Monday, June 10, 2019

We Need More - World Password Day is not enough!

Did you know World Password Day is the first Thursday in May each year?  Neither did I and I worked in information security for many years!  I only found out recently when I read an article at TechRepublic ( by Scott Matteson titled "Seriously, stop using qwerty as a password--enlist these password strategies instead".  It was the longest headline I've read recently but it was a tactic that really caught my eye, so I decided to read it.  I'm glad I did because it was an eye-opener for me and not your typical "use strong passwords" type of article.  Everyone should read it.  One take away for me was that we need more than 1 day out of 365 to be "password day".  How else are we going to come up with better and more innovative ways to securely handle authentication?

During my professional career I faced many challenges and for me that challenge was also one of the many non-monetary rewards that came along with being fortunate enough to do what I love for a living.  More than half of my career was spent specializing specifically within the information security discipline, originally as a Security Operations Analyst and finishing off with several years as a Security Operations Manager.  The fact that in 2019 the best we have come up with are sites like the "NIST Bad Passwords" where we can check our own passwords to see if they are common or not  and "Have I Been Pwned" to see if our password has ever been exposed in previous data breaches amazes me.  

It's true - today we have MFA (multi-factor authentication, also known as two factor authentication) and bio-metric devices allowing us us to use our fingerprint or even our very own faces for authentication BUT - these systems are still underpinned by - you guessed it -  passwords, and that doesn't look likely to change any time soon.  We need more innovation and I do not consider password manager browser extensions to be "innovation".

I've never been afraid to say "it's helpful" to remind users on a regular basis that they should use strong passwords and to not use the same password on multiple sites, but it's clearly not enough.  The constant reminders eventually fall on deaf ears as users will always follow the path of least resistance so they can get things done.  Reminders and continuous training have a place in the enterprise but if that's all we are doing how can we (we being IT professionals) say we are partnering with the enterprise?  Reminders and training have a place but they can't replace innovation when dealing with these issues.

The threat landscape we face online today is magnitudes riskier than any time in our brief online history and this problem will not be resolved if we stay stuck in our old ways and technologies which have proven themselves to NOT be up to the task of properly protecting end users?  We need some serious innovation in authentication technology to help address and face that landscape head-on so we are beginning our search for that and hope to report updates on this topic again in the future.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Are Seniors Being Left Behind?

One of the things I love about the work I do is that I get to help a lot of different people, and that is rewarding for me not only monetarily but also spiritually.  It just feels good seeing the relief on someone's face when I help them overcome what seems to them to be insurmountable.  

I've always been a charitable person and one of the ways I like to give back to the community is to volunteer at a senior living facility on Saturdays to help with any technology issues the residents or staff might be having.  Nothing is off-limits - desktops, laptops, tablets, smart phones, smart speakers, cordless house phones, answering machines, cable boxes, remote controls, radios and more.

It didn't take long for me to notice a pattern emerge with regard to smart phones and the newest touch interfaces - they suck for seniors!  The touch interfaces of today are generations ahead of earlier technology and this has only made it more difficult for seniors.  I've seen a few things contribute to this problem:

1.  As we age our dexterity decreases - if the interface requires you to "touch and hold" - most seniors just can't hold still enough and the interface interprets a "touch and slide" action instead.  With 3D touch, you now add a pressure variable (i.e. touch-hold-press vs. touch-hold-press HARDER) and most seniors give up in frustration.

2.  Young families are refreshing their technology more often than seniors and I've often seen those same families hand-down an older smart phone to grandma because "it's better than your flip phone grandma" or "with this new phone we can be in more contact with facetime" or any number of other things they tell themselves.  The problem with this is that grandma needs a LOT of help with that new smartphone and families lose patience with grandma a lot quicker than they normally would when they have to show her how to use the smart phone over and over again.

3.  The "accessibility" features of the smart phone makers needs to be improved and have features geared towards seniors.  They do a great job for those with disabilities but nothing is really geared towards solving issues more specific to seniors.

With seniors being one of the fastest growing populations in the United States (and probably other countries as well) and technology changing as fast as ever, the risks that we are leaving seniors behind, in what has been described by others as a revolution, will only continue to grow right along with that population.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Welcome to my blog!

My goal is to bring you technology news, information, and self-help guides personally designed by me to help you have more "leeway" in your life!  We've never had more technology in our lives than we do today and it's constantly bombarding us with information and stressing out our lives.  I've learned a few tricks over nearly 40 years of helping family, friends, colleagues, and customers deal with even their "weirdest" technology issues and challenges.

I look back on these moments - the moments those who loved me fostered my natural abilities allowing me to strengthen them over time and build them into a rewarding and fulfilling life's path of helping others understand and resolve their own technology related issues.  I plan to use this blog to share the information I've gathered in the hopes that it will also bring more leeway and less stress into your life.