Do You Know What a Strong Password Looks Like?

What is Password Hygiene?The practice of securing your accounts with well constructed, unique passwords is called password hygiene. Having good password hygiene means that you will avoid the use of authentication methods that can be easily compromised. Below is a list of unhygienic password creation practices: The use of personal details, like your name or birthday The names of friends, family, or pets The use of commonly used words (like “password” or a favorite sports team) Using simple keyboard combinations (like “12345” or “qwerty”) The us of repeated login credentials (like username: Cornoa2020, password: Corona2020) Using short passwords  If you are now worried that your passwords are easily guessable, don’t fret. Here, we’re going to outline some strategies you should stop using immediately as they no longer provide the value they once did to keep your accounts secure.  Alphanumeric Switching – This is just a fancy euphemism for turning some of your letters in your password to numbers. If you’ve been making passwords for any length of time, you’ve probably taken part in this practice. The problem is that it is ineffective against the modern hacking software designed to crack passwords. Length Requirements – For much of the past decade, if you needed to make an account password, it had to be a certain number of characters. According to the Nation Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) longer passwords are actually hurting your chances of keeping an account secure as they are harder to remember.  Banning Cut and Paste – This practice was only done for a few years, but industry leaders now find it to be a pointless security gimmick. It eliminates the availability for users to use a password manager, which is one of the best practices for password-led security in 2020.  Password Hints – If you set up online banking anytime in the past decade you were asked a series of questions that would allow you to gain access to your credentials. This isn’t as effective nowadays as more information about users are available online.  Too Frequent Password Changes – You’ll still want to make users change their password, but having them do it so frequently that they forget their credentials can be a major problem for a business.  Best Practices of Password Hygiene We have come to recommend that users create passphrases made up of at least three words that don’t have any correlation. In this method, if you want to use replacement characters (like the aforementioned alphanumeric switching), it has value. For example if you were to make the  At SRS Networks, we recommend that users use a passphrase made up of at least three words that don’t have anything to do with one another. We also believe that using replacement characters can have value in this method. For example, a passphrase of “japanlovessushi” is not in itself secure, because it’s a common phrase, but a passphrase of “japanlovesenchiladas” is better. Use substitution methods to add security from there. If you would like more information about password hygiene or securing your accounts and identity online, call the IT professionals at SRS Networks today at (831) 758-3636.

Tip of the Week: Handy Excel Functions You May Not Have Known About

Count Specific Cells If you need to take a tally of the number of times a value appears in your spreadsheet, doing so is simple. Using Excel’s COUNTIF function enables you to automatically total up all cells in a given range that meet a given criteria. Once all your data is entered into a column of your spreadsheet, select a new cell and label it with the data you want to track. In the cell below it, enter the formula =COUNTIF(, then select the range you want to count within (in our case, whichever column contains your data). Once that’s added to your formula, add a comma, and then specify which value you want to tally up in quotes (or, if you’ve labelled another cell with the value, simply select the appropriate cell. Close the parenthesis on your formula, hit enter, and you’re all set. In our example, we get a count of four for “Maggie” by using the formula =COUNTIF(A:A,D1). Alternatively, =COUNTIF(A:A,”Maggie”) would work, too. Switch Value Format Here’s the thing: there are a lot of formats that are a pain to type out individually, especially if your raw data isn’t converted. Fortunately, Excel makes it a lot simpler than typing each value out in the correct format. Rather than going through the motions to adjust to the proper formatting for each one, it can be done en masse with just a few clicks. For instance, to change your values to currency, all you must do is highlight the cells you need to change and press Ctrl+Shift+$. This allows you to turn this: …into this: You also have the option to change it using the toolbar. Under Home, you should see a section labelled Number. From there, you have a few quick options to adjust the formatting, including into a few different currencies, as well as a drop-down box with plenty of other options available. Nicer Formatting Let’s go back to some basics for a moment with some basic formatting best practices. Without proper formatting, a spreadsheet can be a pain to glean any decent information from, but with the right rules in place, it can quickly gain exponentially more use. Let’s go through a few simple basics to help make your spreadsheets more comprehensible. Let’s say, for the sake of our example, you wanted to take stock of some of the items in your office. Simple enough—you’d probably begin your list with the title (“Supplies”) and then list what it was you were trying to organize. However, with your items varying in length, the spreadsheet could quickly become confusing. Fortunately, this can be fixed by selecting the column and pressing Alt+H+O+I. Don’t worry too much if you realize you missed an item… you can always add another row by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Plus Sign. Now that you’ve compiled your list, you don’t want the title “Supplies” to interfere with your amounts. To avoid that, you can merge two cells (in this case, A1 and B1) into a single cell, where “Supplies” will be written out. Select them both and press Alt+H+M+M. Feel free to align your text to the center, as well, by pressing Alt+H+A+C, or by using the icon in the menu bar. Fill in the number of items you need in the next column over, and the price […]

Tip of the Week: Activating Two-Step Verification on a Microsoft Account

What is Two-Step Verification? This security measure compounds the traditional password with a second proof of identity, which Microsoft calls the user’s security info. Microsoft’s approach is to reach out to the user each time a device is used to access the account that hasn’t yet been designated as a trusted device. Via a phone call, email, or an authenticator application, two-step verification asks the user to confirm that yes, the current attempt to access the account is legitimate. Turning on Two-Step Verification for Your Microsoft Account The process to activate two-step verification is simple: Sign into the Security basics page for your Microsoft account Access More security options Locate Two-step verification, and select Set up two-step verification Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the process You have the option of selecting a phone number, an email address, or an authentication app to use. If you choose to use an application, but not the Microsoft Authenticator app, you will have to follow the provided on-screen instructions to link your account to the app of your choice. Setting up two-step verification on any account you use can greatly benefit your security. To learn more ways to secure your work-essential technology, reach out to the IT professionals at SRS Networks by calling (831) 758-3636.

Tip of the Week: Controlling Your Text in Microsoft Word

Before we begin, a word of warning: these tips feature some changes to settings. Make sure you check with your organization’s IT resource to confirm that these changes are okay to make, and for assistance in making them if necessary. First, let’s discuss Word’s tendency to reformat what you’ve typed, as it does with everything from websites (adding a hyperlink) to changing the kind of list you just typed as soon as you press Enter. This is caused by the AutoFormat As You Type setting. While some may be helpful, others are likely to trip you up. However, you can edit these options through a pretty simple process: Choose File > Options In the Proofing category, pick AutoCorrect Options Select the AutoFormat As You Type tab From there, you can deselect the options that you no longer want to take effect, and leave the ones that you still want in place. Secondly, there’s the tendency for Microsoft Word to automatically wrap text (which is a fancy term for simply moving down to the next line when space runs out). However, there are some phrases that it is better to keep on one line – like dates, names, telephone numbers, and hyphenated phrases. For example, typing in “All-you-can-eat” might end up putting the phrase on two lines, when you want it to always be stuck together and treated like a single word. The best way to fix these issues is to use non-breaking spaces/characters, rather than the typical ones. These are effectively the same, except that the non-breaking ones will connect the text, and if needed, move it all down as a group to the next line. Non-breaking space: Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar Non-breaking hyphen: Ctrl+Shift+Hyphen Hopefully, these tips will make your use of Word that much less frustrating. For more tips, subscribe to our blog!

Basic Methods to Keep Your Phone Secure

Keep Your Phone with You in Public This one is a bit of a no-brainer, unless you want to have your phone stolen. You should never leave your phone unattended in a public place. Not only could your own data be put at risk, but if you’ve accessed company documents via a Bring Your Own Device policy, who knows what the person who took your device might find before your device is remotely wiped? Besides, phones are by no means cheap, so it isn’t something you want to lose anyway. Keep Your Credentials Safe Most phones today offer to store things like passwords, PINs, and payment card details in order to make things more convenient for the user. However, this holds true if the user isn’t actually you, but is a cybercriminal who has stolen the device. It is better to simply not store these kinds of credentials in your phone, but if you absolutely must, only use a secure application to do so. If you aren’t sure which ones are secure, we can steer you in the right direction. Use Networks Wisely While Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are extremely useful means of connecting to the Internet and the peripherals you are trying to leverage, doing so without being mindful of your security is a dangerous prospect. Unprotected and unsecured networks can open your device to threats (along with any data stored on it). Do your best to avoid connecting to unknown networks and signals to keep from leaving your phone vulnerable to threats. Regularly Remove Data from Your Phone Your phone has a pretty good memory (so to speak) which means that it will retain a lot of data. Whether it’s your autocomplete feature keeping a record of personal data you have typed, or your browsing history providing an in-depth summary of your use of your phone, hackers and cybercriminals find precisely this kind of information to be valuable to them. Clearing this data reduces the information that a hacker could potentially access. When it comes to protecting your data – both business and personal – you need to consider all the ways that it is vulnerable to hackers. SRS Networks can help you do so. To learn more, reach out to us at (831) 758-3636.