Archives for June 2011

Top 10 Simple Privacy Tricks Anyone Can Do: Tip 4

This is a great way to add some extra security to your online purchases.  It’s also a way to avoid repeat billing from sneaky vendors (like antivirus subscriptions) or  overbilling.  Most card issuers have them (usually called “safe shopping” cards or “gift cards”).  While the gift card type of card simply runs out, the safe shopping cards let you do things like choose the card’s spending limit, expiration date, and more.  That way, you can make sure that automatic billing doesn’t kick in unless you absolutely want it to.  Vendors can’t charge you if there’s no money left on the card.  Another security feature is that if anyone ever gets a hold of your account information, all they can get is the amount of the balance on the card, or the amount of the spending limit (if you have that type of card).

Top 10 Simple Online Privacy Tricks Anyone Can Do: Tip 3

Use Multiple or Disposable Email Addresses to Avoid Spam and Stay Secure

There are two concerns here.  One is reducing spam and the other is avoiding viruses from emails.  Here are two approaches.

 

1)     Reducing Spam: Use Multiple eMail Accounts.

I get a lot of resistance from customers on this, because it seems confusing, but it’s really not.  Just create 1 or 2 more email accounts with a free email provider like Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail (Live Mail) or AOL.  It costs nothing and can greatly reduce the hassle and risk of spam and viruses.

Use one of these addresses for sites you don’t want to hear regularly from, like newsletters or coupon sites you’re only mildly interested in, or any new site you haven’t heard of, where you suspect they’re going to bombard you with spam.

I like to use them for product registrations, like when I buy a new printer, because I know they’re going to spam me with all kinds of product offers and deals.  Sure, I may want to look at these occasionally, but only when I feel like it.  I don’t want them cluttering up my regular mail inbox.

Do not add any contacts to the address book.  You don’t want to worry about a worm infecting it and sending spam to your friends.

This is also a good way of separating different aspects of your on line life into different areas, associating each area with a different email address.

 

2)     Security and Reducing Spam:  Use Disposable eMail Accounts.

A more aggressive way to reduce spam in your inbox is to use a disposable email addresses for websites you suspect might be very risky or questionable.  These are also great for sites you want to check out once (out of curiosity) but don’t want to go back to, or ever hear from again.

Many such sites require you to register with your email address before you can see their content.  These could be sites like forums, or “marketing” sites that offer business tips and help, but are really about harvesting email addresses so they can spam you.

For this, you can use a service like Trashmail or 10 Minute Mail.  You’ll use these temporary email addresses to get the necessary “confirmation email”, check out the site, and avoid the spam that might come your way.

 

That’s it for now.  We hope you are finding this series of articles useful.  Stay tunes for the next installment later this week.

As always, if you need more help in any area of computer repair in Tucson, or general support, please visit our Saguaro PC Tech Website or Facebook page.

Top 10 Simple Online Privacy Tricks Anyone Can Do: Tips 1-2

Tips 1 & 2: Passwords and Security Questions

These first two tips go hand-in-hand, so make sure you use them both.  Read on……

 

1. Create Secure, Easy-to-Remember Passwords

Secure passwords are the best, but not if you can’t remember them.  Most of you already know this, but are you implementing it?  There are a lot of tricks to creating easy, memorable passwords without making them easy to guess.  You can research this on Google, but I’ll give you a few ideas.

1)  Don’t use the same password for every website, especially banking sites.

2)  Alternate UPPER and lower-case letters, as passwords are case-sensitive.

3)  Use special characters, such as #,%,@, or !. Either add them or replace a letter with one of these characters.

4) Use a common base password (like a pet’s name), then add pattern of numbers that means something to you (like your kids’ birthdays).  Or perhaps add the initials of the website it’s for.

Example:  If your cat’s name is Muffy, your kid was born in 1964 and the password is for Yahoo Mail, you can use MuFFy1964YM.  For a Wells Fargo password, say your birthday is May 5, 1945.  You can use MuFFy1945WF.  Get the picture?

5)  Shift your fingers up one row and to the right (or the left, since they don’t quite line up) on the keyboard from the actual letter you want.  For instance, instead of “muffy“, type k8tt7.  Use whatever rule you want, but stick with one rule, so you don’t get confused.

 

2. Security Questions.  Keep them as Private as Your Passwords

Strong passwords are important, but they’re useless if your security question is something anyone can answer.  Most websites have ways to recover or reset your password if you forget it by using security questions, also known as “challenge questions”.  When you answer these correctly, the site lets you change your password, or will email it to you.  What would happen if a hacker, coworker, your kid, or an angry “ex” knew the answer to this question?  I shudder to think!

Instead of going the traditional security question route, you could use a formula to create a memorable, yet indecipherable security question.  For instance, you could use word association to make the question easy for you, but hard for others, for example:

  • “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” could be answered with your favorite Iron Maiden album instead.
  • Put in your mother’s birthplace when the question asks for your birthplace.  Get the picture?

Here’s another trick, but it’s not available on all websites.  Some sites let you create your own privacy questions.  If they do, definitely go for this option, as it opens up a whole world of options.

2. Create Secure, Easy-to-Remember Passwords

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