You Shall Not Pass! General Tips and Tricks to Password Creation and Safety

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How often have we created a new username and password on the fly? Creating credentials is a standard part of our daily lives as we download more apps, subscribe to more platforms, and open new accounts. There are common practices that people follow when creating a new password. For example, make it easy to remember but hard for someone to guess. Change things up and add capitalization, special symbols, or numbers. Most importantly, don’t use the same password across multiple pages.

However, as technology continues to make bigger leaps and bounds and scammers use smarter and more sophisticated means of collecting your private data, there are some new best practices regarding our first line of defense: Password creation. In the second blog of our Refreshers series, we share some general tips and tricks that you may, and may not, already know.

Creating

  • Number of Characters – Have you noticed that most sites that ask you to create credentials do not have a maximum number of characters? The shorter the password, the easier it is to decipher. Having a password that is at least 14 characters long is recommended.
  • Words that Don’t Exist – Although it seems impossible, words that can be found in the dictionary or pop culture are also at risk of being deciphered. Instead, opt for obscure words or create different spelling to increase complexity.
  • Stay Off Special Characters – Remember that some routers and devices do not allow certain characters. This almost seems counter-intuitive as special characters help strengthen passwords when mixed with numbers and letters, but the parameters are set for several reasons. For example, using just special characters in your password makes you more prone to getting your credentials hacked. Although it would be hard for a person to guess what special character or combination of characters you used for your password, a hacking program would be able to do so very easily. Another reason why you’ll find you can’t add specific special characters is that the software used to store the passwords will run into coding issues. Those special characters you use might be what could potentially break the software and make it therefore susceptible to hacking.

Securing

  • Never include your password in any form of communication. It doesn’t matter if it is an email, a text message, or a DM on social media, you never want that information to be intercepted. For example, if you get a message asking for your login information, always contact the source directly to see if it is a scam. Most likely, it will.
  • I’ll Give You a Hint – Even though writing down your passwords is strongly discouraged, you can always nudge yourself in the right direction. Writing down a hint to your password versus writing down the entire thing is a lot more secure. Think of it as a private inside joke with yourself!
  • Don’t Get Comfortable – Changing your passwords every three to six months helps keep your log-in credentials elusive.
  • Change it Up – Multi-Factor Authentication is quickly becoming more popular as it increases your account’s security by requiring a second method of verification before or during log-in. A second code or number gets sent to you to verify that it is you logging in. You can even add Two-Factor Authentication to your No-IP log-in.
  • Work Smarter, Not Harder – Use your browser’s security settings to your advantage. For example, Chrome will notify you that there has been a data breach compromising your password info, but only if you enable it to do so. You’ll need a Google Account to access a Google Password Manager, but it may be worth keeping on top of any hacking attempts. Once you have your passwords entered, The Google Password Manager will not only notify you when there is a data breach, but also allow you to update them at the same time. This is a lot easier than switching back and forth to different log-ins and trying to guess which ones have been attempted.

Remembering

  • Banish those little notebooks and sticky notes all over your computer! There is still a lot to embrace with all the advances in technology, including storing lists of passwords. LastPass, DashLane, or LogMeOnce are a few of the many different password managers that will encrypt your lists of passwords so you can rest easy that the information is accessible and safe.
  • Caution – Linking accounts might be an easy way to avoid remembering multiple passwords, but easier is not always safer. It is common to find different log-in pages that prompt if you want to link an existing account, like Facebook. While this does save time without having to create a brand new password, linking accounts poses a greater security risk. Linking accounts means giving the new account access to your data whether you want it to or not. If one account is compromised, the other one is surely at risk of being hacked as well.

Creating a password that fits all the right criteria might be taxing, but the more effort and care you take into doing so, the better. Everything that is password protected is worth taking the time and energy to make sure you get it right, as well as difficult for prying eyes and hackers to try and capture it.

Authoritative DNS Servers vs. Recursive DNS Servers

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5 Tips to Keep Your Personal Information and Data Safe on the Internet

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Just a few short years ago, when you asked a person what the cloud was, chances are pretty high that they would look at your like you were crazy and point to the sky. Now, most people know what the cloud is, but not necessarily how it works or how secure it is. People just know that their data is in the cloud and it’s easily accessible whenever they need it. But is this how nonchalant everyone should be about storing data in the cloud? The cloud is a great solution for easy data storage, but you must be careful about what you store there and how secure your cloud provider is. With so much private information being shared over the internet via social, email, the cloud, etc., what steps can you take to protect yourself?

Follow this list of 5 things you should start doing right now to help keep your data secure.
1. Stop using cloud services for private and important data. We know, the cloud is so easy and accessible, but if you truly want to protect yourself, this is the first major thing to stop doing. Many of the popular services are hosted in the United States and although they do promise protection, no one can ever be too sure in this day and age. What can you do instead though? Host your own server from your house. You can easily purchase and set up an NSA storage device and make it accessible from nearly anywhere using a free dynamic DNS hostname. The Result? Your information will be safe and tucked away from prying eyes.

2. Stop oversharing via social networks. I am probably one of the biggest culprits of this. I like to share, a lot, but I also keep a close eye on my friends/contacts list and am sure to have all of my social settings set to the highest privacy level. At the same time, we are learning that these tactics aren’t keeping the government from accessing our information, so keep that in mind. You can easily cancel your social accounts (although, it never really cancels them, just leaves them dormant until you want to log in next) but this will be a great step forward in protecting yourself in the future. If you really have friends that you want to keep in touch with, why not go the old fashion way and write them a letter or actually call them on the phone. Crazy, right?

3. Don’t store private/secure information in your email. If the information is something you wouldn’t want anyone else to know, then don’t store it in your email. You could also consider setting up and running your own email server or purchasing POP3/IMAP service from a trusted provider.

4. Be sure that your WiFi in your house is password protected. Also, when you are out and about and using public WIFI, use a VPN server to keep yourself safe. You never know who is sneaking around on an open WiFi network. That public WiFi at the coffee shop or the airport is awesome until you check your bank account while on it and a week later you see some mysterious charges. Hacking over WiFi happens all the time. If you are away from the home or office, consider tethering your device to your cell phone data plan, or if you choose to use an insecure network, be sure to use a VPN server, or don’t access any websites that have sensitive data or require password logins. If you go the VPN route, they are easy to setup and are even easier to log on and use.

5. Don’t become a victim because of a weak password. Your information is only as secure as the password that is protecting it. Passwords are by far, one of the easiest things to hack these days, but only if you aren’t following the industry standards for a strong password. Never use the same password for everything and be sure to avoid the 25 most common passwords. To help you remember your passwords, you can use a password keeper like 1Password, Keepass, or even just create an encrypted text document, save it to a thumbnail drive and load it up when you need a password.

What things do you do to keep yourself and your information private on the Internet? Let us know in the comments.

Losing a Domain: What it Means for Your Company and Users

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Last week, a router manufacturer lost access to two of its customer-facing domains. They use these domains to give their customers access to their router configurations.

The reason for the loss was a simple oversight; the company did not remember to renew their domain names in time. When they realized the error, it was already too late. Someone had already registered their expired domains using an anonymous domain registration service.

This particular situation has put millions in danger. Currently, when their customers attempt to connect to the domains online, they are redirected to a website that is not affiliated with the company. While that website is not currently a threat, or being used for malicious purposes; it could be in the future. Continue Reading

5 Reasons Every Small Business Needs Server Monitoring

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Every 5 years20 percent of all small businesses experience unexpected downtime. This downtime often causes major damage, resulting in permanent closures for 25 percent of businesses who have a significant incident. Businesses, especially those without huge IT teams and millions of dollars in revenue, can’t afford to experience unexpected downtime. Not only does it cost them time but also money as they try to sort through the issues at hand.

These outages are even more detrimental for businesses who are not aware their systems are down. Quick response is key during an outage and it is necessary to have systems in place to notify you when there is an error. Do you have a system in place? If not, you need server monitoring. Why? Find out below. Continue Reading