Here Is How To Address Car Hacking Threats

When you connect a car to the Internet, it is no longer just a car: It is a computer on wheels.

For years, the security industry has asked itself, “When will cyberattacks affect the physical world?” The connected car is a clear example of where this manifests, especially as researchers release new information about vehicles’ vulnerabilities, such as my partner Marc Rogers’ and my deep dive into Tesla’s systems, or the recent Jeep Cherokee analysis, wherein researchers breached the vehicle’s drive systems from the Internet, slowing the vehicle to a crawl on a highway. Fiat Chrysler has since recalled more than one million vehicles as a result, and legislation aptly named the “Security and Privacy in your Car Act” is currently in consideration by Congress.

When a car can search Google, send tweets and be remotely accessed from a smartphone app, that car has more in common with your laptop than it does the Model T. Securing the next generation of connected automobiles means redefining what it means for a vehicle to be “road-ready.” The road-ready vehicle of the future needs cybersecurity measures beyond the traditional physical safety measures taken today.

It is inevitable that automobiles — alongside every other essential technology in our lives — become connected. Given how important cars and trucks are to both individuals and the world’s economy as a whole, it’s entirely expected that attackers will focus their energy on disrupting vehicles’ (hopefully) well-designed systems.

Thankfully, nothing catastrophic has happened yet, and the auto industry is in position to take necessary action to get ahead of this problem. However, it needs to learn from the software industry’s experience on the front lines of the Internet, something most auto manufacturers have yet to do.

For example, as part of its mission to reinvent the automobile, Tesla has taken a software-first approach to itscars. Knowing that the people will expect their car to be connected to the Internet, the conversation internally never was “when these cars become Internet-connected,” it always was “how can we build a great connected car?”

As with any software-driven product, cybersecurity must be a deliberate investment. Today, the auto industry can take three specific measures to dramatically improve the cybersecurity of its vehicles.

First, vehicles need over-the-air update systems to avoid expensive and lengthy recalls every time a security vulnerability is found. Second, manufacturers must separate infotainment systems and the critical drive systems, tightly controlling communication between them, just as commercial airliners isolate inflight Wi-Fi networks from critical avionics systems. Third, manufacturers must assume that some attacks will succeed and secure each individual software component in the vehicle, so that if an attacker compromises a single system they do not automatically get access to the entire vehicle.

While the state of automobile cybersecurity would be substantially improved if all manufacturers implemented these guidelines, they are just a start. It takes years for a company to develop a strong cybersecurity culture; even with a strong internal cybersecurity team, that team must be supported by and integrated into the organization as a whole.

Further, companies with experienced security teams look not just inside the company for support, but outside to the global community of security researchers identifying problems — and hoping to get them fixed — ahead of criminals. For example, Tesla launched a “Bug Bounty” program to encourage external security researchers to responsibly identify and help fix any security issues they uncover. I encourage all other manufacturers to follow a similar path.

Consider the consequences if the auto industry does not get security right: Manufacturers may need to issue a recall for every software vulnerability found. Recalls are a long process, and software vulnerabilities become a substantial personal safety issue, even a national security concern, if not fixed immediately. Further, if the frequency of software vulnerabilities in vehicles is anywhere near that of PCs — monthly and even weekly in some cases — recalls quickly become impractical.

I sincerely hope that all auto manufacturers proactively address cybersecurity, starting with the guidelines above, to make automobiles one of the most secure pieces of technology in our lives.

Convert PDF to Word and Word to PDF with Free Software

PDF and Word (.doc and .docx) are two document formats most computer users encounter on a frequent basis. PDF files have advantages of being platform independent, hard to edit and smaller in size. Word documents on the other hand are easy to edit, format and read on devices that support them. While both of these formats have their advantages, many users have felt the need to convert one to the other to take advantage of the other’s features.

There are many paid software and tools that support this conversion, but most of them are too expensive. There are many free online conversion tools as well but either they result in low quality conversion with lots of missing resources or take too much time due to server limitations. Most of these online tools limit the size of files you can convert. Also, many people are not comfortable with uploading their personal files on a third party server.

In this situation, the only solution to obtain high quality conversion from one format to the other and that too quickly is using a program installed on your PC. There are many free software that support this but the problem with most of them is that they do not offer high quality conversion and result in lots of missing resources. However, there are certain free products that offer quick and high quality conversion from PDF to Word and vice versa. This article contains some such software.

In this article:
1. Convert PDF to Word
2. Convert Word to PDF

Convert PDF to Word

Open Office
The basic version of Open Office that you download from OpenOffice.org lacks PDF operability. To add PDF functionality to Open Office, you will need to install the PDF Import extension. If you have older versions of Open Office, you can use the older version of this extension. LibreOffice, an office suite descended from Open Office has this extension included by default.
While Open Office does not support direct conversion of PDF files to Word documents, you can use an indirect method to achieve this conversion. To do this, open any PDF document in Open Office Draw and copy all its elements with Ctrl+A followed by Ctrl+C. Now open Open Office Writer and press Ctrl+V and then save the file as a Word document. In this way, you can get a Word document of your PDF file with remarkable accuracy.

You can also directly edit the PDF file with Open Office Draw just as easily as a Word document.

UniPDF
UniPDF is a small free utility that lets you convert PDF files to Word documents with speed and accuracy. It also offers conversion of PDF files to RTF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, HTML and plain text. While it lacks a plethora of features, it is good at what it promises to do; convert PDF files.

Both of these programs run on Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP. It is interesting to note that PDF to word conversion is possible only if the PDF file is not a scanned image and was created as a text document.

Online Tools
While the above mentioned offline tools will be enough for most conversion needs, it is always good to have a few options. These online tools provide accurate and fast conversion from PDF to Word.

ConvertFiles: Limits the file size to 250 MB. Offers high quality conversion with OCR support.
ConvertOnlineFree: Limits the file size to 30 MB. Is a good option but lacks OCR support.

Convert Word to PDF

Open Office can be effectively used for this purpose. Just open a Word Document in Open Office Writer and use its Export as PDF option to immediately get a PDF version. Similarly, you can use Open Office to convert XLS and PPT files to PDF as well.

Convert FAT32 to NTFS Without Formatting or Losing Data

You have a flash drive or probably an external hard drive that currently has FAT32 file system and you want to change it to NTFS, because FAT32 does not support handling large files (over 4GB) or it is just simply old for your taste but there is just one problem, you don’t want to lose your saved data. This article is for you then as it explains exactly how you can achieve seamless transition from FAT to NTFS without involving any data loss.

While it is generally recommended to use the NTFS file system because of its stability, security and lesser defragmentation time, most of us end up using FAT32 because that is what most disks are preformatted with. Unless, we notice the “Not enough disk space error” despite disk space being available, we don’t bother to change the file system. Moreover, most of us don’t change it because of the risk of losing important data and lack of time (read laziness). As Microsoft was aware of this scenario, they added a capability in the command prompt to overcome this by executing a simple command. There are many software that support this too but the Convert command is one of the easiest ways to do so. Follow the steps below to know how:-

Important: While this method works perfectly, I would still advise you to backup your data in case anything goes wrong.

FAT 32 to NTFS Conversion Steps

1) Go to Computer, and note the name of the drive whose file system you wish to convert.
2) Click on Start.
3) Type cmd in the search bar if you use Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows Vista. If you use Windows XP, click on Run and then execute cmd.
4) Execute “chkdsk h: /f ” (without quotes) where H is the letter of the drive to undergo conversion. This checks the drive for errors and fixes them automatically.
5) Execute “Convert H: /FS:NTFS” (without quotes). H is again the letter of the drive to be converted.
6) The command prompt will start the conversion process and after a few minutes, CMD will say that conversion was successful.
7) You can check it in the properties of the drive through right click<Properties.

This command can also be used to convert FAT16 disks and works on Windows 8, Windows 8.1,Windows 7, Windows XP and Windows Vista. I converted my flash drive’s file system using these steps and it worked flawlessly. It is interesting to note that this method cannot be used to reconvert NTFS file system back to FAT32. To reconvert back to FAT32, you will need to format the entire drive which will definitely cause data loss.

How to Edit PDF Files: Free Online & Offline Tools

PDF, or the Portable Document Format is one of the most popular format for document sharing. Its popularity is mainly because PDF files are multi-platform (can be run on most devices without any change in formatting), smaller in size, can be opened on most devices with free software and are difficult to edit as they are “read only”.

Despite PDF files being “read only” by default, there are certain tools and software you can use to change the contents of a PDF file for free without resorting to paid software like Adobe Acrobat.

Free Tools To Edit PDF files

Edit PDF Files Online
If you are looking for basic PDF editing (changing bits of text to hide your personal information or simply filling a form), you can try PDFEscape to edit PDF files right in your browser. It allows you to modify text, images and add annotations with the help of custom shapes and arrows. One of PDF Escape’s great feature is its ability to password protect PDF files. It also allows you to hide text with its white out tool (this is different from deleting it). It even lets you edit password protected PDF files and add hyperlinks to web addresses. To use PDF Escape, all you need is a JavaScript enabled web browser.

2 step PDF Editing

This basically involves converting PDF files into another format and then editing the converted PDF file. After editing, you can use a PDF writer to reconvert the edited file back to PDF.

If your PDF file can be suitably edited as a Word document, you can use a PDF to Word converter for instant conversion. Edit the converted file and then, you can use any free PDF writer to recreate a PDF file. If you have Open Office, you can use its export as PDF feature to create a PDF file from almost any printable document.

Multivalent Browser: Multivalent browser offers minimal PDF editing in the form of allowing to add annotations. It also contains several command line tools which allow for merging and compressing PDF files.

Edit Meta data of PDF files
Meta Data is the information that is associated with a PDF file. If you wish to change this information, you can use the free PDFMetaEdit to edit information like title, author name, bookmarks and other creation data of a PDF document. PDFMetaEdit can also be used to remove and add passwords (encrypt) to PDF files.

Advanced PDF Editors (editing text, images etc.)

The freeware tools mentioned above will be useful for most users with basic PDF editing requirements. However, if you have advanced PDF editing needs, the above tools will not be that useful. There are some advanced PDF editing tools available that are as good as most paid products.

Open Office Draw

The open source alternative to Microsoft Office can also be used as an alternative to Adobe Acrobat. All you need is the PDF Import extension (older version here). Then you can use Open Office Draw to easily and quickly edit PDF files. With Open Office Draw’s inline editing features, you can edit any PDF document as easily as you can edit a Word document. It also supports adding and replacing images, changing font size and color, replacing default font-family, adding annotations, charts, shapes, tables all through an easy to use interface.

To load the PDF Import extension in Open Office, just open Extension Manager from the Tools Menu, click on Add and then select the location of the downloaded extension. For those of you who want a PDF Editor without any initial setup, LibreOffice, an Office suite descended from Open Office, has this extension included by default. If you don’t mind the download size, Open Office Draw is simply the best free PDF editor available.

Inkscape: Inkscape is a vector graphics editor that allows you import and export PDF files. You can use Inkscape to select text, image or any other object on a PDF file and then change its position or even delete it. It also lets you do free hand drawing on PDF files and add annotations. While Inkscape offers some really good features, its complex interface makes it difficult for users to use it. Moreover, it only allows you to edit only a single page at a time. You can, however, convert these to a single PDF file using a PDF combiner.

PDFTools: PDFTools is a PDF management application that supports encrypting, decrypting (remove password), joining and splitting PDF files. Its Stamp feature can be used to add text and images over a PDF file. You can stamp to the location of your choice using the X and Y co-ordinates. It includes a PDF creator which can be used to create a PDF file from any XML document. It also supports re-arranging pages in a PDF file.

GIMP: GIMP or the GNU Image Manipulation Program can also be used as a PDF editor. Just import any PDF file as an image or a layer, then edit it, and then use its export function to get a PDF file. The only downside is that like Inkscape, GIMP also allows you to edit only a single page at a time. You can, however, easily combine these to get a single PDF file using free software like the above mentioned PDFTools.

PDF-XChange Viewer: The free version of PDF-XChange viewer can be used to directly type text on PDF files. This makes this software a good PDF form filler. Its image stamp feature can be used to insert images directly on any PDF document.

PDFEdit: PDFEdit is a full fledged PDF editor for Unix-Like operating systems. Its downside is that it does not support editing protected or encrypted PDF files. PDFEdit has a beta version for Windows, but it didn’t work for me.

How Can You Find Faster Broadband Options for Your Business?

n Scotland, like the rest of the UK, a number of people are asking, ‘How do I find the fastest broadband in my area?’. Fortunately the chances of having access to broadband itself are high, with only one percent of the Scottish population not able to receive the service. However due to lacking infrastructure in some parts of the country, a large proportion of the population are currently unable to embrace the next generation of online access, the world of superfast broadband.

Improving the Superfast Broadband Scotland Has to Offer

New technology takes a long time to weave its way into people’s homes and businesses. It usually starts with pioneer buyers that purchase new technology at high prices. As the technology improves and comes down in price, we see it more and more. A great example, of course, is mobile phones. People originally bought expensive mobile phones the size of small bricks, and now we are at the point where there are more mobile devices than people in the world.

The UK government are 100% behind fibre technology, and are currently helping businesses realise the increased efficiencies of superfast broadband through the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme. For companies eligible for the £3,000 grant, upgrading business broadband no longer has to be delayed or postponed until the price falls. Thanks to the UK Government’s focus on it, we are already seeing significant improvements in the superfast broadband Scotland has to offer, resulting in over 220,000 Scottish homes and businesses able to access its increased speeds and benefits. However, the government is now warning that the £40m broadband grant scheme is rapidly running out due to a stampede from businesses looking to capitalise on the opportunity to install superfast broadband. Our advice? Take advantage of the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme while you still can.

Where to Find Your Broadband Options

There are lots of broadband comparison sites for businesses but they have a limited range of options when compared to business-to-business negotiation with a telecommunications company and we wouldn’t recommend them. Right now, the most important site for a business to check is https://www.connectionvouchers.co.uk/ to find out if your business is eligible for a Connection Voucher. Once you know that your business is in a fibre broadband grant eligible postcode, the next logical step would be to talk to a local supplier for advice before leaping into any new business broadband contract. And don’t worry if your post code isn’t eligible for a Connection Voucher, you could still benefit from superfast broadband.

Why Bother With Superfast Broadband?

“For many businesses across Scotland and the UK, high speed broadband isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.” said Danny Alexander, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, when he spoke in Glasgow recently on the subject. The governments increased investment in the broadband voucher scheme shows that it understands its importance to our economy, which is vital due to the number of benefits which it brings our businesses.

Significant operational savings can be made due to the increased business efficiency and productivity benefits that superfast broadband provide. This is especially true if you are one of the many companies using the cloud for data storage, or if you use cloud tools for shared workspaces / online collaborations. Sending, receiving and uploading files can now be carried out in a fraction of the time.

With improved broadband speeds you can conduct higher quality conference calling and media-intensive two-way communication with customers and clients, allowing you to enter new markets and save on transportation costs and the time staff are out the office. It means you can offer faster responses, less lag, and even a more sophisticated customer-relationship-management (CRM) system. You can even conference with your suppliers and staff via video messages whilst still conducting your internet heavy business. Even peak-time traffic shouldn’t affect your service, as long as you have a good host server and service relating to your business activities.

Have a look at the superfast broadband (FTTC) area of our site to view more benefits as well as further information on superfast broadband.

5 Ways to Interact Better with Customers

Having a real relationship with your customers is vitally important, so here are 5 great ways you can interact better with them.

  1. Make Interactions Easy

The first place to start is by looking at how interactions between your business and its customers take place. If they are messy and complicated, people are not going to have any interest in communicating with you, so make things easier.

When your customers have a problem, your team needs to be able to sort things out quickly, otherwise you might end up losing the customer forever. Let them file complaints in person, on the phone, via email or over social media. This variety of options makes the process easier for them.

  1. Train Your Staff in Basic Customer Service Skills

Every business needs to know how to deal with customers, but this is no good unless your employees know how to get the basics of customer services right too. If they don’t, you need to focus on training them so that they do.

You can send them away on a training course, or, if that’s too expensive, you can train them by yourself. It’s really not that complicated. There are certain questions and situations that arise when working in customer services departments, so make sure these areas are covered.

  1. Participate in Community Events

Talking to customers and people in the community isn’t something that should only be done when you’re trying to sell something to them. You should try to prove to people that you’re interested in being part of the wider community.

So, get out there and participate in all the different community events that bring people together and get people talking. It will improve your business too though. If people get to know your business and like you as a business owner, they’ll want to buy from you more.

  1. Keep People Up to Date

Customers need to be kept up to date with regards to changes that might be relevant to them. It’s a way of keeping them in the loop rather than shutting them out of things. It’s also a great way of reminding people that you’re still out there and open for business.

You can do this by sending out a weekly or monthly e-newsletter. To do this, you first need to build up a collection of email addresses. Ask people to submit their email address when they land on your homepage to collect as many as possible.

  1. Create a Blog

If you need to build up a community around your brand and attract new people to the business, you should start your own blog. You’ll be able to prove to people that you’re an authority in your sector.

All you need to do is make sure you’re creating blog posts that are filled with relevant facts that can engage the kind of people who are important to a business like yours. It might seem challenging at first, but you’ll get there.

Customer interaction is vital, so consider each of the above tips

Is A Leased Line Right For Your Business?

Fibre broadband is under the spotlight and for most organisations, it is fast and reliable enough to handle everyday business operations, high staff numbers and the most innovative online working practices.

So, how do you know when your business should be considering the next step up with a leased line?

What is a leased line?

 

A leased line is completely dedicated to your business. It is a dedicated high performance telecommunications network connection, which can carry voice, data and Internet traffic via a copper or fibre connection.  Speeds can go from 2Mbps to 10 Gbps.

What are the leased line facts you need to know?

 

Speed

  • The more users on a fibre connection, the more likely the speed will be affected. Broadband speeds are quoted as being ‘up to’ therefore, in best case scenario.
  • It doesn’t matter how many users are on your Leased Line circuit, your business will consistently enjoy the circuit’s top speed. A leased line delivers what it says it will deliver.

Bandwidth

  • Imagine bandwidth as a tunnel. It can get congested and grind to a halt. That can still happen with broadband.
  • With a leased line, the speeds are so high, and the circuit so dedicated that the congestion simply doesn’t happen.

Flexibility

  • With broadband, you sign up to download and upload speeds.
  • With a leased line, you choose your bandwidth at the beginning but you can change it to suit your business needs. E.g. Your business may have a particularly busy April period where you need additional capacity.

Reliability

  • With broadband, it’s impossible to predict a drop in connection.
  • With a leased line, it is not only less likely, but you are backed up on broadband as well as having the comfort of a Service Level Agreement including money-back targets on service availability, delivery and performance.

Security

  • A leased line is more secure in its own right because it operates as a point-to-point service with no others on it.

Cost

  • Cost depends on the distance between your premises and the service providers Point of Presence (PoP – an access point). The greater the distance, the greater the cost.
  • More bandwidth = more cost but you can vary it.
  • Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) and General Ethernet Access (GEA) are recent cost reduction measures you should ask about.
  • A leased line is typically more expensive to run but economies can be gained through good use of the connection with calls run over VoIP saving call costs, improved working practices and operational efficiencies.
  • Remember that when you are comparing the speed of a leased line with the speed of a broadband line, you are not comparing equals.

 

How do you know your business needs a leased line?

 

Internet Use

  • If your Internet connection is for email, surfing and website maintenance, broadband is probably enough for you.
  • Leased line will be of huge benefit if you have a remote workforce or offices accessing your network via the Internet, use the web to run critical business applications, use video conferencing etc.

Users

  • If you have more than 20 users, a leased line is worth considering.
  • If you also have employees or suppliers that access your network remotely, a leased line will be a great advantage.

Reliance

  • If your business cannot operate without Internet access and would lose money or credibility in the event of an outage, a leased line is definitely right for you. A service level agreement ensures your supplier would have a liability for lost revenue but most importantly, ADSL back up should ensure it never happens.

 

For a more detailed review of whether a leased line is right for your business, give us a call on 0141 404 8008.

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