Put Security at the Top of Your List

December 1st, 2015
Mavish Sandhu


This year is expected to be the most connected holiday shopping season – ever. And that means security should be at the top of your to-do list so your holiday cheer isn’t stolen by hackers and thieves.

Las year 78% of American adults used the internet for holiday research, and 40% of holiday shopping took place online. Among those online shoppers, just over half (53%) shopped using their mobile phone or a tablet[i]. This year, 43% of shopping is expected to take place online[ii], and of that a whopping 70.8% of digital buyers are projected to be mobile buyers[iii].

To give you a sense of how tempting our holiday spending is to criminals, consider this: consumers are expected to spend $965 Billion between November and January – a 4% increase in spending over last year[iv].  That’s a lot of motivation, and it puts you, and your devices, squarely in the bullseye.

Are you prepared to go toe to toe with criminals?

We can’t protect ourselves from hacks that target the retailers we use, but we can significantly increase our own protection and the protection of the devices we use.

  • Be sure you have up-to-date security programs on every device – including mobile devices and Apple devices as these are not immune to exploits. You’ve heard this advice before, and you’ll continue to hear it because it is perhaps the single most important step you can take.
  • Only use secure networks – you don’t know what malware is lurking in that WiFi connection. It’s so tempting to want to leverage the convenience of hotspots, but there is nothing convenient about ID theft and financial exploitation – particularly during the holidays.
  • Quit reusing simple passwords! 66% of American’s only use 1 or 2 passwords for all of their accounts. Frankly this is disastrous because as soon as that password is hacked, criminals have access to all your accounts. To make matters worse, common passwords like 123456, 12345, password, DEFAULT and 123456789 can be hacked in less than one second in a brute force attack[v].  
  • Protect your finances and check your credit report. Unless you are diligently monitoring your credit scores and credit history, or you use a service to monitor for you, start the holiday season off by requesting a credit report. This way, you know if there are red flags you need to address immediately.
    1. Be proactive and monitor your credit card statements to stay on top of any potential abuse. Check at least weekly in high risk, high shopping volume periods.
    2. Limit the number of credit cards you use, and don’t use debit cards for shopping. By keeping all your holiday expenditures on one card, you not only simplify your monitoring for fraudulent charges, you also limit the number of cards exposed. When you use debit cards for purchases in stores or online, the funds are taken directly from your bank account. If hacked, and while you may your money back, but you won’t have the funds in the interim unless your bank specifically, and immediately, covers you for any losses.
    3. Even better than credit cards, use a service like PayPal, where stores never get your credit card information, so your financial information can’t be part of a data breach. Many stores now offer PayPal for in-store shopping as well.
  • Get smarter about holiday scams. All the security in the world won’t help you if you give scammers your information. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should get snowed! Check out next week’s article where we’ll dive into holiday scams that would make a Grinch blush….



Mavish Sandhu

Mavish Sandhu Marketing and Communications Manager, leads Frontier Secure’s marketing and communications team, creating compelling messaging and support for our home and business customers. Mavish joined Frontier in 2009 as a commercial sales manager leading the Northeast team in business development. She assumed her current role in 2012. Before joining Frontier, Mavish co-founded Pre-Meds without Borders, a national non-profit service organization. In addition to leading its startup, she developed a nationwide collaborative platform to propel health initiatives. Mavish began her career as an account executive for Dial America Marketing. Raised in Rochester, N.Y., she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from State University of New York Buffalo.


Answers to Your Back-to-School Internet Safety Questions – Part 3

Re-posted From Frontier Secure. We are an authorized retailer for Frontier Secure. Contact us here for more information.

How do I know if my child’s school is protecting their information?

Does your child’s school expose too much information about students? Do you know the privacy policies, practices, and security safeguards of the schools your children attend?

It’s not enough to teach kids to protect their own privacy and respect the privacy of others. As a parent you also have to monitor the information policies and security practices of the schools and organizations that maintain records about your child.

In a nutshell, between data breaches due to poorly secured data, to the contracts schools sign with companies that allow companies to use student’s data for commercial gain (without parental approval), to the handling and safeguarding of a student’s medical information, there’s a lot to consider when providing your kid’s or teen’s school with their personal information.

To give you a sense of the far reaching implications of school privacy and security, here are the headlines from just a few articles on the subject. You may want to read the full articles to learn more:

So what is a parent to do?

Few parents have the skills, or time, to audit the security and privacy practices of a school or school district, and few – if any – schools would permit parents to do so for obvious security reasons.  However, that does not mean you should blindly accept a “we take security and privacy seriously” statement at face value.

You can request (and perhaps band together with other parents to require) schools or school districts to have a qualified external 3rd party run a security and privacy audit and publish their results to parents & faculty.

That security and privacy auditor should, in addition to standard security testing, specifically be looking for any gaps in staff security training and procedures (people are frequently the weakest link in a security chain), scrutinizing any contracts the school has made with companies that may allow the company to use student data for other purposes, what the access permission settings are for various types of student data, and looking closely at policies (or the lack of policies) outlining whether teachers can use apps in their classrooms that have not first been security checked and cleared.

I wish I could say that these privacy and security measures are well understood and managed by the schools/ school districts themselves and that you could just sit back and relax, but that simply isn’t the case. So start asking questions!


Brent Heilman

For Brent Heilman, Director, Programs, our customers’ needs and experience always come first. He leads our product development team, oversees marketing and sales support, and directs overall product vision, market strategies and team management. Brent joined Frontier in 2012 from Symantec Corp., where he managed global operations initiatives. He’s a certified project management professional, Microsoft certified solutions expert and holds a master’s certificate in project management from Boston University. Born in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Brent holds a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational management from Warner University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Back to school pt 2

Answers to Your Back-to-School Internet Safety Questions – Part 2

From Our Friends at Frontier Secure

Offerssearch is an Authorized Retailer of Frontier Secure

How do I select the right laptop for my child’s school needs?

In last week’s blog, I tackled the timing of purchasing a first device, selection criteria, and how to place some clear restrictions around cell phone use in Answers to Your Back-to-School Internet Safety Questions – Part 1: At what age should my child have a phone, and what boundaries should I put on it?.

Several websites have recently posted “Top Laptops for Back-to-School” articles, but the reviews I generally find most trustworthy are from Consumer Reports, with their extensive training and distinctly unbiased positions.  That said, it is useful to check out several review sites[i] to see if a particular option appears high on a bunch of lists, then shop around for best price.

This week, I’ll tackle laptop choices.  There are several things to think about before buying a laptop, price and quality obviously are key factors, but else should you consider? Two top considerations are:

  • What Operating System (OS) should you choose? – Does your child need to use Windows, Apple or Linux? While most schools are primarily Windows or Apple based, it’s probably best to purchase a device within the same OS family as the school to reduce any compatibility issues.
  • What will the device primarily be used for? For younger kids the usage will be fairly generic, but for older kids, teens and college students, you may want to consider whether your child is a heavy gamer, seriously into graphic designs, or has another focus that might influence your choices about the devices capabilities so it is best suited to their needs.

Here’s what consumer reports suggests – Note: I’ve included their recommendations by age, and then by overall scores:

KindergartenAmazon Fire HD Kids Edition 7” ($190). This special kids’ version of Amazon’s 7-inch tablet rocked our durability tests, but Amazon offers a two-year replacement guarantee in case your kindergartner roughs it up too much.

ElementaryAcer C740-C3P1 ($250). No need to spend a fortune on a laptop for your elementary-school student. Chromebooks can cost hundreds of dollars less than other laptops, and they’ve become the computer of choice in many classrooms.

Middle school to high schoolLenovo Z40 ($550). The homework’s ratcheting up, so now’s the time to start putting more power into your student’s hands.

College: for the graphic-design majorApple MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display MF839LL/A ($1,300). Most college-bound kids can get by with the same machine you would buy for high school, but a higher education in the visual arts can require a bit more horsepower.

College: for the double majorMicrosoft Surface Pro 3 ($925). A student who is running from one end of campus to the other, say from the business administration lecture halls to the art department, may be tempted to skip the laptop and buy a lightweight tablet instead.

Here are some of Consumer Reports top scorers by size and feature, then scroll down for more tips:


Okay, you’ve selected and purchased the laptop you think will best serve your child’s needs and your budget, so you’re done – right?


Those devices need strong security software installed and set for automatic updates so their machines are as protected as possible from malware and other serious threats.

You may want to install family safety technologies (often unfortunately called “parental controls”) that can help protect your child from landing on inappropriate content, or being contacted by unsavory characters.

Then, there are the rules and responsibilities you want to discuss with your child BEFORE they take possession of the device. For younger kids you should set the expectation that you will periodically sit down with them to see what they’re doing, who they’re contacting, what programs (and malware??) they may have downloaded, and so on.

As kids get older, you still want to have some restrictions on use (is the middle of the night on a school night ok?), acceptable behavior – no bullying or inappropriate conduct, and so on.

You’ll also want to have the “keep your device safe” conversation as these are expensive devices that are easily stolen if left unattended.

So which device is the right one for your child? Only you can make that selection.

[i] http://www.bestlaptopsof2016.com/, http://computers.toptenreviews.com/laptops,http://www.laptopmag.com/t/back-to-school, http://dealnews.com/features/Back-to-School-Sales-Guide-How-to-Find-the-Best-Laptops-for-College-Students/783204.html


Brent Heilman

For Brent Heilman, Director, Programs, our customers’ needs and experience always come first. He leads our product development team, oversees marketing and sales support, and directs overall product vision, market strategies and team management. Brent joined Frontier in 2012 from Symantec Corp., where he managed global operations initiatives. He’s a certified project management professional, Microsoft certified solutions expert and holds a master’s certificate in project management from Boston University. Born in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Brent holds a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational management from Warner University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Stop Sign

Answers to Your Back-to-School Internet Safety Questions – Part 1

From Our Friends at Frontier Secure

Offerssearch is an Authorized Retailer For Frontier Secure.

It’s hard to believe it’s already the middle of August again, and the start of school is just around the corner! As you’re purchasing backpacks, paper, scissors and pens, technology questions inevitably arise. One frequent question I get is “Should my child have a phone, and if so, what boundaries should I put on its use?

To help you through this and other tech dilemmas, I’ll be answering several questions over the next few weeks so stay tuned for more. Here are things for you to think about for first cell phones, and for boundary setting for all kids with cell phones:

Should my child have a phone, and if so, what boundaries should I put on its use?

The start of a new school year is a common time for parents and kids to struggle over this question. The answer, though not particularly useful, is ‘it depends’ on a number of factors including your own preference. A survey[i] conducted earlier this year found that most kids receive their first cell phone when they are 6-years-old.

However, that doesn’t mean your 6-year-old needs one. There are several things to consider, including how likely is it that your child will need to call you, whether they have a medical condition, if they are a latch-key kid, if they are generally anxious, frequently need to coordinate activities, and if their friends already have phones.

If you determine your child does need a phone, the next question is what capabilities should it have?

It may seem natural to buy your child or teen a smartphone if you’re first buying one, but a basic phone that does not connect to the internet might be a better starter phone to protect your younger child from unwanted online contact and content. Or for a teen who is having trouble adhering to family rules about appropriate phone use.

One common mistake parents make when purchasing a child or teen’s first phone (and subsequent phones) is to buy the phone and hand it over prior to having ‘the expectations discussion’.

Think through the rules and expectations you want for your family upfront, and spell these out clearly to save clashes down the line.

For example:

  • What time should the phone activities start and stop? Many parents discover that the reason their child is so sleepy/grumpy in the morning is that they’ve been texting/talking/surfing/playing half the night. And (or) that the more phone-time your child spends during school hours correlates to poorer grades and poorer participation. Reviewing your phone statements, or using your service provider’s online information about each phone will quickly let you see when calls are made, and how much time was spent on the phone so you can understand whether a problem is developing.
  • How much total screen time is appropriate? Once you’ve set the morning, night, and school-time boundaries for your child or teen’s phone, there are still a lot of hours left in the day. For most kids and teens, phone time comes as an addition, rather than a replacement of game console, TV, and computer/laptop/tablet time.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.  They advise parents help kids and teens make wise media choices, and monitor their total media diet. The AAP discourages screen time for kids under 2 and advise parents to limit total daily screen time to 1-2 hours for older kids, citing studies that have shown a link between heavy media use and issues such as obesity, lack of sleep, academic challenges, aggression, and other behavior difficulties[ii]. Another study, by Ottawa Public Health, suggests that teens who use social media sites for two hours or more daily are at risk for poor mental health, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts[iii].

  • Who are your kids allowed to call? For young children, you probably want to help enter the phone numbers of the people you feel they should be able to call. That way the numbers are on speed dial and even those who aren’t expert readers can quickly contact family and friends unassisted. You may want to require that your child comes to you before they, or anyone else enters new numbers onto their phone so you are aware of any contact.

For older kids and teens, you may want to be clear that you will periodically check and discuss phone numbers they’re calling that you don’t recognize; this helps you understand who their friends are (and provides you with the ability to see if there has been a sudden shift in friends that could be signs of bullying, phone calls from people trying to befriend your child as part of a scam or grooming scenario, or to other potential issue in their lives).

  • What is your family app policy? There are thousands of apps available, but not all are appropriate for all ages, not all respect privacy (in fact many apps – both free and purchased – collect and share a great deal of information including your child or teen’s location) and some apps are flat out malicious.

Should your permission be sought prior to downloading any app or only download apps with appropriate ratings? I’m often asked how parents can find quality apps, and I recommend using online resources that target this like CommonsenseMedia.org, andicanteachmychild.com.

Will you require that apps are only downloaded from legitimate app stores to reduce malicious programs and inappropriate content?  Will you have privacy settings requirements for apps so they don’t track y our child or share your child’s information with others?

  • What is your family camera/image sharing policy? For example, you may want to turn off the location stamps feature so images don’t specify exactly where they were taken. You may not want kids to share images with strangers, or post suggestive images.

The good news? Your teens and their friends[iv] are far less likely to be sexting than you and other adults[v], but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have very clearly spelled out expectations about what is, and is not acceptable to share with others – or receive from others.

  • What is your behavior policy? While it may seem self-evident that phones should not be used to bully, harass, taunt or hurt others in any way, this is an aspect that should not only be called out, it should be underscored. How your child behaves, and the behaviors they will accept from others, are key to their emotional and physical well-being and development.

Don’t be “the bad guy”

When you set up boundaries and expectations for appropriate use of cell phones and discuss these with your kids and teens, mistakes will happen.  Listen carefully to understand what went wrong and why, but keep in mind that consequences are a natural and critical part of learning. If they need those consequences don’t rob them of the learning opportunity.

How you handle the mistake is key.  Are you going to be the bad-guy who punishes them, or are they responsible for their actions and you are there to help them prepare to succeed next time? A mistake or failure on their part should naturally lead to consequences that THEY, not you are responsible for.

Each phone feature is a privilege that holds a great deal of power for good or harm, and with privilege and power comes responsibility. If your child or teen discovers (with your help) that they aren’t ready for the responsibility, that’s ok. They can back up and try again when they have demonstrated they are ready.

If it was too hard for your child to be respectful towards others, and they stooped to bullying, or some other negative behavior, acknowledge that showing respect was more responsibility than they were able to manage. Then, help them take a step back to a lower level of responsibility where they aren’t tempted to communicate disrespectfully and can again be successful. For example, if the issue was related to texts, eliminate the texting temptation (block texting from their device) until they have clearly demonstrated they are ready to try again to be respectful when texting.  What does it take do demonstrate they are ready? Let them figure out how to show that.

Let me end with another common mistake parents make when purchasing a child or teen’s first phone – Failure to configure the phone for the appropriate safety, security and privacy settings before handing the phone to their child. I recommend that every parent – especially those that may not feel super savvy about setting phone configurations – ask the sales clerk in your carrier’s store to configure the phone with the safety and privacy settings you want for your child, and install device appropriate mobile security software. – For older kids and teens, you may want to periodically check the settings to ensure your child hasn’t changed settings in a way that represents more risk or responsibility than they are ready to manage.

[i] http://wric.com/2015/04/07/survey-discovers-6-years-old-is-the-average-age-of-kids-when-they-first-receive-a-cell-phone/

[ii] https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx

[iii] http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2015/07/28/study-frequent-social-media-use-may-take-toll-on-teens-mental-health/

[iv] http://cyberbullying.us/chances-are-your-teen-has-not-sexted/ “…Based on a nationally representative sample of 1,560 students between the ages of 10 and 17, Kimberly Mitchell and her colleagues found that less than 10% of youth “reported appearing in or creating nude or nearly nude images or receiving such images in the past year.”…

[v] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/most-people-you-know-are-sexting_55c4d789e4b0f1cbf1e4c4c1?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592&kvcommre=mostpopular


Brent Heilman

For Brent Heilman, Director, Programs, our customers’ needs and experience always come first. He leads our product development team, oversees marketing and sales support, and directs overall product vision, market strategies and team management. Brent joined Frontier in 2012 from Symantec Corp., where he managed global operations initiatives. He’s a certified project management professional, Microsoft certified solutions expert and holds a master’s certificate in project management from Boston University. Born in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Brent holds a bachelor’s degree in business and organizational management from Warner University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.


Does Your Home Need a Second Internet Connection?


June 18, 2015

Is a second Internet connection right for your home? Chances are, yes! Read on to learn more.

Whether you have multiple users on your home network accessing the Internet using various devices at the same time, have teenagers at home who are always streaming videos or gaming, or if you work from home and need to access important files without delay, a second home Internet connection may be a solution for your broadband needs!

Recognizing the ever-increasing popularity and regular use of Internet-connected devices in the home, Frontier Communications is now offering our customers the option to add a second Internet connection under the Frontier Second Connect program. A second connection will allow our customers and their families to dedicate more bandwidth to the online activities most important to them.

This new program comes at a time when people are using their Internet connections more than ever before. The average number of Internet-connected devices per household is more than five, according to data from Ericsson1, a world leader in technology, and that number continues to climb. One in four homes has seven or more connected devices, all accessing the same Internet connection. In fact, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development2 predicts that by 2022, the average household with two teenage children will own roughly 50 Internet-connect devices, stemming from the Internet of Things!

Multiple devices accessing the same home network can put a strain on available bandwidth. But with a second home Internet connection, you can dedicate bandwidth to specific users, tasks or devices, preventing overuse of your home network.

As the Internet of Things continues to sweep the nation, more and more devices will require an Internet connection. Frontier Second Connect can provide the necessary dedicated bandwidth.

Find Out More About Frontier here…


10 years of consolidation in cable: The rise of Comcast, TWC, Charter, Cox and Cablevision

Republished From Fierce Cable

The long, strange trip of consolidation in the cable industry has produced a handful of mega cable operators — and very few other players of note. Today, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cox and Cablevision control a major chunk of the cable industry in the United States.

But that has not always been the case.

During the past 10 years, these five carriers have consumed a wide range of smaller, regional carriers, including major players like Optimum West, DukeNet and others. Of course, this merger-and-acquisition activity isn’t unique to cable; virtually every other industry in the United States has evolved in a similar fashion. Indeed, the American Cable Association recently said that 1,078 small and rural cable systems serving 50,000 subscribers have shut down since 2008, primarily due to fast-increasing programming costs. The group also said that 47 cable operators shut down 91 systems serving 5,307 customers in 32 states in 2014 alone.

Nonetheless, it’s worth taking a look back at the past 10 years to see exactly how we have arrived at this point in time. Today’s cable industry looks much different than the one from 10 years ago, when the likes of Adelphia and Susquehanna still roamed the market.

So let’s take a step back in time, when pay-TV was on the rise and the idea of streaming a video over a dial-up modem was a laughable proposition.

The below chart was created by Stacey Horne for FierceCable. It depicts the major acquisitions and mergers consummated by today’s top five cable operators during the past 10 years. It is not a comprehensive list of all of the purchases made by the nation’s top operators, but instead covers only their major transactions and the amount, when available. It also mentions a few major acquisitions that did not come to pass, such as Comcast’s failed bid to acquire Time Warner Cable, as well as those that may still happen (like Charter’s bid to acquire TWC and Bright House Networks). It also only covers deals that are directly applicable to the cable side of the telecommunications market. For details on the carriers’ current subscriber totals, click here.