5 ways PC gamers can save big during the Xbox Super Game Sale | Windows Experience Blog

During E3 in June, Xbox announced their commitment to bring more choice to the PC gaming community with the launch of Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta). The commitment to PC gaming doesn’t stop there, especially now that the Xbox Super Game Sale has kicked off at Microsoft Store.The Xbox Super Game Sale is the time to save big and stock up on top-rated PC games, find a great deal online or at your local Microsoft Store on a new gaming PC, or pick up cool new gaming accessories like monitors, keyboards, mice and headsets. You’ll need to hurry and jump all over these deals because the Xbox Super Game Sale ends July 29.
1. Save up to 50% on popular PC games for Windows 10

Save up to 50% on popular PC games for Windows 10 like “Sea of Thieves Anniversary Edition,” “Age of Empires: Definitive Edition,” “Astroneer” and more. There’s over 70 deals on popular PC games during the Xbox Super Game Sale and many support Xbox Play Anywhere, meaning one purchase gets you the game on Xbox One and Windows 10 with cross save capability (PC hardware requirements may vary for games on Windows 10).
2. Save big on select gaming PCs and accessories

Thinking about upgrading your gaming rig? Take advantage of savings up to $300 on select gaming PCs from Razer, Dell, Lenovo, MSI and CyberPower ($400 off in Canada). There’s also deals on cool gaming accessories including monitors, keyboards, mice, headsets and more. Offers available now through July 29 unless otherwise noted.
3. Take advantage of great in-game deals in free-to-play game favorites

Level up with great deals on add-ons in free-to-play games like “Roblox,” “Asphalt 9: Legends,” “World of Tanks Blitz“ and many more favorites. There are great deals that will help you unlock bonus content, add power-ups and special features, and load up on loot.
4. Save $200 on the Samsung HMD Odyssey+

Immerse yourself in the virtual world and save $200 on the Samsung HMD Odyssey+ Windows Mixed Reality headset with controllers, now just $299 ($250 off in Canada, now $399). Immersive gaming adventures await with the Samsung HMD Odyssey+. This Windows Mixed Reality headset combines cutting-edge technology with thoughtful design for a premium virtual experience.
5. Save on Xbox digital games, Xbox One S consoles and accessories

Just because you prefer PC gaming, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also enjoy console gaming, too. The Xbox Super Game Sale has a ton of great deals on Xbox games, consoles and more. It’s worth checking out before the Xbox Super Game Sale ends on July 29.
Xbox Super Game Sale deals are available online or at your local Microsoft Store, so take advantage of these great deals before they end on July 29, 2019 (or as otherwise noted above). Availability and pricing varies by location. May not be combinable with other offers. Other limitations may apply. Not valid on prior orders or purchases. See webpage for each offer’s specific details.
*Three Months for $14.99: Not valid for existing subscribers. Limit: one offer per account; credit card required.  Offer valid from July 16, 2019 9:00 a.m. PDT though July 29, 2019 11:59 p.m. PDT and only through link in this offer, in all Xbox Game Pass markets excluding Quebec and Russia.  Offer cannot be combined with any other offer. After promotional period, subscription continues to be charged at the then-current regular quarterly price (subject to change), unless cancelled. Plus applicable taxes. Credit card required. Game catalog varies over time.

Construct a solid Active Directory password policy

The information technology landscape offers many different methods to authenticate users, including digital certificates, one-time password tokens and biometrics.

However, there is no escaping the ubiquity of the password. The best Active Directory password policy for your organization should meet the threshold for high security and end-user satisfaction while minimizing the amount of maintenance effort.

Password needs adjust over time

Before the release of Windows Server 2008, Active Directory (AD) password policies were scoped exclusively at the domain level. The AD domain represented the fundamental security and administrative boundary within an AD forest.

The guidance at the time was to give all users within a domain the same security requirements. If a business needed more than one password policy, then your only choice was to break the forest into one or more child domains or separate domain trees.

Windows Server 2008 introduced fine-grained password policies, which allow administrators to assign different password settings objects to different AD groups. Your domain users would have one password policy while you would have different policies for domain administrators and your service accounts.

More security policies mean more administrative work

Deploying multiple password policies within a single AD domain allows you to check your compliance boxes and have additional flexibility, but there are trade-offs. First, increasing the complexity of your Active Directory password policy infrastructure results in greater administrative burden and increased troubleshooting effort.

Second, the more intricate the password policy, the unhappier your users will be. This speaks to the information security counterbalance between security strength on one side and user convenience on the other.

What makes a quality password? For the longest time, we had the following recommendations:

  • minimum length of 8 characters;
  • a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters;
  • inclusion of at least one number;
  • inclusion of at least one non-alphanumeric character; and
  • no fragments of a username.

Ideally, the password should not correspond to any word in any dictionary to thwart dictionary-based brute force attacks. One way to develop a strong password is to create a passphrase and “salt” the passphrase with numbers and/or non-alphanumeric characters.

Ideally, the password should not correspond to any word in any dictionary to thwart dictionary-based, brute force attacks.

The key to remembering a passphrase is to make it as personal as possible. For example, take the following phrase: The hot dog vendor sold me 18 cold dogs.

That phrase may have some private meaning, which makes it nearly impossible to forget. Next, we take the first letter of each word and the numbers to obtain the following string: Thdvsm18cd.

If we switch the letter s with a dollar sign, then we’ve built a solid passphrase of Thdv$m18cd.

Striking the right balance

One piece of advice I nearly always offer to my consulting clients is to keep your infrastructure as simple as possible, but not too simple. What that means related to your Active Directory password policy is:

  • keep your domains to a minimum in your AD forest;
  • minimize your password policies while staying in compliance with your organizational/security requirements;
  • relax the password policy restrictions; and
  • encourage users to create a single passphrase that is both easy to remember but hard to guess.

Password guidelines adjust over time

Relax the password policy? Yes, that’s correct. In June 2017, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released Special Publication 800-63B, which presented a more balanced approach between usability and security.

When you force your domain users to change their passwords regularly, they are likely to reuse some portion of their previous passwords, such as password, password1, password2, and so forth.

The new NIST guidance suggests that user passwords:

  • range between 8 and 64 characters in length;
  • have the ability to use non-alphanumerics, but do not make it a requirement;
  • prevent sequential or repeating characters;
  • prevent context-specific passwords such as user name and company name;
  • prevent commonly used passwords; and
  • prevent passwords from known public data breaches.

Boost password quality with help from tools

These are great suggestions, but they are difficult to implement with native Active Directory password policy tools. For this reason, many businesses purchase a third-party password management tool, such as Anixis Password Policy Enforcer, ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus, nFront Password Filter, Specops Password Policy, Thycotic Secret Server and Tools4ever Password Complexity Manager, to name a few.

Third-party password policy tools tap into the cloud to take advantage of public identity breach databases, lists of the most common passwords and other sources to make your domain password policy much more contemporary and organic. It’s worth considering the cost of these products when you consider the potential loss from a data breach that happened because of a weak password.

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Enzoic for Active Directory brings continuous password protection

Enzoic has launched a new version of Enzoic for Active Directory that includes support for real-time password monitoring to fight against the use of compromised passwords.

Enzoic for Active Directory screens users’ passwords against its continuously updated database of compromised credentials, including billions of unique username and password combinations, according to the vendor.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory manages permissions and access to networked resources, making it a target for hackers to gain unauthorized access to user accounts, according to Enzoic. Verizon’s Data Breach Investigations Report found 29% of security breaches involved stolen credentials.

Enzoic for Active Directory 2.0 brings Continuous Password Protection that triggers an alert if a password becomes vulnerable, enabling Active Directory administrators to enforce password changes in response to real-time credential exposures, not just against a static list of exposed credentials or with periodic password resets.

Once a password is flagged as vulnerable, Enzoic notifies users and automates follow-up action, from prompting a user to change it to disabling the account according to an organization’s policies.

Enzoic for Active Directory 2.0 meets the National Institute of Standards and Technology 800-63B requirements with the following functions:

  • password screening against lists of commonly used passwords, passwords in cracking dictionaries and compromised passwords;
  • password checks upon password creation, as well as on a daily basis against a live database;
  • immediate response trigger when a compromised password is detected; and
  • elimination of periodic password resets due to continuous password monitoring.

According to a OneLogin study, only 35% of organizations’ password creation requirements check against common password lists, despite 92% of organizations claiming their current password guidelines are adequate. Furthermore, common passwords only represent a small portion of vulnerable passwords, with many password-related incidents stemming from cracking dictionaries used by hackers.

Many security vendors such as SolarWinds, Specops and nFront Security offer password complexity plugins for Active Directory, but do not offer around-the-clock monitoring. Enzoic claimed its continuous monitoring updates enhance overall enterprise security.

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