Google’s new Chrome extension is worth downloading

Yesterday, Google announced the release of their newest Chrome extension, Password Alert. The new free tool is designed to warn users of the popular browser when they are entering their Google passwords on non-Google websites, helping to protect their Google accounts from phishing attacks. The application also prevents users from using the same password for their Google account on other sites. While this secondary feature may seem overzealous, it is a necessity if one of these accounts are breached, then a hacker would have a higher chance of accessing the victim’s Google account with the same credentials.

As our Threat Brief revealed, Google is by far the number one target of phishing attacks. Developing a Chrome extension that protects users accessing their Google accounts will certainly help defend against the onslaught of phishing attacks targeting Google. It would be great to see this same technology extended to other browsers and also to protect other major targets of phishing. The Threat Brief includes the top targets for phishing, and while each company uses a different login technique, there is something to be learned from what Google has done with respect to protecting customers as they access their accounts.

This is a good time to remind everyone of very simple and effective strategies to keeping online accounts secure. To start, make sure your primary email password is different from all other passwords. As I mentioned, there is a domino effect if you can break into this account. We all hate remembering different passwords, but this one is a must for proper online security. Secondly, hard to break passwords are very easy to create, and the key is length. My tip is to think of a phrase that is unique to you. For example, I love cheese and skiing -> !Lovech33s3andsk!!ng*. A password like this is very easy to remember and very difficult to crack.

Technology like this is not the end all to password security, but adding this to your tools for everyday use will only help to enhance your protection online.

Download the Password Alert for Chrome here:


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Retrieve Windows 8.1 key from BIOS


When the web is enough, a Chromebook is enough

Low maintenance and sufficiently capable, a Chromebook ends the "install, update, reboot" cycle. 


The following two systems meet different needs:

1. Existing systems: Login, install, update, reboot, work

I helped an independent consultant set up a new Dell Latitude laptop in February 2015. Which means that we:

  • Downloaded and installed the Office 365 suite of desktop apps
  • Installed QuickBooks (from a CD -- how quaint), then installed two sets of updates
  • Searched for and manually installed a printer driver
  • Downloaded and installed Adobe Acrobat Standard Edition
  • Downloaded and installed McAfee Security Center
  • Downloaded and installed five Dell system device updates

We also downloaded and installed two successive sets of operating system updates, each comprised of several files.

Fortunately, the laptop had plenty of RAM, a fast SSD drive, and a recent mid-range Intel processor. We downloaded the software over a 50 Mbps internet connection: fast enough to exceed the FCC's definition of broadband in early 2015.

The task took a few hours. The new system works well. It meets my client's needs and requires little change -- other than the need to learn a few touchscreen operating system gestures.

He will need to periodically respond to prompts to download and install updates, which may sometimes mandate a system reboot.

2. Chromebook: Login, work

In December, I helped my teenage daughter set up a new Chromebook. Which means I stood by as she:

  • Turned the system on
  • Selected the Wi-Fi access point and entered the password
  • Entered her username, password, and 2-step authentication

The system was ready for her to use within a few minutes. Her bookmarks, settings, Chrome apps, and extensions all installed automatically.

She wiped the data from her old system in another few minutes (Settings | Show advanced settings | Powerwash), then offered that system to one of her friends.

The new system works well. It meets my daughter's needs and requires little change. She will need to periodically respond to a prompt to restart the system to update, which will require no more than a minute or so to complete.

Different needs, different systems

The two systems meet different needs. Both meet the needs of their respective users. Both provide a core set of connectivity and functionality. Both offer ways to communicate, to create documents, and to connect and share online.

A Chromebook poses a basic question: when is the web enough? That's when, not if.

To focus on "...but a Chromebook can't" misses the point. A "...but it can't" statement only identifies a market opportunity.

Most laptop and desktop operating systems were built for an installed software world. If your organization is sufficiently large, you have people to manage the complexity of those systems. They manage the complexity, that doesn't mean the complexity goes away. The systems are still complex.

Chrome OS simplifies the system considerably: "login, install, update, reboot, work" shortens to "login, work." As an administrator, you still configure many options, but the complex parts reside on Google's servers -- on the web, not on each person's device.

As an IT decision maker you should ask yourself: when is the web enough?

When the web is enough, a Chromebook is enough.

By  February 6, 2015, 7:33 PM PST //  @awolber


Wichita business attacked by hackers


It's been a frustrating week at Smart Security Inc. in West Wichita. On Monday owner Dee Brandt discovered her business' computer had been hacked.

"I'm angry. I don't like to feel powerless and I'm angry," Brandt said.

Wichita police say hackers installed ransomware on Brandt's computer, making it impossible for her to access the information inside. Brandt says there was a message on her screen instructing her to click on a link and pay $500 to get her information back.

"They basically want me to pay ransom to get into what I own," Brandt said.

Brandt did not click on the link, instead she called police. Officers with Wichita's financial crimes unit say that was the right call. Police say hackers often take the initial payment then drain the victim's account entirely.

Brandt says she's sharing her story so others are aware. She's working on recovering her information and says she'll back up all her data from now on.

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