Major tech companies push for legislative reform of NSA’s accessibility laws

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With the continued expansion of internet prevalence in our everyday lives, it’s becoming harder each day to escape the ever-watching eyes of “Big Brother”. “Big Brother” is an idiomatic term that refers to government surveillance powers that oversee our actions on an everyday basis, the most relevant example in this instance being the NSA.

The NSA has recently experienced a significant amount of backlash from major tech companies because of its invasive and disturbing policies for mass data collection. A year after agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leak of private documents, executives from nine major tech companies (AOL, Dropbox, Google, Apple, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook) sent a letter to the Senate demanding a reform of internet privacy and security laws.

Specifically, Microsoft sounded off about the changes in legislation that they would like to see, in reference to cyber-spying and data hacking. One of their main gripes was towards the security of cloud-based services, and the lack of certainty behind the protection of their documents and information. Microsoft claims that the government has “intercepted data traveling across the internet”, and “hacked links between company data centres” (

Microsoft has a strong call to action, with five specific desires:

  1. Recognize that U.S. search warrants do not have jurisdiction outside of the U.S.
  2. End bulk-collection of data (phone records, email records)
  3. Commit to the ending of large scale data centre hacking
  4. Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which makes its rulings in private.
  5. Improve transparency in terms of exactly what rights the government has to information and records.

It’s no secret that the government watches over us and keeps an eye out for suspicious activity. Many people understand and accept that it is for the greater good, but a great many (me included) believe that it is a serious breach of our Constitutional rights. With the constant increase in web/cloud based technology that businesses use for records, it’s a scary thought knowing that your business’s private information is always at the fingertips of the government; with little to no control over what the government can do or take from us, how much power do the people really have? Is the internet just another way for the government to control us? How do you think the government’s aggressive interference with private information will affect businesses in the future? Reply and let us know!

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How to Have Your Best Business Vacation Ever


A recent survey done by American Express OPEN shows that small business owners are more comfortable taking summer vacations this year than any other year during the recession.

According to the survey, a reported 60% of respondents (small business owners) are planning a week-long vacation for this summer. This is a tremendous leap from last year’s record low 49%, and the highest percentage since 2006. The Small Business Monitor is crediting this increase to a rise in economic confidence on behalf of business owners, as well as in general optimism for sales.

Because so many small business owners are going on vacation this summer, it may be hard to keep the balance in the workplace. Here are a few tips to help you keep your business on track, so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest.

Stop waiting for the perfect trip

For many business owners, the only reason they don’t actually take a vacation is because they don’t believe any options are convenient. Constantly looking for the perfect week in Paris, or that extended stay in Hawaii, business owners can miss simple opportunities to just get away. It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant, just somewhere that‘s unfamiliar and keeps your mind away from your office. A trip to the mountains can provide you solitude that promotes both productivity and relaxation. Wherever you decide to go, just go somewhere.

Plan for your return

Although you’re leaving your office for a period of time, you’re probably still thinking about everything that’s still left to be done in your absence. Instead of beating yourself up about what needs to get done, make a list of everything you want to accomplish on your return, and leave it at that. Make a few quick edits or additions to the list when an idea hits you, but other than that, make the list and leave it alone.

Sleep in

This can be a very hard concept to grasp when you actually have the time to do it. A lot of us get so caught up in the daily grind of waking up early and going to bed late, when we actually have the time to rest, it almost feels wrong. Catch up on all the sleep you’ve missed in recent weeks, and make it a point to do EVERYTHING on your own time. You spend every waking moment living on a schedule, how about you just take the day on as it comes?

Check in when YOU feel like it

Many small business owners tend to forget that the purpose of a vacation is to actually get away from work. Often times, owners will get sucked into making sure things are still on track while they’re away from the office. A true vacation means unplugging completely from work and only providing contact for emergency situations. Obviously, it’s not recommended that you abandon your staff in entirety, so putting a little time aside each day to check emails and voice messages is a good strategy. Maybe thirty minutes here or there, just don’t let staying in the loop dictate your vacation.

Bring your family

Working with your own business can have you so consumed in your office culture that you lose touch with the whole reason you’re even there; make sure to include your close friends and family on your vacation to restore balance to your life. Catch up with friends, see how your kid is feeling, give your significant other a day of attention. Don’t lose the queen trying to protect the castle.

Give your employees the reins, see who steps up

In any business, there are employees beneath the managers who have high potential to lead in the future. When you take your leave, make sure you let these people know the responsibilities and expectations you have set for them. They should be the ones that you know can keep your business moving seamlessly in your absence. Who works the fastest? Who gets the most done each day? Who understands your vision? These are important questions to ask, and the answers that you get will ultimately decide who is next in line to run your business.

Enjoy the moment

This may sound like a cut-and-dry statement, but always take time to actually appreciate your vacation. Stop and look, try some food you’ve never had before, take a lot of pictures; do everything in your power to make the trip as memorable as possible. Often times, moments of inspiration and epiphanies hit us when we are at the peak of positive thought. You may become inspired with an ingenious business idea while enjoying your time off, and who knows, it could make all the difference for your next quarter.

Get excited!

Although planning a vacation somewhere can be stressful for a multitude of reasons, that’s still not a good enough reason to dread the process. Sure, packing, booking, and the actual traveling process can be a tax, but once all of that is out of the way, you feel great! Often times, just anticipating a new adventure can be enough to get you through a tough day you’re having. Use the potential for a great, memorable experience to motivate you through your last few days of work. Having something to look forward to boosts your morale, happiness, and promotes positive thought.


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Apple unveils changes to Mac, and hints at potential watch

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Apple recently unveiled their most recent collection of products, most notably the Ios8 mobile phone.

Although there were many improvements with the iPhone, such as multi-app messaging and group message self-removal, there were also several other products that got some upgrades; this includes their signature personal computer, the Mac, and reportedly, a potential watch.

According to, the new Mac computers will run off a program entitled “Yosemite”. Yosemite has a few notable features, one being a new, “flat” design that makes every application on the screen appear more like those on an iPhone. It’s OSX programming allows users to make calls and send text messages from their computers.

Other improvements include an enhanced search bar, as well as enhanced email usability. Users now can send larger documents, and the Apple email app allows users to mark up emails and write signatures.

The most notable improvement may be the ‘DropBox-like’ storage device called iCloud Drive. The program allows users to organize and find documents from both Apple and Windows devices. They are set to be available his fall.

The potential iWatch also has interesting features, reportedly include a new Healthbook software that hosts multiple health-monitoring devices (blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, etc.), and notifies the wearer of any changes during exercise.

The “Quicktype” feature may also be featured for wearers, an app that allows quick messaging to contacts by suggesting words and phrases.

Although one can always speculate about the innovations that Apple intends to make every year, it’s undeniable that their work continues to change the landscape of technology every year. What do you think of the changes to Apple products? Reply and let us know!

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iOS8 Arrives


Apple recently revealed its next generation of iPhone, the iOS8, at a conference yesterday. Although there weren’t too many changes, there were still some interesting improvements made to the device. Since iPhone’s are arguably the most popular and widely used phones in America, it seemed only necessary to review a few of the improvements made.

The most interesting (and arguably most useful) improvements to the iPhone are the notification updates. Users now have the ability to respond to messages in different applications while still using another one. For example, if you received a text message right as you were sending a tweet, you are now able to respond to the text message without having to close the Twitter application. The double-tap feature of the home button now also allows you to see your most frequent contacts.

Users are now also able to mark and delete emails in a single motion through the mail application, as well as now having the ability to look through the inbox while composing messages.

Another major improvement to the iPhone is the annoying ‘autocorrect’ feature that it has. Users are now able to get suggestions for the correct word while they are typing, but can ultimately ignore the changes if desired. The update also allows users to form a kind of jargon with their most frequent contacts; the iPhone will memorize specific slang and word choices that users associate with particular contacts.

Another major problem that is addressed with the update is that annoying, contantly buzzing, ever-glowing group message. You can finally remove yourself from any group you don’t desire to converse with! Another text message update is the ability to send locations to contacts for set amounts of time.

Overall, the updated iPhone addresses many of the issues that iPhone users frequently faced. Apple seems to constantly find new ways to improve their cutting edge electronics, and the iOS8 doesn’t disappoint.

What do you think of the iOS8? Let us know!

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The Mobile Market


The market for business growth has shifted rapidly in the last two decades. The explosion of the internet has thrown all of us into a matrix of numbers, lights, and screens. I personally can’t recall the last time I walked down the street and made eye contact with a person; all I see are averted eyes, white earphones shaking with every step, and a slight smirk on the face of whoever happens to be viewing their Snapchat at the moment. Because of this, businesses have taken notice. Although many businesses are struggling to adapt with their advertising and marketing strategies, many are beginning to realize that having mobile functionality adds a fourth dimension to their industry.

According to, 25% of media consumption in America consists of internet activity, and is increasing. Another 20% is spent on mobile devices, while radio, print, and T.V. rapidly decrease. Although only 1/20 of advertising spending goes into mobile devices, the bigger picture is that mobile apps are creating a new dynamic for the way businesses are operated and marketed.

Statistics show that mobile app growth has jumped from a measly $2 billion in 2008 to $38 billion in 2013. The most popular apps without question tend to be more interactive and social media based, whether they be Twitter, Facebook, or the ever-improving Instagram. The emphasis on mobile photography and high resolution visuals is exceptional, with over 1,500,000,000 photos shared on a daily basis. From a business standpoint, it becomes very clear that the answer to successful marketing is joining the mobile network and creating some form of visual/interactive appeal.

Looking towards the future, it seems that a company that creates its own mobile app or becomes involved with mobile social media applications has a higher likelihood of reaching their target audience. Being readily accessible at all hours of the day is no longer a preference, it’s a necessity.

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Sunny Days


While basking in the warm weather courtesy of that neighborhood picnic, after-work happy hour or poolside vacation, enjoy the leisure, but keep an eye on the sun exposure.  Though you’re likely aware that prolonged sun exposure—along with indoor tanning beds—are the leading causes of skin cancer, did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? This year alone, 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer (the most common types found on the base layer of the skin, like the face, ears, neck and backs of hands) will be reported, and melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer) will affect  more than 76,000 people. Brush off those preconceived notions that skin cancer is limited to fair-skinned people or the elderly;  everyone, regardless of age and race, is at risk. 

Despite the scary statistics, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers. Though you can’t go back in time and intercept that blistering sunburn five years ago, you can take these tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

Seek out shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest and avoid direct sunlight. Hang out in the shade or beneath an umbrella. While you may have heard that the sun is a source for vitamin D, it’s safer to eat vitamin-D-rich foods like salmon or orange juice than subjecting your skin to UV rays.

Don’t get burned. If you start to see your skin redden, get out of the sun, stat!

Wear protective gear like hats, sunglasses and clothing—darker clothing protects better than clothing with lighter hues.

Put on a high-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day, year-round. Coat your body with about 2 tablespoons at least 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every two hours if you’re swimming or sweating.

Self-check your skin once a month for irregular moles or discoloration.

Visit your dermatologist once a year for a professional skin cancer exam. 

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2014 Decatur Book Festival

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CoCard is proud to call Decatur, GA home. Our city is a huge part of what has made the Decatur Book Festival so successful. Each year, the Festival brings more than 600 authors and 85,000 people to Decatur! Cocard has sponsored the Decatur Book Festival since 2012 and is happy to announce our third year of sponsorship for 2014!

Click here to learn more about the Decatur Book Festival.

CoCard is a Decatur-based merchant services company that’s provided simple, secure, and cost-effective electronic payment and fraud prevention services for clients across the country – and across the street – since 1988. If you’re not already processing locally, now’s a great time to switch. Imagine being able to pick up the phone, call someone locally, and have them come out to fix your problem the same day!

Are you a Decatur, GA business owner? Click here to find out how we can help you!

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Security Alert!

Recent RSA findings report that ChewBacca malware has compromised the security of numerous POS systems since being discovered in October 2013. According to a Visa alert in March, the malware operates by installing a copy of itself in the Windows startup folder as a file called “spoolsv.exe” and then disguising itself as a Windows Print Spooler (so it runs automatically when you start Windows). The malware utilizes two data-stealing mechanisms: a generic keylogger and a memory scanner that look for credit card numbers, PIN, identity information and security data. ChewBacca is privately owned, and it is currently unknown how many were affected by the breach.

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Internet Security Alert


CoCard wants to alert all clients of a bug attacking the Internet’s OpenSSL software (an encryption software widely used by businesses to protect customer data) discovered by security researchers on April 7, 2014 called the Heartbleed Bug. Hackers use the bug to create websites that mirror legitimate ones in order to steal usernames, passwords and credit card data from unsuspecting users. According to a recent report by The Washington Post, this bug went undetected for two years and may have affected as many as two-thirds of the Internet. The next step is for all 500,000 affected sites to revoke their current certificates and issue new ones.

Though this breach attacked the websites of many mom-and-pop shops and those of major companies like Facebook, Netflix, OkCupid and Dropbox (all currently reissuing their certificates), it fortunately did not affect bank or government websites.

CoCard prides itself on providing data security to its clients and takes matters like these seriously. If you have any questions or concerns about the Heartbleed Bug, please contact one of our dedicated professionals at 1.800.317.1819.

COCARD fights fraud!

CNN also has another great article called Heartbleed Bug: What you need to know (FAQ)

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