Posts Tagged ‘computers’

The Strength of a Good Password

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Good account passwords are extremely important! Whether you’re using MI-Connection in Mooresville, Time-Warner in Cornelius, Charter in Denver, Windstream in Davidson, or an AOL account in Statesville, if you do not have a good password then you’re setting yourself up for problems. Hackers can easily push past simple passwords and gain access to your accounts. A password like “aol123″ isn’t going to protect anything – your first line of defense against hackers and, effectively, identity theft, and the subsequent problems associated with that, is a good password.
Good passwords contain both upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and non-alphanumerical symbols such as !, @, $, %, or & when applicable. Be aware that some providers do not allow all characters but mix it up as much as possible.
Use password length to your advantage. The longer the password, more difficult it is to hack using a brute force method. Using a brute force application and the processing power of a standard desktop computer, a simple 5 character (letter only) password can be identified within 24 hours. Tripling that length – say a 15 character (letter only) password – increases the time associated with brute force applications by more than ten times. Adding the numbers and symbols, as suggested above, makes the brute force method extremely time consuming and much less probable.
Do not use common words found in a dictionary. This makes your password much less secure and even easier to hack. Additionally, do not use personal information because this too can easily be accessed by hackers using Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media information found in simple internet searches.
Finally, change your passwords regularly. Monthly or quarterly changes are sufficient for most applications. When you do change your password, don’t use just two or three that you rotate, use several and even change them up.
If your password does get hacked, change it immediately! Also, change your security questions on the hacked account. It would also be a good idea to change the passwords and security questions on your other accounts just in case.

Our Top Five IT Turkeys for 2013

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

As we prepare for friends and family and the wonderful feasts ahead, we’d like to take a little time to offer you our Top Five IT Turkeys of 2013!

After a year of new computer virus variants, operating system snafus, and general IT hiccups, Lance, Tom and I have come up with our top five IT headaches (and head spaces) for the year.

# 5. Hard Disk Drive Failures – We have seen a growing number of hard drive failures in 2013; hopefully, the hard drive factories in Thailand will get their stuff together for next year and build some more reliable drives. In the interim, we recommend that you back up your data to prevent loss. This is also important in combating new infection variants like CryptoLocker – a nasty virus that’s been locking files during this last quarter of 2013.

# 4. iOS 7 Release – From lost contacts to broken apps to dead iPads, this year Apple had it’s Windows Vista moment. While iOS 7 had some great features, it had some major hiccups too. We also heard from Mac users on the OS X Maverick release too but, so far, the jury’s still out on that one.

# 3. Microsoft Update Issues (particularly Windows 8.1 locking hard drives) – Hours long updates from Microsoft have caused operating system crashes and real heaches from our clients this year; most recently, Microsoft’s release of Windows 8.1 has caused joy and grief – when it works, users are happy but when it doesn’t, the results can be disastrous. While Microsoft is not completely to blame for the issues related to these crashes (you have to be patient and let the updates finish before removing power from your machine), they could issue small, quicker updates in the upcoming year.

#2. NSA Data Confiscation – Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Verizon et al have been served; as have your emails, your texts, your cloud data, etc. If you aren’t doing anything illegal, you have nothing to worry about, right? I think this year’s NSA fiascoes with Edward Snowden, leaked data files, private IRS information released to whomever, and hush orders from the federal government just go to show you that privacy concerns have taken a serious change in course this year. We’ve always said, if you don’t want it public, don’t put it on the web (ie Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) but it looks like putting it on the cloud can be just as risky. Hopefully 2014 will see a revival of personal privacy expectations, but I kind of doubt it.

And our # 1 IT Turkey of 2013 is.. Healthcare.gov – need I say more?

I hope we’ve put a smile on your face!

What is Unicode?

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Computer language can be confusing to follow, especially when it comes down to what it takes to create the programs and applications we love to use. Did you know that a computer deals primarily with numbers? Computers store letters and other characters by assigning a number for each one.

Initially in the world of computers there was no encoding system for assigning letters and numbers that was widely used and resulted in a variety of encoding systems worldwide. The invention of  the Unicode character coding system provided a unique number for every character, so no matter what the platform, program or language the same encoding could be used.

Unicode can be found in systems used worldwide today and is utilized by companies such as Apple, IBM, HP and Microsoft. It is also now required by common system utilized add-ins such as Java and Java Script. Unicode has changed the world of programming.

What is the Unicode Consortium?

The Unicode Consortium was initially founded to develop, extend and promote use of the Unicode Standard. It is a non-profit organization that represents a number of corporations and organizations in the computer and information processing industry. It is maintained through membership dues and donations. If you are an organization or individual who supports the Unicode Standard they always welcome a donation.