Tag Archives: Dropbox

“Don’t Fire Until You See The Bits of Their Data!”

patriots_at_breeds_hill_1775

(Well, maybe General Putnam didn’t say that at Bunker Hill, but if he were around today, he’d probably would,…!)

Happy July 4th and smile for the camera – or at the folks who are busy watching you, courtesy of your tax dollars – or at the potential hackers who want to take you for all that you’re worth (kind of wish that the folks at the NSA would spend more time going after those guys, instead of watching us, but I digress,…).

Regardless of how you may or may not feel, privacy is a resource that is quickly becoming rare – like that of an old Armagnac or fine scotch – leaving those of the older, more refined generation to sit back and reminisce more and more about the good ol’ days when one didn’t have to worry about somebody looking over their shoulders – unlike say, the newer generation who’s not afraid to let it all hang out and put those pic’s of doing themselves in during yet another ‘unofficial’ office party on their Facebook page.

Regardless if you’re the old person who hollers at the kids sticking their nosy access points on your PCS bill or somebody who’s cutting edge and isn’t afraid to let it all hang out, privacy is a resource everyone has to seriously consider – particularly when you’re doing any kind of business transactions – and for good reason. It’s bad enough to worry if somebody has your credit card and goes out purchasing a pile of items using your funds, but what happens when a competitor ‘borrows’ one of your ideas from your Dropbox account – and all because you thought that it was safe from outside eyes?

And so, in keeping with the good old American value of TANSTAAFL – “There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” we of Shockwaveriderblog stand up and raise the flag proudly and stick it up the nose of those who are busy trying to get our homework answers when they should be doing it on their own anyhow! With this in mindlisted below are some useful, easy and effective tools for your home / personal use as well as for some businesses to consider employing.

But first we raise these important caveats:

1. Use at your own risk. Don’t blame us if you didn’t follow the instructions or things didn’t come out as expected. Read and follow carefully, using these tools as you would a gun: always assume it’s loaded – and they are: with your information and data.

2. Software alone is never an answer: it’s how you mange your staff, inclusive of training, employee awareness and effective IT policy.  One good example is banning the usage of USB thumb drives in an office setting to prevent the spread of viruses as well as preventing any installation of trojans or bots, along with keeping any documents managed with a controlled setting, to name a few policy points worth enforcing.

3. Always read the fine print and know exactly what your needs are before you go and get something. Often, people buy the biggest and the baddest for the simple reason they feel it is the biggest and the baddest they want – when, in fact if they did their homework, they would’ve saved both time and money if they did just a little more homework and gotten something that works just as well – if not better – for a lot less time, trouble and money.

It’s not about being paranoid: it’s just about being cautious and using common sense: besides, do you want to wind up in a lawsuit arguing about why your lack of security awareness lead to a major loss in revenue, loss of stockholder confidence – or your job?

It’s a competitive world out here – but that doesn’t mean you have to lose sleep over it.

Here are some tools worth serous consideration:

The Taskboard (www.taskboard.co). The Taskboard is an inexpensive app which puts all of your financials (college savings, mortgage, car payments, checking account, utilities, 401K’s, etc.) under one simple, easy to use app. With the Taskboard, the authorized user enters their information; once entered only the authorized user can view the accounts, pay their bills / deposit money and monitor their activities. Also, since the data entered stays with the user (i.e, it doesn’t go through a website or an online service) nobody but the user can see / access their accounts. The Taskboard is designed only as an account manager: it cannot hold any real-time information regarding user account activity. Just make sure you don’t lose your password as only you, the user, will have access to any information: your password is not kept with the folks at Taskboard Enterprises…!

Digital Quick (www.digitalquick.com) DigitalQuick makes it easy to protect your personal and business files in the cloud and desktop. With Digital Quick, you protect, control, and audit your files by knowing who and when your files were accessed, along with a wide range of other actions which make this a rather kick-ass piece of work that any home or small to mid-size business employing Dropbox should really consider. Best of all, Digital Quick’s encryption is strong, making it a tough little nut for ay hacker to crack – that is, unless they happen to have a Big Blue supercomputer or so laying around,…!

Titan File (www.titanfile.com) A relatively new company, Titan File is for larger entities, and offers some serious legs to anyone who wants to manage their information at an enterprise-wise level as arguably Titan File is a full-blown ECM solution.  As Titan File puts it:

Titan File lets you organize information around people and context instead of files and folders, making it easy for you to find what you need – whenever you need it. We also let you drag and drop files from various sources into communication channels to make sure that you always have your projects, colleagues and clients with you, everywhere you go.

Your information is stored encrypted in the same secure facility where the government stores health records. We do it in a way that separates logical and physical storage so that no one can get an unauthorized access to your files or files of your clients and colleagues. 

Know who, where, how and when had access to the shared information. You get the benefits of a true real-time and cross platform application. You will be immediately notified whenever a new activity (such as a client uploading a new file or a colleague leaving a message for you) happens. We support access from majority of modern mobile devices, allowing you to remain connected.

Need we say more?

DocStar (www.docstar.com) is a full blown / bona fide ECM solution that’s being used by major entities such as the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) along with a host of other entities, both big and small.  Speaking as a records manager, DocStar is a serious solution. With DocStar, your files are encrypted, secured, and you can program your DocStar software set to do a wide range of services and file management, even to the point of creating your own workflow solutions (i.e, how you want your documents / files to be seen and managed by whom for what purpose, etc.) – and BTW: DocStar also offers a cloud solution worth checking out. DocStar’s audit trail is strong and also has a unique feature in that DocStar links with the U.S. Postal Service to confirm any and all documents being stored on the DocStar system is indeed, a bona fide copy of that document; this comes in VERY handy when/if you or your company have a court appearance and need to show actual documentation: with DocStar the documents stored on the system are indeed the real thing.

Wickr (www.mywickr.com) As the folks at Wickr put it, “The Internet is forever. Your private communications don´t need to be.” So true that,…. WIckr is an app (Apple and soon Android) that works when you and those whom you’re communicating with also has Wickr. Wickr is essentially a ‘read once’ message that self-destructs on your pre-set timeframe (Mission Impossible, anyone?). Send a message to another Wickr user that you have in your Wickr directory, they read the message and after the pre-approved timeframe, the message self destructs: completely gone.  At the Wickr website:

Only the receiver is able to decrypt the message once it was sent. Wickr does not have the decryption keys. Send and receive text, photos, videos, voice and pdfs,… Wickr uses AES256 to protect data and ECDH521 for the key exchange. RSA4096 is also used as a backup and for legacy app versions. Wickr also uses SHA256 for hashing and Transport Layer Security (TLS). Encryption keys are used only once then destroyed by the sender’s phone. Each message is encrypted with its own unique key and no two users can have the same AES256 or ECDH521 keys ever. Our servers do not have the decryption keys, only the intended recipient(s) on the intended devices can decrypt the messages. Wickr has hundreds of thousands of downloads in over 113 countries. Celebrities, royalty, reporters, feds, lawyers, doctors, investors and teens are the early adopters.

BTW: it’s worth noting that Wickr’s encryption exceeds NSA Suite B Compliancy (Compliance for Top Secret communication).

Burner App (http://burnerapp.com) is a cool app (iPhone; Android version out soon) that’s useful in several ways, not the least of which you can use your existing regular phone and have a / or a series of private lines that act as though they’re also your own number (note: when using the app, you’re still using your regular phone plans’ airtime). This is very handy when you’re signing up for services and programs and don’t want to give away your regular number to potential marketeers.  With the Burner App, whenever you receive an incoming call from a ‘burn’ number that you’ve assigned for a specific purpose, you can answer it accordingly – and do so knowing that your actual phone number won’t be compromised. Bear in mind, though, as the folks at Burner App point out:

We do keep backups of our data and should the records be subpoenaed, we will cooperate with law enforcement. Remember these records are all tied to your primary phone number. Burner is great if you are trying to protect your phone number from other people. If you are trying to protect your phone number or conversations from the police or equivalent, it’s probably best to seek another solution. 

Evoice (www.evoice.com) is not a software package or app, but rather a service that you pay to have a / or a series of toll free numbers. A handy feature for small business seeking to have a good toll free phone service without the costs or hassle of managing answering service staff. What make Evoice stand out though, is it’s price tag, ease of use and the ability to forward your phone messages to an assigned email account that converts your voice messages into texts that you can read. Thus, wherever you are, you’ll be able to receive phone calls, read them in a text format knowing that you have a degree of separation from the caller(s).

Burner phone (https://www.burnerphone.us) Wish I had this back in the days when I was managing political / election campaigns in New Jersey; would’ve made those clandestine payoffs and midnight meetings at the local diners a lot easier (just kidding) (well, kind of anyhow)…! It’s a simple, thirty (30) day kit that gives you a disposable phone with a charger, 16 hours of talk time, nationwide coverage (more or less) along with the promise that any and all personal information involved with the phone that you use destroyed completely after thirty days. And what’s most interesting is that they accept Bitcoin as a means of payment (somehow, I keep hearing the old Judas Priest refrain, “Breaking the law! Breaking the law!“) but seriously, if you want to make sure that the private business you’re conducting really stays private (welcome to Las Vegas!) then maybe this is something that you need to consider.

To learn more how you can take advantage of these and other tools, let us know; there’s a lot out there and these are only the surface of the tools / services available to you and yours.

Contact us if you want to learn more; love to hear and learn as well as teach.

Happy July 4th!

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Fun with Homebrew Networking

home-network-Switching gears for a moment,… I’ve been writing extensively on such large-scale mundane matters as AI (Artificial Intelligence), Neural networks, 3D printers, Singularities (think Skynet), quantum computers, hyperdrive / deep space exploration and, well, you get the idea.

Now let’s bring it all home.

No, I do not speak of buying a copy of IBM’s Watson or getting a neural network of your own, but there is a growing trend that shouldn’t be overlooked: home networks.

If you have a computer, a printer and a cable / FIOS modem, you have a home network – which is pretty describes a lot of U.S. domestic households (in point of fact, home broadband access has doubled in the past ten years, reaching now nearly 77% of the total US population); the same can also be said of many other international households.

Now add modern consumer technology.

In the past ten years (concurrent with a growing population utilizing home broadband services) we’ve seen the introduction of such things as:

* iPhone’s, Androids and Window smartphones;

* online music / movie / Television streaming services;

* remote storage and shared file services;

* explosive growth of tablet peripherals (iPad, HP’s, Samsung, etc.).

And increasing, all are being offered at rather inexpensive pricing; ten years ago the mere mention of several of these items for home use would’ve elicited a polite chuckle. Not any more.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that it is to one’s advantage to both themselves – and their family – to seriously consider establishing a home based network.

To be honest, not everyone needs a cloud based service, but considering the growing diversity of technology and services, it’s not a bad idea to consider setting something up that’ll enable you and you family to take advantage of what’s out there.  And if you have a  home-based business or just do occasional work on the side, then you need to consider establishing a home based network.

Given the ever-decreasing cost of storage nowadays (you can buy an external 2 Terabit drive for $200 or under; two years ago the very idea of such storage at these low prices was considered absurd: not anymore! Now, one can literally set up a home network RAID -Redundant Array / hard drive systems – similar in scale to what the pro’s use for their operations).

Home networks can be as simple as simply connecting an external hard drive to your home cable / FIOS box router, or linking  to your Play Station / Apple TV – or even more, depending upon the size and scope you wish to undertake. And incidentally, if you have a small business, the size and scale of a home network can also be utilized to service a small business environment (albeit with different considerations, depending upon the nature, size and scope of the small business involved).

There are a number of help guides out there for review (personally, I think this is probably the best I’ve come across so far, but there are many more: http://www.howtogeek.com/67015/how-to-plan-organize-and-map-out-your-home-network/); regardless of how you go about it, here are several key considerations you need to think about:

1) Ecology – what environment are you going to exist within? Are you a Windows-based household? Are you big on Android / Play Station or you’re an Apple household? This is important as you will find one dirty industry secret is that not all equipment functions well on all systems. Some external hard drives don’t play as well with, say, Apple as they would with Window’s based environments.

2) Purpose – what is your specific purpose for undertaking this? Just because I’m writing about this doesn’t mean you should go out and get yourself a home based network: it’s just an idea for consideration  (albeit a rather good idea). Some things you can do rather well without the hassle – like backing up your files on Google docs (despite the fact that it was down the other day) or Dropbox (despite the fact that data stored can be accessed by some folk without your knowledge you can always encrypt your files) or Time Machine (which, BTW, can sometimes fail).

3) The Long Term – things change fast. Five years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist; now it’s everywhere – and with that, the introduction of ‘apps’ and the revolutionary change that’s brought to our world. Having a home based network – with some planning – can better enable you to deal with any new developments and take advantage of routines and services you never considered.

4) Ease. It’s gotten a whole lot easier to do these things on your own at home. What was something that required a CompSci degree / background some 15 years ago is now commonplace throughout a multitude of homes. Now, it’s relatively easy to take the next step and take control of your data on your terms and in your way.

There are other considerations worth checking out:

* DVD backups – at the risk of incurring the wrath of the RIAA and other associated members, one idea is to back up your various ‘items’ onto your home network (and mind, only for your own personal viewing!). In this manner, you could organize your ‘items’ into pre-specified folders and assign user rights / access. Want to keep the kids from watching your old Sam Peckinpah films? Here’s one way to do just that.

* True Multi-Media capability – your home network becomes your library, enabling you and your family / friends / colleagues to access files at will (within limits, if you so wish) at any time without imposing on anyone else. Your kids could have their own ‘homework folder’ – and you can have greater peace of mind knowing that their access to ‘questionable’ websites can be better controlled (insofar as you can do so) via the installation of various port access controls.

* VPN – With a home network, you now have the capability of a true Virtual Private Network. With your home network you could (depending on how you arrange your cable / FIOS system) enable access to your files remotely regardless of where you are in the world and view them while on the road so long as you have Internet access.

* Small business support – with a home network, your business can now be enhanced, allowing authorized / controlled access. To be sure, Dropbox / Google Docs are excellent, but with a home network, you can consider doing such things as iServer or a true business network functionality via a viable VPN that you alone can control at will.

* Entertainment options – in the coming decade (if not sooner) we can expect to see major changes within the cable / FIOs market as to how we view our various shows on our televisions / computers (note how the two are becoming more and more interchangeable). With a home network, you’ll be far better able to deal and take advantage of these changes as they develop.

* Additional Back-up – sure, you have Time Machine, Dropbox and even Google. But in the event that your outside internet goes down, wouldn’t you want to be able to still access movies, shows or music? Now with your home network – so long as the electricity keeps flowing – you can do this. And BTW: one important aspect to consider is including a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which can also serve as a surge protector and prevent your network from being ‘zapped’.

Homebrew networks reflect a greater, growing trend: the growing expansion and greater utilization of technology at home, creating a real platform for other practical uses and applications.

And you can have all of this for as low as $250 (assuming you already have broadband internet access and a computer).

Might as well get something back from that monthly subscription for cable / FIOS that you’ve been paying for.

(Photo courtesy of bmisitgs.wikispaces.com)