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3rd Quarter 2013 - July Issue

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Who Has Your Passwords?

As a rule, IT companies often find that their customers don’t take passwords seriously.

Business managers and employees who would never leave a door unlocked over the weekend or pass out the company’s security code to strangers may have a Network login as simple as “me123,” or the key to Michael’s corporate email may be as easy to guess as “mike.”

Even small companies have valuable data to protect, and no one wants thieves ransacking through their customer files, financial statements, and email.

  • Today “hackers” use sophisticated software and fast algorithms that can break a simple password in under a second.
  • Data they steal from you can help them break into other systems (including your customers – as information you have on file may help them guess their way in to other networks.)
  • Once “in” they can use your network to do their computing and your computers to transmit unlimited spam around the world (getting your legitimate email blacklisted in the process).

Who has your passwords?  Shiloh Service can help.Of course, if someone has broken into your systems via a weak password, you may not know until it is too late, perhaps when identity theft occurs or credit card numbers are stolen. When you Contact Shiloh Service, we can secure your systems against break in, including the development of strong system passwords.

Holding Passwords Hostage

Another common phenomenon is the service company that holds your passwords hostage. It could be the password to your website’s domain name, the administrative password to your email system, the login to your network or your QuickBooks, and more.

Sometimes these companies think they are protecting you from yourself, but sometimes they are simply “protecting their turf.” For example, it’s difficult to work with a new web developer if the previous one has the “keys” to your website and won’t turn them over.

Just as you wouldn’t let a moving company have the only set of keys to your off-site storage, you shouldn’t allow any service company to keep your own passwords a secret from you.

Keep all your passwords and logins on file in a secure place, so they are available whenever you or another service provider may need access to them in the course of normal business.

When you work with Shiloh Service, Inc., we’ll help you corral all your important passwords in one place where they can be safe and available to you whenever you need them.

There are even “password vault” programs that can remember all your individual passwords for you behind one secure login, making the ever increasing number of passwords we all have to deal with even more manageable.

Contact Shiloh Service today to learn more. We’ll help you feel more secure and in charge of your passwords.

Strong Passwords

Phishing for Passwords.Famous last words: “My password is my dog’s name plus my birthday; no one will guess that.”

In reality, one visit to your Facebook page will probably give a hacker all they need to crack your “top secret” code. Don’t have a Facebook page? A good hacker can chat you up on the phone and find the secret to passwords you don’t even remember anymore.

Truth be told, if it needs a password, it should have a strong password. But what does that mean?

These days a strong password must have a minimum of 8 characters. It should contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, some numbers, and a special symbol or two.

Often, that makes passwords inconvenient and harder to remember, but with help, it is possible to be clever about it.

Take for example “0LdM(D0nald!”

It’s obviously “old McDonald,” which is easy to remember, but the O’s are zeros, the L, M, and D are capitals, the C is actually an opening parenthesis, and there is an exclamation point at the end. All together it’s a descent 12 letter password that is not impossible to remember. (And no, you shouldn’t use this for your password – it’s only an example.)

Completely random 8 or more character passwords are the strongest, and there are websites like www.random.org/passwords to help you generate them.

Sometimes people feel they can remember a single strong password, but remembering dozens of different passwords becomes a real bother. We agree. In this case a “password vault” or “password manager” program like Roboform may be the answer (www.roboform.com). Password vaults lock dozens or even hundreds of logins and passwords behind a single strong password; then at the click of a mouse, they get you into QuickBooks, your webmail, and all those online accounts you’ve accumulated over the years.

Want to learn more? Contact Shiloh Service today, we’ll beef up your passwords, make them easy to manage, and help you keep your business’s digital information secure.

Email Security

Email Security.  Can anyone read your personal email?Like an “open secret,” the words email security are a bit of an oxymoron.

Many people think their email goes directly from one computer to another, and unless some government agency is checking in for Homeland Security, then no one can see what you’ve written.

Nothing could be further from the truth. If you can imagine a postal system where envelopes were never invented and letters and documents were just handed from one postman to the next, then on to the people in the mail room at each company – that’s a lot closer to how email works.

Your email may bounce half way around the world before it gets to your business partner across the street, and at each mail routing computer along the way, any number of service techs have the ability to read about your date last night or your impending bankruptcy.

Often, the best security your email has is that these people are all too busy and they simply don’t care.

With its Gmail service, Google takes things one step further and has a computer algorithm read emails for clues as to how best to advertise to you. Yes, those ads you see online could be a calculated response to something you said in a “personal” email.

Is there anything that can be done? In a limited fashion, yes. Business email systems can be setup with security certificates (like SSL), which encrypt all email traffic within the business. That means attorneys in the same firm using their corporate email can communicate securely with one another. But as soon as they email outside of their local email system, their correspondence is open again.

Both sides of an email conversation between companies can be secured also, but it takes prep work on both sides and is difficult enough that it’s not common practice, requiring encryption software and client add-ons.

Your best practical defense is to simply realize that emails are open information that, ultimately, almost anyone can see, and no notice at the bottom that says “this information is intended only for…” means much legally.

To learn more about email security and best email practices, Contact Shiloh Service today!

Adobe & Java Security Updates

Java Security Updates.In the past, we’ve talked about making sure your Windows Automatic Updates happen on a regular basis. In this article, we’ll discuss updates from Adobe and Java.

In addition to Microsoft Windows itself, your computer has “infrastructure” programs that you don’t think about but which keep things working for you every day.

Adobe and Java software are two of the most common. If you’ve ever been to a website (almost any website), you’ve probably used both without even knowing it. If the menu worked; if the banner slide show changed; if something animated; if you opened an event flyer or downloadable menu, you’ve used Adobe and Java software.

Because both programs often interact with websites and online services, they represent a rich target for hackers and virus makers. If the bad guys can find a “vulnerability” in the code of either program, then they can use that security hole to attack your computer right over the Internet.

The makers of Adobe and Java know this, and they are constantly fighting to keep one step ahead of the bad guys. Every time they find that someone has broken in a basement window or taken the hinges off a door in their code, they do a repair and distribute it online.

You usually experience this as a pop-up notice (on the screen or near the taskbar) saying that your Java or Adobe “Update is Ready to Install,” etc. You may even find the little prompts annoying.

The best advice? Don’t ignore the prompts to update Java and Adobe software. Usually, it takes only a click or two to install each update, which helps secure your computer against any number of online threats.

If you’re uncomfortable with updates or don’t know what state your Adobe and Java software is in, call us at 1-888-374-4564 or Contact Us today. Keeping your computers up-to-date and secure is just one of the services offered in Shiloh’s Premier maintenance program.

Computers Reach Out with Light

Illumiroom - an X Box proof of concept projectWe all grew up in a world where the computer stayed in its box, and unless we looked at the screen and typed on the keys, the computer kept to its world and we kept to ours.

Those days are changing, even now.

It’s starting with games. X-Box is experimenting with a technology called “Illumiroom,” which expands gaming outside of the TV screen. A proof of concept project, Illumiroom extends the game world outside of the TV, projecting illusions that distort reality and extend field of view. For example, a game character could toss a ball which would appear to bounce out of the TV, off of your coffee table, and onto your floor. In-game disturbances, such as explosions, would appear to affect furniture in the room, or the system could appear to transform the room beyond the TV into a cartoon world.

You can see Illumiroom in action at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ4hWa6y710

LuminAR, proof of concept project at MITAnother bit of experimentation is being carried out by graduate students at MIT, who have developed a new computer that can display interactive images on any surface, just by screwing a small projector into a light socket.

The LuminAR project combines a laser pico-projector, camera, and wireless computer, with software that can recognize objects and sense when a finger or hand is touching any surface. Essentially, that means everything from a desk to a product display in a store can become a touch-screen computer, able to display information and interact with your hand gestures.

You can watch a short demo of the LuminAR project development at http://vimeo.com/52899256.

Both projects are part of an increasing trend to make computers as boxes and keyboards less visible and computer interaction a part of everything we see and touch around us.


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