Category Archives: Personal Information Security

Passwords? It’s enough to give you a headache

Password headache

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life was so much easier when all we had to remember was a 4 figure PIN to get money from the cashpoint machine. Nowadays we need passwords for almost everything we do online and most people have many accounts and registrations that require passwords, which we are meant to remember – it’s enough to give you a headache.

We are told by every budding security geek that our passwords need to be strong or complex, that they should be at least so many characters long, that we shouldn’t re-use them, that we shouldn’t write them down, that we should change them regularly, that we should… STOP – rewind that last bit… We are now being told we don’t have to change passwords regularly – HOORAH! Continue reading “Passwords? It’s enough to give you a headache” »

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Bert Curtin

Senior Information Assurance Consultant at Ascentor

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Data Protection – your ‘need to know’ list is getting longer

Data Protection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update: Since this article was published in January 2016 the UK has voted to leave the European Union. Accordingly, there has been confusion surrounding the adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Readers may also want to read a new blog on the issues surrounding GDPR and Brexit.

If you are involved in data protection for your organisation, you may feel like you are facing change and uncertainty in equal measure – and you’d be right.

While you’ll need to know about the Data Protection Act, you may also be aware of recent changes to the Safe Harbor arrangement affecting international storage of data in the US. In addition, the European Commission plans to unify data protection within the European Union (EU) with a single law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This article guides you through the Data Protection ‘essentials’ with links for further information. We conclude with a checklist to help you ensure best practice now – and in readiness for the changes that are coming. Continue reading “Data Protection – your ‘need to know’ list is getting longer” »

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Ben Wheeler

Ascentor marketing and content editor.

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Do you need to TalkTalk about cyber security?

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 08.31.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another week, another high profile example of cyber crime, this time at telecoms company TalkTalk who have had what Police describe as a “significant and sustained” cyber-attack.

TalkTalk has 4 million customers in the UK, all of whom must be concerned about the safety of their personal data. The company has said that potentially all customers could be affected but it was too early to know what data had been stolen.

The TalkTalk attack is a prime example of why organisations that hold large amounts of customer data are so attractive to attackers. The list of customer data that may have been compromised is listed on the TalkTalk website – it makes for scary reading. Continue reading “Do you need to TalkTalk about cyber security?” »

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Ben Wheeler

Ascentor marketing and content editor.

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VPNs – a secure way to call home?

iStock_000035084458_MediumMost business users are familiar with the VPN, the must-have reach-back mechanism that allows us to work from home, a train, a coffee shop.  The VPN allows us to securely connect to our company’s network and access email, documents, applications – even VOIP and video conferencing. But how secure are the low-cost, consumer focused providers and the transition tools on every network?
Continue reading “VPNs – a secure way to call home?” »

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Peter Curran

Principal IA Consultant at Ascentor

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Which cyber security breach could cause you the most pain this year?

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 16.30.19“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…” must be one of the most parodied film lines of all time. Surely things couldn’t get any worse for the citizens of Amity back in the 1970’s – but they did. Fast forward to December 2014 and the executives at Sony Pictures must have felt the same way. But cybercriminals, like sharks, are lethal hunters and it did get worse, much, much worse.

As it turned out, what was initially thought to be commercially damaging really only scratched the surface. Far worse was to come in terms of leaked employee data and embarrassing internal memos – not to mention a diplomatic tussle with North Korea.

Continue reading “Which cyber security breach could cause you the most pain this year?” »

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Dave James

Information Risk Management expert and Managing Director of Ascentor

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How to Create Strong, Memorable Passwords that are Really Difficult to Crack

Following on from my earlier blog ‘How to create strong memorable passwords that are difficult to crack’ this article takes the theme a bit further, by using the strong memorable password / passphrase that you have already created to create more, for use with all your different online accounts.

To help us do this, we are going to use a technique that is known as salting. Continue reading “How to Create Strong, Memorable Passwords that are Really Difficult to Crack” »

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Bert Curtin

Senior Information Assurance Consultant at Ascentor

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Four Stages to Protecting Your Online Identity

Your online identity is becoming more important every day. It is a statement of who you are and is extremely sought after by those who may wish to steal your money, do malicious things in your name or just delete your entire online existence just because they can – see this frightening true life story by Mat Honan – How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.

In this blog we look at four stages for protecting your online identity so that you avoid becoming the victim of identity theft. Continue reading “Four Stages to Protecting Your Online Identity” »

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Paddy Keating

Director and Government Service Manager at Ascentor

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Your Online Identity: Is it Acceptable to Provide False Information Online?

“Do not use your real name, your real date of birth.”

Andy Smith, the Cabinet Office

To lie or to identify – that is the question

When asked about identity theft, Andy Smith, PSTSA Security Manager for the Cabinet Office recently stated at the Parliament and Internet Conference 2012 that it was perfectly acceptable, indeed sensible to provide false information online. His comments have caused a storm in the media (see this BBC article on the matter) and led to much criticism, with some people implying that he was encouraging false identities used by cyber-bullies and criminal elements.

(If you are interested, here is a recording of the conference http://new.livestream.com/Pictfor/piconf12/videos/5297455 so you can hear for yourself what was actually said. Fast forward to 1:32:40 to get to the interesting part.)

There are a number of interpretations of Andy’s comments on the Internet, and some gross exaggerations by the media. Having listened to what he said in context we believe that Andy’s underlying principle is valid. Our stance is definitely worth some clarification. Continue reading “Your Online Identity: Is it Acceptable to Provide False Information Online?” »

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Paddy Keating

Director and Government Service Manager at Ascentor

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Ten Top Tips for PIN Security

In our first blog on PINs we looked at the most common combinations and why choosing a good PIN is in your own interest. We now turn our attention to choosing the right PINs and keeping them safe.

It should be obvious that the most commonly used PIN patterns should be avoided (as should the least common ones now they have been published!) The more random the PIN pattern the better it will be. This is all well and good but you still have to remember it.

Here are our best tips for good PIN security:

Continue reading “Ten Top Tips for PIN Security” »

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Paddy Keating

Director and Government Service Manager at Ascentor

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How Predictable is your PIN Number?

How secure is you PIN number? An enlightening new study reveals that many PIN numbers are shockingly predictable and far too easy to guess.

Is it about time you changed your PIN?

Psst – I wanna tell you a secret

The most infrequently used and therefore arguably the best PIN is 8068. Well it was until it was revealed in the recent study of PIN usage by Data Genetics. This fascinating and statistical study also reveals the most commonly used PINs and therefore the ones most likely to be guessed.

What makes a poor PIN choice?

Continue reading “How Predictable is your PIN Number?” »

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Paddy Keating

Director and Government Service Manager at Ascentor

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