mobile devices

Digital Hygiene Series: Must-Have Practices for Stronger Online Security

So far in our Digital Hygiene Series, we have focused on keeping your systems neat and orderly. However, the most important component of digital hygiene includes practices for stronger online security. A security vulnerability can quickly wipe out all the benefits of good digital hygiene. In this last article of our series, you will learn five vital practices that you can leverage to better secure your systems and accounts and protect your data and identity. 

1. Enable MFA on All Accounts 

If you only take away one thing from this entire article, make it this: MFA is the single most important security feature you need. MFA (multi-factor authentication) is a second layer of authentication you set up on your accounts so that after you supply your username and password, you supply another form of authentication. This can be a code sent to you in a text message or a push notification to your mobile device. This way, if a hacker does get their hands on your password, they are still unable to log into your account because they don’t have this second layer of authentication. Many services, like banks and insurance companies, require MFA when you establish your account. As someone who cares about your security, you should not only set up MFA on those accounts where it is required, but you should also seek out MFA on new accounts you create even when they don’t require it. 

2. Use Strong Passwords 

Simple passwords are easier to crack, so if you use passwords that are short and contain all lowercase letters, you run a high risk of having your accounts compromised. Complex passwords generally contain a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols, and adhere to a minimum number of characters. Different sources give different recommendations for minimum password length. I recommend at least 16 characters, but the longer the better. You should also avoid using words or phrases that are easy to guess, such as your initials, the current year, or your birthday. 

3. Use Unique Passwords 

In addition to making sure all your passwords are complex enough, you should also never repeat the same password on more than one account. The simple reason is that if your password is compromised once, the attacker now has access to all your accounts that use that password. Ideally, your passwords would not even be similar, like adding an exclamation point, or using the same word or phrase but using all lowercase in one password and all uppercase in another. Minor differences are still easy for an attacker to guess. 

4. Use a Password Manager 

Using passwords that are both complex enough and entirely unique from one another is a huge challenge. A password manager program, such as LastPass or RoboForm, can help tremendously. These programs allow you to store your passwords for all your different accounts so that you don’t necessarily have to remember them. Then, the password manager can input your passwords and log in to your accounts when you need them. Additionally, some password managers offer other features, like health checks that scan all your passwords and alert you on things like repeated passwords or passwords that have not been changed for a long time. Keep in mind: you MUST ensure your password manager is protected by a highly complex password as well as multi-factor authentication. 

5. Monitor the Dark Web 

The dark web is a part of the Internet that is not indexed by search engines and can generally only be accessed by special programs or browsers. The dark web is most infamous for the criminal activity that takes place there. One form of criminal activity is the resale of compromised data, which means that if your data (including passwords) somehow get breached, they may be available to bad actors on the dark web. There are services you can use to run scans on the dark web to find out if your email address or username is associated with any data breaches. Then, you should immediately change your password or take whatever measure is appropriate to secure your data. Some services can run scans for you automatically and alert you when a threat is found. If you are part of an organization, your administrator or IT provider should be running these dark web scans for you. 


Incorporating these practices will go a long way in strengthening your digital hygiene. They will serve as an important first line of defense against new and changing digital threats like malicious emails, social engineering, phishing, and more. Most data breaches are caused by human error, so it’s important to have good security practices in place and remain vigilant in order to protect ourselves as much as possible.

Could your organization benefit from a thorough review of your security practices? If so, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule an initial conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 Digital Hygiene Series:
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Tidying Up Your Mobile Devices

Digital hygiene doesn’t just apply to your computer. It’s also important for your mobile devices. In this fourth article of our Digital Hygiene series, we share 5 strategies for tidying up your laptops, cell phones, and tablets. Applying these strategies will go a long way in helping you get the most from your mobile devices and help you be more efficient on the go.

1. Delete Unused Apps 

Just as it is best to keep unused applications off your computer, it follows that you should do the same with your mobile device. It is common to install apps to solve a short-term problem, and if left unchecked, apps like this can be forgotten, taking up storage and maybe even processing power on your phone. As soon as you know you will no longer need a particular app, uninstall it and remove all associated data if you will never need it again. You can also regularly audit your installed apps and remove any that you don’t need. Most mobile devices have an automated process you can enable to identify and even uninstall applications you no longer use. 

2. Organize Home Screen 

Your home screen should be set up deliberately to give you quick access to all your most frequent functions, and should be organized in a simplistic layout so it is easy to navigate. You can arrange apps into categories and use app folders to contain related apps. Ideally, you want to create enough different categories so that your apps are distributed across them, but not so many categories that you end up with categories containing only one or two apps. This is subjective, but generally you know when your app folders are serving you well and when they aren’t. Another great tool for an organized home screen is widgets. A widget is a bite-sized components of your apps you can put directly on your home screen. Examples include a preview of your calendar or today’s forecast from your favorite weather app. If you have found a home screen organization that works well for you, do your best to always keep it that way by putting apps into the proper folders, placing your most common functions close to the home screen, and making good use of widgets. 

3. Storage Consumption 

Eliminating unused apps is a good start at managing your storage, but that is just a small piece among more important kinds of data, such as multimedia and old messages. In the storage settings of your mobile device, you can view your used storage and a breakdown of what kinds of data comprises that used storage. You should be aware of how much data your device can store and how much you are currently using so you don’t run into issues from your device filling up. Photos, videos, and music commonly take up the most space, so it is important to learn about the streaming options you have available in your photos and music apps. When set up properly, these features manage the amount of storage you are using on your local device by moving most of your data to the cloud. You should audit your storage often to make sure you stay ahead of issues before they happen. 

4. Enable Cloud Backup 

Offloading your multimedia as I just discussed is one form of backup, but it is also important that you are running system backups so you don’t lose other kinds of data like contacts, text messages, stored files, and apps. You can set up your backup preferences in your device’s settings to ensure they are happening frequently and reliably. These backups should be running to a cloud service so that if you lose, damage, or otherwise replace your device, you can pick up right where you left off on the new device. Keep in mind, like the data itself, backups take up storage. While it is not a common issue, it is important to avoid running out of capacity in your cloud service to store system backups. 

5. Be Intentional About Contact/Calendar Sync 

Ever since we have been able to set up multiple different email accounts on our mobile devices, the ability to sync contacts and calendars has been a huge benefit but can also be a huge risk if it is not done properly. I have seen many people with a mess on their hands from a contact list that has taken years or decades to amass and has suddenly become inundated with extraneous or duplicate records, or else has been completely overwritten or cleared. With the proper backups in place, these issues are typically reversible, but not without a painful crash course in the ins and outs of calendar and contact sync. You can choose to keep separate contacts and calendars in your separate accounts, and you can certainly combine them and work off only one list. Whichever method you choose, be sure that the proper default account is selected (in your device’s settings) so that new records you create will go to the right place. The confusion here typically happens when concepts like separate accounts and default account are not well understood, so educate yourself on where your contacts and calendars live, and don’t be afraid to consult an expert if you need help. 


As more and more work is done remotely, following these strategies will enable your mobile devices to perform better and help you stay more organized. Keep in mind that if you or your employees are using your personal mobile devices to conduct work, there are crucial security practices that need to be implemented to keep your business and personal data secure. To learn more about this and our Managed IT and Security Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 Digital Hygiene Series:
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

A Guide for Selecting Your Next Cell Phone

With the wide variety of phones on the market today and new ones coming out every year, it can be challenging to choose the right phone for you. They all boast the best specifications, the longest battery life, or the fastest speeds. All this information can be overwhelming, making it challenging to know the best option. Considering today’s cell phones average about $1000 and most people use their phones for business and personal purposes, it is essential that we make our investments count.

So, what should you look for in your next phone? What qualities are important to consider? In today’s article, I will review some of the most common features and specifications to consider before purchasing your next phone. I will also be discussing how three of the most popular phones on the market today: the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy (S Series), and the Google Pixel compare when it comes to these various features.

Operating System

An operating system, or OS, is how the software interacts with the phone’s hardware. The two main ones that exist today are iOS and Android (an open-source Google OS). Because Android is open-source, meaning the information is publicly available, the experience you get across different phone providers using the same OS may differ as they may customize it for their hardware. This means that features may vary across devices. A good example of this is Samsung, which has customized features, like the Messages app. If you are messaging other Samsung users, the messages will be able to send over Wi-Fi instead of cellular, and you will be able to see when the messages were read. This is a Samsung exclusive feature for the Messaging app, despite using the Android OS. Android generally offers more customization to its users, while iOS favors consistency over customization.

As far as considering the Operating System when selecting your next phone, it is best to stick with what you are familiar with, especially if you are not tech-savvy. Switching to a different OS can cause a great deal of frustration when learning the ropes.


This refers to how much data the phone can hold, usually between 64 Gigabytes (GB) and 1 Terabyte (TB). There are two types of storage in modern phones, local storage and cloud storage. Local storage uses the space on the device to store data. This data is not backed up anywhere, so it is accessible only from that device, and if something happens to the phone, the data is gone forever. Data will need to be manually backed up to another device, such as a laptop. Cloud storage, however, lives on remote servers managed by the cloud provider and is accessible via the internet. This means that the data is available on any device that can access the web, and it is also backed up to the cloud. This is generally done via a paid subscription, though some services, like Google Cloud, offer a free option.

Deciding what type of storage you want to use will affect how much local storage you need on your phone. Apple has iCloud that automatically backs up the important data on your phone. Samsung has a similar service, as well as Google.

Both iPhones and Androids have about the same capacities available for their phones. They both also offer cloud services for a paid subscription. iCloud for iPhones has a 5GB free storage and then a paid subscription, while every Google account has a free 15GB free account, upgradeable to Google One, which can hold 100GB or more of data depending on which plan you choose.


When comparing camera quality across cell phones, it is important to understand the specifications used to describe them.

MP – stands for Megapixels, and one megapixel is equal to 1 million pixels. The more pixels you have in an image, the more information a picture can capture, generally leading to more detailed photos. The standard for good phone cameras now is 12 MP. 

Number of lenses – Most modern phones have two or three lenses on the camera for a more detailed image that relays the depth of an image or detects certain things better, such as recognizing faces or particular objects within an image. Today, most phone cameras also allow for things like text and QR codes to be scanned and copied by simply taking a picture of them.

Compression – For mobile devices, uploading images to certain websites, such as social media, will cause the image to be compressed to fit the file size requirement for images on that site. Instagram is the perfect example of this. In general, iPhone images are better at compressing while maintaining image quality than other phones’ images. This is likely due to using a different file type than other phones. Other phones can take pictures of similar or better quality; they may just not compress as well.

iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro, the latest Samsung flagships (Galaxy S21, Note 20), and the Google Pixel 6 Pro are pretty equal when it comes to camera quality. However, the features offered natively differ, such as filters and photo correction. iPhone again takes it when it comes to compression, though this is not a hard and fast rule.

Water Resistance – Many phones boast IP68 Water resistance, meaning a phone is fit to withstand dust and debris. This does NOT mean the phone is waterproof. In optimal conditions, the phone is resistant to being submerged in water (primarily freshwater) over 3 feet deep for up to 30 minutes before being damaged.


When purchasing phones for your family or business, collaboration is vital, and some phones are better when communicating between two of the same. In this regard, iPhones are unmatched for integration between all the Apple ecosystems, including the phones, tablets, Macs, and even smartwatches. The data you have on one device is accessible on all these devices, including text messages and emails, making it convenient to access important and time-sensitive data anywhere you may find yourself. Even in places with little to no cell service, iMessage (available ONLY in Apple-to-Apple communication) allows you to send messages provided you have a Wi-Fi connection. This isn’t natively available on Android phones as all messages are sent using SMS over the cellular network. iPhone is also better when it comes to group messages. On the other hand, Androids require them to be downloaded using your cellular data, even when connected to Wi-Fi. This means that if you are in an area with Wi-Fi and no cell service, you will not receive any text messages. 

Another collaboration feature that iPhone has is AirDrop, so rather than having to send a text or an email with a picture or file, it can be sent to phones that are physically close to each other. Because there are so many different flavors of Android depending on the manufacturer, there is not one collaboration service that is native across all of them. A way around this is using WhatsApp, which gives you access to many of the collaboration features of iMessage but requires a separate account.


In today’s virtual world, it is essential to consider security features when selecting any device that stores data, such as a cell phone. Most security features are available through the online services we use, such as MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) or 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication), which uses a secondary authentication method to confirm that it is indeed you who is trying to access your accounts. Some phones come with features where if the phone gets misplaced or stolen, they can track down the phone or even erase it remotely, so the data is not compromised. Some phones also have a feature that limits access to certain apps with sensitive data using the Face ID, Fingerprint, or passcode to the phone.

This feature is especially important for companies that deal with sensitive data, such as insurance agencies. Especially if you have cybersecurity compliance regulations that you must adhere to, it is essential to consider what personal mobile devices, if any, you will allow your employees to use for accessing company data.

Regardless of the phone, it is also vital to ensure that any files downloaded are from trustworthy sources and all apps are downloaded ONLY from the respective app stores.

iPhones have many features locking down the download of certain files from web browsers, installing apps from anywhere other than the app store, external access to the phone (wireless and USB), and even locating/erasing the phone if lost or stolen. This comes at the cost of customization, as you are very limited in what you can do to customize security features on the phone, such as the lock screen. iPhones also do not have fingerprint sensors, so you must use Face ID if you want to use anything other than a 6-digit pin.

On the other hand, Androids offer more customization depending on which phone you get. The modern Samsung flagships offer Face ID, fingerprints, pins, and patterns to unlock the phone. The Google Pixel 6 also has a fingerprint reader but does not feature Face ID as of the writing of this article. 

Life Expectancy and Cost

Each of the phones mentioned should last for at least two years without any significant issues in performance or quality, though the battery life will degrade over time. Most cell phones offer features that help improve the battery life even further, offering different performance modes to extend the battery life or improve performance. 

Apple phones generally last longer as their older phones can update to the newer versions of iOS for longer, though the performance takes a serious dive after 3-4 years. The tradeoff is that iPhones are expensive, even if you purchase one generation behind the newest. The iPhone 12 starts at $800, with only 64 GB of storage, and the camera isn’t as good. The iPhone 13 starts at $800 as well, again with only 64 GB of storage and worse camera quality.

The Samsung Galaxy S series can also last a good bit of time. I still have my Galaxy S10+, and it performs well, despite being almost three years old. The Galaxy S21 starts at $300 if you trade in an eligible phone or $800 with no trade-in. They also offer bulk prices for those purchasing for a company. The Google Pixel 6 is the most cost-effective on this list, starting at $600 for the base model and $900 for the Pro.

There are many other phones on the market worth considering, such as LG’s flagships and the OnePlus series of phones. Though not discussed in this article, the information provided should help you know what to look for in your next cell phone purchase.

Purchasing your Next Cell Phone

Taking the time to become familiar with common technical terms and features is essential to making an informed decision when you purchase your next cell phone. Equally important is to ensure that the phone you purchase has the features that meet your particular needs. For instance, someone who plans to use their phone primarily for personal communication will not have the same requirements as someone who wants to use their phone for professional photography. Additionally, if you plan on using your phone for business or work purposes, you will want to strongly consider security features.

I hope the information shared in this article will be valuable in helping you make the right decision on your next cell phone purchase. If you are a business leader and would like to learn more about mobile devices suitable for your company or are interested in how our Managed IT and Consulting Services can benefit your organization, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!

Shane Briscoe

Shane Briscoe

Tier One Technician
Kite Technology Group

adam atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud solutions architect

Adam is passionate about consulting with organizations across the country to help them develop and execute a cloud adoption strategy that meets their business needs and future objectives. Adam oversees and manages our company strategy for Microsoft 365 adoption and is responsible for future growth and development inside Microsoft 365 and other cloud technologies.