Category: Technology

Hydrogen Power Technology – Advantages and Disadvantages

Hydrogen power is a new and slowly emerging technology in many countries. This technology was first used in the Apollo moon project in the year 1960. Hydrogen powered vehicles are the future of automobile industries. So, let us know – what actually hydrogen powered technology is; about vehicles that run on hydrogen power, their advantages and disadvantages.

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Toyota Launches New Hydrogen Powered Car – Mirai

Progression in the technology also made automotive industries to advance. Progress is happening in every field, when it comes to automotive industry, hydrogen powered is an emerging technology and these vehicles are the future of the market.

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How to Remove Bots from Your Computer

A botnet is a virus that infects your computer, deletes files and changes your settings. It is a network of compromised systems that run on the command and control of bot masters. If your system is part of botnet, then they can harm your business data. They quietly infect your computer and its network without any warning and use your computers for criminal purposes. In our earlier article we discussed about the basic information on botnet, how to detect it and its preventive measures. In this article, we will discuss how to remove the bots from your computer.

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Small Business Owners: Protect Your Business from Botnets

Cyber criminals are on the lookout for different ways to access your data through virus, Trojans, hacking, phishing, botnet, etc. They consider small businesses ideal platform for botnet use, and presume that these businesses don’t take much security precautions.

Being part of botnet is so terrifying that it badly affects your business, your partners and customers. It will also create a situation of potential liability. You will not even know that you are part of a botnet. In this article, we will discuss botnets briefly, and learn how to protect computers from them.

What is a botnet?
‘Bot’ comes from robot. When malicious software infect your computer, it becomes a bot. Online fraudsters use your computer to infect a large number of computers. These computers form a botnet. A botnet is, thus, a network of computers that work under the command and control of cyber criminals.

Simply put:

  • A bot/robot/zombie is an infected computer. Cyber criminals distribute malware (Trojan virus or other malicious software) that can turn your computer into a bot that responds to their command.
  • A bot network/botnet/zombie is a group of infected computers or PCs. A single bot is not much benefit to hackers. Therefore, they use a bot as a medium to spread malware to a large number of computers. This group of infected computers forms a network – a botnet.

Purpose of botnet
To get control over the bots to perform automated tasks online without the owner’s knowledge.

What are botnets commonly used for?
Cyber criminals use botnets in numerous ways such as for stealing information, sending spam/junk emails, phishing messages, viruses, spyware to other computers for increasing their network further; click fraud, Adware, flash flux, for DOS (Denial of Service) attack on websites or servers and cause crash.

  • Stealing data: Most people store their sensitive information on their computers such as business or work related documents, personal identifications, and email addresses of all contacts, bank account credentials, telephone numbers, social security numbers and other important data. If your computer is in botnet, criminals can access the information, take loan and purchase under your name, and may commit other frauds.
  • DdoS (Distributed denial of service) attacks: With thousands of zombies, bot masters attack at a time to impair or bring down the website and to disrupt its services by creating loss of connectivity or connection bandwidth.
  • Click fraud: Bot masters use botnets for generating revenue for a website on pay-per-click advertising or for creating web-traffic. In other words, they repeatedly access the site by using user’s computer for personal or commercial gain.
  • Phishing: Botmasters use botnets for hosting phishing sites. They harvest the information from bots by turning them into web server for conducting phishing.

How do botnets enter your computer?
Botnets reach your system via Trojan viruses that carry botnet’s code as the payload (disguised in software or attachment). They can reach your computers in the following ways.

  • Email attachments: When you open infected email attachments or download unverified files or software, botnets access your computer.
  • Infected network: When your system is connected to an infected network.
  • By fake warnings: Criminals provide a link or button with fake warnings such as that your computer has virus. That provokes/scares you into clicking.
  • By malicious websites: When you download the software, videos, and audios from malicious websites.

How to detect botnet infections?
Here are some common signs of botnet infected computers

  • Your outbox will have email messages that you didn’t send
  • Your computer suddenly starts operating slowly or crashes or stops responding frequently
  • Your network or internet connection is unusually slow
  • When you are using the Internet, there is an unknown network activity
  • Your system cannot access a few or any website
  • You will receive more number of spam emails than usual
  • Your firewall alerts you on unknown programs accessing the Internet

How to avoid and protect your computer from becoming part of botnet?
As mentioned earlier, botnets use multiple attacks (DDos attack; phishing; click fraud) so that no single technology is able to protect your computers against them. Packet filtering, port-based and signature-based techniques will not be able to mitigate the evil effect of botnets. This is because botmasters modify the code, shuffle the use of zombie hosts and so on.

Defend yourself

  • Install firewall: Firewall acts as a barrier or protective layer between your computer and the Internet. Note: Don’t turn off your firewall even for a while. There is a potential risk that your system will be infected with malware.
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software: These software scan and monitor your system for known viruses and spyware. When they find, they alert you to take an action.
  • Keep all software up-to-date: Update all the software on regularly. Make sure to subscribe to automatic updates wherever required.
  • Keep an eye on your network traffic: Watch out for unusual traffic. Make sure to keep track of the traffic.
  • Use encrypted passwords: Use encrypted passwords for your home and office networks.
  • Web browsing habits: Don’t click or open or download the files that you receive from unknown sources or the one you suspect.

As the owner of a small business, it is sensible to protect your computers, computer networks against the harmful effects of botnets.

Suspicious E-mail Attachment? Be Cautious it can be Impair Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you may be receiving tens of emails (sometimes hundreds) in your in-box every day. You have to be careful while opening your emails – a small neglect on your part can significantly ruin your business – your important files may get deleted, someone might get access to your financial and customer information. I am not trying to scare you off but this is reality. There are many cyber criminals out there looking to make easy money. 95 percent of Americans receive emails with malicious programs while nearly 9 percent opened the attachment infecting their computer (Halon and TNS Global survey).

In this article, we will discuss the common threats that come as email attachments and what precautions you can take.

Common threats as email attachments
Opening a suspicious email attachment can infect your computer with a virus, Trojan horse, botnet and you can even become victim of phishing and hacking.

  • Virus: Virus is one of the common threats that small businesses come across. These malicious programs are mostly sent as email attachments with the intention of either damaging your computer programs or spreading the viruses to the computers in your network for creating problems.

    When such email attachments are opened some programs will get installed in your system. They can do many things – can gain access secretly your sensitive information, wipe out all the files on your hard drive, replicate and spread to USB keys and external hard drives. Sometimes they display unwanted ads.

  • Trojan horse: Trojan horse records all keystrokes you enter in your system. That is how it gains unauthorized access to your organization’s financial information, customer information; disrupts the performance of your computer; deletes or modifies your data, etc. Cyber criminals can even notice you through web cam.
  • Phishing: Phishing emails look legitimate and appear as if they came from known sources like businesses, banks, government agencies, friends, relatives, major online retailers, social networking sites, etc. They motivate you to download HTML form and sometimes motivate you to click the links in the email.

    These emails come with subject lines like “update your information” or confirm your user-name and password” and sometimes state the consequences if you don’t verify your details.

    Phishers generally attach html form to the mail. When you open such attachments, the form asks you to fill your credentials. These attachments are less likely to be blocked by anti-phishing mechanisms, because the form is stored locally.

    Sometimes you will be asked to click on the link provided that leads to the phisher site that site looks genuine and they motivate you to enter details of your accounts. The phishers gather your information based on your inputs and use this information to gain access to your account with a bank etc. to misuse it.

  • Legitimate PayPal URL looks like:
    legitimateurl
  • Disguised URL from the phishing email:
    Disguised url

These phishing links are constructed in such a way that looks like it goes to PayPal.com, but it leads to the phishing site. You can see the difference instead of forward slashes – there are dots in the URL and also you can see in the URL – instead of https it is http. (Note: HTTPS in the URL signifies your information is secure. Legitimate sites will only able to get this security certificate)

  • Botnet: Botnets are generally a group of computer networks that are remotely controlled by cyber criminals over the Internet in an effort to perform automated tasks without your knowledge. These email attachments contain viruses, spyware with botnet code. When they are installed in your computer. The creator of malware takes control over your system, your Internet browsers and monitors your keystrokes. They sometimes use your email account to send thousands of spam emails and involve in click fraud.
  • Hacking: Typically hacking targets a specific person. Hackers are very smart they send emails with convincing subject line, attached with a virus. Sometimes, they send emails from your friends’ or business partners’ account (the one which they already hacked). When such attachments are installed, they gain access to your system without your knowledge. Once the hacker gains access to your system, they look for information to steal your financial accounts, trade secrets, client details or your intellectual property.

Precautions to take

  • Update your operating system or enable ‘automatic update’
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software in your system. Because this will inspect all files in your computer as well as your attachment files for viruses and spywares. Whenever they find any infection, they will remove it or immediately alert you
  • Back up all important files on your computer
  • Install and maintain a firewall on your computer – configure it. This will alert you whenever a program or process is attempting to access your system
  • Use attachment filters that will block certain file names or extensions
  • When you are not using your system, shut it down
  • Disable settings in your email program that automatically download the attachments


Precautions to take while opening email attachments

  • Don’t click, open, save or run any email attachments that you suspect
  • Be cautious about the executable files that end with the extensions such as .exe, .vbs, .lnk, .pif, .scr, .bat and so on
  • If you think the file is legitimate, check the contact details whether they are matching with the original source
  • Don’t give personal or sensitive information by email. Remember, no legitimate source will ask for information through emails

Small businesses are common target of cyber criminals as they often give least attention to this kind of matters. Use your emails sensibly and safeguard your business.
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Apache OpenOffice vs LibreOffice

It is importanat for any organization to have software tools that reduces the time spent by employees and increases productivity thus, fetching good results for an organization.
Office suit is one such tool that helps organization in drafting documents, giving presentations, performing calculations and managing databases.

MS Office suit is the most popular tool and is a proprietary product of Microsoft. It is a paid tool and quite expensive for SMBs, start ups and personal PCs. For example, The cost of Microsoft Office 2013 for home & student is $139.99 and MS office professional costs $399.99. Moreover they work on only 1 PC. If you increase the number of users, the cost multiplies.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice are two office suites that are similar to MS Office. They are open source and available for free. They can be downloaded for free on any number of systems and can be shared among any number of users.

Apache OpenOffice

  • OpenOffice has gone through many owners like Star, Sun, Oracle and presently Apache.
  • It is available only in 32 bit but it is compatible with 64 bit operating systems also. (So, it works comparitively well in older systems than in new configuration systems)
  • It has similar ribbon interface as Microsoft Office 2007, which is more user friendly.
  • Some sections of OpenOffice is copyrighted and cannot be modified. While, rest of the pages are licensed under Apache License.version 2 (Alv2) and are available for modifications.
  • It is a free suite with the support from communities and groups.
  • It occupies 136.78MB of memory space and is dependent on Java.
  • It supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, Linux and Mac, but does not support Windows 98 and Solaris operating systems.
  • Updates are not as regular as LibreOffice.
  • More alignment problems while importing and exporting files.

In September 2010, Oracle has taken over Sun. Few people from OpenOffice.org came out and formed a group called “The Document Foundation”. This group used the same base program OpenOffice and developed LibreOffice suspecting that either Oracle will discontinue OpenOffice.org or place restrictions on it.

LibreOffice

  • Performance of LibreOffice is very low when compared to OpenOffice
  • LibreOffice has better opensource license (Lesser General Public License) and whole software is available freely for modifications, extensions, etc.
  • It supports many file formats than OpenOffice.
  • Two different versions available for both 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems.
  • Interface of LibreOffice is not as user friendly as OpenOffice. It is similar to MS office 2003 interface.(not ribbon interface).
  • It is compatible on almost all operating systems like Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8, Linux and Mac including Windows 98 and Solaris.
  • Need approximately 210MB of memory space and it is also dependent on Java.
  • Updates and developments are more frequent in LibreOffice compared to OpenOffice.
  • Strong community support base and is growing everyday.
  • Less alignment problems while importing and exporting files.

If you can afford it and if it is only for one PC, then MS Office is recommended for its genuinity and professional support. But, for SMBs, where they need Office suite installation on multiple PCs, it is better to adopt the free alternatives in order to be cost effective.
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Google Sitelinks – How to Use Them Properly for the Success of Your Small Business Website

Sitelinks are additional links that are displayed below your main search results in Google. This feature is really useful because it shows the main and important pages of the sites along with the homepage and makes it easy for users. However, a few website owner have concerns regarding these sitelinks because at times Google picks up some pages that are not appropriate from the site owner’s perspective.

This article discusses sitelinks, how to deal with them and offers tips that could help you while dealing with your small business website.

What are sitelinks?
Sitelinks are the hyperlinks of a website which are shown under the Google’s main search result. These links are meant to help the users navigate easily through the site. These links are automatically generated by Google based on the some parameters.

How Google picks sitelinks?
Google analyzes the website’s link structure to find shortcuts that make it easy for the user to find the information they are searching for. Those shortcuts are sitelinks likely assumed to be the pages relevant to the search query. In short, Google picks sitelinks based on users’ query and sites’ structure.

When Google displays sitelinks and when not
Sitelinks appear in search results when the site is credible and when they match the user’s query. Sitelinks will not appear if the site is not credible or when the site’s structure is not allowing the algorithms to find the good sitelinks relevant to user’s query.

What to do if a Sitelink URL is inappropriate?
If you think that Google displaying some less relevant or in appropriate page of your site, you can simply “demote it.” Once you demote a specific URL, Google understands that you are not considering this URL as a good one. Google considers this demotion when generating the sitelinks but may not guarantee you that the demoted URLs will never displayed again as a sitelink.

How to Demote a sitelink URL?
As these sitelinks are generated automatically by Google, you can demote/remove them through Google Webmaster Tools.

  • Go to Home Page of Google Webmaster Tools, then click the site that you want.
  • Under Search Appearance, click the sitelinks to access the demotion form.
  • Two text fields will appear:
    • – In the “For this search results” box, complete the URL that you don’t want as a particular sitelink URL to display in the search results.
    • – In the “Demote this sitelink URL” box, enter the URL of the sitelink that you want to demote.
    • – Once you enter the URL, click Demote button.

Once you demoted or undemoted a sitelink, Google takes few days to apply these changes. You can demote up to 100 URLs and all the demotions are effective for 90 days.

Even after demoting, the URL/s is/are not going down – What to do?
If the demoted sitelink URL/s is/are appearing in search results, even after demoting them, following are things to do which may help you out.

  • Use the “nosnippet” robots meta tag
  • Use a robotted javascript file or
  • Use a robotted iframe.

Sitelinks are important in making your website more user-friendly. However, the important point is relevancy and quality of such links.