Monthly Archives: June 2014

Creating the Safest Passwords

What happens when uber-smart guys with no direction get bored? They build programs, viruses or bugs to hack computer databases. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking—that’s not so uber-smart. Well, there is a difference between intelligence and common sense, but that’s another blog topic.

When the media reports new cyber attacks on the general populace, I don’t get gray hairs over it. Why? Because I believe my passwords are relatively safe. And, to be honest, relatively safe is as close as any of us can get.

Amazon, Ebay, and many other sites go the extra mile in ensuring user security by encrypting  your password on their end. They utilize programs that scramble login information daily. When you log into your account, your password is different today than it was yesterday to anyone hacking their databases. Super neat tool, but the regular joe out there usually doesn’t have the knowledge or the skill level to accomplish this.

So what can you do? Today, I’m going to offer you suggestions I’ve gleaned over my internet years regarding creating safe passwords.  My tips and hints come from tech guys I personally know or from media sources that echo what my tech guys have told me.


Creating the Safest Passwords

First, what NOT to do.

1) Don’t use easily guessed passwords.Wordpress Login

The most commonly used — and easiest to guess — are 111111, aaaaaa, abc123, iloveyou, admin, and password.

You knew that already, didn’t you?

2) Don’t use the same password on everything.

I know what you’re thinking: “Patti, if i take your advice, I will never ever remember all my passwords”. I’ve added helpful tips at the end of this article to help with that.

Now, what to do.

1) Use random words, numbers and/or special characters.

A tech admin once told me a safe pass — and easiest to remember — is one made up of random words with a number inserted between. E.g. fight12puppies

2) Use an obscure password.

We can make our password even safer by changing some of the letters to numbers, and changing the case. E.g. F1gHt12pupp1Es

This is harder to remember, but go to the tips at the end of this blog for help.

3) Use a catch phrase.

By catch phrase I mean take a phrase and use the first letter in each word. E.g. We love our 12 puppies who fight.  The new password created is Wlo12pwf. This is a great password because I have difference letter cases (upper case W with the rest lower case) plus a number (12) in the new password.


Other Password Thoughts and Tips

fingerprint

There are fingerprint readers Microsoft says work with Windows. I haven’t tried them so I can’t recommend them, plus there are many monitors still out there that are not touchscreen. And as we all know: old technology is better than no technology …sometimes.

Rutgers University thinks the future of passwords is random squiggles and drawings on devices with touchscreens. Does anyone besides me see a huge downside to this? When you request a forgotten password, does the company/site send you a picture of your squiggles? What if you don’t squiggle exactly the same each time? Are you locked out?

  • Keeping your passwords straight.

Create a document on your computer that has all your passwords.

I know, I know. You’ve been told never to write down your passwords. Well, that just isn’t feasible in our new culture of online bill pay, online shopping, online social networking, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Especially when you’ve been told not to use the same password for everything, more accurately for anything.

Word tableI personally use MS Word. I inserted a table with four columns: 1) the URL/web address, 2) the email address used (I have several: business, personal, etc.), 3) my ID if different from my email address and 4) my password.

You can also use Excel, Wordpad, Notepad, whatever you have at your fingertips. A word of caution: don’t save this document to your desktop where anyone walking by while you’re getting coffee will be tempted to open it. Hide the document in a folder you can readily access on your hard drive.

  • Where to hide your super secret password file

If your file is saved to your personal computer, especially one used by several people, you could bury the password document under layers of folders. E.g. C:\user\computer\passwords.doc. But…it’s so much easier to save it to a flash drive. Flash drives are $5 on sale. Buy one!

If you do keep your password file on your main computer, don’t forget to copy and periodically update a backup on your flash drive, or eternal hard drive. This saves your file in the event of a computer crash, plus it’s easily portable.

Another word of caution. Always, always, always… log out of any account you use (email, bank, Facebook, etc.) on a public computer, no matter where it’s located. A coffeehouse or motel computer is used by thousands of people. You never know who could stumble across your information if you don’t log off.

  • What to do if a major retailer’s database is hacked?

 Not long ago Target’s credit card database files were hacked. I wasn’t all that worried as my password wasn’t in jeopardy. I just watched my credit card statements more closely. You can dispute charges within a reasonable amount of time, usually 30-45 days. This goes for your bank account also. Keep tabs on those.

And only a few weeks ago Ebay was hit and information stolen, including their encrypted passwords. Ebay programmed their site to force shoppers to change their passwords when they logged on, which I think is a sensible response. No financial or personal information was threatened, but a good move on their part regardless.

I personally try to use Paypal for as many transactions as possible online. Why? Because my credit card number isn’t scattered around the worldwide web at one hundred retailers, it’s saved at one…Paypal.


I hope this post helps secure your day-to-day networking lives. Using the internet can be challenging, but it’s very rewarding and does simplify our lives bringing so much information to our fingertips.

Well, I’m off. I need to backup my password file to my flash drive. 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

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Setting Up an Effective Blog

I am a novice blogger with common sense. Meaning I’m less dangerous than a pit viper, but more dangerous than a kitten.

So, take this information for what it’s worth—most likely free.

How to Set Up an Effective Blog

1.) Brainstorm a unique name for your blog BEFORE you set it up.

An A-list blog name will help people remember you and give your blog a professional look.  Some people use their names (these are usually authors or people who want name recognition), some use their blog title (I do), and some do neither.


My experience: My blog started as a one-time blog to publish a solution for a computer typewriter 60percent sizeprogramming problem many of us were experiencing, but no one was detailing a fix.  My blog received thousands of hits in a short time. I like writing so I wanted to expand my blog, but I also wanted a more professional URL.

At this point, I had two options: 1) start over or 2) set up a new blog URL and figure out how to export my posts and comments. I chose the second. The think tank of me, myself and I voted on a new — and as yet unused — blog name, set up the URL matching that name then exported my blog posts and pages to my new site. WordPress made it relatively painless with their helpful instructions, but It is MUCH easier if you decide on a name beforehand.


2). Create your URL on the blogger site you wish to use.

Ask your friends which sites they like and why, and/or you can search the pros and cons of blog hosting websites. I’d do both.

3).  Know the Save Draft and Preview buttons.

Find, become familiar with, and use these. draft buttonThe Save Draft button is your best friend, while the Preview button is everyone else’s best friend. Preview allows you — and only you — to review your raw post before publication without forcing the general populace to do the same. Using Preview only, you can make a test blog in perpetual draft format to play with in your blog editing program.

4). Insert relevant photos to break up the verbiage and make your blog more interesting.

I use my own photographs/clips, those in the public domain, or usable with permission. I never knowingly infringe on the copyrights of others. My philosophy: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

5). Use meta tags effectively for each new blog post.tags

Meta tags are important if you want people to find your blog using a search engine. I include my blog name in my search tags.

6.) Use links and auto post timesavers.

You can add links to your blog redirecting followers to your own or other people’s websites. You can also automatically notify followers of your new blog posts via other social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Some paid upgrades allow you to automatically repost your entire blog post to social media. Your blog help site should have How-to information.

7.) Post regularly.amish men crop

A regular blog can be posted daily, weekly, or monthly. It’s important to update yours periodically or your followers will forget you, or quite possibly think you’ve joined the Amish.

8.) Learn your blog program’s limitations.

If you have a formatting-perfection gene, you’ll need to resolve yourself to your blog program’s limitations… or you’ll need counseling.

Blog programs hyphenate in places there shouldn’t be hyphens, set photos less than exactly where you’d like them, etc. You can lessen your stress by learning a few html commands, but while your blog can be well-written and aesthetically pleasing, it will probably never be perfectly formatted.


Miscellaneous blog thoughts:

A blog is not a cash cow. Blogs are done for name recognition, to garner a following or to showcase a product for sale. No matter what anyone tells you, you can’t quit your day job because people visit your blog.

Attention Writers! If you’re an author, be aware some contests will allow previously blogged stories and some will not.

Take your time. It’s easy to update blogs, but easier on your followers if you take time to make certain everything you want to say is in a blog before you publish it. If you left out something, leave it out or if it’s super important, consider writing an entirely new blog on the subject rather than updating after publication. It’s less confusing for everyone this way.

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors can — and should — always be repaired and the old blog updated no matter when you notice them.

After you’ve become a seasoned blogger, you may want to take advantage of the perks paid upgrades offer. There are many things you can do (e.g. plug-ins) which paid sites allow that free sites do not. Sometimes for security reasons; most often to create a revenue stream. I have no problem with sites charging for upgrades— this keeps their free offerings free and their site in business.

Wishing You Happy and Effective Blogging! 😀


 

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.