Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why I Don't "Like" Mark Zuckerberg

Whether you use Facebook to connect with friends and classmates across the country, or if you use Facebook to promote your business, we all know there are many intricate settings and restrictions on Facebook that can either help or harm our personal and professional brands. This is a story of one of those settings that isn’t helping any of us.

Finally after public demand, Facebook allowed users to create custom or “vanity” URLs in 2009. Users were then able to change the current random character URL (i.e. to a custom address (i.e.

In addition to personal pages, any Facebook Fan Page can also get a custom URL.

However, there are restrictions users need to be careful of.

You are only allowed to change your personal URL twice.

· You are allowed to change the random character URL to a custom URL once.

· You are then only allowed to change your custom URL once again.

Fan Pages have even more restrictions on what can be modified.

Once you select a custom URL for your Fan Page you are stuck with it. You can’t change it. The only way to get a different URL is to delete your Fan Page and start all over again.

This restriction is done for security purposes (understandably) to limit hackers/phishers from modifying accounts or creating bogus pages.

However, there is a small subset of users who NEED to change their URLs. I am among that subset. I accidentally superimposed one letter in my URL and now have to live with a misspelled URL (which doesn’t make me look all that intelligent or professional).Although Facebook gave me the disclaimer that once I selected the URL I would be stuck with, I checked it twice and still managed to miss the typo.

I tried to see if there was someone I could call or email about it, and Facebook has NO channel of communication for customer support. You can search forums or speak with other Facebook users, but the company doesn’t really have a helpline to call (1-800-Facebook doesn’t exist – I checked).

I did find a direct line to Facebook online and after “dialing 1” for customer support; I was told “Facebook does not offer phone support at this time.”

What happens to users who represent their personal brands (consultants, actors, musicians) and they change their names? They can’t update the URL if they get married (or divorced for that matter) to reflect their new name?

Also what happens to a business if they merge with another company, incorporate, or completely rebrand? The inability to change their URL is a huge detriment to their brand. The only way to do so is to delete the profile and build a new one – meaning the 4,000+ fans they have garnered will be lost.

Facebook should do one of two things.

1) Have the developers allow for multiple URL changes.

2) Have a customer service representative available to discuss the situation to see if it will allot for a URL modification.

Either way – Facebook needs to relinquish some control so that users can fully customize their pages. Why should we have to deal with invalid URLs that don’t represent us correctly?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Plan

You insure your car, your house, even your pet. These measures are taken to protect your valuables from disaster. With data, not only do you have to have it insured (backed up using tapes, hard drives, cloud servers, etc), but you also need to have a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan in place that has been tested for reliability to assist your organization should a disaster occur.

What would it be like if your ecommerce organization’s website crashed for four days? Sounds horrifying right? Well, recently American Eagle® Outfitters experienced a system failure that lasted an unprecedented four days (followed by an additional four days of technical glitches)

An article from CIO Magazine recounted that American Eagle’s website went down when “atypical and concurrent failures [occurred] with IBM’s hosting servers and back up plans as well as with Oracle’s Data Guard utility program.” I’m not saying that websites don’t have their occasional hiccups, but four days is a massive detriment for a company whose ecommerce site is a large part of their business model.

The article quoted Brian Walker, a Forrester Research principal analyst urging other organizations to look at American Eagle as an example. “Get your responsibilities, processes and systems together now, test them, and correct as needed. Having a clear plan in and of itself will pay huge dividends in the event something happens.”

Senior Help Desk Associate at NSK Inc, Alex Straffin echoes the same sentiments. “Any type of Disaster Recovery plan needs to be tested in every way possible BEFORE the disaster actually occurs.” Many clients utilize NSK’s Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution that is managed by NSK. “We virtualize all of those clients’ servers off-hours for assurance as part of our ongoing BDR model,” says Straffin.

Straffin also notes:

DR plans are becoming more necessary as electronic business and ecommerce continue to expand. This is especially important if your site does not have any failover or redundant server configurations, and you are running high dollar, enterprise level ecommerce websites. A good DR plan will also include periodic verifications to assure that over time, your overall disaster recovery plan remains valid and ready to be put into action if needed.

The Bottom Line

As they say in the Scouts “Always Be Prepared.” Have a DR plan in place, that has been thoroughly tested, so should a disaster strike (knock on wood), you will know exactly what to do to reduce or eliminate downtime.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Importance of Antivirus

Malware On The Rise

Reuters recently published an article claiming that malware has hit an all time high. They state that McAfee, the number two security software provider, found that malware reached a new record in the first half of 2010. Malware is software code that, when introduced into a system, can hack the computer, steal passwords and identities, and reap havoc on system performance.

McAfee says that 10 million new pieces of malicious code have been catalogued. What is most noteworthy of these findings is that Mac systems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Apple users tout that Macs are virtually “insusceptible to viruses,” however as Macs continue to increase their market share, their vulnerability is also rising.

Android Antivirus

In similar news, the first Trojan has been reported on the Android Operating System for smartphones. The malware poses as a media player and once installed on the phone, sends text messages to premium text numbers inadvertently charging the user. Hackers are usually on the receiving end of the text messages, and thus profit from the rouge SMS messages.

According to the article, posted on, Kaspersky Labs is in the process of developing a mobile antivirus application for Android phones, due to be released next year.

The Bottom Line

You need to take precautions. Whether you are dealing with your personal computer or your organization’s infrastructure, steps need to be made to make sure your system(s) are secured.

Basic necessities include using a firewall, password protecting your WiFi, and having an up to date antivirus system installed (including Mac systems).

Additional steps, such as security assessments and security audits can be performed to make sure your organization isn’t vulnerable to outside attacks.

Most importantly, self monitoring is the key. Be sure to stay away from sketchy websites (including those not suitable for the workplace) and making sure you only download files from people or websites you know and trust.