Tag Archives: safe password

Securing Your Online Persona

I had coffee recently with a super fun group of ladies. The topic came up about personal information available on the internet when one mentioned she’d received an email from Facebook asking for her phone number. She ID’d it as a scam and deleted it. I believe it was probably a legit email, but it never hurts to be careful.

That discussion, and a request from a dear friend, warranted a blog about securing your online persona (a.k.a. choosing what people can see about you on the internet).

There are a loComputer Identity2t of articles dedicated to getting off the grid or becoming invisible on the internet. We’re not interested in going that far. People can know we’re on the internet, but if you’re like me, you want to control how much personal information leaks out. Me? I like to keep my public personal information to a minimum. My friends and family know how to contact me and that’s what’s important.


In case you were wondering, here’s why websites ask for our phone numbers.

Reason One: New website security these days includes what they call “two-step” verification. Step 1: you log in with your normal user ID and password, Step 2: a security program sends a code to your phone via text, voice, or mobile app. You enter the newly sent code to log on.

Do you have to do this every time? No. There is a box to check or a question telling the security program to stop flagging the computer where you just logged on and to allow logging on from that computer without the code in the future.

Reason Two: Websites, such as Twitter, are allowing log ins with only a telephone number. There’s no user ID or password. You get a security code texted to that phone number and use it to enter the website.

cell phoneReason Three: The website is using marketing apps. Advertising texts, including coupons, and voice mail marketing are part of this.

Reason Four: Websites where you transact business will ask for your phone number as well as your address. These websites usually have your info on a secure page (denoted by https:// at the beginning of the URL address).

Bank, broker, auction, and other financial or sales websites are different than social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. I don’t put my phone number on social websites; I don’t want to be that social. Facebook would like to be the next Amazon, and does offer advertising packages. But for the majority of Facebook users it’s still just another social media site. No hate mail please, Facebook lovers.

Whether you give out your phone number or not is up to you. I do on financial and sales sites because I want them knowing they can call me if there’s a problem. On social media sites, I do not. They have my email address; they can email me.

There is also the fact that typing my landline number into any search engine (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc)  will pull up my address. If you know my cell phone number, my name and address can be requested for a fee.


 Securing Your Online Information

Let’s talk about securing what personal information is floating out in cyberspace. The one we’ll tackle today is social media.

social mediaWe all love social media. There are so many wonderful things about it. It keeps us in touch with distant friends and relatives, and lets us know in real time what’s happening in people’s lives. We can view photos of loved ones we don’t see regularly, and follow businesses and events.

In my opinion, the best of all worlds is to be able to utilize social media while keeping my personal information safe.

I’ve included a few the largest social media sites in the U.S. below. Believe it or not, there are dozens of others in almost every country around the planet. If your favorite isn’t listed, I bet you’ll see a trend in the below examples and be able to find your way through your site.

Facebook Privacy

Not long ago, Facebook redesigned its site to make it very easy to tighten up your personal information and security.

Find the padlock in the top right corner of your Facebook page. 1) Left-click on padlock, and select 2) Privacy Checkup.
Facebook privacy checkup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The screens to update your information look like example screens, but they’re actually interactive so you can click and adjust your information.

First Step is “Your Posts”. Remember, Facebook Terms of Service allow that your intellectual property rights (pictures, videos, etc.) are “subject to your privacy and application settings”. So if you set your privacy to “public”, Facebook assumes you mean anyone and everyone.
fb checkup options

Second Step is setting “Your Apps”. These are sites you’ve logged onto with Facebook. Remember being asked by a website if you want to use Facebook to log on? This is where the sites you said yes to are listed.
Connect with FB

FYI: Being a paranoid individual, I rarely sign on with Facebook. Exceptions would be benign website like National Geographic, Washington Post, Fox News, etc. I’m okay with these sites knowing as much about me as Facebook.

Third Step is “Your Profile”. You can make this as secure or as public as you wish. I bet you didn’t know you had an individual Facebook email address, did you? Now you do.

Twitter Privacy

Adjusting Twitter privacy settings are pretty much like any standard website. You can tell people as much or as little as you’d like by what’s in your profile.

1) Go to the Me tab, 2) left-click the Account gear, then 3) Settings. Under Settings you will see how your information is presented on Twitter. 4) Edit profile will allow you to edit your information.
Twitter Settings

 

Pinterest Privacy

PInterest’s privacy settings are accessed in the upper right corner under your name. 1) Left-click the gear, then 2) left-click Account Settings. You don’t need to click “Edit Profile” because you can adjust that under Account Settings.

PInterest account settings

Youtube Privacy

Settings are in the top right corner by your picture. See a pattern here? Many, if not all, setting options are in the upper right corner of your browser window very close to where your picture is or would be if you uploaded one.

1) Left-click your picture, 2) left-click the Settings gear icon,
Youtube

 

 

 

 

3) The left margin contains areas you might wish to adjust.
Yourtube privacy

 

Google+ Privacy

If you don’t know what Google+ is you might not have an accounGoogle+t. But, if you have Gmail for your email provider, you might have an account and don’t know it. To find it, in the top right of your email main page you’ll see your name with a + behind it. Left-click on that to get into Google+.

Google+ Privacy settings are…you guessed it, upper right corner by your picture.
1) Left-click the menu arrow beside the picture area, 2) click Privacy.
Google plus

 

If you hover over the Home area to the left, you’ll get more options. You can edit your profile here and access Settings at the bottom of the list.
Google plus Home

Don’t forget to update the Audence tab (1). This lets you determine who can see your Google+ stuff.  It’s under Settings.
Google plus privacy

 


I hope you now know a bit more about how much of yourpersonal information is accessable through websites.

There is  great government website that addresses these issues also: Guide to Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Secure 2015 .

Rest easy with your new social media piece of mind, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


Other security articles you might find interesting:

Facebook: LIttle Known Tips and Tricks Tip Six three-fourths of the way down the page also talks about public posts on Facebook.

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

Creating the Safest Passwords

Spotting Hoax Emails


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. 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.

Advertisements

Facebook: More Cool Features

After reviewing items for a previous Facebook blog, I realized there are more Facebook features people might appreciate. Today our feature presentation will be the Save option. Grab a bag of popcorn, dim the lights, sit back, and enjoy.

Patti's Pathways presents
Facebook’s Save Feature:

Did you know you can save posts on Facebook similar to bookmarking pages in an internet browser?

Here’s how.

First, a post has to have a direct link if you wish to save it.

Don’t all posts? Nope. Posts without a direct link don’t offer a Save option. Facebook says you can track down the original post and save from a different Facebook page. We’ll talk about this later.

How to Save A Facebook Post:

1) Click the dropdown menu in the right top of the post you wish to Save.

Using my last blog topic as an example, we’ll save “Setting Default Programs”.
Save post dropdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy, right? Now you’re probably asking yourself, How do I find my new saved Facebook posts.

Retrieving Saved Posts

On your Facebook’s Home page, you have a left margin item named Saved. Here’s where all your favorite posts have been saved to view later.
saved

 

 

 

 

When you click Saved, your saved posts will open in a new window. Facebook is nice and categorizes them for you.
Retrieve saves

 

When you don’t want a post any longer, you can delete it from your saved posts.

Deleting Saved Posts

1). Archive the post you wish to delete by clicking the ‘x’ in the upper right of the post on your saved posts list.
To archive Saved

 

2) Go to Archive
go to archive

 

3) Find the link you wish to delete, 4) Click the “…” .., 5) Delete.
Delete saved post

 

Finding an Original Facebook Post Link:

Remember earlier in the post I told you that you can only use the Save option if the link is in the post? Here’s how to find the original post link:

1) Right-click the time stamp and 2) left-click Copy Link Location.
Copy Link Location

3) Paste into your browser’s address bar, and go.

Earlier in this post I said “Facebook says” you can copy a link location because I followed one and never found any save options. I’m not certain if I could’ve followed the link farther back or if a Facebook user is just out of luck. Play around with it and see what you find. If you figure it out let me know in the comment section, I’d appreciate it.


While we’re discussing Facebook, did you know…

  • cell gpsFacebook mobile apps can be used like a GPS to track users.

This is bad if strangers wish to track your kids, but great if you do. For their sake, help them disable their Facebook mobile tracking: Settings>Messenger Location Services>Disable.

  • There’s at least one, possibly more, websites where you enter a Facebook user name and it will try to hack that Facebook account for you.

Horrible, isn’t it? I’m not going to post a name or link because these criminals don’t need the publicity.

Just be aware that idiots abound in this world. Don’t be scared to use Facebook, just do everything in your power to keep your passwords safe. If you’d like help, read my post Creating the Safest Passwords.

Facebook EULA statements you may or may not know.

According to Facebook’s EULA,

  • “You will not create more than one personal account.”

No clue what happens if they find out you have. I suppose they delete one.

  • “For content that is covered by intellectual property riFB logoghts, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”

I’ve updated this section as originally I neglected to mention the usage of your information by Facebook is subject to your privacy settings. Facebook won’t use your items publically if you have your privacy settings restricted. And yes, if you have your settings as public, they can use them for advertising since they are a for-profit corporate entity.

  • “When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”

Your name and profile picture (as well as your cover photo, I believe), have always been public information regardless of your privacy settings.

And don’t forget the ever inclusive:

  • “We reserve all rights not expressly granted to you.”

For more information on EULA’s, read my post Making Sense of Terms of Service.)


Now that you’ve found another tool offered by Facebook, go ahead and save your favorite posts. Thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


 

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.


♪ Somebody’s Watchin’ Me ♫

Now that you have the 1984 Motown hit single by Rockwell and M.J. blaring in your head, I’ll explain why I’ve cursed you thus.

Webcams. Yep, webcams are the reason you’re humming hip-hop in your head.


Webcams are wonderful devices. They allow us to video chatWebcam with relatives living far off — if you haven’t tried this, you don’t know what you’re missing.  There’s facial recognition software that allows you to log on to your computer via your webcam. They help us monitor the interior and exterior of our homes and businesses for security purposes.

In this blog, I’m not going to tell you how to use your webcam. Rather, I’m going to tell how to keep others from using your webcam without your knowledge.


This year thousands of unsecured personal and business webcams were hijacked and livestreamed to whomever wished to view them. The site streaming these was closed down a few days later when the world’s major media outlets broke the story six months after the site went live.

It’s a harsh reminder to us with all the newfound wonders of the internet, and the freedoms it gives us, also comes responsibility.

While yoeyeballu might think this behavior is criminal, it’s really only unscrupulous. Why? The webcams chosen had no passwords or the original factory password hadn’t been changed.

Many of cams seized were surveillance cameras. These webcams weren’t only in homes, but offices around the world.

I know what you’re thinking, “Hackers can’t do that to personal laptop webcams, can they?” Um, yeah, unfortunately they can.

Norton, the anti-virus software people, has a good security article on webcam hijackings. In it they mention a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against a school for using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. You can read more from Norton at Are Hackers Using Your Webcam to Watch You?


So other than viewing you in your natural habitat, Baby Peeperwhy do you care if some peeper watches you? You’ve got a boring, lawful life, right?

  • The obvious one: perverts abound on the internet.
  • The site livestreaming hijacked cams listed each webcam’s country and the owner’s last name.
  • If the person viewing recognizes you and your last name, they know exactly when you’re not home. This is especially bad if it’s a business cam.
  • From the picture streaming, the viewer knows exactly where the camera is should they intend to break-in and disable it.
  • Believe it or not, there are websites teaching people how to secretly hack into and turn on webcams.

Secure Your Life

Post-it notes

  • The easiest way to put the kabosh on ill-intended webcam infiltration is incredibly low-tech. Cut a square from the sticky part of a Post-It note and plunk it over the camera hole. Too easy, huh? I have a piece over mine.
  • Have security software installed and enabled on your mobile devices.
  • For any cam device you use (baby monitors, security cameras, etc.), always change the default password. And for goodness sakes, don’t use “12345” or “password” or “11111” … or any other easily guessed pass. See my blog Creating the Safest Passwords for help.
  • Secure your internet router. How? 1) Change the administration password from the default. 2) Use WPA2 encryption, and 3) switch off SSID which broadcasts the name of your router, or change the name to something generic.

Your router users guide can help you. Tip: If you’ve misplaced your router user’s guide, the internet is a spectacular place to find guides. Simply search your router brand and model number and “user’s guide”.


Feel safer? You should. You’ve just taken steps toward securing your life.

Best of luck with your newfound security confidence. Enjoy the independence, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


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.

 

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.