Safeguarding Your Personal Information When Searching for Your Next Home: Your Guide

Searching for a new home is an emotional experience. It starts with lots of energy and excitement; you probably have daydreams about where you’re going to live and what it’s going to feel like. There might be some stress as well; perhaps you need to find a place by a certain date for work or family reasons. Maybe you’re closing on your current home’s sale and so will have nowhere to go if you don’t find a house between now and then. There’s also the intensity of putting in bids, not knowing whether your offer stacks up, and the disheartening experience of having yet another bid go nowhere. And then you have to worry about your finances and try to estimate what’s going to be a comfortable expenditure for you in the near and far future, despite being abundantly aware that life can change in an instant.

Beyond all this, there are now safety considerations people need to have in mind when they’re searching for a home. The following aims to help with at least one of these stressors by walking you through a few important steps you should be taking to safeguard your personal information and that of your family as you search for a home.

How Your Data Is Mined

In today’s digital world, data is embedded in everything. Data has actually surpassed oil as the most valuable commodity on the earth. Think about that for a moment. Your data is incredibly valuable, so much so that it’s actively sought after in both safe and unsafe ways.

Social media platforms, businesses, websites, phone and tablet applications, and even live events are collecting your data. This data can then be used internally to help better tailor your experience and upsell you on additional products. It can also be sold externally to larger corporations that use your data for everything under the sun. This might mean getting more spam calls if your number is given to a cold-calling scam company. It might mean social media platforms sharing your data with political parties so they can sway elections (social media platforms have a vested interest in who you’re voting for because social media regulation is now a major discussion). This information is sold en masse to advertisers who target you with marketing and ads, trying to sell you things.

How Does This Apply To The Search For A Home?

When you’re searching for a home, there are a ton of different platforms and options available to you, but just like standard websites, applications, and devices, not all of these platforms are safe to use. You might have heard of common homebuying locations like Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia.

These types of sites make the vast majority of their revenue by collecting your private data (your income, where you live, where you’re looking to live, the size of your household, and your contact information). They then provide this data to real estate agents and other businesses that pay them for what they’re sharing. For instance, the Zillow Group which owns Zillow made more than 1400 million dollars in 2021 alone from selling user data to real estate agents. Zillow and Trulia together earned more than 1.3 billion dollars in 2018, with selling data providing the bulk of that income.

Why Does It Matter If People Have My Data?

At the minimum, your data being sold to other people means you’re going to be dealing with more spam. Calls from companies trying to sell you something, calls with no one on the other end (this is often a data collection service trying to figure out what times people answer their calls so they can then sell this information along with your phone number to another company), emails filled with scams or advertisements and tons of unwanted ads. No one needs more of this in their life, especially not as scams evolve into more effective tricks.

At the maximum, your data could be used to steal your identity, rack up tens of thousands of dollars in your name, and/or commit cybercrime. Cybercrime is on the rise and is only expected to grow. It’s vital that people learn how to protect their own information as we move forward into an increasingly virtual existence.

Research The Platforms You Use Carefully

It’s essential that people start thinking defensively when using platforms, websites, and apps. Those long terms of service agreements that you used to skip through? It turns out they’re really important. Of course, they’re designed to be as long and confusing as possible, to bore you until your eyes glaze over, so you don’t read the fine print, but there are often shortcuts to better understanding what you agree to when you use a platform. 

There are several websites that summarize the basics of every term of the service agreement, drawing your attention to elements that deserve your attention. You can also search for the particular terms of service agreement summary that you’re considering and find videos or articles breaking down the key components of a particular agreement.

This is now a part of digital literacy that everyone needs to be employing and teaching their children about. You’d be shocked what you agree to when you click “accept.”

What Sorts Of Things Hide In Terms Of Service Agreements?

You might be allowing companies to sell your photos. Instagram, for instance, is allowed to use, delete, modify, or publicly display your photos; Twitter grants these rights to its affiliates, allowing them to make money by selling your photos.

You might be agreeing to have an account forever. That’s right, forever. Skype, for example, doesn’t allow accounts to be deleted.

Often you’re allowing companies to track your activity on the internet after you’ve left their site. This is what cookies are. Have you been absentmindedly clicking through pop-ups about cookies? For instance, if you’re logged into Facebook on your device, the company is tracking all your online behavior on every site that has a Facebook like or share button. They even track some things while you’re logged out of Facebook.

You’re also often agreeing to have your data shared with law enforcement without your knowledge. When you signed up with your cell phone provider and LinkedIn account, you agreed that anything of yours could be shared with law enforcement without them giving you a heads-up.

You might also be signing away your right to file a class action lawsuit. Anyone using the PlayStation Network, for example, has agreed not to sue Sony as part of a class action suit. 

You likely are also agreeing to the company’s right to hold onto content you create even after you delete it. Even after you take down things you’ve posted, many applications and sites can still access that stuff and do with it what they see fit.

Finally, almost all terms of service agreements contain a clause that specifies that they’re allowed to change the agreement whenever they want. In many cases, this clause states that they don’t have to inform you of changes and that it’s your responsibility to regularly review the agreement to see if things have changed.

What This Means For Real Estate

If you’re freaked out about the data you’re giving away, stop for a moment and take a breath. There are people working on solutions to these kinds of problems. There are politicians lobbying for easier-to-understand terms of service and restrictions on what sort of data is legally collectible at certain times. There are organizations trying to create safe alternatives to a lot of the common websites and apps available to people. When it comes to real estate, there is a new home search rated better than Zillow. You can also talk to your real estate agent about the protective measures you want to take.

Quite often, real estate agents have a vested interest in keeping your data safe. They don’t want other agents profiting from your data and the work they’re doing with you. This means that often, agents are just as concerned about your data privacy as you are. Talk to your agent about what options are available in your area.

Study Guides For Safer Platforms

As mentioned above, there are alternatives to the standard real estate search platforms. Given the variety of choices available, niche content creators are releasing guides and breakdowns of different options, outlining the pluses and negatives of each. If you take the time to watch this video detailing EXP, you’ll know that the more features an option has, likely the longer the content about it is going to be.

Directly Ask Agents About Data Safety

When talking to potential real estate agents, you can ask about what platforms they recommend for searching as well as the data protection elements in place. It’s okay to go with a different agent if you’re not satisfied with the steps they’re taking to keep your data secure. It’s also okay to go with a different agent if you find out that someone you were considering buys people’s data from some of the aforementioned companies.

Follow The Latest Real Estate And Cybersecurity News

You can also learn about your options by paying attention to real estate news. When companies release developments, merge, or otherwise alter themselves, there tends to be a lot of information floating around on the web about what the benefits and drawbacks are of these changes. For example, EXP World Holdings recently bought the leading real estate search tech company Showcase IDX. Understanding what this purchase means can help you sense what problems people in the world of real estate are seeking to solve at the moment.

Understand There Are No Excuses When It Comes To Safety

Humans at large need to start standing up for themselves and their rights. If an agent hasn’t thought about the potential repercussions of shady data dealings or brushes away your questions with,” well, that’s what everyone’s doing, so…, know that you have rights. It’s easier than ever for agents to select a safer home search platform and install it onto their personal real estate website. There are no excuses for data carelessness in 2023. Not with the cybercrime rates being what they are. Not with billions of dollars lost each year to cybercrime (and think, that only includes the cybercrime that was noticed and reported; the actual cost could be much higher).

Practice Good Digital Hygiene

Of course, you also need to take responsibility for your behavior online and on the apps you use. If you do have your data leaked, stolen, or legally collected, you want to make sure that people can’t harm you with this information. This means, foremost, using strong passwords. You’ve probably been told you shouldn’t use the same password for every platform, and this is true; if someone manages to get one of your passwords, they shouldn’t then have access to everything you do in the digital realm.

You also want to be sure your devices are up-to-date and that you have adequate virus and malware protection. Often, devices release updates when a problem within their security is found. This means that updates should be done as soon as possible, as prior to the update, there’s a loophole that data collectors or hackers can take advantage of.

Moreover, you need to be cognizant of your social media presence and what information you’re releasing. Most people know that they shouldn’t post their addresses online. What many people don’t realize is that if they take a photo of their kid on the way to prom outside their home and post it on social media, the average person with the smallest bit of tech skills can find out where they live. All it takes is a quick search of when local high schools held their proms and then a wander through the streets in that area using Google Maps street-view. Be careful what you’re sharing on social media, as this can be used in tandem with the data that companies are collecting on you to create a full picture of you that can be sold or used for marketing or cybercrime purposes.

Finally, you want to be cautious of any emails or calls you get from senders you don’t recognize. This is still the most common way people have their identities stolen or their bank accounts accessed. 

The above information should have made it clear that your digital security is of vital importance. Taking the proper steps to ensure you and your family are safe from cyber threats and data miners is simply a part of life in this era. If you have digital assets for work or other purposes that are especially valuable, you may want to speak to a local cybersecurity team about the steps you can take to protect yourself and these assets.

How to Choose a High-Quality Laptop for Your Business Needs

When it comes to running a successful business, having the right technology is essential. One of the most important pieces of hardware for any business is a laptop computer. Whether you’re using it for day-to-day operations or more specialized tasks, such as creating presentations and graphics, choosing the right laptop can make all the difference in your productivity and efficiency. This article will provide tips on how to choose a high-quality laptop that meets all of your business requirements.

Portability 

Using a laptop for business usually means that you need to be able to easily carry it around with you to any given place. Lots of business people opt for a Surface Pro Laptop as it can be taken apart and easily carried around, making portability a breeze. For example, if you are traveling for work and need to be able to transport your laptop in a bag or briefcase that isn’t too big or bulky then portability is key. 

This way, you will have a reliable device that is lightweight and easy to carry around. If portability is important to you, then a business laptop should be your go-to choice. They are typically thinner and lighter than other computers, with more durable builds that can withstand everyday wear and tear. 

Battery Life 

Your battery should be able to endure long hours of work. It should last up to 8 hours without needing a recharge and be able to withstand multiple discharges over its lifetime. If you’re planning on using your laptop while traveling, it’s best to invest in such an addition to be sure everything will run smoothly. For example, if you’re on a long-distance flight or train and suddenly your battery runs out, all of your work will be lost.

There are also ways to increase the battery life of your laptop, such as reducing the brightness of the display and battery saver mode. Additionally, check for updates on battery drivers, which may help extend battery life and add more power to your device. These will help you get the most out of your battery and make sure you don’t have any sudden battery drainage. 

Performance

This feature implies a lot of different aspects. These are the following:

  • Speed
  • Capacity
  • Compatibility
  • Power and efficiency
  • Reliability
  • Graphics
  • Memory
  • Display

Test the device to see how it runs. Check all of these performance aspects to make sure the laptop has the performance you need for your business. For example, speed is especially important if you will be using the laptop for tasks that require a lot of processing power, such as video editing or gaming. Having good insight into what performance features you need for your business is critical to selecting the right laptop.

Connectivity 

The networking features should be a key factor when it comes to selecting the right business laptop. Make sure that the connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB ports are sufficient for your needs. For example, Wi-Fi is an absolute must in every laptop and most of them today come with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, so you can enjoy faster connectivity speeds with less interference. 

Additionally, USB Type-C ports are essential for connecting multiple devices and peripherals quickly, while Bluetooth connectivity allows you to wirelessly connect other devices like mice or keyboards. For businesses who are always on the move, consider getting a laptop with LTE connectivity which provides access to a high-speed mobile internet connection at all times. 

Durability 

It’s essential that your device doesn’t fail you when you need it most. Look for features like a spill-resistant keyboard and overall durability tests that have been conducted to ensure your device can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. 

Make sure you are also aware of any extended warranties or service plans offered by the manufacturer in case something goes wrong outside of normal use. This will help protect your investment if anything unexpected happens. Look for laptops built with materials such as magnesium alloy, which is lightweight yet strong enough to handle bumps and drops without damage.

Customer Support 

It’s also important that you can reach out to the manufacturers if you ever need any help. Before making a purchase, check customer support services and customer feedback. Good customer service should include helpful customer reps with the expertise to answer any questions you may have about your laptop. 

Most companies provide it via telephone or email, though some also offer live chat options as well. Be sure to review customer feedback on various sites to get an understanding of how responsive and competent their customer service reps are. 

A business laptop may be the most important device you buy for yourself ever, so make sure it works well. Look into its portability features and how long the battery lasts. You should also make sure it performs up to your standards and that it can network properly. Finally, look into how durable the device is and if there’s good customer support for it!

What Do People Love about Plushies

Are plushies just cute and comforting to have around the house, or is there something deeper going on between people and these cozy creatures? From kids cuddling up with their favorite stuffed animal at bedtime to an adult appreciating intricate details of a handmade toy, it seems clear that plushies hold a special place in our hearts. 

But why do we love them so much? What draws us to the soft texture and creative designs of these lovable creations? In this article, we will explore the different elements that make someone fall in love with their chosen plushies.

What Are Plushies

Plushies are soft, cuddly stuffed animals that have become incredibly popular among people of all ages and walks of life. Although they can be new or vintage, young or old, plushies typically all have the same common denominator: fluffy fur and a huggable form. 

Not only are they great for decorating homes, but plushies from Mewaii also bring a sense of comfort when used as stress relievers. Reminiscent of childhood friends and family members able to provide emotional support, simply by holding or stroking them people can tap into feelings of nostalgia and relaxation. 

Ultimately, this is why plushies have endured with different generations over the years; as companions that can both offer joy and warmth during chaotic times.

Why Are Plushies So Popular

There’s something special about a plushie that makes it so popular and universally beloved. The physical qualities of the stuffed toy – plump, soft and cuddly – provide not only comfort for adults, but also relaxation and distraction from everyday life worries. 

The colors and designs can bring joy to the senses, while the act of hugging a plushie has been scientifically proven to reduce stress! With the range of styles now available, everyone is spoiled for choice when looking to add some cozy warmth into their lives. It’s no wonder these beloved toys remain a timeless favorite.

Plushies Make People Associate with Good Childhood Memories

Plushies have a unique way of providing comfort and making people feel warm and fuzzy inside. As a result, they often invoke childhood nostalgia of when life was simpler and everything seemed easier to manage. 

They not only provide physical comfort to their owners through the soft texture but also mental comfort by reminding them of cherished moments spent in their past. In this way, plushies become a trusted companion for those seeking solace during difficult times. 

It is no wonder then why so many people feel an emotional connection to these cuddly toys as it brings back fond memories that remain near and dear to their hearts!

Plushies Help People Understand the Power of Gift Giving and Receiving

Plushies are objects of comfort and friendship. It may seem silly to think that a simple stuffed animal can have a profound effect, but giving someone a plushie is much more than just handing them something they can cuddle. 

It gives them an understanding of the power of gift giving and receiving—of how meaningful it can be to show someone you care about them by simply showing kindness in the form of a thoughtful present. Plushies convey underlying emotions like love, gratitude, empathy, and appreciation—all messages that reach far beyond words. 

They also serve as constant reminders for people who may feel alone in their struggles; no matter your experience or background, you are not alone when surrounded by loving plushies.

Conclusion

Plushies have become an enduring and beloved item for people of all ages, providing comfort, joy, and nostalgia in their soft, cuddly form. They offer physical and mental comfort as stress relievers and evoke childhood memories, while also reminding us of the power of gift-giving and the importance of emotional connection. Whether they are seen as a companion, decoration, or reminder, plushies will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Decentralized Social Media – The End of Tech Giants Hold on Major Platforms

Social media is an integral part of our lives today. An average social media user spends two and a half hours every day using social media platforms in 2022. Moreover, there are over 4.6 billion social media users worldwide today. Social media has completely changed the way we interact, communicate, and get to know what’s happening around us.

Although the future of social media is bright and more emerging, its centralized nature is getting more attention from users. Today, just a handful of tech giants are controlling the major social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, etc. This centralized control has resulted in many issues, such as censorship, privacy concerns, data breaches, server outages, and similar others. For example, social media is highly regulated in China with strict government-controlled censorship.

Considering the increasing frustration of users around social media, the new concept of decentralized social media is emerging, which will leverage blockchain technology to decentralize social media and give control back to the users. In fact, there are already dozens of such platforms emerging and grabbing millions of users, such as Mastodon, Minds, LBRY, Desofy, and many more. So, let’s explore more about decentralized social media, including its pros and cons, and also discuss how it is going to challenge the existing centralized social media platforms.

Decentralized Social Media – A Quick Overview

The word “decentralization” has grabbed a lot of attention in recent years with the popularity of cryptocurrency and blockchain. Decentralization technology helps to set up a secure, fair, and transparent network. So, decentralized social media is a platform powered by distributed ledger technologies (DLT) with no centralized control.

Basically, decentralized social media is a blockchain-based, open-source social media that runs on independent servers or nodes. This means there is no centralized server where all data resides. The main foundation of decentralized social media is blockchain technology that distributes the data over hundreds of independent nodes within the network instead of one central server. This eradicates censorship and gives users more control and freedom.

How Decentralized Social Media Works

In centralized social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, all the user information, posts, messages, and platform code are stored in a centralized location. This centralized server system also means there is a single point of failure. For example, Facebook went offline for many hours in 2019, while Twitter also experienced servers outage in 2022. This is where the working principle of decentralized social media defers.

A decentralized social media is deployed on the blockchain with a peer-to-peer network framework that involves thousands of independent nodes from across the globe. Basically, it involves a decentralized storage system such as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), in which a distributed file storage protocol enables all the connected nodes/computers to store and serve files while being a part of the large peer-to-peer network. In simple words, a decentralized social network performs everything like a centralized server but does not involve any centralized storage system. So, even if some nodes fail in the network, the remaining nodes will keep the platform running. This removes the chances of outages.

The decentralized storage system also means no one will be able to control or sell user data. Moreover, it also removes the stream of advertisements and allows content creators to use new ways of monetizing. Users can use native tokens of the platform to access advanced features, tip content creators, make in-app purchases, and more.

Pros of Decentralized Social Media over Centralized Social Media

Some of the key benefits of decentralized social media over centralized social media are as follows:

No Censorship

The top most benefit of decentralized social media is that it eradicates censorship. There is no central authority or middleman that will censor and control what users will see. All users have full control of their content and data.

No Ads

Decentralized social media is not run by a single entity, rather relies on a massive peer-to-peer network. So, such platforms don’t need ad revenue to sustain. Moreover, these platforms will not force users to watch those contents or ads that can give platforms more revenue. So, decentralized social media is free from ads and give the real social media experience users need.

Direct and Transparent Monetization

Since decentralized social media does not show ads, so it cannot pay content creators the way centralized social media does. But it even provides a more direct and transparent monetization option. Decentralized social media platforms have specific native tokens that users can use to tip content creators.

For example, if a content is watched by 10,000 users and at least 10% of them have used a native token to send micro-donation to the creator, worth like $0.1, then the creator has made $100 from just a single post. Moreover, creators can turn their posts into NFTs and generate more revenue. In addition, it also removes other monetization requirements, like x number of subscribers, x watch hours, x length of videos, etc. All it demands is creating an account and starting monetization from the first day.

Reduced Downtime

Decentralized social media minimizes the chances of downtime or outages due to its peer-to-peer model. So, even if a few nodes malfunction or get out of the network, still the remaining stream of nodes can keep the platform running. This makes decentralized social media more resistant to downtime/outages.

More Security

Decentralized social media has no central storage system, so it is less vulnerable to cyberattacks, such as DDoS attacks. The open-source and large nodes network keep the platform more secure. In addition, users also get a higher level of privacy and anonymity, which is not possible in existing social media platforms.

Cons of Decentralized Social Media over Centralized Social Media

Although decentralized social media seems the best alternative to centralized social media, it does have some cons worth mentioning, as follows:

Malicious Users

Decentralized social media gives power back to the users, making them freely post whatever they want. Unfortunately, it also gives an opportunity to malicious users to use it to post malicious/disturbing content. Since there is no moderator, such content remains on the platform for a long period of time. This is addressed rightly in centralized platforms where such content and users are removed from the platform right away.

Unattractive User Interface

Most of the decentralized social media platforms are following a similar user interface like the existing centralized ones. So, there are no such unique aspects, plus the interface also is not user-friendly in some cases. Alternatively, centralized social media platforms provide attractive user interfaces and keep doing frequent changes to enhance user experience.

Challenging Long Term Retention

In most cases, social media users join decentralized social media platforms to explore what it offers and then often shift back to centralized social media platforms. It is because they miss interacting with their friends, seeing posts of their celebrities, and all the glamor that centralized social media has to offer. So, until decentralized social media becomes more and more popular, the long term retention rate will be a challenge.

Decentralized Social Media vs. Centralized Social Media – What’s the Future

The above pros and cons of decentralized social media over centralized social media platforms give a mixed opinion. On one side, decentralized social media seems promising due to its censorship-resistant, user-controlled, and freedom aspects. On the other hand, its negative use by malicious users and unappealing interface/features doubts its competitive capabilities against the existing platforms.

So, it is very likely that the existing centralized social media platforms will dominate the market in the next few years, while the decentralized platforms will keep increasing their user base gradually. The dominance of decentralized social media can trigger if celebrities or influences move to those platforms and bring their following as well. Alternatively, if influences can achieve more monetization benefits in decentralized social media through native tokens, NFTs, and other ways, then it can increase the attention of decentralized social media. Besides that, the stability and upward movement of cryptocurrencies can also have an influence.

To sum up, decentralized social media is a need of the time considering the growing concerns of censorship and privacy. However, the dominance of decentralized social media is still years ahead. So, sit tight and watch how the social media market reacts to the emergence of decentralized social media in the upcoming years.

Top 5 Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses in 2023

Cybersecurity has again remained under the limelight in 2022 and turned out to be a devastating year for cybersecurity threats. Just in the first half of 2022, there were 2.8 billion malware attacks and 236.1 million ransomware attacks across the globe. The dominance of threats is not due to organizations’ poor cybersecurity policies but due to new sophisticated tactics used by cybercriminals to breach through security defenses. Now we are in 2023, which is again believed to be one of the stressful years for cybersecurity. Therefore, this article presents the top cybersecurity threats that should be a concern for small businesses in 2023.

5 Top Emerging Cybersecurity Threats to Small Businesses in 2023

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the global cost of cybercrimes will reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. It showcases the gradual increase of cyberattacks with every passing year. Talking specifically about 2023, below are the 5 top emerging cybersecurity threats to small businesses:

1. Microsoft Teams Spoofing

Microsoft Teams is highly used in today’s world, with around 280 million monthly active users. The growing user base of Teams has also let attackers use the platform for their criminal activities. One popular approach they are using these days is acting like the colleague or CEO, setting up the meeting, and then convincing the meeting participants to click the link or download a file.

For example, recently an attacker acted as a CEO and sent a WhatsApp message to several employees about joining a Teams meeting. Once employees joined the meeting, they saw a CEO video feed, which was actually scraped from a TV interview. The attacker didn’t turn on the audio and said that the issue might be due to a bad connection. Afterward, the attacker sent a SharePoint link in the chat. Employees did click the link, but luckily, they got blocked from accessing it. This way, attackers pretend to be someone and convince employees to click malicious links.

Other than the above tactic, cybercriminals are also impersonating Teams to steal Microsoft 365 login credentials of employees. Usually, they send an email tuned as an automated message that is sent from Teams, such as “There’s new activity in Teams”. The message looks legitimate, so often employees get into the trap and click the provided link. Once the link is pressed, it takes them to the malicious webpage requiring the victims to enter their email and password. This way, employees unintentionally provide their login credentials and let attackers into the network.

Avanan, a cybersecurity solutions provider, has witnessed thousands of attacks in which malware is sent in Teams chats. The reason why Teams is becoming a new favorite of attacks is because MS URLs are not readable, so you cannot detect a real link from a fake one. In addition, employees are more trained to detect suspicious phishing emails, but they think Teams has a trusted and secure platform. So, it’s the trust game that attackers are playing with employees using Microsoft Teams.

2. Google Appointment Spoofing

Another emerging cybersecurity threat is Google appointment spoofing. Google Calendar is one of the popular productivity tools of Google suite, which if used with default settings allows events to be added from an email containing event details. Similarly, it also adds the event if someone has included you in the event, even if they haven’t sent you the email invitation. This default setting trap is being used by cybercriminals these days.

What attackers do is inject an event into employees’ calendars without their knowledge by acting as one of their colleagues. The event can be about upcoming travel plans or an urgent meeting by CEO. In the meeting description, there can be words like “please click the below link to review the agenda before joining the meeting”. The link often includes a fake Google authentication page, which most employees unintentionally fill out with their login credentials. Eventually, this gives attackers the credentials they need to penetrate systems and make an impact.

Just like MS Teams spoofing, employees are becoming victims of Google appointment spoofing because they are not aware of this type of scam. However, the best way to protect from such threats is by blocking the automatic calendar events. Go to Settings > Events from Gmail and then uncheck “Automatically add events from Gmail to my calendar”. In addition, go to “Event settings” and change “Automatically add invitations” to “No”. This way, employees can minimize the chances of getting such attacks, but they still need to remain suspicious, just like with email spoofing.

3. Cloud Security Threats

Ever since the pandemic, businesses have been actively shifting their infrastructure to the cloud. As per estimates, there are about 70% of organizations that are using the cloud for hosting over 50% of workloads. However, the rapid cloud adoption has also resulted in plenty of vulnerabilities that are actively exploited by cybercriminals.

According to Check Point’s 2022 Cloud Security report, around 27% of organizations have encountered security incidents in their public cloud environments in the past 12 months. Since the cloud is a favorite hosting choice among small businesses, so the threat scale is also large for them. Misconfigurations, compromised user accounts, and API vulnerabilities are common loopholes in the cloud infrastructure of small businesses. Therefore, cloud security threats are likely to dominate in 2023.

4. MFA Fatigue

Most services are now offering multi-factor authentication (MFA) to have an additional layer of protection from password threats. However, cybercriminals have also started exploiting MFA. Consider that a business is using push notification-based MFA where employees receive a pop-up/prompt message to verify the sign-in request. Now this is where attackers come into action.

Attackers first steal employees’ login credentials and then send them a stream of sign-in requests. Employees might unintentionally click “Approve” due to their habitual behavior or click “Approve” to stop the prompt message from appearing again and again. Once the request is approved, attackers are in the account and can do whatever they want.

MFA fatigue is gaining pace with every passing year. The Uber internal systems breach in 2022 was the main highlighting event for MFA fatigue. Moreover, the August 2022 alone recorded 40,942 MFA attacks. So, MFA fatigue is the emerging cybersecurity threat for businesses of any size in 2023.

5. Crime As-A-Service

Cyberattack market has grown exponentially in the past few years. The phrase has changed from “will you become a victim of cyberattack” to “when you will become a victim of cyberattack”. Owing to the growing potential of cyber market, threat actors are now even offering crime as-a-service. For example, a few Meta employees were fired in 2022 when it was discovered that they were using employee privileges to provide unauthorized access of Facebook profiles and charging thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.

It is believed that threat actors will continue offering their tools and services to other cyber-criminals in subscription-based models. These as-a-service software solutions can then be used by hundreds of thousands of cybercriminals to conduct ransomware, phishing, distributed denial of service, and other attacks on all types of businesses. Therefore, 2023 is likely to see an increase in the black market of crime as-a-service.

Wrapping Up

Cybersecurity threats are a major concern of businesses across the globe. Even the tech giants that are known to have the best cybersecurity teams and protection in place are also becoming victim. So, 2023 does not seem to be any better compared to 2022. Cybercriminals will keep their attacking potential high, leveraging new technologies the most. The best strategy for small businesses is to closely monitor cybersecurity trends in 2023 and try to set up an effective cybersecurity defense system to minimize the chances of becoming victims.

Want to Host a Private Game Server? Here’s How

In this time and age, it’s more than usual to have private game servers, thereby enjoying the gamer experience with absolute assurance regarding safety, protection, speed, and reliability. If you are thinking of hosting your own private game server, in the text below we’ll discuss the hows and to-dos. 

Choose A Game 

Make sure that you meet the system requirements for running the server. But how do you pick the right one, you might ask? Well, there are a few things to consider before making the decision. 

Popularity: A popular game will likely have a larger player base, and therefore, more players will be interested in joining your server. 

System requirements: Make sure that your computer meets the system requirements for running the server. These requirements can vary depending on the game and the number of players you want to support. 

Server software: Not all games have official server software available for download. Some games may require you to use third-party software to host a server. 

Licensing: Some games may require you to purchase a separate server license in order to host a server. Additionally, you must check the terms of service of the game you’re hosting a server for to ensure you are allowed to do so. A game with a large and active community will likely have more resources available for server hosting, such as tutorials and troubleshooting guides. 

Gameplay: You should also consider whether you enjoy the game and would like to play it for an extended period of time, as hosting a server can be a long-term commitment. It’s important to do your research on a game before deciding to host a server for it, as it can be a significant investment of time and resources.

Finding the Right Software 

Once you’ve chosen a game to host, you will need to download the game server software and install it on your computer. The game server software can be downloaded from the game developer’s website or from a third-party source, depending on the game. Once the software is installed, you will need to configure the server settings according to your preferences. Of course, as explained by the team at 1GServerHost, this is easy enough and has many advantages. You can easily make it more secure and faster while still allowing an amazing gaming experience. This includes setting the server name, player limit, and other game-specific options.

After the server is set up and running, you will need to forward the appropriate ports on your router to allow players to connect to your server. This is known as “port forwarding” and is a necessary step for hosting a game server. 

Sharing the Address 

Once you have the server running, you will need to share the IP address and port number of your server with your friends, so they can connect to it. You can use a dynamic DNS service to make it easier for players to connect to your server. With a dynamic DNS service, you can assign a hostname to your IP address, making it easy for players to remember how to connect to your server. Just for the record, A DNS (Domain Name System) service is a system that translates domain names, such as www.example.com, into IP addresses, such as 192.0.2.1. It is a hierarchical-distributed naming system that makes it easier for people to remember website addresses and access them by using their domain names instead of their IP addresses.

Meeting the Requirements 

It’s worth noting that hosting a game server can be demanding on your computer’s resources and may incur additional costs for an internet connection with sufficient upload speed.  Additionally, it’s important to check the terms of service of the game you’re hosting a server for to ensure you are allowed to do so. Sufficient upload speed is important when hosting a game server because it determines how quickly data can be sent from the host server to the players. When a player is connected to the server, they are sending and receiving data constantly. This data includes things like player movements, chat messages, and other game-related information. Without sufficient upload speed, the server may not be able to keep up with the amount of data being sent, resulting in lag and a poor gaming experience for the players.

In conclusion, hosting a private game server can be a great way to play your favorite games with friends, but it also requires a significant investment of time and resources. Choosing a popular game, configuring the server settings, forwarding the appropriate ports, and sharing the IP address and port number with your friends are all important steps that you need to take to successfully host a private game server. Additionally, you should be aware of the terms of service of the game you’re hosting a server for to ensure you are allowed to do so.

Future of Security and Streamlined Check-Ins: Visitor Management Software 

Visitor management is a crucial aspect of modern-day businesses and organizations. With the ever-increasing security concerns, companies have to ensure that their facilities are protected against unauthorized access, while also providing a welcoming environment for visitors. This is where visitor management software comes into play.

Visitor management software provides organizations with a convenient and efficient solution for controlling access, tracking visitor information, and ensuring a secure and streamlined check-in process. By using a digital visitor management system, organizations can verify the identity of visitors, monitor and track visitor activity, and securely store visitor data.

By automating the check-in process and securely storing visitor data, visitor management systems help organizations to achieve a better balance between security and efficiency, making them an essential tool for modern workplaces. 

According to FnF Research, the visitor management software market is expected to be valued at over US$ 1529.50 Million in 2021 and US$ 2724.42 Million by 2028. A growing requirement for paperless administration, as well as a heightened awareness of security dangers, are contributing causes.

In this article, we will explore in detail the benefits of visitor management software, including its impact on security, efficiency, and data privacy.

Security

One of the main benefits of visitors management software is that it helps enhance security. Visitor management systems provide a secure and controlled check-in process that helps to identify and verify visitors. This helps to prevent unauthorized access, reduce the risk of security breaches, and provide a safer environment for employees and visitors.

Verification of Visitors

Visitor management systems typically require visitors to provide identification and verify their identity through methods such as scanning a driver’s license or passport, or through the use of biometric data such as fingerprint or facial recognition. This helps to ensure that only authorized visitors are allowed access to the facility, reducing the risk of security breaches.

Tracking of Visitors

Visitor management systems also provide a secure and efficient method for tracking visitors within a facility. This is important for emergency situations, such as fires or natural disasters, where it is important to quickly locate and evacuate visitors. Additionally, visitor management systems can also provide detailed logs of visitor activity, which can be used to monitor and analyze visitor behavior.

Efficiency of Check-Ins

Visitor management systems also improve efficiency by automating many aspects of the check-in process. For example, digital visitor sign-in systems eliminate the need for manual data entry, freeing up time for employees. Additionally, the use of electronic badges, or visitor ID cards, helps to reduce wait times and make the check-in process faster and more streamlined.

Customization of Check-In Process

Visitor management software also allows organizations to customize their check-in process to meet their specific needs. This includes the ability to create custom forms, set up electronic sign-in sheets, and define the type of information required from visitors. This customization allows organizations to streamline their check-in process and ensure that only the necessary information is collected from visitors.

Data Privacy

Visitor management software also helps to protect visitor data privacy by ensuring that sensitive information is securely stored. Digital visitor management systems use encryption technology to protect visitor data from unauthorized access, ensuring that visitor information is kept confidential. This protects visitor information from being misused or stolen, helping to maintain visitor trust and ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.

According to CookieScript, worldwide data privacy regulations will be strengthened in 2023, as well as privacy standards in the United States, with more investment in privacy technology, and other developments such as improved openness in data collecting and processing.

Integration with Other Systems

Another benefit of visitor management software is its ability to integrate with other systems and tools used by organizations. For example, visitor management systems can be integrated with access control systems, allowing organizations to control and monitor visitor access to specific areas of a facility. 

Additionally, visitor management software can be integrated with HR systems, allowing organizations to track employee-visitor interactions and ensure compliance with internal policies and procedures.

Conclusion

Visitor management software is an important tool for modern organizations, providing enhanced security, improved efficiency, and data privacy protection. With its secure and controlled check-in process, visitor management systems are a valuable tool for organizations looking to improve security, reduce risk, and ensure that employees and visitors are protected. 

By automating the check-in process and securely storing visitor data, visitor management systems help organizations to achieve a better balance between security and efficiency, making them an essential tool for modern workplaces.

Bitcoin Lost 60% of Its Value in 2022 – What to Expect in 2023

2022 has been the worst year for the cryptocurrency industry so far. The crypto market as a whole has fallen over 50% from its peak in 2021. Talking specifically about Bitcoin, it witnessed a whooping loss of over 60% in value, starting the year at $47,669 and ending at $16,547.

The devastating drop of Bitcoin was highly unexpected due to the astonishing 2021 year, but it was triggered due to multiple global economic events, from increasing inflation and rising interest rates to the fall of major crypto exchanges FTX. So, this article will shed light on key market events that triggered the downward path of Bitcoin and then predict what 2023 looks like for Bitcoin.

What Caused Bitcoin to Lose 60% of its Value – Key Market Events in 2022

2022 has not been just the worst year for the crypto market, but the bond markets also fell by over 20% from their 2021 peak, while the benchmark S&P 500 fell by around 19.4% year to year. So, what led to such downfalls? Let’s divide 2022 into three parts and highlight the key events:

Start of 2022

With the start of 2022, governments around the world faced the growing issue of inflation. The start of Russia Ukraine war just worsened the whole situation and bought a new wave of inflation. In order to address inflation, central banks worldwide started to increase interest rates. For example, Fed hiked a 0.25% point interest rate on March 16, 2022, which was the first increase since December 2018. Afterward, the Fed again hiked the rate by 0.5% on May 4, 2022. Similar hikes were seen in other central banks around the world as well.

The strict monetary policies with concerning inflation decreased investors’ appetite for risk. So, investors started pulling out their investments, which caused panic. Investors were selling their high-risk assets aggressively to grab the attractive yield until the market stabilizes again. Owing to that, Bitcoin, which started the year at $47,669, dropped to around $29,000 by May 2022. The crypto cap, which topped 3% in 2021, was fallen over $1 trillion by the end of the second quarter of 2022.

Middle of 2022

The crypto market started showing some signs of stability by the end of the summer. The confidence of investors began to return. In fact, the CoinDesk Market Index (CMI) achieved a summer top level of $1,092 on September 12. Bitcoin made a high of $24,424 on August 13 after making a low of $19,000 by June 18. In the meantime, the Fed was continuously increasing the interest rate, but it was no longer damaging the market like before.

Another main reason behind investors’ confidence was due to FTX, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges that once even hit a $32 billion valuation. FTX also helped BlockFi, the large CeFi lender, from bankruptcy and also invested heavily in crypto companies, startups, etc. In short, FTX was considered one of the trusted companies in the crypto world.

End of 2022

The crypto market didn’t face any major crash until the late fall of 2022. However, the unexpected revelations about FTX and its sister company Alameda Research in November changed the whole scenario. Furthermore, Changpeng Zhao, Binance CEO, responded instantly to the public about his concerns with FTX’s solvency, which resulted in massive withdraw of funds from FTX, eventually making FTX pause withdrawals of customers.

It was discovered that Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, had created a ‘secret backdoor‘ through which he could access investors’ money without anyone knowing. After the discoveries, FTX filed for bankruptcy protection in late November. All these devastating news destroyed the sentiments of investors. The crypto market crashed, the CoinDesk Market Index dropped to $795, and Bitcoin price touched the $16,000 figure.

How’s the Future Looks for Bitcoin in 2023

Looking at the patterns of the crypto crash in 2023, it is evident that the unregulated market is not giving investors the confidence they need. The shocking FTX incident has impacted the credibility of the crypto market greatly. Theft, fraud, careless lending, and bankruptcies are also becoming more prominent in the crypto world now. Owing to that, users are now calling for regularizing crypto with more involvement of government to oversight activities and reduce the chances of fraud.

One thing worth knowing here is that all the issues in the crypto market in 2022 have nothing to do with blockchain technology. No one doubts the technical aspect of crypto. In fact, the crypto industry has also seen some great tech developments in 2022, such as successful shift of Ethereum from proof of work to proof of stake blockchain model.

In 2023, the Bitcoin pattern is not much predictable because there are both positive and negative opinions around Bitcoin. If we look at the current trend, Bitcoin started the year 2023 at $16,540 and is currently trading at $23,013 (January 26, 2023). It shows Bitcoin has been in a bullish trend ever since the start of 2023. One justification is the negotiations around Fed’s interest rate, which might make Bitcoin continue the upward movement. In addition, many wealthy investors called “Bitcoin Whales” have also started accumulating Bitcoin once again.

However, many analysts still believe that Bitcoin will follow the bearish trend once again. Mark Mobius, the founder of Mobius Capital Partners, predicts that Bitcoin might fall into the $10,000 range in 2023. In fact, Standard Chartered, the global bank, even predicts a crash of Bitcoin up to $5,000 in 2023. Many believe that higher inflation, tighter monetary policy, and similar other factors will make investors avoid holding Bitcoins for the long term.

Overall, Bitcoin is in a bullish trend currently. But it is true that investors will be more cautious this time considering what happened in 2022. So, if Bitcoin price starts plunging, we might see aggressive profit-taking. So, it is likely that Bitcoin will move in sideways with some highs and lows throughout the year. To sum up the discussion, it’s going to be an exciting year for Bitcoin, which is likely to set the trend for the upcoming years.

Features of Buying and Registering Real Estate in Dubai

The Arab real estate market does not depend on the economic situation in the world. Dubai remains one of the most popular destinations in demand by foreign citizens. The city with developed infrastructure attracts those planning to move for permanent residence or considering real estate in Dubai as an investment option. Let’s figure out what points you should pay attention to, the prices for houses in Dubai Hills for expats, and what additional costs the owner bears.

Options Available to Foreigners

The United Arab Emirates allows the ownership of real estate by right of ownership for those who do not have citizenship of the country. However, when choosing a location, you must consider that the deal can be carried out only in some areas of the city. Long-term leases are provided for up to 99 years for places not included in the limited list. The list of freehold zones is quite wide, which allows you to buy overseas property in Dubai following your taste preferences and planned budget.

Rights of a Foreign Property Owner in Dubai, UAE

There are no restrictions in comparison with the citizens of the country. You can own, inherit any housing, sell it, live permanently or dispose of it as an object for investment. There is no taxation on apartments in Dubai, both in terms of ownership and rental.

Is It Possible to Buy an Apartment in Dubai With a Mortgage?

The installment format is quite possible. The loan rate can vary from 5.5% to 6% per year; however, confirmation of the material security of the transaction is required for registration. The collateral can be the purchased property in Dubai or a down payment. You will also need a document confirming solvency. The amount of the required minimum is set by the bank depending on the object’s value. Not all developers have similar conditions for buying an apartment in Dubai.

What Does a Real Estate Transaction Look Like?

If the desired object is found, it remains:

  • draw up and sign a preliminary contract; it is allowed to use Arabic and English;
  • sign an agreement on the sale and purchase; it is also “Contract F.” An advance payment accompanies the process;
  •  apply for a Certificate of No Objection;
  • make the final settlement and transfer the property to your possession.

If housing is purchased at the stage of shared development, the procedure is greatly simplified.

What Additional Costs Does the Buyer Bear

Those choosing to move to Dubai should consider that, despite the absence of taxation, no additional costs can be avoided when buying an apartment, house, or villa. Among them:

  • realtor fees;
  • one-time fee for the registration of the transaction;
  • fee for obtaining a document confirming the right of ownership.

More information about real estate in Dubai can be found on the official website of AX Capital.

Help Those Planning to Move to Dubai With Finding Housing

A tourist visa allows you to come to the country and stay there for up to 30 days, using the time to complete a transaction or search for housing. However, for those planning to move to Dubai, it is much more convenient to get acquainted with the region’s peculiarities and study the housing options on the market with current prices even before visiting the UAE.

Real estate agency https://www.axcapital.ae/ will help with this.

Best Practices for Preventing Data Loss and Maximizing the Chances of Successful Software Recovery

Preventing data loss is crucial for individuals and organizations alike. Not only does it spare you the headache of trying to recover lost information, but it also helps you maintain the integrity of your data. Here are some best practices for preventing data loss and maximizing the chances of a successful software recovery:

  1. Regular Backups: One of the most important things you can do to prevent data loss is to regularly backup your data. This way, if anything goes wrong with your computer, you have a copy of your data to restore from.
  2. Use a Reliable Storage Device: External hard drives, cloud storage services, and network-attached storage devices are all reliable options for backing up your data. Make sure to choose a device with a good reputation for reliability and use a reputable provider for cloud storage.
  3. Keep Software and Operating Systems Up-to-Date: Regular software updates can help fix vulnerabilities that could cause data loss. Keeping your operating system updated is also important because it can help prevent data loss from system crashes or other problems.
  4. Uninstall Unused Programs: Uninstalling unused programs can help free up space on your hard drive, reducing the risk of data loss due to full hard drives.
  5. Avoid Overloading Your Computer: Overloading your computer with too many programs, or large files can increase the risk of data loss. Be mindful of the resources you’re using and take steps to minimize the load on your computer.
  6. Use Antivirus and Anti-malware Software: Viruses and malware can cause data loss and compromise your personal information. Make sure to install and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware software to keep your computer secure.
  7. Don’t Turn Off Your Computer During a Write Process: When you’re saving a file or installing a program, don’t turn off your computer until the process is complete. Doing so can cause data loss and corrupt your hard drive.

If some reason, a hard drive failure has occurred, first, it is important to ensure that your PC is shut down and unplugged as soon as you become aware of a data loss. This will help to avoid any further damage or data loss that could occur from continued use of the computer. As we mentioned in point one, always try to create a backup of your data regularly so that you have a recent version of the data in case of a potential problem.

Once the computer is powered down, you can use a variety of data recovery tools to try to recover the lost data. Some of the most popular tools include disk cloning software, data recovery software, and specialized data recovery hardware. It is important to be sure to use the right tool for the right job, as some of the more powerful tools may cause further damage to the data. Additionally, it is important to have the proper knowledge and experience to properly use the tools, as improper use could cause further data loss.In conclusion, by following these best practices, you can prevent data loss and increase your chances of successful software recovery. Regular backups, using reliable storage devices, keeping the software and operating systems up-to-date, uninstalling unused programs, avoiding overloading your computer, using antivirus and anti-malware software, and not turning off your computer during the writing process are all important steps to take.