Memory Stress, Let’s Assess

Are you constantly on the hunt for your car keys? Or walking into the store without your shopping list or phone on hand? And what about names?  Do you struggle to remember your mailman’s name? You’re not alone. Everyone forgets things occasionally. Still, memory loss is not something to be taken lightly.

In life, there are no assurances to preventing memory loss or conditions such as Alzheimer’s however, there is a myriad of evidence available online that indicates certain activities can potentially help. 

At iStratus, we’d like to consider the process of organization as one of seven simple ways our app can help sharpen memory. It will also hopefully make it easier to recognize the signs of memory loss and when there’s a need to address it.

Get Organized

Is your home cluttered or are your notes in disarray? You’re more likely to forget things when you are not organized. 

iStratus is the perfect tool for recording tasks, appointments, and other important events, limiting the amount of paper around you.

To help cement tasks in your memory, it also pays to repeat each entry aloud as you type it. We suggest, maintaining “To-Do” lists and checking off items as they’re completed. 

And always have a mainstay place for your wallet, keys, sunglasses/glasses, and other essentials.

Limit distractions as much as possible. If you focus on the information that you want to retain, you’re more likely to recall it later. It might also help to connect names to a favorite song or another familiar phrase or concept.

 

Exercise Your Body, Exercise Your Mind

 

Physical activity increases blood flow in your entire body, including your brain. This might help keep your memory sharp.

 

The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense aerobic movement or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobics or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week.

 

Even a 15-minute walk around the house or Zumba session in your living room is better than nothing! But, it’s easy to let an exercise routine slip if you don’t schedule it.  We suggest including your daily workout in your iStratus Dayplanner. 

 

Increase Your Brain Waves For Fluid Thought 

 

Akin to physical activity keeping your body in shape, mental stimulation keeps your brain in shape — and might keep memory loss at bay. Implement things into your daily schedule on iStratus and do your best to stick to it. There are other options too – like taking an alternate route when driving or learning to play a musical instrument. 

 

Stay Social. 

 

Social interaction helps keep depression and stress at bay, both of which can contribute to memory loss. Get together with loved ones, friends, and others.  This is especially important if you live alone.

 

Prioritize Catching Your Zzzzzzz’s!

 

Your brain needs quality, consistent sleep to perform at its best. It’s no surprise catching Zzzzzz’s plays a fundamental part in the process of memory strengthening.

 

Try to create a consistent sleep-wake cycle where you’re going to bed and waking up around the same time every day – even on the weekends.

 

Cutting screen time before bed can also help you get great sleep. For many, scrolling through your phone or watching television before settling can have negative impacts on sleep patterns.

Sleep experts also endorse limiting your caffeine intake during the late afternoon and evening. It also pays to avoid nicotine at night and limit alcoholic beverages before bed. Too much of anything at night may cause frequent restroom interruptions to catch your Zzzzzzzz’s anyway.

 

Sleep plays an important role in filing things within your long-term memory for recall down the road. Getting enough sleep is a definite priority. Extensive research can be found online which indicates most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per day.

You’ll feel like a better “you” when your schedule is on track – sleep included!

 

Eat Some Veggies: A Healthy Diet Helps

 

A healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your heart. Your stomach is your second brain. So eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for fuel. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, beans, and skinless poultry. Drinks count, too. Too much alcohol and not enough water can result in confusion and memory loss. 

 

When To Seek Further Help

 

If memory loss is a concern, talk to your doctor. Particularly, if this forgetfulness is noticeably worse or affects your ability to complete your usual daily activities. Your medical examiner is likely to undertake a physical assessment, as well as check memory and problem-solving skills. Treatment and testing depend on what’s contributing to memory lapses.

 

The important thing is to stay abreast of matters; being efficiently organized helps lessen memory stress.

 

Live life and roll well with iStratus. 

Decluttering the Mind

There’s not an adult on the planet that doesn’t have a mind filled with clutter.

And there’s something about that which is more troublesome than a cluttered home or workspace. A cluttered mind is restless, unfocused, and somewhat akin to a scrambled egg. The cluttered mind moves in multiple directions at once, and the result is little gets done.

Mental clutter can include keeping a mental “To-Do” list, worrying about the future, deliberating about the past, and so on. Does this sound like you?  Are you ready to clear space in your head?

Below are ideas to de-clutter your mind with iStratus, reduce feeling overwhelmed, and ultimately gain beneficial clarity to achieve more.

Your Physical Environment Matters

Clutter bombards the mind with disproportionate stimuli, which makes our brains work overtime. Clutter also signals that there’s plenty else that needs addressing, which is of course, in its own right mentally exhausting.

The bottom line: De-cluttering your physical space also de-clutters your mind in succession.

For The Record…

You don’t need to keep everything stored in your brain. Record and categorize things within the iStratus app —and utilize it as a storage device for all those bits and pieces of information you need to remember. This can include appointments, shopping lists, ideas for future projects, and so on.

Quit Multi-Tasking

We’ve mentioned this many times, but it’s worth repeating. Quit multitasking. It doesn’t work

If your house was a mess and you needed to reorganize it, how would you begin? Perhaps start by choosing one important area—for example, the kitchen pantry —and giving it a good cleaning.

The mental equivalent of tidying the kitchen pantry is to allocate a certain amount of time exclusively devoted to clearing your mind. Throughout this process, transfer your mental clutter to the side and completely focus your attention upon the task at hand.

Imagine your pantry top notch and organized, and ensure that it stays so, without other items being plonked all over it during the timeframe you’ve devoted to it. 

Mentally push the clutter outside of the pantry doors too. Make a note in iStratus of any items that might be needed to make this organization even more efficient, such as labels or storage canisters.

The Past Haunts

Speaking of “pushing something out the door” – mind clutter is also often related to the past. Most people keep a large cabinet of mental drawers stored in the back of their subconscious. 

Go through those mental files and discard memories of the past that are not serving you well in the present (it’s not easy, we know)… Set some “Quiet Time” on your schedule for yourself with iStratus.

Be Decisive

If your email inbox is filled with emails that require addressing, and no decisions are made on them, what will happen? Soon, your inbox will be overflowing with bills, requests from your employer or clients, and spam mail. The way to progress is to address what’s in your inbox or check things off your checklist. 

The solution for clarity of mind is to be decisive and follow through with tasks, to the best of your ability. Everyone has up and down days – that’s a given, life is a rollercoaster of crazy sometimes and really, the truth is, we are only human!

Routine Decisions Require an Auto Pilot Switch

Flick it to the “On” position.

Small, routine tasks can occupy a lot of brain space. This can include things like:

  • Deciding what to eat for breakfast each morning;
  • Deciding what you’re going to wear each day;
  • Deciding on what to have for lunch; and so forth.

You can reduce the amount of brain space because of routine tasks by putting them into auto-pilot mode and setting them on automatic. This is why meal planning works so well.

Prioritize

Nothing creates as much brain clutter as an endless To-Do list. Accept that some things need to be dropped and focus on the most important things. 

A checklist of your top priorities will make all the difference to freeing up the bulk of your brain space.

And Learn To Breathe.

Sounds simple, but breathing is key to placing the mind at ease and putting useless thoughts of overload away. It’s not easy to do, but just like organizing your workspace, it can be done. 

“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilizing the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”
~ Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: English novelist (1797 – 1851)

Think clearly, and focus on what matters most.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Eight Time Management Tips for the Busy Person

Time Management.  How can I manage something that I never seem to have?  Have you ever looked at your weekly calendar on Sunday evening and cringed?  You have work deadlines, a repair person coming, kids to get to practice, a spouse who’s traveling, and, to top it off,  your mother needs a ride to the doctor.

Have you ever gotten to the end of a week and wondered what you’ve really accomplished? Or wondered if what you’ve accomplished really was the most important?  As our lives get busier and more complex, managing how we spend our precious time has become increasingly important.

You Can’t Stretch Time, But You Can Make the Most of Every Minute

Making the most of every minute does NOT mean that you never slow down to engage in your favorite activities…or to simply relax.  In fact, by implementing time management strategies, you can actually “find” time. Not only will you use your time more efficiently and effectively at work and at home, the time you “find” can be used for that extra hour of reading your favorite author or walking to the park.

Get Started With Time Management

SELF-ASSESS

  • HOW IS MY TIME MANAGEMENT NOW?
  • Do I procrastinate?
  • What are my time wasters?  (social media? office chatter?)
  • During what hours do I feel most focused and productive?  
  • How do I keep track of my schedule, and is it working for me?

Once you’ve taken a few minutes to honestly assess your current time management, you’re ready to consider the following:

LIVE BY THE LIST

List, List, List.  Can’t be stressed enough.  The process of making a list forces you to account for all that needs to happen on any given day.  Plus, by writing a list, you’ve effectively downloaded that information from your brain. That frees up your brain power to get things done.  But, be ready to edit. List making can be tricky at first.

  • Make a realistic list.  Making your list too long can set you up for disappointment and frustration.
  • Prioritize.  What is truly MOST important for you to accomplish today?  This might not necessarily be the same as what is “talking” to you the most and getting your attention. Top of your list should be the MOST important item for you to complete, not someone else’s priority.  The iStratus task manager is a great way to start prioritizing your to-do list.
  • Commit to the list.  We all know the unexpected happens, but consistently commit to following your list in order of importance to meet priorities most effectively.  If you’ve committed and life throws you a curveball, at least you’ve worked towards the top priority first even if you can’t complete it.
  • Write it today.  Write your list for tomorrow at the end of your day today so you enjoy your evening with a clear head. Plus, with your list written, you’ll start tomorrow with your plan of action ready and waiting.  

STOP PROCRASTINATING

We’ve all done it.  We’ve worked diligently on our To Do List.  We’ve promised to dig in right away with task #1 first thing in the morning.  Morning comes, and task #1 seems daunting. How do I get started? How am I going to finish this?  Then it starts.  I’ll just clear my inbox first.  Or I’ll just knock off task #4 first—it’s quicker. STOP.   This is where strategy #1—Live by the List—can save you.   You’ve prioritized. You’ve committed. Feel the power of sticking to it!

If task #1 is completely overwhelming, break it into more manageable sub-tasks that you can complete more quickly.  More quickly completing that first sub-task can provide the much-needed buzz of accomplishment to spur you on to the next sub-task.  

GET HELP—DELEGATION IS YOUR FRIEND

You are focused on your task #1, but there is another task distracting you.  Successful time management doesn’t mean you must do everything yourself. Nor should you. If there is someone in your sphere capable of handling the distractor task, ask for help!  This is not a weakness, but working smart. Perhaps your co-worker can lead that meeting. Or your child can get dinner started. To truly be productive, you should consider delegating. Delegating keeps you focused and builds capacity in others.

MULTI-TASKING IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

You’ve got three balls in the air—you’re cranking and feeling productive.  But are you? At first glance, multi-tasking seems like the perfect solution to an over-stuffed schedule.  

However, when your brain’s focus is switching among multiple tasks, you are less able to fully attend to any one task, often sacrificing quality.  The time your brain spends to re-focus on each task as you shift among them, actually wastes time. But even worse, over time, the brains of frequent multi-taskers often become less able to filter out distractions to truly focus on one task.

SCHEDULE—THE MUST DO’S AND THE WANT TO DO’S

You’ve got a long list of Must Do’s on your schedule.  But don’t forget about those routine tasks that can eat up a big chunk of time, but never make it onto your calendar. Catching up on email, returning calls, face-time with co-workers are all sneaky time users that should be scheduled into your day like any other commitment.  If they are scheduled, you’ll be less likely to address them through multi-tasking.

When you schedule tasks is also important. If you are not a morning person, tackling your #1 task first thing, when you aren’t your most alert and productive, might not be the best choice.

With those Must Do’s accounted for, you can now schedule the Want to Do’s.  Whether it’s extra time at the gym, lunch with mom or a movie with your spouse, if you treat it like any other time commitment and add it to your calendar, you are more likely to make it happen.

USE A MASTER CALENDAR—MASTER YOUR UNIVERSE

You’ve got your work calendar, your personal calendar, you kids’ calendars, your spouse’s calendar, maybe a parent’s calendar to consider. If you must keep it all in mind when scheduling your time, then you must keep it all in one place.  Whatever your style–the giant chalkboard in the kitchen, a day planner, or a digital calendar tool—keeping all relevant events in one place keeps you from the annoying time suck of re-scheduling tasks later.

GET REST AND EXERCISE

With all this talk of prioritizing lists and making schedules, and your actual WORK, how can you possibly have time to get enough rest and exercise?  The fact is, you may become the expert at time management. But, if you’re chronically over-tired or rarely exercise, you still won’t be as effective and efficient.  Too little sleep chips away at your ability to focus and maintain attention on tasks to bring them to successful completion.

Regular exercise (even just 10 minutes a day) improves sleep quantity and quality and increases mental alertness. Spending time exercising can help you find time as you rest better and approach each task with more clarity and focus.  Schedule your rest and exercise on your Must Do list!

By practicing these eight time management strategies, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your most productive (and less stressed) you.  Plus, you’ll find more time for fun and relaxation.To learn more about tools to help you in your pursuit of skillful time management, visit istratus.com.

Passwords In Words

Creating strong passwords may seem like a tediously daunting task, especially when the consensus is to use a unique password for every site you visit. 

It’s simply nuts trying to keep track of these things along with everything else in your life. Consequently, you may be more inclined to use one password despite the fact that we know it’s unsafe and potentially compromises all of our information. Or you may use numerous passwords, although they are simple words, or include numbers that relate to our lives which are easy for hackers to guess. 

Those hard-to-remember passwords (probably because your business or a website forced you to) are just that, hard to recall. So these passwords are right next to your computer – even though this also compromises safety on a shared computer.

Forgettable passwords are useless. And passwords that are too easy can lead to an attack. With most of our personal lives increasingly migrating to online status, iStratus is here to give you some ideas on how to create strong passwords and keep your information safe in a technological world. 

What’s A Strong Password You Ask?

Strong passwords are typically longer (the longer the better); a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and symbols, not connected to personal information or dictionary words. 

The good news is you don’t have to memorize awful strings of randomness, impossible to remember. It simply takes a few effective tricks.

Weak Passwords Are Easily Spotted

Passwords can be memorable and remain difficult to guess. Creating them can be fun and safety is a huge payoff.

Let’s consider what constitutes “weak passwords” to understand why these are risky:

First, a word akin to “Password” is a NO.

Password is the most commonly used password. We also believe it’s pretty clear why such a password is weak – as are words like: ’default’. Programs that use automated assault can easily identify these passwords. As is using a last name and year of birth (i.e. Smithy1965) combination, particularly if someone knows you well. Identifying pieces of information also means it can be easily deciphered.

Secondly, let’s say, you use “F1avoR” as a password, mixing up capital letters and numbers. Here are two important reasons why this password example isn’t safe: 

  1. It’s a common word and
  2.  If a password is too short, it isn’t safe either. A long password is a strong password, as it’s harder to decode/break. Also, substituting the number “1” for the letter “I” is easy to guess for both humans and software alike.

Staying Password Strong and Secure

By now, you’ve likely discovered that the “perfect password” is a lengthy combination of obscure letters, numbers, cases, and symbols. You’ve got it. 

It’s also important NOT to: 

 

  • Write your passwords down: This can be tempting, especially in the workplace, to keep track of passwords the old-fashioned way, but these are easily discovered.
  • Reuse your passwords. If your passwords are identical across email, and other websites holding sensitive personal data, it is easily exposed and is at risk of being breached.
  • Don’t share your passwords. It’s a total no-brainer and if you absolutely must, change it as soon as possible.

Create a Unique Password (That’s Also Strong)

The short answer is: A hard-to-crack password is unique and easy to remember. 

In addition, we encourage you to use a password manager, like our iStratus Vault, which is specifically designed to offer you a way to store passwords securely. Learn more about organizing your passwords with a password vault here

Password Induced Stress

New research by NorPass suggests, the stress of trying to recall our passwords is contributing to the vicious cycle of mental health, anxiety, and stress.

Their evidence indicates,  “the average Internet user has around 70-80 passwords” for their accounts? So each year, “we spend 7-12 hours on average trying to remember and reset those passwords.” 

Thus, trying to keep track of these procedures and memorize our passwords results in a lot of time wasted, which inadvertently contributes to the experience often referred to as password stress.

Our suggestion in creating a password is to apply a phrase and incorporate shortcuts or acronyms that either mean something to you, or you associate with a type of website, with minimal effort.

For example, it could be a phrase about money for a banking site, and so forth. You can be Shakespeare’s Hamlet: 2BankorNot2Bank_Thisis$? (Based on “To be or not to be? That is the question”).

Also, Use Commonly Accepted Symbols:

This is self-explanatory, symbols such as ! # $ % * & + = can help you create stronger passwords

Give Emoticons Some Love

While there are some limits with the types of symbols you can use, most sites allow a decent range. Try turning them into “smiley” faces, :))) and give a fun boost to your password power. You already know that a smile is easier to recall! 

Check Out Your Keyboard

Given that most computer keyboards contain anywhere from 101 to 105 keys, there are countless options to craft unique passwords. It’s a canvas to draw on! So get creative with your system of symbols, abbreviations, and combinations that works for you.

iStratus hopes you find these ideas helpful. Share these tips around. Just don’t share your passwords and change them regularly!

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Are Your Passwords Organized Yet?

We can run into all kinds of password dilemmas when they are kept in unbelievably random and insecure places…

The truth is: We don’t want to know your info! It is no secret passwords are the key to unimaginable disaster or chaos in the wrong hands! It pays not to be careless or flippant with this information. 

Things are bound to go wrong with that eventually, trust us.

And don’t get us started on the views of: “I don’t need a password system… I have one that I use for everything.”

This is yet another cause for ruin and disaster! If this is you, we at iStratus are providing some friendly advice to please think again. 

We are all likely to know a person whose e-mail password was compromised, and horrifyingly with this, there’s also the potential for any thief to infiltrate things further. 

If your e-mail account is compromised, for example, the thief can use the  ‘forgotten password functions’ on other websites to unlock many more accounts (as details are emailed directly to the perpetrator). Everything can be completely swiped – it’s a piece of cake or the whole chunk of it, for hackers and bots to initiate multiple breaches if the password in question is an identical one. What’s worse, often by the time one discovers the disaster – all hell has broken loose already, with hundreds of thousands in funds swiped… it is no joke.

Lessons to be learned: Adopt very strong passwords and use passwords managers such as iStratus’s Password Vault with its encryption to protect your passwords. In addition, guard the security of your email account/s fiercely. iStratus recommends using different passwords to avoid compromising every other account you have. Also, change your passwords often and take notice of any usual changes. Set your notifications at the ready.

Furthermore, we suggest that people also need to be mindful of being run over, smack bang by the proverbial freight train. Would important people in your life know how to access this information if something unexpected happened to you? It is pretty critical, that there’s a clear system someone else knows how to reach in the case of an emergency.

Like Our Vault: Electronic Password Keepers

There are abundant database applications made for storing passwords. We don’t want this to seem like a sales pitch here. We just want you to know there is a benefit to transporting all of your important information with you, securely encrypted, when away from my desk. 

Pro-Tip: Whatever application it is you choose, please DON’T trust a Word or Excel document for this purpose of recording (particularly one conveniently named “Passwords”) which can be effortlessly intruded.

Staying Secure When Cyberspace is Endlessly Vast 

The point is: Keep your passwords on the down-low. Think of it somewhat like this: Leaving your passwords easily accessible, is kind of like locking the front door, or securing your home with the latest, most fan-dangle, expensive security system — and leaving the backdoor wide open, as an invitation. Along with a welcome note saying: Check out my fridge, please feel free to help yourself.

Avoid writing or recording any password hints that are comparative to other accounts held, such as “same as PayPal”. It may seem obvious, but it needs to be said – this can become a big cross-referencing mess very quickly, particularly when you change the “referred-to” accounts and forget to reference this!!

Yes, a frustrating muck, you’ll likely spend hours attempting to rectify with frustration. Chances are, you’re not alone in this experience.

Here are some unforgettable words of golden password wisdom from people in the know: 

 

“Passwords are like underwear. You should change them often. Don’t share them. Don’t leave them out for others to see. They should be mysterious.”~ Chris Pirillo

 

In other words, ensure your passwords are cryptic to people.

And…

“Treat your passwords like your toothbrush. Don’t let anybody else use it and get a new one every six months.” ~ Clifford Stoll

All humor aside, your security is important.

So, on a final note, pretty PLEASE avoid using your birthday or any significant names associated with you! Choose something long but memorable. A nonsense sentence is a good password, such as “Myfavoritemorning2drinkisColdBrewCoffee!” We repeat: Don’t use something obvious, and if you must, record the master password if you tend to worry about forgetting such things.

In offering this advice, there is no bias intended, but one of the greatest advantages of adopting an electronic system is that you can use even more secure passwords and switch them up regularly since you are no longer relying on your memory to hold everything within.

Free up your mind – we’d love you to join us. Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Are You Cyber Safe? iStratus Tips For Students.

With the school year well underway now, most students are focused on using cyberspace for projects, making some headway and achieving grades, and of course, socializing on Social Media. At the same time, they also need to be aware, staying up to date on phishing schemes, safe computing practices to guard data and sensitive information. Whether they are in elementary, high school, or college, today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce.

It’s an uncertain world out there in Cyberspace. Here at iStratus, we’d like to share some tips with the students in your life. 

From malware and scams to cyberbullying, it can be a vicious cycle of events. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to keep you, your kids, and your devices protected from the latest threats: 

Keep Software Up-To-Date

We almost feel like a broken record, however, keep the operating system, browser software, and apps fully updated with patches. Even new machines can have out-of-date software that leaves you at risk. Operating systems and applications are constantly being updated to fix bugs and address security issues. You should use automatic updates to ensure you’re using the most secure version of the software that is available. Also, review the privacy settings — when an app is updated, it may change your settings! 

Practice Safe Computer Usage

Use trusted apps and only browse to trusted websites. Malware is often hidden in apps that trick you into downloading them or in fake websites that lure you in with interesting pictures or stories! Make sure everyone who uses the device takes the same precautions. 

Malware Protection, It Does What It Says: Protects YOU

To put it simply, set your devices to update automatically and run virus scans at least once a week. Let’s not forget malware is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems.

Malware today has become increasingly sophisticated and can evade antivirus software installing Ad and script-blocking browser plugins will help.

Most Internet and device security offer parental controls, which are great for managing applications that can be downloaded and the time spent on the device, whilst students are communicating with friends on social networks in a safe way. Enable security settings on devices, and as any software or apps are installed. Pay particular attention to information sharing options and be sure to verify your firewall to protect your information. 

Think Twice Before Sharing

It’s easy to get excited and overshare online. Be aware of divulging personal information on Social Media Platforms – such as school names, team names, and key interests which reveal particular details inadvertently. 

Be a Savvy Network User

In this day and age, this might seem like we’re stating the absolute obvious, however, reminders don’t hurt. 

Try not to access personal or financial information over unsecured public WiFi networks such as the “free WiFi” in coffee shops, bookstores, hotels, and schools, as this data can be easily intercepted and viewed by unauthorized people. Instead, consider using your smartphone’s more secure cellular signal or “hotspot” to surf online and take care of business.

Stay on Guard 

For students, there’s a general lack of privacy and personal space at school. Whether it’s a shared living space, crowded workspace, or the typically communal environment of a college campus, they’re continuously exposing their devices, leaving them vulnerable to access by others. 

The most important thing to remember or remind your kids of is to be aware of their surroundings. Be vigilant in keeping computing devices with you or locked in a safe and secure place. 

Avoid Jailbreaking Your Devices! 

Jailbreaking devices relate to gaining “root” access to it, which means disabling the manufacturer and operating system protections so there is access to functions, not originally intended to have access to. 

This access may allow greater functionality, on the same hand, however, it also reduces the security of devices, making them more susceptible to infectious malware. 

In addition, Jailbreaking devices essentially render them at greater risk of getting hacked, and malicious apps which phisher sensitive information disclosure. 

Frequently Backup Data

Given the growing risk of malware/virus infections known as “Ransomware,” iStratus recommends saving important data often. By definition, Ransomware holds a person’s files “hostage” until the victim recompenses the hacker. 

It is most practical to backup regularly, using both a physical storage device such as a USB flash drive, external hard drive or a cloud-based account, like iStratus uses to protect your files.

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

~ Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988)

Bottom line, as we always say, we want you to stay safe out there on devices significantly central to our world. 

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Cyberspace, Let’s Stay Safe

Every day we engage in the world of cyberspace, and consequently, there are risks associated with security breaches for people and businesses all over the world that are appearing in media headlines. These attacks reveal the vulnerability of our data and the lack of robust security strategies in organizations, regardless of size. 

Overall, data security is vital to the well-being of businesses. Operations and records require protection. If compromised, reputation and fiscal damages occur.

In this article, we’ll look at ways iStratus protects you and your data:

It’s Why We Encrypt

In today’s world, people increasingly conduct their work on mobile or personal devices. Do we ensure our app is trustworthy and secure? Yes, all data is stored in an encrypted format and remains encrypted whenever it is stored in the ‘Password Vault’ or during migrations.

Begin with Strong Passwords

Create passwords that are long, complex, and varied. Specifically, passwords must be at least 8 characters long, include a mix of letters, non-sequential numbers, special characters, and ideally be as nonsensical as possible. In a point-blank attack, hackers try combinations of millions of dictionary words and numbers per second until one brings up a hit.

Implementing strong passwords is the first step to take in strengthening security in this space, to protect and prevent access to sensitive and valuable data. We recommend changing passwords at least every 90 days. Avoid using passwords like “1234567” or “Password1,” or having them written down for people to find.

Delete Any Redundant Data

We suggest deleting information and files you don’t use or need to access regularly. Applications like ours deal with sensitive information constantly as an essential element of our business. With appropriate information deletion or disposal mechanisms in place, this helps prevent stale data from being forgotten about and stolen at a later date. Erasing or otherwise modifying redundant data to be indecipherable also ensures it’s not stashed away somewhere it shouldn’t be.

Update Operating Systems and Applications Regularly

Having the most up-to-date iOS or version of an app is often the best way to ensure data is adequately patched and protected. Security with iStratus is regularly revised to ensure encryption is functioning adequately. We always recommend having the most recent update available. Since hackers and phishers are constantly adapting their approaches to exploit weaknesses in earlier software, it is advisable to update these applications frequently as possible.

Back-up Your Data Habitually

To this end, it also pays to back up your data frequently. It is not new information that this should already be a crucial part of your own IT security. With secure backups in place, you can survive essentially everything from accidental file deletion to bug-lockdowns.

Secure ALL Social Media Applications 

Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are fun and engaging ways to communicate with all networks these days. However, to continue safely, it’s recommended you review the privacy settings of each account periodically to protect the privacy rights of any information purposely or inadvertently shared. 

It’s important to know who can see what, where, and which platform is sharing what data you have and with whom.

Check the Privacy Policy of Apps

iOS applications automatically enforce regulations for all users through their HTTPS, but the same cannot be guaranteed for Android apps. 

It’s best to either check out the privacy policy or inspect the website for an official stamp from a data protection organization. 

iStratus, as we’ve expressed repeatedly applies encryption to secure and protect any data you send online from hackers, network snoopers, and also third parties. We do not store or share your information anywhere.

Be Vigilant Against Phishing or Similar Scams

Databases with personal information are a goldmine of information. A phishing scam relies on tricks into replying or clicking on a link in a bogus email or text message to spread malware, steal credentials, or even worse. We all receive these kinds of text messages daily. 

The reality is, Cybercriminals will use unprotected information to attain fraudulent loans, steal identities, and infect entire networks, crashing them entirely. We don’t envision this happening with iStratus, however 

“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and of vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness.”

~ Ann Radcliffe (1764 – 1823)

What’s The Best Solution? Prevention!

In current times, always be on the safe side and never click on links in COVID-19-themed emails for example. You can typically detect a phishing scam by reading the sender’s address. However, as life is often hectic, most of us would be none the wiser at first glance. Be aware, iStratus won’t ever send you emails. Another clue is often errors appear within text from automated bots. 

Vigilance is the key essential. 

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Raising Internet Savvy Kids & Teens

As parents, we want to do everything we can to keep our children safe and out of harm’s way, from looking both ways when crossing the street to always wearing a helmet when cycling. However, are we doing enough to protect them from bullies, predators, and stumbling across inappropriate content online?

Let’s face it, the internet is here to stay and with an ever-increasing amount of teens using apps on their smartphones, there’s always time to have regular discussions regarding cyber safety, if you don’t already provide those reminders to your loved ones. 

In this article, iStratus provides some handy tips for your parenting toolkit.

Be Open and Honest About Online Activity

It’s important to be informed. Have discussions with your kids about what apps they are using, what they are reading, watching, and who they are communicating with online – and keep the conversation going. Use iStratus to create a list, and look at them together. It’s essential to always remind them that this may be different for other parents and their children.

The bottom line? Listening and reaching an agreement about what is right for your family is what matters most. The internet and smartphones are everywhere, there’s no avoiding them. 

We need to reflect on our online reputation too if we want our kids to consider how they behave, interact with people and represent themselves in a public forum. They must always remember that these spaces aren’t private.

Who Are Your Children’s Friends Online?

As grown adults, we recognize that people aren’t always who they say they are online. Truthfully, young people can be alarmingly naïve about whom they are chatting to or connecting with if they are not taught to be cyber-wise from the onset.

iStratus suggests, becoming friends with your child’s social media circles and ensuring you monitor posts. There may be resistance to this but that can be a set condition for them to have online access.

Similarly, Stay #SocialMediaNetworkSavvy

Educate yourself on what social media networks and apps your children are using and use them as well. Remind your kids regularly about the privacy settings and reporting mechanisms on social networks. And being aware of what constitutes online bullying – both as a perpetrator and a victim.

Every photograph and personal detail that is posted and shared on social media and the internet contributes to someone’s digital footprint. The biggest risk with this is that once information is shared publicly, it can be used in untoward ways not necessarily expected.

Assume that anything that is put online is permanent (it can be deleted, but not necessarily before others have seen it or saved it). As parents, it’s our job to encourage our children to ask themselves before posting anything online if the information being shared (for example, their name, phone number, address, name of school, email) or a photo is something they would give a stranger. If the answer is no, then don’t post it.

If your child uses social networks, be sure they know how to:

  • Report inappropriate and/or offensive posts
  • Block someone
  • Keep posts set to “Private Between Friends” and not “Public.”

Use iStratus filing and folder systems to stay in control of your digital footprint, keep it all secure by only sharing important or personal information with people known and trusted.

Protect Privacy: Keep Locations Private

Most apps, networks, and devices have geotagging features, which reveal your whereabouts publicly and can lead someone directly to you. These features should be switched off for obvious privacy and safety reasons. Digital photographs also contain metadata (referencing the time, date, and GPS coordinates), which may reveal more than planned. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove these details, but not all do, thus investigate these settings and be fully aware of how much info is being shared.

“The definition of privacy has changed – kids are more comfortable baring their souls online, but they don’t think about the consequences or permanence of the Internet.”

~ Elizabeth Wilkins, Editor, at Empowering Parents.com

Leading by Example is Key

Modeling the kind of positive online behavior we would like our children to use is fundamental. If they witness influential adults in their world being cautious and respectable while online, then they are more likely to follow in those footsteps. And, yes, this also includes limiting your own screen time.

Finally, the point is not to instill fear in our children or prevent them from experiencing the many educational, social, and entertainment benefits of the Internet, Social Media, or Apps. Rather, we must provide them with the skills and knowledge they require to make the most of the pluses while avoiding the dangers. 

There’s no doubt we’ll all sleep better by regularly discussing these points upon our checklists today.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Organize The Festive Season

The holidays can feel like madness for even the most organized folks. Don’t let disorganization detract from the fun of the season. 

The best way to keep you and your family sane is with structure. A map of what needs to be covered is effective even for your at-home holiday time. Use iStratus to post and share some sort of plan or file, so anyone involved can add or change things as tasks change or fluctuate. (It’s Ok if everything doesn’t go according to THE SET plan).

Get around the stress. Create a plan, stick to it as best you can, and avoid rushing around at the last minute.

iStratus recommends:

“Spring Cleaning” Before Hanging Holiday Decorations

Oh boy another chore, it’s hard to resist the temptation to eye roll here we know… finding the time to clean when your days are long and hectic as it is… yes we hear you! The last thing you want to do is to house clean!

The thing is though, when the house is messy or cluttered, adding holiday decorations and preparing for holiday guests is an absolute nightmare for most people. You’re not alone in feeling this way.

Therefore, it helps to stay organized over Christmas, and you can begin by cleaning the house. Your decorations will add easily to festivities when they aren’t competing with clutter, you know you’ll feel annoyed about.

The holidays are busy, and you’ve got a lot to do when getting ready for the holidays, so focus on the parts of the house that see the most traffic. Before you sort through your Christmas decorations storage, make a list in iStratus of things or areas that need de-cluttering before hanging lights.

Organize Your Living Space

If you look around the house and think, “How do I get organized for the holidays?” it may be as simple as tidying your living space. Take the opportunity to rearrange the cluttered areas of the house. 

Swap out your summer clothes for your winter clothes.  Go through holiday decorations and get rid of ones that are broken or no longer matter. You may even consider organizing an area just for extra blankets and pillows for visitors.

Even a little extra organization in your home can relieve some stress from the holiday madness.

Holiday Shop Early

Ugh, Yes. Love it or hate it. 

If gifts are on your iStratus checklists, don’t wait until the week before Christmas. Mark them off early and avoid shopping with the masses. Many stores will begin their Thanksgiving Black Friday sales a week or more before the Black Friday event, so you can deal-hunt without getting up at the crack of dawn. Shopping early is great because you don’t have to do it all at once and overwhelm yourself. Spread it out over a week or two or even throughout the year so that it fits within your schedule. If you have someone in your life who could use some organization, this Gift Guide may help.

Use a List App

Of course, this is our favorite idea! However, no bias is intended here! Paper lists get lost easily, but you’ve always got your phone on you. A planning app like ours can help you keep track of everything, holiday plans, gifts, and grocery lists. As usual, customize your lists and set reminders so you won’t forget to pick up those herbs or spices you need from the grocery store. 

Decorate Home As Home

So what if your holiday decor doesn’t rival “In Style” magazine? Decorating for the holidays should be fun, not stressful. 

Set aside a day on your schedule in iStratus, dedicated to decorating and getting the whole family in on it. 

Decorate to add happiness to your home. If you need some inspiration, there are many simple ideas to be found on Pinterest. Just “Google it.”

Don’t keep anything that doesn’t bring festive cheer to your home. Keep your favorite decorations neat, tidy, and clean with storage bins, for example.

Create A Gift-Wrapping Zone

Pick a corner of the house that receives little traffic and establish a makeshift wrapping station. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A folding table, few plastic containers will help organize supplies. (Even a patch of floor works). Then wrap your gifts as they come in to avoid the mad dash on Christmas Eve.

Reduce some of the stress associated with the holidays by planning well and getting organized with iStratus. Your schedule won’t prevent unexpected guests from dropping by, or those last-minute holiday party invites, or any family drama. It happens. It will, however, keep you sane during day-to-day holiday preparation, which frees up mental energy to be grateful for loved ones and just enjoy celebrating.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

iStratus Technology For The 21st Century

Technology has become such a critical part of the survival of the 21st-century. Any business without some level of technical “savvy” employed will likely fail. It is that essential.

We’ve previously addressed how iStratus contributes to effective communication in the workplace; on the same hand, it’s also an effective contributor technology-wise to ensuring that businesses operate more efficiently as a whole. 

At its most basic level, technology enables more productivity. Whether you’re using a processing program that like Google Drive allows you to edit with ease on the go or using the iStratus calendar system that pulls data at a tap of qwerty keys, technology makes life easier. 

You can schedule calls and appointments, and as a Manager or CEO, track employee time, whilst performing all tedious tasks that once took hours in front of a screen, in only minutes, in the palm of your hand.

Let’s explore, how to stay ahead in today’s technological world with ease.

Proficiency with Accuracy

When it comes to business, you can’t stay in business if you don’t have your agenda scheduled right. In the modern world, it can be hard to keep track of the multiple things that require completion all at once of course!  iStratus is here to help you stay on top of all “organizational formulas” maintain your professional ethos with a sense of confidence and accuracy. 

Consider the time and cost once required to compile a long list of information. Now, your schedule can be regularly maintained utilizing software that allows it to be generated or repeated as necessary within moments.

Be Diving Force of “Competition”

As much as we may dislike a cutthroat world, to some degree we need to compete against the rest to be successful or simply, survive. 

In business, your competitors no doubt use technology, so you need to employ and embrace it also. These days the connectivity of the Internet expands business horizons. 

We no longer sit in our backyard, so to speak. We are a global community, which allows us to stand out if we choose to. At iStratus we strongly promote and believe in our product, not because we simply want to “get ahead” of other businesses; we also have the desire to support and push your organization and productivity gains ahead too. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we all took upon it ourselves as human beings, to recognize that becoming a collaborator turns us into a valuable force instead of a competitor? We can all collaborate beautifully with iStratus technology. That’s the competition.

Communicate More Effectively

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, iStratus effectively increases communication in the workplace for the better. Truthfully, none of the elements noted above functions effectively without it. Is a vital key towards success and the organized “survival of the fittest” for want of better words. 

Whatever the modality, be it an instant message, with a co-worker across the room, or across the ocean, there are no limits to a sharing interface like iStratus. The constant ease of communication allows us to forward information with clients, colleagues, or relatives, regardless of location. Technology has certainly made connecting in real-time easier than ever. 

On the flip side, putting your faith in technology to conduct business can be difficult, but sometimes you have got to take a chance. No matter what your objectives are, in iStratus you can create and address whatever it is, instantly. Your notes, lists, are placed directly where you choose, to get the job of being more organized done.

“Almost everything worthwhile carries with it some sort of risk, whether it’s starting a new business, whether it’s leaving home, whether it’s getting married, or whether it’s flying into space.”

~ Chris Hadfield

True, yet not all risks are created equally. Going into space is a greater risk than trusting technology to assist you. However, nothing is without risk, of some sort. 

Relevance Matters

Regardless of your industry or profession, iStratus is designed to make life easier. Anything we can do to help lessen the pressure upon us in some way, we will try to achieve it. The point is to make things relevant to your needs and only you can decide what works best for yourself with iStratus. We do hope you notice a difference.

We can say with integrity that our technology values your business. We strive to protect your privacy rights and ensure you find something useful in the App that supports your daily life. As the decades pass, the next generation won’t be functioning without such technology. Therefore, we will continuously strive to improve iStratus’s delivery and positive impact. The world is full of enough demands as it is – we want to help you stress a little less towards success.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.