It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and I’m sure many of you are traveling to spend time with loved ones. In addition to whatever wonderful things you’ve already planned, may I suggest a little tech support? A few minutes of effort can go a long way!
- Updating your mom’s operating system
- Updating her browser
- Updating and running a virus scan
Those few things are almost effortless, and can go a long way towards protecting your mother’s machine from all manner of badness.
Practice safe computing by lending a helping hand!
Yesterday’s amendment to a larger FCC reform bill that would make it illegal for employers to ask for employee’s social media passwords failed to garner the votes it needed.
This is a good thing.
Don’t get me wrong, my montra remains the same: “Don’t give your passwords to anyone.” By anyone I include boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, children, or employers. That being said, I don’t see this as the kind of issue that must be transformed into law as there is nothing inherently dangerous about giving away a Facebook password, and there are other ways of getting at the information in one’s Facebook profile beyond demanding access.
Personally I won’t work with obviously unethical people. I rather like the idea of telling a potential employer to piss off because they demand something that they have no business asking for. I see the fact that an employer can ask for my passwords as a layer of protection for me. It’s a simple red flag system, as I will loathe working for or with people like that.
It’s fine if they ask me for my password, and it’s my right to tell them that I don’t work with unethical people.
The Other Side of the Argument
Now some of you are already thinking, “David, you don’t have a family to think about.” And you’re damn right. I don’t. At that point, you’re putting a value on your privacy. It’s your choice. We place a value on our privacy every time we signup for an online service like Google or Facebook. What’s wrong with doing the same for employment? With regards to your potential employer, ask yourself:
- How badly do you want that job?
- Do you honestly believe that the (largely imagined) job security you seek is really going to come from the jerk who demands your passwords?
- Are you ok with working for a micromanager? Because that’s who asks for your passwords.
What To Do If You Turn Over Your Password
- Tell the potential employer that your password will change by the end of the day. This is a personal security issue, and you can’t knowingly have a compromised password in the wild for more than a day.
- If you reuse passwords (which you shouldn’t), you need to change the password on all accounts that use that compromised password. Do it as soon as you get home.
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for three years (999 posts)! To celebrate, I skimmed through my archive for the first time in three years, and it brought back a lot of memories.
Join me on a brief and mildly narcissistic trip through some of my favorite blogging memories:
- Arguably my best post, at least from an academic perspective is Wonder Woman: The Super Secret & Kinky Origin of a Feminist Icon. Derived from a portion my undergraduate thesis, this post has been cited in a few academic papers, and according to my web analytics has been frequently referenced on some BDSM discussion boards. I am after-all here to educate and entertain.
- My most popular single day post dates back to April Fool’s Day 2010. I collaborated with a mystery designer to introduce the world to the iProbe; it’s still my favorite post.
- In one of TGW’s stranger episodes, guitar legend Peter Frampton stopped by to comment on a post after I berated him for a very disrespectful performance at The Stone Pony.
- When I first started The Geek Whisperer, I wanted to define the difference between geeks & nerds… But I found the task painfully difficult and subsequently spent two and a half years pondering the question before I wrote Geek vs. Nerd vs. Dork.
- And last but not least, I was (and still am) cited in a Wikipedia article on Firefly/ Serenity; my favorite scifi universe.
Never forget to practice safe computing.
LulzSec are a group of hackers who have stolen and published piles of data, as well as defaced many corporate and government websites over the last two months.
LulzSec has released an insane amount of user data from tons of different organizations. So, you’re going to want to make sure that your information wasn’t part of the leaks.
You can do that with a quick search here.
My feelings on LulzSec are complicated to say the least, so I will dedicate an entire post to the matter.
In the meantime, I recommend you check your emails as well as your loved one’s emails to make sure their data isn’t part of the leaked information. If it is, it’s time to change your passwords… Even if your data isn’t part of the leaks, you should change your passwords regularly.
Practice safe computing.
Sony screwed up bad.
They screwed up really bad, but did they screw up enough to warrant federal legislation, and a class action lawsuit? I’m not so sure, but when something big, bad and newsworthy happens you can always count on an ambitious lawmaker to beg for attention, and for a small army of lawyers to get erections at the thought of filing a lawsuit.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, I have boycotted Sony for months because of their lawsuit against Geohotz, and their company policies that led to said suit. That being said, I still think the media, legislative, and legal frenzy surrounding this circus is a bit much. Here’s what you need to know:
What did the hackers steal?
They basically hijacked everything Sony had on the PlayStation Network. This includes:
- Birth dates
- Home addresses
- Password retrieval question answers (ex. “What’s your mother’s maiden name?”)
- And probably a slew of data about the games you play and things you’ve downloaded from the PlayStation Network
While the hackers did steal credit card information, all of that information is encrypted.
That means that the credit card data should be safe, and unusable.
I have a Playstation Network account, what should I do?
Most of the the stolen information is the kind of stuff that is uncoverable through thorough Google and Facebook stalking… except for the passwords.
If you have a PSN account, and you used the same password from your PSN account in other places, you need to start changing your passwords.
Typically web services that require a password protect that password by passing the text through something called a hashing algorithm before storing them. Hashing turns your password into a unique string of characters, and the process cannot be reversed. Sony failed to hash their users passwords, leaving them vulnerable.
What Sony did was boldly stupid. I can’t even begin to imagine how a tech company to stored millions of customer passwords unhashed, but they did it… And that may warrant a lawsuit.
A PlayStation is a computer, so you still need to practice safe computing while you’re on it. Change your passwords, and while you’re at it, don’t use the same one over and over again.
Being the administrator of your computer gives you limitless access and control, but is it a good thing?
Let me make this completely clear:
It is not good.
The reason is the overwhelming majority (somewhere around 90%) of malware, viruses, and other exploits can only take hold of your computer if you are logged in as the administrator.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have admin rights on your own computer. What I am suggesting is that you password protect your admin account, and only access it when you need to install software or make a change to your system.
For the everyday stuff, make yourself a regular user account. It could save you a ton of hassles.
Practice safe computing.