The Power of Passwords

We store a lot of data electronically, whether it’s at the office, or on social media, or anywhere else. But even the most sophisticated system is only as effective at keeping that data safe as the password you choose. Even the most powerful encryption won’t help when someone tries putting in “password” as your password. And yes, I’ve personally seen that used in corporate environments. The large security breaches confirm the same thing, that “password” is one of the most commonly used passwords.

So if you want to keep your data safe, the best way to start is with a better password. You want something difficult to guess, as well as difficult to crack by machine, but yet still memorable for yourself. Using characters instead of letters helps (such as a ‘zero’ instead of an ‘o’), though most people these days automatically attempt the common substitutions when trying to crack a password. The current trend is using phrases as your password. Due to their length, they are harder to crack. Yet, a password like “ilovetheocean” is still pretty easy to remember.

Another key is to use different passwords for your different accounts, services, etc. This way, if someone does breach a system and gets a list of usernames and passwords, they will only be able to access that system with your credentials, and won’t be able to get access to everything else you have. For example, say you use your email address and password on a forum about cars, and they get breached. That may not seem like a big issue to you, but it can be if you use the same password for everything. Now, instead of just being able to see some posts you made about your car, they can make transfers from your bank account, buy things on Amazon, and read all of your emails.

Now, it can get confusing having different passwords for every service, especially if you’re required to change them on a regular basis. It’s ok to keep them written down somewhere to keep track, but make sure it’s secure. You could use a password-protected service that maintains a list of all of your passwords. Or you could write it in a personal notebook, though you need to keep it safe from others at all times, and you need to realize the risk if you were to lose it and someone found it! Also, don’t leave your password on a sticky note on your monitor! Sure, it won’t make a difference to outside attackers. But what about someone that’s walking through the building? They can easily gather enough info that way to get into the system later on.

I know this all seems like a lot, but the effort to recover from unauthorized account access can be far, far more difficult. Just remember the key points:

  1. Use passwords that are secure (not ‘password’!!), but easy to remember
  2. Use different passwords for different services
  3. Don’t leave your password laying out where it can be easily seen

We’ve moved!

We have moved our office! We are now a part of the Syracuse Tech Garden. We are located on the ground floor of AXA Tower 2. We are directly across from the Montgomery St. entrance to the War Memorial building. If you’re stopping in, we share an office with Venture Technica, look for the sign on the door. Our address is 235 Harrison St, Syracuse, NY 13202. Our phone number is still (315) 565-7100. Give us a call or stop on down today and see how we can help you!

What are “Managed IT Services?”

We here at Syracuse Innovations Group are a Managed IT Services provider. However, a lot of people aren’t quite sure what that means. So allow me to take a moment to help clear it up. Managed Services are defined as:

Managed services are the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities and functions as a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. This can include outsourcing HR-activities, production support and lifecycle build/maintenance activities.

But what does this really mean in every day terms? It means that we can take on your company’s IT responsibilities. It means that you have the flexibility of having multiple techs on-site for a large project, or no one there when things are running well. You only pay for service as you need it.

But here at Syracuse Innovations Group, we take it a step further. There are other IT companies that just come when you call them, and fix what may have broken. But we take a more proactive approach to things. We have software that will run on your computers and servers and monitor everything (approximately 75 separate checks).

This allows us to monitor your systems 24/7. It helps us to know when a problem starts, oftentimes before you even notice it! And by catching problems before they grow too large, we can minimize downtime for your company. And keeping things running smoothly for your company is our Number 1 job!

A little something extra?

There are countless great software programs out there these days. And there are also countless bad programs out there, for one reason or another. Finding a good software program that does something you want or need is good, finding out that it’s free (legally, not pirated) is even better! The downside to this is that, generally, people aren’t making such software just to be nice.

Granted, that does happen. There are tools I use regularly that were developed by hobbyist programmers for their own benefit that they release to help others out. Often they will give the software away for free, but may ask for donations to help cover things like their time and web hosting expenses. When I find something useful, I make sure to donate to help them out.

However, there are others that look to recoup their expenses or even make money in a different way. They work with other companies, and bundle in extra software with their own. They get paid by these third parties to do this. The bundled software can range from harmless (installing Google Chrome as your default browser) to harmful (adware that infects your computer).

This isn’t just limited to random little apps either, software like Java bundles other software with its installer as well. While the bundled software may be harmless by itself, over time you can end up with so many extra programs running that your computer becomes noticeably slower. The practice is so rampant that there are even software programs now that will uncheck all checkboxes in installers for you!

How do you avoid these problems? Don’t just blow through the screens, but take a moment to look at each screen and what it’s really saying. See if it’s offering to install extra software. Pay special attention to screens with check boxes, as that’s where you can usually opt to deselect the item so it’s not installed if it’s not something you want. The key, as with many things that are computer related, is to slow down and take your time when installing software.