Internet coming to rural Canada?

No matter where you go in Canada, chances are good that almost everyone knows that the Internet has become an absolutely indispensable resource across the nation. While, sure, perhaps not everyone’s lives revolve around going online, the reality is that the majority of Canadians use the Internet every day in order to make their lives easier.

According to the 2012 Canadian Internet Use Survey, released by Industry Canada in late 2013, 83 per cent of households in the nation have access to the Internet within the home, an increase of 14 per cent when compared to 2010 figures. This number jumps in some provinces, however, with British Columbia and Alberta reporting 86 per cent connectivity and Ottawa coming in at 84 per cent.

As such, a number of individuals across Canada likely can’t imagine not having access from almost anywhere, whether they want to use a traditional desktop computer or connect using a wireless devices like a tablet. Going online has made so many processes much simpler, such as checking bank account balances, paying bills, watching TV and staying in touch with friends and family.

It might be surprising, then, that there are in fact people who don’t use the Internet because they can’t – there aren’t any satisfactory options available to them. Some rural areas of the country either don’t have proper connections or there’s an Internet service provider (ISP) monopoly in the region and costs are too high.

So what is being done to change this?

Federal budget will provide broadband funding
According to The Huffington Post Canada, the government recently stepped in to make sure everyone has access to good quality, fast Internet. The source reported that the recently approved 2014 federal budget sets aside money for providing and improving connections in rural and remote regions.

Namely, $305 million has been dedicated to this aim over the next five years, something that is set to benefit approximately 280,000 households located in underserved areas, the news provider detailed. Much of the focus will be on the farthest northern regions.

“It is essentially a rebranding of the Broadband Canada Program, a three-year, $225 million investment to bring faster Internet to underserved areas that ended in 2012,” The Huffington Post explained.

The 2012 initiative was halted when that year’s budget did not lend itself to supporting the Community Access Program. Then, an evaluation noted that “it may have outlived its usefulness as a means to bring the Internet to communities across Canada,” the official document read, as quoted by the news source.

In the meantime
While it might be a little while, those in rural villages will soon be able to enjoy the same Internet-based perks as people in the rest of the nation. As the major ISPs become available in some remote areas, indies will also be able to break into such markets.

This is beneficial because then, there won’t be a large ISP monopoly in the area, and consumers will be able to enjoy high quality service and lower prices without having to sign on for a multi-year plan when they’re just getting their bearings online.

Always be careful of Internet scams on social media

Many individuals spend their days checking for notifications on some of the most popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. Perhaps they’re waiting on a Facebook wall post from a faraway family member they haven’t spoken with in some time, or it could be that they’ve got their eye out for a potential response from a favourite celebrity on Twitter. Regardless, these mediums provide a great way to stay in touch with individuals who might not have regular contact and are a good source of breaking news.

This could be part of the reason why social media platforms are particularly popular in Canada. A late 2012 release by the Parliament of Canada revealed that 86 per cent of Canadians between 18 and 34 years old have at least one personal social network page, while 62 per cent of those between 35 and 54 and 44 per cent of Canadians who are more than 55 years of age can say the same.

However, because of the prevalence of Canadians using these websites to connect, a number of hackers and scammers have targeted the platforms. They like to flock toward the greatest likelihood of tricking unsuspecting Internet users, and that might just be on networking pages.

As such, there are a number of tips and tricks Canadians should know in order to best avoid criminals when they’re using their social media pages to stay in contact with their friends and family.

Scams are growing in frequency
According to The Canadian Press, The Competition Bureau recently issued a release explaining that a larger volume of scammers are taking to social platforms to accomplish their crimes than ever. Specifically, the source noted that a number of these individuals attempt to sell fake products to make a profit or otherwise rip users off.

Among the suggestions the news provider offered were that individuals shouldn’t open suspicious links on such pages, and that suspected victims need to report the incidents to the authorities, even if they’re embarrassed – it’s the only way law enforcement can stay on the lookout. Moreover, citing information from the bureau’s recent “Twitter party,” the news outlet explained that users should be vigilant about looking at URLs when they sign into these websites. Participant @JerieShaw stated that she received an email seemingly from Facebook asking her to log in, but the URL wasn’t correct.

Rely on a secure network
People can be as careful as they want when they’re posting information and taking other action on social platforms, but if the connection itself is compromised, those tactics could be all for naught. As such, individuals need to make sure they’re taking care when they’re in public and using unsecured Wi-Fi networks. It might be better to wait until they’re in the safety of their own home to sign on to the sites.

And when they’re in their houses, they can have the peace of mind that comes along with the knowledge that they’re using reliable Internet service providers to go online. Cautious Internet users might want to employ indie ISPs, which can not only help users remain safe, but they also provide some of the least expensive and most flexible connectivity plans.

L’Observatoire des médias sociaux en relations publique de l’Université Laval à Québec a publié un document dans lequel plusieurs pistes de solutions très intéressantes peuvent contribuer à gérer efficacement votre page Facebook, LinkedIn ou tout autre page publiée dans d’autres médias sociaux.

Médias sociaux : comment gérer les commentaires?

De plus en plus d’entreprises utilisent les médias sociaux pour rejoindre les consommateurs.  Il s’agit d’un moyen très économique, par exemple une page Facebook pour les entreprises, où il est possible de parler des produits, des nouveautés et des promotions.

Tout ceci semble bien intéressant, mais il arrive souvent que des commentaires négatifs, sarcastiques ou haineux figurent sur le fil de discussion. Comment gérer tous ces dialogues ?

L’Observatoire des médias sociaux en relations publique de l’Université Laval à Québec a publié un document dans lequel plusieurs pistes de solutions très intéressantes peuvent contribuer à gérer efficacement votre page Facebook, LinkedIn ou tout autre page publiée dans d’autres médias sociaux.

L’organisme recommande de trier les messages selon leur nature et d’effectuer des catégories comme cet exemple:
1. Propos positif sur l’entreprise ou un produit;
2. Question spécifique sur un produit ou un service;
3. Commentaire négatif ou plainte concernant la compagnie, un produit ou un service.

Puisqu’il s’agit de votre entreprise, il faut agir comme si le consommateur était devant vous, c’est-à-dire de conserver un ton neutre, poli et courtois. Ainsi, préférez l’utilisation du « nous » et répondez au message le plus rapidement possible, de façon à démontrer que votre entreprise est à l’écoute des commentaires sur le Web.

Si l’échange avec un internaute exigeait une conversation plus longue et plus personnelle, le message peut alors être redirigé en lui demandant la meilleure façon de le rejoindre. En appliquant le Netiquette et en conservant un ton courtois, vous ne risquez pas de vivre une mauvaise expérience sur les réseaux sociaux. En terminant, n’oubliez jamais le vieux dicton : les écrits restent !

How many Canadians really use the Internet?

These days, it seems like everyone’s on the Internet, from consumers of all ages to celebrities. This is because the Internet has grown from a smattering of Web pages to an overarching platform on which people can accomplish things like shopping, connecting with family and friends and paying bills. There isn’t a lot individuals can’t do as long as they’re armed with a solid Internet connection.

As such, it follows that most people in Canada have access to the Internet. For the past year or so, the overall claim was that about 80 per cent of individuals in the nation go online regularly, but thanks to recently released information published by the Canadian Internet Registration, that statistic can be more accurately assessed as higher.

How many people go online?
First and foremost, it might surprise highly connected Canadians that the majority of individuals on Earth do not use the Internet with regularity. Although there are more than 7 billion people alive, only about 2.5 billion are able to go online.

As far as Canada is concerned, however, CIRA determined that 87 per cent of Canadian households are connected to the Internet, securing Canada 16th place in Internet penetration as of 2013, and second among G8 countries. Only the United Kingdom ranked higher. Canada took 20th place among all nations in terms of Internet users, with 29.7 million citizens using the Internet regularly.

Of course, use varies by province, the 2014 CIRA Factbook discovered. For instance, British Columbia and Alberta tied as the most Internet-savvy regions, boasting 86 per cent connectivity, while New Brunswick lagged behind at 77 per cent.

“We continue to find that Canadians are unique in terms of why and how we use the Internet, the values we uphold online and the pride we take in having .CA as our unique identifier,” stated CIRA CEO Byron Holland.

But who wins?
At the end of the day, everyone with a good Internet connection – i.e. a way to stay connected with the outside world at all times – wins out because they have access to a vast repository of information. However, a select group of people are so tech-savvy that they get a better deal and don’t have to pay an arm and a leg in order to go online.

That sector is made up of people who establish their connection through an independent Internet service provider. Sure, the major, incumbent ISPs tend to have a large following and long-standing reputation, but smaller indie companies can almost always provide a better deal and more attention to customers. The cost of Internet access is cheaper over time, and because indies often have a smaller customer base, they can take the time to help each and every one of their customers with whatever issues they’re going through.

As such, with an increasing amount of people considering using the Internet, those new to the game or just branching out on their own and in need of access should always thoroughly consider using the services of an indie ISP.

L'usurpation d'identité est un crime en pleine croissance au Canada.

Vol d’identité et le Web: pensez prévention et sécurité!

Avec les médias sociaux, il est facile de discuter avec les amis et la famille, de retrouver d’anciennes connaissances et même de faire de nouvelles rencontres !

Mais attention! Le vol d’identité est un crime en pleine croissance au Canada et le Web est un terrain de chasse pour les fraudeurs…

Pour empêcher ce genre de fraude devenu malheureusement trop courant au pays, beaucoup d’internautes doivent repenser leur comportement et s’assurer que ce qu’ils affichent publiquement au su et au vu de tous et de toutes ne leur porte pas préjudice.

Ainsi, bon nombre de personnes publient leur date de naissance, leur ville de résidence et racontent leur vie de tous les jours sur les médias sociaux.

Sachez qu’avec une date de naissance, le nom de fille de la mère d’une personne et quelques autres informations très facile à trouver, un fraudeur pourra voler une identité, pour notamment demander une carte de crédit ou un prêt. Bien sûr, ceci sera aux frais de la personne flouée et d’ici à ce qu’elle découvre le pot aux roses, le mal sera fait !

Plus vous mentionnerez de renseignements sur votre vie privée sur le Web, plus les fraudeurs potentiels auront de la matière pour voler votre identité. À ce sujet, le site donne de très bons conseils pour protéger votre identité sur le Web.

Le Web et les médis sociaux sont des outils extraordinaires, mais il est important de les utiliser de manière à se protéger des individus qui malheureusement ne pensent qu’à profiter des autres. Avec des bons comportements sécuritaires  lorsque vous utilisez les médias sociaux, il ne vous restera que de bons moments à partager avec les amis et la famille !

Wizards head to Hogwarts online

Online courses have become more popular in recent years. Thanks to the growth of the high-speed Web and streaming technologies, among other advancements, nearly half of college students now take at least one course online. That figure has doubled in the past five years, according to Campus Technology.

Now, it seems people will be able to enroll in a new course – recently reported that people can now enroll for classes at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from the famous Harry Potter novels. As students, people will be able to complete assignments, take quizzes and interact with professors to complete the content. Users can go through the content at their own pace to make sure they get the most out of their Hogwarts experience.

“With enrollment in classes not being a necessary factor of being enrolled in Hogwarts is Here, users of the website can interact with fellow witches and wizards in an online dormitory consisting of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin house,” the news source added. “Students can chat about courses, collect frog cards, earn House Points from trivia questions and buy items from their very own Gringotts Wizarding bank account.”

Each course spans nine weeks, with one lesson per week. People must wait a week after completing a session before they can do the next one. In the mean time, they can also keep up with school-wide activities through a campus newspaper and take part in other competitions and online events throughout the world.

Leveraging online education
On a more serious note, unlimited Internet can play a huge role in helping people complete their college degrees. More people are taking online classes because of the convenience they offer, enabling students to acquire their degrees on their own time.

“With more social tools, not to mention better bandwidth, people can learn – and share ideas – from anywhere. That has helped to popularize the massive open online course (MOOC), which got its start about six years ago,” The Globe and Mail reported.

Some online courses have upward of 100,000 students enrolled and can be taken by anyone with an Internet connection. Sometimes, courses are even provided for free, offering students an easy window into a new area to see whether they like the subject matter.

Are Canadians crowdfunding?

We no longer live in a time when, if an organization needs to raise money, workers go door-to-door asking for donations. While individuals might still see nonprofit employees with clipboards asking for signups in public areas or commercials for fundraising events on television, it seems as if charities are jumping on the bandwagon and joining the rest of the world in the Digital Age.

One of the main ways to do this within a nonprofit setting is to set up an account on a crowdfunding website. On a host platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, leaders of such organizations, or even individual consumers who are passionate about a cause, can create their own site on which friends, family or complete strangers can donate safely. They can entice people with rewards and/or keep them updated through every step of the journey before the deadline arrives.

It should come as no surprise that Canadians are pursuing this end to raise money for subjects that matter to them. After all, according to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s 2014 Factbook, 87 per cent of households in the nation have an Internet connection.

So what are consumers in Canada donating their hard-earned money to when they go online? And how can companies harness this power?

Medical breakthroughs
It’s common for researchers in various fields to turn to crowdfunding to reach their monetary goals in order to take more steps forward. Take the medical sector, for instance – making new advances often means putting up a lot of money.

As such, experts may find relief in crowdfunding. Recently, for example, Canadian microbiologist Elizabeth Bent started a fundraiser on RocketHub in order to finish initial research on using bacteria found in the human body to reduce the risk of disease. She’s seeking to garner $20,000.

Entrepreneurs who want to get started off right
Another emerging trend is that startup owners who are just starting out are using these types of websites to get some capital in order to create new products or invest in goods like computers or desks before they open their doors for business. According to Ottawa Business Journal, while it’s generally difficult to completely fund a new company using this method, it can be very helpful for some.

This is especially true given the new plan proposed by the Ontario Securities Commission in March to sponsor equity-based crowdfunding. The source explained this would allow owners to pursue two models – the traditional setup enabling donors to give money as they please and one allowing individuals who give money to actually invest in the business.

In business terms
Company and nonprofit leaders can use this growing trend to benefit their own organizations. At its core, crowdfunding is about asking a large number of individuals to donate a small amount of money – whatever they can afford. As such, charity leaders need to make their clients feel comfortable giving money online. It might be a good idea, rather than asking for donations on the corporate website, to fundraise through one of the most notable platforms, like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. As long as the site is reputable and the organization invests in worthwhile rewards and advertising campaigns, it should see positive results.

Authorities are cracking down on BlackShades malware

Every few months, it seems that new reports emerge outlining the latest virus or other hacking strategy that has the potential to affect Internet users across the globe. In fact, these have become so common there’s a worry that individuals are becoming desensitized. For instance, take the recent Heartbleed bug. While many people are sure to have changed their passwords in the wake of the situation, chances are good that others decided not to, thinking that if they didn’t see any evidence of identity theft on their bank statements, they didn’t have to worry about anything.

Plus, it’s not like anyone is going to stop using the Internet. It’s become a basic part of our everyday lives at this point. Consider this: Almost 90 per cent of households in Canada are connected to the Internet, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority’s 2014 World Factbook revealed. These people go online for everything from paying bills to talking to friends to watching TV. They’re not just going to upend their lives because criminals want to trick people.

It’s all about staying alert and aware of your digital surroundings. This is certainly true now, as news of the massive, worldwide spread of a piece of malware – BlackShades –  has become known.

What is BlackShades?
Unlike some of the more famous viruses or hacker rings, chances are good that not many people have heard of BlackShades – yet. According to CTV News, BlackShades is a type of malware nefarious characters download to tap into their victims’ computers remotely. It essentially gives the criminals full reign over others’ devices.

“You can record information that they’re typing in, see what they’re doing, turn on their webcam or listen in. You can do whatever you want,” Ottawa’s Defence Intelligence Information Security Expert Keith Murphy told the source.

As CNN Money explained, this malware can sell for as low as $40 online, meaning that virtually anyone can use it.

The current situation
It recently came to light that numerous hackers across the globe are using this malware to extract information from other individuals, a lot of whom are unaware that their devices have been corrupted. The news outlet reported that authorities in a number of countries, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, began making arrests in mid-May. More than 90 arrests have been made so far, many after cases of extortion and bank fraud.

What’s happening in Canada
Canadians simply need to follow the guidelines for staying safe online, as they should always be doing, and there should be no worries about BlackShades. Things like frequent virus scans, creating firewalls and installing popup blockers are crucial.

That being said, Canadians do need to be aware of the dangers, because authorities have acknowledged that the nation is one of the largest targets of criminals using the malware. CTV News reported that Murphy stated Canada is “definitely at the top of the target list.”

The main reason for this is the close relationship between Canada and the United States, Murphy told the news outlet. Hackers want to exploit this fact and find out secrets. However, the source made it clear that individuals, not just governments, need to take the proper precautions.

Businesses and consumers prepare for the Internet of Things

To say that the Internet has revolutionized the way that people connect, communicate and do business on a global scale would be putting it lightly – the movement is still gaining momentum as more people plug into the Web via a range of personal devices every day. But the functionality of this worldwide phenomenon doesn’t stop there. According to Dynamic Business, the Internet of Things is quickly becoming the new standard of connectivity, synchronizing everything from smartphones and tablets to household appliances, family vehicles and even wearable tech such as watches and glasses.

A natural extension of the Web
Although the idea of IP-connected microwaves and minivans may seem foreign to most consumers, the gradual expansion of the Web makes perfect sense. The development of the IoT is not revolutionary, but rather a logical step forward in the Information Age, Dynamic Business explained. The source pointed out that with 200 billion devices already connected on a global scale – and more booting up every second – the future of the IoT is beginning to resemble the sci-fi worlds predicted in years past.

Despite the concept still finding its footing in real-world applications, the IoT is garnering attention from a variety of audiences. Not only are consumers eager to see how their daily lives can be streamlined with the assistance of an interconnected digital ecosystem, but the corporate world is also keen on adopting such technologies for use in and out of the office. IT Business Canada recently noted that small businesses in particular have expressed interest in the IoT to boost productivity, even though few organizations have been bold enough to take the first steps toward implementation.

“Research plainly shows that while there is a lot of enthusiasm for [the Internet of Things] among small businesses, they also have serious reservations when it comes to cost, complexity and risk,” said Marco La Vecchia, AVG’s vice-president of channel sales, in a statement.

New markets, new opportunities
Besides hinting at a brighter digital future, the IoT is brimming with potential for capitalization in a range of sectors. IT Business Canada pointed out that companies and consumers alike are anticipating the opportunities that await in this new era of synchronization. Internet service providers especially will need to take heightened expectations into account and act accordingly.

“This demand for more backup, security, support and other services are especially good news for IT service providers with small business customers,” continued La Vecchia, according to the source. “One likely side effect as IoT spreads over the next 2-3 years will be to increase small business reliance on services from IT providers.”

The Web shows no sign of slowing down, and businesses worldwide will need to get up to speed in order to satisfy ever-growing consumer demand for interconnected hardware and applications.

What should you tell kids about social media?

Parents still rule the roost, there’s no question about it. It’s mom and dad who decide bedtimes, pick out what’s for dinner, set curfews and so on. However, at this point, especially because we live in such a connected, digital age, there’s not a lot they can do to stop kids from going online.

The Internet is simply too popular and useful these days. Anyway, it seems like most children have to go online sooner or later, at least for schoolwork.They also need to be prepared for life ahead of them – kids need to know the ins and outs of the Internet or they likely won’t be able to succeed at school or work when they’re older.

One thing kids love doing is setting up personal social media pages. Of course, this is within reason – there are age restrictions on such websites. However, even when children reach their teenage years, many moms and dads still want to keep tabs on them when they’re on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

So, what should Canadian parents do to make sure their kids, no matter their age, are safe when hanging out on social networking sites?

Have the talk about what and what not to post
It’s critical that kids are made well aware that what goes on the Internet stays on the Internet, even after a person has deleted a post, Tweet or even the entire page. And while teens might tell their parents they already know this, the chat is still necessary – things can be written in the heat of the moment or by accident that kids can’t take back easily. It’s important they realize that cyberbullying is a real issue and more cases are making their way into court. They also need to know that posting sensitive information – address, financial data and even current location – is very dangerous.

Don’t cause them embarrassment
Many kids don’t even want to be Facebook friends with mom and dad, but to keep an eye on them, it might be appropriate to make this a rule in the house. That being said, parents need to make sure they don’t do things like post embarrassing baby pictures or write lovey-dovey posts on their walls. Not only is the kid going to be furious, but it might affect their social standing. Keeping an eye on goings on is alright and even encouraged, but don’t stunt their social media growth.

Make it easy to go online
One of the best things parents can do is to make sure they have good Internet access. At least this way, they won’t have to listen to the meltdown that occurs when a slow connection results in the latest pictures of their daughter’s crush loading at a snail’s pace or the frustration that comes when their son can’t make weekend plans because the Internet keeps freezing.

It’s important for the entire household that parents don’t break the bank to enable a good connection. There are plenty of indie Internet service providers that offer affordable packages that still have great data plans. This might be the best course of action for moms and dads who want to give their kids access to the wide world of social media without financial consequences.