"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all." -Helen Keller
Helen Keller had it right, I think; and no less so for our time than for hers.
I've been reading hither & yon about Internet security, password control, and such, and I find that she is right about computers, too. (and just so you know - I'm not a geek. I know quite a bit about computers because I'm on one a LOT, and because I'm not afraid to poke around, and because I like search engines, and because I rarely take just one person's word for anything.)
(If you're a techno-weenie, I'm obviously not talking to you. If I'm totally wrong, I count on the geeks among my readers to point it out to me....THANKS)
Someone else (?) said that Internet security is a balance between risk and convenience. I avsolutely believe that. The trick is in learning how to weight the scales.
For today, I'm just going to offer a few tips & trivia about passwords.
I've wondered about the 'remember me' feature of browsers and many web sites. Is it really safe to have a sign in so convenient. One is always warned about using that feature on a public computer - say the one at the library or the WiFi coffee house.
Well, for me - I'm using it at HOME. I've avoided it for years even on my home computer. The truth is, most computers are saving that info anyway. You have to go look hard to find out where some of that info is stored, and you can set your computer to 'not remember' anything.
I find information about passwords in Firefox in the 'Tools' menu under 'Options'. Things are pretty clear; you can even see exactly who has left cookies in you system. (You'll be surprised at the number.) Firefox can actually SHOW me my password list! Shock & amazement.
Internet Explorer (I have version 6) has similar info in the same place, but I find it harder to understand and interpret.
Both of these browsers have 'Page Info' in the tools menu. You can find out if pages are encrypted or certified. I checked the pages on my banks' sites, and then some random pages to see what the info contains and what's different. Interesting.
We've all seen enough on TV, or read enough to know that a real computer wizard can find out almost anything s/he wants to know if they have access to your hard drive.
Well shoot! Does that mean I have to unplug the damn thing and take the CPU with me to the grocery store to make sure some one doesn't hack me? ...yes...
There are a few tips that can help you; I'll give you a few about passwords in a minute.
Basically, if someone really wants to know about you, they probably already do.
If you're online a LOT, you can get hacked. But usually -
...but usually what happens to us out here is some email virus or worm. They can do a ton of damage, but aren't 'personal' in the way that a peeping tom is personal.
Another trick that happens through email is that a bad guy can give you a link to click that 'looks' like something you're used to seeing: a notice from your bank, for example. The link might appear to be going to www.mycorrect&honestbank when in truth the link is sending you to a totally different scammer's site where they will ask you to type in passwords or account numbers.
I know that none of you will ever fall for that! It's been written about a lot. Email is not safe - never was - never will be. You can find tons of info on this subject with a quick google search.
I think there is no better virus protection than AVG from Grisoft. For now, I'll just say you need to download something from the net that has frequent updates. Buying software from WalMart once a year won't do the job. The link I've given it to the Free Edition (all I've ever used). If you want more bells and whistles, there is one for home offices for about $39 US.
Now, back to passwords.
If you're like me, you have millions - or only one. Both are nasty options. If you have millions, then you have to list them somewhere either hard copy or on your computer. That certainly won't increase security. And if you have only one - then the bad guys only have to figure out ONE.
Among the articles I've read, this approach seems to make the most sense. Some call it password zoning. It means to divide your list of passwords into 3 or 4 categories based on the degree of risk you can tolerate. Your bank accounts, of course, need your best and most secure passwords. Did you know that your main blog passwords should be in this same category? I didn't either, but we do put a lot on info into these sites.
I have 4 zones I broke down like this:
- H - highest - banks, credit accounts, e-trade, Blog, PayPal, etc.
- M- medium - shopping: Amazon, EBay, Napster, greeting card sites, etc.
- L - low - memberships that require little or very limited personal info
- J - junk - for newspapers, other people's blogs (that require sign in), data sources, etc.
With this arrangement I need only 4 passwords. Pretty neat, much easier to remember than keeping a list.
The other trick is to CHANGE THEM REGULARLY. Quarterly, for example.
Here are some articles on how to choose the best passwords:
You can find tons more info with a google search.
I'm pooped; you can figure it out from here.
If you have questions or corrections or additions, leave a comment. Thanks. :)