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Power to the People

April 23rd, 2012 | Posted by wwo in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Whatever happened to the SOPA and PIPA legislation of early this year? These acts were designed to protect Intellectual Property such as copyrighted material and trademarks on the Internet. Major providers such as Yahoo and Google would be required to remove access to “rogue websites operated and registered overseas.” The Senate bill, known by shorthand as PIPA, was officially S.968 – Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011. The so-called SOPA bill was the House version.

Most honest people applaud the efforts of the government to enforce protection of intellectual property rights. When an individual or company creates a trademark, or source code, or a work of art, or an invention, that person or organization has invested time and money and has every right to claim ownership. Our Constitution specifically empowers Congress to protect such rights in Article I Section 8: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Hence we have the U.S Trademark and Patent Office.

But the legislation known as SOPA and PIPA, well-intentioned as it was, created onerous conditions for Internet Service Providers, essentially making them the cops, and even the bad-guys, at their own expense and risk. Many, many people saw a lot of unintended consequences and unpleasant side-effects that could result from these new laws.Google's Anti-SOPA Protest

So the people spoke and the Congress listened. Such was the uproar on the grassroots level, from people of all political stripes, that thoughtful representatives and senators reconsidered the means they had chosen to protect intellectual property.

In a January 13, 2012 letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) cosigned the following:

“Since the mark-up, we have increasingly heard from a large number of constituents and other stakeholders with vocal about possible unintended consequences of the proposed legislation, including breaches in cybersecurity, damaging the integrity of the Internet, costly and burdensome litigation, and dilution of First Amendment rights. Moreover, in light of potential cybersecurity implications, we believe hearing from the Administration and relevant agencies is imperative. As always, our current fiscal crisis demands we carefully consider legislation that would cost taxpayers up to $43 million according to the Congressional Budget Office. These are serious issues that must be considered in a deliberative and responsible manner. This underscores the need to resolve as many outstanding concerns as possible prior to proceeding to floor consideration.”

Do not underestimate the power of a single voice, especially when it is combined with millions of others.

Make sure your voice continues to be heard by not forgetting your passwords with our free Password Keeper – PassLoc. Just fill out the form at right.

We’ve talked about the importance of Encryption – in transit and at rest – but a lot of people have questions about the best way to keep up with their Passwords or Encryption Keys. As you’ve no doubt experienced, when asked to create a password these days, there is usually a requirement that there be some complexity: numbers, special characters, capital and lowercase letters. With complexity arises the problem of remembering your password.

Enveloc - PassLoc Secure Password Manager

Of course, you don’t have just one password. There is one for your bank account, another for your on-line mail service, Google or Yahoo or AOL or whatever you like, and still another for your favorite shopping site. And of course one for your backup system.

There are a number of good password keepers out there, and we’ve got a very simple, free-form one you’re welcome to use. But what happens if your computer crashes and you lose the password file that contains the password that restores your data? We’ll come back to that.

First, what is a good password strategy? In general, passwords based on personal or company information that is easily obtained from the internet – such as company or account name, actual first or last name, initials of the name, system name, etc. — are extremely easy to guess and should never be used. Similarly, common or easily guessed words such as “password,” “guest” or “admin” should be avoided. Hackers know all the tricks including reverse spellings and character replacements (substituting a “3” for an “E.” etc.) and have algorithms to handle such cases.

Passwords should also be discrete and not shared between multiple systems/services/applications. Using a single password is the equivalent of using a single key for your car, house, office, mail box, and safety deposit box – if you lose that key, you lose … and give away access to everything.

Use numbers, letters (both cases) and non-alphanumeric characters and avoid common English words or common numbers (like the current year) and you will have a good password.

PassLoc User Interface

Now, how to keep up with your passwords. Printing them out, sealing them in an envelope and keeping them in a locked safe, or safe deposit box, is one method, though not too practical. There may be one or two key passwords you’d keep like that: especially the password that protects your backups. That is the one password that you need to have written down, locked up, onsite and offsite.

For everyday use, a Password Manager is becoming essential. If you’d like to try ours, you can download it here for free. You just have to remember one password, and because you’ll use it frequently, you’re not likely to forget it. Make it a good one! And just in case, write it down and store it securely.