Every business should take extra steps to safeguard its customers’ information and protect business technologies from hackers. It is always a good practice to change passwords at least 3 times a year. Make your password hard to crack. Good passwords should include both uppercase and lower case characters, special characters (like #$%! etc.) and be at least 21 characters long. You can find a few good online password generators (https://lastpass.com/generatepassword.php). If you use a password generator, make sure the passwords are generated on your local device such as your laptop or desktop instead of your handheld, and to be extra safe, change a few of the characters in the auto generated password before you use the new pas sword. A strong password would look like this: “g8T06^P4h&Jw@5X*8Aa79We.” Using a phrase with numbers replacing some key text characters is also a great idea.

A strong password is important to protect personal information and business assets online. Using a different password for each unique web site login that is long and has multiple types of characters (numbers, letter and symbols) will help protect you and your business from someone hacking into your accounts.

What is messaging and why does it matter to you and your business? Well, if you have a website, it’s assumed you are using it to provide valuable information to your current and potential customers. So it may surprise you that major search engines like Google, MSN, Bing, etc. don’t actually have human beings visiting your site. Due to the sheer magnitude of websites that exist, search engines use BOTs (short for “Robot”) – automated software that spiders or indexes your web site. These BOTs take many factors into consideration when placing a ranking on your site.

Messaging refers to the overall subject matter of any given page on your website and the content within it. In the eyes of a search engine BOT, the subject matter, content and Focus Keywords on your site combine like a mathematical equation to “score” your page and provide a numerical ranking. By default, the effectiveness of your entire website is translated into an index “number.”

According to Lynn La at CNET: “AT&T has finally rolled out its native Wi-Fi calling feature on certain smartphones, after the Federal Communications Commission granted the wireless carrier’s waiver request for the feature. Starting Oct. 8, AT&T customers with the latest phones, the Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, as well last year’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, can make and receive calls using a Wi-Fi network as long as the handsets are also running Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 9.

Wi-Fi calling can be useful whenever users find themselves in an area with weak or no carrier coverage. By using a local Wi-Fi network, such as the one set up at your house or available in a public space like a cafe or library, you can still make calls without a cellular connection. And because the feature is baked into the devices themselves, you and the person you are calling won’t have to download a third-party app or service.

Out of the four major U.S. carriers, AT&T is now the third to roll out Wi-Fi calling, following T-Mobile and Sprint. AT&T hoped to launch the Wi-Fi calling feature last month when Apple first released iOS 9. Last week, the carrier accused the FCC of dragging its feet on approving the waiver it needed to offer the feature. The FCC, which denies the claim it was slow to OK the request, granted the waiver Tuesday.

Last week, Facebook announced a pilot of “Reactions,” a new response mechanism that allows users to respond to posts on its network in more ways than just clicking “Like” or adding a comment. The new feature, (currently being tested in Spain and Ireland), is a reaction bar that grew from users’ expressed interest to having a “dislike” button. Besides “like,” uses can now choose emoji (expressive ideograms/smileys) symbols to express several other sentiments by hovering over or pressing down on the reaction bar. Available emotions are: Like, Love, HaHa, Yay, Sad and Angry.

An added benefit to the “Reactions” feature may allow Facebook to help detect Internet bullying before it escalates. Theoretically, Facebook is able to monitor reactions to posts and can step in if they notice a sharp uptick in negative reactions to a particular user’s posts.

– A Win for Online Advertisers –

With the addition of “Reactions,” Facebook’s ad platform is becoming an even more useful online marketing tool.

Cybersecurity: Did you know that simply downloading your email or clicking on web site advertisements may add/download tracking software to your device? Advances in technology now enable advertisers and marketers to track your online habits through the collection of this usage data. Have you ever clicked on an ad on a website for something that interests you, and then found either the ad or a similar ad popping up on other websites, seemingly following you around? This is due to the new trend called “Behavioral Marketing” or “Target Marketing.” When you perform a certain task online, your browser is flagged for that particular interest by all sites using Google search engine tools. And today, most websites you visit will preempt advertisements with those best suited to your interests, favorite products, or brands, based on your past online use.

For marketers, your behavior is essential for them to know so they can design advertising and promotional messages that resonate with you, the user, thus maximizing the advertisement’s impact.

Email works in a similar way. When you download an email and its images to your computer, you are acknowledging you have received that email. Email marketers are able to track how many times you open that email, what you click on, and if you forward that email to someone. They can even tell if you chose not to open the email.

What would you do if I told you your site is under constant attack? 90% of sites are hacked with malware and you never know it. Hackers are getting very sophisticated and run scripts whose sole purpose is to break into one of the services on your website server, such as your email server, FTP, or if you have a Word Press site your plug-ins become a liability. There’s an old saying in the industry: “There are those who have been hacked and those who don’t know it yet.”

I have first-hand experience dealing with these types of events. It is of the utmost importance that you keep your site up-to-date, which includes the software running your site as well as the plug-ins adding features to your site. Creating strong passwords with more than sixteen characters, using both uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers and never using real words, is of vital importance. 

Let me play out a scenario for you. When the site is hacked, the hackers have a plan and they stick to their playbook: 
• They crack your password or break into one of your services, like an outdated plug-in.

E-mail marketing has become commonplace and is a great way to engage your contacts.  Once you have your e-mail prepared you want to ensure that it reaches your contacts inbox and that they open it.  Personal preferences and SPAM filters can hinder that process, but we have a few tips to help you increase your open rates.

1.  66% of contacts check e-mail on a mobile device, so ensuring that your e-mail is mobile friendly is key.

2.  Write a subject line that captures the recipient’s attention without misleading the reader about the content of the e-mail. Avoid the
“what happens next …” syndrome.

3.  Your e-mail should have a good balance of text and images. An e-mail with too many images can load slowly and trigger SPAM filters.

Go Mobile! If your website is not mobile enabled you’re losing organic positioning on the search engines. Google made it official last month and announced they are going to be re-indexing website’s results and prioritizing mobile-friendly websites. And as we all know what Google does others copy and compound the problem. 57 percent of users will not recommend a website if it’s not mobile friendly.

All your efforts to keep your website up-to-date and the technology current will be for nothing if potential customers can’t find your website. The mobile industry is growing by leaps and bounds – 80 percent of traffic to websites is now coming from mobile devices.

There are simple steps you can take to check if your website is compliant. I have included some links to free services that will give you a real sense of your website’s health. If you find your website is not compliant or mobile, have your developer give you an estimate and a timeline to upgrade your website’s technologies. Do yourself a favor and get at least three estimates. Clearly define the scope of work, set your expectations and make sure they are understood. Happy serving!

Test your Site:  

Pedro Pérez graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Graphic Design in 1996. In 2004, he founded Nuevo Advertising Group in Sarasota, a design and marketing firm that focuses on bridging the gap between U.S. businesses and the Hispanic community. His wife and business partner, Roseanne Avella-Pérez, is also a Ringling College graduate (Class of 1998, Illustration). They have a three-year-old daughter, Sophia Bella Pérez. “Sophia’s showing inspired artistic skills already,” says Pérez. “One day, she might be part of the team, too.”

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