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United Systems has been serving the Oklahoma City area since 1984, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Your Business Needs To Manage Mobile Devices For The Sake Of Its Security

Your Business Needs To Manage Mobile Devices For The Sake Of Its Security

Businesses can benefit from the use of personal mobile devices in the workplace, yet there are also potential dangers in allowing mobile and Internet of Things devices to access your network. In order to reduce these dangers, you need to put some limits and guidelines on the use of such devices in the workplace.

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3 Reasons VoIP is Superior For Conference Calls

b2ap3_thumbnail_voip_video_400.jpgConference calls are a staple in the modern office environment. As a business owner, you’re probably drawn into more conference calls daily than you’d care for. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers a significantly better way to go about your daily conference call duties.

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Tip of the Week: 6 PC Troubleshooting Guidelines that Every User Should Know

Tip of the Week: 6 PC Troubleshooting Guidelines that Every User Should Know

When was the last time that you ran into a problem that was easily solvable, simply by restarting your computer or unplugging a device from the wall, then plugging it back in? Often times, simple troubleshooting tactics can be enough to resolve a problem, but more often than not, there are issues that can’t be easily resolved. It’s these ones that hold businesses back, and we’re here to help.

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Forget Backdoors, Hackers Can Now Infiltrate Garage Doors

Forget Backdoors, Hackers Can Now Infiltrate Garage Doors

Hackers have proven that they will do whatever it takes to get to your valuable assets, even if it means taking advantage of physical objects that work alongside a specific frequency. As it turns out, this is exactly how hacking a garage door works, and all it takes is a decade-old communications device to capture the frequency and unlock any garage door that utilizes it.


The contraption used to hack garage doors is built from a discontinued Mattel toy from 2007: the IM ME. The IM ME is a supposedly secure wireless instant messaging system that works similar to a mobile phone. It was meant to be a kid-friendly, secure alternative to a mobile phone for texting. The IM ME stores an address book for other users of IM ME, and used an Internet connection to communicate with each other. If you look at it now, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that it’s no longer supported and that it has no place in today’s computing world. Smartphones are largely more efficient and dynamic as communication tools.

Just last year, it was discovered that the IM ME could be turned into a device that can hack into any garage door that’s using an unsecured fixed code transmitted from a remote, rather than one which uses a “rolling code” that changes with every button press. This flaw was discovered by Samy Kamkar, an independent developer and technology consultant, who then proceeded to exploit the flaw to demonstrate its danger. He built the device using the IM ME as a base model, then added a simple antennae and open-source hardware attachment.

Kamkar, calling his device OpenSesame, explains that his device works differently from what are called “code grabbers.” An ordinary code grabber will snatch the code from the garage door button when it’s pressed, and reuse it to open the door at a later time. This requires the hacker to be present when the button is pressed (similar code grabbers also exist for automobile key fobs, which is a pretty scary concept on its own). OpenSesame can accomplish this same goal without being near the user, which makes it much more dangerous.

The most dangerous part of this hacking experiment is the fact that any hacker can walk up to a vulnerable garage door and have it open in around eight seconds. As reported by WIRED:

Using a straightforward cracking technique, it still would have taken Kamkar’s program 29 minutes to try every possible code. But Kamkar improved his attack by taking out wait periods between code guesses, removing redundant transmissions, and finally using a clever optimization that transmitted overlapped codes, what’s known as a De Bruijn sequence. With all those tweaks, he was able to reduce the attack time from 1,771 seconds to a mere eight seconds.

If you’re curious about how Kamkar’s device works, you can watch this video to see the device in action. Furthermore, if you want to see if your own garage door is vulnerable, you can view this video where he goes into detail about which doors are vulnerable, and why.

This more than proves the fact that hackers engage in some dangerous and unpredictable acts, and that the Internet of Things continues to be a major reason for this. With so many more devices connecting to the Internet and communicating with each other with near-field communications and Bluetooth, the situation could very quickly turn into a nightmare scenario for your business. If your network isn’t prepared to handle the dangers and threats that come from unregulated Internet of Things devices, it’s a very real possibility that your organization could suffer a data breach or worse. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you aren’t putting your district or business at risk.

United Systems can give your district or business a quality network assessment that can help your team accomplish its security-oriented goals. To learn more, give us a call at (405) 523-2162.

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Alert: A New Malware to Worry About for PC Gamers Using Steam

Alert: A New Malware to Worry About for PC Gamers Using Steam

Hackers have always gone after industries that are profitable, or hold sensitive information that can be lucrative when sold under the table. As such, retailers that accumulate financial credentials are often hit by hacks. The entertainment industry is no different, and hackers continue to grow craftier in their pursuit of wealth and power. Not even Steam, the PC gamer’s most valuable software solution, is safe from the dangers of hacking attacks.


Steam is a widely-used web-based distribution platform developed by Valve Corporation that’s used for online multiplayer gaming, as well as many other video game-related situations. It’s actually relatively similar to cloud computing. Steam is one of the biggest online gaming retailers with over 140 million users. In October 2013, it was estimated that 75 percent of all games purchased online were through Steam. If nothing else, Steam is a valid online computing outlet that hackers want to take advantage of.

As anyone who has a hobby will understand, a gamer’s collection of games, virtual items, or online currency, will accrue a self-perceived value of sorts. While this might seem like a worthless asset to compromise, it’s introducing a new type of hacker to the online environment. People who want to steal games, achievements, and other in-game assets are capable of doing so with a new malware called Steam Stealer. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Steam Stealer is the fact that it’s so easy to use. If hackers find that they can get away with stealing seemingly benign in-game items, they might find that they want to go for something with a little more practical use, like credit card numbers. This presents a unique situation which could provide amateur hackers with the skills and confidence they need to attempt more risky and detrimental hacks.

Since Steam Stealer is easy to use and afford, even the average citizen can experience the bittersweet taste of hacking. With included instructions, user manuals, APIs, and a price tag of $15, people with no knowledge of malware can easily use Steam Stealer. Compared to other Malware as a Service offerings, Steam Stealer is a small price to pay and is relatively simple to use. Once people experience the adrenaline of using malware to steal fellow gamers’ in-game objects, what’s stopping them from pursuing the rush even further?

The end result could very well be hackers who won’t be satisfied until they’ve hit the motherload; financial information and other products purchased through Steam’s online interface. Unsurprisingly, Steam experiences quite a large amount of takeovers -- around 77,000 accounts suffer from breaches each month. There’s a definite precedent for this type of hack, and criminals obviously see the potential for profits.

The best way to keep your Steam account safe from hackers is for users to practice a combination of two-factor authentication, and to always keep an eye out for potential phishing scams. Changing passwords regularly is an ideal way to keep hackers from accessing accounts, and closely monitoring URLs that are sent through chats will keep you from visiting potentially malicious sites.

These tips probably sound familiar; for good reason. They’re valuable tips that help you stay safe whether you’re working on important work, or you’re on a quest to “slay the goblin lord.” Even if Steam is an online gaming platform, there are still valuable lessons that can be learned from it. While a business owner might see their data as an immensely valuable asset, gamers view their libraries in a similar way.

If you want to know how to best protect your district's business’s data, reach out to us at (405) 523-2162

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Outsource Your IT to the Pros and Stop Doing IT the Hard Way

Outsource Your IT to the Pros and Stop Doing IT the Hard Way

How often does your technology experience trouble? If your business is constantly dealing with technical hiccups, your assets that are meant to be a boon to your organization, can quickly become a nuisance that holds you back. How can you take better care of your technology, and use it to usher in a new era of productivity?

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Use Google Chromecast for These 5 Functions

b2ap3_thumbnail_chromecast_icon_400.jpgThe Google Chromecast is a great device that makes displaying media on different screens easier than ever before. Gone are the days of running AV wires through walls and ceilings. Now you can easily transmit your media over your WiFi network with the push of a button. Google refers to this wireless process as “Chromecasting,” and once you’ve “casted,” it’s hard to imagine life without it (a quality for which Google excels at replicating).


Probably the most attractive feature of Google Chromecast is that it essentially turns any compatible screen into a smart TV, allowing you to utilize popular apps via your smartphone or desktop that’s equipped with Chromecast capabilities. Here are five of the best Google Chromecast features that new users will want to take advantage of.

  • Stream music: If you’re already using popular music streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora, then you’re going to love having the ability to cast your favorite songs on the big screen. What’s more, if your television is equipped with a rockin’ sound system, then you can get rid of that bulky CD and record player and replace them both with Google Chromecast.
  • Stream video: The video watching options for Google Chromecast are as vast as there are ways to digitally watch a video. Some of the more popular uses for watching video via Chromecast are by utilizing apps like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix. Basically, if your computer can play a video, you can cast it on your TV.
  • View pictures: With Chromecast, you can turn your TV into a screensaver that cycles through HD photos. This is a sure way to enhance any room. Google Chrome actually has an app specifically designed for this purpose which taps into thousands of photo libraries ranging from NASA, 500x, and even your own!
  • Mirror your device’s browser: With Chromecast, whatever is going on in Chrome can easily be casted to your TV. This feature has the potential to really enhance office presentations. Additionally, it’s easy for multiple users to take control of the big screen by casting what’s on their device, which can help someone explain their point at an office meeting.
  • Use VideoStream: One handy app made for Chromecast is VideoStream. This is a super easy way to drag video files to your Chrome browser and play them on your Chromecast-connected TV. Every serious Chromecast user will want to download this free app.

Actually, these five Google Chromecast features are just the beginning of what this little device can do. There are several apps designed specifically for it and they’re worth exploring if you get the chance. Do you use Google Chromecast? What are your favorite uses for this fantastic product? Sound off in the comments.

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This Breakthrough By MIT Will Propel Artificial Intelligence to New Heights

This Breakthrough By MIT Will Propel Artificial Intelligence to New Heights

No security solution is perfect. Each one has its own set of pros and cons. For example, relying completely on an automated solution is thorough, but it will flag plenty of threats that aren’t really threats (aka, false positives). Meanwhile, a human overseeing security is great for spotting worrisome trends, but a human can’t possibly catch every single attack. With this dynamic in mind, a team of researchers from MIT has successfully blended the two.


The team, hailing from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, developed a security platform combining the strength of human involvement with the effectiveness of artificial intelligence. Given the name A.I.², this new platform is capable of detecting 85 percent of incoming attacks while reducing reported false positives by 20 percent.

How A.I.² combines AI and human involvement is actually quite genius. To begin, the “untrained” machine reports a sample set of results to a human expert. These results are informed by machine learning and are checked against the 200 most important problems. The human expert then checks over and corrects the machine’s work, with the intention of finding mistakes and false positives. Subsequently, the human-checked results are inputted to A.I.², the machine learns, and the next set of tests will have fewer errors. This process is then repeated with the security platform adapting each time to look for what its human teacher looks for.

In a paper presented at the IEEE International Conference on Big Data Security, research scientist Kalyan Veeramachianeni summarized, "You can think about the system as a virtual analyst. It continuously generates new models that it can refine in as little as a few hours, meaning it can improve its detection rates significantly and rapidly."

Of course, the precedent of effectiveness set here by combining human expertise and oversight with A.I. has far-reaching ramifications for other A.I. initiatives currently in development; initiatives that have both humanity’s best and worst interests in mind. Although, for now, those of us in the IT world are celebrating this A.I.-enabled technology for being one giant leap forward in security analysis accuracy.

It’s important to keep in mind that a platform like A.I.² is still years away from being available to the average business. Therefore, we recommend that you stay on top of your network security by following best practices, which combines automated software solutions and human vigilance in order to combat the latest threats. United Systems is standing by to assist you with all of your company’s network security needs. To equip your business with the most comprehensive IT security solutions on the market, call us today at (405) 523-2162.

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Adoption of Cloud Services Continues to Increase in 2016

Adoption of Cloud Services Continues to Increase in 2016

There’s no denying that your district's or business’s productivity suite is one of its most valuable software solutions. Cloud services like Google Apps for Work and Microsoft Office 365 continue to be huge game-changers, and it’s been found that their increasing popularity is thanks to the convenience of providing mobile access to important data and applications.


The success of “software as a service,” or SaaS, is a significant trend that you need to leverage to your advantage. In essence, businesses that use SaaS are paying a flat rate for a productivity suite or similar service. This software can then be accessed through the cloud via an Internet connection, making it both flexible enough to add new users, and accessible enough to be used anywhere on most any device. According to BetterCloud, 91 percent of Google Apps users claim that SaaS helps them more than traditional desktop applications, while 68 percent of Office 365 users say the same about Office.

The success of Software as a Service offerings can be attributed to paying less for more over time. Rather than buying software outright, businesses are finding it more economically feasible to pay a smaller monthly rate for services rendered. This presents several benefits in comparison to purchasing applications in full, like having more manageable payments over time, and always using up-to-date versions of business apps. Additionally, it’s much easier to add new users to a cloud-based productivity suite than it is to purchase new licenses for all of the software required for their position.

Besides these benefits, BetterCloud believes that there are still some significant roadblocks that are preventing organizations from implementing cloud-based applications. One of them is the business’s dedication to the antiquated desktop application infrastructure. People are simply used to having their solutions available right on their desktop workstations. Even if they’re gaining ground, concepts like cloud computing, document sharing, and collaboration are all relatively recent developments in the business world. It will still be some time before these concepts are fully recognized and accepted.

The modern business’s technology infrastructure is changing to adapt to a demand for an increasingly-mobile, highly collaborative work environment. Having access to critical software solutions while in the office isn’t enough anymore. Executives and employees alike want access to their data and applications at all times, and it’s this drive for mobility that’s fueling the cloud-based application revolution. Therefore, if you want to be at the forefront of the competition, you need to take measures now and begin the assimilation process as soon as possible.

If your district or business is looking for a way to improve operations, you can contact United Systems at (405) 523-2162. We can equip your business with the software solutions and cloud computing environment it needs to stay productive.

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The 4 Most Pressing IT Issues You Have to Be Aware Of

The 4 Most Pressing IT Issues You Have to Be  Aware Of

Regardless of how your didtrict's business’s administration is set up, you should be aware that anyone in a position of authority must have a basic understanding of how IT, and its related responsibilities, functions for your district or business. Here are four ways that you can learn more about how IT works within your organization.


Know Who to Contact for Support
As a leader within your organization, you need to lead by example. You should be aware of who to contact within your company for any IT-related issues, and this contact information should be shared with other employees within your organization. By cooperating with IT, your district or business can improve operations so that you don’t encounter a roadblock when it comes time to upgrade to more recent technology, or perform maintenance on critical hardware and software.

Working with Vendors
Dealing with vendors is part of doing business with technology. Your organization likely has several different vendors for your various hardware and software solutions. Knowing how to communicate with them is key to getting the most from your products. In other words, you should at least be privy to information concerning your organization’s relationship with its vendors.

Basic Security Best Practices
This is a part of business that all of your employees should be familiar with. Data security is one of the most crucial parts of running a district or a business, and your team needs to understand this if you want to ensure maximum security. Examples of basic security best practices include the following:

  • Employees should use long, complex passwords.
  • Employees should use two-factor authentication.
  • Employees should be able to identify potential online scams.

Managing Laptops and Mobile Devices
If your employees bring their own devices (BYOD) to the workplace for use on your company network, you have a responsibility to ensure that they’re following proper protocol. Do you have a BYOD policy? If not, you should consider setting one up. You need to have some sort of oversight in regards to what data is being used and accessed on what devices. The idea is to restrict the flow of data through permissions so that you can know how it’s being used, and to limit its exposure to threats.

This might seem like a lot to take in, but you don’t have anything to worry about. Most of these issues can be resolved simply by having an IT technician on-hand to consult in times of need. If you don’t have an in-house IT department, this might seem like an impossible task. Thankfully, United Systems makes it easy for your district or business to keep your technology functioning properly and running without incident; all thanks to outsourced managed IT services.

United Systems can handle the everyday management and maintenance of your IT systems, and act as a consultant, helping you make educated decisions about the future of your technology systems. For more information, give us a call at (405) 523-2162

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How to Make Your Network Ideal for Telecommuters and Remote Workers

b2ap3_thumbnail_mobile_friendly_network_400.jpgMany businesses see the value in allowing their team to work remotely, which sounds great on paper. Workers don’t have to be at the office to get work done, so long as they have an Internet connection. Most important of all, though, is how much money a business can save by allowing its workers to work remotely. Thus, the primary objective should be to make it as easy as possible for remote workers to perform their jobs.


Most of the benefits of working remotely come in the form of reduced expenses. For example, you don’t have to purchase as much hardware, and your energy costs will dramatically decrease. Considering how much energy it takes to heat or air condition your office, and the amount of electricity the average workstation eats up, you could be looking at significant savings. Plus, giving your employees the choice of where to work can be empowering, pushing them to work harder and improve the quality of work.

Granted, this can only happen if your team is equipped with the technology to handle their daily workload. Here are three technologies that your team needs if you want to ensure that they can perform to your specifications.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
One major pain point for remote employees is that they have trouble accessing files and applications stored locally on your company’s network. Since these employees work off-site, rather than in your business’s office, they’ll have trouble accessing files through the traditional method. Being unable to access critical files can be troublesome, but it’s not incapable of being resolved. Using a VPN allows remote employees to securely access files and applications that are stored in an online company network, which promotes productivity without sacrificing security. Another huge plus is that you control the access to files, preventing critical company data from being spread across on your employees’ personal devices.

Cloud-Based Applications and Virtualization
If you share your business’s data in the cloud, you can deploy files, information, and applications directly through the Internet. This helps employees access information that would otherwise be difficult to access. The cloud in general is great for minimizing your IT footprint, and with improved data deployment, you can let your team work from anywhere in the world. Even if they’re on business trips or traveling, as long as they have an Internet connection, they’ll have access to data that they need to do their jobs.

Voice over Internet Protocol
Communication is critical while in the office, but it’s even more so for your remote workers. If your team is constantly making outbound calls, you need a solution that will allow them to do so while retaining your business’s phone number. Furthermore, if you’re ever in a position where you need to contact them directly, you should be able to do so through email, instant messaging, or a phone call. While email and IM are easy enough to accomplish through a PC, phone calls are a bit trickier. With a VoIP solution, you can transfer your voice over the Internet, which makes instantaneous communication even easier for both voice and video chat.

If you’re going to let your team work remotely, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they have the tools to do so. To find out how you can make this vision a reality, contact United Systems at (405) 523-2162 today.

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Add a PIN to Windows 10 Login to Improve Security

Businesses all over the world are taking advantage of two-factor authentication, causing the password’s value to depreciate over time. Passwords aren’t powerful enough to keep users safe from advanced threats. Hackers are finding ways to punch holes in even the most comprehensive security solution, forcing users to focus on improving security through other means.


One way to do this is by using Windows 10’s built-in PIN system. Here’s how you can set up a PIN number, including how you can change or reset it if need be.

Why Use a PIN?
Using a PIN offers a few unique benefits over the traditional password. For example, Windows 10 uses the same password as your Microsoft account, which means that if this password is stolen or compromised by a hacker, they can access other services tied to your Microsoft account. If you’re using a PIN to access your PC, the PIN is unique to your Windows 10 device, meaning that a hacker would have to locally enter the PIN, making it a much less risky gambit than using a password.

Add a PIN
First, you need to click on the search bar at the bottom of the screen and type Settings. Then, select Sign-in options in the left column. Scroll down to the PIN section in the right column, and click Add. You’ll then be prompted to verify your password. Once you’ve done so, click OK.

Next, you’ll be taken to the Set up a PIN page. All you need to do is type your desired PIN in the provided forms. The only criteria required for a PIN is that it needs to be between four and nine characters long, but you need to make sure that it’s not something that can easily be guessed. Be sure to keep these pointers in mind:

  • The longer the PIN, the better the security: You’ve heard all about how using a complex password is a best practice, and the same can be said for your PIN. Make it as long as possible-- this makes it more difficult for hackers to guess.
  • Refrain from using PINs from other accounts: Everyone has credit cards that they use a PIN for, but these numbers shouldn’t be used for every single account you have. You should have individual PINs for each of your different accounts. Otherwise, one account being compromised could lead to multiple breaches. 
  • Use as many different numbers as possible: In much the same way that a password should contain variable letters, you want to stay away from short PINs with largely the same number.

Change or Reset Your PIN
Windows 10 makes it easy to change your PIN. You need to navigate back through Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options, and tap Change underneath PIN. You’ll then be taken to the Change your PIN screen.

If you need to reset your PIN, click I forgot my PIN next to the Change button. This will let you reset your PIN. Keep in mind that you’ll need to use your current account password to do so.

For more great tips, be sure to subscribe to United System's blog.

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How a Small Bottleneck Issue Can Significantly Hinder Network Performance

b2ap3_thumbnail_bottlenecking_network_400.jpgIf you shell out for brand new office equipment, you’ll naturally expect it to perform better than your older machines. Sometimes the age of your network hardware isn’t the only problem affecting your network’s performance. More often than not, network bottlenecking could be the issue at hand.

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How a Phishing Scam Works and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

b2ap3_thumbnail_social_engineering_magnet_400.jpgMost hacking attacks are the result of a flaw or vulnerability found within the code of a program or operating system, but we rarely take into account the ones that don’t. Hackers often take advantage of the human side of hacking as well, a process known as “social engineering.” This is usually the act of conning users into handing over personal information of their own free will, and it’s surprisingly effective.

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Tip of the Week: How to Prevent Your Mobile Data from Leaking Away

b2ap3_thumbnail_mobile_data_eats_money_400.jpgWith more businesses moving toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) than ever before, the workforce grows more mobile by the day. These workers generally need a network connection in order to access important data and applications that are crucial to their day-to-day responsibilities. One way to do this is to use your service provider’s mobile data plan, but this can be both expensive and draining when used excessively.

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The Key Difference Between In-House and Hosted VoIP Solutions

b2ap3_thumbnail_voip_for_business_400.jpgCommunications solutions are vital to the functionality of your organization. Among several other necessities, your telephony solution stands head and shoulders above the rest as one of the most important. Are you still using a legacy phone system? If so, you should consider switching to a VoIP system.

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Disaster Recovery and Why it Matters to Oklahoma Businesses

3492566759 23f1ca345cWhen you mention the term 'disaster recovery,' most people think about the big ground-shattering events like tornados, fires, floods, ice storms, etc. In fact, the Washington Post reported in April that Oklahoma has been more susceptible to weather related calamities than any other state in recent years. While these natural events are certainly disasters and devastating in their own right, smaller things can constitute as a disaster for your business, and they aren't seasonal.

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5 Tips for Saving Money on your IT

Saving a little on your technology can go a long ways, but cutting too many corners can lead to additional problems and expensive downtime. Here are a few ways you can cut costs without creating long term issues.

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Slow Computer? Increase your memory to boost computer Speeds

Sometimes when your workstation feels bogged down, a relatively cheap and simply hardware update can make a huge difference in performance. Adding more RAM (Random Access Memory, often just referred to as memory) can be a game changer for your bogged down PC.

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What is your Identity Worth to You?

Your identity has quite a lot of value, especially in the wrong hands. Security firm ZoneAlarm put together some numbers in 2011 concerning identity fraud, and it even shocked us. Let's talk about a few of these statistics and what it means.

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