All posts by Online Presence Builders

5 Reasons to Use a Password Manager

With more and more of our lives happening online, and every new site requiring a password, it’s more tempting than ever to just use the same password across all your accounts.  But we all know that’s a bad idea.  We’ve been told repeatedly by experts and learned the hard way that using different passwords is absolutely necessary to keep your data secure.  So we have a new problem: how to keep all our passwords straight.  For that, many people turn to password managers.  Here are five reasons you should, too.

  1. No more “I forgot my password” clicks

With a password manager, you only have to remember the master password.  All your other passwords are stored in your account, so once you log in there, you have the rest of them at your fingertips.  You’ll never have to wait for that “forgot password” email again!

  •  You can use stronger passwords

The strongest passwords are long strings of random characters, which are nearly impossible to remember.  Using a password manager, you can use extremely strong randomly generated passwords, so your accounts will be even more secure.

  • They work across devices

Some of us have accounts we only ever access on our phones or tablets, and those accounts need protection, too.  Most password managers can be easily installed on a mobile device, so you can access all your accounts on all your devices without a hitch.

  • They make changing passwords a breeze

Some sites require you to change your password at regular intervals, whether it’s once a year, every six months, or every quarter.  Other sites upgrade their security features and require a one-time password change.  And, of course, if you find your account is part of a data breach, you’ll want to change your password immediately!  With a password manager, you can set up regular password changes or change a password with just a couple of clicks.

  • They’re not just for passwords

Think about all the security questions, memberships, and other easily-forgettable information you have associated with your accounts.  Password managers can take care of those, too, as well as medical information and lots of other data you need access to.

Password managers can help make your online life easier.  We can make it easier for you to get online!  Contact us today to learn about our reliable, affordable high-speed internet service.

REACH4 Emergency Preparations and Response

As Tropical Storm Barry bears down on Louisiana, we want to inform you about our network preparedness, service disruption issues, and repair response concerns should we incur heavy damages or outages. We will do our best to keep you updated on outages as they occur via Facebook or phone message on our tech support line (337-783-3436 Option 1).

Network Preparedness:

  • Backup Generators: Our two main towers in Crowley and Duson have backup generators to provide power as long as needed.
  • Battery Backup: All other towers have battery backup that will last anywhere from 18 -30 hours depending on the amount of equipment at the tower.
  • Replacement Equipment: We have backup replacement equipment for all towers should damages occur but not enough to replace ALL equipment in a worst-case scenario.

Service Disruption Issues:

  • Extended Power Outages: If power outages occur at our towers for extended periods of time, the battery system will run out and internet service will not be restored until power has been restored.
  • Antenna Alignment: Due to high sustained winds, it is possible that radio dish antennas on our tower and on your house may shift and go out of alignment. If that happens, internet service will not be restored until the antenna has been realigned. You may want to note the direction your internet antenna is facing prior to the storm so if it is shifted, you can report that to us.
  • Slower Than Normal Internet Service: Internet usage WILL BE at capacity during the storm because everyone will be home inside waiting out the storm using their devices. It will be more than PEAK times ALL DAY!
  • Lightning Damage: There is a high probability that equipment on our towers will be damaged.

Repair Response Concerns:

  • Our number one priority is to make sure ALL towers are repaired and working properly before restoring service at residences.
  • Tower repair response times will depend on favorable weather and the availability of tower crews. We won’t be the only business affected.
  • Once towers have been repaired, restoring service at your house will depend on accessibility due to possible flooding in the area.
  • Repair times will be longer than normal based on the number of customers affected. There is also a chance we may be short-handed for at time as REACH4 employees maybe flooded in, dealing with power outages themselves, or repairing their own homes.

What Are All These Cookie Notices?

Over the last year, you’ve probably noticed that more and more websites are suddenly covered with pop-ups or banners talking about cookies and consent.  These notices are annoying and delay your access to your intended website, which is the opposite of the internet’s goal of being user-friendly.  So why does every site suddenly have these warnings?

First, let’s clear up some terminology.  A cookie is a bit of information that a website stores on your computer, allowing the site to recognize your computer when you visit it again.  This makes your internet experience much smoother and more convenient by keeping you logged into certain sites or remembering your settings and preferences.  In general, cookies don’t contain any personal information like your name or email address, but some can include records of your activity on the website, which can be used for targeted advertising. 

In the European Union, they decided that was a problem.  Under the EU’s internet privacy legislation known as GDPR, everyone has the right to control their data and how it’s used.  Where cookies are concerned, that means that every website must state that they use cookies and why.  Some of these policies offer a checkbox to opt out of using cookies on that site, but most state that your use of the site constitutes consent, much like terms and conditions. 

Websites have no borders, so even though this is an EU law, it effectively applies to the entire internet.  When an EU citizen visits a website based in the U.S., the same GDPR rules apply.  That’s why just about any website you go to these days follows the same protocol.  For now, it’s the best solution we have to maintain everyone’s privacy and right to control their own data.

Our affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service is available in your neighborhood!  Contact us today to learn what we can offer you.      

Email Trackers and How to Block Them

If you’ve ever signed up for an email newsletter or added your email address to a website’s mailing list, your emails from that sender are probably being tracked. Mailing services like MailChimp and Postmark automatically gather some information from the emails they send, such as whether the message was opened, if any links were clicked, and sometimes even what device was used or what time zone it was in.
Many websites use this information to keep their email lists up to date. When they see that someone hasn’t opened any emails from their site in a few months, they remove that email address from their mailing list. Marketing departments and sales teams may also use email tracking software to see when a prospective client has read their emails so that they can send a follow-up email soon after to encourage the sale.
Email tracking software works by including a small bit of code, often in a single-pixel image, in the body of the message. There may also be code included in the clickable links within the email. That code relays all that information back to the sender so that they know who has been interacting with their emails or ignoring them.
If you’d prefer not to let your email-viewing habits get out, don’t worry! There are ways to block these email trackers. The easiest way is to go into your account settings and set your account to ask before displaying images or external content. This will block any hidden images that contain tracking code, but you can still allow images for the emails you choose on a case-by-case basis. Another way to block email tracking software is to use a browser extension, such as Ugly Email. Ugly Email is an extension for Firefox and Chrome which blocks many of the most common trackers. It marks tracked emails with an eyeball icon next to the subject line in your inbox to warn you, but it also blocks the tracking software when you open the message, so your privacy is protected.
Email trackers have been around almost as long as email newsletters, and most senders don’t use them maliciously. Trying to avoid all tracked emails is probably impossible, but you have every right to protect your privacy with all the tools available to you.
Affordable high-speed Internet service is available in your neighborhood! Contact us today to learn about the plans we can offer you.

Optimize Your Streaming Experience

Streaming video has become the primary online activity for many people.  Whether you’ve cut the cord on your cable or you just really love Netflix and cute cat videos, odds are that you stream a lot of video over your Internet connection.  How can you make sure you’re getting the best streaming experience possible?

Check your speed

Make sure you have enough speed for the service you’re using.  Netflix recommends 3 Mbps for SD, 5 Mbps for HD, and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD.  SlingTV requires the same numbers for mobile devices, single stream to a computer or tv, and multiple devices, respectively.  YouTube’s minimums are 2.5 Mbps for 720p, 4 Mbps for 1080p, and 15 Mbps for 4k Ultra HD.  Hulu has the lowest bandwidth requirements at 1.5 Mbps for SD, 3 Mbps for 720p, 6 Mbps for 1080p, and 13 Mbps for 4k Ultra HD.

Check your settings

Adjust your playback settings to match your bandwidth speed and limit your data usage.  In a Netflix account, these settings can be set for each profile separately under My Profile.  For SlingTV, playback settings have to be set on each device by going to Settings, and then Connection.  YouTube playback can be changed on mobile devices to limit mobile data under Settings.  Hulu has not released any information about changing playback settings.

Use common sense

Remember a few things:

  1. Your stream can only be as good as your hardware. If you don’t have an HD TV, you won’t get any benefit from streaming in HD, so don’t bother using all that bandwidth and data.
  2. Using multiple devices at once changes your available bandwidth speed. If your Internet connection is 25 Mbps and 2 people are streaming on separate devices, both streams are getting about 12.5 Mbps.
  3. If your Internet connection has a data limit, even a high one, it pays to keep track of it. Most ISP’s that use data limits offer alerts by email or text at certain milestones like 50%, 75%, or 90%.

 

For affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service in your neighborhood, contact us today!

Optimize Your Home Network

We have more devices than ever and all those devices need an Internet connection.  How can you make the most of your bandwidth and home network?  Read on for a few helpful tips.

Router Placement

The best place for a router is in a central part of your home, so it can cover the most area with good strong signal.  The farther away you are, the weaker your signal will be, so try not to put your router at one end of the house.  If you have a large home, a repeater can increase the range of your router’s signal.  Also, remember that rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, which have a lot of metal pipes and insulation in the walls, can cause more signal degradation than other rooms.

Check Your Speed Wisely

It’s always a good idea to know what kind of bandwidth speed you’re getting.  To get the most accurate results, it’s best to use a third-party testing site like speedtest.net or speakeasy.net.  Make sure that no other devices are using your connection, including smart tv’s or streaming devices, and use an ethernet connection if possible.  A wireless device might show different results depending on what frequency it uses, so you might see one result on your laptop and another on your phone.

Add or Reset a Password

Just to make sure that you don’t have any freeloaders on your wireless network, it’s a good idea to keep it locked by a password and change that password periodically.  This isn’t something you have to do often, just a couple of times a year in case someone in the house gave out the password to a few friends too many.

Replace Hardware

If your router is more than about five years old and causing connection issues, it might be time to consider replacing it.  Upgrading to a newer router can give you more security as well as more wireless frequencies to choose from which can then give you better speeds on some wireless devices.

We can provide reliable, high-speed Internet access in your neighborhood.  Contact us today to learn what we can do for you!

Keep Your Information Safe While Holiday Shopping

It’s that time of year again!  The holiday season is upon us and more people than ever will be shopping online in the coming weeks.  But with several security breaches in the news in the last couple of years, the privacy of your sensitive data should be a top concern as you go about your holiday shopping.  Here are a few tips to help you keep your information secure.

  1. Verify your site

Make sure you’re shopping a reputable site.  Look for a padlock icon or “https” at the beginning of the URL to ensure the site is encrypted.  Double check the URL before you enter any payment information, just to be sure you didn’t get redirected to a shady site.

  1. Pay securely

Using your debit card can risk your entire bank balance if someone gets their hands on it.  Consider using a credit card, which will give you more resources in case of fraudulent charges and protect your bank account at the same time.  Another great and widely accepted option is Paypal, which offers secure payments and good resolution procedures.

  1. Be smart

A little common sense can go a long way when it comes to keeping your data secure.  Avoid using public wi-fi networks and stick to reputable sites instead of following the lowest price into corners of the Internet where you might not venture otherwise.

  1. Keep your eyes open

Check your account statements weekly until at least the end of January.  If any fraudulent charges appear, you’ll be able to handle it quickly and limit its effects.  After January, make sure to check your statements at least once a month as a best practice.

If you’re in the market for reliable, high-speed Internet service this holiday season, contact us today to learn how we can help!

Deleting Your Search History

We’ve all become very aware of privacy concerns and the need to protect our information online in recent years. We’ve learned to create stronger passwords, to ignore phishing scam emails, and to clear our browsing history regularly. But there’s another layer to online privacy that you may not have thought of yet: your search history. If you’ve ever noticed that after you’ve searched for some product you suddenly see ads for that product or similar things on every page you visit, you know what this is about. Every time you Google anything, that information is collected and used to target advertising from various retailers, among other things.
That thought may be discomforting, but don’t worry! According to a tutorial from The Next Web, there are two ways that you can clear your Google search history.
1. Go to myactivity.google.com and make sure you’re signed in with your Google account.
2. Choose “Delete activity by” from the left-hand sidebar.
3. In the form provided, first choose your date range, then go to the drop-down menu labeled “All Products” and choose “search”.
4. Click “delete”.
You can also delete your search history directly from the Google search page.
1. Go to the Google homepage while you’re logged into your Google account.
2. Click on “Settings”, then “Your data in search”.
3. Choose either to review your search history, delete your search history from the last hour, or delete all your search history all the way back to 2005.
Deleting your search history will keep you from getting so many search-based ads and prevent Google from building a profile of you for targeted advertising. It’s just another way to keep your information and activity private, which is more important than ever as so much of our lives happen online.
We provide affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service in your area. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!

A New Way to Monitor Your Passwords

We all know the importance of keeping your passwords secure and changing them regularly. We also know that you shouldn’t use the same password for multiple sites, but with every website requiring a login, using a different password for everything can seem impossible. Unfortunately, more and more, it seems to be a question of when a site may be breached, rather than if it will be. So how can you know if your passwords have been compromised?
Mozilla has recently launched a new service called Firefox Monitor. All you need to do is enter your email address and it will check for possible breaches using the trusted Have I Been Pwned database. You can also sign up for notifications in case your email address ever turns up in the future. In addition, Firefox users will receive notifications when they visit a site that has been breached in the past.
An important feature of this service is the fact that your email address is not shared even with the Monitor’s partner database. Each request is encrypted on Firefox’s side, and only part of the encrypted entry is sent. HIBP replies with all its entries that include that part, and then Firefox matches up those responses to your information. Nothing ever passes through any third parties. For a more in depth look at this new service, check out this report at Engadget.

We offer affordable, reliable, high speed Internet service in your area! To learn more, contact us and find out what we can do for you.

Private Browsing Isn’t Really Private

During the last evolution in web browsers, one of the greatest innovations was the arrival of “private browsing”.  Some programs called it a “private window”, others named it “Incognito Mode”, but the gist was the same all over: use this new form of browsing and no one would be able to track your online movements!

Unfortunately, like most anything that seems too good to be true, that isn’t quite how it works.

Private or Incognito browsing does essentially one thing: it prevents your browsing history from being stored.  You can accomplish the same thing yourself by clearing your browsing history every time you close your web browser, but let’s be honest, nobody would remember to do that every time, and that’s why private browsing was invented.

Private browsing is great for some things.  It’s a great option if someone borrows your computer; in private mode, your browser won’t automatically bring up your email or social media accounts, so there’s no awkward signing out before they see something.  It’s also a great idea for any sites you don’t want other people stumbling on; secret engagement rings or anniversary gifts can’t be snooped from private mode.

However, you cannot use private browsing to look for a new job on your company’s network and expect it to stay a secret.  Private browsing only affects the individual computer you’re using.  If your company monitors their network traffic, they can see exactly where you go online and what you do, even if that private window doesn’t store the history on your machine.  If you’re at home, your own ISP can also see what sites you visit and where you click, despite that “incognito mode” window.

Private browsing is useful for using a shared or public computer, but it doesn’t hide everything.  Use common sense when it comes to your privacy and security.

We offer reliable high-speed Internet service in your area!  Call us today to see what we can do for you!