Posts Tagged Security

Maintaining Privacy When Using Instant Messaging

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It is crucial for many business professionals and individuals to maintain privacy when they are using their computer in a public place or office for instant messaging communication. This is important because many conversations that taken place via instant messaging can contain confidential information that could be harmful to the company if it is put in the wrong hands.

For this reason, it is important to take precautions when carrying out a private instant messaging conversation. The following are a few ways to to maintain discretion and still using instant messaging successfully.

  1. Face the computer screen toward the wall. This is probably the easiest change. Try to sit  so you are facing the open area and your computer is facing the wall. This will offer some more privacy.
  2. Buy a privacy screen protector. There are privacy filters available that make it impossible to view what is on your screen unless you are looking directly at it. This means that people sitting next to you will not be able to see your screen. This can be extremely beneficial when riding in an airplane or while sitting in a cramped cafe.
  3. Keep your windows small. Don’t let your instant messaging conversations take up the majority of your screen. That will make them much easier to view. Additionally, a bigger monitor means the better chance someone has to see your conversation. Be aware of this.

These are just some of the ways to keep your instant messaging private.

Do you have any suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

 

graphic courtesy of GearZap.com

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The Least Secure Passwords in 2012

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Splashdata has released its annual list of the worst passwords online– meaning those that are the easiest to guess, therefore making your account information more accessible to hackers. Creating a secure password of multiple numbers, nonsensical uppercase and lowercase letters together, and even special characters like ! or @ can help make your account more secure.

It is also recommended to not use the same password for every website.

The top 25 worst (and therefore least secure) passwords are (with a note to how they compared to last year’s list):

  1. password Unchanged
  2. 123456 Unchanged
  3. 12345678 Unchanged
  4. abc123 Up 1
  5. qwerty Down 1
  6. monkey Unchanged
  7. letmein Up 1
  8. dragon Up 2
  9. 111111 Up 3
  10. baseball Up 1
  11. iloveyou Up 2
  12. trustno1 Down 3
  13. 1234567 Down 6
  14. sunshine Up 1
  15. master Down 1
  16. 123123 Up 4
  17. welcome New
  18. shadow Up 1
  19. ashley Down 3
  20. football Up 5
  21. jesus New
  22. michael Up 2
  23. ninja New
  24. mustang New
  25. password1 New

How do your passwords fair? Are they hard to guess?

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Staying Secure With Brosix

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Brosix makes it easy to keep files, conversations, and personal user & company data completely secure. This is because Brosix uses encrypted servers and private instant messaging networks (for Enterprise clients) that ensure that non-approved users will ever be able to access the network.

Recently, security concerns have popped up surrounding the new AIM program, which was re-designed and re-launched in the fall of 2011. An article on InfoWorld.com states:

“The new preview version of AOL Instant Messenger raised privacy concerns for us when it was first introduced, first because it started storing more logs of communications and second, because it apparently scanned all private IMs for URLs and pre-fetched any URLs found in them,” EFF said in a blog post on Tuesday.

The upcoming AIM client stores all chat logs on AOL’s servers by default so that they can be accessed from multiple devices. However, despite the obvious usability benefits, this behavior poses privacy risks to users.

These types of security concerns are never something to worry about with Brosix. To learn more about Brosix or to secure a free trial, visit the main Brosix website.

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Calm Security Fears with a Private Network

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Photo From http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1339522/

As mentioned in our previous blog post, Brosix Enterprise allows administrators to create their private instant messaging network, which allows them to monitor conversations of users in the network, add/edit permissions for features, and to add more users. This is a great and unique feature that can ward off any concerns that come with the leaking of confidential information or documents by employees (whether knowingly or unknowingly). A private instant messaging network will not only keep all conversations within approved users and computers, but will also prevent any hackers from accessing the network since it is highly encrypted.

According to a report published in March 2010, malicious attacks can have real and serious costs to a company: “Malicious attacks increased 7 percentage points in 2010 from the previous year, the study found, with the costs of such attacks jumping 48 percent, to an average of $318 per compromised record. Hostile breaches on average cost more than incidents blamed on negligence, such as lost laptops or computer system breakdowns, the report said.” These costs don’t ene take into consideration the breaches that are knowingly taken by employees– that is, employees sending confidential information and reports to contacts outside of the company.

In order to protect your company, try a free 30-day trial of Brosix Enterprise today. A private instant messaging network is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted and instead should be put into place in all business communication policies.

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Is Your Online Identity Secure?

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magnifying glassThese days, it pays to be paranoid when it comes to the type of information about you that is shared online. Websites like Facebook and MySpace have only made many people’s lives even less private and it pays to take precautions when doing any type of activity online, whether it be online shopping or having conversations with friends and co-workers using an instant messenger. Below are some guidelines to making sure you are secure online.

  1. Only give credit card information to websites you trust. Make sure the website is securely encrypted. If you feel unsure about it, don’t give them your information. Use Google Shopping to find the same product on another, more secure, website or use PayPal.
  2. Don’t post personal information online. This includes your address, phone number, places you hang out regularly, when you’re going on vacation, or major spots you hang out.
  3. Don’t talk to strangers. Sure, the internet can be a great place to meet new people, but it can also be a place to meet a lot of people who have shady intentions. Avoid chat rooms or social networks where strangers can view your profile or personal information.
  4. The Bottom Line: Just use common sense. You wouldn’t go around in public at Panera or Wal-Mart with your credit card number or social security number on your t-shirt, so don’t do the same thing online. Just be smart. If something looks bad, then it probably is.
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Is Your IM Program Making You Vulnerable Online?

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One of the highlights of Brosix Instant Messenger, both public and enterprise versions, is the fact that all communications run through either type of program is highly encrypted. This strong encryption ensures that any time of messaging or use of features in the Brosix Instant Messaging program will be highly confidential and kept only to the people using Brosix as authorized users.

For whatever reason you need to use instant messaging to communicate online, using a regular “free” instant messaging program like Yahoo! Instant Messenger or Jabber can pose a security threat to both your personal computer and your network. This is why it is important to pick an IM service like Brosix.

While both versions of Brosix offer a high level of security, it’s important to consider what type of use. The Enterprise version is for businesses and professionals who need to communicate with co-workers and employees. The Public (free) version is for users who still want a secure connection, but are mostly using instant messaging for conversing with friends and family.

While it may seem like you don’t need a secure connection to talk to people you already know, you can’t guarantee they themselves haven’t been attacked by a hacker or other malicious program. Taking the steps to protct yourself will help prevent a trusted colleague from passing something along to you, even if they don’t mean to.

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Users Activity Log

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One of the features of your Brosix Instant Messaging Network is the Users Activity Log. If enabled, all communication of your users is stored on the servers. Once recorded, Users Activity Logs cannot be altered.

You can search and view all user communication from the web control panel (log in the web control panel and go to Users-Users Activity Log).

Users Activity Log is kept on the servers for online reports for a few months. A ZIP file with a log of all communication is generated each month. You are advised to download these files on your systems and keep them private for future reference. To download the archive files, login the web control panel and go to Users-Users Activity Log Archives.

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Secure Instant Messaging: Protect Your Business

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It is obvious that instant messaging is an asset to business. With instant messaging, users can communicate more quickly and efficiently with one another than just about any other form of long distance communication. Because of the sensitive nature of many business and professional communications, it is imperative that companies have secure instant messaging. Unfortunately, with IM’s rise in use, hackers have developed ways to attack computers through instant messages. Like email, instant messages can carry threats to computers in the form of viruses, worms, and Trojan horses, among others.

A good deal of the threat comes from the fact that public instant messengers don’t encrypt messages. Additionally, instant messengers allow for the sharing of any file on the user’s computer, so hackers can have access to all those files. And since instant messaging is a relatively new technology, PC security software has not been designed to combat many IM threats. There are several ways hackers can take advantage of these attributes of IM and cause mischief:

  • Network Sniffers — These are programs that hackers use to find information online. Using sniffers, hackers can view the content of entire IM conversations and gain access to company information.
  • Worms — A worm is similar to a virus in that it can infect a computer and cause problems ranging from annoying to malicious. Unlike a virus, a worm can infect a computer without any human action, such as opening a file. Worms can also multiply on a single computer and send themselves to other computers using the same server.
  • Backdoor Trojan Horses — A Trojan horse appears to the victim as a safe file or program, and once it is opened, the hacker can create a backdoor, allowing access to the victim’s computer along with all their files and saved passwords. Classic Trojan horse programs are usually blocked by firewalls, but Trojans sent via instant messages aren’t blocked because the IM user appears to have given permission for the hacker’s access.
  • Impersonation — Once a hacker has access to a victim’s files, he can use this information to impersonate the victim. The hacker can send instant messages to people on the person’s buddy list and gain information from the people he contacts.

To prevent others from gaining access to company information, as well as damage to employee’s computers, it is important to have secure instant messaging. The best way to do this is to use an enterprise instant messenger like the one offered by Brosix.com, because they encrypt all IM communications. They also secure instant messaging by allowing the administration to restrict IM use to authorized users. With secure instant messaging, a business can get the benefits of instant messaging without the headaches.

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Business IM Client Support: Spam Blocking

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IM spam may not be as big a problem as email spam right now, but it will be, and the right business IM client will help you get ahead of the spammers before it becomes a problem. IM spam will be able to carry viruses just like emails, but trying to block IM spam is hopeless because spammers can easily move to another script and start spamming again as soon as they’re caught and their site is destroyed. The key is for businesses to control their IM networks. This is why it is so important to find a business IM client who can give you the support you need.

Controllable Features

To start with, your business IM client should offer you the ability to control IM use by employees, like with the Features Control offered by Brosix.com. You could completely deny IM use to those who have no reason to use it, while some employees could be restricted to using internal IM only with others in the company. Other employees could be allowed to IM your clients. And a few people, like sales staff and tech support, would need unrestricted access.

Contact List Management

A business IM client should also offer you the ability to allow and block users. This way you can only allow employees to IM through a single, secure server like Brosix.com. Brosix lets a business choose a list of authorized users and keeps all others out, insuring that all file sharing and chatting remain within the company.

Activity Log

You may also want to keep tabs on your employees’ IM-ing activities. A top-notch business IM client will allow you to monitor in detail all IM activities, including file transfers as well as messages. If any employees are trying to sneak in some chatting unrelated to business, you’ll know about it. With Brosix.com, every voice call, chat, and file transfer is traceable so that you know exactly what your employees are up to in the IM network.

Avoid a spamming disaster via your company IM by choosing a secure business IM client such as Brosix.com who offers the right support. Just make sure that your client offers you controllable features, contact list management, and an activity log so that your IM spam blocking is effective enough to keep your employees focused and your company safe.

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Instant Messenger Security at the Small Business

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Many small businesses shrug off tools that provide extra internet security because of the costs and complexities of the issues. Instant messenger security is no different. Many small businesses reach for a public instant messenger just to save the time and money. But here are a few reasons why that decision could be costing you more than you think:

1. Monitoring activity
Public instant messengers give you no way to see what your employees are doing with their chat time. In fact, for all you know, employees are chatting with family and friends. Short of walking up behind them, you can’t really tell. 

Brosix offers full featured tracking of conversations. Imagine how much productivity you can get back if you find your employees are actually chatting with family and friends. Would this recover the few dollars per month that instant messenger security would provide? 

2. Controlling members
This somewhat relates to the tfirst monitoring activity point: by controlling who your employees talk to you can reduce time wasting and many other security threats. In businesses with 5-50 employees, allowing access to the full network may not be a big deal. But if you have more than 50 employees, you may want to use Brosix’s membership features to limit who can talk with whom. 

3. Anti-virus protection
One of the most important points at which companies of all sizes should be scanning files for viruses is when those files are transferred from one computer to another over the corporate network. This is often done via email, but more and more this is occuring over instant messenger network as well. 

Brosix scans all files when they are sent over the network, and that is part of the built in product – no additional fees are required. 

Final thoughts
Instant messenger security is of vital importance to businesses of all sizes. The small costs of integrating Brosix compared to the productivity increases, the control achieved, and the virus protection often far outweighs the cost of a free, public instant messenger. 

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