What to Do If Your SMB Gets Hacked
In a world where much of everyday business takes place online, no company can remain truly free from cybersecurity threats. These virtual attacks do not stop in seemingly more lucrative multinational conglomerates–in fact, studies have shown that SMBs can be more vulnerable to attacks due to the lack of a strong IT infrastructure, with around 43% of SMBs being the victim of cyber attacks, and a whopping 61% of SMBs falling prey in 2021. In the face of such a threat, even if your business isn’t suffering from a cybersecurity threat at the moment, it is hugely beneficial to be equipped with the knowledge of what to do in such events.
Let these steps guide you in a cybersecurity attack
Previously, we have covered detailed content on measures to take to strengthen your business’ digital perimeters in a world rampant with cyber insecurities. If you truly find yourself in the predicament of an actual cybersecurity attack, here are some immediate measures to take:
1. Isolate all affected systems
Cyberattacks may start regionally in your business’ IT system and then spread further to freeze the entire system. As such, preventing the malware from spreading is key. Disconnect any compromised devices from the network immediately before further damage is done.
2. Contact IT professionals immediately
Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and it often takes proper, specialist IT training to diagnose, address, and terminate an attack. Gather experts in your IT team who may be knowledgeable of such events; if you do not have an in-house tech team or do not have employees within your business who can adequately manage cyberattacks, contact verified external experts (try to have a list of trusted contacts ready even when not under attack). Immediacy is key: cybercriminals can exploit a business’ vulnerability in a matter of just seconds, and they can compromise enterprises in a sheer few minutes. Cybercriminals also take advantage of holiday seasons to make moves, catching business owners off-guard. As such, it is necessary to stay alert all-year round.
3. Keep all helpful evidence of the attack
In the heat of panic during a cyberattack, it may be instinctive to delete everything. Remember that doing so would make it difficult to compile evidence when reporting criminal activity, and would render it challenging to determine the cause of the data breach. Therefore, do not dispose of any logs or data that may be key in a later investigation.
4. Make changes to system credentials
To protect your data and avoid further damage, it is mandatory to change IT credentials as quickly as possible. Bear in mind to reset passwords across all systems, and crucially, ensure that the two-factor authentication is enabled and functioning.
In the next phase, communicate and report the incident
After taking the above steps, when the incident has cooled down, communicate and report the cyberattack. Multiple parties should be kept in the loop, including:
1. Local and/or national authorities
Contact your local or national cybercrime unit for investigation, preparing all evidence and details needed before doing so. Sometimes more than one organization is affected under the hands of the same cybercriminals, so swift action can be beneficial. Keep in mind your regional compliance rules when it comes to reporting data breaches.
All employees of the business must also be aware of the cyberattack. Subsequent steps for them must be clear and employees should be encouraged to speak up should they have observed any key information or know anything about the attack.
3. Stakeholders and partners
Stakeholders have a financial interest in the business and any major event or action must be reported truthfully and thoroughly. While it may be difficult to communicate the news of a cyberattack, transparency is key; failure to do so would lead to unwanted reputational damage on top of the already tangible cybersecurity issue.
Remember that reporting cyberattacks is often a legal requirement, especially if sensitive information on clients has been compromised. In the USA for example, some entities are obligated to inform the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of any cyber and ransomware attacks. Crucially, this has to be reported within 72 hours from the time that the attack was suspected to happen.
Then, assess and rectify cyber damage
1. Determine the level of cyber damage
Before fully going back to business, there is a need to determine the extent of the cyberattack and what exact data has been compromised. What data was accessed and what others were stolen? What can be done in relation to the loss? Conduct an analysis of the vulnerability that was exploited and what cyberattack implies for the business going forward.
2. Patch and secure
The next step would be to patch and secure–that is, ensure everything work-related– software applications and systems, are well updated. Once the root of the data breach is identified, reflect and try to close the vulnerability in hopes of preventing similar attacks going forward.
3. Backup and restore work files
Files contain data that lie at the heart of the business, and they need to be backed regularly to prevent any potential loss from cyberattacks. To do this strategically, restore systems using the most recent clean backup and also remind employees to develop the habit of checking file backups.
Finally, reflect further and invest in the prevention of future cyberattacks
1. Ensure thorough cybersecurity training is in place
In many cases, cybersecurity happens as a result of negligence. The safety of a business would be more robust if all employees, regardless of their roles, were aware of the many forms that cybersecurity can take, steps to prevent a cyber attack, and what to do in the event of one. It is therefore key for employees to undergo rigid training on cybersecurity. Effective training is not easy to develop, however, so it is crucial to design a memorable program that would make a lasting impression in terms of steps to take.
2. Invest appropriate funds in security
While seemingly costly, cybersecurity is not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have for businesses. Here are some good tools to get started:
* Security Information and information and event management (SIEM) technology software– this can monitor real-time security alerts and manage incidents
* Antivirus software and firewalls
* Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems (IDS & IPS)
* Encryption tools
* Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
* Acer Secured-Core PCs
In addition to having this basic toolkit, be sure to engage with regular security audits and cybersecurity assessments, and stay alert at all times.
Your business's cybersecurity: Be proactive, but still be prepared for the worst with Acer’s Secured-Core PC laptops
Cyberattacks are costly and businesses cannot afford for them to happen– they incur financial loss, heavily disrupt operations, cause intellectual property loss, and even may cost a business its hard-earned reputation. It is not enough to only be proactive– the worst can happen even to the most careful of businesses. Here at Acer Corner, we have already introduced seven cybersecurity tools to avoid falling prey to cyberattacks in times of peace, but for sustainability, businesses still have to be well-equipped for the unexpected.
Although there isn’t a single, omnipotent device that can ward off all cyber attacks, there is good reason to trust Acer’s thoughtfully designed secured-core PC laptops. Acer’s secured-core PCs show good promise in giving multiple layers of protection from cyber attacks. Firstly, their hardware-based security features can play a considerable role in blocking out cybercrime attempts; using secure chips that can protect encryption keys, sensitive and critical data are in safe hands. These PCs also come with features that safeguard the firmware: the UEFI Secure Boot ensures that only trusted software can be loaded when a device starts, and the Measured Boot looks out for any tampering of firmware. Crucially, its Dynamic Root of Trust measurement can ensure that a device is in a secure state before it gains access to any sensitive data.
Fortifying your business’ cyber safety even further, these Acer secured-core PCs also come with Acer ProShield Plus– a built-in application that protects devices against unauthorized access, supported exclusively on Acer devices. A separate software suite with other useful cyber security services can also be found with Acer ProShield Plus Service in the Microsoft Store. Coming with strong compliance with HIPAA and GDPR data protection regulations, your business can also count on Acer’s secured-core PCs to be in good hands when it comes to cyber law.
Reliable and critically built with advanced technology, Acer’s secured-core PCs are designed to help your business navigate today’s complex cybersecurity landscape. The safety of your business is uncompromisable, so explore today what this series of devices can do to protect the cyber integrity of your business.
How to Protect Your Work Device in Public Spaces
Fueled by globalization and the rise of the internet, the world is more connected than ever before. Global organizations spanning cities and countries work seamlessly using technology to support working beyond borders. Remote work options are also increasingly popular, with many company bosses realizing they can trust their employees to work remotely from anywhere, dramatically cutting down the costs of running a physical office. In the 90s, remote work options were almost unheard of. Fast forward around 30 years and remote workers account for about 40% of the global workforce. With rapid technological advances and an acceptance of remote working, this is due to rise further in years to come.
Moreover, the rising trend of mobile workforces, such as independent contractors, field service technicians, or consultants, who are not tied to a specific workplace is also fueling the need to work on the go. Mobile workforces, or the deskless workforce, comprise around 2.7 billion people worldwide. They have unique needs and uses for technology and require durable machines that support their working lifestyle and the risks associated with using work devices in public spaces. Using questionable public WiFi options or implementing weak security provisions can leave laptops susceptible to hacking or data theft that can negatively impact companies and mobile workers.
Understanding the risks of using work devices in public spaces
Working from a coffee shop or library can provide a much-needed change of scenery. However, using work devices in public spaces can be risky for various reasons.
1. Physical theft
Leaving laptops or technical devices unattended, even just for a few seconds, can result in physical theft. We never know when and where professional criminals or one-off opportunists may be lurking. Along with taking physical devices, thieves also take sensitive files and company data along with them, which can put companies at risk. Although packing up a laptop or device every time we need a bathroom break or take a quick phone call can be troublesome, it is crucial to avoid falling victim to theft.
2. Visual hacking
Visual hacking is unlawfully taking someone else’s information by spying on their screen. Confidential information is everywhere — and so are potential peeping Toms. Visual hacking may occur because of employee negligence or lack of awareness about this type of low-tech method. All it takes is for thieves to set eyes on one piece of sensitive information to access work emails or compromise company accounts.
3. Unauthorized network access
Unauthorized network access is where criminals access networks, systems, or data without permission. This kind of attack can have catastrophic consequences for companies, especially if financial or secret information is hacked and stolen. Such data breaches take an average of 207 days to identify and 70 days to contain, giving hackers ample time to wreak havoc. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD $4.45 million, jumping 15% over the past three years, and causing unimaginable financial damage to organizations.
Malware attacks describe malicious software designed to damage a computer, server, or network. These vicious attacks can go undetected while hackers steal sensitive personal and company data. Some malware attacks, like so-called evil maid attacks, occur when devices are left unattended and describe hackers installing viruses that redirect account credentials and passwords back to themselves. Whether hackers inject malware into devices through viruses or other methods, the aim is almost always to steal sensitive or incriminating data to hurt others.
Physical security measures
Now we know about potential security risks when working in public spaces, what can we do about them? Although we cannot prevent criminals from stealing things, we can implement steps to protect ourselves and our devices.
1. Locking devices
Putting something under lock and key is a traditional but effective method of keeping things safe. Laptop locks prevent devices from being stolen by securing them to a specific area. One end of the lock slides into a device’s lock slot, while the other wraps around an immovable object like a table leg or a pillar. Laptop locks are perhaps visually unappealing but provide a strong deterrent for potential thieves. Acer TravelMate laptops come with a Kensington™ lock connection, allowing users to safely secure laptops to a solid object.
2. Visibility and awareness
Keeping devices in view at all times may seem like obvious advice, but it can be tempting to leave them unattended for just a few minutes while we take a bathroom break or go to collect a drink at a coffee shop counter. However, the risk of device theft really is not worth it, and it is advisable to always keep items in view. Being vigilant and avoiding hanging laptop bags on the back of a chair also prevents chance thieves from sneaking devices when our backs are literally turned. Preparing for the worst-case scenario helps us be aware of and protect ourselves from potential dangers.
3. Secure storage
Traveling for work can be exciting and exhausting, but that is no excuse for sloppy laptop security. Laptops and other devices should be safely secured when not in use to prevent theft from hotel rooms or company conference rooms. For example, putting tech devices in a hotel room safe is a great way to keep items secure while outside.
Digital security practices
Alongside physical security measures, there are also various digital security practices we can take to protect our work devices in public spaces.
1. Strong authentication
Authentication means ensuring that only specific users can access company information and resources. It is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity as hackers are fixated on gaining access to sensitive company systems and data. Authentication protects systems, data, networks, websites, and other applications from attacks. However, weak authentication processes may not adequately safeguard devices, leading to data breaches or the installation of malware.
Passwords are the most commonly used form of authentication. A strong password that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters is more difficult for cybercriminals to guess. Many devices now facilitate biometric authentication using biological features like a face or fingerprint scan. To prevent phishing attacks, Acer TravelMate devices allow users to log in using a combination of biometrics sensors and credentials like a strong password for ultimate security.
Data encryption is a crucial step in safeguarding personal information. It is the process of transforming regular information into an illegible script known as encoded ciphertext, which cannot be understood by unauthorized parties. Users with a unique access key can decrypt data, reverting it to its original legible form. This provides an additional and robust layer of security and ensures that sensitive data is inaccessible to unauthorized users. Acer TravelMate laptops provide full disk encryption capabilities, offering additional data security.
3. Regular updates
Regularly updating operating systems and applications fixes bugs and protects software and operating systems against vulnerabilities. Hackers and cybercriminals take advantage of such vulnerabilities and exploit them to steal data or gain control of computers. Performing regular updates and properly rebooting computers can fix errors and shield devices from potential cyber-attacks.
Connecting to unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi may be convenient, but it can be risky. While coffee shops, airports, and train station bosses may think they are providing convenience to users, unsecured networks are a field day for cybercriminals.
1. Secure Wi-Fi practices
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks can leave users vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks. Cybercriminals can use Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing tactics which include purchasing devices to facilitate eavesdropping on Wi-Fi signals to view everything we are doing online. They may be able to see our recently viewed web pages and even information we have entered online, allowing them to steal sensitive credentials or login details. When using public Wi-Fi, it is better to avoid entering personal information and only use secure URL addresses beginning with HTTP or HTTPS. Websites with HTTP addresses are often unsecured, meaning our personal data may be visible to others.
2. Use a VPN
A staggering 80% of data breaches involve information stored on the cloud. However, employees or remote workers may have no choice but to access company information and cloud storage on public Wi-Fi connections when on the go. Virtual Private Networks, known as VPNs, are a handy way to reduce security risks. VPNs add an extra layer of protection by keeping IP addresses hidden while encrypting information. The Acer Connect ENDURO M3 5G offers SIM-free network connections with robust authentication and cryptographic strength, and built-in VPN functionality for maximum protection.
When protecting our work devices in public spaces, we should also consider implementing privacy practices to minimize the chances of prying eyes.
1. Screen privacy
Shoulder surfing occurs when attackers can view device screens and obtain sensitive information. Such attacks may be as simple as sneakily standing behind unsuspecting victims or using optical devices such as small video recorders to obtain data. Investing in a privacy screen protector helps prevent visual hacking attacks. Moreover, the Acer TravelMate’s optional privacy panel protects screens by obscuring angles beyond 90 degrees, safeguarding sensitive data from shoulder surfers.
2. Sound awareness
Aside from visual awareness, we must also be aware of discussing sensitive information in public places. Reading out private data or company passwords is an absolute no-go. If discussing such information is absolutely necessary, workers should use privacy-focused earbuds or headsets to minimize the risk of eavesdroppers.
Training and policies
Adequate staff training is vital for workers to understand the importance of implementing security practices. If workers do not know how to protect themselves and their data, they may fall victim to cyber-attacks that compromise sensitive data. Bosses can keep employees abreast of cybersecurity measures by sending regular informative emails and holding training days. Moreover, companies should develop clear policies regarding the use of devices in public spaces to minimize risks of avoidable data leaks.
Using work devices in public spaces is risky and can leave users susceptible to hacking attacks. Workers should be mindful when discussing personal or company information and never leave devices unattended in public areas. Cyber attacks may not be a result of malware or other viruses but because of visual attacks or shoulder surfing. As such, workers need to be aware of the different types of cybersecurity and how to protect themselves through training and policies. Investing in accessories such as screen protectors or privacy-focused earbuds can keep us safe from data leaks. Moreover, the Acer TravelMate incorporates a plethora of security features, making it a suitable choice for professionals on the move.
How Esports Prepares Students for the Future
Esports is competitive video gaming played at a professional level. While playing video games has historically been viewed as a leisure activity, modern competitive gaming shares many similarities with traditional sports like football. International leagues, highly paid teams, fans, as well as lucrative sponsorships are all features of the esports (electronic sports) scene today. Esports is a great platform to help students develop skills for their future. From education to socialization, and career opportunities, the diverse benefits of esports make it something that schools need to consider for holistic student development and future preparedness.
What is esports?
With its origins in late 70s arcade gaming, esports is now predominantly PC based. Esports players are highly trained game playing athletes, often specializing in a specific video game title. These titles include video games that are popular with the game playing public, creating a huge fanbase for competitive esports. Media coverage, coaches, team identity and branding, as well as dedicated training facilities are all integral to the contemporary esports landscape.
Since the 80s, consoles and PCs have made video games available to children in their homes, 24/7. Due to the sedentary nature of gaming, as well as the questionable content and benefits of playing video games, many children have been chastised along the lines of, “You’re never going to get paid for sitting on the couch playing video games.”
Now might be a good time for parents and educators alike to adjust their preconceptions regarding video games. In this article we will discuss the role of esports in education and how esports can help to increase students’ academic performance, as well as encourage socialization and emotional well-being. Furthermore, esports can equip students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills that are in ever increasing demand in the digital economy.
To better understand the role of esports in schools today, let’s first briefly cover its history and growth. While esports may seem like a recent arrival, it has actually been around for a while. The first Spacewar video game tournament was held at Stanford in 1972, and since then, esports has evolved into a global phenomenon.
Jumping forward to 1980, Atari’s National Space Invaders Championship attracted over 10,000 competitors, crowning Rebecca Ann Heineman (née William Salvador Heineman) as the first national video game champion. Early 1990s esports competitions included the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, where players competed at Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. As the 90s progressed, increased accessibility to cheaper, more powerful computer hardware as well as the explosion of the internet provided platforms where gamers could compete. Esports classics including Counter-Strike (1999) originated during this fertile period in network gaming. Widespread availability of powerful PCs and fast internet access has helped the global popularity of esports to soar in recent decades, greatly contributing to the ongoing growth of the industry.
Growth of esports today
The global esports market is projected to grow from $1.45 billion in 2022 to $1.72 billion this year. Aside from its economic force, esports also plays an important role in connecting players, fans and the esports community worldwide. The dynamic esports viewing environment includes social media interactions, live chats and VR (virtual reality) experiences. The broadcast, competitive nature of esports encourages the development of digital literacy among professional players and fans alike. This in turn has created career opportunities within the burgeoning esports field, from content creators to commentators. On top of this, esports showcases technological innovations, influencing the wider digital landscape and bringing gaming and esports into mainstream culture.
Video games and trends come and go, but looking at this list of the most popular esports games by viewership, there are several titles that have endured the sands of time, adapting and innovating over the years. Esports games at the top of the roster include League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Valorant, and Dota 2.
Esports vs. traditional gaming
While many parents, educators and people in positions of responsibility may still frown upon gaming, the truth is that gaming tournaments and esports in general can actually enhance students’ academic performance.
Firstly, at-home gaming is what springs to mind for many non-gamers when they hear the word esports. Home gaming is the activity of playing video games in the comfort of your home, in contrast to public gaming in esports areas or arcades. While many esports competitors do compete from home, organized esports competitions are big events held in large arenas, with multiple large screens, audience and commentators. Tournaments and peer connections are a stand out feature of esports: students compete alongside team members both virtually and in person. Their teammates and competitors could be in the same classroom, or on the other side of the world.
Many educational institutions now recognize the benefits of esports in schools. High school and collegiate esports programs provide gaming education to students, who then represent their schools in competition. Beyond competition, esports can also be integrated into the wider curriculum. By incorporating gaming into STEM classes, subject specific skills, as well as teamwork and leadership skills can all be nurtured through esports in the school setting. In order to organize and host competitions for the ever increasing number of schools with esports teams, several gaming organizations have been established. The main high school and college esports gaming organizations are the High School Esports League (HSEL) and National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Academic and personal development through esports
Esports aren’t easy. They stimulate students’ cognitive abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and strategic planning. These are transferable skills required by learners, the future employees in the digital landscape of the 21st century. Team based esports require players to strategize and cooperate as a seamless unit, this can help students to develop teamwork and leadership skills, applicable in academic and professional settings. Communication is also a key part of successful esports campaigns, both during the heat of the game, and after the arena is closed. Sportsmanship is another skill that can only be learned through experience, and esports tournaments are a place where players quickly learn to celebrate success with humility and accept defeat with dignity.
Schools with esports programs also reap the rewards of social and emotional benefits. Esports creates a sense of community and belonging by helping individual students with a passion for gaming to connect with like-minded peers. Teenagers and college students alike benefit greatly from positive mentors and role models: esports facilitates these personal connections across various game titles and interests. Esports tournaments operate on a local and global scale, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, countries and cultures. Unlike traditional track and field sports, esports players’ shared passion for gaming overcomes gender and age barriers as well as physical limitations.
Players and parents take note! Gaming in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle is the key to reaping the benefits we have discussed above. Excessive gaming and esports can negate most, if not all of the advantages, resulting in decreased academic performance, and even antisocial behavior.
Career opportunities in the booming esports industry
There are many esports career pathways available in the industry, from professional players to behind the scenes developers and streamers. First, let's look at educational pathways through esports. Esports tournaments offer significant scholarships and an increasing number of universities recruit students to participate on their esports teams. HSEL alone has distributed over $600,000 in scholarships, and hundreds of colleges and universities across America now offer esports scholarships to promising players. The time is now for aspiring student gamers to follow both their gaming and educational dreams.
Beyond college, esports helps students develop STEM skills that are highly sought after in today’s digital economy. By exploring STEM concepts, students holistically gain confidence with digital technology. In line with their interest in esports, pursuits such as keeping up to date with computers can stretch as far as learning about building computers, and even video game programming. STEM skills aside, esports educate students to think critically, approach problem solving creatively, and use information in innovative ways. Esports requires teamwork, collaboration and effective strategizing, all skills valued by employers worldwide. These soft skills and professional skills can open doors in many fields, from technology to catering.
Many student athletes aspire to play in the NFL, or MLB but in reality, few do. Similarly in esports, for many players, the ultimate goal is to compete professionally at Super Smash Brothers, or League of Legends. While not everyone will be the next Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, there are many other rewarding career opportunities in the esports industry. Like traditional sports, esports needs coaches, team managers, as well as broadcasters and journalists, and streamers. Esports event organizers, hosts and marketing and video game development are also crucial roles in the swiftly growing industry.
The importance of the right equipment in esports
For amateur and professional gamers alike, access to specialized gaming PCs can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Regular PCs are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of general-purpose computing tasks. Perfectly suitable for everyday work tasks, most regular PCs feature integrated graphics, standard CPUs as well as sufficient RAM for multitasking. These regular PCs, however, may not suffice when it comes to the requirements of modern gaming.
Gaming PCs feature dedicated graphics cards to consistently render high quality graphics, and higher end CPUs to process the large scale, intricate environments of modern games. To ensure smooth, glitch free gameplay, gaming PCs feature larger amounts of RAM, as well as SSD storage to reduce loading time. During esports events, one small glitch, lag in gameplay, or faulty controller can result in competition loss, at no fault of the player. Reputation and confidence aside, cash prizes can also be at stake in the higher echelons of competitive esports. Having the right equipment is crucial to a successful esports program.
Many schools simply don’t have the budget to splash out on gaming PCs, monitors, keyboards and controllers. Starting from the ground up, budget conscious esports programs may choose to opt for refurbished gaming PCs. These are pre-owned PCs that have been professionally refurbished, offering gaming performance at a fraction of the cost of new hardware, while reducing electronic waste.
Acer’s gaming devices
Acer, the official sponsor of the Intel Extreme Masters esports tournament, the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world, currently has two gaming product lines for esports: Acer Nitro and Acer Predator. These lines both offer gaming laptops as well as monitors, desktops and peripherals. The Nitro series offers high performance at a reasonable price, while Predator offers premium technology designed to provide exceptional gaming experiences.
First launched in 2017, Acer Nitro is a series of budget gaming computers for gamers who demand high-performance machines at an approachable price point. The Nitro series includes desktops, laptops, monitors, and other accessories and competes with other midrange computers. Acer also has a wide range of gaming monitors and a desktop machine under the Nitro brand.
Nitro devices are priced in the mainstream range and Predator devices are in the premium range. Acer Nitro provides a decent balance between price and performance, while Acer Predator offers pro-level gaming performance and superior technology. Curious which of these lines suits your school’s gaming needs? Find out more in this deep dive into the differences between the Nitro and Predator ranges.
Today’s booming esports industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market, forecast for further growth. Much more than just playing games, esports has an important role to play in preparing students for their future. Students have a unique opportunity to get involved with esports, which can benefit their cognitive abilities, and foster teamwork and leadership skills. What’s more, the borderless, international esports community connects players regardless of location, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, and overcoming barriers of gender, race and age.
Esports offers various career pathways, including significant scholarships and chances to represent colleges in esports events. STEM skills that esports helps to develop are crucial in the increasingly digital economy. Esports are also a key part of holistic student development as well as future preparedness. Gaming really can open doors to a range of potential careers.
To ensure optimal performance, access to specialized gaming PCs is crucial for esports players of all levels. From refurbished gaming PCs to laptops in the Acer Nitro and Predator range, the right gaming PC provides students with a solid foundation to hone their esports skills on.
Mastering AI Tools: Leveraging Copilot for Modern Education
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the ways we live and work, but is it also impacting the way we learn? Coding lessons via Minecraft Education, and other classroom-based technology, AI and education go hand-in-hand to enhance the learning experience for students. Chatbots like ChatGPT have revolutionized the way we communicate and acquire data. From verse in the style of Shakespeare to dating advice and answering test questions, users can receive synthesized online data from various sources by entering a few simple prompts. With AI in education, teachers can streamline their lesson plans and create more interesting and appealing class content. Likewise, young learners can utilize AI to enhance the learning process and gain a better understanding of complex topics.
The evolution of chatbots in education
From business to education, the possibilities of AI functions are endless. AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT enable natural communication between humans and machines through a series of learning algorithms that are trained to give lifelike responses. Chatbots are pre-trained on vast amounts of data about various topics so they can accurately respond to most questions or prompts. Although these tools are relatively new, they are securing a place in our regular daily lives.
The new Copilot search engine has an integrated AI-powered Copilot Chat function, helping users achieve more accurate, insightful, and interactive search results. Using GPT-4, a large multimodal model from OpenAI, Copilot lets users choose their preferred conversation style depending on their needs. GPT-4 displays human-like performance on professional and academic topics, making it a powerful artificial intelligence application in education. For example, GPT-4 passed a simulated bar exam and achieved a score within the top 10% of test takers. By incorporating GPT-4, Copilot is a powerful and thought-provoking AI assistant with unlimited classroom applications.
However, there is a debate regarding academic integrity and AI tools, particularly chatbots, that can produce topic-specific assignments and solve complex problems within just a few seconds. Some schools have even blocked the use of AI technology altogether. AI tools should not replace academic learning but act as an assistant that can help brainstorm ideas. Information produced by AI tools can provide a reference for academic aid, but users should be wary of completely relying on its accuracy. When used as an assistant, AI tools like Copilot can help with studying, writing, and research, just like websites and online tools already do. It cannot replace human thinking and creativity but can give us ideas for expansion.
The potential of Copilot in education
Copilot is a powerful learning assistant designed to support students and prepare them for their future careers. Embracing AI gives students a head start as many businesses are now adopting AI tools such as Microsoft 365 with Copilot.
Rather than encouraging reliance, Copilot is an assistant that cultivates critical thinking. By learning how to incorporate Copilot into classroom education and teaching, educators can embrace AI technology to enhance the learning experience. Of course, chatbot users should verify AI-generated content to ensure the accuracy and relevance of data. Furthermore, students should cite Copilot as a source if they use it as an assistant for academic work.
How to use Copilot in the classroom
Microsoft’s Copilot is one of the many examples of artificial intelligence in education. It can be used as a tutor or persona to take on specific roles such as a debate partner or a school professor. This helps students expand upon and consider their ideas from various perspectives, enhancing critical thinking skills. Furthermore, it can generate quizzes, exams, and lesson plans to assist students and teachers with class preparation. It also helps teachers create modern and culturally relevant materials to keep students engaged while learning.
The tool can also assist non-English speakers with their language learning. As many students speak other languages outside of the classroom, a learning tool to support conversation and writing skills is invaluable. Moreover, Copilot also acts as a translator, helping non-English speakers improve their understanding of class content, including tricky grammar rules and vocabulary.
Expanding the role of Copilot in teaching and learning
Microsoft’s Copilot is a versatile tool that boosts productivity and efficiency for teachers and students. It can be used to create educational materials like class notes, summaries, and study guides, reducing the workload for teachers while maintaining access to consistent and high-quality resources. Copilot can also help faculty members produce fascinating and academically stimulating debate prompts, questions, and debate topics, forming online or forum discussion topics designed to enhance the critical thinking ability of students.
Copilot provides personalized feedback to students on assignments, projects, and exams. The tool’s natural language processing capabilities let students receive lifelike feedback that can help further advance their studies. Moreover, Copilot facilitates peer learning by producing questions or scenarios for students to elaborate on and discuss. This promotes teamwork and joint problem-solving, helping to prepare students for the working world.
Copilot and modern educational tools
Copilot is an AI-powered chat service created for organizations and schools. It encourages students and workers to be more creative and efficient in their tasks and allows them to quickly generate content, summarize documents, and learn new skills. It can even teach coding and other complex topics. Most importantly, Copilot ensures data security and will not leak user, school, or business data outside the organization. As information is not saved, security-conscious companies can rest assured knowing that Copilot advocates advanced data protection. Copilot can create graphs, charts, and images, along with data specifications and pricing.
Acer’s range of TravelMate laptops supports Windows 11 Pro, which boosts efficiency. Data security is a huge concern for us all and is taken seriously by Microsoft and Acer. Both Copilot and Acer TravelMate laptops promote data security with features like data encryption and biometric authentication.
Furthermore, TravelMate laptops are equipped with powerful processors and HD webcams to ensure video calls and online classes go smoothly. Copilot integrates with TravelMate laptops to support educational institutions as a learning tool to help students with complex topics, generate content, and analyze data. They are also lightweight and durable so students can use them easily on the go.
With tools like Copilot, AI for educators is here to stay. AI has earned its place in modern education and is a useful tool for productivity and efficiency. By creating personalized lesson plans, materials, and quizzes, teachers can focus less on ad-hoc tasks and more on providing a quality learning experience for students. Technology can help teachers remain current and modern while delivering classes in ways that are relevant for today’s young learners. When used correctly, AI is to be embraced and not feared, and teachers can embrace and master these tools to create a more dynamic and effective learning experience. Moreover, with consistent access to quality data resources, students can use AI tools to enhance their learning experience. Acer’s range of TravelMate laptops supports teachers and students in their AI journeys, offering fast processors and various features to boost productivity. The future of AI education is now, and the best is yet to come.
10 Best Destination Dupes for Digital Nomads
Have you heard of the term “destination dupe”? One of the hottest buzzwords in travel currently, the dupe trend has become a huge hit on TikTok. But what exactly is a “destination dupe”?
For the uninitiated, “dupe” stands for “duplicate,” and the idea is to provide an alternative travel option for a specific city. Essentially, this trend assumes that instead of going to city A, you can have a similar experience in city B with fewer crowds and a lower budget. While no two places are the same, two different locations can provide similar attractions like beaches, a growing tech scene, or abundant cultural amenities.
In this article, we’ll present ten different “destination dupes” and explain why the alternative travel option could be a better choice for digital nomads.
10 Best Destination Dupes
1. Instead of Bali, Indonesia, try Da Nang, Vietnam
It’s undeniable that Bali is a more popular destination compared to Da Nang. The lure of the place is even captured in the novel and movie Eat Pray Love, where a woman travels to Bali to find some sort of spiritual peace. Although that image of Bali as a holy, pristine place is still alive and well today, the throngs of tourists may obstruct your view of the most important sites.
If you want a similar experience to Bali that’s a bit more off the beaten path, try Da Nang. Da Nang is a seaside town with a vibrant cultural history, providing all of the beachside relaxation and cultural exploration that Bali is known for. In addition, its growing digital nomad community means you’ll be able to strike a balance between feeling at home and integrating with the local community.
2. Instead of Lisbon, Portugal, try Tbilisi, Georgia
The Portuguese capital has become a digital nomad hub of sorts in recent years. Sometimes compared to San Francisco with its mountainous urban landscape and iconic cable car system, Lisbon’s charms have attracted many remote workers to sojourn in the city.
Lisbon has recently suffered from the consequences of its own success, however: with a housing crisis that led the government to discontinue its Golden Visa program, digital nomads are looking for a similar alternative.
Tbilisi, Georgia might just be the cure. Tbilisi is rich in quaintly beautiful architecture and authentic cultural experiences while being easy on the wallet. With its digital nomad community growing, Tbilisi should be high on any digital nomad’s list.
3. Instead of Berlin, Germany, try Krakow, Poland
Berlin is famous (some might say infamous) for its eclectic cultural scene and nightlife. Formerly the city split in half by the Berlin Wall, it’s now turned into a playground for techno lovers and indie artists.
Krakow, Poland offers a similarly lively cultural scene that rivals that of Berlin. With attractions like the world-class Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow and the Wawel Cathedral, Krakow offers a wide variety of cultural amenities to take advantage of as a digital nomad. If you like Berlin but want something a little more unique, Krakow could be for you.
4. Instead of Chiang Mai, Thailand, try Medellín, Colombia
Thailand is a common choice for both tourists and digital nomads alike, and it’s not hard to see why: Thailand is where exquisite temples meet modern shopping malls and delicious street food. Chiang Mai in particular is a thriving digital nomad hub, with a wide selection of cafés and leisure spots to meet digital workers’ needs.
If you want a similar experience but would rather brush up on your Spanish, Medellín might be the place for you. It boasts a low cost of living and a sizable community of digital nomads who are attracted by the pleasant climate in the “City of Eternal Spring.”
5. Instead of Barcelona, Spain, try Valencia, Spain
Barcelona is an iconic city filled with awe-inspiring sights, including the in-progress Sagrada Família, the whimsical Park Güell and much more. It seems that everywhere you turn in the city, you happen upon another Gaudí masterpiece blended seamlessly into the urban environment around it.
Though the Catalonian capital has a lot going for it, it’s also quite an expensive city. For digital nomads who are drawn to Spain but aren’t set on a specific place, Valencia could be a great choice. Also situated along the Mediterranean coast, Valencia offers a similar beach feel with less hustle and bustle and a lower cost of living. As a plus, Valencia is also considered the birthplace of paella, arguably Spain’s most famous dish.
6. Instead of Austin, Texas, try Guadalajara, Mexico
Austin has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the US for several years now. As many tech workers have moved out of California, many of them landed in Texas and specifically Austin. Nowadays, Austin is a city with a solid tech scene that attracts people due to its abundant recreation opportunities, vibrant music scene, and pure weirdness.
That being said, Austin is now experiencing some growing pains, among them a highly rising cost of living and congested roadways. If you want the tech scene and cultural diversity of Austin without some of its drawbacks, Guadalajara, Mexico is a great option. In Guadalajara, you can enjoy cultural amenities like the Guadalajara International Film Festival and the Guadalajara International Book Fair, one of the largest book exhibitions in the world, at an affordable cost of living.
7. Instead of Tokyo, Japan, try Taipei, Taiwan
Tokyo has long attracted visitors from abroad due to its captivating mixture of traditional and modern. The city impresses visitors with its world-class public transportation system, impeccably clean streets, and delicious street food.
Tokyo is an expensive city, though, and also a crowded one, especially with the rise in tourism in Japan prompted by a weak yen. For those looking for a mix of modern and traditional in an urban setting, Taipei is a great alternative travel option. Its public transportation network rivals that of the larger Tokyo, and its street food options are cheaper and more diverse. All in all, digital nomads can have a similar experience in Taipei for a much lower cost of living.
8. Instead of Dubai, UAE, try Baku, Azerbaijan
Dubai is a city of opulence situated in the middle of the desert. Its Burj Khalifa currently holds the title of tallest building in the world, a representation of Dubai’s ambition and drive. That spirit has certainly been attractive to foreign residents, with a whopping 83% of Dubai’s population born overseas. If you are fascinated by the idea of Dubai but want to try something a bit more authentic, Baku, Azerbaijan may just be the right place for you, especially if you’re an architecture buff.
At the crossroads of East and West, Azerbaijan is a patchwork of the different cultural forces that have passed through the so-called City of Winds. In addition to ancient constructions like the Maiden’s Tower, a mish-mash of modern building styles are waiting to be discovered. Azerbaijan’s second oil boom in 2006 led to a sudden architectural boom that has gifted Baku with a wide variety of architectural wonders, ranging from the Art Nouveau Nizami Museum of Azerbaijani Literature to the Stalinist Government House.
9. Instead of Silicon Valley, USA, try Bangalore, India
Silicon Valley has long been Northern California’s success story. The region is home to a synergy of top-notch educational institutions, motivated professionals and venture capital matched nowhere else in the world. For those who want to join a startup, the Bay Area is one of the best places in the world.
That doesn’t mean that it’s the only place, however. There are plenty of other places that offer great infrastructure for startups while beating the Bay Area on items like cost of living. One of those places is Bangalore, India. Bangalore is India’s tech hub, a place with a high concentration of educated professionals looking to start new businesses. Its cost of living is much lower than that of the Bay Area while still offering a wealth of opportunities, making it a great choice for a digital nomad.
10. Instead of Sydney, Australia, try Wellington, New Zealand
Besides its iconic landmarks such as Bondi Beach and the Harbour Bridge, Sydney is known for its strong coffee culture. Sydney certainly has a lot of positives to attract visitors, but as with many of the locations on this list, many visitors can also mean high prices and large crowds.
For an antipodal city with a similar waterfront vibe and a more relaxed pace of life, why not check out Wellington, the capital of New Zealand? With around half a million residents in the greater Wellington area, the city is large enough to support a wide range of activities and attractions without being overwhelming. Its restaurant and café game also punches way above its weight. For digital nomads searching for a relaxed lifestyle down under, Wellington is a great “dupe” to Sydney.
All in all, no one destination can ever truly compare to another. Each place is unique, shaped by its distinct geography, culture, and history. However, as a digital nomad, it’s always worth the effort to consider new destinations that may be less well known but offer similar advantages. For that reason, “dupes” serve their purpose.
10 Long Games to Binge Over Winter Break 2023
As winter sets in, hunker down, lose yourself in these long games, and immerse yourself in new worlds. These deep, complex titles demand days of marathon gaming sessions where your tenacity pays off.
Let your imagination run wild in sweeping worlds with vivid characters and intricate narratives. These 10 epic PC games give over 100 hours of gameplay—perfect for whiling away frosty days.
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt casts you as Geralt, a monster-hunting Witcher roaming an expansive open world brimming with secrets and adventures. With its deep RPG systems and morally ambiguous choices, this 100+ hour epic immerses you in dark fantasy brought to life.
Around every corner, something awaits to reward the curious—combing through this rich, vibrant realm always pays off. Fans of the Netflix show can now experience the monster-hunting action and gritty storytelling firsthand.
Rushing the main story takes 60-80 hours, but you can pour 200+ hours into side quests and wander the stunning landscapes before tackling the DLC expansions. Hearts of Stone, sends Geralt on adventures in the existing No Man's Land area. Then, Blood and Wine introduces a new Toussaint region that doubles the first expansion's length.
Estimated playing time for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
* Main story: About 70 hours.
* 100% complete: Over 200 hours.
2. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Delve into Skyrim's snowy peaks and verdant valleys, a Norse land where every choice you make shapes your journey. As the Dragonborn, you're thrust into a sprawling narrative where dragons return to a fractured world. With its nonlinear open world and endless quests, this genre-defining RPG will keep you cozy through the Winter.
Roam freely in this colossal world, where the thrill of exploration is unparalleled. Fight towering dragons, uncover secrets tucked away in dark dungeons, or wander the countryside as you see fit. Your actions carve your path from a heroic dragon-slayer to a crafty thief.
Skyrim's rich lore and detailed environments make every playthrough unique. Spend hours perfecting your skills, aligning with factions, and impacting the world's balance. Whether you're battling dragons or simply absorbing the lore of the game’s universe, Skyrim's world is yours to conquer.
While the main quest takes around 30 hours, completing all side content can push playtime over 200 hours. And with mods, the possibilities are endless. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's Radiant system continues to generate random quests, so it's unending.
Three major DLC game expansions extend your adventure:
* Dawnguard plunges you into a feud between vampires (Volkihar Clan) and elite vampire hunters (Dawnguard).
* Hearthfire lets you design and build a customizable home to reside in.
* Dragonborn allows you to tame and ride dragons in Skyrim.
Skyrim’s rich lore and detailed environments make every playthrough unique. With infinite quests and entire new lands to uncover, lose yourself for hundreds of hours and still discover new legends over the winter break.
Estimated playing time for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
* Main story: About 34½ hours.
* 100% complete: Around 231 hours.
3. Baldur's Gate 3
Baldur's Gate 3 brings the revered RPG series into the modern era with a visually stunning return to the Forgotten Realms. Create unique heroes to lead through sinister mysteries and dark prophecies across intricately modeled fantasy cities and dungeons.
You control a motley crew with deep character customization, uncovering mind-flayer conspiracies in a richly detailed medieval world. Every decision influences the quintessential D&D realm as you fulfill heroic dreams. Baldur's Gate 3 earned an outstanding 96 Metascore, pushing player freedom to the limit.
Focusing on just the main quest provides a hefty 44 hours of playtime. But completists can pour over 100 hours into side adventures across taverns, temples, and more before uncovering all secrets. Whether you're a series veteran or newcomer, Baldur's Gate 3's moral choices and engaging characters hook you in for a lengthy journey.
Estimated playing time for Baldur’s Gate 3
* Main story: About 44 hours.
* 100% complete: Around 100 hours.
4. Red Dead Redemption 2
Saddle up for an unforgettable journey in Red Dead Redemption 2. This gritty western prequel has you roaming 1899 America as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw navigating the death of the Wild West.
From picturesque mountains to dusty frontier towns, the game brings Old West America to life with unrivaled detail. Lose yourself in this world as you hunt, explore, and battle rival gangs and government forces. Red Dead 2 is a benchmark in open-world gaming with immersive gameplay and a sweeping story.
Focusing on the main story takes around 50 hours. But completists can pour over 180 hours into fully experiencing Red Dead's dynamic world. Get swept away in this poignant tale of loyalty and the slow death of the outlaw era.
Estimated playing time for Red Dead Redemption 2
* Main story: About 50 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 180 hours.
5. Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal masterfully combines a high school drama with metaphysical heist elements in this JPRG. You play as Joker, a student wrongfully accused of assault and transferred to a new school. You team up with other outcasts to explore the Metaverse, where suppressed psyches morph into distorted realities.
The game weaves an intricate narrative, balancing everyday student life with the fantastical adventures in the Metaverse, where battles against shadowy figures in surreal dungeons await. This dual-life dynamic creates a compelling experience as you navigate turn-based combat and social interactions, uncovering the truth behind Joker's predicament.
Persona 5 Royal is not just combat; it dives deep into personal stories against a jazzy soundtrack. With around 100 hours required for the main story and over 140 for completionists, it offers a rich, immersive experience. This edition's extensive post-game epilogue adds even more depth, making it an exceptional journey in the JRPG landscape.
Estimated playing time for Persona 5 Royal
* Main story: About 100 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 140 hours.
6. Cyberpunk 2077
Get lost in the neon-bathed dystopia of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red's ambitious open-world RPG drops you into a high-tech future where body augmentations, corporate interests, and vice run rampant.
You play as V, a cyberpunk mercenary whose ambitious heist goes wrong, and you must navigate through the seedy criminal underbelly. Combat blends hacking abilities and gadgets with frantic gunplay for thrilling gameplay matched by an intricate main quest.
Night City brims with side activities from illegal racing to shadowy mercenary gigs. Character customization lets you craft unique hybrid classes to match your gaming style. And choices throughout alter the story in weighty, unexpected ways.
Cyberpunk 2077 delivers a gritty, adult sci-fi tale matched by immersive world-building. With over 24 hours for the primary campaign and 100+ to obtain 100% completion, it's an expansive future playground where you decide:
* Who to trust.
* Who to work for.
* How much body chrome to add.
The Phantom Liberty DLC represents Cyberpunk 2077 at its best - an engaging 12-hour expansion extending Night City's shadowy adventures.
Estimated playing time for Cyberpunk 2077
* Main story: About 24 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 100 hours.
7. Fallout 4: Game of the Year Edition
Fallout 4 drops you into a vast post-nuclear war Boston Wasteland. As the sole survivor, every moment is vital, and every decision shapes this post-apocalyptic world.
The deep RPG progression systems and unrestricted sandbox gameplay let you create a unique journey. From battling raiders to building entire settlements, Fallout 4 tailors the experience around your gameplay choices. The main story takes around 33 hours, while completionists can play for up to 212 hours.
Winner of 200+ awards, including the 2016 BAFTA, Fallout 4 is a testament to ambitious game design. This edition includes the acclaimed core game and six add-ons, including Automatron and Nuka-World. Determine the fate of civilization however you see fit in this genre-redefining post-apocalyptic RPG.
Estimated playing time for Fallout 4
* Main story: About 33 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 210 hours.
Kenshi is the definition of an open-world sandbox RPG in this Sword-Punk adventure. With no set quests or paths, you forge your destiny in this harsh yet atmospheric single-player PC game.
Survival is a relentless challenge as you battle bloodthirsty cannibals, brutal slavers, and wild beasts. You are no chosen hero; you must earn your strength and significance. Kenshi's unforgiving realism means you are not inherently superior.
Explore diverse landscapes, recruit followers, and build your settlements, as every choice shapes your emergent story. Your actions dictate your role, whether lone wanderer, settlement leader, or martial arts master. With 273 hours for 100% completion, forge your saga however you see fit in this genre-defying RPG.
Estimated playing time for Kenshi
* Main story: About 83 hours.
* 100% complete: At least 270 hours.
9. Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Assassin's Creed Valhalla plunges you into the heart of 9th-century England, a land ripe for the taking by Viking raiders. As Eivor, a Viking warrior, you lead your clan from the icy shores of Norway to conquer the fertile lands of England. With over 96 hours of gameplay, engage in a gripping narrative that intertwines Templar and Norse mythology.
In this open-world action RPG, your saga unfolds based on your decisions. Engage in brutal battles, lead fiery raids, eliminate foes by stealth, and forge alliances to establish dominance. The game's advanced RPG system creates a deeply personalized journey from every combat or conversation.
Three expansions extend the game even further:
* Wrath of the Druids whisks you to mystical Ireland to uncover Druidic secrets.
* The Siege of Paris concludes the Viking saga against the forces of Charles the Fat.
* Dawn of Ragnarök has you take the mantle of Odin to rescue his son Baldr from the dwarven realm.
See your legend evolve as your Viking settlement expands, unlocking new quests and activities. Assassin's Creed Valhalla offers an immersive Dark Ages experience where your decisions shape your path to glory.
Estimated playing time for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
* Main story: About 96 hours.
* 100% complete: 130 - 160 hours.
10. Elden Ring
Elden Ring is a masterpiece by Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin, redefining open-world gaming with its expansive dark fantasy universe. Elden Ring is a challenging game where you can't mash buttons to victory. Patience is required.
Set in the Lands Between, a realm rich with cryptic lore, intricate landscapes, and formidable boss battles. The shattered Elden Ring and the resulting chaos set the stage for an epic adventure. Enter as the Tarnished, rejected, and exiled; you must rise to power and rebuild the shattered Elden Ring that controls this expansive open world.
Elden Ring sets a new bar with its seamless world design, blending breathtaking landscapes with legacy dungeons full of secrets. Traverse these stunning environments on foot or horseback, alone or online. Extensive customization and strategic combat allow you to approach each challenge as you see fit, from stealth to all-out assaults.
Characters have complex stories; the creatures you encounter add to the game's rich narrative. The world seamlessly combines vast landscapes with dark dungeons. You can explore these stunning settings on foot, horseback, alone, or with friends online. The gameplay sets a new standard in the RPG genre, with many options for building your character and tackling battles.
Elden Ring rewards perseverance and exploration, inviting you to uncover its hidden stories at your own pace. Elden Ring is a masterclass in gameplay and narrative. It offers an adventure that's both challenging and profoundly rewarding.
Estimated playing time for Elden Ring
* Main story: About 30 hours.
* 100% complete: Around 100 hours.
As winter tightens its icy grip, now is the time to escape into sweeping realms of fantasy, history, and imagination. Lose yourself in legendary lands with these 10 long video games. Adventures expansive enough to make the bitter cold fade away. Burrow in, fire up your PC, and don't emerge until spring.