Some Password Tips

Security is an important consideration as a password could be the difference between staying safe and having your savings plundered or identity stolen.

 

  • Never use just a single password for everything. – If that one password gets stolen, cracked or phished the attacker will have access to everywhere that you have used that password from social media to online banking to even workplace logins.
  • Ensure Your Devices Are Secure – Having up to date antimalware protection and keeping your operating system and other important programs updated will help protect your devices from keyloggers and other malware that can steal saved passwords and other data such as pictures from your devices.
  • Longer Passwords are better – Each extra character for a theif to have to brute force ads exponentially more time to the cracking process. I suggest a minimum of 12 characters these days but longer is better.
  • Use Passphrases – Passphrases are several words strung together with a mixture of upper and lower chase characters, numbers and special characters added, it’s easier to remember passphrases. An example of a passphrase is: laUghing&l0bster<wheel
  • Use a Password Manager – A password manager such as Lastpass can store your passwords safely on your computer in a way where they are encrypted using a master password. A password manager allows you to use a separate strong password for each site that you can unlock with a strong password or passphrase that you can remember. You should treat it like a digital post-it note though and keep the master password secure.
  • Keep it out of plain site. You should keep your password out of view. If you must write it down don’t stick it on a post-it note on your monitor. Keep it somewhere safe like in a wallet, lock box or safe where only you have access to it.
  • Use multifactor authentication – These days many services offer the ability to verify your identity using a second factor such as SMS message, email, hardware token or mobile app to provide a code which you must enter to be able to log in. Once a device is known you may not have to use a second code to login again from that device but if someone does get your password they will not be able to log in without the multifactor code sent to you which can also let you know that someone is trying to hack your account.

There are online passphrase and password generators that can help generate secure passwords such as http://www.dinopass.com/ and https://xkpasswd.net/s/ if you want to use random characters in passwords another site you can use is https://www.grc.com/passwords.htm

New Website

We at Small Space IT are proud to announce the launch of our new website. While it is ready for general viewing we are currently adding more features to enhance your experience while visiting our website. Our goal is usability so if you have any feedback regarding our website please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

We are also in the process of launching new products and services that we feel our customers will find quite useful and will post more about them as they near completion. Some of our projects include an image hosting service, a budget web hosting service and providing VoIP services to our customers.

Another project in the pipeline are a series of video tutorials on how you can easily setup websites and online stores using our web hosting services. We expect to have these videos ready in the new year.

What is Ransomware and How to avoid it?

Many of you have probably heard of something called Ransomware on the news and are wondering what it is and how it can affect you. Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware as it is known that after infecting your computer will search for many kinds of files including documents, videos, game saves amongst many other types of file and encrypts them with a key known only to the creators of the malware then attempts to get you to pay the creators to get your files unlocked.

You can get ransomware from infected emails, compromised websites, dodgy internet advertisements and even potentially from infected USB drives. Most decent antivirus software will pick up most variants of ransomware but not all variants. New malware is created as fast as the antivirus companies can detect and block it in an everlasting arms race between security professionals and criminals. In another guide I will be providing reviews of various antivirus software with the pros and cons for each but for now I will be just helping you deal with the risk of ransomware.
The best way to avoid having to pay up after getting your files locked is to keep regular backups. Regular backups will also protect your data from other problems. The most common form of backups is to just copy your files onto a USB drive. If you have Windows 8, 8.1 or Windows 10 then you are in luck as Microsoft have a backup application called File History which is able to automatically backup your files to an external USB flash or hard drive. File History can also backup to a Network Attached Storage also known as a NAS box. Apple computers are also at risk of ransomware but not as much as windows computers. Apple includes a backup program called Time Machine which can back up to an external drive or a NAS.

USB flash drives are cheap and easily obtainable even many supermarkets stock them in this day and age. USB hard drives cost more but are able to store far more then USB. USB drives also have the advantage of being able to be easily disconnected when you are not actually using them which helps a lot in protecting the backup from also being compromised by ransomware. Network Attached storage has the advantage of being able to backup multiple computers at once, always on for constant backups and able to easily share your media with all your devices but has the disadvantage of being vulnerable to malware able to scan the network for files to lock.

If you are infected with ransomware and your files are locked your options are either to start from scratch, restore from a backup if you have one or pay the criminals for your files to be unlocked. If you are in the unfortunate situation where you have to pay for precious family photos or important business documents to be released you will likely have to pay the criminals in what is known as bitcoin, a semi anonymous internet equivalent to cash making the criminals hard to track down and often they are in countries that place them out of reach of the Australian authorities. It is still a good idea to report them to the police though because something may be able to be done in the future. You may get lucky and be able to negotiate down the fee to get your money back as to the criminals some money is better than none at all but it is not guaranteed.

In conclusion the best defence against ransomware is to mitigate your risk using good antivirus software and have regular backups so that if you happen to get infected not much is at risk of being lost. Small Space IT can help you pick what backup strategy best suits your needs.