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This little guy has absolutely nothing to do with this website. The webmaster just thought he looked cool.

Meet My Password Stealing Little Friend!

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 28 November 2011

Consumer Devices, Social Media Open Security Doors











“You wanna waste my time? Okay. I call my lawyer. He's the best lawyer in Miami. He's such a good lawyer, that by tomorrow morning, you gonna be working in Alaska. So dress warm.” – Tony Montana (Al Pacino), Scarface, 1983 (Universal Pictures)

When you become the head of a country – any country – there are some “normal” things you have to give up.

President Obama gave up a lot of things, including his Twitter account, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace pages…hair color!

Jobs offered him an iPhone and iPad during their meeting at One Infinity Circle at employee rates (come on, business is business!) but the Prez had to turn them down…national security ya’ know.

Your boss has more freedom, so he got his (at retail) …he’s so cool!

Check around the office and all the marketing and communications people have their smartphone or tablet – Android or iOS -- because they need ‘em!

Most bought their own, since they use them for personal and business activities.

But as Elvira said, “Don't toot your horn, honey. You're not that good.”

Being in Touch
They’re indispensible in our 24x7 world.Just as the Web and social networks are the places folks go to connect with people.

Working Solution – People in developing countries embrace the use of the Internet and Web more rapidly … not just for personal enjoyment, but more importantly as their means of reaching out and working with business partners, regardless of where they are located.
Source – IDC

Even though they often aren’t certain how to use them and, more importantly, how to measure the results, marketing departments everywhere have increased their social media activities.

Social Site Business – Producers and retailers have found that the social media infrastructure can be a fertile ground for reaching customers – B2B and B2C. The challenge for most marketers is to analytically quantify the activities.

True, it is often on blind faith or so-&-so is there, we should be also; but social media has opened up a world of opportunities for the companies that are willing to try and…listen!

Pure Benefits – Social media has enabled companies to engage with their strongest customers and supporters to help others solve problems and broaden the firm’s outreach efforts. Customers provide feedback on long-range wants/needs, issues/solutions and strengthen the company’s/products’ brand and value. Source – Marketing Executives Networking Group (MEMG)

They’re paying attention to social media because it “seems” to provide good marketing ROI (return on investment).

This includes brand-building, customer retention, community building, couponing, customer service, competitive monitoring, sales prospecting, research, the ever popular publicity pushin!

Damn…life is good.

Too good to be true?


Or as Tony said, “You should have kept your mouth shut, they'd have thought you was a horse and let you out.”

iGeners, millennials have always known the Web and social media are also places where privacy and security are pretty much a no-man’s land or as the recent Access Assurance Survey noted the “Wild West.”

Last year, computer hackers stole more sensitive records – ATM cards, PIN info, etc – than in the previous four combined! This year they whacked Sony’s PSN (PlayStation Network) and they’re probably looking to better their record.

Proceed with caution, because it isn’t something any government agency can legislate. It’s your space (and “theirs”) to use.


Give, Take, Guard – People who have grown up with the Web, and have been using the two-way communications solution for a number of years, understand that they have to give up some of their privacy to get information, service in return. The knowledgeable users are cautiously skeptical of what is out there. Source – Harris Poll

Kids are Skeptics
Folks who have grown up with the Web often have the attitude that all that company security stuff and policy enforcement just gets in the way of their social media life.

If you’re a millennial, security is kinda’ a pain in the behind. It’s there…live with it.

Security Concern – The vast majority of people who regularly use the iNet and social media understand the privacy and security issues. Those that are concerned about security also spend time to ensure they protect their information, their persona. Source – Nielsen Company

Or, as Bernstein said, “Every day above ground is a good day.”

Fine with marketing, communications types. Hell, if you’re in IT. These folks have to protect the company’s core business functions and IP (intellectual property).

They take their job seriously.

The problem is, it’s almost impossible since you’re using your personal/business notebook, netbook, tablet, smartphone on their network.

It’s not just your device that causes them problems, it’s all the third-party apps you download and use.

You may be super smart, but you’re no match for the bad guys.

Hackers and cyberthieves love the fact that the new wave of employees is consumerizing the corporation with their devices.

IT’s Challenge
IT can work hard to manage and control what’s going on in their network, but up in the Cloud they honestly don’t have a clue.

In fact, a recent Cisco/IDC survey found that only seven percent of the companies even try.

Your smartphone, tablet, notebook often represents a semi-open door to the company’s data…and yours.

Let’s start with the brutal basics … your passwords probably suck!!!

Don’t think so? Here are the 20 most popular passwords (the ones hackers try first):
- 123456 - 12345 - 123456789 - password
- ilove you - princess - rockyou - 1234567
- 12345678 - abc123 - Nicole - Daniel
- babygirl - monkey - Jessica - lovely
- Michael - Ashley - 654321 - qwerty

If yours isn’t on the top 20 list, don’t look so smug.

Hackers love big know Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube. These folks have systems that can fire thousands of password guesses a minute.

When they set their sites on your account, community or team, these dudes, dudettes are more dedicated than Tony and his boys.

Seeing what they do, Elvira noted, “Nothing exceeds like excess.”

- use brute force based on your public info like family names, birthdays, info you spread around the web
- generate guess answers to password-reset questions like 25 random things about you, i.e., mother’s maiden name, place of birth, color of first car, wife’s/kids’ names
- create a word list based on your profile web pages, postings

Human nature says that the more sites you use, the simpler you make your passwords so…you can remember them.

Gawd, you just make the thief’s job too easy!

Sure the sites do some basic stuff; but if you read the fine print, your security is your responsibility.

That’s Life
Go ahead, shrug your shoulders.

Just remember, your device is also attached to your company network, which basically means that cool smartphone, tablet is also the door those folks use to suck up all of your information and all of the company’s jewels.

Yeah, we know, you’re concerned, conscientious employee…just not enough. A recent study by Ponomon Institute found that only 28 percent have serious concerns.

Big Concerns – It’s interesting that the Ponemon Institute survey found that respondents’ greatest concern was in getting ads more frequently, not in losing data or having their information hijacked. Identity theft, in our opinion, should be the major concern but…

And, according to the study, you’re more concerned about ads on your device than revealing secrets, having your identity stolen for….


O.K., we know. Remembering all those mind-bending passwords is a pain, but think of it as mental exercise to put off Alzheimer’s.

Or…use a password manager.

No not the one in your web browser…there’s an app for password management!

Actually, quite a few…some are free, some cost a few bucks.

These products store all of your logins and passwords, usually encrypted, so you can paste them into the form (some will load automatically for you).

The neat thing is, they not only protect you but they free up your mind for important work and let you destroy all of the Post-Its on your terminal and pieces of paper in your pocket that contain all of your sophisticated passwords.

Self -protection
Now that that is done, do like your kids…treat everything on the Web with a healthy dose of cynicism:
- limit your online information
- delete people you’re not real sure of from your networks, friends list
- limit who has access to your updates
- erase comments on your profile pages
- filter updates posted by friends
- remove your name/photos others have posted or tagged
- before you install software on any device, read the EULA (end-user license agreement), make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to
- uncheck boxes to install toolbars, extra software
- download only from well-known, legitimate sites (don’t know them, don’t do it!)

Remember, there are folks out there like Tony who will look you right in the eyes and say, “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.”

Yeah, having a huge social net following may be neat; but some of those followers could be stalkers.

Sometimes – We realize there are times you’d like to take more aggressive actions like Tony/Al against the hackers/cybercriminals. Unfortunately, the law of any country feels such actions are “a little drastic.” Source - Scarface, 1983 (Universal Pictures)

It only takes one Tony who shouts, “Okay. Say hello to my little friend!”

From the reports we read, cleaning up the mess they leave behind isn’t fun.

The Tonys of the world will make life so tough for you, someone will probably say, “Sanitation? I told you to tell 'em that you was in a sanitarium, not sanitation, sanitarium.”
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