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Welcome to the “friendly admin”

If you ever encountered an IT (Information Technology) related issue, maybe with your PC (Personal Computer) not working as expected or your application not doing what you’d expect it to do or maybe your company provided mobile phone doing odd and unexpected things, you may have taken to find out where your IT administrator is located in your office and maybe you’ve even gone to see your administrator in person to ask for support.
There, sometime referred to as Service Desks or IT Support Centre, a friendly and service oriented person may have offered you the support and advise you needed and enabled you to happily continue your daily endeavour with a well working device.

Now, with PCs and Smartphones having entered also many homes, you may at some time miss such support option when encountering some strange things happening, or not happening, with your personal gadgets.
What now?

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Awareness for online privacy and security

Our contribution to help increase the awareness on privacy and security issues related to new technologies and communication tools:

Simplified summary:

Email = Postcard
Letter = encrypted email

More information may be found also at Mozilla, maker of Firefox, the web-browser that takes your privacy seriously and Thunderbird, our email application of choice.

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Good habits, regular updates – Update Thunderbird

Thunderbird is my preferred email client. Various email accounts can be included into Thunderbird, basically all IMAP standard following email providers, and it has some powerful extensions like Lightning for calendar, utilizing the open CalDAV standard, and CardBook for contact management with the open CardDAV standard.

Email is one of the key modern-times communication media, so important that for some companies you simply don’t exist if you don’t have an email address. Scary but true. So let’s make sure Thunderbird is up-to-date with all safety and security fixes and improvements so we’re not suddenly kicked out of existence by some malicious attacker and that we don’t contribute unwillingly, maybe even unknowingly, to the ever increasing spam issue.

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Good habits, regular updates – Update Firefox web browser

Not only does your mobile device require regular maintenance and update of some apps to get the latest enhancements and security relevant fixes, your PC, laptop or tablet computer does appreciate some care as well.

Browsing the internet is most likely part of your regular routine when using your computer. Thus, making sure your interface to the internet, your web browser, is safe to use and has all the security relevant improvements and fixes.

There’s certainly different web browsers around and everyone has their favourite. I’d always recommend Firefox from the Mozilla foundation due to their open source affinity and advocation for privacy.
If you’re not yet using Firefox, have a look at their webpage
(Click on the link will open in a new window or tab, depending on your browser settings.)

Here’s how to update your Firefox browser.

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Email Encryption – Update GPG4Win

To encrypt emails, and maybe also files on the local harddisk, GPG (the GNU Privacy Guard) is the Open PGP tool of choice. And keeping applications up to date is safety relevant and important, especially for security related applications, so let’s cut the cake and get to it and let’s update GPG4win, the Windows variant, to the latest version.

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Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) – secure your accounts

Here’s the 2nd part to the secure password considerations – MFA, multi-factor authentication.

Traditionally, the access to your online bank account looks like this:
you type your

, your

and in you are and ready to go about your business.

Account in the following is not limited to a bank account but can be the personalized access to any webpage, web-service, online-store or similar.

Now, if you’re like the majority of internet users that only use 5 different passwords for all their online activities, you could unconsciously create a domino effect that allows hackers to take control over several of your accounts after just cracking one password.

In comes MFA, multi-factor authentication.

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Create a strong yet memorable password

In the digital world, passwords are used and required for many applications and services.
Access to your PC or to your email account will require a password, as will access to your favourite online shop or the web access to your bank.
Passwords are the digital version of our traditional door keys, and yes, there are already possibilities to replace traditional door keys also with a digital lock or even your mobile phone.
Passwords help to protect your data and your privacy.

It is strongly recommended to use different passwords for different applications.
This, to avoid granting access to all the digital services you use at once if ever one of your passwords should be compromised, be it accidentally from your side or from the service provider side.
Just as a reminder, see what recently happened at Cathay Pacific and the privacy breach.

The tricky thing with passwords is that on the one hand the password shall be strong, i.e. as random as possible to avoid guessing or easy password cracking, but on the other hand you shall be able to remember the password.

Here are some tips for creating a safe and secure password.

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Privacy – the handling of the breach by CX

Privacy is a big topic all in itself, and I shall provide some more related information in separate posts.

The recent incident, however, has caught my attention and also the urge to comment.
Cathay Pacific (CX), Hong Kong’s flagship airline, finally came forward on 25th October 2018 with information that their servers were accessed without authorization and data of 9.4 million of the airlines customers had been compromised.
This incident already happened in March 2018, so “only” 7 months before Cathay Pacific chose to inform their customers.

Shortly after the story made headlines in the news, I also received an email informing me that my data at the carrier had been accessed without authorization.

Data privacy is an important topic to me and I shall use the excellent example from Cathay Pacific to explain some details, what to watch out for and also what an impacted company should or should not do.

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Congratulations!

You have just bought yourself a fantastic, new, shiny high-tech toy called Smartphone.
Yeah! The world to phone calls, internet, a pocket sized camera and lots of entertainment is now open and available in your palm.

But do you know that you have at the same time also signed up for a new job?
Yes, you heard right. You have just signed up for a new job.
Congratulations again and welcome to the world of computer administration.

After all, this new device in the size of your palm is a powerful computer.
And yes, it can likely also do phone calls.

Continue reading Congratulations!