Category Archives: Uncategorized

Information Security for Lawyers – Passwords reconsidered

On 26 February 2013 I wrote about Information Security for Lawyers. In that blog I suggested a password protocol recommended by StaySmartOnline.gov.au. Two readers were kind enough to post comments providing criticism that that recommendation. David referred me to two 2 cartoons from xkcd.com, one of which I reproduce below

Alex Muentz more directly said

“Good advice, except for the passwords. Passwords like these end up on stickynotes.

Why not multi-word passwords? Easier for language oriented folks like lawyers to remember and a large enough password-space to make brute-forcing inefficient. Tools like hashcat permit 2 dictionaries, but doing 3 or 4 word passphrases is a lot of entropy”.

While I am not sure how the thermodynamic concept of entropy has become a measure of password strength, multiword password protocols are a viable alternative and should be considered.

Any password policy is a compromise between complexity and ease of use:

  • A 24 character multiword password can be difficult to type correctly, particularly as the password is often hidden and where your typing skills could be less than perfect.
  • Whilst it may be easy to remember multiword passwords, it may not be that easy to remember many multiple multiword passwords you will need for different websites.

Cartoons can be very informative. My son Alex referred me to another very relevant XKCD cartoon on “Password Reuse”. I reproduce it below.

.

Even if the website is not evil, not all websites, even highly respected websites do not always store passwords and other private information securely. See Sean Buckley’s article Microsoft Store hacked in India, passwords stored in plain text, and Michael Lee’s article Qld govt department stores credit card recordings unencrypted.

The same password should not reused to logon onto different websites. Unless you are a lot smarter than I, you should use a password manager to record and store passwords. I use eWallet from Ilium Software, Inc. Versions are available for Windows PC, iPhone, iPad, Windows 8 Metro, Android and Blackberry. It is not available on the Windows Phone 8, (Ilium Software Please Fix:eWallet to Go, just does not get there) l The data file is encrypted and can be synced between devices. The file can also stored to dropbox or skydrive to make syncing irrelevant between devices.

Internet Facing Devices

Password strength is more important for internet facing devices and websites. Most law firms may not be as concerned to securely protect network access from locally connected workstations. Microsoft’s Windows 8 Operating system recognises this and provides the option for a 4 digit pin code alternative to password logons. Whilst some may consider this could reduce security, I do not believe that to be the case. Pin Code Logons can provide convenient network access for devices known to be secure and simultaneously requiring complicated passwords when external access is required.

Another alternative could be to use Two Factor Authentication. This is become very popular for a lot of websites. It can be introduced very inexpensively. Phone Factor, a company which has been purchased by Microsoft, offers free (if you are small) or relatively inexpensive solutions (if you are larger). You can learn more about them here. I will talk more about Two Factor Authentication in a future post.

JDC 10 June 2013.

My First Six Months with a Windows Surface RT, from a Lawyer’s Perspective

I have previously written about my experience using the RT in the following posts

My First Three Months with a Windows Surface RT from a Lawyer’s Perspective | Jeffrey Chard (my last post) and

My First 10 days with the Surface RT | Jeffrey Chard

I have had my RT now for about 6 months.

General Use

I donated my iPad to my beloved wife about 2 months ago.

I primarily use the RT as a tablet. When using it as a tablet I prefer to use the Metro OneNote and IE10 Apps to the desktop programs.

I no longer have any problems with website compatibility with IE10. The Metro IE10 is extremely easy to use. The Swipe action UI is truly excellent.

There are a lot more Apps now available for Windows 8. From my first post, Dropbox has been available for some time. I wrote about it in my first above mentioned post. I prefer to use Skydrive because it is more integrated.

Zite and a decent replacement for Goodreader are still not available. Adobe Reader (Touch) is available, but it has similar functionality as the Microsoft Reader. There are other apps that allow you to annotate PDF, but nothing with the same capabilities as Goodreader.

Whilst Zite has come to Windows Phone 8, it is still not available on Windows 8 (nor is it available as a website, a fact that I I find curious). I use the following news reader apps instead.

The Fifth.
This has very recently become available in the Windows Store. I have been using it, and beta testing it for several months. Even though I may be biased, it is my favourite New Reader App. Whilst it uses upon RSS feeds, it is very easy to search for RSS feeds and to subscribe to them. The are a host RSS feeds that are built in to browse. All your subscriptions and reading history are synced to the cloud so that your history follows you between devices. The App can be downloaded here.

The Fifth app for Windows in the Windows Store

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/e741b66c-cb4c-4e64-9ed0-5e35267a377a

Learn more about The Fifth by Ardent Technology and download it from the Windows Store

The only difference between the Trial Version (which is really the Free Version) and the Paid Version is the absence of Advertisements in the Paid Version. As the Adds are not very intrusive in the trial version, I am not sure there is much incentive to buy the Paid Version, unless you want to support the poor author. As he is my son, I would encourage you to do so J.

Appy Geek

Pulse News

From the Lawyer’s Perspective

As I mentioned in my last post, as a Lawyer I used primarily used by iPad to reduce the paper I had to carry. I could load into Goodreader, 20000 page briefs, which were fully hyperlinked. On the RT I have similar functionality, but with the added convenience of being able to access those documents from a USB Drive with no need to import.

Office RT is by far much easier to use the iPad equivalents when it is necessary to do work. Now that I have the Typecover, it is very convenient to take into the meeting room to take statements. I find it convenient to prepare witness statements and which I save to Skydrive. I eventually acquired a Typecover, and I use that when I have to do any creative work. The Typecover is much better than the Touchcover for doing work. I find that I can type more accurately on it than I was able to do on most of my earlier laptops when it is on a stable surface. I still use the Touchcover, as a cover and interestingly it is more accurate when it on my leather briefcase on my lap when I am on a train. The touchcover works better on a uneven surface.

If I need to use an desktop application I just use the Remote Desktop Application.

Why did I buy the RT instead of waiting for the Pro?

The RT has one main advantage over the Pro; battery life. It is inherent in its design. The tasks that I needed to do on the RT I was wiling to sacrifice all the benefits of the Pro to obtain longer battery life in slightly thinner package. The Surface Pro has only been available in Australia since the 30 May 2013. I have seen one in the shop and briefly paid with it. It works very well. I particularly like the stylus.

As I mentioned in my first mentioned post, the main thing missing from the RT is Outlook.

Microsoft has announced that Outlook will be available with RT 8.1 which is being released for Preview on 26 June 2013. This will be a great improvement. While I believe that I will continue to use the Metro Mail App, Outllook RT will fill the very big hole that existed when using the Desktop. The sooner Outlook RT is released the better. I am hoping that Microsoft will release it to RT8.0 for download at the same time as the 8.1Preview is released.

Back in the Office

In my last post I said

I am an advocate of the Metro UI, but in the office I am firmly a Desktop user. I am still using the Windows 7 Professional, and I did not take advantage of the reduced price to upgrade. I am a firm believer of Windows 8 and like its split personality, but there is really little point to upgrade until you have touch screens. The only advantage to upgrade (which is real) is the convenience of having access to all your metro apps on the Desktop.

I am hoping that Microsoft has a lot of success with the Surface RT. For a lawyer, the advantages of an RT over an iPad are clear. I am still looking forward to many great thinks from Microsoft this year.

Not much has changed but I expect it will very soon. I have read a lot about Windows Blue/8.1. Microsoft have done a lot to address some of the concerns that I had with Windows 8 on the Desktop. Whilst I believe that the split personality is inevitable. There a lot of changes in 8.1 that will encourage it to be used in the enterprise. One of the main advantages of 8.1 will be that, each Desktop User, will be able to use his/hers Microsoft Account and still be able to connect to the enterprise domain.

I am still looking forward to many great thinks from Microsoft this year.

JDC 10 June 2013

The Dropbox Windows (Metro) App has finally arrived

As with most Metro Apps, the power and functionality of the Apps are often not immediately apparent. TThe App offers very similar functionality to Skydrive, in fact, like Skydrive it appears to bestow upon most Metro UI Apps the capability to open and save files to your Dropbox. I have verified that you can open and save (back to your Dropbox) files in:

  • The Windows Reader App
  • PDF Touch; and
  • eWallet

Unlike, iOS Application where the Dropbox capabilities need to specially programmed into each iOS App.

Functionally as far as Metro Apps concerned the Dropbox file operations are identical to Skydrive file operations.

Dropbox will also open office documents using the Desktop Office Application but it will not let you save back to Dropbox.

Curiously Dropbox:

  • does not connect to all Metro Apps. The most notable being the Windows Photo App, that App does not connect to Dropbox at all. That App does not use the standard “file open and save” APIs, but instead aggregates and consolidates photos from various locations and sources. However, as the Dropbox browser includes a comparable Photo Viewer not much is lost.
  • Does not appear to offer the capability of downloading a file from you Dropbox However, given you can open most files from the Dropbox browser, this is not a great problem.

The App will be most useful to those users who already have a Dropbox Account. I have both Skydrive and Dropbox Accounts; I will continue to use Skydrive as my primary cloud storage particularly on the RT.

The program can be downloaded from the link below.

Dropbox app for Windows in the Windows Store

http://apps.microsoft.com/webpdp/app/78b08472-168e-496e-a8f5-9601892da4fa

Learn more about Dropbox by Dropbox, Inc. and download it from the Windows Store

When a Software Update is a Retrograde Step

Generally, I normally welcome software and application upgrades, I am one of the first to download them pand I generally welcome the new features (I even updated to iOS6).

Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours I have received two updates that I have not welcomed.

Itunes 11

I have never found Windows Media Player or iTunes intuitive, when it comes to music syncing. I tolerated iTunes only for the purposes of backing up iPad and downloading applications. While iTunes 11 may still automatically backup the program has otherwise been totally changed. Even being able to locate how to download a application update, is not immediately obvious and takes a lot of menu searching. It is not even immediately obvious how to even see the connection to the iPhone or iPad.

Zite

Zite also introduced an major update yesterday. My favourite new aggregator has gone. It also has been totally changed. One feature that I often used was to open the web page in safari. Whilst you area still able to do that, it is now hidden in a sub menu to a sub menu [UPDATE: The feature  jumps to the top of the move option  after it first use]. I much preferred to look and feel of the old version.

Regretfully, as I do not have a comparable application to replace it. I will have to persevere, and I am still looking forward it being introduced as a Windows 8 Metro App. Its main competition in that environment is Bing News which only shares links to Bing News Website. To read that site you need Window 8. How dumb/conceited is that!!!

UPDATE 10 December 2012: The new Zite is growing on me slowly but I still prefer the look and fell of the old version.

Hello world!

Hello, I am a commercial litigation lawyer from Sydney, Australia.

I would like to provide accurate efficient and practical advice to clients.

I want to write about topics that I hope will provide tips and advice to persons or companies that may be needing legal assistance, so that they be in a position to provide full and complete instructions to their lawyer.