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Takeaways from World Password Day from Your IT Support Company in Miami

World Password Day is the first Thursday of every May, and your IT support company in Miami has gathered some tips from the event that will help you keep your network and personal information secure. Though passwords are the first layer of defense against hackers and other cyber criminals, a vast majority of internet users and businesspeople fail to understand the importance of creating strong passwords and utilizing the proper password etiquette. Here are some tips to increase your password security:

Create Strong Passwords

Most people that we talk to in our IT support firm in Miami create passwords that they can easily remember. This usually means they don’t include the special characters or capitalizations that are the hallmark of strong passwords. In fact, the two most popular passwords in 2016 were ‘password’ and ‘123456.’ While these might be easy for you to remember when you need them, they’re also easy for hackers to guess.

A strong password is one that has no connection to you— no birthdates or names of pets!— and utilizes numbers, letters, capitals, and special characters.

Do Not Use the Same Password for Multiple Accounts

It might seem like a headache to create and remember separate passwords for each account you access, but it’s necessary. If a hacker is able to crack one of your passwords, they can easily gain access to all of your accounts if you use the same password for all of them. When you create multiple passwords, you stop the hacker at one account and minimize damage.

Use a Password Manager to Help Store and Access Passwords

So how do you remember all of these unique passwords when you need them? Writing them down in a notebook is a bad idea since you would have to keep it on you at all times and it might fall into the hands of someone it shouldn’t.

The answer could be a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. These programs can help you store and encrypt multiple passwords so that you have easy access to them when you need them. You will need one master password for these managers, so make sure it’s a good one!

Be Leery of Browsers that Remember Your Password

When you are in a social media app or shopping online, you’ll often see the prompt ‘remember me on this site?’ It’s very tempting to click ‘yes’ knowing you’ll never again have to remember your username or password when you revisit it. However, if your laptop or smart device ever gets into the wrong hands, it means that anyone can get into these sites and gain access to personal data or payment information. Hackers are also getting adept at cracking these, so you might not be safe even if your devices are not lost or stolen.

There are many takeaways that your team for IT support in Miami has passed on to clients from World Password Day. The bottom line is, creating strong passwords that are unique to each site you visit or online service you utilize is your first line of defense against cyber criminals. If you have more questions about how to manage your passwords, contact us at Michell Consulting Group today.

Managed IT Services Miami Business Advice: Take Password Protection Seriously!

Bush-League Mistakes

Managed IT services in Miami can seriously help you maintain your online security with several simple changes to established protocols. Granted, human beings are brilliant enough to invent modern “thinking machines,” also known as computers. With that brilliance, they’re naturally going to be able to find their way into secure operations when enough resources and manpower are available. But oftentimes, a hack occurs not through some concerted intelligence operation funded by an organization or high-minded, well-funded hacking group; oftentimes, a hack happens because security measures are lax. Believe it or not, big-ticket organizations leave themselves wide-open for breaches on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, 2016 constitutes the highest concentration of security breaches in the history of the Internet. 2017 is gearing up to be another year of security breaches that break records.

Reasons

Many breaches happen as a result of poor password protection. This is very understandable when you consider the annoyance of constantly protecting all your sensitive information with passwords. Constantly coming up with new ones can be a real hassle. Additionally, so many passwords become hard to remember. A lot of people like to give themselves contingency information. They’ll hide the passwords in a file somewhere on their computer, or write them on a sticky note by their desk, or something of that ilk. But people are predictable. Those looking for security weak points understand that individuals who must constantly come up with new passwords get tired of it, so they follow the path of least resistance. Concerted hackers look for these easy paths.

Hackers know those who must constantly derive passwords strive to pass the bare minimum of standards required. For a numerical password that requires a capital letter and a number, a “path of least resistance individual” will likely contrive something like “Password1!”. This meets all the computer’s qualifications for a new password… and it’s easy to remember. The thing is, it’s also very easy to hack.

Other sub-par passwords include:

  • QWERTY
  • 123456
  • 111111
  • ABCDEF123456

…and other such simplistic solutions. Be sure you avoid these common, simplistic passwords, but don’t stop there. Managed IT services in Miami can help you design passwords that are properly secure and will require a concerted effort to crack, if they can be cracked at all. Encryption algorithms can bar the vast majority of hackers and secure your business. An example of a password that’s going to be more trustworthy would be something like: “a*J12$$lkkituh!Biohnw.” That’s something nobody is going to guess— it’s too random. The difficulty is remembering it.

But here’s the other side: too many over-complex passwords make it difficult for you to get into your information because you can’t remember them, and you don’t want to write them down where they can be found or store them where they can be sourced.

Professional Assistance

When you’re looking for managed IT services in Miami, ensure that you find an option which understands what is at stake with regards to security, and how to avoid such breaches with the right balance of convenience and protection. We at Michell Consulting Group have established secure protocols, and understand the tech environment enough to help you properly protect your systems. Contact us and let’s discuss the best security options for your business.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PC Users

Security is one of the most crucial pain points of all businesses, but sometimes it can be tricky to implement solutions if you’re not sure what you specifically need. Network security isn’t easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be hard. If you have difficulty reinforcing a security state of mind in your office, we have good news for you; by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep your business more secure than it would be otherwise.

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Tomorrow Never Downloads: Protecting Your Database from Corporate and International Espionage

Firewalls are the first thing companies think of when it comes to data security. What is the last security risk on an organization’s mind? Your most tech-savvy employee. If someone were to “get to” the employee overseeing your network, they would be able to do some serious damage. What are you doing when it comes to protecting your database from the employees you trust the most?

Protect Your Data from Those Closest to You
We’re not trying to make you paranoid. Instead, we want to raise awareness that the people overseeing your company’s network can be a security risk. If you think about it, the people that make up your work “family” come in every day and do their job because it’s just that; a job. They submitted their resumes and went through the interview process for financial reasons. Unless the person in charge of your data helped found the company and sits on your board, their loyalty runs as deep as their paycheck.

The reason you don’t want just anybody overseeing your data is because it’s your company’s most valuable asset. Buried away in your servers is financial information, vendor and client records, research and development data, your business plan, and a host of other files that your competitors (or any hacker) would love to get their hands on. Given the value of your data, and the desire that other companies may have to steal it, it would be very much worth it for a competitor to bribe an employee with a briefcase full of cash that far exceeds what you’re paying them so that they can know your secrets.

As a business owner, you may be thinking, “No way José! My staff is fiercely loyal. They compliment my outfits and laugh at my jokes.” There’s a fine line that separates flattery and loyalty. It’s up to you as a leader to know the difference. In a revealing survey by Cyber-Ark, close to half of employees interviewed admitted that if they were fired tomorrow, they would take with them their former company’s proprietary data. Translation: Almost half of the employees that high-five you in the morning would feel entitled to steal from you if you fired them. When it comes to corporate espionage, unethical companies wanting to rip you off know how to exploit this weakness–again, with a briefcase full of cash.

Protect Your Data from Enemies Abroad
This risk of data theft by your inner circle isn’t limited to bribes by your competitors. Your database may even be targeted by the enemies of your country. These foreign powers want to access your database or sabotage it and they too can do it by paying off your team. This may seem like something out of a spy movie, but ZDNet reports that it is a very real risk:

In recent months, the UK security service (MI5) has had a series of “high-level conversations with executives” to warn of the risk. The security service is warning that IT workers have been recruited to help overseas spies gain sensitive personnel information, steal corporate or national secrets and even upload malware to compromise the network.

Whoah. You may think that your business is exempt from international spy games, but foreign enemies are increasingly turning to sabotaging the databases of private businesses in lieu of traditional military operations against governments. Whether such a breach takes place due to a direct hack or because of the bribing of a staff member, it’s important to understand that your business isn’t exempt from such risk. Oh, and don’t forget, there are some hackers just doing it for the sake of doing it.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Company’s Valuable Database?
First off, knowing about the risk is half the battle. Now that you’re aware of the risk, you will think twice about giving a new hire complete and unfettered access to your company’s database. You will also want to take extra precautions when hiring an IT technician. Do a thorough background check and avoid putting someone in charge of your valuable files that has a gambling problem, drug problem, or is burdened by a lot of debt. People like this will be easily susceptible to bribes and quickly sell you out for a quick profit. Banks perform this same kind of extensive background check when hiring security guards.

Michell Consulting Group can help. You can outsource the overseeing of your IT to us. We will be happy to provide you with testimonials from other clients about our professionalism and our track record for keeping their databases safe. Rest assured, we make it a point to hire the best of the best with our technicians and we do everything we can to be as transparent as possible with our clients. The way we look at it, your data is Fort Knox and we are the security guards.

Michell Consulting Group can also remotely monitor your network with our managed IT services for any suspicious activity. We can alert you to such activity and we have the capability to deny network access to a suspicious user, even if it’s someone you trust. Don’t have your network downed by a hacker or your data sold out by someone who you think is loyal. Call Michell Consulting Group at 305.592.5433 today.

How To Choose Very Strong Passwords That Are Easy To Remember

What makes a password strong is the combination of different alphanumeric, special characters, and capitalization that you use, and of course the length of the password.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to remember and type an epistle when I fill out a password field. And, ideally, I don’t want to use the same password on many sites, because if one is compromised then my entire life is unlocked.

I want to show you here how to choose very strong passwords for every website that you use, that are different for each website, and are each only 9 characters in length max.

A study found that an 8-character password that’s constructed in the manner I’m going to show you has 7.2 quadrillion different combinations, and will take 83.5 days to crack if the hacker can try 1 billion different passwords per second.

Step 1: Pick 2 Starting Characters

To make it easy to remember, all your passwords are going to start with the same characters. But these are not just any characters. Pick 2 characters from the list of special characters that you see above the numbers on your keyboard and to the left of the Enter key.

These characters are: ~`!@#$%^&*()_-+={}[]:;”‘<>?/|\\

Pick any two of them as your password starting characters. To show you an example as you read through the steps, let’s pick $ and % (pick your own two).

In my example, all my passwords are going to start with $%.

Step 2: Pick 2 Ending Characters

In exactly the same way as above, pick two different special characters that will be at the end of your passwords. Don’t pick the same characters as your starting characters.

For the purposes of my example, let’s pick * and ^. Hence, all my passwords are going to end with *^.

Step 3: Construct The Middle Part Using The Website Name

This is the fun part. Take the first 6 characters of the website domain name where you want to use the password. If the domain name is shorter than 6 characters, then use the full domain name.

In my example, let’s create a password www.microsoft.com.

The first 6 characters of the domain name is “micros”.

Now we’re going to substitute some characters and capitalize others.

Substitute the following characters: a becomes @, e becomes 3, i becomes 1, o becomes 0, and u becomes ^.

Now we have “m1cr0s”.

Now, decide on a standard for yourself regarding which character(s) you’re going to capitalize.

For this example, let’s say we’re always going to capitalize the 3rd consonant.

So now we have “m1cR0s”.

The next step is to drop the last character (“s” in our case), and append the Ending Characters (*^) that you picked in Step 2.

Our password is now “m1cR0*^”.

The last step is to add the Starting Characters (Step 1) to the beginning of the password.

The final password is “$%m1cR0*^”.

A Few More Examples

Domain: www.twitter.com, Password: “$%tw1Tt*^”.
Domain: www.facebook.com, Password: “$%f@c3B*^”.
Domain: www.ebay.com: Password: “$%3b@*^”

Remember

Pick your own 2 starting characters and your own 2 ending characters, don’t just use the same ones I used in the example.

In addition, make your own capitalization rule (you can capitalize more than 1 character if you want to.

You can also use more than the first 6 characters of the domain name if you want to. It just means your passwords will be slightly longer.

Is This Password Strong?

Yes, it is very strong. With this method you’re potentially using any of 30 special characters, 10 numerals, and 26 lower case and 26 uppercase characters.

Unless a hacker happens to have a water-cooled supercomputer in his briefcase, he will not be able to crack your password.

Making It Even Stronger

If you’re concerned that some hackers might know about this password construction method, simply pick 3 starting characters and/or 3 ending characters, or as many as you like. Any slight variation of the method makes your passwords even more secure.