Tech Talk #52 – May 27, 2017

Making your online life more secure

Your digital ‘you’ is all over the internet. From those websites you had to create an account for to buy that one thing that one time, to web forums you don’t go to anymore, to ghost-filled social media sites, you’re all over the place.

 

Here are some tips to make your online life more secure.

 

Close accounts you don’t use

Do you know what happens to those shopping, social media, and forum accounts you don’t use anymore? They get hacked. And now the guys that hacked that site have all the info the hacked site knew about you. Close those old unused accounts.

 

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to do it. You’ve to got to go the site and search for ‘how to close my account.”

 

Keep your software updated

I know you’ve heard this from me before, but updates are your friend. You should always do Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Java, and Adobe updates whenever you get notified about the update. More than 90% of all updates are security or functionality related.

 

When hackers figure out how to bypass or subvert part of an operating system or application, that’s called an exploit. Now, Microsoft, Apple, or whoever, figures out a way to stop the exploit and put out an update. If you don’t do the update, your system is vulnerable to the exploit.

 

Do updates ruin things sometimes? Sure. But we can fix that. Usually by uninstalling the update and waiting until they get it right.

 

Do your updates.

 

Use a password manager

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this here before, but I think using a password manager is pretty great. You won’t have lists of websites and passwords scattered around (or under) your desk, and you use one very secure password to manage all your other passwords.

 

But there’s another benefit. Whenever a major data breach occurs, the first thing we should do is change our passwords, right? What a pain.

 

Both the Dashlane and LastPass password managers have a password changing function. In just a few steps, you can change all of your passwords.

 

Trust no one

Don’t click on links in email messages from people you don’t know. Not now, and not ever. The phishing scams are getting better and better so it can be hard to tell sometimes.

 

If you do click on a link, the best bad thing that could happen is that you might get taken in by a phishing scam looking for login and password information. (Why steal that information if the scammers can trick you into giving it to them?) The worst bad thing is all your files might get encrypted, and you’ll have to pay to get them back.

 

It’s better not to click on a link in an email if you have any doubts about it. Just like in real life, if something sounds too good to be true, it is.

 

Just don’t click.

 

Use trusted contacts

If someone guesses (or knows) enough about you, you might find yourself booted out of your Facebook account. Facebook has a security feature called Trusted Contacts you can set up before you lose control of your account. Look for it in Facebook’s Security settings. Facebook will send a single-use code to the people you set as Trusted Contacts to help you get back into your account.

 

Create a private email address

When someone has your email address, that single thing can unlock quite a bit more information about you.

 

Setting up (and using) a separate email address just for your social media accounts keeps the real you more secure.

 

The funny side

I conclude that there are two ways of constructing a software design:

One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies,

and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. 

The first method is far more difficult.

–Sir Charles Anthony Richard Hoare, British computer scientist
From: “The Emperor’s Old Clothes” ACM Turing Award Lecture, 1980.

 

 
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at greg@tech-hachapi.com.

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