HOWTO: Keep your cell phone safe and secure

Cell phone user thanks to Gwenflickr

Time to put the smart in smart phone!

With news updates of phone hacking scandals splashing headlines the world over, we’re hearing lots of cell phone security buzz – and for good reason too!

While a major news outlet may not be interested in your cell phone activities (or we sure hope not!), this is still a great time to make sure you are practicing some solid cell phone security practices.

Keep that cell phone close by!

You are far more likely to misplace / lose a cell phone than to get hacked, so be sure your little handheld buddy doesn’t stray too far.

  • Beware of keeping your phone on your table at busy restaurants, leaving your phone in the car (even just for a ‘second’), etc.
  • Find a ‘funky’ cover or skin to make it super easy to identify your iPhone – avoid an accidental mix up easily (I’m a big fan of the Infectious skins) when at a networking event or dinner with 7,000 other iPhone / Blackberry / Android users
  • Password protect your phone to keep your logins, contacts, email and notes safe from undesirables – also great for making sure any kiddos in your life don’t make random calls to Japan
    • For safety purposes, use an emergency app like smart-ICE to not only store your ICE info (‘In Case of Emergency’) for paramedics to be aware of medical conditions, insurance details and contact info, but add ICE info to your locked screen (in addition to your quirky-cool smart phone wall paper).
  • Install a phone location / security app on your phone, a few examples:

Beware of public Wifi + ‘Evil Twins’

Yay for public Internet access!   But boo for public Wi-Fi security.   Extra emphasis on that ‘boo’ when using a credit card or login, as not all Wi-Fi connections are as secure and innocent as they seem.   Learn more about the ‘Evil Twin’ phishing scam here.

As cumbersome and slow as it might be, opt for your 3G / 4G network connection over a public Wi-Fi connection to stay secure.   Or pick up your own piece of the Internet and invest in a MiFi card.

What’s up with hardware and software security?

Not all apps and phones are created equal.   As an iPhone user, Apple has a more stringent vetting process of apps that helps weed out *most* malicious programs.   Android’s app community is far more open and has had some security exploits in early 2011.

Use common sense when purchasing apps and accessing certain sites (like your bank account, for instance) on your smart phone.   Beware of ‘look alike’ apps that might be masquerading as a Chase banking utility and think twice about depositing checks using a phone app – and learn the safe ways to bank on your phone here..

Photo thanks to Flickr user GwenFlickr

Get increased Facebook security with HTTPS

Add extra Facebook security

Ah, the Internet.   Home of silly company names and weird acronyms for cool stuff.   Gowalla, anyone?

The latest focus in online verbiage that you should really know about is:   HTTPS (‘hypertext transfer protocol, with SSL security)

Facebook has recently added HTTPS support, which means that you now have the ability to access the Facebook site in a more secure environment.

How to update your Facebook HTTPS settings

  1. Visit your ‘Account Settings’ page:

    Update Facebook account settings

  2. Scroll to Account Security and click ‘Browse Facebook on a secure connection (HTTPS) whenever possible’:
  3. Don’t see this option yet? Hold on for a bit, as they are rolling it out over the next couple of weeks.

How will HTTPS affect my Facebook-ing?

The Facebook programmers have cautioned users that enabling this additional encryption may cause pages to load more slowly and also means that some 3rd party applications may not work until some additional tweaking is done.

What?   Facebook has been insecure this whole time?

Wellllll…   that’s a tricky question to answer.   This increase in encryption with HTTPS makes it that much harder to access your Facebook when you are, say, surfing on a public wifi connection.

But, as we’ve seen with numerous Facebook updates that have exposed information users didn’t intend to share publicly, approaching your Facebook surfing and sharing with caution is ALWAYS highly recommended.

Feeling overwhelmed or want a friendly person to friend on Facebook?   Contact the Schipulites to see how we can help!

Photo thanks to Flickr user Sean McGrath

WikiLeaks and “Cablegate” Explained

If you’ve been paying attention to the news even a little bit this week, you’ve probably heard a lot about WikiLeaks. It’s tough to cut through the spin and get to the facts, so don’t worry if it’s all left you a little confused. To help you out, we’ve put together a few FAQ’s about WikiLeaks, “Cablegate,” and the security issues surrounding this latest news.

  • What is WikiLeaks?

WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization that “publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct.” Their slogan is “We open governments.” The site has leaked many documents incriminating both public officials and private businesses since its founding in 2006. Contrary to its name, WikiLeaks is not a wiki — content on the site is not editable or commentable by visitors.

  • Why are people talking about WikiLeaks right now?

A few days ago, WikiLeaks began publishing the first of over 250,000 diplomatic cables between the U.S. government and embassies around the world. The documents range in security level from unclassified to secret (a level up from “confidential”). The U.S. government is not too thrilled that all this behind-the-scenes talk has been made public, and some foreign leaders are not too thrilled about what they’re reading.

  • How did WikiLeaks get these documents?

Well, they were leaked. Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst who (allegedly) supplied the documents to WikiLeaks, is currently imprisoned in Virginia awaiting trial for charges of unauthorized use and disclosure of classified information. There is, of course, a Free Bradley Manning movement, which WikiLeaks has been involved in despite refusing to name him as the source of these documents or other leaks he is suspected of.

  • What’s in them?

A lot, including evidence that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice both instructed U.S. diplomatic officials to engage in espionage at the United Nations (which, by the way, is forbidden) and some not-so-great things said about foreign leaders.

  • Where can I read the cables myself?

Several news publications also published the documents, and you can follow the coverage via the New York Times or search the raw documents yourself via The Guardian. Der Spiegel has also put together an interactive map of the cables organized by their level of secrecy.

  • Why can’t I get to

The site has been hit by several DDoS attacks since publishing the cables. A “lone hacker” has taken credit for the attacks, but the validity of his claim is questionable. You can follow WikiLeaks on Twitter @wikileaks for the latest updates.

  • What does it all mean?

Will Hillary Clinton resign? What will happen to Bradley Manning? Not sure. The more thoughtful questions that this leak and much of WikiLeaks’ history bring up are about trust in government, security, and confidentiality. Governments and the people who work for them haven’t changed much, but technology definitely has. Whether you believe in absolutely open government like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or you’re more likely to call Bradley Manning a criminal than a hero, it’s difficult to ignore the power that technology gives to passion. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange were both willing to take huge risks, using technology as a tool, for something they believe in, and they’ve got a lot of people talking and thinking about new ideas and questions as a result.

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user opensourceway.

Learn About Bullying at the Children’s Museum

If your a parent getting ready to send your kids back to school, the Children’s Museum is hosting a free 3-day boot camp dedicated to educating kids and adults about bullying. Anti-bullying training sessions will be held during the day, and local law enforcement and internet experts will teach parents valuable computer safety skills. While the event is free it’s import to register at the museum in order to ensure placement, spots are going fast! You can register for the August 12-14 sessions by picking up passes at the Children’s Museum from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7 or Sunday, Aug. 8th. You can find more information at KPRC Local 2.

Server Maintenance Underway – Minor Outages May Occur Tonight (June 6th).

ServersTonight our team will be doing some server diagnostics to keep our servers running smoothly. We take our job of keeping your website fast, secure, and happy and this will allow us to do just that.

You may possibly experience some minor and temporary website disruptions around 6:00 PM CST, but these will quickly pass. We appreciate you business and look forward to many smooth and safe years of Web marketing your organization!

If you have any questions please call our support line at (281) 497-6567 EXT. 411 or email us at

Thanks from the Schipul team!

We’re Giving Our Servers Some Love – Minor Outages Tonight (June 6th) May Occur

Our team is doing some server maintenance today in order to keep our servers running at their best. We love (and take very seriously) our job of keeping your web sites secure fast and happy and this will keep us doing just that,

You may experience some minor website disruptions around 6:00 PM CST, but these will only be temporary. We appreciate your business and look forward to many smooth and safe years of Web marketing your organization!

If you have any questions please call our support line at (281) 497-6567 EXT. 411 or email us at

Thank you!

USB Flash- Don’t leave home without it, and leave one at a friends

Pink Tokidoki Flash  DriveFlash drives – cheap and easy backup can save on Vacation Stress

They fit in your pocket, on your key chain and just look cool. With all the phones and portable devices we carry these days, we forget about these flash drives at the bottom of our desk drawers. The USB drive still has a couple of great features for traveling. Even if you are settled in for a nice staycation, add this little packing and preparedness tip to your travel plans or todo list. Snag a USB drive on sale in a multi-pack as the prices continue to fall on these little jewels. Or, pick up one of Happy Katies favorite designer Flash drives by MimoBot. Now, get ready for some scanning.

Files, documents and every important document you would ever need, all in your pocket. Scan personal documents and records in case you lose your wallet or passport and you will have a digital image of all your registrations. But, but… WAIT! What if the wrong person finds it when it drops out of the pocket of your shorts? No worries, you should encrypt the contents with TrueCrypt or your favorite security feature.

These little tech toys have some crazy cool options besides just a backup. Don’t want to carry a laptop or computer with you? Portable Apps Platform ScreenshotCan’t spring for the iPad yet? You can save all your bookmarks, favorite email settings, and doc settings on a FlashDrive and launch your profile from any public computer without fear of leaving your crumbs all over the desktop. Portable Apps is an open source software platform you install on your flashdrive or other backup device, adjust your settings, then plug it into a computer and run your programs from your own drive. You have access to all your software and personal data just like on your own PC.

What to save on your USB Drive

Losing important documents can ruin what should be a happy vacation. A little safety and planning can eliminate much of the stress. Before you pack up and leave, take the time to scan copies of important documents and save the files on to a secure area of the flash drive. Here are some examples of important documents:

  • Vacation Plans: Itinerary, Maps and receipts of deposits for reservations.
  • Personal documents: Drivers license, passport, birth certificate, Insurance cards (health and auto), Credit Cards and CC phone numbers for lost cards.
  • Home Documents: Home Insurance, Auto Titles, Registrations, photos of big purchase items for insurance documentation, and documents that would be hard to replace if you came back home and they weren’t there. Yikes! My next plan is to scan old family photos for safekeeping before they detoriate or get wet in the next hurricane.
  • Medical Records: List of medications for each family member, immunizations, List of family doctor and dentist contacts.
  • School and Work Records: Nice to have everything in one place while you are at it. Include copies of your transcripts, diplomas, Resume, licenses, permits, Wills, and any other items you may want to keep all organized.

Now, your life is basically in one place if you ever have to recreate your history or need to hide it Bourne style. This is a cheap and easy way to travel light, backup photos off the camera while on vacation for processing later, and use software programs securely when on public machines. In fact, buy a couple of the drives, make copies of the drive and give one to a friend to put in their safe deposit box or mail one to a family member in another part of the country in case of emergency.

Enjoy your trip, be safe, and tell us how you use your Flash Drive for your vacation!