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Expert Articles

Two factor authentication – little pain, big gain

previewThe rise and rise of the cloud

The use of cloud computing continues to grow rapidly. Packages such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite are very widely used across businesses of all sizes for a multitude of purposes, including e-mail, file storage and file sharing.

Legislative requirements are also driving wider adoption of functionally specific software, including cloud accounting to meet HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ requirements. Many businesses will be familiar with well known packages such as Xero and QuickBooks Online.

Popular, but also a target

Whilst cloud computing is flexible, easily scalable and often the most cost-effective solution (especially for small businesses), there are risks, particularly around security. Popular products attract the attention not only of people seeking the benefits, but also the attention of cyber criminals. It is inevitable a proportion of users will not take even the most basic precautions to protect themselves. And with millions of users, this makes them a target.

The standard method for accessing cloud services is via a username and password. However, given the value of the data contained within businesses’ cloud based systems, this is now widely considered to be a disproportionately weak approach.

Usernames are typically a person’s e-mail address; these are easy to find out or guess. And because people have so many different passwords nowadays, many resort to things which are easy to remember. Easy to remember, but therefore also easy for password-cracking software to guess. Examples of commonly used passwords are: QWERTY, Password123, Pa$$word123

People also fall into the trap of using the same password across multiple systems. If one system is hacked, the door is then easily opened to many other accounts. For example, if your personal Facebook password is compromised, and you have used that same password for your work Office 365 account, then that work account becomes an obvious target. It does not take a criminal long via your LinkedIn profile to find out your current place of work, guess your work e-mail address and see if the password you used for Facebook gets you into the company systems.

Two factor authentication – a big leap forward

Users are often unaware of readily available tools to manage the potential downsides. Two factor authentication (2FA) is one of these key defence mechanisms. It is very strong layer of protection which can be enabled on most popular cloud software. A practical example would be receiving a unique code to your mobile phone; you need to enter this in addition to your user name and password before accessing cloud services.

The common objection to 2FA is that it is an inconvenience to users. However, this objection needs to be compared with the significant uplift in security it provides. Consider the inconvenience and potential damage if your company’s cloud services were comprised by a cyber attack which would have been prevented by 2FA. And consider the inconvenience to the criminal who does not have your phone and therefore the code they need to attempt the hack in the first place.

The UK Government recognises the value of 2FA. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published advice for business on its website:

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/multi-factor-authentication-online-services

In short, if 2FA is available and feasible to implement, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Good advice for work and home

2FA is one of the biggest single measures you can take to protect your business systems, but the advice is equally applicable to the services so many of us use in our personal lives. Facebook, Amazon and LinkedIn to name a handful of the most popular ones all support 2FA. The NCSC has also published information for individuals and families on this topic:

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/setting-two-factor-authentication-2fa

JAMES ALLISON

James AllisonSTRATEGIC IT CONSULTANT. EASYLIFEIT NORWICH
JAMES IS AN EXPERIENCED AND VERSATILE BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL WHO HAS WORKED ACROSS MULTIPLE SECTORS. HE PROVIDES COMPLEMENTARY SKILLS TO EXECUTIVE TEAMS, ADVISING ACROSS A RANGE OF DISCIPLINES INCLUDING IT STRATEGY, BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING AND IT PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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Windows 7 End of Life Security - IoD EoE Ambassador Report

After 14th January 2020, Microsoft will no longer be providing security or critical updates for PCs running Windows 7. Although this is nearly a year away, businesses should be thinking about this now as it may involve a significant level of expenditure, particularly if they use the opportunity to invest in new PCs for their staff.

Windows 7 was a very popular operating system; its successor – Windows 8 – was not popular and was not widely adopted. Many businesses carried on using Windows 7 longer than was anticipated as a result. Microsoft’s most recent operating system – Windows 10 - has been around for about 3 years and has proved popular and has been widely adopted. However, businesses that have not upgraded their hardware for a while may find they are still using Windows 7.

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EasylifeIT™ Data Protection Audit

preview

THE STORM HAS PASSED – RIGHT?

“GDPR – thank goodness that is over! I got fed up with e-mails asking for my consent and inviting me to read privacy notices.”
Relief seems to have been a common reaction to the arrival of the UK’s third generation of data protection laws. After months of media attention and a good deal of confusion, everything seemingly went quiet.

You could be forgiven for thinking the storm had passed. Time to start the clean-up operation and cleanse the inbox of all those GDPR related messages from May you never opened. It all blew over and nothing really happened. It was just like the Millennium Bug. Not quite…

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GDPR – separating fact from fiction

previewThe new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018. Awareness amongst businesses is increasing. However, whilst some companies are well on the way to updating their processes and procedures in preparation, the majority have either yet to start or are in the very early phases.

I’m confused – is this going to prevent ‘Business As Usual’?

A key concern of many businesses is confusion surrounding the implications. As the profile of GDPR has grown, so too has a perceived level of misinformation. It is something which the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the government body which upholds data rights such as GDPR, recognises.
In response, the ICO has begun publishing a series of blogs to challenge some of the common myths about GDPR. They are designed to put the record straight and give business some clear guidance. Whatever stage you are at in your preparations, they are a valuable and easy to digest source of information.
https://iconewsblog.org.uk/ 

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EasylifeIT™ GDPR Scoping Audit

previewIntroduction

As ‘Step 2’ of its ’12 steps to take now’ guidance on preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) recommends that organisations should:

“document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with.  You may need to organise an information audit.”

Implementing the GDPR could have significant resource implications, especially for larger and more complex organisations. However, the size of your company is not the only determining factor.  Smaller companies may need to commit a disproportionate amount of effort to achieve compliance, particularly if their main business activities require them to control and/or process large volumes of personal data.

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How to contact EasylifeIT™

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Strategy and consultancy

Strategy and consultancy
EasylifeIT™ Director
ConceiveIT. A bewildering array of choices; unfathomable jargon. EasylifeIT™ will talk to you in plain English. We will help you make sense of your options and give you the confidence to make good decisions

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Preparation and implementation

Preparation and implementation
EasylifeIT™ Project Manager
ImplementIT. Let us plan, manage and implement the project for you, taking the weight off your shoulders while bringing years of cumulative experience to ensure its success.

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IT SITE MANAGER and support

IT SITE MANAGER and support
EasylifeIT™ Site Manager
ManageIT. Few things are so disruptive to your operations as when the IT misbehaves, and a poorly maintained and managed system is much more likely to go wrong. Delegate this responsibility to easylifeIT™

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IT SECURITY and Cyberessentials

IT SECURITY and Cyberessentials
EasylifeIT™ Security
SecureIT. The use of internet and email has brought enormous benefits, but also considerable risk. Every day there are cyber-attacks against companies just like yours

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