Safeguard Your Website

by Karen L Simon & Renee J Goldberg

Websites are today’s business card. Most people won’t take a business seriously unless that business has web presence. Due to the threats of privacy invasion, viruses, and malware, it is imperative that businesses take steps to protect their site and its visitors with security features.

While users of the site have a certain responsibility to protect themselves, today’s litigious society puts business owners at risk of lawsuits for damages, including privacy issues.How secure is your website?

Secure Socket Layer (SSL)

SSL certificates protect websites and visitors. They should always be installed and active. Email communications should also be protected with SSL. Both incoming and outgoing messages are then scrambled (encrypted), preventing them from being seen or intercepted until they are de-scrambled by intended recipients.

A secured site is recognized by the “https://” designation in its full address (URL). SSL establishes private connections by encrypting information that is passed between the site and each user’s web browser. Whether it’s Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft’s Edge, these browsers check this security feature before displaying the site. With a “padlock” icon, they indicate to the user if a site has an active SSL installed. If not, a warning message appears notifying them that the site is “unsecure” and continuing would be at the user’s own risk. Upon receiving this warning, most users will immediately leave the site.

Should a user choose to continue to this site, they expose themselves and their personal information to data breaches such as contact information, password stealing, credit card fraud, and more.

If the site has an expired SSL certificate, some browsers notify users with a warning message, while others use a red padlock.These certificates are updated, renewed, and reinstalled every year since hackers become more sophisticated at breaking encryption codes.


A firewall is another safety feature that protects websites and visitors from hacking, viruses, and other malware. Just like personal computers and mobile devices, websites and their servers must be protected. They are constantly probed and attacked by hackers looking to inject malware into the server.

When hackers are successful, your website visitors’ devices can “catch” the virus and often pass it on to others. Further, the website could be destroyed, the administration section could be compromised, and information can be stolen.

Protect Your Site

Without these two key safety features actively installed on a website, businesses can lose the trust and confidence of customers, clients, and visitors. Additionally, search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing lowera site’s ranking in searches, pushing the website to the bottom of the list of search results.

Keeping SSL certificates and firewalls updated is a process. Renewing expired subscriptions can be a lengthy process. What’s more, cleaning and fixing damage to a compromised website is extremely costly to a business.

Always consult with your website and email hosting provider to protect your site and ensure the safety and security of your customers and visitors. This adds trust and confidence, reflecting well on your brand.


Copyright © 2023 & MindSurf. All Rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without prior written permission.

Smartphone Spring Cleaning

smartphonesSmartphone slowing down? No room for apps? “Storage full” errors when trying to run updates? Welcome to the world of digital overload! Before you start deleting all of your text messages, voice mail, photos (precious ones, at that), check out some solutions for spring cleaning your mobile device…

Give It Room

  • (Android only) Add an SD expansion card to your phone and move your photos, videos & albums to it. If there’s an option to set the default location for saving photos, be sure to change the default to the SD card. (While you’re at it, delete any blurry or no-good pics you may have taken. And if you’ve got multiple pics of the same scene, keep the best & delete the rest!)
  • Move some of your installed apps to the SD card, too. (Some apps won’t allow it, so move the ones that will!)
  • (Apple Users) Since iPhones & iPads don’t have expansion slots, connect the device to a computer to transfer the Camera Roll to a computer – especially if iCloud is full (or rent more space from iCloud). Then, you can safely delete pics you don’t need to be carrying around with you.
  • Do the same for your music.

Help Your Text Message App

  • If your text messaging app is slowing down, it could be due to the fact that you have lots of pictures attached to messages. Save the pics to your Gallery or Camera Roll, then delete them from the messaging app.
  • Group texts are also memory hogs! Since they are considered “multimedia”, they take up more space than a one-to-one text conversations. Make it a habit to delete group text threads that are no longer active.

Browser & Other Apps

  • Your web browser may need a cleaning, too. Be sure to periodically clear the “cache” data to speed up your web surfing. The Settings list will lead you to the button that deletes this temporary data saved by websites you’ve visited.
  • Open apps stay open even when you’re not using them. Close down open Android apps using the Recent Apps button (found at the bottom of the screen next to the “Back” and “Home” buttons – looks like two overlaid rectangles). Swipe up/down to scroll through open apps. Tap the “X” to close unused apps. On iPhones, double-tap the Home button, swipe right or left to select the running app, swipe up to close.
  • Still feeling bogged down? If your phone hasn’t been turned off recently, simply re-starting it can do the trick.

With significant improvements to smartphone cameras, photo & video quality increases and so do the size of these files. One other way to clear some smartphone storage is to move photos (and other files) to a cloud-based storage service and use their app to view/reference the files when needed.

Like any relationship with man, woman or machine, maintaining it revives and restores it! With these little steps, your smartphone will LOVE you for it!

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Changing Your Email or Phone Number?

passwords word cloudOur digital identities are tied to our email address and phone number. No longer is it just usernames, passwords and answers to a few secret questions that we need to remember. Someone came up with the bright idea that, for security, they want our email address and/or phone number, too. This is how companies send verification codes and reset instructions when we can’t get into our accounts because of a forgotten password. So, BEFORE you change your email or your phone number and/or mobile phone carrier – think twice (or more.)

The Nightmare

Recently, I’ve had trouble calls from clients who are caught in the horror of attempting to reset their account passwords AFTER changing their email address or phone number (and old ones were no longer accessible).  One company, Microsoft, took them through a form that asked for answers to secret questions, old phone numbers, recent email contacts, and more, yet still denied access to reset the password. After hours of phone calls to the company, they still refused to grant access to the accounts. The customer service agents basically told them there was no further resolution.

One of those clients no longer has access to any of the Microsoft’s services – including his email. Another could no longer unlock her computer every day since her login is tied to her Microsoft account!

Another company, Verizon, has been getting out of the email business – transferring all of their customers who used their email service ( to their new acquisition, AOL. They promised customers that they’d receive an email with special instructions and links to a form that transfers their email account to AOL. A client of mine never received the email. One day, his email stopped working. After inquiring with both AOL and Verizon, he was told to wait for the email as there was no other way to help him. It still never came. He no longer has access to his email. Unfortunately, he used that address to set up all of his OTHER online accounts. Now, he’s tasked with changing his email address-on-record with EVERY online account he owns – we calculated, it’s over 40 accounts!

It Doesn’t Stop There

Other companies, like Apple, don’t ask for just ONE email address, they want two! One of them will be used just for password recovery. It can’t be the same as the address you use to set up your account (AppleID). This means that you have to remember that if you change (or LOSE access to) one of your email addresses, you had better make sure to go tell your AppleID account about it! With all of your data and devices that rely on (and tied to) that one AppleID, a loss of this account will be devastating.

Google & other companies use your phone number to send text messages with a verification code to be entered on a webform should you ever need to recover your account. If you change your phone number, make sure you tell Google about it! (Microsoft uses this method, too.)

Other companies will not allow you to change ANY security setting, including email address and password, unless they send a verification code to your phone via text message! So, be sure you have access to the phone they have on record before you change anything.

The Lessons

  • Remember your passwords! Use an app, keep a log, spreadsheet, document – ANYTHING. If the passwords change or you add a new account – update the list immediately.
  • In your passwords list, include login name, account number (if any), email addresses & phone numbers associated with the account.
  • Before you change your email address or phone number, refer to your list so you know which accounts you’ll need to update.

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New Phone = Lost Contacts?

smartphoneHow many times have you heard this? “I got a new phone and I lost all my contacts.” I call that bad customer service and I can almost guess who is their wireless phone carrier. Consumers need to educate themselves and take some responsibility when it comes to preserving their personal information (and protecting it)! They need to speak up!

Most folks don’t stop to think about where information is stored and how they will get it back when it’s lost. They’re not really thinking about how valuable it is, and the hours it will take to re-create it – not until it is gone! If mobile phone users only knew how easy it is for their carrier to transfer information to new devices, they wouldn’t be afraid to ask for (intentional cross-out) DEMAND that it be restored.

Best bet would be to ask the question BEFORE you get a new phone, BEFORE you switch carriers, BEFORE the phone is lost or damaged: “How can I protect my data from loss?” Some carriers have an app that backs up automatically. Others will tell you about an app for the computer – when you plug in the phone, it’ll begin the backup.

If you’ve never had it happen to you, don’t let it… any lost data is preventable.

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Mac’s, PC’s & The Cloud: Can we all get along?

gold computer virtual meetingCase Study: Teamwork In The Cloud

Using the Cloud for collaboration in today’s digital world seems to be the answer to the age-old dilemma of choosing between Mac or PC. Businesses with virtual office workers across the globe can share resources instantly, regardless of time zone or operating system (OS).

The cloud-based storage and apps have brought together and almost obliterated the disparity among computer users who have, for years, looked down their noses at others who were using “the other guy’s” version of a computer. Whether it was Apple users talking about the Windows folks or vice versa, comments could be heard everywhere: “That’s what you get when you eat an Apple.” Or, “You can thank your buddy, Bill Gates.”

Today, we have an environment that has many more players: Android, Apple and Microsoft smartphones and tablets, Kindle’s devices, Smart TVs, gaming consoles and, on and on. Here’s where folks say that Cloud computing has saved the day. Sharing documents, digital files and knowledge among team members working on the same project simplified. No more sending attachments via email and losing track of who has the current version (or who’s got which edits!!). Making sure information is accessible on multiple devices is no longer a worry. Just store everything in the Cloud, and you can get to everything. There are some caveats and here’s one story to illustrate.


I was working with a new startup company who was busy setting up their website. One of the excited owners was busy on his Macbook loading photos to be used for their website inventory page.

In order to make the photos available to the web designers and other folks within the company, he was adding the photos to his Dropbox folder, making sure that the names of the photos matched the items depicted in each photo. When someone opened the folder containing the photos, he wanted the list to show related-items grouped together so, one group of photos he used a “#” (pound) sign to start each filename. Another group of names started with a “*” (asterik), and so on.

The Problem

I received a call one day in the middle of his project. “I don’t know what happened! I can’t see any of my files now! I’ve done so much work and now they’re gone!” He was the only one that could see these files. He further explained, he couldn’t even see them when he logged into his Dropbox account from a web browser on ANY machine. After some prodding, I discovered:

1) He was using an Apple computer to rename his files,
2) He used symbols in his filenames, and
3) The other team members (who couldn’t see the files) were on Windows PCs.

Know The Rules

We advised him that file naming rules for both Windows and Dropbox restrict use of special characters. Certain special characters such as  ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; < > ? , [ ] { } ‘ ” are not allowed. We advised him to use either numbers or keywords at the start of the filenames to keep them grouped together. We also recommended that he keep the length of the names to a minimum since operating systems have length limitations based on the combination of folder name(s)+file name.

Sync Contacts To All Your Apps

Enter It Once, Find It Everywherecontacts everywhere

How do you sync contact information between apps? In tech terms, it’s called CRM Integration. The longest standing dilemma in the small business world is that contact info needs to be connected and shared with third-party eMail, mailing list, sales and/or accounting programs. These programs usually run independently of each other. Clients constantly ask the same question, “Isn’t there something out there that I can use so I don’t have to enter this information again and again??”

Adding Contact Info Again?!

Do you find yourself adding the same name and contact info into several lists? You get a new lead. You add them to your contact list or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. You want them to receive your eNewsletter so you add them to your email list app. Then, they become a customer so you add them to your bookkeeping program. The fastest way you know how to do all of this is via Cut & Paste or manually entering it in – piece by piece: name, address, phone, email, etc. Each of these methods takes TIME and you risk making entry ERRORS.

The Issues

CRM programs focus on ways to better manage your contacts through relationship building and the sales process. They’re great at helping to
document your appointments, to-do’s and one-on-one contact such as phone calls and your email correspondence. eMail marketing programs are fantastic for creating good-looking email campaigns, managing targeted lists and providing statistics: how many opened your email, how many times it was shared, and which email addresses unsubscribed or are no longer valid. Accounting
software perfectly manages the order and invoicing process, lets you know who owes you money, and who bought which product or service.

But, you’re left with the problem of having to enter the basic contact info three different times. Or, you’re looking for them in one place only to find they haven’t been added yet so, you hunt down the information to do so! Frustrating!

The Answer

Springing up everywhere is a class of software apps called CRM Integrations or CRM Sync. You choose your CRM app, your eMail Marketing app and/or your accounting app and select the information you want to sync between them
and it all happens in the background. Each program must “allow” the other to share the info. It’s done with a special authentication code called an “API” (application programming interface). There are variables that can be set
such as how often the transfers take place, whether there’s new or changed information and others. Setup can be tricky depending upon which apps you use for your CRM, eMail and accounting, but it seems we’re moving in the right direction to solve this age-old problem!

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Problems with PDFs

Adobe_Reader_PDFHaving problems opening PDF links in your browser? Try one of these solutions before you go changing settings, checking add-ons or plugins and the plethora of other solutions that Adobe suggests.

If you are a Windows user: right-click the link and choose either Open in A New Tab or Open in A New Window. If that still doesn’t work, right-click and choose Save Target As to download the file directly to your computer’s documents folder
and open the file from there. Obviously, this solution isn’t the best but at least you get what you’re after.

If you’re a Mac user, you may not have a right-clicking mouse. Hold the Control key when you click, you’ll have the same options.

I POURED through endless webpages and documents about changing settings in browsers, editing Windows registry entries, uninstalling and reinstalling, switching browsers, & version issues. I stumbled on this solution one day when I was relegated to once again download a PDF to my harddrive. I right-clicked to get my SaveAs/Download menu item and clicked the Open In A New Tab button instead – just to see what it would do, VOILA! It opened. I tried it again and again, gave the advice to a friend with the same problem and it worked for her, too!

If any of these options works for you, PLEASE add a comment to this post. We’re trying to track how well this simple fix I’ve discovered solves the world’s problems!

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Business Travel Without Internet – REALLY?

free wifiWhy do we still have to pay for Internet access in hotels? Do you realize how little it costs for them to provide it as a service? I know that not everyone travels with a laptop, but practically everyone I know has either a smartphone, iPad or tablet of some kind, even my mother!

As the founder of PC Tech Associates, I’ve provided tech support to small businesses since 1996 – before people even HAD computers in their homes, let alone Internet. So, I don’t understand why hotels continue to charge fees for Internet usage – wired or WiFi. Some might say, that while the equipment/hardware is cheaper today, the maintenance is what keeps the costs high and therefore, they’re passing it on to the hotel guests. Maintaining a network is really not that expensive, computer techs aren’t as expensive as they used to be, and there are lots of them.

The hotels could further argue that since they have guests who don’t use/need Internet service, why should those people have to pay for a service that they don’t use? But, hotels offer other services that  not all guests take advantage of. For instance, what is the percentage of people who use a gym or swimming pool during their stay versus the percentage of those who WOULD use Internet service if there was no charge for it? How much does it cost to maintain that pool or the gym? I guarantee that if you add up the cost per square foot to have the pool plus the costs to maintain it, that, by far outweighs the costs of providing free Internet to all the guests!

Sure, there are lower-priced, three-star chains that offer free Wifi, but I’m talking about the four- and five-star hotels where I pay a premium already – I expect to find it included and IN my room! Bottom line is that guests want Internet, and hotels are taking advantage of that by continuing to charge for it. Until we start demanding it by speaking out or choosing only hotels that include it, we’ll continue to pay extra for it.
Know of a site to help Find Free Internet Hotels? Help me build this list, post a
Here’s what I found:
Free Wifi Hotels
Hotels With Free Internet
Free In-room Wired Internet