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What benefit would we get from proactive IT managment?

Nov 12, 2013
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Sooo, doc, tell me how much time we've got to switch from Windows XP?

Nov 4, 2013
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Now what can Office365, what do we do with it?


Well, of course call us - we'll be happy to help you, but if you're a self-starter, check out this Microsoft short help site, 3 minutes...






Sharepoint, Sharepoint, Sharepoint...


So you've got Office365.  You're probably not aware of what else your subscription can do.


Sharepoint is your own slice of the web.  Use it to share files with external users, track document changes, create your own sites for projects, and share email, video, audio, Excel, Word, Powerpoint documents.  No longer do you have to fight with FTP sites or pay exorbitant fees for someone else to manage file shareing for you.


But how to you get started?


Here are two great links from Microsoft directly that will get you going.


Please use and share!


Peter Barclay, PCN






Security and your passwords…

Alright, so I’m sure everyone reading this has had a scare or two in dealing with passwords to their bank, when web shopping, to their email, or the like.

And most likely we’ve also changed a password (or more) that we failed to write down accurately and could not log back in to. Very frustrating, I know from experience.

And also you’re probably overwhelmed with the amount of passwords you have to remember (or write down, or record on the computer or phone which could easily be locked down for invalid or forgotten password!).

Are there programs out there that will remember for you? Sure there are, there are many. But I’m of the opinion that saving passwords in a computer/cellphone that itself is potentially compromised is a bad idea, in general.

An antivirus and/or antimalware program is not something I would put an infinite amount of trust in. I believe that, and stress to my clients, that having this kind of protection is very important, but, pragmatically, like the tale “The little old lady that swallowed the fly”. So the antivirus/antimalware didn’t do the job. Uninstall it, install something else, now your computer’s got issues, more than it did…

Not fun.

My advice is to not continue upping the strength of your tools, instead change what you’re doing online. Start being more mindful how you secure your identity, your online accounts, and most importantly the behavior when using your computer.

Take precautions with your vital data, your logon details, and passwords. I don’t (though should) advocate changing passwords every ‘nn’ days. What I do advocate is selecting semi-complex passwords for the important things; your Amazon store account, your online bank, insurance company, the like. Also, never use the same (or similar) password to similar important websites. Signing up for a newsletter? No big whoop. Signing up for online bill pay? BIG whoop.

Before I enter any personal data (again, not a junk site, but something important), I make sure that I recognize the URL (nerd speak for the web site address) at the top of the web browser. Secondly, I make sure that the site is secure. Check that little padlock next to the web site address – click on it. Who is securing that web site? Is it valid? Is it current? If you have questions concerning this information, get in touch with their support people.

The reason I am stressing the URL and Security are for two reasons.

  1. URLs can be faked, or ‘spoofed’. Due to the nature of some URLs, the address can be very long and tough to interpret. What I do is single-click (left mouse button) in the URL field, and hit the ‘Home’ key on my keyboard. That way I go to the beginning of the line. I can see precisely where I’m at. I’ve seen some very nasty spoofs. Thieves will copy the format, font, graphics, everything from a legitimate web site in order to trick you. If it says https://www.mybigbank.com/{some other stuff here} you’re probably at the right place if you bank with MyBigBank. However, what if it said https://ko.rdr.cn/MyBigBank/{random stuff}…? And if it looked exactly the same? I know what I’d do and what I hope you’d do. Close that web site right now.
  2. Any data you submit (type information into a field and hit the ‘send’ or ‘ok’ or ‘confirm order’ as examples) to a web site by its very nature is non-encrypted. Meaning, the data is free to see for anyone potentially hijacking that website in secret, or tapped into your wireless network, etc.. If it’s a secure web site, it’s scrambled. Chances of someone taking your data and deciphering it is greatly reduced.

I’m also of the opinion that thieves are intelligent, morally bankrupt degenerates and have friends who are also similarly minded. They won’t stop inventing ways to wipe out your bank accounts or steal your identity.

So how should you create new passwords? Super-complex? No. Super-simple? No.

This is a formula I use for my clients. Choose three or four words, unrelated, and string them together with a character or two thrown into the mix that will confuse the thieves. Here’s an example;


The reason I do this? Simply to reduce the complexity, and increase the chances the user will remember it without having to write it down somewhere that may be compromised by thieves. A perfect ten for us would be that it would get the user to start changing their passwords to something more complex than ‘password’ or ‘1234567’… Bad habits die hard, I know, but it’s for the best.

So, in closing, if I could leave you with four thoughts, they are this:

  1. Be aware of what web sites you’re on, and check out the address and security of each before you enter your user information.
  2. If you have a simple password, please change it! Use the formula above, or something like it that is designed to block ‘dictionary’ (list of common password) and ‘brute force’ (sequential or random password guesses with pseudo-random and related guesses).
  3. If possible, isolate wireless networks from your business network.
  4. Ask the question from your IT people if there is a password lockout policy, and what are its settings.

Thank you for reading!

Peter Barclay, PCN

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