Stop cyberbullying from home

Even a few years ago, the average picture of a bully was someone who stole a little kid’s lunch money or hurled taunts on the playground. That’s certainly not the case anymore. If anything, it’s easier for children to make fun of each other now – they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.

We’ve all heard the term cyberbullying at this point, but what does it really mean? It can be confusing, as a comment made in jest or with sarcasm can be taken the wrong way over the Internet, because you miss out on body language or tone of voice. Simply put, cyberbullying is just bullying online, whether or not that individual knows his or her victim.

This happens on social media, in comment sections of news articles, via instant messenger – you name it, bullies use it. Parents should try to stop this occurring from home – they can’t always depend on teachers, coaches, other authorities or even kids themselves to do so. The best way to stop your kid from becoming a victim – or a bully – is to start the conversation at home.

Cyberbullying a big topic
This subject might come up at home because of recent events. According to The Toronto Star, the Conservative government recently proposed a new cyberbullying law, Bill C-13.

However, the news source, citing information from Forum Research, revealed that 73 per cent of Canadians disapprove of the bill and 12 per cent aren’t sure what to think. One big reason why there’s such opposition is that this bill would allow “peace officers” to access personal data without a warrant, enabling Internet service providers to provide this information on a voluntary basis. The Star noted that this was proposed after a number of teen suicides due to online bullying.

What should you know?
Regardless of where you stand on this bill or even what happens to this potential law, cyberbullying is still something Canadian parents need to be informed about.

The Canadian Red Cross suggested a number of things moms and dads across the nation can do to get more involved. This includes placing the home computer in a common area to keep an eye on activities. However, in an era when wireless devices are so popular, the recommendation to simply keep lines of communication open might be more important.

The source noted that starting the conversation is beneficial so kids feel like they can talk to their parents if they run into trouble or even if they’re bullying people themselves. Showing kids they have a support system can foster good behaviour.

Mobile phones and check cashing. Easy and safe?

New apps for your mobile phone are making it easier to cash a check but is it safer than going to the bank to get your money?  New guidelines established by the Canadian Payments Association allow Canadians to take a picture of their check via mobile phone and then send that off to the bank.

One Million Canadians use the app
According to the CPA quoted by Beta Kit, more than a million consumers across the country have already used the apps to cash checks. Beta Kit also said that NRC, a company that designed the software claimed that deposits have doubled in every quarter since they introduced the mobile app in 2013.

NCR’s Steve Nogalo talked about the jump.

“While checks have been used as a form of payment for a long time, the application of a mobile phone puts a modern twist on the process to make depositing a check faster and easier. Canadians have embraced this technology because it is convenient and secure.”

Safer than in-person banking?
As with any new technology concerns still abound about the safety of the app. An Under the Radar article from a couple of years ago asked that exact question of consumers and received some very interesting thoughts. Paul Smocer, head of technology at banking group The Financial Services Roundtable stated because everything is so new it’s best to stay aware of changing technology to keep your bank account safe.

“We haven’t seen a whole lot of malicious software yet,” he said. “Part of that relates to the fact that there are so many different manufacturers and operating systems in the mobile world. But part of it, I think, is also to do with the fact that this is a relatively new environment, and unfortunately, crime follows growth.”

Smocer added that a number of Canadian financial operations are making the move to biometric technology to ensure safety for their operations and that, added to a phone’s normal security protection, could make banking safer down the road. Right now, though, it’s a new technology and better safeguards are are being developed all the time.

For some the notion of sending a picture of your check to the banks is a concern but for hundreds of thousands of others, it’s a way life and those consumers are a portion of the 10 percent of all Canadians who have conducted on-line banking, according to Alice Frazier of the Cardinal Bank of Virginia.

Frazier added that using the mobile banking app is as safe as using a home phone. However, if you lost, you’re in trouble and your personal info is in jeopardy.

What’s your password?

No matter what you do online, chances are good that you’ve got a number of accounts that require passwords. First and foremost, simply going on the Internet might mean typing in a pass code to tap into Wi-Fi, or perhaps you need login information immediately upon turning on your computer. That doesn’t even take into account email, social media, billing, banking, entertainment and many other passwords.

The easiest thing to do is probably to pick something that’s very easy to remember, like an anniversary, birthday, child’s name or a number of other common codes, then use it over and over again. Even though this would likely be the simplest option, this also opens you up to hacking. If a criminal figures out your password to one account, they could then access others.

Those who go online have to straddle a fine line between using passwords that are easy enough to remember without writing them down somewhere and making them complex enough that hackers won’t be able to guess them. Plus, they have to vary login information across accounts so as not to compromise anything in the event of a data breach.

So what do consumers need to remember, no matter whether they’re talking about a Wi-Fi password or banking code? There are a number of rules to follow, but it should be easy enough for Canadians to make sure they’re always protected.

Skip the personal information
It could be very tempting to use a pet’s name or spouse’s nickname because they’re easily remembered. However, because we live in a digital age, a lot of this type of data is probably available on social media sites, blogs or other platforms. So, if a hacker really wants to get at your information, chances are good that he or she can.

As such, CBC News reported that using unusual words is the way to go when making a password, while things like birth dates, names of relatives and phone numbers should never be relied upon.

Use numbers, symbols, capital letters
Rather than just using a phrase, consumers should always add in numeric characters, capital letters and even symbols if the account host will allow. This makes the login information so much harder to guess and can mean the difference between safe browsing and being hacked.

Use a third party service
After you’ve figured out a great password that you’ll be able to remember, you should test it out using a third party service. In a podcast for the Law Society for Upper Canada, expert Dan Whelan explained that he uses This service allows individuals to type in a code they want to use, then see a ranking on a colour scale – green means that the potential login information is good, yellow is just so-so and red is poor.

Plus, a service like this makes suggestions that consumers can use to strengthen the code, like adding a capital letter or symbol, Whelan explained.

Mais, qu'est-ce qu'un fraudeur peut faire lorsqu'il réussit à voler l'identité d'une personne?

Vol d’identité sur le Web : ce que les fraudeurs recherchent

Le vol d’identité sur le Web est devenu un des grands dangers qui guettent les internautes et il est important de bien se protéger en ne divulguant pas certaines informations personnelles comme sa date de naissance, son numéro d’assurance sociale, son numéro de carte de crédit, son adresse et le nom de jeune fille de sa mère. Ce sont des informations qui peuvent alimenter très certainement la probabilité d’être victime d’un vol d’identité.

Mais, qu’est-ce qu’un fraudeur peut faire lorsqu’il réussit à voler l’identité d’une personne ? Le site Web explique qu’il existe une foule d’usages, allant de la demande d’une carte de crédit à l’abonnement à un jeu en ligne.

Ainsi, un fraudeur peut, à l’aide des informations volées, effectuer des achats en ligne, payer pour accéder à un site Web pour adultes, s’abonner à un service de téléphonie cellulaire, réserver des vacances, louer un véhicule, toucher un prêt et même des prestations gouvernementales.

La personne qui devient victime d’un vol d’identité peut se retrouver avec le solde très important d’une carte de crédit qu’elle n’a jamais demandée et là commenceront les démarches pour signaler le vol, ce qui entraîna des problèmes dont on peut se passer…

Le Centre antifraude du Canada recommande aux consommateurs de vérifier fréquemment les états financiers de leurs cartes de crédit et ceux de leur institution financière, pour déceler toute activité inhabituelle. En cas de doute, il est important de communiquer avec l’institution émettrice de la carte de crédit ou l’institution financière, ainsi qu’avec les services policiers.

Somme toute au final, la prévention est certainement la meilleure façon de se protéger pour assurer la confidentialité de ses données personnelles!

Jet setting Canadians can remain connected at all times now

In this day and age, there shouldn’t be that many complaints coming from people who can’t get access to the Internet. In 2011, the United Nations declared that being denied a connection is akin to a human rights violation. The Internet was recognized as a vital element of life for individuals around the world.

Finding a quality Internet connection isn’t a tough task for the majority of Canadians. There are numerous services across the nation, from large, long-standing corporations to smaller and more flexible independent Internet service providers. This, paired with the fact that there are innumerable popular devices – smartphones, tablets, desktops, you name it – has enabled the Internet to be embraced by the vast majority of consumers here.

Take, for instance, the fact that the Canadian Internet Registration Authority revealed in early 2014 that 87 per cent of Canadian homes have a connection.

However, there are certain places in the nation where individuals can’t go online for one reason or another. For instance, high school students are probably discouraged from whipping out their smartphones and surfing the Web during their classes. Another instance of this is on an airplane. However, that scenario looks to be changing, thanks to the Canadian government.

Using electronics on flights
For many years, individuals have been able to use electronic devices on airplanes, to the thanks of many bored passengers and parents. However, that time was restricted – travellers were told not to turn them on during take off and landing.

According to The Ottawa Citizen, the Canadian government recently lifted this rule. People can power up anything from computers to cameras at all points during flights now. That being said, the news source reported that airlines have to be approved first. These corporations must demonstrate that their planes won’t be affected by electronic transmissions if passengers are using gadgets and that individuals still understand and pay attention to the in-flight instructions.

What about the Internet?
Not all airlines will offer the Internet, at least as of right now, but many think it’s only a matter of time. Currently, the source noted that electronic devices have to be turned to “safe” mode when on most planes, meaning that data cannot be transmitted.

However, according to CBC News, Air Canada and WestJet both announced that they would offer Wi-Fi on flights as soon as possible. These companies will then have to be approved by Transport Canada. Air Canada hopes to have the necessary equipment and permissions on 130 of its North American planes before 2016. The Citizen detailed that 30 of these planes should be prepared for Wi-Fi by the end of 2014.

As Tech Times reported, this has become a reality on some Air Canada flights already, specifically select Airbus 319 planes, which now offer Gogo in-flight service. The installations began in May and should be rolling out to A320 and A321 aircraft relatively soon, the news source explained. This allows tech-savvy Canadians to stay connected no matter where they are, even if it’s miles off the ground.

More and more Canadians stream music

For many people, music is a necessity. Some need it in the background to sleep, while others can’t do work without having a good beat in their ears.

There are plenty of ways to get new music. You can go out and buy a CD, download digital files via a service like iTunes, listen to (and watch the videos for) individual songs on YouTube – the list goes on. Those who don’t want to bog down their devices by saving music on their hard drive might instead choose to stream their favourite tunes.

According to a new study from Media Technology Monitor, streaming the latest and greatest songs has become particularly popular in Canada. The results of a recently released survey, as cited by The Canadian Press, revealed that about two-thirds of Anglophone Canada streamed music online regularly last year.

Canadians rocking out at all times
The news source reported that this latest figure is up significantly from past statistics – 61 per cent of Canadians used the Internet to stream music in 2012 and 57 per cent did so the year before.

The most popular way Canadians are indulging is via YouTube, with 52 per cent of those who streamed in 2013 saying this was their method of choice. That being said, other popular strategies included online feeds of radio stations and particular streaming services like Songza and Rdio.

What do you need to do this?
There are a number of particularities individuals will need to be able to stream music on their own devices. For instance, the machine itself – whether it’s a laptop, tablet, smartphone or other gadget – must actually have the capability to do so. So, an old desktop from the 1990s that’s miraculously still hanging on probably won’t be able to stream tunes.

Other than the device itself, individuals are going to want to have a worthwhile Internet package that includes plenty of data and won’t break the bank if they go over. Consider this – say you’ve got Slacker on in the background when you’re doing work for a few hours. Your computer isn’t going to let you know you’ve gone over your data plan for the month, and a large Internet service provider is going to start charging massive fees immediately. Without doing some digging into your usage, you’ll go on using the Internet as normal for the rest of the month, not knowing that for every click, you’re essentially being fined.

So, it’s often best to pick an indie ISP – not only do their packages tend to be more comprehensive and flexible, but small providers usually work with customers and don’t charge massive fees for overages.

Upload speeds, or lack thereof, have Canadians down in the dumps

Canadians may be dumbfounded when they return from a trip abroad and experience some of the slowest Internet upload times in the free world. This is not just a recent problem, it’s been around since the advent of the Web. With a global average upload time of 7.6 Mbps, Canada lags far behind the rest of the world with an average upload time of 5.67 Mbps, according to the recent Net Index released by Ookla. That places Canada fifty-third among all countries and an abysmal sixth place amongst G8 nations.

What’s being done to alleviate the problem?
Upload speeds vary around the nation with CBC News, citing Ookla information, comparing the upload speeds of Manitoba and British Columbia to those of Honduras and Iraq. Residents of northern and western Canada, as well as most Manitoba consumers, are seeing upload rates of only 5​ Mpbs. This is largely because Internet Service Providers don’t have faster speeds available in these areas of the country. The Maritimes, for example, have ISPs with faster speeds available, but they also cost a lot of money. In those areas, the source found, people aren’t ponying​ up the cash for faster service.

Are conglomerate ISPs the problem?
The country’s largest telecommunications concerns generally service the largest markets. Because smaller ISPs like TekSavvy connect to the bigger operations, said CBC News, they can only get the speeds offered by the bigger business there’s virtually no incentive for those providers to offer faster speeds.

Phone companies starting to enter the fray with fibre networks and wireless operations, according to the source. Those same businesses are also jumping on the speed bandwagon but consumers will still be hit in the pocketbook to upgrade to a faster speed.

Businesses impacted
The lack of upload speed may be hurting businesses large and small across Canada. IT expert Jamie Granek told CBC News some businesses are opting not to use the added speed offered because of the costs associated with it. He had one customer in Vancouver opt against an upgrade that would’ve allowed staff to work from home for cost reasons alone. That, said Granek, is impacting the future of business across the nation.

“Having the ability to access your own information and resources on your own network is a key function of the network today,” said Granek. “You can’t really separate the download from the upload anymore.”

Some of the bigger service providers told the source that they are matching supply with demand and that their Internet usage is forecast to grow by 40 per cent annually. That means upload speeds will also continue to increase, according to one major ISP.

Is the Whole World Going Ga-Ga over Google Glass?

Whether you are an athlete, a traveler, or a gadget guru that loves having information available at the blink of an eye, Google Glass promises to redefine how you interact with technology.  Dubbed by some as the “wearable smartphone”, this computer with optical head-mounted display allows users to shoot and share videos, access GPS, images, maps, and other information nearly hands-free.  Since the Explorer Edition was made available to select US residents as open beta testers, users have been exchanging ideas with Google about how to improve design and function.  Google is expected to use this feedback to fine tune its performance before the release to the general public, which is anticipated to be in late 2014.

All of this heated debate appears to be dividing potential users into two different camps, those that see Google Glass as a threat to civil liberties and basic safety and those that embrace it as a tool that will revolutionize how we use information.

Where do you weigh in with this wearable technology?  Are you among those that are raising the alarm bells or are you waiting in eager anticipation until its release in Canada?  If you are in line to purchase one, how will you use it?

Teri-Lynn James,
Communications Specialist

The opinions expressed by this blogger are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of TekSavvy Solutions Inc.

How can the Internet make fundraising fun?

Even though times have changed as technology advances, there are some things that just don’t fade away. Fundraising  is one of those areas that is critical to the success and survival of many community-driven projects. Now there’s a way to use the Internet to help.

Time-honored traditions 
Many Canadians are experienced with fundraising, having done it for their children’s sports teams or school events, and they realize the difficulties it can present. Most government organizations and politicians have also done this to benefit their communities or to mount political campaigns.

The Alberta government recently showed how crowdsourcing on the Internet can be used by those trying to amass funds. The province is looking for a new license plate and has put a number of templates on its official website to garner people’s opinions as to which design should be chosen. More than 100,000 have voted on one of three templates.

The Internet acts as a new way to raise funds
While the Alberta license plate campaign is geared toward a fun way of making a change, the Internet is also being used to raise funds for various other ventures. A article showed that Kickstarter is being used all over the world by groups, sports organizations and even individuals who believe they have something new and unique to offer the international community. While many presentations are legitimate and well-meaning, the article said there are others that defy the imagination as to why they are getting so much money. One particular campaign has raised more than $62,000 – when there were still 24 days to go – to make potato salad.

While many Internet users take this kind of thing in stride, the source added that there are those who are less than amused at these type of stunts. Salon wasn’t thrilled with the potato salad campaign netting big cash pledges when there are so many people living below the poverty line.

However, for youth hockey or lacrosse teams, crowdfunding online can be a huge asset. Along with the usual method of hitting the neighborhoods to raise funds for uniforms and equipment, teams may now create a visual marketing campaign online that can go far beyond the community in which they live. This presents all kinds of opportunities to increase donations while getting program information out to a wider and more discerning audience.

Alberta’s quest for a new license plate, along with a good potato salad recipe, are leading the way for those in need of community funding to find their own niche among the many crowdfunding opportunities appearing each day across the Internet.

Canada and the United States differ on net neutrality

As Canada protects its citizens anonymity online, all eyes are turning to the United States, where net neutrality guidelines could be facing a revamping in the next few months, according to Michael Geist at The Tyree.

Rich customers get fast-lane surfing?
The plan floated in the U.S. would allow ISP customers to pay for faster access to the Internet while the poorer, rank-and-file consumer would have to surf at a slower pace, said a U.S. Federal Communications Commission plan quoted by Geist. The FCC has come under fire from cable, Internet and broadband providers and consumers across the country have been very vocal about the plan. Canada’s net neutrality laws wider in scope than the US bill, but observers warn the same measures could be coming here.

Definitions make a difference
The U.S. plan would not really be implemented, as is, in Canada because of two major differences in the respective legislation. State-side, the FCC has categorized the Internet as an information service on its own while in Canada the `Net is part of the Telecom Regulations Act , said Geist’s article. Because of the wording of the proposed American legislation, legal constraints exist there that are not applicable in Canada. Also in Canada the choice of fast or slow Internet is not currently allowed under the existing legislation.

A recent Motherboard report said that the U.S. measure will have an impact in Canada and may, in fact, lead to Canadian legislation along similar lines. The Canadian government recently talked of its future digital strategy and any mention of net neutrality was suspiciously missing, leading the source to suggest the government has few, if any, intentions of keeping the net neutrality language in any future bills.

Motherboard quotes Net Tech Journalist Peter Nowark’s concern about the precedent the US measure could set across Canada.

“Sure, we have net neutrality rules here in Canada but if you don’t think our big ISPs are going to be emboldened now to circumvent them or try to re-open the conversation, well then you don’t know them very well,” Nowark asserted.

Big ISPs across the country have little or no incentive, said Motherboard to be competitive and smaller providers, like TekSavvy, are unable to challenge that because they purchase their access from the nation’s top providers.

So, while Canadians watch to see if the US legislation passes, concern continues to grow that the Canadian Parliament will echo its legislative counterparts and bring two speeds of Internet access to Canada, further polarizing consumers already upset with slow and expensive Internet access and service.