Author: Pamela Yates
As soon as COVID-19 hit New Zealand’s shores the Royal NZ college of GP’s website became overloaded with information in response to COVID-19 questions from GPs. With the necessity to get timely and accurate information regarding government policies and procedures to GPs, it became obvious to the Zephyr team that the current website was not providing the best platform and that easy access to COVID-19 guidance could be given through a separate website.
In collaboration with College staff, the Zephyr iMIS team created an iMIS website within a week. The website began with an “out of the box” template. College branding, fonts and colour palette were introduced to the site followed by the relevant content.
iMIS is a very flexible and powerful tool that allows responsive microsites to be created very quickly. We were very happy to be given the opportunity to combine iMIS and our expertise and collaborate with College staff in a project that contributed in a small way to New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.
Do you use the same password for everything? If you do, you’re not alone. We all have bad cyber habits, whether it’s reusing passwords or connecting to unsecured WiFi. These habits can make it easy for hackers to steal our personal information and use it for their own purposes – or they can sell it on the dark web for an easy profit.
These are habits you have to stop right now – and habits your employees need to stop too. After all, good cyber security practices are a group effort! But using the same password for everything or using simple passwords aren’t the only things that are going to get you into trouble. Here are three more clear signs you’re setting yourself up for a breach.
Sharing Your E-mail
Countless websites want your e-mail address. Sometimes it’s not a big deal if you’re sharing it with a vendor or e-commerce site. You want to ensure you receive invoices and shipping confirmation. But other websites just want you to sign up for special offers, notifications, e-mail newsletters and other inbox clutter. It sounds mostly harmless, but what they fail to tell you is the fact that they’re going to sell your e-mail address to advertisers and other third parties.
To make matters worse, you have no idea where your e-mail address will end up – or if it will fall into the wrong hands. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for e-mail addresses they can take advantage of. They use e-mail for several different kinds of cyberscams – most notably phishing scams. Hackers can even make it look like an e-mail is coming from a legitimate source to get you to open it.
Whenever possible, avoid using your work or personal e-mail. If you need to sign up for something and you don’t completely trust the source (or just want to avoid spam), create a “burner” e-mail address you can use. It should be something different from your work or personal e-mail and not associated with business or banking.
Not Using HTTPS
Most of us are familiar with HTTP. It’s short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is a part of every web address. These days, however, many websites are using HTTPS – the S standing for “secure.” Some web browsers, like Google Chrome, will open the HTTPS version of the website automatically, giving you a more secure connection. Of course, this only works if the website was made with an HTTPS option!
Why is visiting an unsecured HTTP website dangerous? Any data you share with an unsecured website, such as date of birth, passwords or any financial information, may not be securely stored. You have no way of knowing that your private data won’t end up in the hands of a third party, whether that’s an advertiser or a hacker. It isn’t worth the risk.
When visiting any website, look in the address bar. There should be a little padlock. If the padlock is closed or green, you are on a secure website. If it’s open or red, the website is not secure. You can also click the padlock to verify the website’s security credentials. It’s best practice to immediately leave any website that is not secured. And never share your personal information on a webpage that is not secure.
Saving Your Passwords In Your Web Browser
Web browsers make life so easy. You can save your favorite websites at the click of a button. You can customise them to your needs using extensions and add-ons. And you can save all your usernames and passwords in one place! But as convenient as it is, saving passwords in your browser comes with a price: low security.
If a hacker gets into your saved passwords, it’s like opening a treasure chest full of gold. They have everything they could ever want. Sure, web browsers require a password or PIN to see saved passwords, but a skilled hacker can force their way past this hurdle if given the chance.
Use a password manager instead. These apps keep all of your passwords in one place, but they come with serious security. Even better, many password managers are designed to suggest new passwords to you when it’s time to update your old passwords. LastPass, 1Password and Keeper Security Password Manager are all good options. Find one that suits your needs and the needs of your business. If you want Keeper installed in your business give Tony Dorman a call as Zephyr uses and supports this password manager for its MSP clients.
We hope this short collection of links will help you through the experience of working from home. It’s important to note that remote working is improved when the people doing the work feel as good as they can, in the circumstances they are in.
The Technology and Physical Environment
While we are sure that your employer has provided you with guidance and support on what technology you need to work at home successfully, there are some priorities that we think you should consider. Firstly, if you are used to using a monitor at work, you should have one at home too. The monitor along with and ergonomic keyboard will improve your productivity and make working from home much easier. As for the office chair, by the time you read this you may not be able to go out and get a chair and are now reliant on a dining room chair and table. This is a good article on how to make this environment as comfortable as possible using things you have at home.
Managing your Day
The first advice from Buzzfeed is “Get out of your pyjamas and dress for the day”. Reasonably important if you have a 9.00am Facetime appointment with the Boss. This site also has some good advice about structuring your day, creating a workspace and signing off at the end of your workday. I like the one about putting on your work shoes, somehow it makes the work environment more real!
The Buzzfeed blog is informative and fun.
Managing the children while Working
The New York Times have an interesting article on working from home with children. This was written in 2019, did they have forewarning we would all be working from home in 2020?
There are also many on-line options from setting boundaries, difficult for a three-year-old! Then making sure you are blocking out the noise. Children are naturally noisy and telling them to be quiet every ten minutes is never going to work.
Working in the office is sometimes very stressful, so often we think it will be easier to work at home. Sorry, but for some the stress of working from home, can make the office seem like a dream. From 7-minute workouts to meditation, these apps may help make work life at home a little easier.
Various headlines around the world have been focused on the future of the internet over the next few years. As countries and companies try to manage the vulnerabilities of the internet, the concept of a “world-wide” web is being slowly eroded.
Global connectivity has been all we’ve known of the internet, it has meant that you can shop and buy products from around the world, and for the most part, you can get content from almost anywhere. A segmented internet would skew the information available to certain populations, and potentially make it harder to connect and access foreign sites.
Here, in NZ many are largely unaware of the development of a Chinese based internet and the evolving of an American led internet environment. Meanwhile Europe and Russia are considering how to manage the internet environment within their physical borders.
The other perspective is the development of an accountable and secure internet layer to protect our digital lives. It seems that the internet as originally designed can’t overcome the vulnerabilities which can have major impacts on society and the economy. The challenge is to address the needs for anonymity and privacy while managing the social and financial needs for security.
It seems that the split between a Chinese led and American led internet environment is the end of the internet as a unified environment for the transfer of knowledge as we know it.
So, given that the internet is in the process of splitting, what should we be doing? Some commentators are saying the landscape of the internet won’t be so dramatically changed that it’s unrecognisable. This will be a slow, gradual transition, so you should have plenty of time to prepare for it. Hopefully they are right.
For more information go to the LA Times.