How to “Sanatize” Your Documents

Posted by nlvari in Microsoft Office, computer security, email, how to, small business December 2, 2009

Are you inadvertently sharing information with your competitors, coworkers, or colleges that you may not knowingly wish to share?

An attorney client of mine forwarded me an article today from a legal publication about attorneys that inadvertently share “meta data” with the opposing party.

For example, if you use the markup and editing features of Microsoft Word frequently you need to pay close attention to this.

Let’s say you finished making revisions to a document and accepting changes that were made by one of your peers and now your ready to send the document. If you send the final copy in Word format you risk the chance of sharing “meta data” inadvertently. In other words, its possible that the person you are sharing with could see all of the markups, notes, and editing history.

This could be potentially dangerous, embarrassing and costly if done unintentionally. The best practice is to print the document to pdf and then distribute the pdf electronically. PDF readers are widely distributed and most pdf printers allow you to add a password to restrict what can or can’t be done with the document.

Now if your intention is collaboration, then you ought to review the “meta data” in the word document and be sure that it does not contain anything that you wish to keep confidential.

This mostly comes down to training your employees and keeping your companies policies up to date. This is especially critical for small businesses.

We live in the information age. Staying up to date on best practices and understanding how to take full advantage of the technology you have at your fingertips can be a competitive advantage. Not keeping up to date can be costly.

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How much does spam cost you? Google will calculate

Posted by nlvari in computer security, email, small business, spam March 22, 2009

The following is a great story I found about the true cost of spam:
By Robert McMillan , IDG News Service , 11/19/2008

How much is spam costing your company? Google unveiled a nifty little calculator Wednesday to help you add it up.

It’s part of a marketing campaign for Google Message Security, the online spam-filtering service based on the Postini technology Google acquired last year. “We know in these tougher economic times that companies are trying to figure out how they can save,” said Adam Dawes, a Google product manager.

To figure out the cost of spam, you enter things like the number of workers at your company, how much you pay them and how much spam they have to deal with, and presto: Google figures out how many days (and dollars) in lost productivity this represents. Of course it also tells you how long it would take for Google’s service to pay for itself at your shop.

For companies doing their spam-fighting in-house, there’s also a “Total Cost of Ownership” calculator to show how inexpensive Google thinks its service really is.

Last year, Nucleus Research reported that spam costs U.S. companies US$712 per employee each year. A $31,000-per-year employee spending 16 seconds each on 21 spam messages per day would cost about this much, according to Google’s calculator. That adds up to about $70 billion per year in lost productivity, Nucleus said.

While Google may be helping people figure out how much spam costs, the company could do a thing or two to lower spam itself, said Richard Cox, chief information officer with the Spamhaus antispam group.

He would like to see Google do more to block spammers from using Gmail service and to start including the Internet Protocol addresses of Gmail senders in its message headers. “If you could see how many anonymous Gmail drop boxes are being used as the registration addresses for domains that are being used in spam, you’d understand just how much this is costing the community,” he said of Gmail spam.
The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.

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10 Steps to Securing Your Computer

Posted by nlvari in computer security October 20, 2008

Securing Your Computer System

Today, more and more people are using their computers for everything from communication to online banking and investing to shopping. As we do these things on a more regular basis, we open ourselves up to potential hackers, attackers and crackers.

While some may be looking to phish your personal information and identity for resale, others simply just want to use your computer as a platform from which to attack other unknowing targets. Below are a few easy, cost-effective steps you can take to make your computer more secure.

1. Always make backups of important information and store in a safe place separate from your computer.

2. Update and patch your operating system, web browser and software frequently. If you have a Windows operating system, start by going to and running the update wizard. This program will help you find the latest patches for your Windows computer. Also go to to locate possible patches for your Office programs.

3. Install a firewall. Without a good firewall, viruses, worms, Trojans, malware and adware can all easily access your computer from the Internet. Consideration should be given to the benefits and differences between hardware and software based firewall programs.

4. Review your browser and email settings for optimum security. Why should you do this? Active-X and JavaScript are often used by hackers to plant malicious programs into your computers. While cookies are relatively harmless in terms of security concerns, they do still track your movements on the Internet to build a profile of you. At a minimum set your security setting for the “internet zone” to High, and your “trusted sites zone” to Medium Low.

5. Install antivirus software and set for automatic updates so that you receive the most current versions.

6. Do not open unknown email attachments. It is simply not enough that you may recognize the address from which it originates because many viruses can spread from a familiar address.

7. Do not run programs from unknown origins. Also, do not send these types of programs to friends and coworkers because they contain funny or amusing stories or jokes. They may contain a Trojans horse waiting to infect a computer.

8. Disable hidden filename extensions. By default, the Windows operating system is set to “hide file extensions for known file types”. Disable this option so that file extensions display in Windows. Some file extensions will, by default, continue to remain hidden, but you are more likely to see any unusual file extensions that do not belong.

9. Turn off your computer and disconnect from the network when not using the computer. A hacker can not attack your computer when you are disconnected from the network or the computer is off.

10. Consider making a boot disk on a floppy disk in case your computer is damaged or compromised by a malicious program. Obviously, you need to take this step before you experience a hostile breach of your system.

Happy Computing,
Nathan Vari
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