Tag Archives: stolen laptop

Browser Passwords

Passwords Storage

Are you saving passwords for your favourite web sites in your browser? If yes, think twice. If you are using Chrome, this is not a secure at all. Have a look at this article published recently. I am not a frequent user of Internet Explorer or Safari,  and am not aware of their password storage strategy used.

How to secure passwords?

The issue is that you have to remember many usernames and passwords for various internet sites.

Solution 1: Use one or two usernames and passwords for everything.

And what happen if one of your password is compromised? The “hackers” will run software that will automatically try those on a great number of sites. This was the issue that prompted Telecom NZ to ask their users to change all their passwords, without really explaining the reason behind it. All what we knew was some accounts were accessed without the knowledge of the users, and were sending spam with links towards websites.

Solution 2 : Stick with saving Credentials within the browser.

The physical security of the equipment is not a problem, and no-one will ever be able to get physically to your PC. However, old fashion desktop PCs also get stolen. Do you really know what happen to your PC when your dispose of it? It is also a bad idea to use this strategy on mobile devices, as they tend to frequently be lost, forgotten or stolen.

Solution 3: Use a Safer Browser

Firefox is safer in that area, at it allows you to protect your database of username and passwords. with a master password. However, do not use a 3 letter password, as it could easily be cracked. It is better to aim for 8 or more letters

Solution 4 : Use a Password Management Software

What is a password management software? It is usually a small application that run on your computer, tablet or phone that enable you to:

  • create complex password
  • register them, associating them with the web site URL and a username
  • sometimes it links with your browser to save you typing anything.

The application create a small file that is either open with a password, a key file or a combination of the two. You can store the file or files on a hard drive or a USB stick. An other possibility is to store them on a network or  cloud drive to be able to get access to it from everywhere with multiple devices.

You can afford in that situation to create and memorize a long password, as it is the only one you will have to remember. But don’t go away on holiday and forget it!  There will be no way to recover the content of your file.  An other bad idea would be to write the password on a Postit note somewhere (by the monitor for example). I have seen people writing their master password on a piece of paper, they sticking it underneath the keyboard.

If you are using a key file, do not forget to back it up somewhere. it is also highly recommended to make a copy of you encrypted database file somewhere. Files can get corrupted. Drives can die, and they tend to do this at the most inconvenient time.

Two recommended password management software can be found on http://keepass.info/ and https://lastpass.com/


Keepass image from http://keepass.info/

Are you using of any password management software? Is there anything else you would recommend?

Why using lastpass?


ACC Personal Details Compromised : Who’s fault is it?

We have learned this week that ACC clients had their personal details compromised after the theft of a laptop. You can find the summary of the incident here.

The laptop was used by a case manager who took the laptop home, in contradiction to the rules set by the organisation.

Several questions remain unanswered :

1.Why was the laptop hard drive not encrypted, if used out of the organisation?

2.Why did the case manager felt she had to records the personal detail of claimants on the laptop? If the details are needed in the day-to-day business, having a secure connection to the work network seems to be more logical.

3. Why did the case managed take the laptop home? Ignorance of the rules? Not enough time to complete the work during normal hour?

The press and ACC seem to blame the case manager, but unless she deliberately ignored the rules, this incident looks like a failure of the institution to secure its IT equipment properly.

I hope that we will learn more details about this case in the near future.

Have you got any more information about the case?