Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thanksgiving holiday safety tips

First let me wish you and you family a happy Thanksgiving.. In the  spirit of the holiday I ask you if you haven’t done so please donate to Puerto Rico. The island is still in recovery and they need our help so i ask you to find a reputable charitable organization of your choice and please give what you can.

Many of you would be surprised to know that on this day there is an increase reporting  of home cooking fires. So there are a few cooking safety tips to keep in mind when preparing your Thanksgiving meal.

The preparation area or stove should be clear of combustibles such as packaging or paper towels basically anything that could burn near an open flame. This would include dish towels that may hang near the stove burners. Any pots or pans when in use on the stove the handles should be turned towards the back of the stove to avoid anyone bumping into them. This should be a common practise daily cooking.

I alway recommend having a fire extinguisher near the cooking area in case of a fire but if you do not have one available then you should have a large lid or baking sheet nearby which could be used to smother a flame. I go into more detail on this topic in my Grease Fire Safety post. When you are cooking you should be in the Kitchen at all times to monitor the area if you must leave for some reason shut off all stove burners. 

If you decide to fry your turkey you will be using a fryer. You must use the fryer outside in an open area not on a wooden deck or porch. The fryer should have thermostat controls which must be monitored so the oil does not overheat. Do not over fill the fryer with oil remember when you place the turkey in the fryer the oil will rise too much oil will cause the oil to overflow. Most importantly your turkey must be completely thawed before placing it into a hot oil.

I hope this was helpful as always please leave a comment
Enjoy the holiday

Mark Carbajal 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Personal office security

This is the season when things might start to go missing in your office area. This would depend on where you work of course the number of employees in your work location. A large the company normally presents a problem because security is spread very thin in most cases. So you have to be more careful on where you leave your personal items in your workplace. If you work in an open work space with multiple people then it might be harder to secure your personal items.

If you have a traditional office with one entry door then you’re  in good shape much easier to secure. When you leave your office you should always place personal items like your purse, cell phone or wallet should be with you or in a locked drawer behind a locked office door. In the case where you are in an open work space like a cubicle this can be more difficult. I would recommend first bringing to work only what you need such as a wallet/purse and cell phone. If you are able to secure the items in a drawer then do so if not then the items should be with you at all times. If you are unable to secure the items in your work location or carrying them may not be practical then secure them in your car the truck if possible. If you use mass transit to get to work I would inquire if it would be possible to provide an area at work where these items can be secured. Where ever you decide to secure your personal items I would be discreet with where you secure your items. 

The best practice would be to travel only with what you need for the day. In my opinion you do not need much other than your cell phone, ID and a card to make to make purchases. You can see we are moving to a less carry society where all things can be provided even payment by using your phone. So as long as you can secure your phone you should be in good shape.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Securing the internet of things

The internet of things is how all devices are connected through the internet and how they communicate with each other. We now have devices in your home which not only talk to each other but now communicate with cloud services sometimes monitored by someone for your protection. However with all this connectivity between devices there is a possibility of any device on your home network be open to a virus attack. These wireless devices are becoming more prominent in homes so we are more dependent on all these devices to complete daily task such as email, banking and other personal information. In my opinion no one will protect your information better than you so we have to invest in 3rd party devices to protect our home network. 

I often recommend installing and updating antivirus protection which will protect the an end user device. what about your other devices ? Your wireless lights, thermostat and more importantly your cameras all these devices on your network can be hacked and often do not have antivirus protection.

So what can you do to protect your home devices? First your router many of our home routers come with a username and password provided by the company. We must change the password, the password should be something you can remember but it should be difficult to break. Always use a combination of capitals, number and symbols. When you purchase a device to connect to your network it should always come with the ability to assign a password to the device, if the device does not offer the ability to assign a password to the device I would pass on the purchase. 

Lastly, you can invest in hardware which monitors all activity on your network. The devices will alert you when an attack was attempted and halted which I would highly recommend.

I hope this post was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal

Thursday, November 2, 2017


I was watching the devastation in Puerto Rico and how many are still without water.  Please if you have not donated to a charity which is actively helping restore power and water to Puerto Rico please do so. They are in need of our help the recovery process will be long for the island we must do all we can to help in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.  While I was looking into resources to make a donation I came across a product called Lifestraw. I often write about developing an emergency plan and kit with at least 3 days of drinking water for any pending storm but this product filters contaminants from a water source allowing you to drink clean water.

The company advertises this product for hiking camping and backpacking but I think this would be ideal for an emergency. The Lifestraw itself is small enough to fit in a backpack or an emergency kit and according to the website it will supply one person with drinking water for a year. The Lifestraw itself is simple to use. There is a cap on the top where the mouth goes to keep the mouthpiece clean.

 The other end has a cap but once removed can be placed in a water source then you sip the water. In the hollow portion of the straw is a membrane which traps all bacteria. When you are done drinking your water you blow through the mouthpiece to expel dirty water and you are done. I think it is important to note that although this product removes bacteria from dirty water it will not remove chemical contaminants so stick to natural sources of water to use this product.

I was happy to see the company is actively taking donations and helping in the recovery in Puerto Rico. They make different versions of the Lifestraw different sizes so you would have to make a decision on which one would be ideal for an emergency in your area.

I hope this post was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Disaster Preparedness radio

Prior to any major storm it is important to listen to the warnings or updates on storm status. When the power goes out or the cell towers are affected you may be unable to hear the vital updates or emergency evacuation directions. In this case you will have to depend on a radio to get your updates on storm status or evacuation messages. I wrote about preparing an emergency kit for your home prior to any report of dangerous storms. A crank radio or a solar powered radio should be included in your 72 hour emergency kit. 

It is important to note these radios are not for listening to music on the radio or in your backyard while consuming your favorite beverage. These radios are for emergency use only. In order to charge the battery on the radio you would have to crank the radio for about 2 minutes at a high rate of speed the battery life varies depending on the type of emergency radio you purchase. Some radios may charge by using a car charger, AC adaptor or solar panel you want a radio which allows for different ways for the radio to be charged. The more advance emergency radios have a USB ports which allow you to power an external device.

You want the best radio but you do not have to spend too much on an emergency radio to get what you need from the radio service. You just need the basics you want the NOAA alerts and any public alerts. Some radios offer Specific Alert Message Encoding or SAME which allows you to listen to warning for a particular area. 

I hope this post was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

KRACK Wi Fi weakness found

Lately, I‘ve been looking into how home and business wireless networks can be exposed to attacks. We have as a society been more reliant on wireless devices to complete most of our daily tasks such as banking, making payments, updating personal records all on online when we complete such daily routines online we become vulnerable to possible identity theft.  There precautionary measures we can take to protect our network devices. I have recommended in the past practices like backing up our sensitive files, updating security software and keeping up with password changes. Which are all great practices but when we send or receive information wirelessly the actual delivery of the information is where sensitive information can be open to possible theft. 
The recent Equifax breach brings this to mind the company mishandled this breach from start to finish. This left me with a bad impression of information gathering companies like Equifax. The mishandling of this breach is more reason why we must take responsibility for protecting our sensitive information online ourselves. We now find out about the KRACK attack short for Key Reinstallation Attack. This is a weakness found in the WPA2 protocol as we all know this is what is widely used for most Wi Fi networks. This opens up communications between a home Wi Fi connection to Ransomware or data manipulation such as chat messages, passwords and photos.

My understanding is there a statement by the Wi Fi industry that this issue can be resolved with software updates. There aren’t too many devices out there available to use in order to facilitate this attack but this just speaks to the flawed wireless community or the Internet of Things. If you are concerned about this attack I would use Ethernet connections between your devices on your network until the patches, firmware updates are completed especially to your wireless router.   

I would highly recommend changing your usernames and passwords to all your wireless devices or look into a possible 3rd party monitoring devices for all components on your network.

I hope this is helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Safety at concerts

It is unfortunate we are in a time where we have to be aware of our surroundings when we decide to go to a live concert or public events but it is true. I think of the Manchester attacks and more recently the Las Vegas shootings, so many injured senseless loss of life our hearts and prayers are with the victims.  Since then I have noticed increased security at concerts and live events which is much needed. However we have to do our part to be aware of our surroundings so we can to safeguard our families and loved ones at public venues.

There are certain steps you must plan for prior to going to any concert or live event.  When you make the reservations for a concert for example you should review the seating chart carefully. I sure you want the best seat to see the concert but also consider finding a seat near the emergency exits are. I would advise you to print the seating chart or download it to your phone. This way when an emergency occurs and you need to leave you will have the seating chart as a reference. Another option is to google the performer or event subject you are attending. If they took strong stance on certain sensitive subjects or been the subject of a particular extremist group you may want to take precautions before attending the venue.   

If you happen to go to the concert with a group have a plan on where to meet in the event you leave in an emergency and are separated. When you arrive at the concert take notice of areas in the building which could be used a safe room in case you are unable to leave an area because of danger. This could be a closet or a store room which can be secured. You should be able to turn off the lights and lock the door. Your first course of action should be to RUN, HIDE, And FIGHT.

Again if you see something say something. If you see someone acting strangely or they make you feel unconformable notify the event staff, security or police officer. We all have to do our part to keep ourselves safe.

I hope this of information was helpful as always please leave a comment

Mark Carbajal