How to safely operate a bring your own device policy

Technology is growing by leaps and bounds and companies of every size are constantly looking for ways to leverage all of the benefits that these technological advances can bring them. It may not be cost effective for companies of any size to jump on every single new technological wonder, even when the price of technology is at an all-time low.

There is a way for companies to benefit from the latest and greatest technological gadgets without having to make any type of monetary investment. Portable devices are making their ways into the hands of people all over the world. Just about everyone has a smartphone, and tablet computers are quickly becoming the norm.

Many companies are choosing to adopt a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy in order to take advantage of these technological advances without incurring any type of costs, but there are security risks involved with a Bring Your Own Device Policy. Here are five things that companies can do to ensure their data does not end up in the wrong hands.

Know who is accessing data, and what devices they are using to do it

The very first step towards a successful ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy is understanding what types of devices are being used to access data. It is also important to understand which employees are accessing which data.

A security audit is a great way for businesses to get a better understanding of exactly what types of devices are being used by employees to access sensitive corporate data. This will help a company determine exactly how to move on to the next step in securing their data in the mobile world.

Decide what data devices can access

The very first conclusion that many companies are jumping to is restricting access to corporate networks via personal devices. This is not the right choice. A security audit should have identified what types of devices are accessing the network.

The next step to properly protect data is to classify it and the networks that are being used to send and retrieve the data. By classifying data, businesses will be able to get a much better look at the areas that need protection, and the areas that do not. Once the data has been classified it will be much easier to see the bigger picture. Companies will be able to set forth a policy that allows certain groups of people access to certain areas of data.

Identify problem apps

Not every app will play nice. Some apps have been known to have huge security vulnerabilities. These apps, without notice to the user can copy and send address lists and personal photos through the corporate network.

The two most popular mobile device operating systems are both guilty of these two examples. iOS which powers Apple devices, and the Android operating system have both been known to have these same security problems. Once the problem apps are identified, they can be prevented from being installed through company networks. Another solution is to restrict app downloads to a company approved app market place.

Create company policies to help reduce mobile security problems

Once these other issues have been addressed, companies will need to create strict policies that will teach employees what can and cannot be done with their own devices on a company network. If an employee uses their own mobile device to conduct work in the work place, a strict policy should dictate what he or she can or can’t do with the device. These policies must also have strict repercussions for any employee that chooses to violate them.

Enforcing policy with software

A security key on a keyboardThere are several solutions on the market that can and will help corporations manage all of this information. These resolutions are called Mobile Device Management Solutions. These types of solutions will allow corporations to enforce the policies that have been set during all of the previous steps.

A mobile device management solution will protect data, manage apps, address mobile device security, protect content, and protect emails. A mobile device management system will also be compatible with every major mobile device operating system on the market.

Allowing employees to use their own portable devices should not present a security breach to any company regardless of its size. Proper planning will always be the best way to prevent any sort of problems.

Seven Days in Search – Online News at a Glance

Here is a quick round up of the latest updates and news from the SEO sphere!

Google+ For Business: It’s Good for You

Unbounce loves infographics – and its latest, impressively long example makes a powerful case for the merits of Google+ for business. Headline benefits include: it’s indexed by Google; it’s new, but already has more than 170 million users; and it’s growing rapidly. According to the article, 60 percent of Google+ users log in every day, compared to only 50 percent for Twitter, and Google+ allows you to curate information that builds a business persona and engages an audience. Add the fact that membership will continue to grow, since all Gmail users have a Google+ account by default, and you’re on to a winner, concludes the piece.

Maximizing the Link Potential of Infographics

Infographics are also good for link-building, SEOmoz reminds readers, in a guide to getting good link-mileage from your efforts. Make it really easy to share your work by adding an HTML embed code, recommends the piece, and include some form of branding in the body of the graphic in case people don’t credit you. If you’re serious about reaching an international audience, consider translating your work, and tweet about it in the same language. Reuse your content by reformatting it, using video as a powerful repurposing tool, promote it to death among your social networking circles, then wait for it to go viral, concludes the article.

Don’t Neglect Your Video Landing Pages

Given the popularity of video content, don’t waste your creative efforts by failing to optimize your landing pages, warns ReelSEO, in a piece that delivers eight solid tips. Ensure your general SEO is in shape before tackling video-specific tasks, and start by using YouTube’s search filters to research high-quality keywords, advises the article. Add an XML video sitemap, and consider adding a text transcript if your page is short on written content, recommends the author. Make it eye-catching, adding stand-out thumbnails, and finally, check your page loads quickly to avoid losing visitors before they view your masterpiece.

Pinterest Tips for B2B Marketers

There’s no shortage of advice for businesses wanting to use Pinterest as a marketing tool, but most of it’s aimed at consumer-focused organizations. Social Media Examiner offers tips for B2B companies wanting to take the plunge, starting with the ever-popular infographic. Pinning attractive cover images of your gated content, including e-books and white papers, is another proven technique, while images of your products and your brand are must-haves, concludes the article.

Ask the Experts: Link-Building 101

PushFire assembled 10 of the best-known names in the SEO industry to answer a series of probing link-building questions, and unearthed some gems in its 2012 guide to Link Building with the Experts. To compete with brands that dominate the top SERPs slots, become a brand yourself, suggests Rand Fishkin – it’s what “real companies do.” The panel is almost unanimous in asserting that links will remain very important to SEO for years yet, with most members still focusing on quality links as the most significant ranking factor. Recent changes to Google’s algorithm, assert the majority of panelists, don’t change white-hat SEO ground rules one iota.

Keyword Research for SEO: Short Tail vs. Long Tail

Keyword research is a critical part to any SEO campaign. An article on The SEO Agency discusses the importance of keyword research and how to effectively use both short-tail and long-tail keywords in your strategy. It is best to use a mix of both types of keywords and the article suggests two strategies to accomplish this 1) combo pages and 2) individual pages. The key is to keep sight of competitive short-tail keywords in your SEO and content development, while taking advantage of specific long-tail phrases.

Creating Content with Compelling Calls to Action

Every piece of content you create, states SEOmoz, should be “leading people to perform measurable actions.” Simply adding a “Buy Now” button to your page isn’t just inadequate, it’s a turn-off, warns the piece. Be provocative, visionary, authoritative, timely or just different, it opines. Telling a coherent story is another key piece of the puzzle, and allows you to lead the reader gently toward the desired conversion. Rate your content against these factors, concludes the article, and change your writing style to plug the gaps.

Google+: Hyperdrive Yet to be Engaged

According to Google’s Bradley Horowitz, Google+ is still waiting for the intense period of growth that has characterized other social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter. Speaking in London, Product Management VP Horowitz noted that it took other “successful social networks … four years to get to the hypergrowth stage.” Horowitz also hinted at soon-to-launch products that will make a big difference to Google+ usage, one of which, he indicated, is a new Google mobile client.

“Do Not Track” – Better Get Used to It

Ad Age Digital speculates about the impact of do-not-track (DNT) technology on the continuing development of digital marketing. Given the unprecedented ability of publishers and marketers to amass data about online consumers, DNT represents a potential return to the marketing stone-age, asserts the piece, but don’t expect it to go away. Consumers will ultimately opt for privacy, and marketers need to adopt other, less intrusive practices. That said, concludes the article, there will remain “a continuing residue of vague consumer unease even in a DNT-on world.”

Google: We’re Not Crowd-Sourcing, We Just Want Your Opinion

Last week, Internet strategist Nathan Sauser noticed a new Google pop-up asking his opinion of the search results it had just delivered, and posted details of the event on his blog. Trying to second-guess Google’s motives, he provoked a number of articles on SEO blogs, including a piece by WebProNews that concluded it was no more than an exercise in gathering live feedback. “This is one of our experiments,” confirmed Google, one which WebProNews believes is easier to use than the current offering.

Conversion Rate Improvement Tips

Too many business websites still fail to deliver content that satisfies visitors, suggests Search Engine Journal, citing missing phone numbers, prices and company information as the main oversights. Many pages also lack a coherent call to action, observes the article. Search Engine Watch, in similar vein, looks at ways to improve conversion rates, starting with gauging customer intent. Structure content according to your visitor’s likely stage in the buying cycle, suggests the piece, avoiding ambiguity throughout and reducing the level of choice at each stage. Remember to ask for feedback, concludes the author, as the first step in building brand loyalty.

Yammer: Microsoft’s Billion-Dollar Facebook Clone?

Microsoft finally shook hands on a deal to acquire Yammer, worth $1.2 billion, reports Wired.com, confirming one of the industry’s worst-kept secrets. Microsoft says that Yammer, “a Facebook-like social network designed specifically for businesses,” will remain independent initially, eventually being wrapped into the company’s other products, including SharePoint and Office 365. Yammer CEO David Sacks, who will stay in post, made headlines in March 2012 when, in response to what he saw as “patent trolling” by Yahoo, he offered a $25,000 signing bonus to any Yahoo employee who left to join Yammer.

The Yammer logo

Yammer’s logo

SEO: Big Business – and Getting Bigger

BlueCaribu’s infographic on the size of the SEO industry answers a heap of questions, but raises a few more. Every month, 2.4 million Americans, just over half of them male, search for “SEO,” reveals the graphic, and 863 million websites around the globe mention the term. Interestingly, as a nation, the United States has only the fourth-highest interest in SEO, behind India, Pakistan and the Philippines. But try to locate any numbers that show the monetary scale of the industry and you’ll come up short – this piece is more likely to fuel water-cooler debate than board-room strategy.

Bing Image Search – Pretty as a Picture

Having introduced a minimalist look to its SERPs pages in May 2012, Bing announced one month later that it had extended the process to Bing Image Search. Noting that image search accounted for 7 percent of all Bing searches, the company introduced a tile-based layout that received positive responses from Search Engine Land and others. Now sporting a look-and-feel that resembles Pinterest’s much-mimicked layout, the revamped Image Search also features filter bars, trending searches and search suggestions.

Short of Inspiration for Fresh Content? – You May Already Have Written it

Econsultancy takes an outside-the-box look at content generation, often rated by marketers as one of the more difficult techniques to get right, and suggests repurposing existing business communication, including emails, phone calls, training materials and customer service stories. Taking time to reuse some of the content that you already write in response to customer queries and service calls can provide great articles and blog posts that are fresh, original and fun-to-read, asserts the piece.

Try Event-Driven Local Link Building

Local events present great opportunities for link building, suggests SEOmoz, in a post that considers the collateral value of seminars, training days, shows and conferences. While you need to focus primarily on the benefits of the event itself, warns the article, taking a little time to add your event to relevant event-listing websites can result in useful, natural links that are entirely spam-free. Good targets include regional news sites, business magazines and local trade associations; remember to check your competitors’ backlinks to identify link sources, reminds the piece.

Low-Cost Mobile Conversions Largely Ignored

Many search marketers are ignoring the potential of mobile search advertising, squandering the chance of conversions that cost far less than the corresponding desktop ads, suggests Marketing Land, offering two contrasting case studies. Although primarily aimed at pay-per-click practitioners, the advice applies equally well to mobile SEO, and underscores the fact that “most marketers [are] still not serious about mobile,” according to the article. The studies show that driving visitors to call a live agent is a highly effective conversion technique, and reflects the increased use of smartphones in early stages of the buying process.

Which new printer is best for you?

A printerAs with everything from televisions to cameras to computers, printer technology evolves and improves with every year. Printer manufacturers release new models every calendar year that offer new features, improved capabilities and, in some cases, fixes for problems that have plagued users in earlier models.

In 2012, printers are faster than ever before, providing crisp and clean images and text. Still, they manage to print more quickly and use less ink, making them so much more efficient. Other trends this year include larger formats and wireless capabilities. Here’s a closer look at some of the top printers of 2012, for all possible budgets and printing needs.

HP Envy 110 e-All-in-One

Want a printer that is environmentally friendly while also providing high-quality printing? Then this is your printer. The world’s only PVC-free printer, the Envy inkjet printer, is also Energy Star certified and offers green features like automatic two-sided printing and an ink cartridge recycling program.

In addition to the low environmental impact, the Envy offers quick and quiet printing and produces lab quality photo prints and crisp documents. And in addition to the wireless capabilities, the Envy has built in AirPrint capabilities, meaning you can print from your iPad, iPod touch or iPhone. Best of all, the Envy is affordable, just around $200.

Canon Pixma MX432

Are you working from home? Do you need an affordable machine that prints, scans and copies? Then the Canon Pixma MX432 might be a good option for you.

Costing about $100, this sleek machine does everything you need for a low price. While this inkjet has a slightly slower speed than some other comparable printers, it provides excellent photo printing and includes wireless and AirSoft capabilities for convenient printing on the go.

HP Officejet Pro 8500

If you need fast and high-quality printing plus the capability to scan, copy and fax, then this is the model for you. One of the most user-friendly printers on the market, it boasts a large LCD screen that allows you to set your preferences with just the touch of a button.

For an inexpensive all-in-one (this model runs just under $300) the HP Officejet prints quickly, with about 15 pages per minute in black and white, 11 pages per minute in color, both with professional-looking resolution and quality. The drawback to this model is that it does not have wireless capabilities, but you can scan directly to e-mail or print from a memory card.

Epson Artisan 835/Epson Artisan 1430

If you print lots of photos at home, then the Epson Artisan 835 is definitely a printer to consider. Unlike other inkjet printers that use four color ink cartridges plus a black cartridge, the Epson uses a six cartridge system.

The two extra ink colors, light magenta and light cyan, allow the Epson to print photos with a greater range and depth of colors, meaning that your snapshots look professionally printed. This printer is more than adequate in other areas as well, providing crisp black and white printing at nine pages per minute, plus scanning, faxing and copying capabilities. This printer costs around $300.

If you would rather have greater photo printing capabilities than multiple functions, consider the Epson Artisan 1430. This printer is geared toward the photographer, printing gallery-worthy prints up to 13” x 19”. With a price tag of less than $300, this printer is far more affordable than other wide format models, making it the ideal choice for amateur photographers or craft enthusiasts who want to print larger photos and documents.

The Artisan 1430 also includes wireless capabilities, plus Epson Connect, which allows you to print from your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

Printers have come a long way from the slow and inefficient dot matrix models of the early days of home computing. The best model for you depends on how you plan to use it; if you plan to print mostly documents, look for a model that prints quickly and efficiently, while a photo printer should provide high-quality color prints.

If you take lots of photos or do work on a mobile device, choose a compatible printer that allows you to print directly from your device. Test a few models, compare the quality and make the right printer decision for you; if nothing else, there will plenty of new models to choose from next year.

The causes and how to fix lines on printouts

If you own a printer, chances are you’ll experience some sort of trouble with it at some point, if you haven’t already. One of the most common ailments plaguing printers is horizontal lines across the page – lines you didn’t ask to be there.

The good news is that there are several steps you can take to try to cure this problem before having to call in a professional or replace the printer entirely.

Basic Causes and Fixes

Fortunately, most fixes for horizontal lines fall into this category. It’s always a good idea to start with the simplest, easiest remedies before taking more drastic measures and risking further damage.

Ink level is low
This is one of the most common reasons unwanted lines appear on printouts. If your printer is running out of ink, simply replace or refill your ink cartridges following the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

Often new printers come with ink cartridges that are either low on ink or have ink cartridges that have dried out from lack of use while sitting on the shelf. If you’ve just purchased a new printer, double check the cartridges that came with it.

Settings are incorrect
It can make a big difference in the quality of your printout if your settings are not correct. Check the following:A woman with a hammer about to hit a printer

  • Paper type – Make sure the paper type selected matches the paper you are actually using. Printing photos and the use of photo paper is especially affected by incorrect settings.
  • Print quality – Settings usually offer a choice between Draft, Normal and Best. Select the highest quality possible.
  • Color or black and white – Select “Color” printing even if you are printing a document that is only in black and white. While it may seem counterintuitive, some printers that have separate color and black and white cartridges use ink from both cartridges – even for black and white documents. Choosing the “Color” option will often fix horizontal lines appearing in black and white printouts.
  • Speed – Turning off high speed printing mode often eliminates unwanted lines.

Test, clean, and align
Part of good printer maintenance is periodically running your printer through a cycle of test, clean, and align – even when there aren’t problems. This helps keep the printer operating smoothly. It’s also a good basic step toward resolving problems with your printouts.

Troubleshoot
Most printers have a troubleshooting option. Go ahead and run your computer’s troubleshooting program for your printer. Windows users can reach this through the Control Panel, while Mac users go through System Preferences.

Read the manual
If you haven’t thrown out or misplaced your printer’s manual, it can actually be helpful to take a look through it and check for helpful hints. Manuals also usually have their own specific troubleshooting guides – as well as a tech support hotline.

Defective cartridge
Once in a while, an ink cartridge is simply defective. If the printer is working and you’ve tried everything else, you may just need to replace the cartridge.

Advanced Causes and Fixes

Unfortunately, there are times when the basic fixes just aren’t enough. These fixes take a bit more time and effort, but they can ultimately save you the expense and hassle of either having your printer repaired or purchasing a new one.

Clogged/dirty print head
If the horizontal lines on your printouts are black or in color and are not simply streaks where ink is missing, a clogged or dirty print head is a likely culprit. There are several methods of cleaning print heads, depending on the make and model of the printer. It’s always best to check with the printer’s manufacturer for the recommended method. However, there are some do’s and don’ts that apply regardless of printer brand:

  • DO unplug the printer and remove the ink cartridges before cleaning the print head.
  • DON’T use tap water to clean the print head. Most inks are water soluble, so purified water is effective and relatively safe to use for cleaning. However, tap water can contain minerals and other impurities that can damage the print head.
  • DO use distilled water to clean the print head.
  • DON’T use compressed air to blow out print heads or nozzles. These parts are delicate and can be damaged by compressed air.
  • DO consider cleaning the backside of the print head assembly if cleaning the print head alone does not resolve the problem.

Defective print head
If after cleaning the print head assembly there are still unwanted lines, the print head may be defective and should be replaced.

If All Else Fails

Sometimes there’s truly nothing to be done except to either take the printer in to be serviced or buy a new one altogether. If it comes to that after trying the above fixes, at least you’ll know you did everything possible first.