NameCheap security issues

You may well have heard about the recent NameCheap hack. CyberVor, a group of Russian hackers, obtained username and password information from other raids (up to 1.2bn sets of info, according to this CSO article) and used it to attempt to gain access to NameCheap accounts. NameCheap is an American company that registers domain names and hosts websites. So do we, but this blog post isn’t about why you should come to us rather than them. This blog post is about something far more important.

Advice to account holders

Inevitably, after the hack attempt NameCheap rushed out a statement. It includes advice and reassurance, but also this rather eye-popping line:

Our early investigation shows that those users who use the same password for their Namecheap account that are used on other websites are the ones who are vulnerable.

No, er, surprise, Sherlock? This is one of the most basic points of maintaining the security of your information on the internet. Use different passwords for different websites, otherwise anyone who gets their mucky paws on your password for one site can really go to town on the others. As that same CSO article says:

Data breaches at websites are often a source for usernames and passwords, and hackers have long been collecting lists of credentials that they hope will unlock other Web services. Security experts advise people to not reuse passwords for this reason.

Users ignoring advice

What really shocked us was that the company actually felt the need to spell this one out. Clearly it’s prevalent practice, still, even after years of hacks and advice and company password policies. No matter how sophisticated encryption techniques and how brain-meltingly clever log-ins become, ultimately user behaviour is a massively influential factor in the security of any system. When designing the security of your company’s systems, overlook that one at your peril.

Windows to Ubuntu

Why go from Windows to Ubuntu?

Image courtesy of Pedrosimoes7 via Photopin

photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc

Windows: widely used, widely derided – often by those very users – “a pain in the neck” “two user interface paradigms nailed together badly”.

Yet people continue to use it, despite issues such as having to buy a new printer to work with a new version of Windows (told to us just a couple of weeks ago by the poor victim), Word documents not working between different version of Windows and the changes between some versions of Windows being easily as great as the differences between Windows to Ubuntu or Mac OS.

Why cling to Windows?

Why do people continue to cling to an operating system that causes them such hassle and chagrin? Reasons vary. Of course there are those Windows users who find everything works just as they want it to across desktop, cloud and mobile – great, this article isn’t about them. This article isn’t either about those who use Windows because that’s what their employer provides them with, or because other hardware or software will stop working if they dare to stray from the prescribed path, or because they simply wouldn’t know how to go about making changes.

Why Nigel James went from Windows to Ubuntu

This article is about an article by and about Nigel James, a lifelong Windows user who found himself needing a new improved system – he chose Ubuntu on a DELL box. What we love about this migration from Windows to Ubuntu is that it was made in response to requirements and on the merits of Ubuntu. This is what software choices should always be about – what do I need to achieve? Which system offers me the wherewithal to achieve it? Off I go. Software choices should never be based on license fee price or fear/threat of reduced interoperability.

Nigel James lists out what he likes about Ubuntu, with a nod to the lovely powerful machine it’s running on, and it’s well worth reading. This is our favourite snippet:

The performance is awesome
This is perhaps down to Dell and the face that I have all the memory and SSD that I do but to be up and running from a cold start in 30 seconds is fantastic. My old clunky creaking Windows machine was literally come back after you have made your second coffee.

Occasionally we have the joy of working on a Windows machine, never out of choice, and we think second coffee is conservative. How about making the dough for the croissants to go with it? We love Ubuntu and all the open source software we work with and that makes our lives easier. We’re always happy to advise on switching from Windows to Ubuntu or any other non-Windows system, or about switching away some programs from proprietary to open source. Please get in touch if you’d like to talk it over.

photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc

Cloud for small business

photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc

We read this excellent article from Creately this morning about cloud for small business. Entitled Why the Cloud should be used by Startups, it makes early on a vital point:

In years gone by, access to high-end technology was really only for the big players, but this is something that has changed, thanks largely to the cloud.

Specialist knowledge

This is really the point. Until recently, if a company of any size wanted access to complex and/or specialized technologies, it required in-house tech skills and appropriate hardware that had to be maintained and replaced from time-to-time. The financial investment required would rule out access to many, if not most, small companies. Using open source software would lessen the financial blow, but even open source technology needs someone with suitable server-side skills to maintain the office-based server technology. Add to this the disaster recovery and security implications of running such valuable hardware and software from office premises and it’s a wonder any company could face running anything more demanding than an abacus.

Cloud and proud

Then along came the cloud. The cloud means different things to different people (which ultimately boils down to: it doesn’t have to mean throwing in your lot with Amazon or Google, it just means accessing services that are provided from a server at a remote location), but in this context, it means that any company can reap the full benefit of top-end services that are run by a specialist company. The company providing the services (yes, that’s us) has all the headache of sourcing, maintaining and replacing the hardware, managing all the software licenses and updates, and recruiting and employing staff with the required IT skills. The end user just pays the bill once a month or once a year and uses the services to facilitate running their business. What small company wouldn’t be proud of making such a canny move?

Cloud security

We heart the cloud. We own and run our own servers, which are located in a top-notch data centre in London that’s powered by a range of renewable energy sources (including sewage gas – yum). We make all the decisions about the software we use to configure and maintain our servers and who connects to them and how, so we know how secure our servers and services are. We understand that people have qualms about placing information on servers that are beyond their direct control, and in some instances and some providers those qualms are well-placed, but we have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the benefits of using well-run services on properly-maintained servers provided by a company with integrity and an excellent track record for uptime are enormous for business.

OpenSure’s cloud for small business

Our cloud isn’t just for small businesses – some pretty big ones use it too. If you’d like to speak to us about the cloud services we can provide for you, please contact us. We’re always happy to chat.

photo credit: Lars Plougmann via photopin cc