Managing Your Passwords & Keeping Them Safe

Education is the best protection against computer infection.

My very talented daughter, Circe, has just created a handy book in which you can keep your computer site passwords. The title is “ Keys to the Door” and there are 2 sizes. One is letter size, 8-1/2”x11” and the other is 6”x9” titled “Handy Keys to the Door”. Both books contain the same information and are easy to use and keep safe.

These books were created as a companion to those who understand the importance of computer security. 17 pages in the larger book have several lines and spaces for the date, e-mail or website, user name and password. She recommends you write in pencil so changes can be made easily. Spaces are also available in which to write the answers to your security questions.

The book she gave me is beginning to be filled up. I can now dispose of the bits of paper and scribbled notes I can hardly read, much less find, and locate my password book in seconds. I entered my passwords alphabetically so it is easy to find the site I want. I put 2 letters, more or less, on each page. If you prefer you could enter yours by subject matter. The choice is up to you.

Circe is well qualified to produce these books. She is an experienced computer security advocate as well as a speaker on this subject and other computer information. Her membership in Toastmasters allows her to educate her audience on many subjects. Her speaking biography can be seen on the Qualified Speakers of District 52, Toastmasters website: http://district 52speakersbureau.com/qualified-speakers-of-district-52/. The website for her computer security information is http://malwaretruth.com.

NEWLY PUBLISHED! Password Keeper books. On Amazon
http://bit.ly/keystothedoor

A New Scam, beware

Just when you thought you’d heard it all . . . .

This scam is actually very clever. This one could easily slip by most anyone – beware of people bearing gifts. The following is a recounting of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit called: “Express Couriers,”(The name could have been anything) he asked if I was going to be home because there was a package delivery for me that required a signature . The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour, and sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and wine.

I was very surprised since it did not involve any special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn’t expect anything like it. Intrigued about who had sent me such a gift, I inquired as to who the sender was. The deliveryman’s reply was, he was only delivering the gift package, but allegedly a card was being sent separately… (the card has never arrived!)

There was also a consignment note with the gift. He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 “delivery verification charge,” providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult of legal drinking age, and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash. He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would keep help in keeping a legal record of the transaction. He added couriers not needing to carry a bunch of cash, would make them less likely targets for robbery.

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled his wallet out of his pocket with the credit/debit card, and ‘John,’ the “delivery man,” asked my husband to swipe his card on a small mobile card machine. It had a small screen and keypad where Frank was also asked to enter the card’s PIN and security number. A receipt was printed out and given to us as our copy of the transaction. He then said everything was in order, and wished us good day.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines. It appeared that somehow the “mobile credit card machine,” which the deliveryman carried now had all the info necessary to create a “dummy” card with all our card details after my husband swiped our card and entered the requested PIN and security number.

Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we immediately notified the bank which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit account was closed.

We also personally went to the Police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any “surprise gift or package,” which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package.

Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction! Pass this on, it may just prevent someone else from being swindled.

http://www.snopes.com/fraud/sales/express.asp

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One Man’s Experience With Home Security

A very interesting informative article was just posted on Dick Eastman’s web site.  Eastman’s site is mainly devoted to genealogy information, but this article is about home security and how one man found the perfect solution for his home after a disastrous experience with an expensive system. The security system he now uses is much less expensive, more user friendly and much more effective.  It’s worth a look if you would like to equip your home with a security system that really works.

The URL for the article is log.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2013/01/installing-a-do-it-yourself-home-security-system-1.html.

 

My Computer was Hacked!

My computer was hacked into the other day.  I was unable to open any of my normal web sites including my bank account, my credit card accounts, my Etsy site and my blog, Mizmlu’s Creatives.  I had no idea what had happened and did not know how to fix it.  So I called my computer expert, my daughter, Circe, who rescued me.  She was with a client and had me perform certain functions while she watched, to see what had happened and if I could fix it by following her instructions.  Turns out she confirmed that it was hacked into and the hacker had closed down all the relevant sites.  She was unable to do anything until she was finished with the client.  So then she logged into my computer from where she was, which I think is a magnificent option for her to be able to use.

 

It took her about 2 hours to complete the inspection and clean up all the garbage that the hacker had installed.  She then advised me to change all my passwords that related to any financial purpose.  That’s not as easy as it sounds.  Changing the one for the bank was the most difficult.  I had to identify myself in several ways so that they could be assured that I was who I said I was.  I approve of that even though it was time consuming.  I don’t want my password changed without my consent.

 

I rather liked my old password.  But now I had to come up with something I could remember and each one of the four I changed had different conditions.  Some needed a capital letter, others would not accept a punctuation mark or symbol.  I finally made up a password that consisted of 2 numbers, 6 letters and 2 more numbers.  Each time I entered the new password I was informed that it was a strong one.  That made me feel better.

 

There was an interesting article in the April issue of the AARP bulletin.  It dealt with the worst passwords people choose.  The most popular password is “password”.  No kidding.  It’s also the one most easily hacked.  Some suggestions were to use at least 12 keystrokes.  (I used only 10), use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, spaces, underscores and symbols.  Another tip is to pick a favorite TV show, movie, or a food you like, but with misspellings, symbols, or numbers.

 

The author suggested to gauge password protection, go to Microsoft.com/security and select “Create Strong Passwords.”  It’s worth taking the time to do this.  If you get hacked and want to reach my daughter at pctechsonline.com, or some other computer consultant, it will cost you at least $250.    Contact me if you have any questions.

Expert advice on preventing a burglary

Many, many years ago my home was burglarized.  I was home at the time, asleep in my bed.  The burglar came in through my unlocked back door, took my purse and a camera, film and nothing else.  This happened on the night before I was to leave for a 2 month trip through Europe with my daughter, 9 months after my husband’s death.  We were all packed, ready to go and had returned home from a bon voyage party.   Fortunately my passport and money was with me in the bedroom.  The purse contained just a few dollars, but the camera belonged to my mother-in-law and I was planning to use it on the trip.

I called the police, then my mother, who was going to stay in my house while I was gone and then went out to replace the camera and film.  The police said it was probably a teenager who went from house to house looking for an unlocked door.   I lived in an area that did not have a high crime rate.  In fact, that sort of crime never entered my mind.  I had lived in an unlocked home for my entire life.  The police said they would look for the purse, but it was never found.

From that time on my house is always locked.  I now have dead bolts on both doors.  I don’t feel confined.   I just feel safer.

There was a column in the Daily News recently which had tips on ways to help prevent home robberies.     Most burglars will not spend time trying to get into a house where the residents have taken steps to make it difficult.

Here are some things you should do:

Get a dog with a loud bark and keep him in the house at night and when you are away.

Leave a few lights burning and a radio on at night.

Plant large bushes in front of windows.

Get dead bolts for all your doors.

Get a security system.

Watch for strange cars that slowly pass through the neighborhood and note the description, and a license number if possible.

Pay attention to strangers, especially teenagers, who don’t belong in your neighborhood.

These steps will help keep the average, amateur burglar away from your home, but they are not foolproof.  You may have expensive items that others are aware of and are desirable.   If a professional burglar wants your property there is not much you can do to prevent him getting it, but the advice given here will usually deter the ordinary thief.