5 reasons why you should take Single Sign-on seriously

F2MKE BlogA recent report by the credit checking company Experian warned that the average online consumer had 26 separate online logins but just 5 different passwords.

Two thirds of people have accounts they no longer use but have not closed down, leaving them vulnerable, the research found.  Every week we learn about new and major hacks leading to the comprising of our usernames and passwords.

In July 2012 we have already heard about the ‘loss’ of 450,000 Yahoo identities, over 1 Million Android forum IDs, 20% of all Microsoft account credentials – where they had been reused on other websites – and LinkedIn hacked twice in as many months.

It is all too easy to reuse the same ID – typically your email address together with your favourite password – when registering with different websites online.  The problem – and the very real threat – is that it only takes one of these websites to fail in keeping that ID and password safe and suddenly your online information and access across many different websites is in jeopardy.  What’s more, you may not even realise until you go to apply for a credit card, loan, mobile phone, or mortgage and are refused.  Perhaps worse still, the debt collectors come knocking upon your door!  Even if you do discover that a website you use has ben compromised, can you really remember all of the websites that you signed up to using the same ID and password so that you can sign-in and change your login credentials?

Standards-based Single Sign-on is one killer tool in your defence arsenal!  The following 5 reasons pretty much cover the benefits of using the Single Sign-on technology Oauth for your social online world and Shibboleth if you are in the classroom.

Popular Oauth Identity Providers include Twitter, Facebook and Google.  For more about the prevailing Shibboleth standard in education, simply search this website.

Now for those 5 reasons:

1) When you connect to a new website, application, or service provider using Oauth or Shibboleth, your username and password is not shared with, or stored in, that provider’s system.  If it’s hacked, your ID and password stays safe.

2) It is good practice, alongside having a complex password, to change that password often.  In the Shibboleth and Oauth Single Sign-on model, you can do this just once and in one place resulting in all of your other online presences relating to this change.

3) If you suspect that your password has been compromised, as with (2), you change it once and in one place.  No need to try to remember what you’ve signed up for and how to get there!

4) A single username and password for everything leaves space in your memory for other things; like remembering to pick-up some milk, or the kids, on your way home from work.  Oh and less reason to write it down too!

5) There are SO many great online resources out there asking you to sign up.  Can you really trust the honesty and security of them all?  With true Single Sign-on you can register with the peace of mind that they haven’t got hold of your username and password – often they shouldn’t even need to ‘know’ other personal details such as your name.

So there you have it.  Single Sign-on together with a ‘strong’ and frequently changed password will keep thing more simple and more secure for your online adventures.

The Server-less School

With an open standards integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) available, could we see the dawn of a server-less school?  What’s needed?

– An Identity Management (IdM) service with automated Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF) integration with a school’s Management Information System (MIS);

– A Shibboleth federated Single Sign-on (SSo) Identity Provider (IdP) service;

– A Zone Integration Server (ZIS) service.

The extent of ‘Cloud’ application services compatible with the iPaaS summarised above could negate the need for Local Area Network (LAN) hosted directory, file and application servers..?  If we can show that proxy and caching servers are also redundant, then we are well on the way to a server-less school.  What does this mean?  In short, this means less infrastructure and related hard, soft and management costs overhead, together with fewer things to go wrong when relying upon Internet access for teaching & learning. This approach also lends itself to a device agnostic Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy.  The following image visualises this idea…

 

Future School

Great WordPress plugin for converting your website to mobile app style format!

WPtouch Screen ShotWPtouch Screen ShotWPtouch by BraveNewCode Inc., is a WordPress plugin which formats your website with a mobile app style theme for visitors accessing your site from devices such as the Apple iPhone, or iPod Touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touch-based smartphones.  I discovered it yesterday evening and I’m really very impressed!  Configuration was simple right down to setting up colour schemes and icons for each of your page links.  You can decide which categories and pages you want to display on mobile devices and whether to include links to RSS and email.  There is even the option to disable other WordPress plugins which may feature scripts that cause conflicts when used upon mobile platforms.  The WPtouch plugin is a brilliantly executed solution and best of all, it’s free!  Here are some screen shots showing http://www.f2mke.co.uk rendered using WPtouch on  my iPhone 4.  Why not check it out for yourself?

Visit http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wptouch/ to read more about and download WPtouch.

World’s Largest Google Apps Deployment

I’m very excited to announce media coverage of what we believe to be the World’s largest Google Apps deployment!  Have a look at http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/cloud-computing/3339625/norfolk-county-council-deploys-google-apps-148000-users/ for the full story!

Is the keyboard dead?

Interesting discussion on http://www.quora.com on whether or not the keyboard is dead and just debated on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour… Check out http://www.quora.com/Is-the-keyboard-dead?q=is+the+keyboard+dead

Mind The Gap!

Interesting point made on BBC’s The Big Question about a fundamental flaw in our education system.  We generate competition between children in the classroom through the use of SATs.  The incumbent Government is now pushing schools away from collaboration and into competition with the Academy and Free School agenda.  Does this ingraining of competition at such a young age and the consequent social gap go some way to explain how our British society is so accepting of such a wide social and economic gap?  What do you think?

[poll id=”2″]

Tagxedo

Have a play with Tagxedo and create some stunning word clouds from your blog, tweets, search phrase and so much more!  Here’s one I made earlier…

F2MKE Tagxedo Word Cloud

Chromebook Charging Cart

Wow! I’ve just stumbled across news that a Chromebook Charging Cart exists and if you live in the States is free together with a Cloud printer for purchases of 30 Chromebooks!  What’s the deal for us in Blighty?

Chromebook Charging Cart

Chromebook Charging Cart

Learn to Code

Gove announced at BETT 2012 that the Department for Education (DfE) is launching a consultation with a proposal to withdraw the existing National Curriculum programme of study for ICT.

Instead, teachers will be given the choice over what and how to teach.

So what will this really mean for our children of today and competitors for global jobs of tomorrow?  I absolutely agree that ICT as a subject should fast shift from lessons devoted to the frankly uninspiring teaching of spreadsheets and word processing (this should be embedded use of ICT across the curriculum anyway) and towards the exciting and essential skills that will tool up the Google and Facebook developers of the future – how else will we compete in a global knowledge economy?  But I fear that, given the choice of what ICT to teach and how to teach it, our children will be exposed to an education lottery. Now more than ever is not the time to devalue the need for brilliant ICT skills.

Hmmm… I’ve rather gone off on a tangent as I was going to talk about the brilliance that is http://www.codecademy.com/ – perfect for the classroom and the home.  Coding should start at primary school alongside the Times Table and Spellings 😉

Here’s what Michael Gove said at BETT 2012…

Google Chrome OS

Google’s Chrome Cloud focussed OS and Chromebooks combined with a Google Apps for Business or Education deployment, have the potential to revolutionise the business and education IT world by significantly reducing support and maintenance costs, improving availability – ergo productivity, bettering Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and sustainability and delivering greener IT.

Here’s a great video that illustrates why a move to the Cloud makes sense…