When you run a company that users have an account with you, it is important to protect their data. Securing their email, password, and other personal data is crucial. Recently, it was reported that Facebook was storing 1.5 million Instagram passwords in plain text. This means that the storage of these passwords were basically the passwords in a word document. There was no encryption of the passwords, which means the password is encrypted into ciphertext (which takes the password and uses a method for turning into something that looks random). The way it is encrypted and decrypted is using a key. The only issue with this is if a hacker can get access to the key, they can decrypt it and have the passwords. So, what should businesses do?

First, they can use salt and hashing. What salt does is take the person’s password and adds to it. This is usually a few letters and numbers. Then, it hashes the password to make it random letters and numbers. The strength of this can also be a downside. Hashing is impossible or really difficult to reverse, so what are other options for businesses? One is to force stronger passwords. One way is to not allow common phrases, such as qwerty or 12345. Other ways are to require an uppercase, lowercase, a number and a character. This ensures the passwords are hard to crack. Furthermore, including 2FA, or Two-Factor Authentication, and restricting the use of old passwords ensures a stronger password and security.

Protecting your customers data is important and the right thing to do. Customers put their information in your hands and expect you to protect it. The lack of protection can cause serious  issues. People’s passwords getting taken which could lead to their account being accessed by someone not authorized. Furthermore, it can lead to issues for your company. Lawsuits, fines loss of business and trust are all things that could happen. So being proactive and protecting their information is not onlt the smart thing to do, but the right thing to do.

Many companies are looking towards the future and are aiming at becoming sustainable. Konica Minolta is one of the companies that has been committed to that idea. Back in 2009, Konica Minolta announced Eco Vision 2050. This idea was to reduce CO2 emissions, promote recycling and restoration of the environment. As of 2013, Konica Minolta reduced their CO2 emissions by about 55% from their 2005. These goals have been furthered now with Konica Minolta joining RE100.

RE100 is a global initiative with the goal of having companies use 100% renewable energy. RE100 is led by the Climate Group in partnership with CDP. Over 150 companies have joined RE100 so far, including Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike, and many more. Joining RE100 will further Konica Minolta’s stance of sustainability and becoming environmentally conscious. Additionally,  Konica Minolta’s medium and long-term policies will help accomplish this. They plan to begin with production plants outside of Japan.

In today’s business world, faxing is still a big part of how businesses communicate with each other and with their customers. Fax machines are older technology, and that means the security for faxes are older to. This means that while people view fax as a safe means of communication, they actually are very prone to attack. All it takes is a hacker to send a malicious fax to the fax machine, and then the hacker will have access to the network that the fax machine is on. So what is the solution?

There are multiple solutions for this issue. One way to fix it would be having your fax machine on a different network. So if a malicious fax is sent to the fax machine, then it would not have access to anything because the fax is isolated away from employee or personal computers. Additionally, Konica Minolta machines will block off any communication that is not a G3 protocol.

When reading this, you may have some questions. Those questions could be:

Can my fax machine be hacked into?

Is my network safe?

What steps can I take to prevent this?

Should I be worried?

It is always a good idea to make sure your business’ and client’s information are safe. If you have any other questions, then give us a call and see how PDP can help you.

It happens all too often that small businesses, large corporations, and even government offices overlook gaps in security measures or even ignore them entirely.

A recent audit of Nevada’s Department of Administration’s Human Resource Management division revealed that the state office had personal records and information such as the Social Security numbers of over 145,000 current and former employees stored on unencrypted databases. Former employee computer user accounts had not been disabled, computer operating system security updates had not been performed, and copy machine hard drives were not routinely erased, leaving this information to be relatively open to outside threats. Much of this stems from poor communication between the state office and their IT provider, Enterprise Information Technology Services, who claimed they were unaware of the need for security measures to be enforced as well as a data encryption and erasure routine to be followed. This goes to show how crucial it is to effectively consider and communicate the needs of your business when putting its well-being in the hands of someone else.

As a business grows and changes, the concept of security tends to grow along with it. It is important to take a moment and ask what security means for your business:

“How can I keep personal or sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands?”
“Do we need a full-time security guard?”
“Should employees require key card access to open certain doors, log into computers, or use copy machines?”
“Is my network protected from outside threats?”
“Is my IT provider engaged and aware of my security needs?”

Asking questions like those above is a great start to protecting your company and its client base. Don’t wait for an audit to discover what is happening in your organization, give us a call now to see how PDP can help!

Check out the Review Journal’s article here.

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All of us who live in this interconnected world are familiar with the password polka. We have files or black books filled with the myriad passwords required for our activities from banking to fulfilling our pets’ medications. We attempt to log into sites which have inevitably required a password change two weeks ago. We try to change our passwords per the requirements of our benevolent policy overlords only to discover that we have already used that password, or we are required to use the special characters !@#&@ and one UPPERCASE.

!@$& is right.

One of the biggest frustrations we experience as both consumers and IT professionals has to do with this !@$&-ing dance. In fact, according to the Gartner Group, password resets consume 30% of all IT call volume. And at an estimated 25$ per call (Gartner estimates this amount to be higher at $70 per call) with an average of 1.75 calls per month per person (META Group), this places the cost to a company of 50 employees for password resets alone to nearly $8,000!

And this is where the frustration for the benevolent policy overlords begins. An aggressive password reset policy will undoubtedly increase this number, but $8,000 is small price to pay for the risk mitigation that comes with strong password rules. In fact the risk of exposure, data loss or other more nefarious problems is more or less limitless.

Using this logic, we as IT administrators should increase the strength of our password policies and consider the cost on the support end just the cost of doing business. I have personally run into sys admins who require insanely complex passwords that reset on very short schedules. These security minded individuals believe that the cost of a breach is so severe that end user frustration and support costs are not worthy of consideration.

–And, they would be right…If it weren’t for a couple of big problems.

The first that we incorrectly assess password strength based on our own fleshy weaknesses. Consider the following “complex” password: 1Dr@g0n!

This passes some of the most complex rule systems out there, but could be cracked by a bot running on a low-grade PC in about 3 days…more sophisticated attacks would demolish this password.

This problem is summed up beautifully by the folks at xkcd.com (a wonderfully nerdy web comic).

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The other problem with using what we consider to be complex password policies is, as the comic so elegantly shows: we forget them. And when we forget them, we put them in our little black book, save them in a password file…with a password, probably, or simply write them down on a sticky and put it under our keyboard or on our monitor.

The last offense is obviously an unacceptable breach of password protection, but the sys admin would have no one to blame but herself. She created a password policy that broke the end-user thus leaving a huge hole in their security.

How do we get around this as both consumers and IT professionals? Well, here are a few suggestions:

There are many other authentication solutions to fit many applications, but they don’t all belong in the conversation about our some-time friend the password, so please forgive me if I have left your favorites out of the list. I hope this helps all of you dancing the password polka!

With the Clean Power Plan announced, I thought it might be interesting to see the current state of power generation throughout each part of the country. Check out these interactive charts and maps of the US’s sources of electricity.

Tired of waiting in long lines? Google recently added a feature that shows searchers the peak activity hours for millions of businesses.

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This feature could definitely benefit those of us looking to avoid crazy grocery shopping hours or dining times at our favorite restaurants.

Check out this Fortune article to learn everything you need to know about Android’s Stagefright megabug.

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A quick end-of-the-week blog post about Tesla’s recently announced plan to take progressive steps in creating efficient sustainability for the homes of tomorrow. Tesla’s Powerwall is intended to play a key role in moving away from the current means of power generation and supply by providing an efficient and simplified way of storing power generated by renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.

From Tesla’s website: “Powerwall is a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.”

What do you think of Powerwall? 

Are you considering “going solar?”

What are some of the other possible applications for this technology?

Tell us by replying below.

Think back to the last or most memorable time you lost an item or object essential to your daily life. Keys, wallets, a debit card pulled out to make an online purchase, or your favorite pen; these things have a mysterious way of getting lost in the void of time and space. When we finally find that one thing we were looking for, it seems like there is this great epiphany that strikes us: “Well, of course it would be here… It’s the last place I would ever check,” even though deep down we may be a little embarrassed that we know too well why a certain thing is in a certain place.

My most-less-than-proud moment occurred back when I was first getting into the job market. I was super excited for my first job interview ever. I made sure to get some fancy new clothes to look sharp and got a professional haircut rather than doing the usual self-cut. I woke up early, made sure to eat a solid breakfast (a microwave breakfast croissant and a glass of orange juice), and made sure I was “done-up” as much as I felt I could be. I then decided to relax. To prepare myself mentally, I sat down on the couch and watched cartoons for a good 30-40 minutes or so before realizing I was going to be running late if I stayed to watch the rest of my show. I turned off the TV, got up to leave, patted my left pocket, and then my right. My keys were missing.

I ran upstairs to my room to check if I left my keys on my nightstand. Nothing. Then the bathroom. No keys. I rushed downstairs and began thinking, “Maybe I left them by the sink? on the couch maybe?” I looked EVERYWHERE with no luck and I had to leave now if I wanted to make it on time. At this point I had no choice but to get a ride from a neighbor. I practically jumped out of my neighbor’s car, giving a wave and a “Thank you! I’ll walk home!” as I sped for the doors… of a restaurant. My contact only specified an address and suite number which MapQuest failed to tell me was a Panera Bread. I gained my composure, walked into the restaurant, and looked around, hoping to see my contact (whose picture I had seen on his website). He wasn’t there yet. I sat down at an open table and waited.

15 minutes later my contact showed up out of breath, explaining his wife had accidentally taken his car keys that morning and that he did everything in his power to get to the interview as soon as possible (I didn’t have a phone at the time so he had no way of telling me the situation). He was sincerely apologetic, to which I confessed I too was late because my keys were missing. We had a bit of a laugh over it, got down to business with the lunch interview, and things went rather well (even though his offer ended up being less than desirable by the end of the interview). We parted ways and I walked 6 miles home. As soon as I got home, I plopped down on my bed. I was too tired to look for my keys at the moment so I just took a nap to recuperate from the self-induced stress.

When I woke up, I went downstairs, watched TV, sorted through jobs listings online, and carried on with my usual routine until my stomach began to growl around dinner time. I checked the fridge, passing up on leftovers and anything that required more than 5 minutes of my time to prepare, which led to me back to where my morning started: the freezer. I nearly fell flat on my back as I opened the freezer door. I just started laughing, shaking my head, and my face burning up. My sister ran over to see what was going on; she thought I was going crazy or something. I simply pointed at the top rack of the freezer, from which my frosted car keys dangled.

Is there some object or item that is always growing legs and running off when you aren’t looking? Or maybe it already has legs and keeps getting away?Tell us about your funniest or most memorable time of losing something – your phone, a pet, a toothbrush, whatever! Our favorite story will grant its teller a Tile – A device that can tether your most treasured belongings to your smartphone so that you can know their whereabouts and save a little worry and time from your daily life.

Check out Tile’s website for more info on the device and how it works with your phone.