Remember Holiday and Travel Safety

Many of us start traveling and have guests in town during the holiday season. Schedules get scrambled, everyone is busy and stressed.  So, now, before it all starts,  is a good time to take a few minutes to prepare for a safe holiday season.

In the office, remember to notify clients ahead of time of closures and support hours.  The Computing Center is traditionally closed the day after Thanksgiving.  We'll be open and available every other working day through the end of the year and will be open on January 2, 2018!

And at home, consider these winter holiday safety tips. Turn off lights at night, water your Christmas tree to reduce flammability, keep an eye on what's cooking, and more. And finally, during this time when we see our friends and loved ones, consider creating and discussing a family emergency plan.

 

SSN For Authentication is all Wrong

There is much being written about digital identity these days.  This article, although a bit hard to follow, does a good job of explaining the difference between "identification" and "verification".  All important in our digital age.

Unless you were stranded on a deserted island or participating in a zen digital fast, chances are you’ve heard plenty about the massive Equifax breach and the head-rolling fallout. In the flurry of headlines and advice about credit freezes an important part of the conversation was lost: if we didn’t misuse our social security numbers, losing them wouldn’t be a big deal. Let me explain: Most people, and that mainly includes some pretty high-up identity experts that I’ve met in my travels, don’t understand the difference between identification and verification. In the real world, conflating those two points doesn’t often have dire consequences. In the digital world, it’s a huge mistake that can lead to severe impacts.

Isn’t it all just authentication you may ask? Well, yes, identification and verification are both parts of the authentication whole, but failure to understand the differences is where the mess comes in. However, one reason it’s so hard for many of us to separate identification and verification is that historically we haven’t had to. Think back to how humans authenticated to each other before the ability to travel long distances came into the picture. Our circle of acquaintances was pretty small and we knew each other by sight and sound. Just by looking at your neighbor, Bob, you could authenticate him. If you met a stranger, chances are someone else in the village knew the stranger and could vouch for her.

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Why Bother with Upgrades & Updates


"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" That saying applies in many places, but NOT to computer hardware and software. It’s clear that many of today’s cyber attacks prey on vulnerabilities present in old software and hardware. This is especially true for operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.

It may not be “broke”, but it’s still old and very likely out-of-date. “Working” does not mean “secure”. Old software and hardware simply do not have the latest defenses like security patches and advances in firmware to keep you safe from new and ever-evolving threats. And depending on how old, some products are no longer supported or able to be upgraded at all.

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Wanted - Smart Humans

If you canvas what is being covered by the media and statements made by technology vendors, you might come away with the notion that we’re all just years—or even months—away from being able to have our own personal artificial intelligence (AI) assistants, and businesses will be able to enjoy off-the-shelf AIs that they can train to perform various complex functions.

It is seductive to imagine downloading open source AI software like Google’s Tensorflow or Microsoft’s CNTK and training it to perform trend analysis on sales over the last 2 years to identify your best customers. Or, use it to pore over customer service interactions and online forums to understand customer satisfaction.

The reality is that AI is still heavily-reliant upon smart, willing and trained humans in order for AI to behave in a manner that we would expect. Humans are needed to scope the problems, identify relevant examples and verify the results. Without humans as a guide, current AI is no more capable than a computer without software.

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Supporting our Local Economy

 

Jennifer Tavares - President - Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

The Computing Center has been a member of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce since our founding in 1978. We work hard to support local businesses of all sizes and the vast majority of our clients are in Tompkins County. Please consider keeping business and personal purchases local.  It helps us all. 

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local—and that’s kind of the same.” – Unknown

It may seem a little early to mention shopping locally for the holidays—after all, I’m still picking up Halloween candy wrappers. Having accidentally started my holiday shopping during Ithaca’s Wizarding Weekend on Saturday, I feel like it’s early, too. I can share, however, that my purchase felt really good, because it was from a small, independent, locally owned business—which also happened to be a Chamber member.

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