0 Comments
business-woman-giving-presentation

Improve Presentation Skills

One of the questions that I’m frequently asked is how long does it take to develop presentation skills? Some people get very frustrated when they see professional speakers such as Richard Jadick speaking in public so naturally, while they’re not able to speak in front of a small group. Of course, training for presentation skills depends on a number of factors but I’ll offer a few guidelines in my years of experience.

These are the important variables when planning your presentation skills training:

  • How comfortable are you speaking in front of other people?
  • How much experience have you had speaking publicly?
  • What do you consider a high level of public speaking?

First of all, most people would say that they are “somewhat comfortable” speaking in front of other people. They gave some presentations in high school and at work they have to give a presentation once or twice per year. For these people to attain proficiency they will need to invest 100 hours into presentation skills training.

Of course you need to get valuable feedback when you are learning any new skill. Preferably you would have a mentor who already has the level of proficiency you would like to emulate.

It may seem daunting that you have to invest 100 hours in your public speaking skills. However, the benefits of being a masterful speaker are lifelong and will surely have the highest ROI of any skill you could train for.

Advanced Business Presentation Skills

One of the more advanced presentations skills that you should aim to acquire is learning to speak to the interests of the audience.

Most presenters speak about what’s important to them, not what is important to the audience.

People with advanced presentation skills approach each presentation in a different manner. They first ask themselves – “what does the audience actually care about?”

When you break it down, any audience usually cares first and foremost about themselves. They sit there with their problems on their mind.

For example in business presentations speakers will often highlight things like how long they have been in business or how many offices they have worldwide. Often times, the people in the audience simply don’t care about these things.

What they care about is – can you solve my specific problems?

When you are writing out your presentation ask yourself the dreaded “so what” question. I can guarantee you that members in the audience are asking themselves how you will add value to their business.

0 Comments
business-man-thinking

Real-Life Branding

Yesterday, I happened to pass an elderly couple who were unlucky enough to have their car break down halfway up a hill. They had only one choice: push the car uphill to get it out of rush-hour traffic.

 

But, just behind the unfortunate couple’s car were two vans parked on the side of the road. One was a Coca-Cola van and the other belonged to a local plumber. Both van drivers helped push the car out of the flow of traffic. It was a lucky break for the elderly couple and not a bad score for the brands these guys represent. Both of them were wearing company shirts.

 

What an example of good branding!

 

Every aspect of your brand’s identity, including your employees’ behavior — at work, on the way to or from work, or even outside of business hours — has the potential to build or damage your brand. The question is, how do you control and leverage these elements?

 

The balance is tricky and vulnerable to subjective perception. An action intended in good faith can so often backfire. A recent example was given to us by Australia’s largest bank, the National Australia Bank (NAB). Following devastating bushfires in Canberra, Australia’s capital, the NAB announced it would donate money to support the more than 500 families who’d lost their homes overnight. The NAB has earned the distinction, well known in Australia, of being the most profitable bank in the world. It made several billion U.S. dollars that year. The bank’s munificent contribution to the bushfire victims, whose damages added up to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, was just $50,000!

 

How do you think this gesture came across? Would you say it helped build the NAB brand? Or might it have done some damage? Perhaps the latter.

 

But another brand, Carl Zeiss, the world’s largest lens maker, made another type of offer to flood disaster victims in the eastern part of Germany. Carl Zeiss offered to replace any Zeiss equipment — yes, any — that had been damaged by the floods, even Mr. Smith’s 80-year-old binoculars, no questions asked.

 

How would you say this influenced consumer perception of the brand?

 

Building brands is about so much more than controlling colors, fonts, the design of your Web site, and the language of your press releases. It encompasses everything that affects the emotional tie between your brand and its customers. All experience to date shows time and again the most effective way to build brands is to combine traditional communication channels with alternative forms of communication. The latter is exemplified in the Carl Zeiss story.

 

Just imagine a company that includes, in its employee policy, a statement that declares an expectation that every employee does at least one good thing for her fellow citizens every week while on duty. Would it cost a fortune? Probably not. But it would likely generate some fascinating brand stories.

 

The more personal stories that are associated with your brand, the more alive your brand becomes. Brands are almost like people, have personalities: They reflect opinions, have their individual and often distinctive appearances, possess a unique tone of voice, and express a point of view on life. Personal ties with your brand are the foundation of loyal relationships between you and your customers. And isn’t that what effective branding is all about?  Building a better brand image and online marketing services will guide you to the right way.

 

So, if you feel like you need help to build a better image for your brand and create a digital marketing strategy check 

0 Comments
social-network-structure

Add Networking To Your Your Online Job Search

If you feel like your Internet job search has been a shot in the dark, you’re not alone. Job hunters everywhere are disappointed by the anticipated explosion of job prospects on the Internet. Make no mistake, there are millions of jobs online — the difficult part is securing one. Just ask Sheila Cochran-McKinney who has been surfing the ‘Net for nine months.

“I have applied for thousands of jobs online and most times never even receive acknowledgment that my resume arrived,” says the 15-year human-resources professional. “Has today’s society become so technologically savvy that we are missing the boat on human relations?”

She believes there is no excuse for recruiters, human resource management and other hiring authorities to neglect extending professional courtesies to job-vacancy respondents. After all, isn’t making human contact their intent when they “announce” job openings? Recognizing the Shortcomings Nonresponsiveness to job candidates is just the beginning. Whether one uses specialized Web sites or general ones, the results are often the same: no answer. Niche sites that focus on certain career fields, ethnic groups or other special audiences are often too new or too small to handle the volume of responses they receive. On the other hand, bigger sites boast hundreds of thousands of job openings, but since they are so widely accessible and so well known, the number of respondents to each vacancy is often huge. In either case, there seems to be a no win situation for minority Internet job hunters. Posting resumes online doesn’t often pan out, either. There are simply not enough employers scouring the resume boards to fill positions. They are frequently spending their recruiting efforts on people who were referred to them by a friend of a friend (hint, hint).

Another difficulty minorities face is lack of access to the Internet and consequently, a lack of knowledge about how to best use it for job search purposes. It’s no secret that fewer minorities are wired at home than are their non-minority counterparts. And despite growing computer availability in public places, waiting in line for one-hour slots at the local library, paying for use at the local bookstore, or using one’s work computer during lunch, just won’t do a thing in the interest of equalizing opportunity. In fact, these conditions hardly allow serious job hunters the chance to compete fairly with their Internet-savvy colleagues who perform job search activities outside of regular business hours, like late into the night, early in the morning, on weekends and on holidays.

Furthermore, the digital divide starts to look more like a ravine when you consider some of the other barriers that may eliminate minorities from applicant pools. Some of them are: lack of knowledge about how to use computers; the fact that many jobs are becoming high-tech, but minorities fall behind in obtaining the necessary computer skills to qualify for them; and the reality that far more high-tech jobs are advertised online than low-tech ones.

Leveling the Playing Field Unfortunately there is little that a minority job hunter can do today to change these circumstances, but they can change their perspectives and their strategies. Candidates should see and use the Internet for what it’s worth when looking for a job: a tool to target persons in their field with whom they can network. Although it might seem to be an exercise in futility, addressing hiring authorities personally is critical. Just think about it. When you arrive home from work, are you more likely to open letters addressed to ‘occupant’ or ‘resident’ than the ones with your name on them? Well, the same goes for HR staff who receive correspondence addressed “To Whom it May Concern,” or “Dear HR Manager.” 

In addition, are you likely to toss aside mail when you recognize the sender’s name in the return address? Neither are people who are in hiring positions. The challenge then becomes using the ‘Net to make connections with people, not to apply for jobs. If You Can’t Beat Them ? Regardless of the unjust feelings we experience when we are not on the receiving end of networking, it’s still far more likely to result in a job than any other technique. So, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” The point is: you have to find a way around, over, or under the barriers in order to make yourself known BEFORE you apply for jobs. There are several avenues you can take to achieve this. First, when you find a job vacancy online, DON’T click on the ‘apply here’ icon. Instead, exit from that site and log onto the employer’s Web site. Look for the ‘contact us’ icon to find out who heads the department with the opening. Then call them, but don’t ask for a job. Instead, ask them to help you understand the search process and to give you hints on what key skills should be emphasized in the resume (especially if they are electronically scanning resumes). They might also be willing to share the potential for future openings and names of other contacts who might be willing to help you. Only contact HR personnel as a last resort. Their sole existence is to be gatekeepers for hiring managers. 

Second, if the company Web site doesn’t work, check Web-based yellow and white pages or just pick up the phone and call information for the main numbers. Then ask the operator for the manager’s name in your department of interest. When all else fails, mailroom personnel have access to all names and titles, and they appreciate more than anyone mail that is addressed correctly. Third, Web sites of professional organizations are another good networking resource. Their members usually LOVE to talk (versus reading a stack of resumes from strangers) and are often flattered when asked for advice or information. Plus, they can refer you to many other professionals who would love to do the same. Call them; attend some event listed on the calendar of events; read their publications or join a Web-based discussion group. Finally, using online list serves, newsgroups and discussion forums can help you establish professional networking relationships. Although they are not intended to take the place of face-to-face networking, they can be a great way to get in touch with your colleagues, discuss your targeted job market, and most importantly, become known in your field. You don’t have to be logged on at a specific time since most discussions are posted on bulletin boards, and if you can’t find the topic you are looking for, you can start your own chat. So, minority professionals, stop taking shots in the dark with regards to finding a job online. Instead, brighten up your cyber-search by incorporating human networking into it. By doing so, you might just help enlighten HR professionals who have forgotten that their jobs are to make resourceful contact with human beings. Granted, it’s not your job to remind them, but there is obviously a vacancy to be filled!

If, on the other way, you happen to be a company searching for content online about staffing solutions to improve your own process, you should check Solvo Global.

0 Comments
group-of-people-showing-leadership

Leadership Mentoring

Could you or your business be more effective if there were leaders supporting your initiatives?

There are very few businesses or companies that have an abundance of leaders.  Most businesses are filled with managers that are interested in doing it right (follower) rather than doing the right thing (leader).  Far too often people are promoted for their excellence in their particular field.  Example: Outstanding sales people get promoted to sales management position and whilst they are brilliant at sales rarely do they have the skills that make them good people leaders.  Another example is technical people promoted to team leaders for their excellent technical skills. Managers can actually be a contributing factor to low performance. I have worked in and with businesses where this is a major factor of poor productivity or no where near a level that could be considered in the realm of excellence.  A major factor was that there were plenty of managers with few leaders. Staff mirrors managers (role models), and outstanding leaders produce excellent staff.

Leaders can create natural drive versus simple motivation.  Motivation requires consistent focus and attention which in turn impacts their ability to focus on what is most required from the manager.  It creates sporadic performance by staff and results in reduced productivity that impacts the bottom line. When you have leaders in an organisation less time is required to manage staff.  Leaders can empower staff members which creates new and uncharted possibilities for the business. A motivational speech also can be very helpful.

As a leader your job becomes easier to do.  So many managers I have worked with did not believe this was possible but once the shift was made realised their true potential to become a star performer. If you’re looking for hiring a motivational speaker but don’t know any, you can find great options online, such as Richard Jadick, and check their work before making your decision.

0 Comments

Imprinted Polyester Lanyards

When it comes to self-promotion, custom lanyards top all other items. These cheap, durable key, mp3, badge and cellphone holders are useful enough to stick around for a long while, and when emblazoned with a company logo or custom printed text, they serve as perfect, subtle advertisements for any company that hands them out. Imprinted polyester lanyards have a number of features that make them perfect for any nonprofit event or business gathering, and are often used by top international firms to cheaply spread their current image or establish new business presence as they disseminate product information.

The Advantages of Imprinted Polyester

Polyester is highly durable, and the thin woven straps used in lanyards are accordingly strong. Practically impossible to tear under the stress of normal forces, these strap lanyards serve as perfect holders for those accessories that are impossible to survive without. They come in varying widths, depending only on user preference, from 1/2″ to 1″ and are typically long enough to be worn comfortably about the neck and have the end hang somewhere around the lower chest. One of the great benefits of polyester lanyards is that they can come with a clip attachment that lets their wearer remove the device, badge or other object at the end without having to take the lanyard off or remove the keyring. This allows for easy, hassle-free use of flash drives and key cards, and some lanyard options even include a safety breakaway, making them safe for children and the elderly as well.

Polyester lanyards can be printed in any colors, and their hooks can come in many form to accommodate holding a variety of objects. The experts that create custom lanyards are able to take your digital company artwork and brief accompanying text and replicate it down to the last dot, ensuring that your lanyards bear a permanent, non-fading image through years of heavy use, intense UV-rays and laundering. As advertising goes, imprinted polyester lanyards that don’t get in people’s faces but always stay close at hand are perfect ways to get a message across. If you want to know more and acquire perfect quality lanyards, visit Southern Girls Gifts.

0 Comments
senior-woman-hands-holding-a-piggybank

Soaps and cleaners on a budget

Regardless of how tight your budget is, there’s no need to go without soap and detergents.  In fact, there are a number of alternatives to commercial soaps that are cheaper and healthier for you and your family.  Among other things, you may find that reducing your exposure to phthalates and fragrances found in commercial cleaning products may alleviate a number of immune-related problems.

Making Plant Based Soaps

As you may or may not be aware, most commercial soaps are made from animal fats.  While you can make these products on your own, you may not be able to tolerate the smell of fat rendering if you live in an apartment or poorly ventilated area.  That said, there are many plant-based soap recipes for you to try at a fraction of the cost. In many cases, you’ll find that these soaps clean just as well as animal-based ones.  You’ll also be able to add a variety of herb-based skin conditioners and fragrances to improve your homemade soaps.

Budget Home Fresheners

Of course, you can always go to a dollar store and buy home air fresheners on the cheap.  But have you ever read the warning labels on many of these products – the ones that read, “Do not inhale directly”?  There’s no way to know what, if any, long term health problems could result from breathing in these foreign chemicals, so you may want to consider some other ways to deodorize your home.  For example, you may want to try burning natural beeswax candles to improve the smell of your home, or try making your own blends of essential oils and potpourris.

In the kitchen, a simple open box of baking soda will keep your refrigerator and freezer smelling fresh and clean.  You may also want to freshen up carpets by sprinkling baking soda on them, and then vacuuming the next day.  This method will work well for pet odors, as well as many other unpleasant odors. Unfortunately, if it’s humid in your area, you may find the baking soda sticks to the carpet.  If you aren’t sure whether or not this will work for you, it may be best to test the product in a small area first.

Vinegar and Your Laundry

Even though white vinegar is fairly cheap, it’s one of the best things you can add to your laundry to prevent static cling, increase fabric brightness and reduce all kinds of stains.  In many cases, pre soaking with vinegar and water will restore clothes with all kinds of stains on them, including wine, grass and grease stains. As more information becomes available about the link between the fragrances used in soaps and an increase in cancer rates, it may be to your advantage to avoid commercial products at all costs.  Fortunately, you’ll find that vinegar is a safe, inexpensive alternative.

Aside from being expensive, there’s a growing body of evidence that commercial soaps can have negative health consequences.  Therefore, being budget conscious when it comes to these items may also equate to being health conscious. For example, simply substituting vinegar for your fabric softener and stain booster may save you from being exposed to a number of harmful chemicals.  In a similar way, using baking soda to eliminate odors can help give you a clean smelling home without the financial and health costs associated with commercial deodorants.

If you want a professional help to maintain your home perfectly clean, check Euro Eco and enjoy a high-standard house cleaning service.

0 Comments
music-background

What makes for the perfect background music?

When you think of soundtracks that have really helped make the film the experience it was for you as the viewer, you may think of films such as ‘Star Wars’, ‘Shaft’ ‘American Beauty’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ to name just a few 

These film soundtracks worked so well, as they were all such a powerful tools within the film in creating its overall texture. The relationship to what was happening on screen and the sound was so pure and fed off one another to such a degree they became one and the same in the viewers eyes. In order for a soundtrack to be used to its full potential within the composer there has to be a huge understanding of firstly what the film is really about and secondly what the film is desiring to achieve. 

An example of this is Thomas Newman’s original score for ‘American Beauty’ which uses a range of tones to reflect the complexity of each character shown on screen. This soundtrack also uses long silences between notes and melodies with an echo effect on each note to reflect  the distance between the characters emotionally. This combination heightened the haunting mood of the film within the viewer and this is why this soundtrack is so memorable.

In an example such as ‘Shaft’ the music encapsulates so much about the film which is why it is so powerful. The theme song by Isaac Hayes is truly a perfect exploration of the film’s plot, themes, characters and setting through sound.  The 1970′s synth on the baseline filled with attitude (that starts the theme song and film) is a prominent sign to the viewer of 1970′s Funk music made within the afro american community of New York (where the film is set) with the strings that follow this having an uplifting fairytale quality to them. Already from these two instruments the soundtrack has communicated to the viewer ideas of morality and a hero with attitude within 1970′s black community living in New York. In essence this tells the viewer what the film is all about before the credits have stopped rolling… but yet at the same time this only intrigues the viewer more, as they are so engaged by these signs at this point.

When creating a perfect soundtrack to your film or video firstly you have to be sure of what your film is trying to achieve. For example, if the film is for advertising purposes the first step in creating a perfect soundtrack is to really understand your brand image. The second step is understanding the position of the brand in the marketplace. The third step is understanding what the main purpose of the video is. If a video has too many purposes the overall effect of each of these falls flat. If you look at all the powerful films or advertising campaigns you have seen they all have had a clear objective despite having complex characters, narrative, diverse visual effects ect.

Once you have a great understanding of all of these creating a perfect soundtrack to your film will come organically as you will be aware of the mood you are trying to create, the pace of the music, whether you want the composition to have a classical feel or an electronic edge through the choice of instruments, The climax points, where to build up melodies and where you slow them down, whether to use a singer to make it more engaging…the list goes on and on.

 

0 Comments

Personalized Valentine’s Day Gifts for Women

When searching for a unique birthday present or Valentine’s Day gift for a wife, girlfriend or friend, finding the perfect gift idea can be the hardest part. One great option is to buy her a personalized gift. These presents show originality and true thoughtfulness.

 

Fortunately, many online stores offer a variety of personalized gifts. In addition, some of these stores will do engraving or other personalizing for free with the purchase of the gift. Also look for stores that will offer free shipping deals as Valentine’s Day draws near. A few of the many personalized gift ideas include jewelry, jewelry and keepsake boxes, picture frames and blankets.

 

Personalized Jewelry for Valentine’s Day Gifts for Women

Giving engraved jewelry is a wonderful way to show her that she is loved.. For a girlfriend or friend, this jewelry can be engraved with her initials or a special message. For a wife and mom, these sites offer jewelry that can be personalized with each family member’s name.

 

Jewelry and Keepsake Boxes for Birthday Presents for Women

For a woman that already has a lot of jewelry, giving her a personalized jewelry box can be an ideal gift. Personalize these gifts with her name, initials or a special message. May of these stores also offer the option of choosing from one of many pre-written poems and quotes.

 

Picture Frames for Valentine’s Day Gifts for Women

Many women love to display framed pictures of their husband, children, boyfriend or other relatives. Many of these women would enjoy receiving a personalized picture frame. Online stores offer frames that can be engraved with her name or a message just for her. When a special picture is included in the frame, this makes a memorable gift.

 

Embroidered Blankets for Birthday Presents for Women

Cozy blankets make an ideal gift to keep her warm and toasty during the cold winter months. To add some thoughtfulness to this gift, have her name or initials embroidered on a afghan. Some stores offer embroidery of multiple family members’s names or an anniversary date.

 

Having a difficult time deciding on a original present for a special woman? Check Always On My Heart for an easy and special romantic gift.

0 Comments

Offline Versus Online Brands – The Winners and Losers

It took more than 50 years for Coca-Cola to become a worldwide market leader, but only five years for online search engine Yahoo! to gain market dominance. The role of the brand has changed dramatically and has created a vacuum between offline and online brands.

Why? Offline brands lack interactivity. They are passive. Offline brands can only communicate one way via television, print and radio. Online brands “listen” to the consumer, learn from them, and react based on the consumer’s needs. This new skill — this interactivity — is an online brand’s strongest asset. It enables the brand owner to form a one-to-one relationship with the consumer.

Brand Suicide

Five years ago, Kodak was considered to be one of the world’s strongest brands. However, as the market moved from chemical film to digital photography, Kodak lost its dominant position to the growing army of personal computers appearing in businesses, at home, and in home-based offices. The appearance of the PC has enabled Kodak’s competitors to leapfrog Kodak’s leadership position and take the dominant position in the market with digital photography.

The introduction of digital cameras has also spawned a number of new brands. The monopoly Kodak enjoyed with 100,000 film development outlets around the world is no longer impressive when compared to the 100 million outlets that digital cameras now represent (i.e., the computers on every desk and in every home).

Kodak is attempting to regain its leadership position in the new digital market with the introduction of Kodak PhotoNet — a concept which offers customers a digital copy of their photo prints delivered to their personalized online Kodak photo album.

The question is, is it a case of too little, too late?

It took Kodak four years to see the writing on the Internet wall — a delay that opened the door to hundreds of competitors. This situation could easily happen with any dominant offline brand where the value of the brand is not extended online.

LEGO — one of the strongest toy brands in the world — is another victim of the interactive world. The brand faced the specter of digital competition back in 1984 when pocket computer games appeared just before Christmas and managed to cut LEGO’s worldwide sales by 30 percent.

Even though the warning was clear, LEGO didn’t change its strategy. For more than 20 years the colorful plastic bricks have remained unchanged in the face of competition from Playmobil, Tyco and Matchbox. It took LEGO more than 13 years to realize that the real competition was from online games, puzzles and challenges. Kids no longer considered it to be “cool” playing with LEGO — the role was replaced by computer games.

In 1997, LEGO released its first attempt to re-capture market share — the LEGO CD-ROM. In the meantime, Sony Play Station, Nintendo and Sega have already taken the lion’s share of the online/interactive games market.

If You Can’t Beat Them — Join Them!

A characteristic of all of these offline brands is the inability to change in the face of shifting customer needs. Too much trust was placed in the historical brand value. However, with changing consumer tastes, greater choice, and a reduction in consumer loyalty, a historical brand proposition is no longer valid in today’s fast-moving consumer economy.

Creating a brand is now easier (thanks to the Internet) than it ever has been. However, committing brand suicide is even easier – it’s happening much faster than marketers thought possible.

The brand survival kit has proven to be a fast, but clever migration to the online world with a foot in both worlds to ensure capturing the mind of the consumer regardless. 

If you want to know more about online branding and marketing, check SMA.

The Offline Brand’s Survival Kit

A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. A survey conducted by Time and CNN among 13- to 17-year-old kids shows that only 13 percent of all kids trust the Internet — compared with 39 percent trusting TV or the newspaper. On the Internet everybody can be a dog.

The enormous choice and an increase in discerning online buyers will require trust in an online brand before users are willing to release personal details to the organization representing the brand.

It is not surprising that online consumers tend to visit their preferred main brands on the Internet within a relatively short period of time, predominantly for curiosity, but also because they already have a positive relationship with the product in the offline world.

For many users, brands will act as a trusted “consumer guide” to the Internet — a development that will make greater demands of the online brand. And this might be the offline brand’s survival kit.

One of the emerging problems of today’s Internet world (and a major opportunity for offline brands) is the lack of trust consumers have in web sites and online brands.

Leveraging Real-World Brand Equity

Only a few international brands have managed to transfer offline brand values to the online world without cannibalizing the existing brand.

Disney is one of the few “real world” brands which has managed to control its brand image worldwide when it extended its business online. The difference between Disney and the “online-only” brands is that Disney not only represents a depth, but it also portrays “trust” — a key value which no other online brand has been able to represent in the same way.

You can’t buy goodwill and trust — you earn it over time. Considering no online brand can represent more than a five-year history there have been only a few online brands that have earned consumer trust such as Yahoo, Amazon, AOL and Excite.

It could be said that “real world” trusted brands such as Disney have a free ticket to consumer trust on the web while the online brand market is still immature. However, established brands like Disney realize the need to extend the same brand management and respect for the customer from the real world to maintain the “Disney-esque” trust in the online world. Disney takes all that’s good about the company (family values, safe community and trust) and transfers it online.

Who will be the winners and the losers in the online versus offline brand war? Ultimately, the consumer will decide.

 

0 Comments

Ten Things to Do to Reduce Information Security Threats

Hackers are always hovering, looking for a way to gain access to restricted data. Follow sensible steps to safeguard your information.

Just as it was in the past when ordinary people had to deal with highwaymen and bandits on the roads, internet users have to deal with the new breed of bandits on the information highway who are out to divert personal data and funds for their own use. While companies have their own challenges in dealing with these hackers, individuals can follow sensible practices to do their part to reduce information security threats.

Ten Ways to Minimize Information Security Threats

  1. If your password is actually a word, you have a problem. Strong passwords make it much harder for scammers to decipher or guess the contents. A long random character string, using different kinds of characters, such as letters, numbers, symbols, and punctuation, will give the best protection. Go to Microsoft’s “Create strong passwords” for suggestions.
  2. Keep your operating software updated with the latest patches. Programmers are constantly reviewing operating software for vulnerabilities to security threats. Patches to address those vulnerabilities are released regularly. You can set Windows software to download updates automatically.
  3. Own and use security software that protects computers from viruses, malware, spyware, and phishing programs. There are many options on the market, but whichever one you choose, keep it running all the time and keep it updated with new virus definitions and protection as soon as they are available. More recent programs will do automatic updates at regular intervals.
  4. Download with care. Downloading programs or documents from the internet without being sure where they originate is an invitation for malicious software to enter your system. If there is a program you’re interested in, do some checking on the company that offers it. Read reviews about the product from impartial sources, not the company’s website. Set security software to scan files or documents before they open on your computer.
  5. Be as cautious online as you would be opening your front door. The internet seems to inspire a level of trust that wouldn’t exist in a person. If you wouldn’t give information to the person standing at your front door without verifying identity and authorization, don’t do it on the internet. Never give information when it’s being solicited by someone else unless you’re absolutely sure of the company and the reason for the request.
  6. Don’t send personal or financial information by e-mail. E-mail is not secure. If you need to give personal information to a legitimate company, do it on the company’s website with a secure connection.
  7. Con artists rely on greed. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. The Internal Revenue Service isn’t going to send you an e-mail telling you there’s a refund due to you and General Whatsit doesn’t really have millions in a bank account that he’s just waiting for you to help him get out of the country. Don’t even open this type of e-mail and delete it immediately. You can report suspicious e-mails by sending a message to reportphishing@antiphishing.org.
  8. Verify the security setting of websites where you do business. Look for the padlock symbol on the browser bar or “https” in the URL for companies that are requesting information like name and address or credit card number for online shopping. Reputable companies also publish privacy policies to tell you how they will use and store your personal information.
  9. Monitor your online accounts frequently. You can contain the damage more easily the sooner you know about a problem. When it comes to bank accounts, the U.S. government significantly limits your liability under Regulation E if you notify the financial institution of any discrepancies within two business days.
  10. Never list anything on a social network you wouldn’t publish in a newspaper. Once you put information online on any social networking site, you have no idea where it goes and who sees it, and you can’t get it back.

Use Common Sense to Reduce Information Security Threats

Everyone wants to enjoy the benefits and convenience of using the internet. Taking basic precautions and using common sense in your interactions with people and companies online will keep you safer and minimize the chance that your information will be compromised. Detailed guidance is available from the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s OnGuardOnline.gov website.