Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Online Shopping – General Safety

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Online shopping is a boon of the modern world – allowing one to purchase a wide variety of items through the Internet, and have their purchases shipped directly to a PO box or their home or business address. This of course will raise security concerns in a world of technology where anything is possible, such as ‘Is my Credit Card number safe?’ or ‘Is the seller reliable, will I get my items?’ and so on. In the broad spectrum of resources to purchase online, there are a few things you may want to keep your eye on to know you’re safe.

Most of the secure websites prevalent on the internet use a protocol known as “HTTPS” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to securely transmit data between yourself and the website you are on. What this does is add an extra layer called “SSL” (Secure Socket Layer) or the more modern “TLS” (Transport Layer Security) which basically encrypts all of your information including things such as your credit card number or your address. These layers also verify that the server receiving the information is the only one as intended, and no other destination will suffice. When you shop online and are ready to check out, look at the website bar (usually at the top of the window). Some browsers will highlight it in a green background, otherwise just personally ensure that whatever it says, it begins with “https://”.

Some websites also have additional ‘third-party’ certifications where another trusted source has given them the right to display that they were tested (these tests are usually quite demanding) and approved as a secure shopping environment. One of these companies is named TRUSTe, and if you see their logo displayed on the website you are purchasing from, click on it and ensure that it leads you to the website “http://truste.com” and no other. This would go for any other of these stringent third-party logos, so if you’re unsure of where you are purchasing from, take the time to do some research and don’t be afraid to do some Google searches.

Depending on your browser (this would be called Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox to name a few) and what version of the browser you are running, you may also see a padlock in the address bar with a green verification of that particular company. One such company for example would be eBay Inc. When you go to “http://www.ebay.com” and click on the cart icon, or attempt to check out, not only does it transform to the HTTPS protocol, the padlock also shows up in the browser bar (using Google Chrome). When you click on the padlock it explains why it’s secure, and in particular at the time of this article, eBay is secured through a “VeriSign” Certificate. VeriSign is another dependable third-party association responsible for rigorously testing and analyzing the capabilities of an online vendor.

There are other ways of protecting yourself, for example a separate bank account so that if the very unlikely happens and the account is compromised, they only gain access to the account you shop online with, and not your account where the majority of your money may stay. Another way is to use other forms of protection, for example PayPal. Not all vendors, but a decent amount will accept PayPal payments. PayPal stores your information for you on their server and when you make a purchase using PayPal, the person or company you are buying from never receives your financial information and instead gets the money from PayPal themselves.

Ultimately, shopping online as technology expands is a safer and safer alternative to manual shopping. If you live out of town, or in a town without any specialty stores and availability just is not present, try shopping online. Just follow a few security steps and be watchful of where you are shopping – generally if it’s a big retailer (Target or Walmart websites, eBay, Amazon, iTunes, etc.) you will be just fine, and if it’s not, keep your eyes open for anything that just does not seem right.

The Cloud

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

So, you may have heard of “The Cloud” by now, probably mentioned in an advert or some other form of media, but what exactly is it? Simply, The Cloud refers to the most efficient way currently to store and share information – files are stored over the Internet rather than on a hard drive or through physical devices like CD-ROMs or USB flash drives. Why is it called “The Cloud” though? This is due to the way it is referenced, much like actual clouds; your stored data floats around in virtual space between all applied devices. Using The Cloud has several immediate advantages.

Utilizing The Cloud, files are stored over the internet. Some benefits include having backup protection and instant availability. Many modern companies and tech-savvy individuals are claiming Cloud space for themselves already – and the only two requirements using The Cloud has are the amount of available space, and having an active internet connection.

Cloud storage offers a great method of file backup for personal use OR business use. In the past, companies would copy all of their data to giant tape rolls and send them offsite, while personal users back up their data to physical mediums and store them away. There is a better way, and that would be The Cloud. Say you are working on a presentation for a meeting the next day. You finish it, and save the file to your personal Cloud. The next morning before work though, tragedy strikes, and your hard drive fails! The file could be corrupted or outright destroyed… thankfully; you saved the file to your Cloud. Using a different computer or other internet capable device you access your Cloud and there is that presentation along with all of the other files you have stored there. This works with virtually any kind of file, so long as it fits in your allotted Cloud space.

As previously mentioned, using the Cloud can offer you immediate availability on your files. So long as you have Cloud space and an internet connection, any file can be saved from any location that is linked to your Cloud. Then, anywhere else that is also coupled will have that file accessible as soon as it is downloaded. For example, uploading a document from your office computer to your Cloud will mean that as soon as you get home and without having to have any equipment on you, that file can be downloaded and handled at home – as long as your home computer is on the same Cloud network. Imagine it’s an image – now both computers (along with any others connected) will be able to view it instantly.

How Cloud storage works: It’s really no more than simple file sharing. You can rent space from a company who sells it. That space you are renting from them is on the company’s servers is now your personal storage area. When you upload a file it is sent to that set of computers, and then those computers redistribute it to all of your devices – and typically (depending on network speed) it is usable within seconds.