Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017

New challenges will arise in 2017. Ransomware will branch out into different variants and become harder to prevent as well planned attackers become smarter. Non-desktop devices such as mobile devices and iwatches will become a larger focus for hackers. Adobe, Apple & Business Email softwares have all been looked at as possible targets for attacks in the next year. Here are a few of our predictions for 2017:

Ransomware growth will slow, but but the methods and targets will diversify. Ransomware has proven to be a cash cow for cybercriminals because of their many unpredictable delivery methods and unbreakable encryptions. Although 2016 saw a tipping point for ransomware, new targets and new variants will push cybercriminals to diversify and work harder to steal business data. While there is nothing that can protect potential targets from ransomware attacks 100% of the time, it is best to block the threat at its source, via Web or email gateway solutions.

Passwords & credentials get a major reboot. Many businesses have learned the hard way that it’s no longer acceptable to have simple, common or outdated passwords. In 2017, better password management services will gain traction as businesses understand how vulnerable they are.

We predict that cybercriminals will use Mirai-like malware in DDoS attacks. Webcams that people didn’t think twice about securing became the stronghold for the Mirai DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks that took down major websites in 2016. Unfortunately, we also predict that vendors will not react in time to prevent these attacks from happening in 2017.

Hackers will target the credentials of privileged users like IT professionals, CEOs and vendors. While organizations have applied security to applications and data that are most critical to their business, these preventative measures simply aren’t enough anymore. In 2017, savvy organizations will finally get serious about protecting not just systems, but privileged users by identifying them, monitoring their access and closing off access to what they don’t need. This is never a problem for cat-man-du or our staff.

Business Email Compromise becomes a simple and very attractive mode of attack. BEC is about hacking an email account or tricking an employee to transfer funds over to a cybercriminal’s account. There is nothing special about the attack, except perhaps the research required to gain insights into the best way to create a believable email. BEC is especially hard to detect because these emails do not contain malicious payloads or binaries, but enterprises should be able to block these threats at the source using Web and email gateway solutions.

We predict that more software flaws will be discovered in Adobe & Apple products. Microsoft had many vulnerabilities revealed in 2016, but that number will be surpassed by Adobe & Apple in 2017 disclosed through the Zero-Day Initiative (ZDI). These vulnerabilities will allow hackers to create more exploit kits, which is a template for certain ransomware that allows cybercriminals to create their own brand of ransomware. Vulnerability shielding is the only way to proactively and reliably protect against these vulnerabilities when using popular software by Adobe & Apple.

These 2017 predictions challenge endpoint security, a security approach combining proven threat-detection techniques for known and unknown threats with advanced protection techniques such as application control, exploit prevention and behavioral analysis, sandbox detection, and high-fidelity machine learning. Training employees & hiring a reliable Business Technology team such as our own can contribute to the security culture needed to fortify a business’ defenses for 2017 and beyond.

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Lenovo Quietly Releases Smartband SW-B100 Specs

Lenovo Quietly Releases Smartband SW-B100 Specs

It was a matter of time that Lenovo joined the Smartwatch elite with Google and Apple.  Lenovo gave the public a “hint” of the upcoming gadget when the original FCC Filing was made. Technically, the new device isn’t a smartwatch but rather a smartband. Just like the Samsung Gear Fit, the Lenovo Smartband SW-B100 is an activity tracker that tracks and graphs health analytics. Many of the features resemble the typical smartwatch, but what makes this one different is that the SW-B100 has a security feature that locks or unlocks a PC.  

Windows Central was the first to spot the Smartband SW-B100 leak on the company site.  The Smartband will come in two different colors blue and orange with a square display screen. Lenovo hasn’t released a price point yet, but  has confirmed that the device will run on Android 4.3 and iOS 7.1 or higher.

Photo Via Lenovo

Lenovo has had a great year with releasing innovative products  In 2014 alone, Lenovo has released the first tablet with a built-in projector and work-efficient TD340 power server.

Photo Via Catmandu Blog

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Bank of America Under Fire After Apple Pay Double Charge Mishap

Bank of America Under Fire After Apple Pay Double Charge Mishap

A few users of the new Apple Pay app have reported that Bank of America has double charged them on recent purchases. Users began noticing after checking banking statements, but will soon be resolved.  Angry Redditor’s took their displeasure to the forums to shed some light on the issue.

Photo Via TechCrunch YouTube

One of CNN reporters Samuel Burk was a victim of the double charge.  He personally contacted Bank of America and this is how the company responded:  “Bank of America transferred me to Apple Pay customer support. The only problem:Apple’s (AAPL, Tech30) representative reminded me that for security’s sake — as promised — Apple keeps no records of names or amounts for any of the transactions”, which means that the company could not help. Burk was one of the few thousand Apple Pay users that were affected, but eventually received refunds from the extra charges. A spokeswoman for Bank of America Tara Burke told Cult of Mac, “We apologize for this inconvenience,” and will be fixing the problem immediately.  She also promised that  “all duplicates will be refunded” to the rightful owners. Surprisingly, Apple has had a massive amount of issues after the iPhone 6 and iOS X release.

Video Via TechCrunch YouTube

 

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Keynotes From Apple’s Big Event

Keynotes From Apple’s Big Event

Today was Apple’s big event to announce the new Apple Air 2, Apple Mini 3, and new improved iMac.  Craig Federighi, Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple Inc, kicked off the Apple event with a re-cap of the past updates.He re-introduced the new keyboard feature and even joked about it recognizing “ Klingon”, for all you Star Trek fans.  He went in-depth a bit further with the new Metal framework on mobile.  Assassins Creed is one of the many games that was displayed on the iPhone 6.

Photo Via Apple Livestream

Stephen Colbert, Apples new “Supreme Commander of Secrecy”, was the guest caller during this event.  Steven and Craig spoke in code words and referred each other as “Granny Apple” and “Red Delicious”. Apple’s last event guest caller was the newest employee Dr.  Dre.

Yosemite and iOS8

Yosemite has been downloaded by over 1 million users worldwide.  The new “AirDrop” feature allows users to share information between iOS8 and Yosemite. Handoff makes efficiency a breeze by allowing information to switched between devices with a simple swipe.  Share pictures,documents, and edits straight from your iPhone to your Mac in real time.  Yosemite is available for FREE today.

Ipad Air 2

The new  Ipad Air 2 is the thinnest tablet available on the Apple line.  The Air 2 is an amazing 6.1mm thin, which is thinner than a pencil. The anti-reflective coating reduces reflection by 56% and is the lowest on any tablet. An updated A8x chip with 2nd gen 64-bit architecture makes this tablet a power horse.  The CPU (central processing unit) is now 40% faster along with adding 2.5x the power to the GPU (graphics processing unit).  The running 10 hour battery life allows for unlimited work and fun. Apple even added a  Barometer to measure atmospheric pressure.  

The  new 8MP iSight camera adds depth details and increases color quality to any photo.  The camera will also shoot videos in 1080p HD quality.  For the first time in tablet history, the Air 2 is able to take panoramic and burst action photos.  Also, for the first time ever users can take time lapse and and slow motion videos. Wi-fi connectivity is now 2.8x faster and the 20LTE bands to increase connectivity.  And of course the new Air 2 will also include TouchID that unlocks passwords with a fingerprint.  Pre-orders begin October 17 and will be shipped out next week.

Photo Via Apple Livestream

Brand new iMac

The new iMac all-in-one will contain an 27-inch HD 5K retina display, which is the only of its kind.  The 14.7 million pixels adds breathtaking quality to pictures,videos, and games.  That’s 7x the amount pixels found in an HD TV and makes this the  World’s highest resolution display. The Apple team redesigned the architecture behind the iMac to create a stunning 5mm thick display.  The timing controller or “TCON” is needed to manage the massive amount of pixels. The processing power is incredible with an added custom built 3.5GHz quad core i7 Intel chip,which makes it the fastest iMac. The Apple team created a new layer material called Oxide TFT that charges pixels and evens them throughout the display. A New thinner LED back-light was added that consumes less power and 30% less energy.  The compensation film a great added feature to improve off axis viewing.  The 8GB memory allows for an ample amount of storage for games,documents, and photos.  

Photo Via Apple Livestream

All of these great products will come in different screen sizes and storage capacity to fit any need.

Photo Via Apple Livestream

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Apple’s Big iOS 8 Event With iWatch and iPhone 6 Preview

Apple’s Big iOS 8 Event

Developers from around the globe, from 69 countries to be exact, gathered for Apple’s iOS 8 event.  Tim Cook kicked off the event with re-releasing the specs on the operating systems Yosemite X and iOS 8.  Apple threw punches at Android and even joked about the newest employee, Dr.  Dre.

YOSEMITE X

Photo Via Apple Live Stream

Notifications– The original started with an aqua interface, but has been updated with a new translucent app app and notification bar.  The typography has to upgraded to be more precise.  And for those of you who like to play in the dark a new “dark mode” has been added that adjusts the screen for optimal visuals.

iCloud Drive– iCloud will make photos and documents availble across all platforms.  iCloud will also be available to Windows users.

Mail Drive-With the new mail drive users can now send email attachments up to 5gb in size, which was impossible before. Large files are encrypted to prevent “bouncing” off of the mail server.

Markup– Users can now draw in signatures or doodle on email attachments without corrupting the original file.  Notes and text bubbles can also be added to the documents.

Photo Via Apple Live Stream

Safari-The power of UI into one single bar.  The new spotlight toolbar will provide and content found in the system.  Users can subscribe and share  RSS feeds right from the side bar. Apple was the  first to introduce private browsing and has taken it a step farther. Now

Search Bar-In the new search bar (spotlight) information will pull up from several sites, translucently for the search bar to,updated calendars for more details, it’ll bring up anything with the keywords, news from varies sources and maps,

Hand off– Hand off is a new feature that allows users to continue working on documents across any device.  With a simple swipe up across the screen the information will be synced onto a new device.

Messaging-Before users with different a OS messages would not show up on iMessage.  Now iMessage can receive both phone calls and messages from any OS.  Users can dial phone numbers straight from their Mac product.  Tim Cook even joked about giving the new employee a phone call, and believe it or not , but Dr. Dre picked up.

Family Sharing– Parents can now find the location of the childs device.  A new sharing option will bring notifications to all members of the family.  A new in-app purchase feature has been added since the recent problems companies having been having with unauthorized app purchases.  Before an app can be purchase a parent or guardian must first approve of it.  Phones connected to the same credit card can be shared with up to six family members.  In the future, Apple will allow users to bundle apps to receive discounts.

iOS 8 Devices Available September 17

Over 800 million Apple products have been sold, so far.  In this past year, over 130 million people converted from Android to Apple.  According to Tim Cook, 97% of iPhone users software is up to date, compared to Android’s 9%. iOS 8 was first announced at WWDC 2014.

Notifications–  The notification feature received some time savvy updates.  Users can now view and respond to notifications from the lock screen or an app without having to close it first. Developers will soon have the opportunity to make 3rd party widgets.

Messages– Users can now name group chats and even add or remove people from the thread.  A new “do not disturb” option puts those pesky alerts to rest. Friends can share their location and even set the duration. Messages with attachments will be viewed live in the messaging thread without having to download the attachment separately.  A new audio and video feature has been added to messaging system.  Simply hold down the speaker button and a new side bar will pop up the new options.  One neat trick that Jaws demonstrated is the way an audio message can be listened to.  Audio messages can listened to from lock screen by holding the phone up to your ear like you would a phone call.

Photo via Apple Live Stream

Keyboard-The updated keyboard will now have access to new characters and dictation.  Content is sensitive and “learns” typing behaviors to best suggest words according to who your talking to.  

The Moment We Have All Been Waiting For

The iWatch and iPhone 6 has been announced.

Photo Via CNET YouTube.

The new iWatch will come in two different screen sizes to fit all wrist sizes.  An integrated microphone allows users to make and receive phone calls.  Users can respond to messages from a list of preset dictations.  The sensor on the back of the watch will release a small pulse to alert the user when a notification has been received.  For a more personal touch, users can record their heartbeat and send it to a loved one.  Like most of the smart watches on the market the iWatch will record health analytics and goals.  Apple is working on bringing 3rd party apps available to the new wearable. An assortment of bands and watch cases will be available along with designer styles coming later. The new wearables will be available early 2015.

Photo Via Apple Live Stream

The new iPhone 6 will come in two model, the 4.7 inch and the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus.  Not only is the screen larger and the phone slimmer, but the new phone will come with the new iOS 8 update features.  The multi-touch screens received an HD retina upgrade along with new security features for Touchid.  Apple has been the front runner in picture quality and remains so with the 1080p HD camera.

Check out CNET’s hands-on review:

 

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NSA Spies Leak Information To Tor

What exactly is Tor?

Tor (previously short for The Onion Router) was originally designed  by the U.S. Navy to create software that would protect government communications.  Today, over 2.5 million people of all professions use Tor daily.

 Tor encrypts the information that is sent out across the network and is then transferred to several different servers so that the information cannot be traced back.  Now, Tor is a non-profit organization whose main focus is securing online privacy.  Tor is useful for anyone who wants to keep their IPS address and identity hidden.  One thing to keep in mind is that “Tor will not protect you from the NSA (National Security Agency) or GCHQ (British Government Communications Headquarter)” , said Lewman, “Because they are multi billion-dollar agencies with fantastic capabilities”.  So in other words, don’t do anything you wouldn’t want the world to know about.

How did the NSA and GCHQ leak information?

“Cyber spies” from the United States and the UK have been leaking information to the Tor team, according to an interview from BBC with Tors project manager Andrew Lewman. In July of this year, two researchers from Carnegie Mellon University gained access to user information.. The NSA has tried several tactics including CNE attacks (computer network exploitation) to hack into the Tor system, according to The Guardian.   Even though the NSA and GCHQ have both targeted Tor users, there are a few employees who stand by internet privacy.  Lewman stated, “We’re one of the few open source projects that take anonymous bug requests – completely anonymous”, which is how the tips were submitted.

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Keynotes From The Google I/O 2014 Conference

Keynotes From The Google I/O 2014 Conference

Today, Android announced  a bunch of great products that  will be launching later on this year.  Everything from a new update and interface to the way wearable tech is being used was discussed. For those of who missed this event, here is what went down:

The New Android Smart watches

Android gave the audience a sneak peek of the new smart watches that will be released later on this year.  Like most smart watches out on the market, the watches will measure health analytics and alert the user when they have a notification through the use of sensors.  But what distinguishes these new watches from the rest is the voice capability and the automatic sync from watch to phone.  Another neat thing is when a user receives a call,  a picture of the person who is calling  will appear on the screen.  The user can even dismiss or answer the call through voice, which is great for driving.  Android is gearing up with other great companies, like Samsung and Motorola, to bring the latest in wearable technology to the public.

 

Android One

The new Android One smartphone will include a dual SIM card, 4.5 inch screen, and whole new interface.  Android claims that the phone will cost under $100, which is a great price compared to other phones currently on the market.  Developers wanted to create a whole new phone that changed the way  pixels were used. Google’s SVP Sundar Pichai asked, “What if pixels not only had color, but depth?” and that is why Android decided to change the user interface.  With the new L update, phones will have brighter colors along with a “ripple” effect.


Notifications will automatically show up on the main screen, and the user can seamlessly respond or dismiss the notifications.  Another neat thing is the way users are able to unlock their phone.  Android wanted to make the way users unlocked their phone more personnel by using wearable tech.  For example, the user can unlock their phone will use of a blue-tooth enabled smart watch.  All of the software and updates will come straight from Google, which will eliminate third party software that may be infected.

 

A Whole new Way to View Content

 

Through the use of Chromecast, users can display SMS messages,pictures,and videos on a TV without having to be connected to a Wifi hotspot.  Which is great for those who have long passwords or just want to simply play it safe. Users can even access movies and video games straight from the Google Play Store!  Video games are controlled by either the use of an Xbox look-alike controller or a tablet, which allows the user to play with the controller of their choice.  Another great thing, is the new ambience backdrop.  Android looked at blank TV’s as a canvas and decided to opt in for a more personal effect.  The new backdrop will include pictures from artists and places from all over the world and will even provide information of when and where it was taken.

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How To Choose A Computer Repair And Service Company

There are hundreds of businesses in Amarillo, Canyon, Dumas, the entire Texas Panhandle – who offer IT services as well as computer service and/or PC repair. So how do you choose which one to use? We have every type of computer business model known to man in Amarillo, TX alone. We have the guy who works out of his van, the franchisee from “1-800- computer” (or whatever), we have the big box stores, the local brick and mortar stores, the office supply companies, the businesses who offices inside of other businesses, we have electricians who do networking, we even have car stereo installers calling themselves computer techs, we have the college kids who do it on the side, we even have the computer repair companies who buy and sell gold as well as rent U-Hauls. They do what?!?

*Photo Via Stephan Roh Flickr – Creative Commons License – Photo Was Cropped

Things to look for:

I’ve been in the tech industry (namely business networks and computer services) in the Amarillo area since 1999 and I’ve seen a lot of IT companies come and go (most of them went). In this time period, I’ve learned what makes and breaks a computer sales and service store, so I’ll share with you what I’ve learned and let you make your decision from there.

 

Do they give you reasons to trust them in your business or home?

Any shmo with a screwdriver and a basic understanding of Microsoft Windows can call themselves a computer technician (and they do). They installed Ubuntu Linux on a laptop and are now confidant that they are qualified to be a computer repair technician or a business IT professional. Unlike doctors, lawyers or accountants there are no laws or standards in the computer repair industry that prevent people who don’t know what they are doing (and there’s a lot of them) from labeling themselves a computer tech or a systems administrator. Sure there are certifications and degrees that can be earned but nothing that stops your local pawn shop from hanging a sign that says “We Fix Computers Cheap.”This means that the computer industry gets flooded with all types of people, most of which have very little invested, therefore they have little to lose if things don’t go well. If something comes up missing in your home, if a hidden webcam is left in your daughters shower, if you competitors get a copy of your customer database, if pictures of your wife end up plastered on the internet, most of these characters simply drive their repair van to a different town. Even the big box retailers – you know “The Nerd Squad” are constantly in trouble because they don’t operate ethically in many situations. Just look at the following examples:

Geek Squad Sued For Taking Video Of Customer In Shower

Best Buy employee accused of copying woman’s steamy photos

These types of things occur when a company (large or small) fails to instill the value of market place ethics and customer privacy in their culture.

Are They Local?

There are so many “Big Box” retailers and 1-800-Quicky-Tech companies out there it’s hard to keep up with them all. At least when you shop local you know that a large chunk of the money stays in the local economy. The big guys are also so big that they can’t easily address the constant changing threats to your computers and networks nor do they keep up with the latest tools to help repair. One of the Big Box Techs once told me “There are so many new tools out there that would help, but we aren’t authorized to use them. We just tell the customer that we had to trash all their data and reinstall Windows.” They also are notorious for putting your technology (which is full of your memories and private data) in the hands of low paid under experienced “Nerds” who don’t have the motivation or the knowledge to properly get the job done. I am a big fan of shopping local and I recommend that you use local for all your service needs whether it’s a plumber, an electrician, our a landscaper – local is smart.

Do they have any positive ratings on the internet?

Google them – do they have any positive reviews on any third party sites? The old saying goes something like this – good news spreads very slowly but bad news spreads like a wild fire – if a computer store has some positive feedback on the internet, you can bet they have many happy customers who haven’t posted anything. Look for them on sites like Google Places and Yelp.

Are they an active member of the Better Business Bureau, are they an Accredited Business and, if so, what is there rating? SO many people let computer repair technicians in their home and businesses without ever checking with the BBB.

How Do They Keep Your Information Private?

Because I’ve been in this industry for so long, I personally know many of the “technicians” that have setup shop in this area. There have been many times that these individuals have shown me data (music, videos, photos, and accounting data) that they have copied off of their customers PCs, Macs and servers. Not only is this morally wrong, it’s illegal. Ask them what steps they take to respect your privacy and protect your data. Remember, just because someone is performing a service or services for you, they don’t (necessarily) have to see your files and they certainty have no right copying or sharing your data without your permission and instruction. The bottom line here is you need to choose a tech company that has a very clear privacy policy, comes highly recommended and is in good standing with the BBB. Did I mention the BBB?

What Is The Right Price For Technical Services?

This one is tough because the words “expensive” or “cheap” are relative. I can share with you my experiences on this topic. I have seen many, MANY, descent businesses (not just technical companies) go out of business because they competed on price instead of charging an amount that would keep their doors open. As a consumer, you should do your research and call or visit the websites of several places and get an idea of what the average price for service in your area might be. There will be those that charge $50 to $70 but you get what you pay for with these types. According to Entrepreneur “the national average is $100 per hour for computer service billing, it’s much higher in certain regions–$160 an hour in Manhattan, for instance.” Keep in mind that OK computer techs make less, decent techs make a little more but experienced technicians who have certifications and/or degrees cost the most and that cost is built into the company’s service rates. Think of it like this:

Both hamburger meat and a Ribeye steak come from a cow. A hamburger is a decent meal and costs around four bucks, but a good Ribeye cooked to perfection costs quite a bit more and if that steak is served in a nice atmosphere by a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff, it’s going to cost quite a bit more. And following this analogy, check the restaurants ratings, health inspection and maybe don’t trust someone who grills steaks in the back of their van. Just a thought.

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Google Removes 100 Million URLs Linking To “Pirate” Sites So Far In 2013

There is no doubt that pirating music has become an epidemic that is causing huge problems for the music industry. With the limited purchase of CDs and actual “physical” music, artists and labels are now under attack by music piracy. Torrents all across the world are sharing and offering up illegal downloads to music, movies, and software that cost industries billions of dollars each year.

Google has removed more than 100 million urls linking to these sites over the past year. They average 15 million url removal requests per month. While this number sounds huge, copyright holders are still far from satisfied.

100 million urls removed is already double the amount over the entire year of 2012. It is obvious that copyright holders are doing their best to crackdown on illegal downloads and trying to increase profits for their clients and the industry as a whole.

The top three offenders over the last year were FireTube with 5,801,661 URLS, then Torrentz.eu with 2,508,595, and Rapidgator.net with 2,166,977.

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5 Must Haves For The Traveling Business Person

For most people, travel is normally the one week vacation with the family or maybe a romantic getaway for mom and dad once a year. For others, it is a routine that they take part in on a regular basis. It’s their job. It’s what they do.

Business travel can be a stressful occupation and a lonely one to boot. But, for those of you who venture down this career, there are some things that will help you enjoy your time and get the most out of your trip. There are many things to consider when traveling and here are some things you might want to pack away before you leave.

#1. Laptop Computer

For every business person, their laptop is their office. Where they get things done when they are on the go. Take a look next time your at the airport, you’re sure to see a sea of people with their laptop flipped open and working away right there at the gate. No longer is a business worker chained to their desk. Laptops can also offer a way to keep in touch with those you love. When on that long trip away from the family, it’s always nice to hop on Google+ and have a hangout with the wife and daughter. If you haven’t taken advantage of this feature, I highly recommend it.

#2. Portable Wifi

Believe it or not, there are still many hotels out there that don’t have in-room wifi. And in my experience, those that do offer spotty service at best. In my opinion, having a portable wifi adapter is a perfect solution. Have them activate the wired internet service to your room, hook up your wifi adapter and boom. You have smoking fast wifi right there in your room that is just as secure as your network at home.

#3. Smartphone

I know what you’re thinking, “Who doesn’t own a smartphone”. You’d be surprised. Besides the fact that you can check your email, interact with friends and family via social networking, and even document your trip, smartphones are almost a necessity for any business traveler. Dumb devices just don’t offer the convenience and speed that your typical iPhone and Android device do. These days you even see more and more people carrying other ‘smart’ devices like iPads and Android tablets.

#4. Hand Sanitizer or Sanitary Wipes

Don’t laugh. At home I’m definitely not a germ-aphobe, but when I travel it’s a different story. Nothing is worse than having to board a plane home with a terrible sinus infection you acquired on your trip. The moment that cabin pressurizes, you know you are in for the worst flight of your life. First thing I do when I walk into the hotel room is to wipe down the TV remote, telephone, alarm clock, and lamp switches. These are proven to be the dirties items in your hotel room regardless of how nice the hotel happens to be.

#5. Compact Rollaway Carryon Luggage

Airline prices are rising each day and they all seem to be looking for any way to squeeze an extra penny out of the consumer. The most recent way they have done this is to charge to check your luggage (any amount of luggage). For those on a short business trip, the best way to avoid these charges is to pick up a compact carryon piece of luggage. Even your average carryon can get flagged as ‘Too Large’ for carryon and end up having to be check which costs you money. To avoid this buy a more compact rollaway carryon and carry your laptop or ‘personal item’ with you. You normally don’t have any problem boarding with these two items in tow.

 

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