Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

Password masking: myths and truths

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Password masking: myths and truthsEver heard of password masking problem? To be honest, I have not – until I’ve read the Stop Password Masking article by Jakob Nielsen (somewhere referred to as "usability guru"), followed by a lot of other publications, blog posts and comments (see ’em all); so-called security guru Bruce Schneier wrote even two essays on that. 

Well, that reminded me of a very funny stupid CAPSoff Campaign

In brief, here is the "problem": for years (I think starting from Windows 3.0 released almost 20 years ago), the passwords are being masked as you type them (in most programs what have any kind of password protection, and an operating system itself), i.e. replaced with asterisks or black circles. What for? To prevent the password from being read by someone who stands behind you.


Disaster Recovery and its key objectives

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Disaster Recovery and its key objectives

New statistics* shows disaster recovery (DR) is getting more attention, and more upper level execs become involved with DR issues. Ideally, each company should have an emergency plan in case of power/system failure, loss of access, outside attack, sabotage or else – called DRP (disaster recovery plan) or even DRRP (disaster response and recovery plan). DRP is only a part of risk management practices which ensure emergency preparedness and risk reduction and include such initiatives as regular data backups, stocking recovery software, archiving, etc. – these activities are reflected in PMI and NIST standards.


The U.S. statutes on password related crimes – overview by states

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

In this entry I’d like to suggest a kind of a list of various legal decisions on password [ab]use I could find on the web. Your add-ins are welcome, just put in any other acts you know…

Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act
(e) Computer Password Disclosure. Any person who discloses a number, code, password, or other means of access to a computer or computer network knowing that such disclosure is without authority and which results in damages (including the fair market value of any services used and victim expenditure) to the owner of the computer or computer network in excess of $500.00 shall be guilty of the crime of computer password disclosure.

Using Passwords Online

Monday, June 1st, 2009

 Today’s technologies allow staying online practically 24 hrs a day, periodically falling into a sleeping mode. The Internet became easily accessible and numerous devices can connect us to the web from everywhere, and every time when we surf the web we are being registered, at least via IP address of our devices. 

I bet it was more than once that you had to fill out a sort of name-company-position-email-telephone-whatever form when registering or subscribing to something. Do you think about preserving privacy of your information when leaving such data on someone’s website? (more…)

Adobe PDF security

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Wow, Adobe rethinks PDF security. Curious why? Because of vulnerabilities in Abobe Reader (and so zero-day exploits), of course. From the article:

According to Finnish security company F-Secure, patching 48.9% of all targeted attacks conducted this year involved a malicious PDF file attached to a legitimate-looking e-mail, a huge change from 2008, when PDFs made up just 28.6% of targeted attacks.

But security model of PDF encryption/protection is not going to change, [un]fortunately. (more…)

Frequently Asked Question: Advanced Office Password RECOVERY or Advanced Office Password BREAKER?

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Time is money, difficult to contradict this fact. And another proven fact is that you lose something exactly when something turns out to be absolutely necessary. Once you lost a password to your Word document or presentation that you were going to give in an hour, or Excel report which was supposed to be sent to your manager yesterday… you will count seconds before you get back your files. (more…)

Too much security won’t spoil the router, will it make it better?

Monday, May 18th, 2009

A number of D-link routers are now equipped with captcha feature. Sounds interesting. 

Chief technology officer in D-link says: "We are excited to be the first in the market to implement captcha into our routers, providing yet another layer of security to our customers".

No doubt, captcha is a wonderful spam filter for mails and a reliable obstacle to unauthorized access in the web, but is it as good for routers as for the web? (more…)

Laptop security – myths and mistakes

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Today’s businesses are very mobile. Sometimes you don’t even need to have a conventional office, it becomes virtual, it is always with you in your mobile phones, netbooks and laptops. Such mobile mini-offices stuffed with corporate documents and reports, partners’ data, confidencial correspondence, access passwords are in danger of being stolen, both virtually and physically. You can try to protect your laptop using laptop security cable locks but what if it was stolen? Let all your information go into adversary’s hands? Do you _really_ think that your Windows logon password is an impenetrable barrier for the adversary? Have you heard of Elcomsoft System Recovery? You still think your laptop is secure because you have BIOS password and/or partial drive encryption? Read an article by Kevin Beaver ‘Securing corporate data on your laptops’ , take off rose-colored glasses and revise your laptop security as suggested in Kevin’s step-by-step outline. 


NIST drafts new enterprise password management (open to publication, distribution and adaptation!)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Probably you’ve already heard about this vicious circle thousand times:

Requiring that passwords be long and complex makes it less likely that attackers will guess or crack them, but it also makes the passwords harder for users to remember, and thus more likely to be stored insecurely. This increases the likelihood that users will store their passwords insecurely and expose them to attackers.

So, how to work out an appropriate password policy? Need help? Find some tips in NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Technology) study, GUIDE TO ENTERPRISE PASSWORD MANAGEMENT (DRAFT), which “has been prepared for use by Federal agencies”, but also “may be used by nongovernmental organizations on a voluntary basis”.

Here are some nuggets from the paper: 

• Organizations should review their password policies periodically, particularly as major technology changes occur (e.g., new operating system) that may affect password management.

Users should be made aware of threats against their knowledge and behavior, such as phishing attacks, keystroke loggers, and shoulder surfing, and how they should respond when they suspect an attack may be occurring.

• Organizations should consider having different policies for password expiration for different types of systems, operating systems, and applications, to reflect their varying security needs and usability requirements.

Do you have something to add? So, review and revise it freely – the paper is not subject to copyright. 😉 


Green password policy? No re-use!

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Do you still reuse passwords? The recent study from University of California shows again that such a bad habit continues to exist. The worst thing about reusing passwords is that it doesn’t require being a technically skilled hacker to guess your password for this or that document.