What Makes a Good Password?

What makes a good password?

The answer here could be subjective but there are a few things that all the experts agree on. One of those things is that multi-factored authentication (MFA) works and that you should use it if you can.

There are many sites and services where it is not enabled or available and a good old-fashioned password is all that stands between your account and the bad guys. What is the recommended best practice in these scenarios? You guessed it:

Password Managers

When people are forced to create and use long, complex, and frequently changing passwords, it poses a challenge. We tend to inherently reuse the same passwords among different websites or use only slightly different passwords, which create an easy-to-decipher pattern.

A password manager mitigates this risk by creating, storing and using long and complex (or at least very different) passwords for you.

In this post, let’s compare the pros and cons of password managers.

Pros

Easy to create long, unique passwords.
Well, they certainly work as advertised and do a good job with this. The only disadvantage to this is that some websites don’t allow long, unique passwords. Or even symbols! If given a choice, I will stay away from these websites.

Auto-type / Auto-login
That’s right. Another advantage is that many password managers have built-in features to type the passwords or form-fill automatically. I prefer using the auto-type style rather than a browser extension for form filling but that’s another post.

Support for multiple devices
A lot of password managers (especially of the cloud-based variety) can be used across multiple devices (Android, Windows Desktop, Mac, Linux). Support varies from product to product so be sure to do your research before choosing a solution that works for you.

Sharing with family members (Never share work accounts, even with your spouse)
While a very dark “pro”, in the event of your death you can simplify your partner or family’s life greatly by giving them access to all of your online accounts. If you don’t want them to have access to all your accounts, you can opt to share specific accounts.

All your passwords will be different
Never reuse the same password for different sites/services. Ever.

Can store more than passwords
Credit card information, insurance details, notes. Almost anything you need to keep secret can be stored in this encrypted  vault.

Cons

A single point of failure
Don’t lose your master password. Or give it away. It is also important to use a quite long and complex password as it acts as the gatekeeper for all your other passwords and information.

Support across different browsers
As mentioned before, this varies from product to product. While the top 3 are generally supported, if you use a less popular browser, or your company doesn’t allow browser extensions you may run into issues.

What are my choices?

There are many. Some top password managers store your credentials locally, while others rely on cloud services for storage and synchronization. Others take a hybrid approach. Some of the options using local storage (such as KeePass and 1Password) still support synchronization through Dropbox or other storage services.

Deciding which password manager is best for you will come down to features and ease of use, as well as to whether you’re comfortable using a cloud-based password manager that stores your passwords on the Internet.

Some  of the more popular and reputable ones you can check out are Lastpass, 1Password, Dashlane, KeeWeb and KeePass.

In conclusion

Any of these options are better than trying to remember many complicated passwords for the many complicated sites in our very complicated online lives these days. Or, *gasp*, reusing the same password. Go forth and make smart decisions young padawan.

How to Get Free Google Play Credit on Your Android Phone

Do you ever find yourself browsing the Google Play Store unsure if you want to drop a few bucks on an app or a movie rental? Would you be more inclined to spend that money if it didn’t come out of your bank account? Let me introduce you to Google Opinion Rewards!

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What is it?

 

Google Opinion Rewards is an app that occasionally sends you small multiple-choice surveys. These surveys are typically 1-3 questions long and are often based on data gathered from the location services on your phone. You may be asked if you went grocery shopping, stayed at a hotel, or ate at a restaurant.

 

Completing these surveys typically takes about 15 seconds and they pay out anywhere from 10 cents to a dollar in Google Play Store credit which can be used for apps, movie rentals, e-book purchases – virtually anything you can spend money on within the Android ecosystem.

 

Does it really work?

 

It sure does! I’ve had the app installed for a while now and I’ve earned over $116 in credits. I’ve purchased tons of games, premium apps, and movies without spending a cent of my own money. However, keep in mind that you must answer the surveys honestly – if you claim to have stayed at a hotel in Quebec when your phone has never left Alberta, Google may flag your account for giving dishonest answers and you’ll stop receiving surveys.

 

If you like the idea of free apps for minimal effort, download Google Opinion Rewards and start earning Google Play Store credit today!

Windows 10 Aero Shake

Did you know that Windows 10 has a feature that will allow you to quickly minimize all windows except for the one that you are working on? Well, it does.

Simply click and hold the top of the window, as if you are going to move the window, then give it a little shake. Just like that, you are left with only the window which you are working on.

 

Maybe you’ve been in a situation where that happened by accident. AHHHHHHH, how do I turn this off?? By following these steps (this is for more advanced users).

1.       Search and open Edit group policy.

2.       In the next window that opens, on the left-hand side, expand User Configuration > Administrative templates

3.       Click on Desktop but do not expand it. Now on the right-hand side, you will see an item called “Turn off Aero Shake window minimizing mouse gesture”. Right click on that and select edit.

4.       On the next windows that opens, click enable on the left and then click apply.

5.       Last step. Log out and log back in!

That’s it! You’ll never accidentally minimize all but one of your windows again.

How to Add Holidays to Your Outlook Calendar

Wouldn’t it be great if the calendar in Microsoft Outlook had statutory holidays included? It does not have them out of the box, because Outlook is used all over the world, and just about every day of the year is a holiday somewhere. But it’s easy to add Canadian holidays to your calendar with just a few clicks. Here’s how you do it:

 

First open Outlook.

 

Then click File > Options.

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Now in the Outlook options window, click Calendar, then click Add Holidays.

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You’ll see a list of the world’s countries. Find Canada and add a check to the box, then click OK.

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That’s all there is to it. Now you’ll never accidentally schedule a meeting on Family Day.

RIP Windows 7

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The end of Windows 7

Almost 10 years ago today, Microsoft released Windows 7—an operating system that was well-received and considered a worthy follow up to Windows XP (most users skipped the much-maligned Windows Vista that came in between). Over 70% of businesses today still have Windows 7 in production.

In January 2020, the end of Windows 7 will officially come, at which point it will be considered a dead and unsupported product. This also applies to several other popular products of the same lineage—Office 2010, Server 2008 and Exchange 2010.

What are the implications?

Although your Windows 7 computer will still turn on and be fully-functional after the official last day of support, the computer will no longer receive security updates. For context, Windows 7 currently receives an average of 20-30 security updates and patches per month which tackle new exploits and security issues that are discovered.

As time goes on, your Windows 7 will become less and less secure as these known issues are no longer remedied.

Organizations subject to security regulations like PCI or HIPPA will immediately be out of compliance with these unsupported systems.

What should I do?

Microsoft began giving away free upgrades to Windows 10 in 2018 and adoption of the Operating System is at an all time high, with the total number of computers running Windows 10 exceeding that of Windows 7. Any modern computer purchased within the last 3 years comes with Windows 10 by default, ensuring an organic transition to the new Operating System by most individuals and organizations.   

In most cases this is a good time to upgrade or replace older computers that came with Windows 7 installed. In our experience Windows 10 compliments modern day hardware including the move to faster Solid-State hard drives versus older, slower mechanical drives (with spinning parts inside of them).

Accurate understands the impact of IT changes for its customers and will begin working with anyone still utilizing Windows 7 to develop a customized roadmap and plan to complete the upgrade to Windows 10. We will also confirm compatibility with all your existing software and evaluate the need for user-training to ensure a seamless transition to the world of Windows 10.

What should I know about Windows 10?

The first important thing to note is that Microsoft has publicly stated that “Windows 10 will be the last Windows released”. What they mean by this is they will treat Windows 10 more like a service and release ongoing features and enhancements for it in an iterative manner versus saving these for major released every 6-10 years.

Windows 10 is a platform for all devices and can transform itself from a familiar mouse-and-keyboard type layout like Windows 7 to a blocky-tablet mode designed for touch with the click of a button. It is also designed from the ground up to play nicely with the Office 365 ecosystem.

OneDrive, Teams and modern Office all integrate harmoniously within Windows including Cortana search, Windows dictation functions and even the Start menu.

Businesses and consumers agree Windows 10 is an excellent platform and adoption has been high and it has been installed on over 800 million computers across the world.

Next Steps

If you are currently a client of Accurate Network Services Inc., we are already working on a plan to gracefully segue to Windows 10 and we will be in touch with you shortly (if not already). If you have any questions or concerns about the impending end of life of Windows 7 or wish to prioritize the conversation around implications and upgrades please do not hesitate to reach out.

If you are not currently a client but would like more information or a second opinion about your upgrade path, we would be happy to hear from you as well.