Thursday, August 12, 2010

Use Your Powers for Good!

So, I just verified that my newest (and hopefully LAST) Nook is on its way to my home.  I can't wait to get it back and all set up for happy reading again.  I'll update on that situation tomorrow.

I want to blog today about computer security.  Several times in the last few weeks I have received emails from from friends who have apparently been hacked.  A few times it has happened from their personal email accounts and a few of those happened right on Facebook.  I just have one question about all of this:  WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THESE HACKERS?????

Seriously!!!  You have nothing better to do with your time than to pray on innocent strangers and send random messages to their friends and family?  I can't stand this anymore!  These people are so intelligent.  I mean, really!  Why can't they direct that intelligence to positive efforts - like cleaning up the oil spills or building a colony on Mars or verifying the string theory or something?  Why spend hours at a computer sending illiterate and ridiculous requests for money to be wired to a "friend" stranded at the British Embassy or in the African jungle with no money?  And it's 2010; how many people still fall for these tricks?

Here's my advice to prevent this stuff from happening to you:

1.  Make your passwords more complicated.  I know that its our habit to use the same passwords over and over again but you need to make sure  that they are not too easy to guess.   Throw a capital letter, symbol and/or number in the middle of the word and you've got yourself a more secure password.

2.  Change your passwords regularly.  At work, I'm forced to change my passwords every 60 days.  At home, with all of the accounts that I have, that feels a little ridiculous.  But every once in a while, just go through your main accounts, especially your email and finance-related ones, and change the passwords.  Better safe than sorry!

3. Set up your security questions and remember your answers.  This is the best way for a secure site to verify who you are and the easiest way for you to be able to reset passwords painlessly.  I try to never use the questions like "What is your favorite book/restaurant/song" because, quite frankly, that information can change at any moment.   Try to use the questions that have stagnant answers such as your father's middle name or how many siblings you have or the month that your oldest child was born.  That way, you won't have to think back to a time in your life when you really loved Pakistani food but can't remember the name of that restaurant on the corner that you used to go to when you worked for your last company.

Hopefully this will help you to keep out of the way of the hackers.  And hopefully, the hackers will eventually realize that they can use their considerable talents to make lots of legitimate money working for a great computer software company or NASA or NOAA rather than causing distractions and inconveniences in people's daily lives.  They should be using their powers for good before they really hurt someone!

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