In 2017, nearly one-third of internet users reported being victim to online hacking or similar suspicious activity on their accounts. But as anyone who regularly uses a computer – especially for financial transactions – knows, keeping track of passwords can be a time-consuming task. Even so, it is necessary to ensure your personal and financial information is kept private and secure.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest inconveniences that has emerged is trying to keep track of different passwords for different websites. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that many websites require you to change your password every three to six months. Trying to keep up with which password is current at which website is mindboggling and aggravating.
Here’s one easy trick. If you ever want to find your passwords while online, look in the Settings for your browser. For example, with Chrome you log in, go to Settings, Advanced Settings, Passwords, Manage Passwords and click on the “eye” icon to see the username and password for each website. Similarly, with Safari you can log in and click on Preferences, Passwords, and the asteriks to the right of the username to show the password for each website. Most browsers have similar procedures.
However, what is convenient about the ease of finding your passwords is also reason for alarm. If you leave your computer unattended while logged into your browser, anyone can find them.
For this reason, it’s important to keep your computer password-protected and always within reach. Bear in mind, too, that there are other ways to keep track of passwords. For example, if you’re old school you might write them down in a notebook, crossing them out as you periodically update them. Some folks keep them updated in a spreadsheet software program. However, these tactics are susceptible to theft if, say, your home is burglarized and the thief takes both your computer and your password notebook. It can also be cumbersome if you are away from home and want to log in to websites from your smartphone.
Today’s smartphones typically provide a way to store password information in their settings or options menu. For example, on the iPhone go to Settings, Accounts & Passwords, App & Website Passwords, (input security protocol for access), then click on the individual websites and apps for each user name and password.
There also are apps designed to help you keep track of passwords. The following are highly recommended for their ease of use and security measures.
LastPass – Import saved login credentials from Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. If you opt for the Premium suite for $2 a month, you also get the ability to sync information between your desktop and mobile devices, enhanced authentication options and tech support.
Dashlane – This app is known for it simple, intuitive interface accessible with two-factor authentication. The app lets you change passwords across multiple sites with just a few clicks, and also keeps track of receipts of transactions so you can go back and review them.
Roboform – This old-school password manager that can generate strong passwords, store and encrypt them, and sync them across multiple devices. It’s an older app that’s recently been updated with a more intuitive interface and features an autofill function.
There are scads of apps designed to track passwords, so you can search for reviews and rankings to see which one offers features best suited to your needs. One of the perks of apps is that many are free to download and try out. If you don’t like it, delete and install another. When you find one you like, you might want to check out any premium features that are available for a fee.
Amazon’s Alexa as a Virtual Office Assistant
Studies have shown that as much as 40 percent of time spent at work is generally unproductive, busy work. Things like checking emails, ordering supplies, fixing the copy machine or trying to figure out how to work a conference call line – during the conference call. These tasks can be aggravating and, when experienced by everyone in the firm, can have an impact on the bottom line.
To help companies manage small, day-to-day tasks, Amazon has launched Alexa for Business. Amazon Echo is a speaker; Echo Dot is a smaller speaker. Alexa is the name of the virtual assistant who you can converse with through the Echo speaker. Alexa boasts more than 25,000 skills – which are basically apps that you enable in order to access a particular service. For example, you can get an up-to-the-minute news brief from Reuters, request the stock price of a specific security, order a driver from Uber or Lyft, translate a word or sentence from another language, order supplies, compile a to-do list or initiate phone calls – all by simply asking Alexa.
Alexa for Business isn’t just for individual use. A company can set up Alexa devices in common areas throughout the workplace for all employees to use.
Around the Office
Alexa for Business enables a firm to manage all of the Alexa devices from a centralized console connected to your Alexa for Business account. This is a time-saving feature so that the devices do not need to be managed individually.
This configuration enables all employees to utilize Alexa for various tasks, such as getting directions, finding an open meeting room, ordering supplies, reporting building problems or notifying IT of an equipment issue. Alexa also can be linked to internal computer networks to provide company-specific information, such as inventory levels or sales figures.
At Your Desk
For folks who work in an individual office, Alexa at your desk can help you manage your calendar, maintain a to-do list and set up reminders so that you don’t miss a meeting or an appointment. By simply speaking in a normal voice, you can ask Alexa to make phone calls for you and dial into conference calls. You can set up skills for your specific device or incorporate, for example, the corporate calendar so that every device has access.
Employees can even use Alexa for Business skills with their home devices, which allows them to work from home. They also can access skills from their home device while at work.
In the Conference Room
Alexa for Business includes skills that make it easy to configure Alexa to control your conference room calls, audio and visual equipment, and any meeting applications. This allows anyone to get the meeting started by speaking to Alexa. For small conference rooms, an Alexa-enabled device can actually function as an audio conferencing vehicle; in larger conference rooms, Alexa can run the equipment so that participants can focus on the meeting – not the phone or presentation glitches.
In today’s competitive business environment, the ability to maximize every staff member’s productivity can be a key driver for success. Start by having a frank discussion with employees about what tasks drain their time and resources throughout today, then consider adopting Alexa for Business to help address those issues and give your entire firm an on-demand virtual assistant.
These articles are intended to provide general resources for the tax and accounting needs of small businesses and individuals. Service2Client LLC is the author, but is not engaged in rendering specific legal, accounting, financial or professional advice. Service2Client LLC makes no representation that the recommendations of Service2Client LLC will achieve any result. The NASD has not reviewed any of the Service2Client LLC content. Readers are encouraged to contact their CPA regarding the topics in these articles.