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Sophos in the news: Partner Program revamp, Talking Angela Facebook hoax, Forbes password hack

Sophos-in-the-newsThis week Sophos announced a major revamp of our Partner Program in North America, and our establishment of a new partnership with U.S. distributor Ingram Micro. Meanwhile, we strengthened our relationship with two other distributors in North America: D&H Distributing and Lifeboat Distribution.

Our security experts broke news this week with our coverage of a fast-spreading hoax on Facebook regarding the children’s game app Talking Angela. Plus, we provided valuable insight into the latest data breach of usernames and passwords by the hacktivist group SEA.

Partner Program improvements in North America

Press outlets covering the IT channel noted our announcement of a simplified partner structure in North America, consisting of four levels (Silver, Gold, Platinum and National) based on sales performance. This restructuring streamlines and simplifies our previously six-tiered program, and offers new incentives including enhanced sales, marketing and technical support.

John Keenan, Sophos vice president of sales for North America, said the new structure helps fulfill our promise to be a “channel-first” company. In media interviews John explained that our partners will benefit from higher margins as well.

“In a short period of time, we have tremendous opportunity to make our existing partners more profitable and enable them across different products lines,” John tells

Talking Angela hoax spreads on Facebook

Our experts from SophosLabs and Naked Security are often called upon to set the record straight when it comes to security. This week, after a chain letter hoax spread far and wide on Facebook regarding the children’s game Talking Angela, we advised people that the game is harmless, but spreading hoaxes is the true danger.

The hoax claims that Talking Angela is deliberately (and secretively) acquiring information about your children. In fact, a similar chain letter spread on Facebook almost exactly one year ago making the same claims. It’s no more true this time around than it was then.

“It’s all hysteria,” Chester Wisniewski, senior security adviser with Sophos, said in an interview with USA TODAY.

And while it’s a good idea to keep tabs on what your kids are doing online, this kind of hoax could end up making people less safe by giving them a false understanding of security. The problem with spreading hoaxes is that misinformation about security can dull our responses to actual threats. Remember the boy who cried wolf. hack reveals password blunders

After the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) hacktivist group breached the network of media company Forbes, dumping more than one million usernames, emails and password hashes online, Paul Ducklin, senior security analyst at Sophos, managed to crack thousands of the passwords in a matter of hours.

As Duck explains in a post at Naked Security, Forbes’s use of password hashes wasn’t enough to protect weak passwords from being cracked. Looking at the exposed accounts from the company’s own employees, Duck found that they weren’t immune from bad password habits.

“Astonishingly, 73 Forbes staffers (more than one-eighth of the list) had chosen a password consisting of their company’s name, Forbes, followed by zero to four digits. 1 and 123 were the most common suffixes,” Duck says, according to The Register.

Duck is one of the good guys. Next time you create a password, try to imagine what the bad guys could do with your login details.

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