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Technology Tips: August 2015 Edition

Skyward IT Services
Skyward IT Services - Network Infrastructure and Security Specialists



Chrome Tips

Web browsers have evolved far beyond their original mission of providing one-way windows into the web (who else remembers the days of Netscape Navigator?). As more services migrate to online platforms, browsers are only reinforcing their new roles as multi-function boxes of digital magic.
Google Chrome owns approximately 25 percent of the browser global market share and has an established presence in K-12 education. So, for all you Google Chrome users, check out these helpful hidden Chrome tricks from PC Mag: http://goo.gl/l6YPMj.


URL Shortener

Long links can be messy, confusing, and burdensome. Needless to say, you’d prefer to avoid them, especially when it comes to professional work (and social media sharing).
Cue the URL shortener! There are a number of free web services that offer you the opportunity to take those unwieldy links and turn them into something you can actually use. When you paste a long URL into the bar, it will generate a unique, clean looking URL for you to use.
How does it work?
1. Open a browser and go to goo.gl, ow.ly, or bit.ly, just to name a few. 
2. Paste any long URL into the text box provided and click the “Shorten" button.

3. A short link, like the one you see above in the Chrome Tips section, will be generated. You can then copy the link and paste it into an email, tweet, or document of your choice. 

4. As an added bonus, many of these link shortening services also offer detailed analytics on your new, shorter link so you can see how your audience is engaging and which topics are generating the most clicks.


Digital Iconography

The quest for a standardized digital language continues. Fortunately, some headway has been made in the last several years. The images below show common icons you’ll encounter when working with technology. Some of these symbols may be referenced if you need to work with tech support to resolve a problem and many will appear in a large number of the tools you use on a daily basis. By familiarizing yourself with this visual language now, you can save time and eliminate confusion later when communicating with others about your programs and devices. 


Malware of the Month – CryptoLocker Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that infects your system or files, then gives you a time limit in which you must pay the “ransom” for access. (For CryptoLocker, this amount is typically $300 to $500.) If you do not pay within that time period, the files will be destroyed.  
Here are a few tips to help prevent CryptoLocker and other ransomware threats from infecting your device.
1. If you don't know an email's sender, be wary about clicking any links or attachments. 

2. Always run reputable antivirus software on your device. Keep it updated so that it will block any new ransomware threats.

3. Make sure important security updates are loaded to your operating system and the software you run on it. Many malware programs attack unpatched vulnerabilities in software, so simply running updates can prevent a lot of infections.
4. Make regular backups of your files to an external hard drive or online backup site. That way, you will still be able to access them if ransomware attacks.

"We've arranged a global civilization in which the most crucial elements – transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting, profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology."
– Carl Sagan

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