Monday, July 27, 2015

Raise your security game

Google recently shared new research that compares how security experts and non-experts stay safe online. To be presented publicly at the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, Google's research shares the results of two surveys: one from security experts, another with non-experts.

The results demonstrates the top five practices that these classes of users employ to stay safe online:

Security Non-expertsSecurity Experts
  1. Use antivirus software
  2. Use strong passwords
  3. Change passwords frequently
  4. Only visit websites they know
  5. Don't share personal information
  1. Install software updates
  2. Use unique passwords
  3. Use two-factor authentication
  4. Use strong passwords
  5. Use a password manager

Which list describes your browsing habits? If you find yourself in agreement with the non-experts, you can raise your security game by using a password manager to keep your passwords for you. This addresses several problems. The biggest is that many people use the same password for different websites. They might pick one password that is easy to remember, then use that same password for their email, social media, and news websites. All good until one of those websites gets hacked, and now a bad guy has your password to everything.

With a desktop-based password manager such as KeePass, you can have the program set a random password for every website you visit. When you want to visit that website, you simply copy the password from the password manager, and paste it into the password field on the website. Done!

With a browser-based password manager such as LastPass, you also have the program set up a random password for every website. When you visit that website, you click an icon so the password manager can automatically fill in your username and password. Easy!

Using this method addresses items 2, 4, and 4 in the "Security Experts" list. It is an easy way to make your web browsing safer.
photo: Howard Lake

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reminder: Netfiles will be retired in April 2016

I wanted to share a reminder that the Twin Cities has announced the retirement of the Netfiles online storage for April 2016. At this time, no action is necessary—we just ask that you find time over the next year to transition your data out of Netfiles. This affects both individual users and departmental accounts.

For more information, read Netfiles Retirement at the IT@UMN blog.

We recognize that retiring Netfiles doesn’t just mean moving files. In some cases, this also means changing other things. For example, you may have your vitae on Netfiles, or your department may link to forms and other documents available on Netfiles. (In both cases, note that it is possible to share a document or form via Google Docs so that you can link to it from a website.) The Twin Cities is letting us know about the Netfiles service retirement early in the planning process so that you can have the time you need to prepare.

To prepare for this change, IT has made these account changes effective July 2015:

  • Netfiles storage removed for all account owners who do not have files stored in their Netfiles personal directory.
  • Will no longer allocate storage space to new users.