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Press Start Ltd Blog

Press Start Ltd has been serving the East Anglia area since 1996, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Which Authentication Option is Best?

Which Authentication Option is Best?

Smartphones have steadily increased in their capabilities and as they have done so, they have resultantly gathered more and more data that needs to be secured against potential security threats. Fortunately, there are also more ways to protect your smartphone than ever before. For today’s blog, we’ll take a look of the options you have to secure your devices.

The Password
Passwords are the reigning king of authentication. A well-regarded password is your average user’s go-to; and if not created with security in mind, can be very problematic. Since users have problem remembering new passwords, even if it’s one that they are able to choose, many users will create obvious passwords that can easily be guessed or hacked.

Conversely, a password (or the passphrase) can be one of the strongest security measures available for your mobile device, as it is important for every mobile user, especially one that has access to business networks, to secure their devices.

The Pattern Lock
The second option we will go over is called a pattern lock. It is the three-by-three swipe-based gesture that unlocks the device. This natural and intuitive lock is very fast and if all nine dots are used in a pattern, it provides close to 400,000 possible configurations. Pattern lock comes up short in a couple ways. People tend to use shapes that are more easily guessable. It’s also relatively easy to ascertain the password if you watch a user’s hand.

The PIN
The PIN authentication option is a relatively strong one, as the typical four numeral option has over 10,000 different combinations. Android features the ability to support up to 16 digits. That’s 10 quadrillion different combinations. Of course, not many people are going to be able to remember a 16-digit PIN (and how annoying would it be to have to enter that every time you unlock your phone?). Simple pins are the norm and therefore not very secure.

The Fingerprint Scanner
This authentication method is now becoming standard on most smartphones and has by-in-large been very popular. It’s secure enough to be trustworthy and very fast. Moreover, many financial applications utilise the fingerprint as a form of authentication, making the option that much more attractive. The only drawbacks are that sometimes manufacturers will put it in an inconvenient spot on the device and that it doesn’t work with gloves.

Using the Face
All newer smartphones have been taking advantage of facial recognition software. This allows a user to gain access by just glancing at the phone. Since this is an operating system-dependent option, most phones will be getting this option. It may not currently be the most secure option, but as the technology advances, this will be the go-to method for all authentication.

Other Security Measures
Many phones now also offer security features that rely on alternative forms of authentication. On-body detection keeps the device unlocked whenever it is being carried - regardless of who is carrying it. Other options such as having your device unlock when a user says “Okay, Google” is more for convenience than privacy or device security.

What’s the Best Option?
Currently, if you are looking for the most secure and accessible option, your best bet is to use the fingerprint scanner on your phone. Back that up with a five-or-six-digit PIN and you’ll be good to go. In the future, expect the facial recognition software to improve precipitously; and therefore, be the most secure (and popular) option to get into a mobile device.

What form do you use? Leave your favourite security methods in the comments section below.

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Tech Term: Cookies Defined

Tech Term: Cookies Defined

Chances are, if you’ve spent any amount of time around a computer, you’ve heard of browser cookies. What you may not have heard, is what these cookies do. For today’s Tech Term, we’ll explore what cookies are and what they do.

What are Cookies?
A cookie is a sample of information that a website stores on a user’s computer in text format that only that particular website can access. This information, made up of name-value pairs, informs the website if you have ever visited before and allows it to personalise your experience as a user. These cookies are often removed once the browser window is closed down, but they can be designed to last longer.

Cookies are what enable a website to “remember” that you are logged in and allow you to change particular settings without them reverting back the next time you navigate to a new page. Furthermore, cookies can allow websites to remember your browsing tendencies and suggest things that might interest you, even if you haven’t logged in. This is especially apparent on ecommerce sites that offer you products that might interest you based on the products that you’ve viewed in the past.

Are Cookies Dangerous?
In a word, no. All these pieces of data are viewable only by the website that delivered them. This means that Website A can only see cookies that it has delivered and its cookies are likewise hidden from Website B. As a result, if Website B was attempting some malicious activities, the information that Website A has stored is safe.

However, some cookies are used for purposes that may be unwelcome to some users. Have you ever been browsing for a particular item on Amazon and then notice that the other websites you visit are displaying advertisements for related items? This is the result of an advertising cookie taking note of what you have demonstrated interest in, thereby allowing it to customise the advertisement to best fit your interests.

Clearing Cookies
Of course, you can remove the cookies that your browser has accumulated by using the Clear Private Data tool. However, this will also erase any saved login credentials that you do want websites to have saved. The majority of browsers have ways to work around this by whitelisting some websites as trusted to save cookies.

Are there any other Tech Terms you’d like defined, or do you have more questions about cookies? Call us on 01638 603204 and let us know!

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Introducing the Three Types of Cloud Solutions

Introducing the Three Types of Cloud Solutions

Cloud computing is an ever-growing industry and it’s only going to grow more popular as time goes on. More businesses than ever have started to adopt the cloud in at least some capacity. Is your company one of the few that haven’t yet moved to the cloud? If so, you’ll want to at least consider it, as your business could gain considerable benefits from doing so.

Depending on the type of business you run, as well as its specific needs, the type of cloud you implement will vary in scope, size and build. There are typically three different types of the cloud: public, private, and hybrid. Each of them comes with their own specific strengths and weaknesses.

Public Cloud
The public cloud is meant to help businesses with a limited budget gain access to crucial elements of the cloud, including storage, access to applications or services and networking. Generally speaking, the public cloud is primarily used to provide entry-level cloud access to businesses of all kinds. Examples of the public cloud include services like Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, as well as Google’s G Suite, both of which provide productivity suites and storage to businesses through cloud distribution. What the public cloud offers in terms of efficiency and ease of setup can often make up for the lack of customisation that many businesses find with it.

Private Cloud
Private Clouds are generally more customised to suit the needs of your business, whereas public clouds are meant to be used more as a general solution. Private clouds are hosted on-site, managed by an in-house IT department and require more attention. Compared to the public cloud, private clouds are generally implemented by businesses that know specifically what they need and how they want it set up.

Hybrid Cloud
The hybrid cloud is considered to be somewhere in the middle of the public and private, affording small businesses the benefits of both with little drawback, if any at all. Often times, hybrid clouds are implemented for the purposes of having a customised infrastructure without all of the responsibilities of managing one. A managed service provider like Press Start Ltd can manage and maintain your cloud infrastructure on its own in-house network so that you don’t have to. To learn more, call us on 01638 603204.

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What Kind of Insurance Can Your Business Get for Potential Data Loss?

What Kind of Insurance Can Your Business Get for Potential Data Loss?

We want to talk a little bit about cyber liability insurance and why it’s important that your business understands what is covered and what isn’t. It’s something that no business actually wants to talk about as the worst-case scenario is often a bit too unnerving to consider.

If you’ve never heard of cyber liability insurance, it’s insurance that allows you to pay a company for protection against events that might cause data loss or other similar damage to your computing infrastructure. We know what you’re thinking--”That’s why I pay for security software, like antivirus and firewalls.” While it’s true that the two are somewhat conceptually similar, it’s not always so simple.

Let’s say that a hacker has stolen data from a company. That company then becomes liable for the data that’s been stolen, whether it’s personally identifiable information, medical, or financial data. A perfect example of this is the Equifax breach, which exposed the credit information over a hundred million consumers. Equifax was able to stay in business after one of the worst data breaches in history, although it is still relatively early in the process. Sources have stated that their cyber liability insurance would have covered up to £150 million worth of restitution, but with over 140 million people’s personally identifiable information being exposed, the liability will should easily blow past that.

Chances are that your business doesn’t deal with 14,000 customers, let alone 140 million, but cyber liability insurance is an effective backup plan if your network or infrastructure is breached and your customer’s sensitive data is stolen. Responsible businesses will have defensive tactics installed to protect the data from direct assault. One such solution is an antivirus. Depending on the product that you use, or who offers it, any damage done by a data breach or virus on your network might only be covered under incredibly specific circumstances. If the antivirus crashes, or if it’s not up to date, the insurance provider may not be liable and will roundly refuse to reimburse your organisation in the event that it is inundated with malware; or is the victim of a data breach. As true with any insurance, if the situation doesn’t line up with the language in the agreement, they are not beholden to honour a claim.

Of course, we’re not insurance professionals, nor do we pretend to be. We just want to make sure that you know where your business stands on cyber liability insurance and what you can do to increase your awareness. There are many reasons why your business would decide that they need cyber liability insurance. With data now being viewed as more of a commodity than ever, you are seeing organisations invest more in the protection of their data. Since any situation in which cyber liability insurance would trigger would have resulted in data being stolen of lost, companies need to manage all the negative aspects associated with losing customer’s data, which outside of the obvious data loss, includes ensuring that their organisational reputation isn’t completely toxic to new and existing customers.

You can start by making sure that your business’ antivirus is always up to date for the latest security threats. Press Start Ltd can be counted on to keep your antivirus ready to tackle all of the latest threats your organisation faces. We can remotely patch and secure your company servers, workstations and network components so that they’ll be secure against all manners of viruses, malware and other threats.

Remember, we’re not insurance experts, but we do know our way around technology and are experts in protecting organisations against the cyber threats they face. To learn more about how we can help you keep your technology from being a pain in the neck, reach out to us at 01638 603204.

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How to Spot Three Forms of Phishing Attacks

How to Spot Three Forms of Phishing Attacks

One of the crazy things about hackers is that they will do whatever it takes to ensure that they steal as much information and sensitive data as possible. One of the more innovative ways that hackers spread threats is through spam. Unwanted messages have grown from simple annoyances, to the spread of unwanted software and malware, all the way to sophisticated attacks on targeted individuals known as phishing attacks. Do you have ways to secure your business?

Phishing attacks come in various shapes and forms. Here are some of the most common ways that hackers will use elaborate phishing attacks to scam your business, including phone calls, normal emails and social media.

Phishing Calls
If you receive calls from strange numbers that don’t leave messages, there’s a solid chance that you could be the target of a phishing call. These messages are designed to target specific employees within your organisation to coax information out of them. They might try to be from IT support to steal a printer model number, or perhaps they are hoping to steal usernames and passwords. Either way, the point stands that your organisation contains lots of information that a scammer finds helpful.

It’s incredibly important that you teach your employees to know the difference between a fake phone call and a real one. Put them through the ringer when they call and try to guarantee their authenticity (or lack thereof). You should always cross-check contact information before giving up any information to anyone. When in doubt, simply don’t give away anything important.

Phishing Emails
While a phishing phone call will be pressuring your staff to make an immediate decision, a phishing email will likely give you more time to decide if you want to hand over information or commit to a decision. Tailor-made and customised phishing messages have risen in popularity with the intention of stealing specific information from a specific user. Often times, phishing emails will convince the user to click on a malicious link or download an attachment.

Implementing a spam filter and employee training exercises can go a long way to secure your company from phishing attacks. However, it’s still important to be able to identify the throwaway signs of spam and phishing. You should look for spelling errors or incorrect grammar, falsified information and just about anything else that doesn’t necessarily belong. Still, phishing messages have become more elaborate than ever before, so make sure to consult security professionals if you truly can’t tell the difference between a real and fake message.

Phishing Accounts
It’s easy to use social media for bad purposes. Hackers can use them to attack their targets through the identity of someone else. A hacker can take on any identity they want, which makes phishing accounts even more difficult to identify--particularly if they have taken the identity of someone you might know. In general, just try to avoid messages that come out of the blue and use your previous interactions with the sender to see if they are (or aren’t) who they claim to be.

Overall, just ensure that you approach potential phishing incidents with scepticism. It’s the best way to make sure that your business doesn’t fall to spam and phishing attacks. To learn more about how you can secure your company, call us on 01638 603204.

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Smartphones have steadily increased in their capabilities and as they have done so, they have resultantly gathered more and more data that needs to be secured against potential security threats. Fortunately, there are also more ways to protect your smartphone than ever befor...

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Press Start Ltd is proud to announce the launch of our new website at www.pressstart.co.uk. The goal of the new website is to make it easier for our existing clients to submit and manage support requests, and provide more information about our services for prospective clients.

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