If you are like President Skroob in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs (who had his luggage combination set to 12345), I highly suggest you change it. Fast.
According to Ars Technica, Gizmodo, and even the New York Times, 12345 has been in the top 5 of the most commonly used passwords for years. Do you know what's more common than 12345? 123456. Go figure. Other frequently used passwords that folks like to use are "password," "qwerty," "football," and "baseball." I seriously hope I haven't mentioned yours yet. It wouldn't take much for someone to guess these passwords and steal your information.
Even if you have a less common password, here are a few cyber security tips that I tell my technology tutoring clients:
1. Choose passwords that you can remember, but don't make sense to anyone else. Avoid words that are in the dictionary.
2. Add symbols and numbers to your passwords. A random series of letters, numbers, and symbols is usually best.
3. Change your passwords frequently. The longer a password has been in existence, the likelier it is to be hacked.
4. If you have a ton of passwords and can't remember them all, use one of the many apps that specialize in keeping/generating passwords. These apps only make you remember one password to access all of your other passwords.
5. When at a Starbucks or other places with a public wifi, unscrupulous hackers could capture your information if you offer it up freely. There are many ways to protect yourself while using the public wifi, but that's a conversation for another day. In the meantime, here's a basic precaution to take: don't log in to your bank account or other password protected sites on a public wifi.
I am by no means trying to be an alarmist. I also know that most people will read this and think, "Ugh! Why does it have to be so complicated?" It's the world we live in. We need usernames and passwords for just about everything. However, if you start with these 5 basic online security tips, you will be well on your way to enjoying your devices and keeping your information safe.
A study of what adults fear conducted by researchers at Chapman University found that, out of a list of 88 different things, people fear technology more than anything except man-made disasters. Technology beat out other areas such as crime, public speaking, romantic rejection, government, and clowns! — Possibly even clowns in the government.
Granted, much of the technology focused on things like cyber-terrorism and corporations tracking personal information. However, people tend to be afraid of things that they heavily depend on, but can’t control. This describes technology to a T. It’s embedded in nearly everything we do these days: finding your favorite TV channel, making a phone call, sending an email or text message, taking a picture, operating your car, checking out at the grocery store, checking the weather. The problem is, we don’t have any idea how all of these things work.
It really doesn't have to be this way. All it takes is a little bit of time learning the basics to help remove these fears. All it takes is a little bit of time learning about our technology to start having more fun with it!
Remember that feeling? You know, the one you got when you first powered up your brand new Mac? The windows popped open instantaneously, apps ran smoothly and efficiently, the desktop was free of clutter. Everything was shiny. Heck, it even smelled new and fresh--in a techie sort of way.
What about now? Do windows seem to take forever to open? Do you see spinning beach balls in your nightmares?
It's okay. It happens to all of us, er... to our computers anyway. The good news is that there are quite a few "fixes" you can use to reinvigorate your old Mac. Here is a link to a great article on CNet.com with 10 tips. Of course, if you don't want to do it yourself, that's where I can help!
You'd be surprised by how often simply shutting down your device or machine actually fixes the problem. Network printers frequently get stuck with some job that holds everyone else's job up. You think, "Wow! Barry's sales report must be a billion pages long with huge graphics." Meanwhile, that isn't the case at all. Barry's print job is stuck floating around the ether world, causing the printer's brain to spin and spin and spin and spin. When this happens, turn the dang thing off. Count to 30 (this lets both you and the printer clear your minds before blowing up), then turn the printer back on. You and Barry may have to reprint your jobs, but at least they will probably work this time.
Terri Brodkey of Ann Arbor runs a company that provides a unique service. How many times have we been to a big event where there's a guest book to sign? Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, milestone birthdays, etc. People write great things in them, and then they are stored in a closet somewhere at home after the party fun is over. Leaf Your Love takes this notion and turns it upside down. Intrigued? Check out Brodkey's site (where you'll first see my guest blog):http://leafyourlove.com/thumbprint-tree/keen-focus-technology-tutoring/