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Bits of Advice

Secure passwords that you can remember: You have heard the message, never use the same password twice and use a password manager to help you remember all those different and complex password. But, there are times that you have to know passwords, so here are some tips on making memorable and safer passwords. Make it long, at least 12 characters, but don’t use names, places, or dictionary words, and use a mix of capitals, numbers and punctuation. One idea is to use a phrase or sentence that you can easily remember and use some pattern of letters from that sentence, like the first letter of each word and use some extra punctuation. Another is to spend some time at a random password site that lets you generate passwords that look or sound like they have words in them. Write down twenty or so, that have at least 12 or more characters, and then see which ones might stick in your memory better. Then you know which ones to use. One such place is identitysafe.norton.com and click on the “Password Generator” link at the top. Finally, consider how you might want to remember those passwords and I find that a small slip of paper with just the passwords works for me. Usually, just looking at them tells me which one goes where.

Trying to protect your privacy? It can backfire on you. It seems like the NSA will pay more attention to people who are trying to protect their privacy or secure their Internet search and use. So, if you have searched for how to encrypt your email, setting up Tor, VPNs, etc., just trust that the NSA is just that much more interested in you.

Cleaning your hard drive: This does not mean using one of those compressed air cans, although that is not a bad idea, but means organizing files within folders in your Documents folder, clearing things off your Desktop if you are not actively using them, emptying your Downloads folder and Trash, getting rid of duplicate files and using something like CCleaner to clear out caches and temporary files.

Beware of public computers, especially in hotel business centers. The Department of Homeland Security is finding that many hotel business centers are being targeted by cybercriminals to collect users login information and other important credentials. You would be safer using a computer at the Public Library.

Group email, some do’s and don’ts: Emails to a group of people present unique problems tied to navigating different personalities, controversial topics and forgetting that many people are reading what you write. When you write an email to a group of people or are posting in any public forum, remember that you don’t know all the people seeing your message. It is helpful to avoid controversy, if you want to keep the flames down, and to avoid any pointed criticism of other individuals likely to read your message. And, if you don’t make statements of “fact” that others can easily prove wrong, you will remain a trusted source for when you do make truthful statements.

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