How is your online security?

If you haven’t already heard, you should probably download encrypted messaging app Signal and email encryption Virtru.

Between high-profile security failures and the Russian hacks before the election, we should know by now to secure our personal data. But some people worry that government surveillance will expand under a Donald Trump presidency, especially because he tapped Mike Pompeo, who supports mass surveillance, for CIA chief.

A recent poll of 160 government and intelligence officials found that the majority are concerned about cyber security under a Trump administration and 73% think it won’t improve during his presidency.

Encrypted apps can shield communications from hackers and the government. And Signal, from Open Whisper Systems, is the easiest place to start.

“Signal” encrypts communications end-to-end, so only the people involved in the conversation can access them. It prevents any third parties from decrypting and reading your messages. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger’s “secret conversations,” and Google’s Allo app in incognito mode also use the Signal protocol for encrypting chats.

“There’s a lot of increased interest in Signal post-election,” Signal creator and security researcher Moxie Marlinspike told CNNMoney. “Millions of people were using Signal before, but we’ve never seen a single event that resulted in this amount of sustained increase and interest.”

The daily install rate is 400% higher than it was before the election, he said.

Part of what makes Signal so appealing is that the interface is similar to other messaging apps, so it doesn’t feel like you’re using some special kind of service. The app recently added GIFs, a cutesy feature necessary to mainstream encryption — because you’re unlikely to use secure apps unless they work like the stuff you’re used to.

But while encryption is important, the first line of defense is making sure you’re following basic security measures to protect your devices and your accounts.

“Encryption isn’t the first thing to jump on, it’s actually the last,” said Jessy Irwin, vice president of security and privacy at Mercury Public Affairs.

That might sound pretty basic, but if you’re using a weak password or already have a virus on your computer, encryption won’t protect you.

You’re probably tired of hearing about creating a “strong password” — and it’s a pain to remember a string of numbers and letters — but it’s actually the most important way to protect your personal data.

Change default passwords immediately and don’t use things like relatives’ names or birthdays — in fact, if a word has some significance to you, you probably shouldn’t use it at all. Password managers like 1Password or LastPass can keep your strong passwords secure and easily accessible. Implement two-step verification so you’ll be alerted via text when someone tries to access your account.

Take a close look at the privacy settings on all your apps, to see whether you’re inadvertently sharing information with the public.
Whenever there’s new software for your device, update immediately. Often companies release security updates to fix bugs that could give hackers access.

Store important documents on a separate hard drive or thumb drive to keep them out of the cloud where security breaches could leave your data vulnerable.

It’s not just Signal that’s seen a spike after the U.S. election. TunnelBear, a VPN provider, has seen 25% more U.S. users sign up for its service in the last month than the month before. VPNs, or virtual private networks, protect your data while browsing online. They are especially important if you’re using public Wi-Fi.

Further, VPNs can prevent companies or advertisers from collecting and sharing your data by minimizing how your activities are tracked.

“I try to help people understand a little bit about how much information is collected on them when they browse online,” Ryan Dochuk, cofounder and CEO of TunnelBear, said. “Literally every single website that you use will be collected and stored, and often that’s shared with third parties and sold to advertisers, insurance companies and financial institutions.”

Other VPN options include VyprVPN from Golden Frog and NordVPN.

For further protection, but a potentially slower browsing experience, download the anonymity software Tor. It obscures your web activity and communications from anyone trying to track you.

Irwin says to encourage friends and family — the people you talk to and care about the most — to implement privacy and encryption tools as well.

Over 1.3 million Android phones infected

Once again, hackers are showing why you should never, ever download apps outside official app stores.

Hackers have gained access to more than 1.3 million Google accounts – emails, photos, documents and more – by infecting Android phones through illegitimate apps.

Apparently the hackers have managed to steal digital “tokens” that give them access to Google services, like a person’s email and photo collection. But according to Google, hackers have not yet tapped that information and stolen it.

The massive hack appears to be a criminal enrichment scheme. The malware also installs malicious advertising software that tracks users, a potential boon for data-hungry marketers.

Infected Android smartphones begin to install other, legitimate Android apps — then rate them highly. This fraudulently inflates their reputation.

Google has already removed the legitimate apps from its official store that have benefited from this ratings conspiracy, according to a blog post by Adrian Ludwig, the company’s director of Android security.

Google says it has blocked 150,000 versions of this kind of nasty cyber attack. But the problem persists. Another 13,000 devices are getting infected and breached daily, according to researchers who have been tracking this type of cyber attack since last year.

Check Point has set up a website — Gooligan.CheckPoint.com — for people to check if their devices have been hacked. (It requires you to enter your Google email address, gives you a response, and offers the company’s “ZoneAlarm” product.)

Alternatively, Android users could check to see if they have downloaded illegitimate versions of any of the apps listed below.

Smartphone owners are advised to only download certified computer programs from official repositories. Google has its Google Play store. Apple has its App Store.

But some people insist on visiting unofficial app stores – typically on shady websites – because they offer free, counterfeit versions of popular apps.

Not surprisingly, a malware, spread in unofficial markets, can create real damage.

Google stressed numerous times that users should avoid downloading outside of Google Play.

Here’s the list of potentially infected apps:

 

  • Perfect Cleaner
  • Demo
  • WiFi Enhancer
  • Snake
  • gla.pev.zvh
  • Html5 Games
  • Demm
  • memory booster
  • แข่งรถสุดโหด
  • StopWatch
  • Clear
  • ballSmove_004
  • Flashlight Free
  • memory booste
  • Touch Beauty
  • Demoad
  • Small Blue Point
  • Battery Monitor
  • 清理大师
  • UC Mini
  • Shadow Crush
  • Sex Photo
  • 小白点
  • tub.ajy.ics
  • Hip Good
  • Memory Booster
  • phone booster
  • SettingService
  • Wifi Master
  • Fruit Slots
  • System Booster
  • Dircet Browser
  • FUNNY DROPS
  • Puzzle Bubble-Pet Paradise
  • GPS
  • Light Browser
  • Clean Master
  • YouTube Downloader
  • KXService
  • Best Wallpapers
  • Smart Touch
  • Light Advanced
  • SmartFolder
  • youtubeplayer
  • Beautiful Alarm
  • PronClub
  • Detecting instrument
  • Calculator
  • GPS Speed
  • Fast Cleaner
  • Blue Point
  • CakeSweety
  • Pedometer
  • Compass Lite
  • Fingerprint unlock
  • PornClub
  • com.browser.provider
  • Assistive Touch
  • Sex Cademy
  • OneKeyLock
  • Wifi Speed Pro
  • Minibooster
  • com.so.itouch
  • com.fabullacop.loudcallernameringtone
  • Kiss Browser
  • Weather
  • Chrono Marker
  • Slots Mania
  • Multifunction Flashlight
  • So Hot
  • Google
  • HotH5Games
  • Swamm Browser
  • Billiards
  • TcashDemo
  • Sexy hot wallpaper
  • Wifi Accelerate
  • Simple Calculator
  • Daily Racing
  • Talking Tom 3
  • com.example.ddeo
  • Test
  • Hot Photo
  • QPlay
  • Virtual
  • Music Cloud

 

If you find yourself with a compromised device, the best solution usually is to do a complete factory reset. Yes, it will erase all of your personal data, but there are better chances of also removing all compromised programs.

Touchless jackpotting, making ATM’s disgorge their contents remotely

atm-hacked

Imagine walking down the street, only to notice an ATM spewing money out of its slots and into a bag held by a shady looking character; but not in a video game.

A cybergang has been hacking the computer systems of European and Asian banks and forcing ATMs to spew out cash, warns security outfit Group IB.

In at least 14 countries including Russia, the UK, the Netherlands and Malaysia, hackers are using a program dubbed Cobalt to conduct remote logical attacks on ATMs. These attacks cause the ATM to empty itself, into the waiting hands of an accomplice who only needs to show up at the appropriate time.

As the attacks are conducted remotely the mule may have only the slightest connection to the hackers that compromised the banking system which makes them very hard to catch.

The Cobalt gang has hit unnamed banks in at least 14 countries, including Russia, the UK and Malaysia, says Group IB.

This technique called ‘touchless jackpotting’ sees them infect computer systems so that they can make ATMs spit out cash without having to manipulate the actual machines. Instead, money mules simply wait to collect the money.

ATM manufacturers NCR and Diebold Nixdorf say that they are aware of the threat. The latter’s Nicholas Billett tells Reuters: “They [the crooks] know they will be caught fairly quickly, so they stage it in such a way that they can get cash from as many ATMs as they can before they get shut down.”

This summer banks across Taiwan briefly suspended cash withdrawals from their Wincor Nixdorf ATMs after one, First Bank, revealed that crooks have stolen more than US$2 million from its machines, probably in a jackpotting operation.

Soon after police in Thailand issued a warrant for the arrest of a Russian man wanted in connection with a $350,000 jackpotting malware attack on cash machines belonging to state-run Government Savings Bank.

Dmitry Volkov, Group IB, says: “Logical attacks on ATMs are expected to become one of the key threats targeting banks: they enable cybercriminals to commit fraud remotely from anywhere globally and attack the whole ATM network without being ‘on the radar’ of security services.”

Holiday Season and Hackable Gifts

So the holiday season is finally here, along with a wide spread of hackable gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but I’m feeling anxious — security anxious, that is. Every year, we see a new round of electronic gadgets to gift during the holidays—and even indulge in ourselves. But more often than not, especially today, those tech-driven gifts requires an internet connection to work. And any internet connection has the potential to be vulnerable to cyber criminals without the proper security precautions.

I want to remind you that smart gadgets are at risk of cyber security shenanigans, and most importantly, how to protect them.

Most users know older technology like laptops, phones and desktops have vulnerabilities cyber criminals could exploit. But what they don’t know is that many devices that aren’t explicitly computers are also connected to the internet. That means they are just as vulnerable.

Web cameras, personal assistants, connected toys, fitness trackers and more need to be secured. If they’re not, holiday shoppers could find themselves unwitting participants in large-scale attacks, like previous widespread attacks on children’s toys and other family-loved technology. According to our survey, most people (81%) think it’s important that their online identity and internet-connected devices are secure this holiday season, but nearly half (47%) are unsure if they are taking the right security measures.

Here’s the breakdown of the most hackable holiday gifts this year:

Laptops and PCs

Big-ticket gifts like laptops and PCs are always popular items. They’re also always at the top of the list for cyber criminals to crack. Securing these devices isn’t difficult, though. Just make sure you activate security applications as part of the initial startup of your brand new device, and ensure you keep the software up to date.

Smartphones and Tablets

According to our survey, 52% of users plan to purchase either a smartphone or tablet this holiday shopping season. Much like their laptop and desktop brethren, these devices are vulnerable to malware and need to be protected, as well. Here, good passwords and good security practices are a must, avoiding suspicious third-party applications, and using a PIN to lock your device can help.

Media Players and Streaming Sticks

Media players and streaming sticks are a new, growing product category. They hook into just about any television and provide an easy and convenient way to watch shows, movies and more. But the security of these devices do need to be maintained. They need to be updated regularly and, if the option is available, protected by complex passwords. Fortunately, many device manufactures push automatic updates directly to these devices, but you can do a manual check depending on device and its manufacturer.

Smart Home Automation Devices and Applications

The Internet of Things (IoT), a family of devices that connect to the internet and in turn connect to each other, is a wonderful category to go to when finding a gift for a friend or family member this year. However, they are often times the most vulnerable of the holiday gift-giving bunch. Some devices have weak security standards. Others lack any security standards at all.

If you’re considering a gift under the “IoT” umbrella, then do your research. Make sure you’re aware of the security standards your device has. Read online reviews for the connected gadgets you are considering, and that you’re aware of any security shortcomings you may encounter. After all, cyber criminals have found many ways to trick smart locks, thermostats and more to use these devices in distributed denial of service attacks like a recent attack that took down many popular websites.

Drones

Finally, perhaps the hottest-ticket item of the year: drones. In fact, drone sales are expected to grow to more than $20 billion by 2020. They offer the ability to capture amazing videos, intriguing sights and are useful tools to get eyes where it’s hard to see. However, they still need to be secured. Again, using a complex password at least eight characters long with random numbers, letters and symbols is necessary for safe operation.

Regardless of what you purchase (or receive) there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to make sure everyone has a safe season:

  1. Change default passwords, and do an update right away. If you receive a connected gift, change the default password first and foremost. Default manufacturer passwords are rather easy for criminals to crack. Also, your device’s software will need to be updated at some point. In a lot of cases, devices will have updates waiting from them as soon as they’re taken out of the box. The first time you power up your device, you should check to see if there are any updates or patches from the manufacturer in order to ensure you’re protected from the latest threats.
  2. Secure your Wi-Fi. Any smart device will need a Wi-Fi connection to work. In order to protect what’s yours, make sure you take the time to set your Wi-Fi up with a complex password. And remember: avoid public Wi-Fi if you can—it’s often insecure, and vulnerable to penetration by bad actors.
  3. Use strong passwords, and strong PINs. Strong passwords are critical to any internet-connected device today. Make them count. Take the time to set up a robust password that’s at least eight characters long and includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. They also need to be unique to each device and each service. Password managers, like the one included in True Key by Intel Security, are useful tools that can help generate, and keep track of, complex passwords across all your digital accounts.

So always remember to not use the same passwords across different websites or devices. If one of such places becomes compromised and your password is the same across everything, then all of your websites and devices become also compromised.

Last but not least, keep an eye on all your cards regularly to spot any suspicious transactions. And have a good credit monitoring service to alert you if anything suspicious is found.

Cyborgs are coming

cyborgs

Is that time for cyborgs?

Lepht Anonym wants everyone to know the door to transcending normal human capabilities is no farther away than your own kitchen. It’s just going to hurt like a sonofabitch.

Anonym is a biohacker, a woman who has spent the last several years learning how to extend her own senses by putting tiny magnets and other electronic devices under her own skin, allowing her to feel electromagnetic fields, or — if her latest project works — even magnetic north.

Since doctors won’t help her, she does it in her own apartment, sterilizing her equipment (needles, scalpels, vegetable peelers) with vodka. Good anesthetic is largely impossible to buy, so she screams a little, and sometimes passes out. But it’s worth it, for what’s on the other side.

“Bodily health takes a big fuck-off second seat to curiosity,” she says. “Though it hasn’t really changed my life, it’s just made me more curious.”

This is DIY transhumanism, the fringe of a movement that itself lies well outside the mainstream of philosophy, ethics, technology and science.

BrainGate technology is no longer the stuff of science fiction. The science of interfacing human brains and other biological neurons with computers has been developing for well over a decade and now, the progress is amazing. While the human mind is an amazing organ, that surpasses any computer ever made. Many fantasize about improving on natural skills and abilities using technology in the form of some sort of brain implant. That dream is about to become a reality. In some ways, it already has according to the BrainGate website.

“BrainGate Company’s current and planned intellectual property (the technology) is based on technology that can sense, transmit, analyze and apply the language of neurons. BrainGate consists of a sensor that is implanted on the motor cortex of the brain and a device that analyzes brain signals.”

Cyborg and biohacking research history started in 1998 with Dr. Kevin Warwick and what he called Project Cyborg according to Digital Trends. Warwick began by implanting a simple radio-frequency identification chip or RFID in his own shoulder. He planned to use this chip to adjust lighting in his office and opening doors locked to others. The experiment was successful, and so Warwick went a bit further, experimenting on himself yet again. In 2002, Warwick had a surgeon implant a BrainGate technology device.

An early BrainGate technology device, a forerunner of the technology available today, attached directly to Dr. Kevin Warwick’s arm allowing him to control a robotic hand remotely. When this was successful, Warwick had a device implanted in his wife’s arm designed to make him feel a sensation whenever she touched something. This resulted in a sort of technologically enhanced empathy or telepathy with his wife so that when she touched an object, Warwick felt the sensation in his own hand.

As a self-proclaimed cyborg, Dr. Kevin Warwick was encouraged to do a series of speaking engagements where he developed a certain demographic of followers who called themselves transhumanist enthusiasts. These transhumanists were willing to engage in self-styled, do-it-yourself biohacking. They either made the incisions themselves or employ body modification artists because most doctors refused to assist these projects.

Lepht Anonym could be considered a pet project budget, and comparing to BrainGate technology she  was a pioneer in biohacking. She believes she may have even coined that phrase. She too had her followers, who read her blog online, with increasing fascination. Lepht buys off the rack so to speak, using everyday household items and readily available technology and equipment to do her own homemade implants.

“It started when I was about 18. I was seeing expensive adverts for life-extension companies, and I would see expensive procedures that you could get only if you had a spare hundred quid. It seemed that it was all very much directed to people who had money. I wanted to do some experiments to find a way of getting the same technology out into the hands of people who didn’t have that kind of money.”

Following Anonym’s lead Tim Cannon and Shawn Sarver founded Grindhouse Wetware, determined to make human enhancement an affordable reality. Their current goal has been named Circadia. It will be an implanted device that would monitor blood oxygen, blood glucose, blood pressure, temperature and heart rate. While most scientists do not approve of ordinary people, without funding and lacking certain areas of medical expertise, attempting high tech biohacking Dr. Kevin Warwick is cautiously optimistic and even encouraging.

“I think it’s important that the artists are doing what they’re doing, because there aren’t really a whole band of scientists investigating this at the moment.”

BrainGate technology, however, is still the cutting edge of cyborg-style technology. Though currently the new innovation is being designed to help people who are paralyzed or have other nerve related mobility issues, the Braingate website admits it could be used for other applications in the future.

“Our mission is to improve on the quality of life for all disabled humans. We additionally seek to increase the usage of BrainGate related technology in both medical and non-medical applications and facilitate innovation in invasive and non-invasive brain research.”

BrainGate technology’s most recent innovation involves inserting a BrainGate sensor into the brain according to Technology Review. The hardware portion involves a small array of needle-like silicon electrodes. The sensors attach to a wireless processor designed by a company called Blackrock Microsystems.which is attached to the outside of the skull. The processor then transmits wireless signals to motorized wheelchairs, light switches, TV remote controls and a host of other gadgets designed to aid patients who are immobile according to Technology review. The processor costs about $18,000 and transmits a signal roughly as fast as an internet connection.

Human Enhancements are Lepht Anonym’s greatest concern. Or rather her greatest concern is that economic inequality would lead to a whole other level of elitism, in which economic advantage would give even more important advantages to the elite. If only the wealthy could enhance their brain activity or physical performance using expensive implants, they would become unstoppable in their superiority over the masses.

While Braingate technology is wonderful in its capacity to aid people with brain and nerve injuries and illnesses, that same technology, applied only to any one segment of the population would be tremendously unfair. That is why Lepht Anonym is searching so frantically to level that playing field. She freely admits performing surgery on herself using kitchen implements such as a potato peeler. Her work gives all new meaning to the words affordable health care. Still, even Dr. Kevin Warwick and his most avid student Ian Harrison, admit she has a valid point. Ian Harrison told Digital Trends he is in complete agreement with Anonym.

“Yes. The haves and the have-nots. That to me is a huge fear, with all of these technologies. As soon as it starts to get commercialized, you start getting this divide between people that can afford these implants and the people that can’t.”

BrainGate technology could one day give some people an enhanced human experience, that might include remote control of devices, downloads of information into a human brain or even some advantages that would mimic telekinesis or other fantastic abilities, but should these kinds of advantages only be sold to the highest bidder?

Will this technology enhance human beings with cyborg-like abilities, and will the distribution of these abilities be fair?

 

 

Preparing for Black Friday

Black Friday can be overwhelming. For the last few years, what started as the biggest shopping day of the year has steadily grown into its own season. Deals steadily appear from early November onward now, and without a shopping strategy in place, you can miss the best ones.

Fortunately, I’ve got you covered. Whether you’re shopping Black Friday in-store, online, or both, I’ve rounded up some expert strategies to ensure your shopping experience is as smooth as possible. Read on to see when to start your planning, what you should have on hand, and even a few sneaky ways to snag extra savings.

BEFORE WE START, HERE IS A LIST OF THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T BUY ON BLACK FRIDAY

Black Friday deals often aren’t worth missing Thanksgiving dinner or tryptophan-induced slumber for. Even the National Retail Federation changed the methodology of its surveys after 2014, when 55.1% of holiday shoppers were in stores or online during the holiday weekend, down from 58.7% a year earlier.

However, it couldn’t hide the fact that spending over that holiday weekend slipped from $407 a person in 2013 to $319 in 2015. Of that 2015 figure, only $256.46 was spent on holiday gifts. It’s hard to fault Thanksgiving Day sales: The 34% of shoppers who left Thanksgiving Dinner early wasn’t that far removed from the 32% who did the same in 2013.

Online shoppers haven’t been overly enthusiastic about it, either. According to ComScore, the $1.6 billion spent online on Black Friday jumped 10% from the year before, but couldn’t match the more than $2.3 billion made on Cyber Monday and was little more than the $1.4 billion raked in on Green Monday a week later.

Meanwhile, the 9% growth of online Thanksgiving couldn’t mate the 32% growth of online sales on Thanksgiving the year before, with sales hovering around 1 billion both years. In fact, the $20 billion spent online from November 1 through November 26 last year was nearly ten times the $2.2 billion spent on Thanksgiving weekend.

A National Retail Federation survey from last October, meanwhile, found that 40% of shoppers started their holiday shopping before November, while a November 10 survey discovered that not only had 57% of consumers started their holiday shopping, but nearly 14% were more than halfway finished. Why? According to the NRF, most think it helps them spread out their spending (61.4%). Almost half (48%) choose to do so to avoid holiday crowds.

Are they worried about missing out on great deals? No. In fact, 41% are shopping early because prices and promotions are too good to pass up. However, not every item gets the royal treatment on Thanksgiving week.

NOT A GOOD TIME FOR FURNITURE

If you’re hoping Black Friday will score you a discount on that dining room set or sectional you’ve been looking for, forget it. The furniture sales cycle resets in July and August, when stores are getting their next season’s offerings and pushing out last year’s stuff at a discount. If you’ve waited until November, you’ve basically waited your way out of a deal.

The same goes for patio furniture and outdoor items. Home an garden stores start clearing space in September and October to make way for holiday and Black Friday offerings — especially appliances, which are dirt cheap right now — by November. You aren’t getting that grill, table or umbrella any more cheaply than you’d get it in April.

NO AIRFARE AND VACATION PACKAGES

Absolutely not Sure, you can likely still find great deals on hotel rooms, but just about every other travel expense started climbing in September and hasn’t stopped. You’re even reaching the point where those early travel “dark weeks” in January aren’t the great deals they were back in October.

Wait until January, when the holidays are over, spring break is still a long way off and both airlines and travel sites will want to fill seats and tours in the new year.

NO GIFT CARDS

Do not pay full price for a gift card. Black Friday has a few gift card deals, but there’s no impetus for retailers to sell you some at a discount during a time when they’re already slashing prices. You could get the exact same deal by purchasing those cards now, or you could indulge in the very practice gift cards were meant to encourage: procrastination.

Let the gift-buying world spin madly on without you: retailers chop the price of gift cards dramatically in December with the knowledge that there’s very little time left to shop with them. Also, if you aren’t going to take advantage of Apple’s penchant for dramatically dropping the price of iTunes gift cards later in the holiday season, someone else will.

NO GAMING AND HIGH-POWERED LAPTOPS

Oh, there will still be some deals, but retailers generally consider laptops of any stripe a back-to-school item. That means you missed your best opportunity to pick one up in September and will have to wait until July — when most schools are out and demand is low — to score a better deal.

NO USED VIDEO GAME CONSOLES

Why? With the Xbox One S out, and Sony’s PlayStation Pro debuting in November, older versions of the One and PS4 will be bundled with games and available on the cheap. Even the PS3 will still be available new and really cheap.

NO OLED TVS

Yeah, maybe once we get a discount on one technology that people are taking their time adopting, we can go plunging into the other.  Apparently there has been no discounts on an OLED set in nearly a month, and there likely isn’t one coming until next year at the earliest. We’ve just reached the stage where we have most of the country onto HDTVs and off of plasma: the replacement rate’s going to be fairly low among all but the most hardcore first adopters — and even they might sit this out until technology has caught up.

NO WINTER CLOTHES

No! Again, there’s a method to this sort of thing and you upset the balance when you go looking for sweaters, jackets and coats in November.
The best deals and deepest discounts always come in January, after the more foolish shoppers have overpaid for holiday gifts. Coats will go for 50% off on Black Friday, but they’ll fetch even less if you can stay patient and wait for the best deal.

NO HOLIDAY DECORATIONS

This seems like a no-brainer, right? Just wait until after the holidays. Well, we don’t blame you if you lunge for a subpar deal on Black Friday. Last year, Target offered $50 off holiday decoration purchases of $100 or more on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That’s tremendous and it allows you to use those decorations immediately rather than shoving them into a closet, garage, basement or attic for a year. It won’t be the best deal available if it’s offered again, but there’s something to be said for instant gratification.

NO CHOCOLATES AND FLOWERS

Gross. If you want to take up on a Black Friday offer and hand the love of your life a dead bouquet a month later, be our guest. Maybe there’s an inner Goth that might like such a thing and would be as thrilled with it as he/she is with their 100th Nightmare Before Christmas viewing of the season. However, there’s no reason to go hunting for deals on perishables this early.

> NOW HERE IT GOES THE POSSIBLE GOOD THINGS TO DO

GET FAMILIAR WITH BLACK FRIDAY ADS

The Black Friday ads of 2016 has already been leaked, so now’s a great time to start making your shopping list. Then, double-check your list as new ads are leaked. You don’t have to memorize every single page of the ads, but it’s definitely useful to know what the top offerings look like. Be sure to check out retailers you wouldn’t normally shop as well, just to make sure you’re finding all the best deals.

START SHOPPING ON THANKSGIVING

Black Friday has become its own season in recent years, spanning much more than a single day. (But be skeptical of anything popping up in early November.) In order to take advantage of some of the best deals, you’ll need to be prepared to shop early. You’ll find the bulk of the best offers during Black Friday week, but pay attention on Thanksgiving Day: For four years now, Turkey Day has boasted more top-tier, Editors’ Choice sales than Black Friday.

On Thanksgiving and Black Friday, some stores offer perks to the first shoppers through the door. While shopping early in the week is important, you should also be aware of early bird freebies on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Some stores offer perks to the first shoppers through the door. For instance, last year Kohl’s gave the first 100 customers on Thanksgiving two Fandango movie tickets for free. Cabela’s handed out binoculars, smokers, coolers, and gift cards to the first 600 shoppers in line. Other stores handed out gift cards, tote bags, or even free coffee and doughnuts.

KNOW WHEN TO SHOP IN-STORE VS. ONLINE

In-store shopping on Black Friday can test anyone’s patience. Sparse quantities of doorbusters and extended periods of waiting are the reasons many avoid shopping that day. Make no mistake, though — your in-store mileage may vary based on your location. Stores in highly congested areas will likely draw bigger crowds, and those in smaller towns have the potential to be far less busy. And sometimes the in-store deals are just too good to pass up.

If the thought of facing crowds fills you with despair, you might think online shopping is the easier way to go. And generally, it is. But be warned it comes with its own pitfalls. Rotating deals that sell out fast, a lack of inventory transparency, and crashing websites are all common problems. Be sure to compare the prices of shopping both in-store and online — online could offer better prices, or simply match store pricing, meaning you can avoid those chaotic crowds.

DRAFT YOUR IN-STORE GAME PLAN

Successful Black Friday plans don’t include diving into the crowds and hoping for the best. Create a list of the items you’re shopping for, and which stores will have them. However, don’t forget to check the little things. For example, know the hours of the stores on your list — many will likely open Thursday night, and some discounts will only run for a certain amount of time. If there’s a major discount running only until 6 am, that store should take priority over others. However, very popular items like video game consoles or TV deals will need to head up your list, as those are more likely to have a limited supply in-store.

BE PREPARED FOR LONG LINES

Shopping in-store on Black Friday means you’re sure to encounter at least one significant wait, so make sure you bring entertainment. Add an upbeat playlist to your phone, or download a new audiobook. That said, a good general rule is to carry only the essentials. That thermos of coffee might sound like a great idea when you’re thinking about waiting in the cold, but having to haul it around while you’re shopping will probably be more of a hassle than anything else.

DOWNLOAD APPS TO DOUBLE-CHECK DEALS

While you’re standing in those long lines, why not double-check that you’re actually getting the best price? Rotating deals are huge on Black Friday, especially on sites like Amazon, so you might find even better savings online. If you do find a better price, you might get the store you’re at to match or beat it. Or simply buy the item on your phone and then duck out of that long line of cranky customers. Either way, we suggest downloading the DealNews app in order to stay on top of the latest deals on the go.

AVOID IMPULSE PURCHASES

Impulse purchases can be a real problem when shopping in-store on Black Friday. You might be there for one great deal, only to see another item near the registers or by the door that seems like it’s too good to pass up. Often these “bargains” are actually unnecessary budget busters.

BEWARE FINAL SALE ITEMS

Many Black Friday sale items are marked “final sale — no exceptions.” But what if you bought it in the wrong color? You’re probably out of luck. Some items are returnable, but you could be hit with a restocking fee of 15% or more — especially on electronics. Be familiar with the store’s return policy before you buy.

Some final sale items are returnable, but you could be hit with a restocking fee of 15% or more — especially on electronics.

HAVE BACKUPS READY JUST IN CASE

Being flexible with your shopping list is incredibly important when it comes to avoiding Black Friday disappointment. The biggest doorbusters are often in limited supply; even if you wait in line hours ahead of time, you could still miss out. It’s better to have a backup (or two) that you can grab if your first choice is gone. When you’re making your list, find similar items and you’ll already have something in mind if you aren’t able to snag your first pick.

ORGANIZE THOSE RECEIPTS

A number of the deals you’re planning to chase on Black Friday could involve discounts in the form of mail-in rebates or store credits. Retailers tend to rely on these offers during Black Friday because they can advertise significantly discounted products, but still rake in the full price for those items.

However, redeeming those offers can be tricky for disorganized customers. Don’t let the chaos of Black Friday cost you! We suggest tucking your receipts and rebate forms into a special envelope or section of your wallet. When you’re home, create a spreadsheet with all the pertinent details for each rebate, including the product, store, dates the offers are valid, and anything else you might need in order to bag those savings.

LOOK FOR COUPONS

Before You Go Before you head to the stores, make sure you’ve found all the savings you can. Look for promo codes, whether at the manufacturer’s website, a store’s website, or right here on DealNews to round up those extra discounts. If you’re shopping in-store, don’t forget to check your local paper and online circulars for printable coupons to take along, too.

GET SOCIAL WITH YOUR FAVORITE STORES

Whether you prefer Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another platform, start following your favorite stores on social media now. Keep a close eye on these accounts, since coupons, sale previews, or even Black Friday ads can appear on social media. These can net you some serious savings on individual items or even your entire purchase, and they might be something you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

THINK ABOUT HOW YOU’LL PAY

In recent years, data breaches have become a serious worry for many shoppers. While chip-equipped credit cards are supposed to be more secure, not all retailers are able to handle EMV technology yet. Carrying cash has its own risks, especially if you’re purchasing big-ticket items.

Before you choose a card to pay with, look into the available fraud protection. It’s important to know how much you’ll be liable for if your card is stolen and used for unauthorized purchases. Be sure to see if your preferred card has an option for sending you alerts via text, email, or phone if an abnormal purchase is made. Signing up for a service like that before you start your holiday shopping could save you a headache later. Also consider which of your cards offers the best rewards, whether they’re cash back, points, or frequent flyer miles.

 

Which SEO strategy should I choose

The Organic SEO vs Paid SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is all about optimizing a website for search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing as well as visible to users. Best SEO company will help to ensure that a website or blog is in reach of search engines with their SEO professionals.

seo

Search Engine Optimization can improve the chances that the site will be found and ranked highly on the top by the SERP (search engines result in Page). Competition is very high today, so SEO is the best option for the firms who wants to get high traffic and increase their business boundaries on digital trends.

There are two types of search engine optimization techniques in the trends now. Both are used to get more and more traffic on your website or blog these are:
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1- Organic SEO

2- Paid SEO or SEM

 

1-Organic SEO – The organic search engine optimization (organic SEO) means the methods used to obtain a higher ranking on a search engine results page (SERP) in unpaid or Organic, algorithm-driven results on a given search engine with specific Keywords. Two techniques follow such as on page and off page. Getting high quality back links and quality content gets a priority in search engines algorithms to rank on top. Black hat SEO technique, such as keyword stuffing and link farming, can also boost organic SEO for a short period of time.

On Page SEO

Ranking a website mostly depends upon on-page of a webpage or blog. On page, means optimize a website with basic levels like HTML tag, Meta tags, header tag, content website URL’s, sitemaps and robots.txt file as well. Best optimization practices that you can apply to the pages of your website in order to improve their ranking in search engine results.

Off Page Technique

There are top 10 good off page activities in SEO are follows:

1) Community Creation in Social Networking Sites
2) Blogging
3) Social Bookmarking
4) Business Reviews
5) Classifieds ads submissions
6) Article Submission
7) Directory Submission
8) Image Sharing
9) Video sharing
10) Search Engine Submission

2-Paid SEO – Paid SEO also Known as SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Google Ad Words, ads on Yahoo and Bing Ads are most popular paid search platforms  used by search marketers. CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions), Paid search advertising, PPC (pay-per-click) and CPC (cost-per-click) are some SEM techniques to use by search marketers.

What is good for business? Organic SEO or Paid SEO?

Both are an effective way of garnering visitors for a website, but one of them can work very well for certain situations, while with the other, you may encounter difficulties generating traffic in the same situation.Both Techniques are good as per requirements but I must tell you 70% of the links search users click on is organic – not paid.

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To succeed with either one method or with both of them, marketers should know their strengths and limitations so they can be used correctly under optimal conditions.

Facebook Admits Errors and Makes Changes after Audit Finds Bugs in Metrics Reporting

Facebook has been posting big gains on the back of advertising this year, but it looks like not all is well in the world of ad metrics on the social network. Today the social network admitted that it has discovered some bugs and errors in its system that have led to misreporting numbers across four products, including Instant Articles, video and Page Insights.

In addition to working to correct the newly discovered errors, Facebook said it also plans several other changes to improve how it manages advertising metrics. Those changes include the possible addition of more third-party reviews of its reporting and the formation of a new Measurement Council of business and measurement executives.

The new errors affect how Facebook reported organic page reach over seven-day and 28-day periods, along with its metrics for completed video views, time spent by readers on Instant Articles and referrals for other apps and Web sites. Facebook noted today that the over-reporting and under-reporting errors do not affect how advertisers are billed.

 

This news is coming out at a key time for the company. Facebook has already been coming under pressure over accusations that it influenced the U.S. election by showing people too much “fake news” — posts created to look like factual content that were in fact made specifically to skew opinion and drive more clicks. And it had already admitted a miscalculation in September led to over-inflated video views. Shares of Facebook were down nearly three percent in pre-market trading. We’ll continue to monitor this to see whether there is a bigger effect.

The news that Facebook released today is comprised of two parts: the changes it’s putting in place, and the disclosure of the problems.

Facebook said that it uncovered bugs and other reporting errors in four products: Page Insights, its video product, Instant Articles and referrals in Analytics for Apps. For context, there are 220 metrics that Facebook counts across its platform.

One of its Pages dashboards, the summary number for 7-day or 28-day organic page reach, was miscalculated as a simple sum of daily reach instead of de-duplicating repeat visitors over those periods. It also notes that “the vast majority of reach data in the Page Insights dashboard was unaffected, including all the graphs, daily and historical reach, per-post reach, exported and API reach data, and all data on the Reach tab.” It says that the de-duplicated 7-day summary in the overview dashboard will be 33 percent lower on average and 28-day will be 55 percent lower and this bug has been live since May and will be fixed in the next few weeks. It does not affect paid reach, it added. The error area is marked here in red:

fb-bug-metrics

It also said that it had been under-counting metrics for completed, or 100 percent, video views — because sometimes the audio plays out longer than the video does. It notes that this could mean up to a 35 percent increase in video watches at 100 percent.

Meanwhile, Facebook said it had made a calculation error in Instant Articles, over-reporting by between 7 percent and 8 percent since August of 2015. “We were calculating the average across a histogram of time spent, instead of reflecting the total time spent reading an article divided by its total views. We have now fixed this issue,” Facebook said.

Lastly, Facebook said that it had been miscalculating Referrals in Analytics for Apps by about 6 percent for the most frequent users: it was counting clicks that went directly to apps and websites, but also clicks on posts via apps and websites, including clicks to view media. Other referral measurements were unaffected it said.

New measurement initiatives

While four problems in a pool of 220 may not seem like a lot, it’s a sign of how Facebook’s platform is getting increasingly complex. But given what a force Facebook is today in online advertising, there is also an important need for transparency and trust for those who are putting their content (and ad spend) onto the platform. And some of this is overdue, considering that Facebook has broken new ground around a whole new set of products and parameters in the digital ad market. To that end, Facebook also today announced some changes in how it’s approaching measurement.

For starters, Facebook said that it will be widening the pool of third-party companies that it works with to measure traffic and engagement on its platform beyond the small group that it works with today, which includes comScore, Moat, Nielsen and Integral Ad Science (IAS), in response to requests from partners for more independent measurement, specifically around time ads are viewed.

This will also include more work with existing partners, for example Nielsen, to monitor video and Facebook live content to incorporate that into their wider social media dashboard.

It said that it will also create a new Measurement Council — comprised of advertising clients and measurement companies — to look at how it will continue to evolve this going forward, part of a bigger plan to communicate more about its metrics publicly.

This will also include overhauling the language it uses to describe metrics, more clear calculations, more categorization and better definitions of what Facebook is measuring.

This summer, Facebook first announced it had discovered an error in how it calculated another metric on average duration of video viewing. That led to higher-than-actual measurement reports although, as with the new errors reported today, the mistake did not affect advertiser billing.

“While this is only one of the many metrics marketers look at, we take any mistake seriously,” Fischer noted in a post on the Facebook Business site in late September. “As soon as we discovered the discrepancy, we fixed it.”

fb-video-views

 

Hosting Different SSL’s and same IP with IIS 8 SNI

Is it possible to host different sites with their “own” SSL certificate on a single IP address?

That has been a question I have come across frequently. Before IIS 8, you could host multiple sites needing SSL on a single IP address if the sites utilized the same SSL certificate or used a wildcard SSL certificate. A wildcard certificate was only beneficial if you needed SSL on the subdomain level of a current site/domain. But what if you had sites with different names? Well, you could get a Subject Alternative Names (SAN) SSL certificate. This SSL certificate would allow you to protect multiple sites with a single SSL certificate. The last available option prior to IIS 8 required setting each additional SSL site on the same IP address but with a different SSL port number. This would allow you to utilize each site’s/domain’s SSL on the same IP address as another site. By default, SSL certificates utilize port 443 for secure communication. This port doesn’t need to be specified in the URL since this is the standard port. When you use a different port number for SSL you will be required to add the non-standard SSL port number in the URL in order for it to work. As you can imagine, this is not the way you want to run a public site. How would a user know to enter the port number and it’s not a common step that users are familiar with doing when browsing a site.

Adding an additional IP address to host another site needing SSL is the common method used but sometimes this isn’t an option for some people. With the inception of IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012, a new feature called Server Name Identification (SNI) was added. This feature offers an easier solution to hosting multiple sites that have a different or individual SSL on a single IP address. This feature is included in IIS 8 by default and doesn’t require the installation of any additional features to begin using it. Below, I will walk through the steps involved with configuring SNI. One thing to note with implementing SNI for your SSL solution, it will not work for those users running Internet Explorer on Windows XP. If your server has multiple IP addresses, you can implement SNI for some sites in addition to assigning individual sites to a single IP address for SSL. Both methods will work along side each other on different IP addresses without issue.

Steps:

1) One of the first things you will need to do is import the SSL certificates for each site on the server if this hasn’t been done already

2) Next, open IIS 8 Manager and add your first site that will need SSL
a. If the first site is already in place, proceed to step the next step

3)  After the site is added select the site and click Bindings… under the Actions menu pane on the right

SSL

4)  Click Add
a.  Select https for the Type
b.  You can leave the IP address to “All Unassigned” or choose the IP address you want to use
(If you have multiple IP’s on the server you will want to specify the one you want to use for SNI)
c.  Enter your site/domain name for Host name
d.  Check the box for “Require Server Name Indication
e.  Select the SSL certificate for the site from the drop down box
f.  Click OK

SSL

5)  Create the second site and add the SSL binding following the steps below
6)  Select Bindings and click Add
a.  Select https for the Type
b.  You can leave the IP address to “All Unassigned” or choose the IP address you want to use
(If you have multiple IP’s on the server you will want to specify the one you want to use for SNI)
c.  Enter your site/domain name for Host name
d.  Check the box for “Require Server Name Indication
e.  Select the SSL certificate for the site from the drop down box

SSL

7)  Click OK to complete the setup

That’s all that needs to be done.  Test SSL for the site to make sure each site is working properly.  If you have additional sites that need SSL added, you can continue following the steps above for adding the SSL binding for each new site.

 

How mind readers try to win voters

In a non-descript office in central London, young analytical minds are hard at work crunching thousands of pieces of data about every American adult.

They are a secret political weapon. A recent campaign paid more than $5 million in September alone to Cambridge Analytica, which claims it can convince voters to back him by tailoring the candidate political ads to their personalities.

Their approach combines micro-targeting, already in use in political campaigning, with psychological profiling. The company gathers up to 5,000 pieces of data about a potential voter to create a psychological profile, then adapts political ads to his or her personality and beliefs.

Using a survey usually placed on social media, the company invites users to take a personality test. The results of that test help the company group people under personality types measuring openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

Data-crunchers then combine individuals’ personalities with their voting history, where they shop, what they buy — even what they watch on television.

The personality test doesn’t indicate that this is the purpose of the test, so it’s likely those who fill it out are unaware of how it will be matched with other data freely available or purchasable from cable and credit card companies.

With that, according to Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, they know the best way to target the individual and what message to use.

“We can then marry this data with cookies to serve people (ads) though social media or digitally, or we can match these data to television viewing data so we can understand where the audiences are that we’re interested in, what programs they’re watching, and we can then serve them messages during those shows,” he explained.

The company does not release examples of ads it’s produced for any ongoing campaign. But it explains that for a recent candidate, one was created for a “Stoic Traditionalist” who values time in isolation, is unadventurous and tends to be unassuming in their disposition. It shows the candidate alone. The other, a “Relaxed Leader” who is sociable, generally optimistic and empathizes with the emotions of others, depicts the whole candidate family.

In the end, the data yielded “something like 160 different segments of potential voters that were separated on these personality characteristics, but also by issues, by broad attitudes about politics.

They developed 160 different tracks of digital advertising and direct mail. But those distinctions might have been unnecessarily fine.

It basically became unwieldy in the context of the campaign. The number of people that you need basically just to create all this content often offsets whatever the efficiency gain you would gain by targeting narrowly.

You probably would get a lot of the impact if you just sent the same message on gun rights to your neurotic gun rights supporters as you would to your extroverted gun rights supporters.