Tuesday, April 25, 2017

World Password Day and Teen Power

   Thurs May 4, 2017 is World Password Day!  I know that's coming up fast, but don't worry, you still

have time to plan your celebration.  No, that's not the day when you share your password with the world.  Nor is it about changing your bank password from 123456 to 1234567.

   I've written about this in the past.  World Password Day is a day to learn and it's yet another opportunity to take a look at what is protecting your personal information, your financial information, your medical information as well as your internet presence and reputation.  Most passwords provide a thin veil of protection

   On World Password Day, we should at the 4 main problems we can very easily fix:
  1. People choose weak or easily guessable passwords - the simple fix is to choose better passwords!  As I've said many times in the past, when it comes to passwords, size matters!  Make 'em long.  But even if you choose a good password...
  2. Passwords get reused among sites - this is a major problem because the attackers will try stolen passwords at other sites.  And it works.  So choose a unique password for every site on which you have an account.  But...
  3. We can't remember all our passwords - so, as we've discussed in the past, use a password vault.  The vault is a program that will help you choose great passwords, recall those passwords and protect them.  But sometimes that's not enough because...
  4. Even well-chosen passwords can be guessed or hacked - so for extra protection use two-factor authentication (also called multi-factor authentication).  Typically this means using an app on your smartphone as part of the login process.  That means, to break into your account, an attacker would need both your (long, strong) password AND your smartphone.  That's hard for the attacker to do.  And using multi-factor is easy!    Setting up 2-factor authentication is easier than ever before and is in use on many mainstream sites including Google, Facebook and Twitter.  Here's some info on sites offering 2-factor authentication.

   The WPD website has some high level guidance on each of these as well as those great Betty White videos!

   And if those all aren't enough reasons to move to 2-factor authentication, now... that pinnacle of journalism... Teen Vogue, has put out a really good article on the subject!  You can read it here.

   In addition to really good coverage of 2-factor methods and websites, the article also goes into more advanced topics like the use of a physical fob called a Yubikey.

   What is really significant is that this article is directed at a population who both grew up with technology and is used to sharing everything. The key message is that there are good reasons for protecting your information and reputation, even if you don't yet have financial assets or a job.

   So, are you ready to take the World Password Day challenge?  Start slowly.  Get a password vault and start with your most important sites: banks, insurance, investment and social media.  Change the passwords to unique long strong ones.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cyberbullying and the New Math

   According to Cyberbullying Research Center, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is a large-scale data collection effort led by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  This study has been going on since 1973.  In 1989 they added supplemental questions focused on school-related incidents, and stepped this up to a more in-depth biennial survey in 2005.

   Cyberbullying is still a major issue.  It's been over 4 years since I've written on this subject.  While there is perhaps more visibility, the basic problems haven't changed.

  Based on the above benchmark, at first glance, bullying appears to be trending down over the past decade.

   While there have been some high-profile cases over the years, this is a real, current and ongoing issue.