Let me tell you of an IT company. It had started off small so the director had chosen a favourite password ‘D0neit01‘
This was some time ago, so the fact that it had numbers in made it really secure. It wasn’t particularly long, but it was memorable. Much better than other familiar passwords, like ‘Password01’ or ‘letmein’.
There were five of them working for this company and they were all really good friends. Three directors and two minions. They were working with cleaning companies and whoever would take them on. They realised that their level of service was a cut above everyone else’s, so they realised they could aim higher.
With one of those flashes of inspiration that sometimes hits small companies they realised that they could start working with the finance industry. They already had some contacts in that area of business and, well, those clients had money. It was a sure-fire hit!
Success Breeds Success
A few years later and they had an impressive portfolio of clients. Around a hundred in the bespoke finance industry. Hedge-fund managers, bespoke bankers, investment companies. Their clients loved their high level of service. In part this was because an engineer visiting site knew what the top admin password would be. You’ve guessed it. By this point about a hundred of their clients were investing more than $1B each. (Yes, 100 x $1,000,000,000 = $0.1T). Which starts to look like a significant part of the UK’s GDP. Some of the companies demanded ’secure passwords’ with funny characters in. For those companies the password became ‘D0nit01!’. Engineers knew that if the ‘low security’ password didn’t work you could use the high security one. Simples!
One of the managers was tasked with looking for a password manager. This would be able to hold all types of password. It would be able to fill in passwords automatically. You could give different members of the company different levels of access.
It came back with a price-tag of £10,000.
That was a lot of money.
The directors were not convinced that it was necessary.
An Innocent Mistake
One day, one of the directors was logging into a client, let’s call them ‘securefinance’. Their website was ‘securefinance.com’. The director had not noticed that in their speed they had typed ‘securefinance.co’. The website looked EXACTLY like securefinance.com so why would they notice?
Over the coming months they started to notice that some of their clients were failing. In one bad incident a client lost $0.1B in a week! That client immediately started the process of winding down. It was sad – they were a difficult client, but they had been a good payer.
You are probably going to guess what had happened. That fake website had grabbed the entered username and password and was now beginning to use it on lots of websites. They were getting lucky. They were also trying password variations automatically. So they were picking off both the ‘low’ and ‘high’ security clients.
Bad Guys Collaborate
They had also submitted the successful usernames and passwords to a database that is maintained by hackers. (Yes, this really does exist.) So lots of other people were trying these passwords… but they were not using them themselves. They were getting computers infected with ‘malware’ to try them. That IS the job of a lot of malware. If the malware successfully logged in then they would update the database. If the password failed then the bad guys were untraceable. Either way the bad guys win.
By now, clients were getting picked off at an increasing rate.
It was looking very bad.
Several consequencies could have happened, including a significant impact on the UK economy, jail terms and collapse of the IT company. This is based on a true story. The directors were potentially negligent, so could have lost the shirts off their backs.
The Good News
A good password manager is available for FREE. It has greater capabilities than that old software costing more than £10,000.
There is an Enterprise version which has all the granular controls you require for a little bit more.
With a password manager, doesn’t that mean that I am committing all my passwords to a database protected with ONE password? Surely that is a really BAD idea? Yes, it would be UNLESS you set up 2 factor identification. This means that you have a code to type in that is sent to you or generated on an app on your phone in addition to the password. As a hacker will not have both access to your password AND your phone your database is safe. It is also highly encrypted and if you lose your phone or your admin dies there are very secure ways to recover the database.
Here is the manager we use: Lastpass It is not the only one out there, but it is very good. We manage more than 1,500 passwords with it. All our client’s passwords are unique, long and very complicated.
You might not be managing billions of dollars, but you wouldn’t want to lose what you have.
Here are 7 GDPR myths (General Data Protection Regulation) or ’new Data Protection Act’. We hope this is of some help:
1) It only applies to computers. No, it all applies to all records containing personal data, including those stored on scraps of paper and written in quill pen.
2) You can buy a piece of software that will make you compliant. No! It is more about you knowing how you hold and process data and how you have other people hold and process your data. In other words, it is about you having policies.
- How long do you retain a client’s information after they become an ex-client?
- How do you ensure that data is fully deleted if a client requests it?
- How do you gather data together is a client requests a portable, electronic copy of the data you hold on them? (and they are entitled to this.)
- and many more.
3) It will cease to apply after we leave the EU. Wrong! we are committed to upholding the GDPR after we leave.
4) It only applies to large companies. Wrong! It applied to all companies.
5) It only applies to the ‘owner’ of the data. No! This regulation applies to data processors as well.
6) You can continue to direct market to your potential customers. Do you have their informed permission? Was it given within a reasonable time?
7) If your company holds Cyber Essentials Plus certification you are covered. No! Read all the above again.
Here are the promised truths.
Yes, the top fine is €20M or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater!
Yes, you do have to report all data breaches within 72 hours.
We are running a masterclass on Wednesday 22nd November. This will help you sort out the fact from the fiction.
See you at the masterclass to get it all sorted.
Led by Chris Roberts of the GDPR Alliance.
Is your business ready for the new data protection regulations?
On May 25th 2018, less than a year away, the European Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) comes into force. This represents the most significant change to data privacy regulations for more than 20 years. With significant non-compliance penalties including financial ones of up to 4% of global revenue or €20m, it is essential that business owners understand what is coming, the potential impact it will have, and what actions are needed to ensure compliance.
Is your organisation going to be affected by GDPR?
The vast majority of businesses will hold what the regulation describes as “personal data” on an EU citizen so will need to be compliant with the regulations.
What is personal data?
Phone numbers, email addresses, home addresses, bank details, demographics, health information, sexual orientation, in fact anything that could identify a specific person.
What’s covered during the workshop?
- Why this legislation has come in to being
- The key points of the new legislation
- Likely causes of non-compliance
- Risks and penalties: what changes will you need to make?
- What actions should you consider to reduce risk
- What are implications of non-compliance?
Chris Roberts a Director at Highend Software and a Co-founder of the GDPR Alliance leads these workshops. Chris regularly presents on business efficiency and productivity improvements and GDPR. Recent presentations include those for the Federation for Small Business (FSB), Superfast Business Wales, Wales Fraud Forum, BNI and numerous private clients.
The class will start at 9:00am for a 9:30am start in the Conference Room at the prestigious Beacon Centre for Enterprise in Dafen, Llanelli, SA14 8LQ.
Tickets are on sale through our ticketing portal https://bit.ly/GDPR-MC. Book early for deep discounts.
On 5th October, I was giving a talk to a Novus Networking in Cardiff. The topic was the GDPR. Not the most exciting topic for a group of under 35s, but there you go.
At its heart the GDPR is about protecting our privacy. As the prominent privacy campaigner, Julian Assuange said, to those who doubt our need for privacy: “There is no killer answer yet. Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) has a clever response, asking people who say this to then hand him their phone unlocked and pull down their pants.”
Of course we know of cases where governments want backdoors into our phone security and airports have x-ray systems that reveal our unclothed bodies.
There are many great materials out there. In the next month, Cloud Genius is hoping to be running some courses on the GPRS in Llanelli. As a starter, there is an introduction (for free) on trailhead.salesforce.com
The provisional date of our masterclass will be Wednesday 22 November. It promises to be full of useful information that will help you remain compliant.
(The fines for non-compliance are up to €20M or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater.)
How great would it be if you could take credit card payments directly from you website.
It’s not as if you have an online store, but there are just one or two services that you would like to charge for. You could use PayPal, but their fees are 3.4%.
Stripe is a really good credit card processor. (After all, even billion-dollar businesses like Salesforce use them.)
Their fees are as low as 1.4% + 20p per transaction at the basic level. Much cheaper than PayPal.
The downside is that they require a website that meets the standards of TLS 1.2.
We can set you up with a secure website.
If you use our Safe and Secure website service, we will ensure that it meets the security standards of the future.
(BTW we do full e-Commerce websites, too.)