Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Psst. Your password may be out there!

We all have those moments when we think, how am I going to remember one more password!?  And each one has to be longer and more complicated than the last one...?  Why can't I just use the same password for everything - it sure would make my life easier.

Easier - maybe.  But only until one of those sites you have signed onto gets hacked.  It happened to Adobe - and they are a fairly substantial company in the software world!  38 million accounts were exposed -- were you one of those people?  What does it all mean for you?

I'm glad you asked!

Your Adobe account may have been pretty insignificant - maybe you signed up for a free trial of Photoshop, just to see if you could put your brother-in-law's head on Batman's body (I know, it was just a lark).  You might have had to fill in some personal information - your address, perhaps?  But you certainly didn't give them your credit card number!  So you must be safe.  But wait, they used your email address as your user account name - like so many sites do. (It's just easier than having people try to come up - and remember - that unique user name: itG100013url.21).  The risk for you now, comes from the password that is in the hands of who-knows-who!  That password - that you use elsewhere - with that same email username... What if those hacker-people decide to visit some other site and try your login info over there?  Maybe you used the same password at Amazon or for iTunes?  Those sites have significantly more personal information about you.  Even worse: what if that password, that you use so frequently, is also the password to access your email?  -- This is becoming a very REAL problem now because every account you have signed up for can be reset through your email!

Steps you should take to protect your digital identity:

First:  Your email password should be completely unique - and STRONG.

This means your dog's name and your Mother's maiden name are not the best choices.  These could be guessable with a little research.  Just like your Bank or Credit Card PIN shouldn't be your birthdate - think about it... what if you lose your wallet.  It contains your bank card or credit card - but it probably also has your ID which shows your birthdate.  This is likely the first thing a thief will try - in order to drain your bank account or charge up a storm on your credit card.

...and don't post your passwords where someone walking by - or breaking into your home - might see them...

~more password advice to come... stay tuned - as they say on tv!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Java Update... Again??

So many users have gotten complacent about that pesky Java update that seems to always want to run... it feels like every day: there it is again!  Users tell me they often ignore it and my response - please don't!

So why does it always need to be updated?

Many websites use Java as part of the visitor experience on their websites - it is a programming language that works on multiple platforms (types of computers: Mac, Windows etc).  Without Java (or rather the Java Runtime Environment) running on your computer - those website components would not work for you when you access those certain websites.  The catch is that Java is an environment to run programs - those programs could be written with malicious intent.  So Java is constantly being updated to fix security issues as they are discovered which could allow malicious programs to run on your computer if you browse to an infected site.

Java updates should be installed as soon as they are available to lower the risk of malicious content infection.  They are safe to update - but they do sometime included options with them like the Ask Toolbar or the McAfee Scanner.  During the installation of the updates you have the option to uncheck the installation for those add-on programs.  I recommend doing so as the fewer programs you have vying for system resources, the better!  And don't even get me started on Toolbars!

Hopefully, this helps you understand Java a little better - or, at least, enlightens you on the importance of running the Java updates!