, to keyword stuffing, Black Hat SEO is generally an attempt to manipulate search engines to rise in ranks, with no concern for human readers. These tendencies tend to be against search engine policies. This is why Google has made SEO more complicated. This is why we can’t have nice things.


Google continually changes how its search engine considers things, and trying to follow Google specifications can be maddening. Links, as with any SEO, are better approached when they make sense. Don’t fear using them in a realistic way and at points that make sense, but don’t try to abuse them either. As with many things, moderation is key.