Tag: Security

Software
What does it mean when Microsoft discontinues a product?

As an I.T. administrator any time a product is announced to be discontinued a slew of emails come in asking me “what do we do!?” It may seem like you’re being bullied into upgrading but that’s not at all the case. Any company has to cycle out old products to focus on new products. That’s all they’re doing. They support products as long as possible but there comes a time when they must refocus their efforts on bigger and better things. On the other hand when they start popping up notices every time you turn on your computer, that’s a bit more invasive.

It was sad to see the once great Windows XP operating system lose support back on April 8th, 2014, but even 3 years later I still see it frequently in use. Is that a concern? Well, yes and no. It really depends on how it’s used. I wouldn’t suggest using your Windows XP system to surf the web any longer. Fewer browsers are supporting updates, anti-virus solutions are slowly moving away from supporting XP and as a result it’s slowly becoming obsolete and more of a security risk in business environments. However, some smaller companies that depend on software that’s tried and true on their XP systems sometimes experience large costs associated with being forced to upgrade. With proper precautions these systems can still be safely utilized. For starters up to date anti-virus is a must. Content filtering is also a good idea just to prevent idle hands from visiting dangerous places on the internet. Whether it’s an operating system or software, just because it’s being discontinued doesn’t mean you have to upgrade immediately. They’re not going to automatically uninstall it from your system, they’re just not going to offer any further updates nor offer answers to any questions you may have about that particular software. Take the upcoming End of Life for Microsoft Office 2007 on October 10th, 2017 for example, the last major update was back on October 25th, 2011. Likely every possible question you could have about Office 2007 is already answered somewhere online. So, although Microsoft is saying they’re discontinuing the product in a few months, it has not needed much support for several years now.

Once discontinued a product will eventually become obsolete. That’s the point at which upgrading does make sense. As I said earlier, XP’s browser options are diminishing which makes surfing the internet difficult. Forget about Internet Explorer 8, you’d have to use FireFox to view most websites these days on a Windows XP system. But, eventually no browsers will offer a good web experience on XP, making upgrading to a newer OS a necessary decision. To sum it all up, don’t concern yourself too much about End of Life notices. Don’t brush them off completely, but you have plenty of time to figure out an upgrade plan.

Security
Secure Your Passwords

 
How important is it to have a strong password? Passwords keep your information, money, and identity safe. Here are some ways to keep yourself safe.

Complexity

The best way to keep yourself safe is to have a password that can’t be cracked easily. The password should have uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. This prevents hackers from using dictionary attacks.

If your password is too simple (123456, password, etc.) it will be cracked in no time. To see how long it will take hackers to guess your password try this Password Cracking Estimator.

Multiple Passwords

Having just one or two passwords makes you vulnerable to getting all of the websites you use hacked as well. Once they correctly guess your password on let’s say eBay, they will try it on PayPal, Amazon, Walmart, or anywhere else you could have a sensitive information saved.

It is best to have at least four different passwords and to try and change them regularly.

Do Not Save Your Passwords

It is not smart to keep a list of your passwords anywhere. Even if you just write them down on a sticky note or in a notebook, someone could still get their hands on it. The best method is to just to keep them in your head but if you really need to write it down keep it somewhere safe and not just out in the open (On your monitor or under your keyboard).

 
Changing your passwords, having multiple passwords, and keeping them complex and secret is the best way to keep your information safe.

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