Fla. deal offers small biz a free website
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. â€“ March 28, 2012 â€“ Florida
Gov. Rick Scott announced a partnership with Google to create free
websites for small businesses throughout Florida.
The initiative, â€œFlorida Get Your Business Online,â€ will, according to
Scott, help drive economic growth by giving Florida businesses the tools
and resources they need to create a website, find new customers and
For the next year, Florida businesses can go to www.floridagetonline.com
to get a free website. Google partnered with Intuit to provide its
Intuit Websites offerings that include an easy-to-build website, a
customized domain name and free web hosting for one year. The offer
includes tools, training and other resources.
While 97 percent of Americans look online for local products or
businesses, 68 percent of Florida small businesses do not have a
â€œThe perception that getting online is complex, costly and
time-consuming has prevented many Florida small businesses from taking
the first step,â€ says Scott Levitan, Director of Small Business
Engagement at Google. â€œThis program makes it fast, easy and free for
businesses to get online.â€
As part of the program, Google will provide free workshops to small businesses in Miami and Tampa.
The Miami training takes place on April 3 and April 4 at the Adrienne
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Knight Concert Hall, 1300 Biscayne
Boulevard. Training in Tampa takes place on April 5 at the Tampa Museum
of Art, 120 West Gasparilla Plaza.
Businesses can register for the free workshops at www.floridagetonline.com.
SAN JOSE, Calif. â€“ March 22, 2102 â€“ Lurking amid the flood of games, tax
guides and other mobile applications being downloaded onto mobile
devices using Googleâ€™s popular Android software is a fast growing array
of apps that can slap the gadgetâ€™s owner with unanticipated fees, rifle
their bank accounts and cause untold other grief.
Known instances of Android-related malware â€“ â€œvirtually allâ€ involving
apps â€“ have jumped steadily month by month from 400 in June to 15,507 in
February, according to Sunnyvale, Calif., security firm Juniper
Networks. So far, hundreds of thousands of phones and other devices have
been infected. And although Google says it is working to block the
malevolent downloads, experts fear what may be coming.
â€œI see the problem getting significantly worse before it gets better,â€
said Dan Hoffman, who heads Juniperâ€™s mobile research center. â€œWeâ€™re
very much in the infancy of this right now.â€
Proliferating at a remarkable rate and offering everything from puzzles,
music and videos to cooking tips, weather information to fantasy
baseball, apps have fueled the global adoption of smartphones and other
mobile devices in recent years. But security specialists say these
programs also have spawned a dark cottage industry that is poisoning the
Android market and posing an increasing threat to the public.
Apps for Apple devices can also be targeted, but security experts say that in general, they are more secure.
In August, San Francisco-based Lookout Mobile Security reported that â€œan
estimated half-million to one million people were affected by Android
malware in the first half of 2011,â€ all from apps.
Some experts say the biggest problem is in other countries, where apps
frequently are downloaded from unofficial Android websites. Some of
those sites have been cleverly designed to look just like Googleâ€™s
official site, formerly called Android Market and recently renamed
But U.S. consumers also have been victimized, and Lookout has recently
determined the likelihood of downloading an infected app in this country
has doubled since the report came out.
Another security company â€“ Trend Micro of Japan, which has U.S.
headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. â€“ identified â€œmore than 1,000
malicious Android appsâ€ last year, 90 percent of them on Googleâ€™s site,
which boasts more than 400,000 apps. Noting that the number of bad apps
grew last year at 60 percent a month, Trend Micro has estimated the
total this year â€œwill grow to more than 120,000,â€ though itâ€™s unclear
how many of those might wind up on the Google site.
â€œThereâ€™s definitely a worry out there,â€ said Jon Clay, a Trend Micro
security technology expert. â€œThe bad guys have found a new environment
to gain revenue, so they are going to start exploiting it more and
In a blog last month, Google disclosed that â€œfor a while nowâ€ it has
been using a feature called Bouncer to screen out malicious apps. As a
result, the blog said, â€œwe saw a 40 percent decrease in the number of
potentially malicious downloadsâ€ from Googleâ€™s site.
However, the company declined to answer a number of questions the San
Jose Mercury News submitted to it about the bad apps it has detected.
While some experts praised Google for trying to address the problem,
Bouncerâ€™s protections â€œwill only be partial,â€ according to a recent blog
by security firm Kaspersky Lab, noting that apps can be made to â€œappear
to be non-threatening.â€
North Carolina State University professor Xuxian Jiang said he has
discovered a nasty app that can evade Googleâ€™s screening because it
looks benign when first installed on a device. Then, after passing an
initial security check, it downloads malware from a remote server.
Experts say pernicious apps can cause big problems for the owners of
smartphones or other devices, from tracking their location to making
their gadgets repeatedly call numbers that charge fees to stealing their
online banking login information.
Consumers often are advised to protect their mobile devices with
security software. But thatâ€™s not foolproof, either, according to a
report in February by German research institute AV-Test. It tested 41
anti-malware products for Android devices and found most failed to
detect some malicious apps, though well-known brands generally performed
Cybercrooks arenâ€™t just targeting Android machines.
Intelâ€™s McAfee division reported this year that Appleâ€™s operating system
is more secure than others, but that vulnerabilities in its apps â€œare
Security specialists say Apple doesnâ€™t disclose how often it encounters
malicious apps and the company declined to comment. But experts agree
that Googleâ€™s Android operating system, the most widely used for mobile
devices, is particularly under siege from cybercrooks.
Last year, malicious apps discovered on Googleâ€™s official site
reportedly victimized 260,000 smartphone users. And in February, after
finding other corrupted Android apps on an unofficial website, security
company Symantec reported that â€œinfected handsets appear to number in
the hundreds of thousands.â€
Given the growing use of mobile gadgets â€“ Android or otherwise â€“ it will
be hard to keep the market free of nefarious apps, said Jimmy Shah, a
mobile security researcher for McAfee.
â€œNew threats are coming out every day,â€ he said, noting that some apps
are capable of stealing virtually everything on a personâ€™s phone.
â€œThatâ€™s a hard thing to pass up for criminals.â€ As a result, he warned,
â€œthey will keep attacking.â€
WASHINGTON â€“ March 20, 2012 â€“ As the need to
constantly check e-mail, Twitter and YouTube videos grows, more options
are becoming available for entry-level wireless broadband users who
donâ€™t want to be locked into a pricey long-term contract.
NetZero, which shook the Internet business in the 1990s with its free
dial-up service, is the latest company to enter the fray. And itâ€™s
drastically lowering the price for Internet broadband connections
delivered over the air.
The company joins FreedomPop and Virgin Mobile, among others, that plan
to or are offering wireless Internet data on prepaid plans or at prices
that are cheaper than major wireless carriers.
â€œThereâ€™s definitely a push to bring a lot of people into the entry
market,â€ says Weston Henderek, an analyst at Current Analysis. â€œ
NetZero will introduce no-contracts plans for laptop and tablet computer
owners in several pricing tiers. To sign up for its â€œfreeâ€ plan,
customers pay $50 for a wireless USB card and receive up to 200
megabytes per month, enough for e-mail and Web-surfing but insufficient
for video streaming.
Owners of tablets with no USB port can pay $100 for â€œa mobile hot spotâ€
that allows up to eight Wi-Fi-equipped devices to connect to the
Internet, and provides up to 200 MB of data per month.
Once customers go over the limit, the service will stop until the next
month. Plus theyâ€™ll get messages encouraging them to switch to more
expensive monthly plans.
The â€œfreeâ€ plans will last only 12 months, at which point customers will
be dropped or required to sign up for other plans â€“ ranging from $9.95 a
month for 500 MB to $49.95 for 4 gigabytes.
â€œItâ€™s a teaser plan,â€ says Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics.
â€œTheyâ€™re not giving away a lot of bandwidth with this, and they hope
customers upgrade to a bigger plan. But this is serving an underserved
Mark Goldston, CEO of NetZero parent United Online, says heâ€™s not
targeting customers satisfied with pricier plans from major wireless
carriers, but sees opportunities in users who rely on public Wi-Fi hot
spots or tablet owners who canâ€™t afford a monthly data plan. â€œWe have a
chance to allow Joe and Jane of America to experience (wireless)
broadband,â€ Goldston says.
NetZero doesnâ€™t operate its own wireless network but will rent it from Clearwire, which also serves Sprint Nextel.
Cloud computing? Not a technical decision
ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. â€“ Feb. 2, 2012 â€“ With
cloud computing, company data gets stored on an external server and,
through the Internet, becomes available to every employee who needs it.
Cloud computing makes it easy to do anything, anywhere.
However, cloud computing isnâ€™t for everyone, according to someone who
should be pushing it â€“ Robert Youngjohns, president, Microsoft North
America. Speaking to a crowd of IT experts in St. Pete Beach recently at
Tech Data Corp.â€™s Cloud Champion Summit at the Don CeSar Hotel,
Youngjohns downplayed the technical advancement of cloud computing.
â€œGoing to the cloud is a business decision,â€ Youngjohns said. â€œItâ€™s not about technology.â€
Moving primary data storage to an offsite company involves both risk and
reward. Youngjohns says companies should consider the following before
making the leap:
â€¢ Cost. It costs money to hire a vendor and store data
offline. It also costs money to maintain your own servers and update
software. Both should be factored in before making a decision.
â€¢ Accessibility. If a real estate company is
establishing new firms or buying competitors, cloud computing can give
new associates instant access to company data and software. A one-site
company with stable employees may not need cloud computingâ€™s fast
â€¢ Security. With cloud computing, all relevant company
data gets stored on an unseen server somewhere unseen under someone
elseâ€™s control. While most vendors have multiple layers of security to
protect client data, cloud computing gives more people access to a
firmâ€™s files and client information. Some businesses may find this risk
â€¢ Vendors. While one company such as Microsoft may
offer cloud computing, many businesses hire a vendor to help organize
and control data flow. Direct Microsoft customers pay for support if
needed, while resellers generally earn commissions and bonuses. Vendors
also usually offer more training.
Source: Tampa Bay Business Journal, Feb. 2, 2012, Margie Manning
Â© 2012 Florida RealtorsÂ®
Faster data networks and fancier phones have
steered more Americans to embrace the apps software craze born of our
fondness for the computer-in-my-pocket. But like other shopping
experiences done impulsively, the appeal of instantly downloading the
latest apps â€“ prompted by recommendations from neighbors, cousins, blogs
and news stories â€“ loses its luster quickly, industry data show.
Of smartphone owners, 68 percent open only five or fewer apps at least
once a week, finds a survey by the Pew Research Centerâ€™s Internet &
American Life Project. Seventeen percent donâ€™t use any apps. About 42
percent of all U.S. adults have phones with apps, Pew estimates.
â€œThe novelty wears off,â€ Pew researcher Kristen Purcell says. â€œMost apps donâ€™t have sticking power.â€
But the ones that do really engage users. Android phone users spend
about 90 minutes a day on their phones, about two-thirds of that on
apps, says Monica Bannan, a vice president at media research firm
Nielsen. â€œWe see a very familiar behavior with (iPhone users).â€
An app thatâ€™s retained by 30 percent of downloaders is considered
â€œsticky,â€ says Anindya Datta, founder of Mobilewalla, an app analytic
â€œWe are constantly deleting them. Thatâ€™s why the number of downloads is a
very poor measure of how popular an app is,â€ he says, estimating 80
percent to 90 percent of apps are eventually deleted.
Ghada Elnajjar, a newsletter writer in Atlanta, has downloaded 26 apps
since she bought an iPhone 4 in June. She now uses only two regularly:
Facebook and MyFitnessPal. â€œAfter a while, the fun is not there anymore,
and you go back to your phone, e-mail and the browser.â€
Many of Elnajjarâ€™s apps are for her two sons, ages 3 and 5. Theyâ€™ve got app burnout, too. â€œThey went back to their toys.â€
Datta says there are about 1 million apps for the four most-popular
mobile operating systems â€“ Android, Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft â€“
and only 10 percent have been discovered.
Consumersâ€™ fickle habits arenâ€™t all bad for the industry. Of the top 50 apps, one in five is new every month, Nielsen says.
Â© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Roger Yu