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Not using a password manager? Here’s why you should be… | Data and computer security

In a competitive field, passwords are one of the worst things about the internet. Long and complex passwords are more secure but difficult to remember, leaving many people using weak and easy-to-guess credentials. One study by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) revealed how millions are using their pet’s name, football team names, ‘password’ and “123456” to access online services.

But this leaves you wide open to attack: cybercriminals can crack weak passwords in seconds using automated tools. “A hacker needs roughly two seconds to crack an 11-character password made up of numbers,” says Alex Balan, director of security research at security company Bitdefender. If the password is more complex, containing numbers, symbols and uppercase and lowercase letters, the time needed to break it jumps to 400 years.

Experts say a good password should be unique and contain a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. The key to a strong one is length, says independent security researcher Sean Wright. “While password complexity does help, the length matters far more.” Experts recommend a minimum of 11 characters, more if possible.

The typical internet user has about 100 sets of login details – memorising this number of complex passwords is well beyond most people’s powers of recall.

Password manager apps can resolve this problem by creating long and complex credentials for you, and remembering them the next time you log in. Yet only about one in five people in the UK use one, according to recent estimates.

Many people are put off by the hassle, while others are suspicious about allowing one company to store all of their passwords. How do you know which one is trustworthy, and what if the company is hacked?

It might seem daunting at first, but a password manager will make your life a lot easier. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why you should join the 20% who use one

Once you’ve downloaded a password manager, such as 1Password, LastPass, Bitwarden or Dashlane, you can follow the instructions to import your logins from somewhere else such as your browser. You can also start from scratch if you want, and delete accounts you don’t need any more as you go along.

After setting it up, the app can generate strong passwords for you for any new sites you use, and these will autofill as you browse. This solves one of the toughest aspects of password security: remembering lots of complex credentials.

“Since password managers take care of the remembering part, every password can be a long, totally random selection of characters,” says Jake Moore, global cybersecurity adviser at security firm ESET.

Password managers also ensure you use a unique login for each account, rather than repeating them across services. This is crucial for preventing “credential-stuffing” attacks, which happen when a hacker uses your compromised password, for example from Facebook, to try to get into other well-known services you might use such as Netflix or Spotify.

Another often overlooked benefit is that most password managers help prevent phishing attacks, where scammers will encourage you to click a link so they can steal your credentials. “Since they tie the credentials to a specific web address, the autocomplete will not work on phishing sites,” says Wright.

In some cases you can even use password managers to securely share a login with other trusted people, such as family members. They also allow you to store pin codes, credit card details and online banking credentials securely.

Why they are trustworthy and not as much hassle as you think

One major misconception about password managers is that having your credentials stored in one place is a risk. “I am often asked: ‘What if someone is able to access my password manager?’, but using one is far better than reusing the same credentials for all accounts,” Moore says.

While there is a small risk in placing all your logins in one place, the likelihood of the password manager being breached is extremely low, says Wright.

Password managers keep your details secure by encrypting your logins so they can only be accessed when you enter the master password. “Your plain text passwords are never stored on your device or on the password manager’s servers,” says Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech.

Setting up a password manager is probably the biggest hurdle for those diving in, but you can do it gradually, changing passwords as you go. Once you have set up your app, it’ll save you the time you spend now resetting logins you’ve forgotten.

Some see cost as an issue, but password managers are often free, or available for a few pounds a month. If you do decide to pay, the subscription will be worth it if you consider the costs of being hacked and details such as bank accounts being accessed.

Are Apple Keychain and Google Password Manager as good as independent password managers?

Apple Keychain and the Google Chrome Password Manager are password managers, but they lack the features of “full-service” ones. Sticking with Apple or Google means you can’t easily use your password manager with other devices or browsers.

Apple Keychain and Google Chrome help strengthen protection, but you will struggle to easily move across devices without an independent password manager, says Moore. “Although it’s better than reusing passwords, a third-party password manager usually offers more features and can be easily accessed across devices.”

Steps to improve your security

Keep in mind that the password manager will need a master password, which you’ll need to be able to remember. This should be as long and complex as possible, for example a phrase or set of memorable words including some random characters and numbers.

Some password apps let you know when one of your accounts has been compromised. The website HaveIBeenPwned is another trustworthy method of looking up whether your passwords have appeared in any known breach.

Apple also offers a function to detect hacked passwords, under Settings > Passwords > Security Recommendations. If any of your passwords have been compromised, it’s a good idea to change them, on the breached site as well as any other websites where you use the same credentials.

Of all your passwords, your email is most important. If a criminal is able to access your email, they could steal information including banking details, or send messages pretending to be you to scam people. Worse, they could use your email to reset all your other passwords, taking control of your accounts. For this reason, the NCSC says you should create an extra-strong password for this account, using a password manager if possible.

Experts recommend passwords – and password managers – are backed by two-factor authentication, whereby you are asked for something such as a one-time code in addition to a password when you log in using a new device. For the more adventurous of you, there is the option to use a security key such as a YubiKey – a token you can insert into your device to double-secure high-risk accounts such as email. Authenticator apps such as Authy are another option. These generate a unique code for you to enter into the site and are very straightforward to use.

The least bad alternative…

If this all seems too technical, or you are managing passwords for an elderly parent or grandparent, there is another option. While they’re sometimes mocked, physical password books aren’t a bad idea, as long as you follow the guidelines in creating strong, unique logins, and the book is kept somewhere secure and doesn’t leave the house. And it goes without saying that you should never create a “virtual” book or document on your computer, which could be viewable if your device is hacked.

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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