Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

More Passwords Stolen…

All you need to do to realize that Layer 8 is unteachable, and “user education” programs basically useless, is look at the issue of their passwords. The personal computer has been with us for roughly 30 years now. The password basics are well known, and oft-repeated:

  • Make your passwords eight or more characters;
  • Vary punctuation, symbols, letters and numbers;
  • Change passwords every three months;
  • Use different passwords for different accounts.

And this next is one I tell everyone..

  • Don’t mail off your password because you received an email saying your account “needs to be updated”. (this is called “phishing.”)

Yet, people.. well, they still use “123456”, (or “password”) and worse, use it for everything. Almost everybody. Even the “savvy” (when was the last time you went through and changed all your pwords?) aren’t so savvy, it seems. (And I include myself. Changing 400+ passwords takes all day!)

Today’s headlines:

* NEWS: 6.5 Million LinkedIn Users Possibly Exposed

* LinkedIn’s security issue reveals obvious: Passwords, users always a weak link

Here’s the problem: Passwords may be the most imperfect security measure around, but it’s tough to nudge out a practice that has been around for decades.” Read more..

Yet I cannot stress fervently enough, we (computer users) have to get unlazy on this, and we have to take this issue seriously. Identity Theft, Internet Fraud, and “cyber crime” are costing us over a hundred billion dollars a year in actual money, and at least that much a year in “intellectual property”. Yes, with a “B”. Billions.
Believe it: the strength of your passwords is a matter of national/economic security.

We are not “locking the doors” (using good passwords). And we need to be. All of us.

But I am not here to simply nag.. those of you who agree, and would like an easy way to be “password savvy” (and protected) might want to take a look at LastPass. It’s 5 star. It’s free. And it’s easy.

[hint: re-read the sentence above.]

… I have been writing this “advice column” for over four years exactly 5 years, today. In the early days, I used to write an article like this one once a month (as well as a reminder to backup your data). I gave that up — there was no surer way to have no readers (aka “a ratings killer”). But this topic is just too important to let rest. Don’t become a victim of cybercrime. You can start by fixing your passwords.

LinkedIn Users: LinkedIn password breach: How to tell if you’re affected

Also: for a review of LastPass from a “reliable source”, see: A Free Password Manager that’s Just as Good as Roboform

Today’s quote:A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” ~ Winston Churchill

Bonus tip: Every so often I have to help a client “remember” (or otherwise regain access) their main email password.. because they let their web browser “remember” for them, and one day their browser “forgets” (like, after a version upgrade..) and, no, they never wrote it down anywhere.

So, yes, I advise keeping a written list of your pwords BUT!! keeping that list tucked into your recipe book, or sewing kit, or under the bathroom sink (aka “not on a sticky note under your keyboard, or on your monitor..)

I hate to say it, folks, but the world on the Internet today.. you simply have to use some “paranoid common sense”, and not just do the easiest thing. Be safe(r).

A little Geekspeak:

* “breach” is Geek for “they broke in and took everything”.

* “Layer 8” is a polite way to say “average computer user”, which is a polite way to say “pebcak“…

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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June 7, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, cyber crime, free software, Internet, passwords, security | , , , , | 2 Comments