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Why you should be using a Password Manager

Do you use the same, easy to remember password or a variation of it for every account login you have?  You are certainly not alone!  We are constantly being told to use strong, unique passwords to protect our information online but how on earth are we supposed to come up with complicated passwords and remember them with the volume of login details we have!  It is a challenge!

The answer is a Password Manager.

A Password Manager will store your passwords in an encrypted form and also help you with generating secure random passwords.  The password manager will have a password to allow you to access it so you will only need to remember one password.   You will then easily be able to access your passwords without having to remember them.

The risks of using the same password across many sites are enormous.  Passwords are stolen all the time.  If you have a weak password and use it multiple times and a hacker got hold of it, that means that they could log into other sites with that password.  With cybercrime continuing to be on the increase, hackers are constantly looking at new ways and fine-tuning their techniques to crack users’ passwords.

One thing to be careful of is using browser-based password managers – Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer etc, all have integrated password managers.  Chrome and Internet Explorer store the passwords on your computer in an unencrypted form.  These built-in password managers are not ideal and cannot compete with a dedicated password manager product.

There are a number of password managers available on the market:

Myki:  can be used by teams and single users but has also been developed for the MSP market.  Myki securely stores and manages internal and customers’ passwords offline, away from the cloud.

Keeper:  can be used to protect your business as well as your personal passwords and private information.

Dashlane: is a safe and easy way to manage business and personal passwords.  It enables you to keep all of your passwords, usernames, payment card details, and secure notes in one safe place.  Dashlane is also packed with other features, making it more than just a password manager.

LastPass:  is a cloud-based password manager with a browser extension and mobile app for all the browsers and operating systems available.

Once you have chosen a password manager to use, it is good practice to change all your passwords to more secure ones.   If you would like to learn more about any of these products or would like help with choosing the most suitable one for your business, Ilkley IT can help you.   Contact us today to find out more.

Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer

This week Microsoft has announced its timeline for ending its support for Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) by this time next year.  In the article by Microsoft, they have said that on the 30 November 2020, the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11 and on the 17 August 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11.

This means that after these dates, customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11.   If you still choose to use IE 11 with a degraded experience, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service.  Microsoft have said that they know the change will be difficult for some customers, they believe that customers will get the most of Microsoft 365 using the new Microsoft Edge.

Although over the years IE became the dominant web browser that everyone used, enjoying 90% of the market, and has been around for 25 years, it may surprise you to know that it is not very secure.  Over the years, Microsoft ignored web standards and continually missed essential updates and did not follow the guidelines set by the World Wide Web Consortium (the organisation that establishes standards for web technologies).  New features were only added to IE as part of a major product release, which often took years to be implemented.  This continual lack of updates leaves you as the user exposed and unsafe when browsing the internet using IE11 and more vulnerable to being targeted by cyber-attacks.

Naturally, competitors started to appear online and in 2004 Mozilla introduced Firefox and then in 2008 Google Chrome was introduced.  Interestingly, in the 10 years since Google Chrome was launched, it was updated 70 times, meanwhile Internet Explorer was updated only 4 times between its eighth version and its final one (version 11).   Of course there is also the new Microsoft Edge, this is based on a Chronium codebase which is the same as the foundations of Google Chrome but currently this has less than 2% of the market whilst Google’s browser has 65% of the market.  With so much of our information freely available when we search online, you might be looking for more privacy when browsing the internet.  Try out Brave, it provides unmatched speed, security and privacy by blocking trackers.

Modern web browsers have the ‘edge’ offering better security, speed, compatibility and plugin options.  Now is the time to check if the sites you regularly visit will still work, for example many banking sites don’t work in anything other than IE so it would be worth contacting the owner of the site to let them know.   There is still time to do this, rather than being caught out at a later stage with a site that doesn’t work.

Another old technology which is going end of life at the end of the year is Adobe Flash Player.  Adobe will stop distributing and updating Flash Player after 31 December 2020.

Technology does not stand still or nor should we.  We have to keep moving with the times and it is important to make sure we are not left behind using old versions of products which don’t work properly and are no longer supported which poses a security risk to us online.  If you would like more information about anything in this article or feel baffled about which browser is right for you and what action you should take, then contact Ilkley IT, we would love to have a chat about how we can help you.

Why you should be using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for everything

In this digital age we live in, it seems that there is no end to the attacks that hackers are coming up with and using to target businesses and innocent people.  The malicious attacks and data breaches continue to be more sophisticated and elaborate than ever before and cybercrime shows no signs of slowing down!  Thankfully, there is action that businesses can take to protect themselves and add an additional level of security to protect their online accounts and systems and this is where Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) comes in.  

 What is 2FA? 

 2FA is a second layer of security to protect an account or system.  When you log on to an account or system, you will need to go through two layers of security before being granted access. This might be in the form of code generated via an app or sent as a text message.  

 Why should I use 2FA? 

In general, people tend to use passwords that are very easy to remember or use the same password for multiple accounts.   If a security question is requested during an account set up, usually this is also information that can easily be found out through all your interactions on social networks and other activities online.  This makes life very easy for hackers and leaves your accounts and systems very exposed to cyber-attacks.   Cyber attackers can also use software on their systems to try and crack your password.  The weaker the password, the easier it is for them to crack it.  

The first important thing to do is to use stronger passwords and this is where a password manager is very useful.  2FA then provides you with an extra layer of protection.  It might be easy for cyber criminals to try and guess your password, but it will be very hard for them to guess the second authentication factor as the code changes every 30 seconds.  This drastically reduces the chances of you being hacked.  In an article written by Microsoft, they report that users who enable 2FA for their accounts will end up blocking 99.9% of automated attacks.  

 How to get 2FA working 

There are a few different 2FA methods that can be used, it might be a code issued by your bank when you are using internet banking or a one-time password (OTP) which is sent to your mobile phone.  Authentication apps are a more secure option to use than text message codes as it is easier for a hacker to gain access to text messages than it is for them to gain physical access to your phone and generate a code without you knowing it.  

 Ilkley IT recommend using the Microsoft authenticator app for your Microsoft accounts and Authy for all your other accounts.  One of the advantages of using Authy is that you can use the app on your phone and your other devices such as desktops or laptops. 

 Which sites allow 2FA 

More and more sites are adding the additional level of protection and supporting 2FA when you log on to your accounts on their sites.  You can check which websites offer 2FA by visiting this site https://twofactorauth.org/. 

You can see if 2FA is enabled on your Office 365 account by logging in here: https://aka.ms/mfasetup. If it’s enabled you will be given options to setup 2FA.  

Don’t wait until you have been a victim of a hack or data breach, to introduce 2FA into your businesstake action today.  The team at Ilkley IT can help and can talk you through the steps to enable 2FA on all your Microsoft 365 accounts.  Contact us today to get this essential second layer of security setup, you will be so relieved you did