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How To: Restore Your Computer’s Operating Speed

man asleep

One of the most frustrating things in our digital lives is a slow computer.  We might not be fully conscious when logging on each morning but there’s no reason why our electronic devices should be sluggish.

We buy an expensive new pc and revel in its start up, load and run applications speed  Inevitably however, our revered electronic device starts to slow down, crawling at each use and eventually, churning at a glacial speed when  performing routine tasks.  Once we’ve removed our enabling/denial behavior from the human-machine co-dependent relationship, we realize, “Hey. I have important stuff on here! What do I do now??”   Good response but before you can attack the problem, it needs to be identified.

So why the loss of the electronic device processing speed mojo?  The answer is actually quite simple and one need not approach nerd status to understand the causes and solutions.

The good news is that it’s generally not the device’s hardware that is the problem.  In most cases, the hardware is perfectly capable of being restored to its original glory and kept in optimum running condition with minimal effort.

Rather, the problem lies with changes that occur to the computer’s run programs. The 2 most common causes of slowdown (along with easy solutions) are:

Registry errors  –  the most common problem

Each and every instance in which a program, a game or file is uploaded, your device’s registery is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item.  However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on your PC.  Every time you run your computer it tries to execute these instructions but, because the related program can’t be found, it causes a registry error.  Your PC is doing a lot more work than it should and the result is a significantly slower computer.

One of the best ways to manage this electronic slowdown is with a neat little tool from a Seattle based company called the Advanced Registry Optimizer (ARO for short).  ARO scans, identifies and fixes registry errors.  On top of the amazing results it offers, it’s so easy to install and use that it was recently awarded a coveted 4.5 star rating (out of 5) by CNET’s editorial staff.

You can now download a free trial version of ARO which will quickly scan your entire PC and identify the registry errors that may be bogging it down.  The free version eliminates the first 100 errors and if you have more errors that you want to clean-up or want to set the program to run on a regular basis (recommended) you can easily upgrade to the full version for a nominal fee.

To obtain the free trial version simply click here.

Spyware and viruses

Spyware and viruses are malevolent programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.  They have various purposes, including:

  • Changing the default search engine in your browser
  • Tracking your web surfing habits and showing you targeted advertising
  • Using your email program to send out spam to other email addresses
  • Stealing your personal information

Most spyware and viruses gain entry to our computers through files that we download online or as email attachments.  These spies and guise digital demons occupy a large amount of space and require significant computing power.

The simple rule of thumb to follow is to not  download  programs from companies with which you are unfamiliar, especially games, screensavers, emoticons and the like.  In addition, do not open any attachment to an email unless you know – and trust – the sender.  Finally and perhaps obvious at this point of the technological cycle, ensure that an efficient anti-virus / spyware detection and removal app is running at all times.  Our suggestion (as a booster to your normal anti-malware app/service)  is  Spybot, from Download.

Enjoy your “new” pc.

BNI Operatives: Street smart; info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

Tactical Trainer, Christian Swann, on NSA-resistant Communication Encryption.

(This week, we bring you an informative article on protecting sensitive client data from our friend and one-woman whirlwind of accomplishments, Christian Swann (featured below): Christian is a writer, mom, edged and blunt tool instructor for law enforcement and the military, and a risk mitigation security and vulnerability assessment specialist.

christianswann

Be vigilant about protecting sensitive  client data with these tools.

 I wrote an article not long ago about protecting our personal and sensitive important information. As some of you are well aware, once your data is out there, it’s out there. From the first click of the “check out now” button, you are being traced, watched and analyzed. From how much you spend, where you shop, to your favorite products to your prime shopping time – you’re being tracked. But that’s just one aspect of this passive monitoring.   Big Brother (e.g. and fact, as we now all know,  the NSA) has the capability and may not only watching but also listening, recording and even transcribing your confidential client conversations.

What about when it’s not only your information that is being tracked, but your clients’ confidential information is at risk of also being recorded? As a risk and security director of a multi-million dollar company, it is one of the toughest questions and concerns I have. I’m in constant contact with high-profile clients and sensitive data.

The good news for lawyers, corporations and medical professionals, concerned about maintaining their duty of confidentiality is that there are tools and safeguards now to help them.

Legal and risk management specialists, such as myself, need to be very aware of the possibility (or now, probability) of  their communications being intercepted by empowered governmental agencies.  Given the ever-changing, nebulous status of agency data collection laws, legal professionals have to deal with the ambiguity of this usage of collected data –  while contending with the secretive nature of intelligence agency operations, as well as the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees surveillance warrants.

Lawyers –  and anyone for that matter – should assume all of their conversations are subject to covert surveillance an should  take steps to protect confidential information.

I can’t stress enough that all pertinent emails, electronic messages and communications should be encrypted. There is no shortage of available encryption hardware and software, and I highly recommend using an encryption service such as ZixCorp or the open-sourced TrueCrypt: (Warning: this is an open source method and may not be as stable as desired.) Platform-specific devices are also available, such as, Apple’s FileVault.

“One can also purchase self-encrypting hard drives such as the Seagate Secure and already-encrypted flash drives – e.g.,  IronKey from Imation Corp.  and encryption software such as Symantec Whole Disk Encryption and Sophos Ltd.’s Safeguard“, says Lina Maini of Beacon Network Investigations, LLC.

As for passwords, I recommend a more secure method of authentication, such as security tokens or USB tokens.

Perhaps apparently, I’m a big fan of firewalls, and encrypting everything networked – from email to any and all telecomm technology apps.   I’ve also become a huge fan of the company Silent Circle. One of my favorite features of Silent Circle’s service is the ability to program burn settings.  I.e., one I’ve  sent any type of message: email, text, audio, it is then encrypted and will burn itself at the pre-set time. I’ve chosen.

Many people forget that one a voice message, text or email  has bent sent, that data  has to go through a provider, e.g.,  Apple, and is then is transferred back to the end-user, therefore leaving data footprints that can be copied.

For professionals that mainly communicate via phone, relief from eavesdropping is on its way. This month: Spanish smartphone company GeeksPhone and software company Silent Circle launch Blackphone, an encrypted smartphone that protects phone calls, text messages, emails and Internet browsing. Using VPN technology, Blackphone promises to be an NSA-resistant phone.I’m looking forward to ours arriving soon.

Effective Ways to Trace Your Cell Phone (Apple and Android)

Tracking a lost iPhoneGPS Track a Cell Phone Step 4.jpg

  1. Track your lost iPhone. If you are using an iPhone and have an Apple ID, you can track your lost iPhone through any web browser or through your iPad. Location tracking needs to be turned on, but it is turned on by default for all devices with an Apple ID attached.

  2. Open the Find My iPhone app. This can be found from the iCloud website, or downloaded to your Apple devices from the App Store.

  3. Enter your Apple ID and password. In order to use the service, you will need to enter your Apple ID and Password in order to access the Find My iPhone service.

  4. Click on the Devices button. Once the Find My iPhone app opens, a map will be displayed. Click the Devices button to open a list of all the devices you have attached to that Apple ID.

  5. Select your missing device. From the list of devices, select your missing phone. The map will attempt to center on its location.

  6. If your phone has been turned off or the battery is dead, the map will display the last known location of the phone.

Tracking a lost Android phoneGPS Track a Cell Phone Step 5.jpg

  1. Track your lost Android phone. If you are using an Android phone and have a Google account attached to it, you can track the phone using the Android Device Manager. You can access the Device Manager through any web browser.

  2. If you are not already logged in with your Google account, you will be asked to enter your login information.
  3. A map will open, and it will center on the location of your phone. The information box in the top-left corner will tell you the last time that it was able to be located, as well as information on the general area.

BNI Operatives: Street smart, info savvy.

As always, stay safe.

You’re On Vacation: The Burglars Aren’t. Security Tips

how they break in

Latest stats released on home burglaries from the FBI: (Mid-Year 2013 report, last year available.)

– A burglary occurs every 8 seconds.

– Burglars spend an average of 8 to 12 minutes in the targeted homes.

– There are over 5,400 burglaries, per day. 

– 73.9% of all burglaries were on residential property.

– Of residential burglaries where a time was known, 65% were during the day.  (Data analysis yields a pattern by  burglars to target homes during the day and offices and commercial buildings at night.)

– 60.5% of burglaries are forcible entry.   (Burglaries are more often than not by forcible entries  – breaking windows, picking locks, kicking in doors, etc. – and are not crimes of opportunity.)

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The school year is coming to a close (or may already have ended) and the hostage situation at the gas pumps aside, most families have planned vacations  this summer.   (The etymology of the word vacation itself : from the Latin root vac, is to render something/someone “empty” (vacuum, vacate, vacuous, etc. Somewhat ironic in the case of a home burglary during a family’s away time.)

In today’s Bulletin we are going to give you the standard “what to do to make your home look occupied while you are away” tips and a few more up-to-date security pointers.  (We suggest you copy, paste and print this list as you effect the helpful suggestions.)

Traditional Tips:

• Stop mail and newspapers, and ask a trusted neighbor to pick up any deliveries that might be made while you are gone.

• Place several lamps and radio/TV in various parts of your home to automatic timers, so they turn on and off at appropriate times. (Also vary the timers by the unit so that the living room light does not come on at exactly 7 p.m. every night…).

• Arrange to have the lawn maintenance performed while you are away.

• Don’t leave keys in obvious exterior places like in the mail box or under a flower pot or door mat. Leave your house key with a trusted neighbor/relative.

• Instruct your neighbors to report unusual activity to the police – and not to wait until they can contact you first. You may be holed up in a Carlsbad cavern for several nights or in a clinic following a run-in with the bulls in Pamplona.

• Have a neighbor park their car in your driveway overnight (and move it around from day-to-day).

• Don’t leave notes indicating your absence.

• Many security experts advise unplugging the electric garage door opener while you are away. We don’t. A burglar’s scanner can easily detect whether the device is activated. Simply place it too on a variable timer.

• Make sure all your door and window locks are working and in use.

• Turn off or turn down your telephone ringer. A phone ringing endlessly is a clue to a would-be burglar that no one is home. This is especially important if you are living in an apartment building where burglars may be more likely to hear your phone ringing. Call forward your incoming calls in your absence.

• Unless you have reason to believe your piping system is in bad shape and may burst in inclement weather, do not turn off your main water valve before you leave. Fortunately, technological advances in utility services now offer scanning options that don’t require exterior meters on houses – an inactive one a sure clue to a burglar that the home residents may be away.

Contemporary Tips:
• Be careful as to how specific your automatic email “away” responses from your email – business and personal – are set up. You might as well pay the ad rates in the NYT.   Forward your email to an assistant or whomever is covering while you are away or simply to yourself. (Yes, it’s annoying while on vacation.  No one said you had to read/respond to them.) – or –

• Have your email/snail mail forwarded to a virtual post office. They can hold, forward, scan or even read your email/mail to you. Big advantage: the forwarding is discreet and undetectable.

Generally, we tend to believe and trust in the good of the vast majority of people; being smart and proactive with your home and valuables while you are away helps many to  maintain to that standard.

BNI Operatives: Street Smart, info savvy.

As always, be safe.

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