Sunday, July 19, 2009

How I'm going to use social networking to steal your identity!


I liked this article so much that I wanted to share it with you. Although I am a huge fan of social networking there are people out there that will take advantage of you and Ron really shows you how it could be done and it can really make you think! I look forward to your comments...

Sharon
LaMothe Services, LLC
http://lamotheservices.com/

How I'm going to use social networking to steal your identity!

Ron Shulkin
Chicago Social Networking Examiner


I think about all my trusted advisors in real life: my attorney, my doctor and others. There are questions that if posed by my insurance agent, I’d react by getting up from the table, letting him know it’s none of his business. But in the spirit of connecting socially, I easily answer these same questions in a Facebook quiz. It’s a cathartic release, a confession. Sometimes it makes up for the close mouthed, private way I act in real life. I know it seems great to “share” with others. And social network communities are the perfect place to dive in. Somehow sitting alone at the computer gives us license to answer some very intimate questions.


So the first thing I’ll do to steal your identity is find out everything I can about you. I can take a quiz, as apparently 34 million others did and with almost 200,000 fans, for “How Well Do You Know Me”? I’ll find out your birth date, where you were born, the names of your parents, your spouse, and your children. And I’ll find out their birthdates. I’ll find out your hobbies and your interests. I’ll see who all your friends are.


I’ll read “25 things you didn’t know about me”. I’ll know what sports you like, what your middle name is. I’ll know what your favorite stores are. I’ll figure out where you live by seeing where you shop. Your grammar school and your high school will be listed. It won’t be long until I find out the name of your first pet. Oh look, you used to have a space between your two front teeth!


I’ll read what Greek god you are, what Sex In The City character you think you are and who is your celebrity twin. Then I’ll figure out your childhood nickname, in what city you met your significant other, the name of your favorite childhood friend, the street you lived on in third grade. It won’t be long before I know your oldest sibling’s birthday month and year, the middle name of your youngest child, your oldest sibling's middle name, the school you attended for sixth grade, and your childhood phone number including area code. You’ll have listed your oldest cousin's first and last name, the name of your first stuffed animal and the city or town where your mother and father met.


Your MySpace or Facebook Info page will tell me your email address and your employer. The “Who Are You Related To” will tell me all your relatives. It’s great to know what cities you’ve visited, so when I start using your credit cards I won’t set off any suspicious behavior.


Somehow or another, one of the eight thousand eight hundred and eighty four Facebook quizzes that everyone’s taken will provide me with the answers I’m looking for.


Because your bank, your credit card, your school, your payroll company and your employer might ask these security questions, I’ll read your blog so I can find out the first name of the boy or girl that you first kissed, the last name of your third grade teacher, where your nearest sibling lives and your youngest brother’s birthday. After reading your blog, even if I don’t have a direct answer to any of the security questions, I’ll know enough about you to start making really good guesses.


On LinkedIn you’ve listed the name of your elementary / primary school and the city or town where your first job was. I can see your college history and even all the people who connect with you doing business.


Even without all this data I could probably figure out what your passwords are. Most people use the same password for every web site. Here’s the top ten according to PC Magazine:
1. password
2. 123456
3. qwerty
4. abc123
5. letmein
6. monkey
7. myspace1
8. password1
9. link182
10. (your first name)


Didn’t have to do any research for those. And the default password usually included from your vendor will also let me try: sun123, Cisco, Alcatel, Kyocera, McAfee and IBM. A surprising number of people never change the password from the default after installation. If it’s a six character requirement I can guess, and likely be correct with shadow or summer. Eight characters? Then desklamp or portable. I’m guessing people start looking around when they have to come up with a password quickly. If the password requires a number, it is almost always “1”.


But unless you’re using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols in a random order, I can either try a top ten favorite from above or dig into your (not very) private life and figure out your password. Or if I can’t figure out your password, I can answer the security questions that let me reset your password to one I like. Then you can’t get in, but I can.
My first step will be to break into your email. Most of us have had our email addresses for a very long time, so it is likely the password we used was a product of that time period. I signed up for my Yahoo email when it came out, probably a decade ago. I wanted to grab my name before other computer savvy “shulkin”s did. These were eras with less security concerns about password strength.


I’ll do this hacking into your email account late at night, so when the notifications of password changes come in, I can delete them before you wake up and check your email. Hopefully you’ll have a folder in your email system called “passwords”. That will make the rest of this identity theft easier. And if there’s anything good in your inbox, I’ll read them and mark them “unread” before I go.


Once in your email system, I’ll crack your credit cards and bank. I’ll answer the security questions to change the password, “in case I forgot it”. Then they’ll send that notification to the email address and I’ll delete those too. I’ll know what web sites you subscribe to, so I’ll go on eBay, Hoovers and all your other resources. This will let me know more about you, as well.


My next pass will be to get into your cell phone account. You manage it on line, so I can get that password with security questions. I can look up all the phone numbers you get calls from and to whom you call. These friends of yours might be my next targets. Maybe your girlfriend is using a combination of your first name and your birthday as her password. Worth a try. It will still be hours before either you or she wakes up.


So if you wake up one morning and all your credit cards are cancelled or you’ve bought some airplane tickets or a nice HDTV (and had it drop shipped to an address one door down from yours where I’ll be waiting wisely informed as to when with the results of the record tracking on shipping); if your cell phone has ordered a bunch of custom ring tones or if your bank has had most of its funds transferred to my favorite charity, you’ll know that you answered one too many questions on that Facebook quiz.


Some things are meant to stay private. When you get on Facebook, stick to reminiscing about high school.

Monday, July 13, 2009

SMART ART X: Come and Join me in Orlando

Calling all ART professionals! I will be hosting 2 luncheon round tables at this years SMART ART in Orlando, Florida. Below is the information if you haven't had the chance to sign up yet! It's FREE and very worthwhile! I hope to see you there!

Sharon LaMothe
www.InfertilityAnswers.org

The SMART ART™ X Conference has extended the deadline for Call for Nominations for those practitioners that have advanced reproductive medicine in their practice and/or outreach and education to their community. Finalists will receive a travel stipend to attend the SMART ART™ X Conference in

Orlando

where they will be specially recognized.

If you have registered for the meeting (www.123enroll.com/SMARTART to register) and have already made your travel plans, it is not too late to submit yourself or a colleague. Winners may use the travel stipend toward existing travel.

You may nominate yourself or a colleague. Nominations should include: your name or the name of the nominee, degree, position, practice, contact information and a brief description (~500 words) of how the candidate has made a significant impact within their practice or community. Submissions to include:
• How clinical procedure/practice or community outreach has fulfilled an unmet need in community or clinic;
• How fulfilling the unmet clinical need benefited patients or clinic/practice; or how community outreach benefited or enriched recipients.

Limit nominations to yourself or one nurse that has made a significant contribution in reproductive medicine in the clinic or community where she/he practices. (All other submissions will be eliminated, regardless of the merit of the nominee.)

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Nominations must be received via e-mail, fax, or mail no later than Wednesday July 15, 2009. Finalists will receive a travel stipend to attend the SMART ART™ X Conference where they will be specially recognized.

Questions and nominations should be submitted to:
Letters & Sciences
Attn: Jamie Miller
9 Whippany Road, Suite B2-5
Whippany, NJ 07981
Phone 973 560-1234 ext 16
Fax 973 560-1247
jmiller@letsci.org

REMINDER TO THOSE NOT YET REGISTERED:
Location and Accommodations
Hilton in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort


1751 Hotel Plaza Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: (800) 782-4414; (407) 827-4000


The SMART ART™ X Conference has negotiated special hotel rates at the Hilton in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort. Rooms have been reserved at a reduced rate of $115.00 per night, single or double occupancy, plus tax. To take advantage of these rates, please book your hotel reservation by July 21, 2009. After that date, the SMART ART™ X room block will be released.

Hotel reservations can be made directly through Hilton reservations online, available through our website, or by calling toll free (800) 782-4414 or (407) 827-4000. Please ask for the "SMART ART" group block at the Hilton in the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resort to receive the discounted conference rate. Hotel cancellations must be made at least 5 days before check-in to obtain a full refund.

Visit www.123enroll.com/SMARTART for more information on hotel, travel and local dining and

Thursday, July 9, 2009

3 Steps to Becoming a Trusted, Customer-Focused Business

Where has the customer service gone people ask....maybe department stores can ignore the importance of customer service these days but "service related" industry's simply CAN NOT afford to allow their clients to believe they are not special, unique and cared about. Your clients are your number ONE marketing and networking tool. Seriously folks! If you have a happy client they are going to spread the word about how wonderful, compassionate and caring you are...have a client who is disgruntled, unsatisfied and ignored will cost you more then money when THEY start telling their story! Customers need to know that you care...that they mean something to you other then a pay check. Treat them as you would like to be treated and watch your business grow!

Sharon
http://lamotheservices.com/

Times Are Tough. Do Your Customers Know You Care?


3 Steps to Becoming a Trusted, Customer-Focused Business
by Larry Streeter, Constant Contact Vice President, Customer Support

Here in the Constant Contact Customer Support center, we have the benefit of connecting with our users every day -- either by phone, through live chat, or via email. We've been listening carefully to what they're saying about how the economy is impacting their businesses and their lives. And you know what? We've learned something very interesting and extremely valuable to any business or organization:

A down economy is the best time to connect with your customers.

Consumers are seeking trusted business sources to hear their concerns and provide them with options. Customers want your ear and your empathy. They want to be heard and acknowledged. They need to know that you understand and care about what they're going through -- even if they're not buying from you at this point in time.

It comes down to this: You may have the best product or service out there, but that alone won't guarantee your success if you haven't built loyal bonds with your customers. As we've often said, your existing customers are your best customers. They will thank you with their repeat business and send you business referrals. And they will think of you when they're ready to buy -- in good times and in bad. But customer loyalty must be earned.

Unlike big business, small organizations are uniquely able to cater to customer needs and earn their loyalty. How do you do that? By being 100% customer focused every day, with every interaction, in every aspect of your business. Here are three ways simple ways you can earn their loyalty by focusing on super-serving your customers.

1. Be Passionate About Your Customers
Being passionate about your customers starts with listening to and hearing their concerns. Make sure you always understand what the customer is saying or asking. Educate them on the value of the products and services you provide, and offer them solutions based on what they need. Passion means proving to customers you are vested in their success.

Passion also means being accessible, accountable, and HONEST. If there's a problem, don't gloss over it. Own it. And don't quit until you make it right. Saying, "I'm sorry, let's work this out" goes a long way toward earning your customer's gratitude and return business. Get on the phone or send an email and make that personal connection.

2. Use Every Interaction as an Opportunity to Build a Relationship
Consumers today are feeling beat up and shrugged off by the sorry state of some big-business customer service. Customers desire connection.

We have a mantra here: "Leave no customer unsatisfied." We give every customer our utmost respect and complete attention. This applies to all our users -- whether they are a current customer or have just signed up for a free trial. We make sure that with every interaction with our support team, that the caller is completely satisfied. And we take a lot of pride in that.

Every interaction -- be it over the phone, in an email, or across the counter -- is an opportunity to deepen your bond with your customer. Make sure all your employees share your commitment to your customers' success.

3. Learn What's Important to Customers and Deliver It

The businesses that are going to survive this economy unscathed are the ones who are listening to their customers and adapting their businesses based on customer feedback. By letting your customers know that you are not only interested in their feedback -- but you are willing to act on it -- you can build stronger customer relationships and earn your customers' loyalty.

Extend invitations for customers to give you feedback at every opportunity. If you have a physical store, put a suggestion box at the counter -- alongside your email sign-up list.

Include an open-ended question at the end of every email marketing communication asking, "How are we doing? What could we do better?"

Survey your customers to find out what they want and need right now. Ask them, if they're not buying from you now, why not? What would it take to get their business back? Report on that feedback to your mailing list in your future email marketing communications.

Write a Question-and-Answer column in your email newsletter inviting customers to sound off and tell you what's on their minds. Offer free advice. Use customer feedback to inform your email marketing content and drive your campaigns.

The economy may be turbulent for some time. The good news is, building loyal customer bonds is an investment in your business's future. Because when the dust clears and the economy picks up again, loyal customers are more apt to come back to a trusted source with whom they've done business before. But that's true only if they believe you're focused not on what you want to sell them, but on what they need. Today that might just be a good ear that shows you care.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Does Your Web Design Do For You



I think that everyone who is starting up their own business is looking to the Internet to provide them with information that, hopefully, will help them avoid the mistakes their competition maybe already making....which is why they look up and read every website in their chosen industry. They critique the design, look for typos in the content, take note of the colors and then try to dream up a unique design that will make a statement about how special their services are. The information below is a huge help....another thought is to hire someone within your industry to guide you in the best way to market in your niche. It truly helps to have someone in your corner especially when it comes to your largest marketing tool...your website!

Happy 4th of July!! Be Safe!!

Sharon

http://lamotheservices.com/

What Does Your Web Design Do For You

There are so many websites on the internet nowadays, so if you want a great website that stands out from the crowd, you are going to have to have brilliant web design incorporated into it.

A website that is badly designed will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. If you want a website that is remembered for the right reasons, you are going to have to have a design that makes your website unique.

Your web design is the first thing that people notice when they arrive at your website. If you have an untidy website with bad graphics and terrible navigation, you are going to lose your readers and viewers right from the start. That is why web design is important in the process of creating a successful website. Whether it is a personal website or one that you intend to use for business purposes, it needs to be well designed and well maintained.

If you can grab the reader's attention by graphics that are relevant and useful, text that is of a very high quality, colors and layouts that are easy on the eye, then you are half way there! Research has shown that more people buy from websites that are designed professionally and look trustworthy, rather than quickly made and with badly thought out designs.

So, you can see how important your web design really is now. There are many ways to improve your web design, both for free and by hiring someone else to do it for you. Which you choose will depend on your budget and your time frame. A busy web designer may not be able to fit you in for months.

How you layout your website is also very important. You may have lots of great content on your website that people would love to read, but what if they can't find it? If you haven't clearly and easily laid out your website in the web design process, your readers won't be able to find any other pages. This could be disastrous if you are selling some kind of service or product.

All in all the web design aspect is only a small part of getting your website up and running, however, it is very important. When you are designing your website, remember to make it easy to navigate, concise and clear.

If you are not familiar with web design and all the aspects that go into creating a website, it may be worth your while looking for a professional web designer or a pre made template. Web designers come with different price tags all depending on where you get them from and what you need doing.

If you want a relatively simple design you will be looking at a fairly cheap price. If you are looking for a complex website with many features you can expect to pay a fair amount of money for it. A good designer will include you all throughout the process. You will be able to approve the website as many times as required.

Ready-made templates are great if you don't have the budget for a professional designer and don't have the time to learn how to create one from scratch. There are many free ones that you find on the Internet or ones that you can buy for a small amount of money.


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