When it comes to email security, this is a time of dread for most of us – and a time of great opportunity for cyber thieves who use email to do their dirty work. You need to manage your email to avoid getting caught in a trap.Continue reading
Old Security Habits Never Die; They Should
We still seem to see the same bad security habits we’ve always seen. Now, they involve PINs as well as passwords. Here are some bad habits you need to break.
The first bad habit has to do with keeping track of passwords and PINs (Personal Identification Numbers). We’ve discussed passwords ad nauseam, and the problems we find with them are they’re either forgotten, left in places where anyone can see them, used repeatedly, or made so simple that they’re easy to crack.
If you habitually run across any of these problems, you need to seriously think about how you can make your password system stronger. Some of the suggestions we’ve offered include making your passwords long and using a system that lets you vary one or two keystrokes or a word or phrase to keep them different. The system helps you remember your passwords – or at least the ones you use the most or ones you need while away from your computer. In creating your passwords, you’re better off using a longer password instead of a shorter complex one. Longer passwords make it more difficult for hacking software to figure it out.
A related issue is those security questions. Don’t give real answers that involve information in public records. Somebody can easily see where you’ve lived, where you went to school, etc. They can probably find out what your first car was.
PINs are meant to solve most of the issues, but they can run into that “forgetful” problem, too. An additional problem with PINs is that when you change devices, you need to reset the PIN. Again, that can be a real problem if you don’t remember the PIN you used.
Some people use their browser or a feature on their phones to save passwords. The danger there is that those passwords can be easily stolen, especially if you happen to visit a “phishing website,” one that has the look and feel of a legitimate website. When we feel rushed or stressed about things going on in life, we’re more susceptible to clicking one of those links or making a typing mistake. The owners of “phishing websites” typically have website domains related to common typing mistakes – although some companies have those sites, too, to make sure you can reach them. The old habit to break here is to take a deep breath when you’re online to make sure click on a legitimate link or type a domain name correctly.
Rather than use a browser or phone password saver, we recommend you a password manager. Dashlane and Last Pass are two that are well known, but using any manager gives you stronger protection. You’ll need to set aside time to get your password manager properly configured and to enter all the passwords you want to protect. The process includes setting up a master password that gives you access to the electronic vault where all your passwords are stored. The key to success is never, ever forgetting that password or giving it to anyone except one or two trusted people.
Credit card numbers can be hacked, too. A couple of our clients had their numbers stolen, and although they changed passwords, they still wondered what else might be broken in their system.
We can help you with security breaches. We take the time to look closely at your system to see how each change you might make – changing passwords or adding a password manager – will affect you. Our analogy here is to the new kitchen that we’re getting. As we change the room and add things like electrical outlets or lighting fixtures, we have to open holes in our walls and ceiling, and we don’t know what’s there until we get them open. It’s the same with your tech system. Without looking at everything, we can’t tell how one change will affect your system.
Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your needs and do the appropriate patching, including installing and configuring a password manager.
The Great Credit Card Conundrum
We rely on credit cards and other cashless forms of payment as business owners and consumers. As a result, we roll points, cash-back schemes and fee schedules into decisions about what we use and what we accept. We have our thoughts, but what are yours?
Here are ours.
We’re seeing more fees as a business and as a consumer. As a business, we can absorb fees on small amounts, but for large amounts, the fees are too large. In one recent month, we collected $4,300 in credit card sales and paid almost $67 in fees. We realize there’s a convenience factor that makes sense for us to pay the fees. We don’t have to spend time (which has a cost) to stamp checks and then use a mobile banking app to deposit each check. We can take the stamped checks to the bank, but that’s travel time. If you have a business, what role do fees play in your decision about whether to take a credit card?
Of course, if you have a business with walk-in traffic, you can get a break on fees. But that only works up to a point. For example, if you buy a car for $35,000, it would be nice to pay with your credit card and earn points or cash back. But if you’re the car dealer, you’ll absorb fees in the neighborhood of $1,000. Neither party in that deal benefits; only the bank benefits. How do you navigate this as a consumer or business?
Many nonprofits ask you to absorb the fee when you make a donation. Do you check the box to pay the fee?
In your business, do you prefer an alternative to credit cards, such as an ACH or a check? One benefit of taking a credit card is that can streamline your accounting system.
As a consumer, do you sometimes balk at putting your credit card number on the internet when you buy online or over the phone? If you’re afraid of having your credit card info exposed to hacking by entering your card on a website or giving it out by phone, you should know that a transaction in a store or office involves using the internet, and someone in that chain can be hacked.
You should also know that anyone who takes your credit card number by phone is NOT allowed to write down the full card number. They should be entering it on another website that will display only your last four numbers once it’s verified.
We are seeing one advance in using credit cards – or their numbers – in restaurants. We’ve never liked the fact that servers take your card to a location you can’t see to enter your card info. That disappearing act is the most serious threat to your card’s security. Having your server process your card at your table is better, but then your server is standing over you while you decide on the tip. That’s uncomfortable.
A better solution involves the use of your phone. When your server presents your bill electronically, there’s also a QR code you can scan. That puts it all on your phone. If you are set up to pay through your phone, you can add the tip and pay the bill without ever pulling out your physical wallet.
As we move farther into a cashless society, we can help you – as a business or consumer – to set up your technology to be more efficient and secure. And we can answer any questions you may have about how to use what you already have. Give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or email us.
Data Security is a Team Sport
For businesses of any size – and even for families, good data security practices are no longer solely individual efforts. It takes a team working together . . .Continue reading
MFA and Insurance Forms
This has nothing to do with a graduate degree in fine arts. The problems of weak passwords have raised alarms for the insurance industry –Continue reading
D-Fence! Stopping 2022’s Biggest Security Threats
With the likelihood we’ll be spending more time than we thought at home for work and school, we should start off the new year by hardening our defenses against cybercriminals. The basics haven’t changed,Continue reading
Holiday Security Alert
Holiday Security Alert —
Scammers love chaos, and they are in heaven this holiday season. With shortages and high prices sending everyone scrambling for gifts while we dash to the end of the business year and try to make plans to see family and friends, scammers have an abundance of opportunities to find a weak spot in anyone’s online armor and penetrate for all you’re worth. Here are our steps to stop the scams.
Update Account Recovery Info
Update Account Recovery Info
Facebook, Gmail, and iCloud are among the many online services that either require or strongly encourage you to have an alternate email address or cell phone number that enables you to recover your account and all the data you have in it.
(Don’t) DIY Project to Make Your Computer Compatible for Windows 11
Many computers that give useful service are not compatible with an upgrade to Windows 11. And as we know from seeing ships at anchor on TV news reports, your new computer – if it exists at all –Continue reading