December 5th, 2016

Making Your Online Accounts More Secure with Two-Factor Authentication

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In this season of travel, shopping and giving it’s tempting to make your passwords and logins super simple to save time and the hassle of having to remember them. It is precisely because of this hectic time of year we recommend increasing security measures to protect your online accounts.

Many times, when you log into a website, you use just your username and password: this is called single-factor authentication. The problem with single-factor authentication is that it often does not provide enough security; passwords can be stolen and accounts can be hacked.

You may want to try something more secure to prevent hackers from gaining access to your internet accounts. Even if you’re not sure what it is, you probably already use a higher level of security called “two-factor authentication” in some areas of your life. Two-factor authentication (also written as “2fa”), as the name implies, requires two factors: something you know, like a password, and something you have, like a phone. When you gas up your car and have to enter your zip code after inserting your credit card, you are using two-factor authentication. When you set up two-factor authentication on an account, your two factors are often your user name and password (something you know) and a code which is sent to your phone (something you have). There are other options for 2fa, but many websites just text your phone. Depending on the type of account, you may be required to enter your code each time you log into your account, but sometimes you just enter the code the first time you log in using a smartphone, tablet, or computer that you didn’t use previously to access your account.

Setting up 2fa is usually quick and easy; if you have a phone, it is free. While including 2fa in your online security plan is a good idea, you should consider a few factors before deciding if it is the best option for you. You will likely have to provide your phone number to the account you are securing, so they can text you. If you lose your phone, you will have a harder time accessing your protected account, though there are often backup options. Even though 2fa is a great way to secure your account, don’t assume that it makes that account invulnerable; determined hackers can still gain access to it.

If you have decided to use 2fa, start with your most sensitive accounts: those which involve money, such as an online bank, PayPal, or somewhere that you may have stored a credit card to shop, such as Amazon.com, Google, or iTunes. Be aware that your new security measure isn’t necessarily going to be called “two-factor authentication”. Amazon.com’s version is called two-step authentication, and is set up by going to Amazon’s advanced security settings.

Especially if you post to social media for work, consider securing your social media accounts. Facebook security was mentioned in an earlier blog post. While not yet available to everyone, Instagram started to roll out their own 2fa earlier this year; check your settings to see if you can turn it on. Both Twitter and WordPress have 2fa available.

Using 2fa can add a valuable security layer for email. To see if it’s available for your specific email client, check TurnOn2FA.com.

With just a few steps, you can give yourself a little extra security. Good luck with 2fa!

Are your accounts secure enough?

 


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November 28th, 2016

Plan for your business with Demographics Now

dnowAs a business owner or aspiring entrepreneur, predicting industry trends and demographic changes can be a crucial component of future success.  Nearly every entrepreneur would probably agree with this, but the challenge comes in learning how to accurately predict these changes and where to go to find this type of information.  For Cecil County Public Library cardholders, look no further than your home computer/device or your local library branch.

From a computer and with your library card number, you can access the database Demographics Now at http://www.cecil.ebranch.info/small-business/business-plan-help/.  Demographics Now gives users fast and easy access to detailed demographic information for Maryland state, counties, and towns with customizable searches.  The demographic information found within Demographics Now provides information helpful for marketing, business planning and advertising, as well as facts on population, income, and consumer expenditures using Census information.

Here is an example of how this database can work for an entrepreneur.  If an entrepreneur is interested in opening a car repair business in Cecil County, Demographics Now allows users to see how many people in Cecil County own 1 car, 2 cars, 3 cars etc and how many cars they are projected to own in 2021.   The database provides information on approximately how much Cecil County residents are spending on motor repair, tires, body work, etc. and how much they are predicted to spend on these things in 2021.  The user can see the projected changes from 2016-2021 in household income, age, educational attainment, and housing type.  The database allows users to dig deeper and analyze differences between zip codes too.  Users can see the percentage of households in Cecil County that visited an automotive repair retail establishment, and this is just a small fraction of what is available.

Personalized assistance with this database is available for free by contacting the Cecil County Public Library’s Small Business Information Center.  The Small Business Information Center provides free information and assistance with the process of starting a small business and can be reached at 410-996-5600 ext. 128 or by email at sbic@ccplnet.org.

 


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