123456 is not an exercise in counting

We are only 2 months in to 2014 and there have already been a significant number of major news stories about data theft and online security so I thought I’d round some up and give some tips that will help you to stay safe.

  • February 25th 2014, cyber security company Hold Security LLC said that it had uncovered 360 million sets of customer account data available for sale through cyber black-markets. These are new discoveries and represent a fresh risk to security.

Typical data includes email addresses, user names and passwords.

Hold Security LLC believe that these thefts are yet to be publically reported by the organisations who were hacked.

  • February 14th 2014 Tesco announce that the details of more than 2,200 Club Card accounts were published on the internet and a number of Club Card points had been stolen.

It’s important to understand that Tesco has not been hacked. Rather, criminals purchasing data related to other security leaks will simply run email address and passwords combinations against websites such as Tesco’s Club Card site to see which of them work. A small number obviously do and have permitted unauthorised access to user accounts.

  • February 14th 2014 Barclays announce the theft of 25,000 customer files, including sensitive information such as passport and National Insurance numbers as well as account data.

Popular PasswordsIt’s going to get worse before it gets better!

How do we know? Well, a number of companies have looked at stolen data and it’s been revealed that the No.1 password in use during 2013 was “123456”. The No.2 password was “password”, No.3 “12345678”, No.4 “Qwerty” and No.5 “abc123”

So how do you minimise the risk to yourself.

Well, it’s really easy – you just need to use a different password for every different website and account that you have. I know the message is old but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the message is not getting across and people are getting hit.

Of course, it’s challenging to remember the tens or hundreds of passwords that we use on a daily/weekly basis so you need a tool to make the task easier.

The two most popular approaches are either to use a Password Vault – a piece of software that runs on your computer/phone/tablet which securely stores all your vital information and, in some cases, can be used to produce a really strong password every time you need one or you could use a “Seed” word or phrase that you amend every time you need a new password.

For a seed you could think of a line from your favourite song, perhaps the first line of Bridge Over Troubled Water – “When you’re weary, feeling small” for example. Take the first letter from each word – Wywfs and substitute a letter with a number, 5 for s for example, so your seed is Wywf5.

Now let’s image that you want a password for Tesco, take “Tesco”, substitute numbers for letters  – T3sc0, split it and add the letters to be beginning and end of your seed,  T3Wywfs5c0. Now have a password that will take 6 years for an average PC to crack. Add a symbol, such as “!” to the end, T3Wywfs5c0! and it will take 4 million years for the average desktop PC to crack.

That’s your personal security dealt with. If you are worried about security for your business, I can help there too. To learn more please give me a call on 01793 238020 or email andy@enterprise-oms.co.uk to start the ball rolling.

 PS. Just make sure that you have a remote wipe utility installed on your phone/tablet so that you can remotely erase the data should your phone be lost or stolen.

Chromebook Diaries – Chromebooks, an alternative to a Windows Laptop

Chromebooks

Google Chromebooks

Do you find your laptop’s too big to carry with you and the battery life too short?

Is your tablet not quite large/comfortable enough for more than a little light document editing, email work and web browsing?

Did you know that there’s an alternative that might just bridge the gap, its device that took 2/3rds of laptop sales on Amazon during December 2013 and it’s called a Chromebook.

Chromebooks come in screen sizes of 11.6”, 13.3” and 14”, currently manufactured by Acer, HP, Samsung and Toshiba and prices start from £199.00 inc.

They are light weight, [around 1kg] have Wi-Fi and a small number have 3G/4G connectivity.

Battery life is typically 6 hours although the HP 14” boasts a battery life of up to 9.5 hours.

They run Google’s own operating system, Chrome OS, which means they boot up in around 7-8 seconds, don’t slow down over time – unlike some computer operating systems we know – and are pretty much invulnerable to viruses and other malware that’s out in the wild.

Of course, there’s a drawback – you can’t install Microsoft Office, in fact you can’t install most software which limits you to software that’s either available in the Chrome Web Store or applications which run in your browser – because that’s pretty much what Chrome OS is, it’s Google’s Chrome browser that’s been tweaked to run a laptop. You can use Microsoft Office 365 though, because that’s a cut-down version of Office that runs in your browser so all is not lost.

MiFi -Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

Huawei Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot

It’s also best if you can be permanently connected to the internet, although a number of apps do run off-line but you can always buy one of the 3G versions, tether your ChromeBook to your mobile phone or use one of the Mi-Fi devices which create your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot that connects to the mobile phone network through 3G or 4G

So, if you want a lightweight laptop for email, document creation/editing, web browsing and a little light gaming perhaps you should give a Chromebook a try.

What does your email address say about you

Getting the right email addressI’ve been meaning to write about this for a while now and was reminded again about the message your email address sends when I was following a van recently. The van was sign written [good], carried a large phone number [good], web address in significantly smaller [not so good] print http://www.jobbingtrader.co.uk and an email address – not just any email but a free address [awful], jobbing-trader13@outlook.com [names have been changed to protect my health].

This is wrong on so many levels.

First off – an Outlook.com address, really! In fact any free email address – such as one from Yahoo.com or Virgin.net or BTInternet or AOL to name but a few – really does send the wrong message!

Secondly, it also shouts “I don’t understand”. It’s far easier to remember an email address when the bit that goes after the @ is the same that goes after the www. – you are getting twice the chance of people remembering your contact details

Thirdly, you are missing out on so many opportunities to better manage your email, you can have multiple addresses, info@, sales@, accounts@, enquiries@, myname@ to name just a few. You can then set up folders in your email program for each address and easily create rules which automatically filter incoming emails and move them to the relevant folder.

With each part of your business having a unique email address means that everything is a little easier to prioritise and manage. As an example, you could look at sales@ first because these might be new contracts, accounts@ next because these relate to money and myname@ last because these are more likely to be personal in nature.

All of the above can be easily achieved if you have your own web address because each web address can usually have more than one email address and most email programs enable you to set up folders and create rules.

Managing your emails in this way will help you to present a more professional look to the outside world and enable you to be more effective when it comes to managing your emails and the way that you act, save, delete and back them up…….you do back up your emails don’t you?

If you have any questions about your email services, don’t hesitate to get in touch blog@enterprise-oms.co.uk[did you see what I did there?] or give me a call on 01793 238020