On the Road Again!

As I like to say: "Give me a cellphone, laptop or tablet, and a good internet connection and I can be connected from anywhere!" We Ithacans travel alot...probably more than average. Here are some suggestions on what to carry when you're away from home.

Pack these essential technology tools

As business travelers, many of us assume all we need is a lightweight laptop and a decent Wi-Fi connection. But how often do we find ourselves struggling with tangled cords, dead batteries or the inability to print important documents in a critical moment? Probably more often than we care to admit.

American workers take more than 405 million business trips annually, equating to about 1.1 million individuals in the U.S. traveling for work every day. Having the right accessories on hand can make the difference between a successful or disastrous outing.
Here are five technology tools every small business should consider for keeping their on-the-go employees well prepared and productive:


Watch out for Card Skimmers at Gas Stations

Credit card skimming at gas stations is happening all over the country including here. With lots of travellers on the road, here are some tips to avoid this common technology hazard.

With the summer travel season in high gear, the FTC is warning drivers about skimming scams at the pump.

Skimmers are illegal card readers attached to payment terminals.  These card readers grab data off a credit or debit card’s magnetic stripe without your knowledge. Criminals sell the stolen data or use it to buy things online. You won’t know your information has been stolen until you get your statement or an overdraft notice.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid a skimmer when you gas up:

  • Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering. Many stations now put security seals over the cabinet panel. If the pump panel is opened, the label will read "void."


    Photo credit: National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and Conexxus
  • Look at the card reader itself. Does it look different than other readers at the station? For example, the card reader on the left has a skimmer attached; the reader on the right doesn’t.|


    Photo credit: Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Kamloops, Canada
  • Try to wiggle the card reader before you put in your card. If it moves, report it to the attendant. Then use a different pump.
  • If you use a debit card at the pump, run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN. That way, the PIN is safe and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account.
  • If you’re really concerned about skimmers, pay inside rather than at the pump.
  • Monitor your credit card and bank accounts regularly to spot unauthorized charges.

If your credit card has been compromised, report it to your bank or card issuer. Federal law limits your liability if your credit, ATM, or debit card is lost or stolen, but your liability may depend on how quickly you report the loss or theft. For more information, read Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards.


Why use a VPN on Public Wi-Fi Networks

Ithaca is a traveling community. The vast majority of our student population travels to and from Ithaca. Our business community and many individuals travel regularly for business. Virtually everyone who travels with a laptop, pad, or other mobile device usually ends up on some type of public Wi-Fi network. Getting to your data without exposing your private information to others takes effort. VPN technology is a good solution. The VPN discussed here is from Norton, but there are many other good ones as well.

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s safe to use public Wi-Fi, you are not alone. In fact, according to the Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, 6 in 10 consumers believe using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom. And it is. Surfing the Web or transacting on an unsecured Wi-Fi network means you’re placing your private information and anonymity at risk. That’s why a virtual private network, better known as a VPN, is a must for anyone worried about online security and privacy.

What is a VPN?

A virtual private network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public Internet connection. VPNs mask your Internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections, guaranteed to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.


Smart Parking is Here

Parking! Definitely a challenge in large cities and even here in Ithaca. Smart parking systems are optimizing parking availability as this article from Microsoft discusses. Locally, we're a fan of the ParkMobile app which makes parking in downtown, Collegetown, and on the Cornell campus a breeze.  

With some cities dedicating more than a third of their real estate to parking, you’d think it would generally be pretty easy to find a parking spot.  But did you ever notice how that never seems to be the case? Especially when you’re in a rush. In fact, 30% of all traffic in city cores is estimated to consist of people looking for a parking spot.  Imagine how much less traffic there would be if we could remove almost of a third of the cars from downtown areas.

It’s no wonder that city governments consider parking infrastructure and policies whenever they look to improve their local transportation. Getting drivers off the road and into parking spaces without causing traffic delays has the potential for greater impact than adding an entire new road lane. The challenge is to find ways of optimizing parking infrastructure without negatively impacting citizens or traffic.


Managing Physical & Digital Security While Traveling

Whether you're traveling for business or leisure this summer, chances are that as a small business owner or other professional, you'll be working on your trip. But with unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots and the potential for physical theft, among other risks, there are several steps you need to take to ensure security issues don't interrupt your productivity.


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