RepEquity® Blog: Digital Brand Management Distilled

Taking the Reins – How to Control Your Online Reputation

Benjamin Franklin once said, “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” Although Franklin predated the Internet by almost 300 years, his words ring truer than ever now that our lives are documented so thoroughly – and so publicly – online. In our years of helping clients manage their reputations online, we at RepEquity have developed a sizable toolbox of tips you can use to bolster your reputation in the digital sphere. Here are some basics that can get your online reputation moving in the right direction.

Claim Yourself Online

Google looks for a wide range of diversified content to place on page one. The standard set of top ten search results across most disciplines consists of official website content, news stories, videos, social media profiles, and third party sites. Your goal should be to develop and curate content in each of those areas to give yourself a well-rounded online presence – and more ammunition to push out potential negative content.

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Capital Camp 2014 Preso: Creating Multi-Step Forms with Ctools and Form API

RepEquity Presents at Capital Camp 2014

Two members of RepEquity’s development team recently took the stage at D.C.’s Capital Camp and Drupal Gov Days, a three-day conference for members of the area’s open source government, contractor and private sector companies. During their advanced session, entitled “Creating Multi-Step Forms with Ctools and Form API,” Jeremy Gottwig and Miro Scarfiotti walked attendees through their recommendations for multi-step forms, which we regularly use for RepEquity clients. Below, Jeremy gives an overview of their presentation and includes additional links for those who may be interested.

There are a number of ways to create multi-step forms in Drupal. The popular Webform module provides this functionality out of the box, and Entityform can also be coaxed into this with a little help from Field Group. However, if you need to perform any advanced processing at each step, you might find these tools difficult to use. For example, let’s say you needed to run a Solr query after step one and modify the step two form based on the results. This might not be impossible with Webform, but it would be quite difficult.

One solution we’ve found is to use the CTools multi-step wizard alongside the CTools object cache. This does require some know-how in using Drupal’s Form API along with basic module development, but it offers some key advantages over the other methods.

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In Praise of WordPress: A RepEquity Intern’s Perspective

Finding the balance between quality and speed can be a difficult task, especially in a field like web design where deadlines are constantly looming. Although the more time you spend on something the better it will look, I have found that WordPress is a great tool to have up your sleeve when you need to create a good site fast.

WordPress is a user-friendly system, enabling people to create a site without much knowledge of programming languages like CSS, PHP, or HTML: Rather than digging through lines of code to find exactly the tag that’s wrong, you can click a button and fix it right away. The tools offered in WordPress allow you to make just a few small changes to a main interface to get your own unique-looking website in a fraction of the time it would take to build one from the ground up.

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What Type of Story Are You?

It sounds like a bad pick-up line, but bear with me: knowing what your corporate story is, and what shape it should take, can boost your bottom line and create more warm fuzzies than you ever dreamed possible. Why is this? Because humans are social creatures; we’re hard-wired to connect with and love a good story.

When I was in college, I wrote a short play called “Broken Blinker” that won a national contest and played at The Kennedy Center. My play explored the complicated emotions surrounding the Vietnam War through the tale of two stoic Midwestern neighbors who struggle to fix a car blinker that won’t turn off. It took a complex issue and distilled it down to its essence for two ordinary people whose sons were in the war.

Big ideas – love, war, corporate values – become sticky when they’re packaged inside a compelling story. Which brings us back to your story. Which one(s) should your company tell? Here are some basic corporate story categories to get your brain storming:

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RepEquity Recs: Password Management Tools Worth Using

Password Management Post-Heartbleed | RepEquity, Inc.

Those of us who work in the digital world are very familiar with the Heartbleed Bug that plagued the Internet this spring. This bug created a serious vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic software library, exposing information that would normally be protected (as evidenced by the lock icon) to theft and making the Internet a frighteningly insecure place. In the fallout from the Heartbleed Bug, many frustrated Internet users set out to change their passwords, desiring more protection on sites where sensitive information is collected: online banks, shopping sites, social networks, etc.

This isn’t the first time that users’ online identity and banking information has been vulnerable, but the Heartbleed Bug serves as an important reminder that we all need to be vigilant about protecting our private information online. This leads to a discussion on “password best practices” (spoiler alert: “password123” is not the way to go!). You need to create complex passwords that can stand up to hackers, but who can remember a long string of numbers, letters, and special characters?

A growing number of online services offer a way to protect and manage passwords by securing them behind a single, complex password or by presenting a number of identity question barriers that users need to answer correctly before access will be granted. Mashable wrote about the gain in popularity these services were experiencing following Heartbleed – one password service, LastPass, added 125,000 new users in one week, about 90,000 more than on an average week!

“We are getting a lot of customers who have heard of Heartbleed and they haven’t really thought significantly of their Internet security until now,” 1Password CEO Jeff Shiner told Mashable reporter Seth Fiegerman.

At RepEquity, our team uses a variety of services to keep important passwords protected. Here are some of our favorite password management services and why we like them:

Passpack
Used by: Melissa Cahoon, Bari Friedman, Rachel Racoosin
Cost: Free
App: No
“There are two things I really like about Passpack outside of its ability to store all my passwords in one place. The first is the login process – I’m asked to enter my user ID and password, then I have to click a black square on my screen to continue, finally I enter my Packing Key, which is a long sentence known only to me. The second thing I really like is the password suggestion tool. You can choose how long you want the password to be and whether or not you’d like to include special characters. It’s so helpful for someone like me who would make every password the name of my dog if I didn’t have Passpack’s help.” – Melissa Cahoon

1password
Used by: Chip Cullen
Cost: $34.99-$99.99 (for 5 users)
App: Yes
“I like 1Password for a bunch of reasons. A few of the big ones:
– Your password collection can be shared across devices and computers
– You can control where your passwords are kept – they are never reachable by Agile Bits, the software maker
– It can generate strong passwords
– You can keep useful things like credit card information in a safe, but useful place”

KeePass
Used by: Jim Huang
Cost: Free
App: Yes
“I use KeePass because it’s open source and free (bonus!). I believe, like many others, when it comes to security users should have oversight over the code that protects their passwords, a good example of this is OpenPGP.”

Lastpass
Used by: Miro Scarfiotti
Cost: Free (Premium costs $12/year)
App: Yes
“I use LastPass because it provides strong encryption, synced passwords in the cloud, and the ability to share access to specific sites with individuals or teams.”

SplashID
Used by: David Bone
Cost: Several different levels of pricing, from one-time $9.99 fee to $19.99/year
App: Yes
SplashID is my little black book in the cloud. Totally secure. When my phone was stolen last year, I had no worries about any of my accounts being hacked. I don’t think I changed a single password.”

Tips for creating a strong password

  1. Don’t use the same password everywhere. While “RedSox” may be an easy phrase for you to remember, you’ll be sorry when a hacker realizes it’s your password to your email, and bank account, and airline miles account, and….
  2. Change your passwords often.
  3. Avoid common phrases and words. “Password” is, in fact, one of the worst passwords out there. Stay away from the obvious and make it harder for people who want access to your account. Don’t use personal information like your name or street address, either.
  4. Don’t forget to include one (or more) special characters.
  5. Include upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers. Did you know it would take about three hours to crack “QxRfPyN” but six years to crack “Qx4Rf3P1YN”?
  6. Try creating an acronym from a favorite or memorable phrase. For example, “Take me out to the ballgame, Take me out with the crowd” would become “tmottbtmowtc.”

To sum it all up, the Heartbleed Bug gave us all a much-needed kick in the pants – it reminded us that we need to be careful out there on the Web and inspired a roundup of password management services as well as a review of password best practices. Password protection may not be glamorous, but it’s essential maintenance that we all have to do.  Stay secure!

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