Password Tips Equal Home Office / Small Business Computer Security

Guest Column, Home Office Security, Technology
November 12th, 2009 1 Comment »

Good Password Management Practices

Perhaps the single most important thing to remember when creating a new password is make the password hard to guess, but easy to remember. ?That’s easier said than done, but follow some guidelines below and you will start using passwords that are more secure than what you’re doing now.
A good password is any combination of letters and numbers that cannot be found in a dictionary. ?Your password should be at least 6 to 8 characters long and should not have any personal information such as your name, child’s name, occupation, telephone number, address or birth date. ?A combination of letters, numbers and symbols will work best. ?Make sure you use a mix of capital and lower-case letters to make your password even more difficult to crack.
There are several techniques you can employ to make your existing passwords more secure. ?Whatever method you choose you should remember to make it an easy and understandable method so you will have stronger passwords without much more effort.
1. ?Use the first letter from every word in your favorite expression, or line in a story, poem or movie. ?For example, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” could lead you to the following password: PnAttMBtC.
2. ?Choose a word as your password, but then substitute similar looking numbers for letters in your passwords. ?For example, Football may become F00t8a77 or sneakers may become 5n3ak3r5. ?Here is a sample list of numbers that could be substituted for letters:
I …1
You don’t need to associate every number with a letter. ?What is important is that you remember your list of associated letters and numbers.
3. ?Choose a password that you want to use and then come up with a keystroke mapping system. ?For example, if you choose to do an “upper-left” keystroke system you would choose the letter to the upper-left of the actual key you wanted. ?So if your password was qwert (not recommended) your new password would be 12345 (also not recommended). ?If the word you wanted to use for your password was football, your keystroke password would be r995gqoo. ?It sounds complicated, but you need to look at your keyboard anyway, why not just choose the letter to the upper-left, left, or lower-right of the word you choose to remember.
Despite these easy techniques, users still run into problems remembering all their passwords, especially when they have several different passwords that require periodic changing. ?Fortunately there are software tools available to make life much easier such as RoboForm and Large Password for Windows and 1Password for the Mac. ?These programs are designed to remember users’ passwords, securely store those passwords on the users’ computer, and log them into websites automatically. ?Many tools include other features such as automatic form filling, secure password generation, and secure yellow stickies.
About the Author

Bill Carey is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Siber Systems. ?Siber Systems creates and markets a wide range of software for consumers and businesses. ?The company is best-known for its family of password manager products which include RoboForm, RoboForm2Go, RoboForm Online and RoboForm for the iPhone. ?For more information on RoboForm please visit

Predictable, Searchable, Familial WordsHave NO Place in Your Home Office User ID and Password Combinations.

I got hacked last last week.

Not my home office computer, per se. But this site – Chief Home Officer – was hacked on its server. Some malcontent embedded on my homepage a 10,000-word stream of vile, vulgar, pornographic — and keyword-rich — terms.

My web guy was able to undo the posting with a few keystrokes. And most viewers were none-the-wiser.

But the attack opened my eyes and set me on a mission. Worried that my user ID and passwords had been compromised, I changed them for my most important online services – this and other sites I control, and all my banking and financial services sites.

I went from a single word to a phrase that has nothing to do with my family, kids, pets, mother’s maiden name — you know, the usual cast of words or phrases we’re prone to use, but compelled not to by computer security experts.

Then I wondered IF those keywords had been compromised. The people at Siber Systems penned this piece on “Good Password Management Practices.” I’ve given it a read. Maybe you should, too — before someone hacks your system… Read More »

The Big Switch: Born in the Cloud, Bound in Chains

Commentary, social media, Technology
July 9th, 2009 No Comments »

the-big-switchYou can learn a lot — and be scared to death — by reading book reviews.

I was in my home office flipping through Newsweek’s 50 Books to Read Right Now (sounds kind of impossible, actually. Guess they don’t have kids), when I came across No. 4 on the list: The Big Switch: Rewiring The World, From Edison to Google, by Nicholas Carr. This bestseller is touted as “the best read so far about the significance of the shift to cloud computing” by Financial Times.

Fair enough. Then The New Humanist chimed in: “Carr may take a somewhat apocalyptic view of the vast technological and social issues which a move to utility computing will raise, not least those of privacy, ownership and access, but he makes a compelling case for its desirability in a world where the network is pervasive. Whether we go gently into this world is, of course, up to us, but with the insight offered here we will at least be prepared to understand the consequences of our choices earlier in the process rather than later. ”

Truth be told, we all live in the cloud. Teleworkers who log on from home. Road warriors who access the corporate server via a customer’s conference room. Home officers who open the HP at some Starbucks to check Gmail or Google Docs. Moms on AOL. Dads checking their fantasy league stats. Bloggers blogging, tweeps tweeting, friends Facebooking.

We all live in the cloud.

Read More »

Can a Hurricane Blow Away Your Home Office, Small Business Computer Files?

Guest Column, Home Office Security, Technology
June 3rd, 2009 No Comments »

Online Backup Keeps Your Data Far From the Storm

By David Friend, CEO, Carbonite, Inc.

secure-by-wysz-from-flickr-creative-commonsHurricane season is here.

It always amazes me how so many business owners completely neglect the safety of the data on their computers.

Consider this:? during hurricane Katrina, more than 35,000 businesses had their computers ruined. According to U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of all businesses that have data disasters never reopen. Some 25 percent of the rest fail within two years.

In short, when you lose all your home office’s or small business records and files, you’re cooked.

It’s likely that more than two-thirds of small businesses do back up their data regularly, but it’s almost always to external hard drives, DVDs or tapes.? Unfortunately, these are usually stored nearby. So if the computer gets flooded, so do the backups.

That’s why it’s so important to back up online where your data gets stored in a completely different part of the country (hopefully somewhere well away from the hurricane belt).

For that reason, online backup is the right solution for small businesses.?? It’s less expensive than local solutions and gets your data far, far away.

How does online backup work? Read More »

45 Days From Hurricane Season: A Chat About Home Office Disaster Plans

Home Office Security
April 16th, 2009 No Comments »
Seas Are Getting Warmer, Storms Are Getting Stronger

Seas Are Getting Warmer, Storms Are Getting Stronger: Is your home office ready?

Disaster preparation in the home office is an ongoing process.

From protecting the PC and data stored on it, to battening the windows, when the office is within the home, thwarting disaster from Mother Nature’s fury can be a challenge.

Corporate home officing can be a critical component to disaster recovery and corporate business continuity planning.

Before Hurricane Wilma hit in October 2006, hurricane preparation meant storing water and boarding windows. Disaster preparation must extend beyond shutters, food stocks and generators. Today, it must ensure business continuity: Communications, data back-up and document and records management are key to survival.

When considering how to prepare your corporate or home office for a mean season, or any time of year, ask yourself these questions… Read More »

Sunday Home Office Round-Up: Coworking & Feeding The Need (and Home Office Pet)…

News & Reviews, SOHO Workstyles
April 12th, 2009 No Comments »

Interesting perspectives on the home office and telework this week.

One thing I’ve learned: Twitter continues to consume more of my brain’s limited capacity at breakneck speed. Some VERY cool information floating around out there from some very cool people. On the flip side, I find myself enjoying Facebook for a reason that’s 180-degrees apart: It’s light and friendly. No heavy lifting, thinking or link-clicking.

Now it’s up to me to balance the two in my (already over-taxed) brain and time clock.

As for news from the week…

WebWorkerDaily had a great piece on the impact of coworking and shared space for UK home officers. Alas, this is just a blip on the U.S. radar screen (telework centers in the DC area or “hotels” and touchdown centers for corporate employess).? Regardless of whether you have a bona fide coworking solution, the lessons remain: Get out there, collaborate with others, share experiences, and be that social and sociable animal you were created to be…

Got Telework? Better make sure they’re provisioned, connected, empowered and smart. Watch this WTV Video to see and learn. Read More »

Small Or Home Office Disaster Planning: A Vital New Year’s Plan

Home Office Security, Technology
January 24th, 2009 No Comments »

Andrew, Wilma, Katrina and 9-11. Disasters come with different names and causes. But the result often is the same: Days or weeks in downtime or lost productivity, and billions in lost revenues.

Mark Grossman, a partner in the Grossman Law Group of Florida and New York, specializes in technology. Grossman says experts estimate that every year American businesses lose $4 billion to computer downtime. Catastrophes like Hurricane Andrew and 9-11 should have taught us how quickly an average day can go bad.

In this guest column, Grossman wonders if traditional or home business owners have ever thought about how the business would recover if it lost its entire information technology infrastructure to a catastrophe. Read More »

Home Office Disaster Readiness Post-Ike: Plastic, a Laptop and a Tank of Gas

Home Office Security
September 18th, 2008 2 Comments »

As a home office worker, I experienced my first hurricane with Andrew back in 1992. Hitting about 75 miles south of me, it was enough to knock out power and down some trees, but my business was generally unaffected.

Watching video and images of the destruction Hurricane Ike wrought on coastal Texas, I have one observation: Should a storm like that hit any community where a home officer or teleworker lives and works, he/she’d be done for.

Power was out for six million people. Half of those still had no power four days later; for some, it could be out for months. Roads are impassible. Nothing’s getting through — especially the machine that is daily commerce. Think about it: In my case, as a corporate copywriter, who would go buy my wares when they’re more concerned about finding food, water, ice or shelter. In South Florida, people have installed generators in their homes. Great. But if a strong Cat 2 storm (Ike was one mile per hour shy of being declared a Cat 3) came barreling through, power would be a nice comfort. But Assuming the home withstood the onslought, the business community would be blasted, leaving people there?struggling to get their homes and lives back in order.

What’s a small business owner to do? Diversify, and prepare. Read More »

Gustav, Hanna, Ike – Is Your Home Office Ready for the Storm(s)

Home Office Security
September 5th, 2008 1 Comment »

Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike have threatened more than just life and limb. They threaten business productivity, security, peace of mind, and the public’s perspective of coastal life and business.

Living in South Florida, where hurricane season is a beast of burden we bear every year, we never get used to the threats. We think we do. But are we really ready? Is our data backed up? Are our UPS (battery back-ups) operational? Do our clients know what we’ll be facing — and how the threat of a storm will impact our business, and theirs?

Visit my Disaster Plans page to bone up on your own plans. And read this piece from Eric Reivik with PCLauderdale to learn more. Read More »

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