Make Your Vacation Scam Free

 by Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist

It’s almost summer! Right now, you probably have beaches on the brain or you’re thinking about that long-planned trip abroad. Before you head out, take steps to help keep your dream vacation from becoming a nightmare:

Do some research — and then carefully read the details on travel offers.

  • First, get recommendations from family and friends on good travel agencies, vacation rentals, hotels and travel packages — before responding to offers.
  • Look up travel companies, hotels, rentals and agents with the words “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
  • Look for extra costs. Resort fees (also known as destination, facility and amenity fees) can add $50 or more to your nightly cost.
  • Ask about taxes, which may be significant in many locations.
  • Get a copy of the cancellation and refund policies before you pay.
  • If you’re buying travel insurance, be sure the agency is licensed.
  • Bring copies of any confirmation details that show the rate and amenities you were promised. This also helps if the hotel or host says your reservation is “lost.”

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Maximizing Your IT Resources with IT Services

Why use The Computing Center or any other IT Services Company when many believe they can do it all themselves? Certainly some can or hire technology people for their staffs.This article discusses what we call a hybrid approach to IT Services - do some of the work internally while having an outsourced technology services company available for certain specialty work. 

Of all the professions in this world, you’d be hard-pressed to find one with a more pervasive DIY spirit than IT. From cobbling together your first network of 300+ machines to tapping into your first private cloud deployment, there’s a unique satisfaction brought about when you build it yourself.

That said, IT outsourcing services shouldn’t be a taboo topic, especially when your IT resources need to be smartly allocated. There are some things you simply won’t be able to tackle effectively and efficiently. Fortunately, others can, which can help you make the most of your resources.

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Weirdest Tech Stories of 2018

With technology being in every-day life, some oddities are going to occur. Here's a small list that you may not have read about in the main-stream media!

Nap-busting machines, “augmented eating” and more

As we begin a new year, it’s a great time to give our brains a fun treat and look back at some of the strangest tech stories we heard about in 2018.

No sleeping on the job

Hoping to catch a few subtle Z’s in your cube between meetings? If you’re in Japan, you’ll have to get another coffee instead, thanks to a new system that senses if you’re sleeping—and blasts you with cold air to wake you up. The as-yet-named system, a collaboration between Japanese air conditioning manufacturer Daikin and electronics giant NEC, will use facial recognition technology to detect if a worker’s eyelids are making movements that usually happen before dozing off. Why cold air? An initial study found it was the best way to keep people alert (increasing room brightness and spraying aromas were also tested). Daikin hopes to release the system commercially in 2020, so grab your sweater.

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Keeping up to speed with Hacker Lingo

Like nearly every passion, sport, profession, or hobby, hacking has its own lingo. Here's a quick review of some hacking lingo!

Test your knowledge here

You already know what phishing and spyware are, but how about spearfishing? Shodan? Zombies? Here’s a glossary of some hacker lingo that you and your IT team should be aware of.

Brute Force Attack

When a hacker tries to guess your system’s password by guessing all the passwords with an intensive automated search. One of the biggest reasons the US and China are investing in quantum computing research is because quantum machines can, in theory, defend against this kind of barrage.

Doxxing

Exposing a person’s sensitive personal information on the internet. It can be anything from addresses and phone numbers to credit card and social security numbers. An example of doxxing specific to the business world is Whaling.

Evil Maid Attack

When a hacker goes in and hacks your device in person. This person has access to your space—the kind of access that a maid tidying your office might have.

Grey Hat

Black hats are hackers who are up to no good; White hats are cybersecurity experts who spend their time helping organizations defend themselves. (To make things more confusing, some white hats are good at their jobs because they used to be black hats.) Meanwhile, grey hats employ black hat techniques, but they don’t do it for profit or nefarious reasons; they’re hacking because they’re on a mission (that can be good or bad). If you are a grey hat, sometimes you are also a...

Hacktivist

People who hack to make a political or social statement. Prominent groups like Anonymous and WikiLeaks think of themselves as hacktivists.

R.U.D.Y attack

Short for “R U Dead Yet,” this is a slow-rate (also known as a “low and slow”) attack designed to exhaust a web server by submitting long-form fields until it crashes.

Sniffing

Capturing unencrypted data as it transmits over a network. Sniffers can be used to diagnose network issues—or steal sensitive information.

Spearphishing

A phishing scheme that targets a certain group within an organization. (Also see Whaling.)

Shodan

Shodan refers to Shodan.io, a site that scans entry-level devices connected to the internet (such as many IoT devices) and looks for vulnerabilities. Ostensibly it’s used to help you secure devices, but hackers will look for vulnerabilities to exploit them. (In Japanese, “shodan” refers to an entry-level martial arts belt.)

Whaling

A phishing scheme that takes aim at the very top of the c-suite food chain. Hackers collect executives’ personal information (and threaten to doxx them) or compromising information (such as their salaries) to blackmail them into paying a ransom or some other demand.

Worm

A type of malware that replicates itself automatically, spreading across the network.

Zero-day exploit

Also known as a zero-day attack. This is when a hacker finds a weak point in a system and releases malware before developers can release a patch. “Day zero” is jargon for the day the target learns of the vulnerability; in a zero-day exploit, the target has “zero days” to do anything about it.

Be Good to your PC

 used with permission from HP Tech@Work

Here’s how to keep it in top shape

Let’s be real: You probably can’t swap your PC in for a new one as often as you’d like. A PC is an investment—and taking good care of it pays off in the long run. If your PC has a few years on it and you want to make it last—or you have a new machine and you want to treat it right—here are some simple ways to keep it running smoothly and extend its life.

Keep it clean

This may seem obvious, but seriously, do not let the Sriracha sauce from your lunch drip into your laptop—it’ll cause more problems than just a sticky keyboard. Make sure these other parts are spiffy as well for maximum longevity.

  • Wipe your monitor. First dust it with a cloth, then wipe it down with glass cleaner. Better yet, use monitor wipes for serious cleaning.
  • Inspect your tower. Check the air vents on the back and remove dust and buildup. If your tower opens, clean the inside with a can of compressed air.
  • Keep peripherals tidy. Use compressed air on your keyboard and wipe it down with a cloth. Check over your mouse as well—if it has a roller ball, remove the plate and swab it with isopropyl alcohol to get the gunk off it.

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