Archive for June 2017

13 ways to improve your digital privacy

You don't have to spend US$16,560 on a specialised security smartphone like the Solarin. There are cheap or free DIY measures to protect your privacy.

13 ways to improve your digital privacy

You don’t have to spend US$16,560 on a specialised security smartphone like the Solarin. There are cheap or free DIY measures to protect your privacy.

Is privacy making a comeback? Back in 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously said the expectation of privacy was no longer a “social norm” – and he has proved to be largely right, as more and more people have shared more of their daily lives online, particularly on social media.

However, as part of its “commitment to transparency and privacy”, Microsoft recently published details about what data Windows 10 collects about your system.

Microsoft’s campaign appears to be in response to privacy concerns about its latest operating system. As Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the company’s Windows and Devices Group, said: “Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected … ”

But is it possible to take control of our data?

Microsoft, Apple and Google are increasingly linking their operating systems to their web services. That has brought benefits such as free online storage, but it also allows the companies to collect enormous amounts of data about us – as do Facebook and other social networks.

Of course, sometimes it makes sense to give away some aspects of our privacy, such as sharing our location with Google in exchange for being able to use Google Maps.

Nevertheless, there are measures you can take to gain some level of control over your digital privacy.

It should be noted that the list below (“13 ways to improve your privacy”) is in addition to recommended security measures such as using antivirus software.

Going off the grid

It may not be possible to go completely off grid, but there are some extreme measures that can help you get pretty close.

  • Use an alternative operating system. This isn’t really feasible for Mac and smartphone users – apart from some secure versions of Android such as CopperheadOS (which is only compatible with Google Nexus and Pixel phones). However, for many Windows users, Linux is a viable alternative. There are several security-focused Linux versions available, including Tails.
  • Delete your social media accounts. Privacy-focused services, such as Diaspora, are an alternative for closed groups, although you’ll have to convince friends and colleagues to make the move, too.
  • Use Tor or a virtual private network (VPN). To hide your internet protocol (IP) address and your location so no one can track your online activities, you’ll need to use either Tor or a VPN. Tor is a free, anonymising online network that’s available as a browser or an Android app called Orbot. Its main downside is it can be quite slow, which is why many people choose to pay for a VPN service such as NordVPN.

13 ways to improve your privacy

  1. Get to know the privacy settings on all your devices. That’s not always straightforward, but there are numerous third-party tools that aim to make this easier, including O&O ShutUp10 for Windows 10.
  2. Get to know social networks’ privacy settings. Check them fairly regularly, too, because Facebook and other social media channels change the settings from time to time.
  3. Use alternative online services. If you don’t want Microsoft, Google or Apple knowing everything about you, there are plenty of alternatives to your device’s default online services. Some third-party apps are designed for the privacy conscious, including SpiderOak for online storage, Kolab for email and Signal for encrypted messaging.
  4. Use a password manager. Using a tool such as LastPass is a must as it allows you to use a different (and strong) password for every online service. Where available, use two-factor authentication such as a password and a fingerprint scan or SMS.
  5. Enable remote wipe. Android Device Manager, iOS’s Find My iPhone and third-party apps such as Avast Anti-Theft will ensure your data remains safe if your device is lost or stolen.
  6. Use disk encryption. Android, iOS, Mac OS and Windows all offer full disk encryption as extra protection if your device is lost or stolen. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s BitLocker is only available on Windows 10 Pro, but there are alternatives such as VeraCrypt.
  7. Use cloud encryption. Note that disk encryption doesn’t necessarily protect data synced to online services such as Dropbox. For that, you’ll need to use a cloud encryption service such as Boxcryptor.
  8. Check Google’s My Activity. This online tool gives you some level of control over what the tech giant knows about you via your Google account.
  9. Check app permissions on Android or iOS. Third-party apps have been known to access various smartphone features such as the camera, microphone or location, when they may not necessarily need that function.
  10. Don’t browse when logged in. Google can track your web browsing if you’re logged into its service. One way around this is to use a privacy-focused browser such as Firefox for general browsing and another browser – or even a Windows/Mac app like WebCatalog – for web services including Gmail and Office 365.
  11. Prevent browser tracking. To block tracking code in web pages and ads, you’ll need a tool such as Ghostery or a full ad blocker such as AdBlock Plus. Both are available as browser add-ins and mobile browsers.
  12. Use an alternative search engine. Unlike Google and Bing, DuckDuckGo doesn’t record your searches or leak them to third parties.
  13. Disable digital assistants. The likes of Siri, Google Now and Cortana by their nature have to collect a lot of information about you to be effective.

Want to know more?

Microsoft’s Windows 10 privacy blog post
Apple privacy tips
O&O ShutUp10
Mozilla guide to Facebook privacy
Google My Activity
How to delete your Facebook account
Tails Linux

The work challenge keeping CFOs up at night

Why have people, relationships and performance become such a concern for CFOs — and what can they do to get a better night’s rest?

The work challenge keeping CFOs up at night

Why have people, relationships and performance become such a concern for CFOs — and what can they do to get a better night’s rest?

As the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) evolves and becomes more complex, so too does the pressure to perform. New research from international recruitment agency Robert Half Finance & Accounting shows today’s CFOs are worried about much more than just their organisation’s financial performance.

When Robert Half asked 2200 CFOs from organisations across the United States what keeps them awake at night, 25 per cent said they were most deeply concerned about conflicts with co-workers or superiors, while 25 per cent were worried about their own job performance. Another 22 per cent said finding and hiring talented people was their biggest challenge.

So why have people, relationships and performance become such a concern for CFOs — and what can they do to get a better night’s rest?

According to David Jones, managing director at Robert Half in Sydney, the results reflect the broader role CFOs are increasingly called upon to play.

The CFO role is expanding

“Finance teams are under significant pressure to add value and take on more of a business partnering role within the organisation. Yet at the same time, many finance departments are facing a leaner supply of resources,” he says.

This pressure is set to intensify.

“The demands put on CFOs and finance professionals will only continue to increase. They will not only be expected to broaden their roles but also to have a higher involvement in stakeholder engagement as well as proactively identify and manage new commercial opportunities.”

As a result, CFOsneed to be skilled in much more than financial management. Communication skills, together with a well-developed business acumen and strategic vision, have become must-have skills for any finance professional ambitious to progress in their career.

CFOs need EQ as well as IQ

George Kapitelli FCPA is executive director for finance and logistics at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and North-Western Mental Health.

A finance veteran with 30 years’ experience, he joined the health industry in 2014 after CFO roles with General Motors Holden in Australia and Shanghai General Motors in Liuzhou, southern China.

Kapitelli says today’s CFOs need emotional intelligence (known as EQ) as well as IQ, so that they can negotiate different points of view within the leadership group.

He also says that while a clash of opinions is sometimes inevitable in a cross-functional team, this diversity can lead to better outcomes if managed properly.

“You always have competing priorities. As a finance person, my main priority has always been making sure you have a sustainable, successful organisation from a finance perspective – and that can be very different from the sales director, the engineering director or the head of research, for example, because their priorities are different,” he says.

Kapitelli says the task involves understanding all the points of view and communicating the key requirements of where the organisation is heading, getting alignment on that and moving forward. “That’s what a CFO needs to succeed at.”

How to collaborate effectively

CFOs need the emotional flexibility to collaborate effectively without letting egos intrude.

“Everyone likes to have their own way, but it’s important to put yourself in other people’s shoes, understand where they’re coming from, and work together to agree on the right path forward,” Kapitelli says.

“What’s really important is transparency and trust – giving people accurate financial insights into where the business is heading – then you’re relying on the emotional intelligence of the group to be able to take that information and use it appropriately.”

As for the one-in-four CFOs worried about their own performance, Kapitelli sees a certain amount of worry as both healthy and desirable.

“Complacency leads to failure,” he cautions. “You’ve always got to be monitoring performance, making sure you’re hitting your targets – and when issues arise, you’ve got to deal with them quickly.”

It’s also important to accept and act on criticism.

“Remember not to discount or respond inappropriately to negative feedback, as this is generally valuable information and can have the most positive impact on your performance,” he says.

How CFOs are responding to their changing role

What should CFOs and aspiring CFOs be doing to meet the demands of their changing role, without too many sleepless nights?



According to Jones, CFOs need to ensure they have the strategic and technical skills to act as agents of change, helping their organisations navigate a business environment transformed by technological innovation.“As companies transform for the digital age, CFOs are not only responsible for digital investments, they also need to leverage the full potential of these investments to improve efficiency, optimise resources and hone strategic insights,” he says.

“That makes them perfectly placed to lead change throughout the business.”

According to Kapitelli, it’s essential to consult widely and never stop learning.

“A CFO needs to continuously strive to improve their knowledge,” he says. “For me, changing industries was a real plus. It forced me to learn again.”

3 tips for aspiring CFOs

According to George Kapitelli, three things make a CFO great:

  • A positive attitude, even when the going is tough
  • Transparency and trust, ensuring support and alignment across the team
  • Collaboration. Remember that you can’t do it all by yourself. The success of your team and your organisation reflects most positively on your performance as a CFO.



Source : CPA AUST