Passwords

are like keys…

They open things, AND are easily lost, copied and stolen.

Here are a few ways to keep what is behind locked doors safe and secure:

  • Long and Strong

Passwords should be “long”, minimum 12, ideally 20+. Complex makes it “strong” with lower and capital letters, a few numbers and special characters like #$%^&.

  • Not Easily Guessed

Avoid personal information like birthdays, anniversaries, addresses, nicknames, favorite sports, kids, pets. Nothing that could be guessed by snooping on your social media sites. Try avoid any dictionary words. This is where poor spelling is a plus. Nothing like the first row of letters QWERTY, 12345, 1qazxsw2 or the most used password “password”.

  • Change Regularly

Some websites suggest changing annually, some only when there is a breach. Stay informed of sites that have been hacked.

  • Safe and Secure

Do not keep your passwords on sticky notes, under your keyboard, in a file on your computer or even saved in your browser. These are the first place thieves will look. Instead, use an encrypted password vault; many are free and easy to use. Our favorite is Bitwarden https://bitwarden.com/; it is Free and Open Source.

  • Unique

Every lock has its own key, every website and device needs its own password. Different key for your car, house, a shed and the safety deposit box. Websites and devices need different passwords as well. A thief that gets one password from a breach for one site, then has access to all your accounts. Also, do not slightly modify passwords such as Facebook – FB12345, Gmail – GM12345, Amazon – Am12345… establishing a pattern only makes you just as vulnerable.

  • Extra Layer

In a car and stopped by police you might produce your license and registration. At a bank you may need license and social security number. The digital world has two proofs of identity too. One is your password and the other is usually a code sent to your phone or email. For your phone it could be your face or a finger print. This is 2FA or 2 Factor Authentication. Yes, it is annoying and an extra step, but it is meant to keep your valuable data safe. Use this especially on your banking, shopping and main email sites.

  • Logout

When you are done on a sensitive site like banking, shopping or your main email, logout and close your browser when done for the day or about to travel with your laptop. This way, when you come back, you will need to enter your credentials again.

Be safe.

Above the Fold

Extra, Extra, Read all about it

I am old enough to remember newspapers on my doorstep with flashy headlines on the upward facing part of the newspaper referred to as “above the fold”.

The digital world has an “above the fold” too.

As of the writing of the post, the Coronavirus is the breaking news.

Google Search – When you do a Google search, there are websites that have paid extra to be “above the fold”. Always be sure to hover over the URL (the https:….) and see where the link is actually taking you. Scammers know everyone will be rushing to “search” for the latest news, and they want be the top choice. Be alert.

Email – Emails can be spoofed to look like they are coming from an official agency. When you get an email you did not request, treat it as already infected. Hover your mouse over the sender’s name and see if it matches the sender. Do a search for the company or agency and see what their web address is.

Facebook – Facebook’s “above the fold” is a little like supermarket tabloids. These can be in the form of Quizzes, Games, Share This, Fake News and other related Scams. When something pops up on your Newsfeed, STOP and check it out first. If it is breaking news, lost child, or some tragic headline that just captivates you; do a quick search. Look below the fold for multiple, authentic, and reliable news. Notice the date the article was shared. Often fake news is old news, just recirculated.

So what’s the harm? Visiting a fraudulent website could con you into entering your personal information. Opening a spoofed email could have you unsuspectingly downloading a virus. Playing a game or answering a quiz on Facebook could have you sharing private information about yourself. With enough private information, a thief could gain access to your banking and credit information.

So, slow down, read, review, wash your hands and stop touching your face.

Backups

Why do they say “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?”

  1. What if your favorite photo or important document is on your computer (or phone) and ONLY that device -the “basket”; and something happens to that “basket”. Then what?
    • liquid spills and damages your data
    • laptop or phone drops breaks
    • thunderstorm that fries the harddrive
    • age… did you know the life expectancy of a harddrive is 3-5 years?
    • theft, fire, flood, loss….  get the idea?
  2. So, where else should you save your “eggs”? The second place would be a local storage device. This can range from thumb drives to external harddrives to a local NAS.  We would be happy to discuss your needs based on size, compliance issues, or ability to share.  Like those reasons listed above, this would be another basket but still at the same location.  Things like theft, fire, flood could take out both baskets.
  3. The third location would be the Cloud? The Cloud, a.k.a., somebody else’s computers or data center where your information is stored at an offsite location. Depending on your need, there are many safe and affordable solutions. Some are free or some have a small fee. The data can be encrypted and shared based on your needs.