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12.30.16:Our Patent
In late 2016 the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded SafelyFiled patent # 9,497,173 with the very catchy title of "System for the Unified Organization, Secure Storage and Secure Retrieval of Digital and Paper Documents."
We filed the patent application in July 2012.  It took over 4 years for it to issue.  But we think it was worth the wait.
What Do We Do?
Not just a box, but a whole vaultFor those of you not familiar with SafelyFiled, it is a very secure, cloud-based document organization, sharing, storage and retrieval system designed to function not just as a virtual safe deposit box, but as an entire safe deposit vault.  You can put documents into one or more boxes and give keys to people you want.  You have complete control to move documents, give keys to the boxes, or take away keys.  Not only that, you can easily organize and find any document, and if the documents are in paper form (like a car title) you can set a reminder as to where the original is.
We are Unique
There are 4 functions that combined make SafelyFiled unique and, in our opinion, very useful and easy to use for a small business or a family.
First, we have the most sophisticated sharing functions in the industry.  You can share all your documents, share just one document, share all the documents in a folder (you create your own folders) or share all the documents in a folder, but cut out those you don't want to share.  And, if someone doesn't have access to a document, he or she can't even see that it's there.  To go back to the safe deposit vault analogy, if you gave your spouse access to all your files, he or she would walk into a vault with thousands of boxes in it.  But if you gave your brother access only to your mother's healthcare power of attorney, he would walk into a vault with only one box in it.
Second, your can set reminders.  Say you buy a hot water heater with a 6 year warranty.  You can scan in (or take a picture of and upload) the receipt and the warranty and set a text and/or an email reminder for 5 years and 10 months from now to check the heater.  And in 5 years and 10 months, your phone will buzz that morning or you'll get an mail saying, "Check that water heater.  The warranty is about to expire!"  Even better, you won't have to search for both the receipt and written warranty.  You'll have a copy right in your SafelyFiled account or a note as to where you stashed that paper warranty almost 6 years ago.
Third, the view in our user interface was designed to present all the information you need about a document on one page.  So, if you want to know on what day you uploaded something, or who else can see it, no need to click and change screens.  The info is right there, on the right side of the screen.  If you recorded where you filed the paper original or if you made some notes about the document, no need to search for the location or the notes; they will be on the screen, on the right side, along with any reminders you set or want to set.
Fourth, you can see all the activity on your account, down to the document level.  A couple of years ago my accountant called me to tell me that he had finished my taxes.  We had shared all my financial information securely through SafelyFiled.  When I went into the tax folder in my SafelyFiled account I noticed that he did not open up the spreadsheet that had my business deductions.  He freaked out slightly when I told him how I knew so quickly that he missed something, but in the end he was glad that I caught the oversight.  
No IT Experience Required
Another nice thing about SafelyFiled is that you don't need an IT expert to set it up and maintain it.  We have small business clients who use it for important legal and tax documents that they don't want their IT guy to have access to.  Some families use it for medical records, recipes or home videos.  And for those of you in the "sandwiched generation," coordinating care for an elderly parent with siblings around the world is a lot easier with SafelyFiled.
Please check us out.  If you would like a live demonstration, just click the button on the top right of this blog or send us an email and we'll schedule one.

Photo:  Copyright: ismagilov / 123RF Stock Photo
03.31.16:I Want To Revoke My "Do Not Resuscitate" Directive
This past week, I learned about the other side of "Do Not Resuscitate" directives.
The Background
An elderly relative of mine is 81 years old and not in good health.  Her bad health seems unfair because although she smoked when she was younger, she has always watched what she ate, was a very active and talented athlete and had (and still has) a positive outlook on life.  She's had some close encounters with death in the past few years, but 2016 has been particularly tough.  The main artery to her digestive system was blocked and when she ate, she often had very severe pains in her abdomen.  She had to be hospitalized.
Even with all the medication at the hospital, things got bad enough that she decided she could not live with the pain and agreed to angioplasty in her superior mesenteric artery.  Full anesthesia was not an option given her other medical conditions, so she opted for a local and twilight. Even with that precaution, she was aware that she might not survive the surgery.  But she wasn't ready to give up just yet.
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01.25.16:Two Ways Tax Scammers Might Target You

It’s that time of year — tax time. It’s also a great time to get up to speed on tax-related scams. Here are two ways tax scammers might target you and what you can do about it:
The following information is provided by the IRS.gov website in an effort to get the word out regarding tax identity theft which is drastically increasing every year.  Tax identity theftThis kind of identity theft happens when someone files a fake tax return using your personal information — like your Social Security number — to get a tax refund. Tax identity theft also happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a job. You find out about it when you get a letter from the IRS saying:
·      more than one tax return was filed in your name, or ·      IRS records show wages from an employer you don’t know
If you get a letter like this, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. You can find more about tax identity theft at ftc.gov/taxidtheft and irs.gov/identitytheft.
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01.22.16:Worst Passwords for 2015
SplashData just released its annual list of the most popular passwords of  2015. They took a look at the more than 2 million passwords that were leaked last year and analyzed the most commonly leaked passwords and those that were least secure. If you're curious to see if your password(s) made the list check out the list here: worst passwords for 2015.  
It appears that folks still are not using good passwords.  The most commonare still "123456" and "password". (Anyone want to admit they are in this group?) The report shows how common choices for passwords remain consistently risky. And if that were not bad enough, there is a high number of repeat userid and passwords for multiple sites.  
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01.15.16:I Still Have A Dream
Monday January 18th is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Wikipedia describes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. 
We celebrate this day in memory of his efforts for freedom and equal rights for all people. In his now famous speech "I have a dream"  Dr. King spoke of Abraham Lincoln, the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Declaration of Independence.  He follows that with a list of his dreams, dreams for equality, brotherhood and freedom.
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01.06.16:Cyberterrorism - You Are A Soft Target
Last month, it was reported that an Iranian hactavist group, SOBH Cyber Jihad, accessed the controls of a dam in upstate New York in 2013.

This cyber attack was supposedly in response to the "Stuxnet" virus used by the US and the Israelis to destroy the Iranian centrifuges that enrich uranium.  This Cyber Jihad attack was a shot across the bow, announcing that anyone, not just US or Israeli computer experts, can play this game.
This Is Serious
Cyber warfare is real and is being waged every day.  It's serious.  And it's not just government facilities that are being attacked.
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11.16.15:A Call of Digital Duty: Key Questions and Actions for Securing Your Own Files
Have you ever wondered about the value of a single document or digital asset to your work, your livelihood or even life? Maybe the file contains a contract or evidence to support a claim, a deed or last will and testament, an insurance policy, years of research, or a business plan. Perhaps interview notes from anonymous sources for an investigative article. Is the file worth protecting? Is it worth keeping confidential?
Stop Taking Security for Granted Because of Tech Convenience The marvels of technology make nearly every digital action we take more convenient. Yet, when it comes to security, “easier” can often mean lazier and an open door for attacks that could threaten your business. The same level of effort that went into creating your document or digital asset should also apply to how files are protected when they are stored, accessed and shared. And it’s not only a technical job. Time spent training users, changing behavior or bad habits, managing the process and monitoring compliance can fall on your shoulders.

A few years ago, TechRepublic ran a great article called “Chasing the elusive approval for an IT-security budget.” The piece talked about inherent and residual risks and how IT managers can make a business case to help non-tech management understand associated costs. The article also shed light on: “When is the cost of reducing risk more than the cost of having the risk occur?”
That reminds us about how digital risks, consequences and occurrences apply not only to enterprise IT but also more granularly to files and to every file creator or collaborator. While tech security is vast and complex, the answer regarding costs for reducing risk at the file level should never exceed costs of having the risk occur. Part of the solution is finding a security-equipped application to protect your files. And some of those costs equate to seeing how that application can complement work flow and get used regularly.

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11.10.15:Here's To The Rejects!
Driving on country roads in northern Illinois a couple of weeks ago, my wife remarked, as we passed the sparsely-placed farm houses, how lonely it must have been, many years ago, with no phones and no internet.
The area had been settled about 175 years ago and here we were, wondering what would compel someone to move to such a remote location to make a living.  The short answer, for probably most of them, was, "They had no choice."
Building a better world
For the most part, the United States was settled by people who were rejected by the their home
country.  Many were rejected because of the religion they practiced.  Others were rejected when they tried to get a job that paid enough to feed and shelter themselves or their families.  Still others, migrating from the eastern seaboard, saw the good land and jobs gobbled up by the wealthy and well-connected.  So, they were rejects.
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10.22.15:Beware of Digital Grave Digging: Guard Deceased Identities
Do you ever wonder how the deceased are able to receive social security checks,  vote or open new credit card accounts?  It's happening more and more.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, nearly 2.5 million deceased American's identity is stolen every year.   Although the deceased person isn't affected (of course) their survivors are.  Stolen identities can result in financial obligations that the surviving family is responsible for covering, or at a minimum, spending a lot of time and energy fighting.

So how are these identities stolen?
According to the ID Theft Center, Identity thieves obtain information about deceased individuals in
various ways.  They may watch the obituaries, steal death certificates, or even get the information from websites that offer the Social Security Death Index.  These web sites are supposed to be used for genealogy research but are sometimes used to steal identities.  It's not necessarily a stranger you have to worry about either. The ID Theft Center reports that as much as 30 percent of identity theft may be committed by a family member or friend! This scenario may be more likely if the deceased person suffered from lengthy illness, mental confusion, or if there is disagreement among family members prior to the death.


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10.14.15:An Epic Digital Scare: Prepare to Lose Your Laptop
I had a scare earlier this week at Epic Burger in Chicago that was not a result of food poisoning or poor service. Quite the opposite, in fact, occurred. While waiting for a late afternoon take-out order, I set my backpack in a nearby chair. After filling a drink from the self-serve fountain, I walked out of the restaurant without returning to the chair and backpack. Partially due to battling a migraine headache, I did not realize the bag was gone until late in the evening. Even more painful, inside the backpack was my laptop containing more than 10 years of data.

Digital Detachment
“Lost Laptop” Photo via FlickrThere is a feeling of free-fall vertigo that comes with a lost or stolen device. On my laptop were many local files related to work and my livelihood, personal matters and mementos, and graduate school. The cost of the laptop was one thing, but the value of the accumulated stored documents and assets was quite another.

After retracing steps, I concluded that the backpack and laptop had to be at the restaurant. Later that evening, I went to look at location and deactivation options through Apple. Unfortunately, their service is of little use for devices not connected to the Internet and not powered on. My login offered some prevention for unauthorized access but files inside were not encrypted. I thought about identity theft and someone pulling personal account information. Would I have to change all of my credit cards? I also envisioned someone wiping the serial number and data to sell the computer. I visited Epic Burger’s website where I found an after-hours service number to call, as well as email to contact the location.

Encrypted Precautions
Beware which files you save where!I did have the foresight to upload many of my critical files—closing documents to my house, passport and social security scans, tax returns, legal agreements, retirement and financial accounts, graduate school research and more—to rest encrypted in the cloud. For what I could still recover, I figured that file-wise I’d be ok. And the absence of clutter might even be cathartic. I also reminded myself that I did not use file synch applications for the vulnerabilities associated with this exact scenario. Losing a device that opens access to cloud storage through synchronization can put everything that you’ve stored there at risk.

Afterward, I pulled back and paused. In the scheme of things, the loss maybe wasn’t as big of a “fall” as I had made it out to be. Yes, losing a device such as a laptop was a big expense. Yes, I could be exposing my personal information. And yes, alerting bank and credit accounts, along with ID monitoring agencies was more than a hassle. Fortunately, I had already taken some precautions by storing important assets in the cloud (you can probably guess where) before this accident happened.

When Epic Burger opened the next morning, I contacted them. I described what the bag looked like and the first employee who answered said they did not have it. A second look from the manager, however, confirmed that they received my messages and had already placed the backpack in their office for safekeeping. I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked them for their honesty and diligence. In picking up the backpack, a simple thank you would not suffice, so I shared a nominal tip for doing such an honest deed.

Unexpected Outcomes
Learning from the experience I acknowledged that loss of laptops and devices happens—we are only human. I also decided that there are a few more files on my laptop that should be encrypted and put behind multi-factor authentication at-rest in the cloud, not on my laptop. Similarly, there are some files on my laptop that should not be saved there long-term at all. And passwords for both can always be longer, more unique and changed. The world can be an unforgiving place and we need to take steps to batten down the hatches, defend against data leakage, loss, misuse or worse. At the same time, even in the age of ubiquitous digital danger, let’s not lose sight of the “Epic” goodness that exists in humanity. Prepare for the worst, indeed, but do not stop appreciating or hoping for the best.





10.02.15:Help! A Dog Hit Me While My Waterskis Were On Fire!
Yesterday, the United States joined the rest of the world with its adoption of the International Classification of Disease codes, Revision 10.
Originally designed for statistical purposes, the ICD is now the de facto database organizing protocol for the US medical billing system.  Medicaid, Medicare and now all private insurers are transitioning to the new system. There is a one-year grace period.

How dangerous is this world, anyway?
This change is very important, and even before it is in full use, it provides some important insight into the dangers we face.  So as a public service, we at SafelyFiled want you to know some of the potential dangers you face.  We didn't make these up.  The ICD must actually consider these a risk, otherwise there would be no code for them.
For example, you could be injured and if your injuries were coded as V54.1XXA and V91.07XA, it was because you were struck by a dog and burned while on water skis.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at these screenshots below.  My questions are, "How did the dog hit you?  Did he jump out of the boat?  And what did you use to get your skis to burn?"
































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