Labs Special Edition: Password Security

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In light of nearly 2 million social media account passwords being compromised and circulated recently, let’s talk password security. Founding Partner AJ Gerritson stopped by the Fox News studio last night to discuss the recent security breach and steps you can take to protect yourself from the same fate.


While most of the accounts appear to belong to users outside the U.S., now is a good a time as ever to take your password security into consideration. This time of year is prime for hackers as many are shopping online for the holidays.


When it comes to online security, the best defense from hackers is a strong offense. When combing through the compromised passwords, researchers made a disturbing discovery: thousands used the same weak passwords, including ‘123456,’ ‘password,’ and ‘admin.’ Other common passwords include ‘abc123’, ‘iloveyou’ and ‘monkey,’ according to SplashData.

Facebook admitted that hackers are breaking into hundreds of thousands of accounts daily.  Out of more than a billion logins to the website every 24 hours, 600,000 can be attributed to hackers attempting to access users’ personal information.


So what makes a password strong?


  • Make them long. The longer the better; 8 characters minimum.
  • Make them wacky. Use a combination of numbers, symbols and letters – upper and lower case. “4M5a1r!keting” is a lot harder to crack than “451Marketing!”
  • Change them regularly. 
  • Avoid real words, as in ones in the dictionary. Hacking programs are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to go through databases of words, even with the addition of numbers and symbols
  • Avoid easy-to-guess words, even if they aren’t in the dictionary.
  • Avoid personal information including your name, company, hometown, pet name, and relatives’ names.
  • Avoid easily searchable information, such as your birthday or ZIP code.


What else can you do to protect yourself against hackers?

Keep a clean computer.

  • Don’t download anything from untrustworthy websites
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and running
  • Update your web browser

Get notified. Most social networks will allow you to set additional layers of security to protect your account. Activate these security measures and set up to receive text message alerts when your account is subject to suspicious activity, such as attempted access from an unrecognizable device.


Pro tip: Make sure your bank account password is unique. If a hacker were to gain access to your social media accounts, at least your bank account remains safe.


Better safe than sorry! What measures do you take to keep your online presence secure?


Government Shutdown, Lucidpress, Honda Warns Brands on Twitter, BBJ Social Capital Panel


Top Story: Government Shutdown


Day four of the first official government shutdown since 1996:

  • An estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed, or put on temporary unpaid leave.
  • Yosemite National Park spent its 123rd birthday alone as National parks and
  • This weekend’s service academy football games were almost cancelled, including BC’s Homecoming game against Army.

It’s been a rough week for all.


In case you are still trying to make sense of why this is happening in the first place, here are the basics. It’s all about Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act.


The Democrats want it, but the Republicans don’t. Despite the fact that Obamacare was signed into LAW back in 2010, new Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee decided to pick a fight anyway. They got Speaker of the House John Boehner to add amendments that exclude Obamacare in the federal budget bill knowing that if the bill doesn’t pass by October 1st (the start of the fiscal year), the government has no choice but to shut down due to lack of funds.


With a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democratic president, the bill was never going to pass. Hence, the government is shut down until the federal budget is passed. Want a more entertaining recap? E!News explains it in terms of TLC’s reality series “Toddlers and Tiaras.”


How long will this last? Only time will tell. Regardless, things will only get worse if the two parties don’t get it together.



Tool of the Week: Lucidpress


Microsoft’s Powerpoint is easy to use, but limiting in functionality. Adobe’s Indesign is far more dynamic, but expensive and difficult to learn. Web-based app Lucidpress wants to be the Goldilocks of design and publishing software.


With an easy-to-navigate interface and drag-and-drop functionality, the app aims for a learning curve that isn’t too daunting for casual designers to start creating projects on. Another cool aspect of Lucidpress is its cloud integration, thus enabling real-time online collaboration as well as the ability to pull what you need from other platforms such as Dropbox, YouTube, Google Drive and Flickr.


Currently in beta test phase, Lucidpress is free for those interested in signing up. Eventually when the app is released to the public, it will initiate a freemium pricing structure.


“Lucidpress is taking on the big guys here,” CEO Karl Sun told VentureBeat. “To date, there really hasn’t been anything that serves the in-between and takes advantage of the possibilities provided by the web.”


Will you try it?


Under the Radar: Honda Takes on Snack Brands on Twitter


The social media team behind Honda was feeling particularly fearless lately. To promote awareness of the new Honda Odyssey with the world’s first in-car vacuum cleaner, the agency behind the brand began tweeting at snack and toy brands with threats to their imminent demise if found on the floor of an Odyssey.


Taking on brands like Burger King, Skittles, M&Ms, Doritos and Lego, Honda is really making a name for itself on Twitter.


Some brands took a jab in stride, while others weren’t about to let Honda get away unscathed:

redvines popsecret oreo taco_bell


What were your favorite responses? Do you like the idea of bringing other brands into your social campaign?



Around the Hub: BBJ Social Capital Panel

Yesterday morning, hundreds of Boston businessmen and women came together at the MCLE to learn tips and tricks from social media stars on how to step up their social media game.


Our very own Founding Partner AJ Gerritson led the discussion as moderator. The panel featured finalists from the Boston Business Journal’s Social Madness competition, an annual tournament of social savvy competing for charity. The panelists included Robert Bertsche, Partner at Prince Lobel Tye, Michael Hall, Director of New Media at NESN, and Jennie Moore, Director of Communications at Fisher College.


Right off the bat, the panelists proved themselves full of valuable insight, offering strategies and best practices from the perspective of their unique industries.


In case you missed it, here are a few (paraphrased) highlights from the panel:

Robert Bertsche

  • On how social media has changed his organization: “You can’t let others (legal, HR, management) drive the bus. You’re social team should be in charge.”
  • On how to find social media success: “This is an area of risk and reward. You’ve got to be nimble.”
  • On National Labor Relations Board’s memorandum on social media: “The NLRB protects the rights of employees – both unionized and non-unionized. This includes their right to say, ‘I don’t like my boss.'”
  • On legal advice: “Just because it’s easy to copy and paste something online, it doesn’t make it legal. You have to get permission from the owner or the content is under fair use. When you get a letter asking you to take down their content, respond quickly!”


Michael Hall

  • On how social media has changed his organization: “Two pivotal roles: driving digital revenue and driving both viewership and engagement to our television products”
  • On keeping on top of content creation: “Every person has full permission to post content without having to go through upper levels. We do encourage employees to tweet out links to content through the company account first and then retweet it from their own personal accounts”
  • On posting content: “You have to customize your message to your platform. It is worth the effort.”
  • On important metrics: “I don’t care about follower accounts. I care much more about inbound traffic.”


Jennie Moore

  • On how social media has changed her organization: “We’re reaching [students] on a far greater scale which opens up opportunities to communicate and work with them like never before.
  • On how to keep on top of content creation: “A content calendar is key.”
  • On valuable tools every company should use: “Big fan of free. Facebook and LinkedIn both have built-in analytics, but I do like AgoraPulse.”


What do you think of their advice?


451 Holiday Party

451 Marketing Looks Back at 2011

2011 was a crazy year. Earthquakes, Japanese Tsunamis, Royal Weddings, London Riots, and the capture of Boston’s mythical James “Whitey” Bulger. There were many things that also rocked our world here at 451. In a moment of reflection, we thought we would share some of our stand-out moments from the past year.

Things that rocked the 451 Team in 2011

  • I became a first-time Dad!
  • Laura, Max, Halley, Meredith, Taylor, Jessica, Emily, Susie, Francis, Nicole, and DeAnna joined our team
  • Jess made the “list” for Boston Common Magazine, directly under Kanye West
  • Nick got to eat at Frank McClelland’s Apple Street Farm (Frank is Nick’s hero)
  • Karyn finally met in person Courtney Cachet from the Huffington Post
  • Our office tasted the best Southern fried chicken in the world courtesy of 451’er Elizabeth Bond
  • No one drowned at our summer outing at the Beachcomber
  • Tom bought his first tux
  • Glen didn’t get crushed by a car that flipped over in the North End
  • Karyn took her first cruise ever and tried para-sailing for the first time
  • Max ate at Wai Wai for the first time (and found a lucky chicken foot!)
  • Tom and AJ got to meet Bill O’Reilly
  • Francis and AJ actually had pitch meetings in Napa
  • Nikhil went to Jamaica and got to see Manchester United play the New England Revolution
  • Alice brought us back chocolates from Belgium
  • Halley moved to Chinatown, became the mother of a Tripawd, and developed a hot pot addiction
  • Emily had another year for her un-boring list (ask her!)
  • Jess got an amazing Crayola coloring book page… And a stalker!
  • Nicole didn’t get sued this year by a former boss
  • Taylor got her parents as roomies
  • Alice started a new music Blog and has kept her desk plant alive for three months
  • DeAnna met Kenny Chesney at Jerry Remy’s Seaport

All joking aside, we couldn’t do what we love doing without our amazing clients. We are thankful to all of our new clients that rocked our world by choosing our team to help achieve their goals and honored by all of our existing clients that continue to place their faith in us.

We would love to hear from you. What rocked your world in 2011?


451 Marketing Art Party Featuring the Photographs of Ilene Perlman

A few times every year, the 451 Marketing office in Boston undergoes a major change  – we welcome a new, local artist to our large, white walls.  On Thursday evening, 451 Marketing hosted an Art Party showcasing the works of Boston photographer Ilene Perlman at our headquarters in Boston.

“This was a great opportunity for us to network, have some fun, and enjoy Ilene’s beautiful work,” said AJ Gerritson, 451 Marketing Founding Partner. “Ilene’s photographs have definitely boosted the energy in our office and we really enjoyed sharing it with colleagues and friends.”

Boston photojournalist Ilene Perlman has been photographing people and travel for clients in the editorial, educational, and corporate world for over 20 years. With wide-ranging experience working for magazines, international organizations, travel companies, and corporate/foundation clients, her photojournalistic style brings a fresh eye to every assignment.

Ilene’s photos will also be featured on 451 Marketing’s new website launching  in the new year, so stay tuned for more beautiful photagraphy!


We’ll be back in the spring featuring a new artist – until then, enjoy more of Ilene’s work at .