New gadgets and features mean new threats

New gadgets, features, and online services are coming out faster than we can say “Tech-Knowledgy”, and that means more ways for hackers to get access to your information.  We have a hard enough time keeping up with patches to existing software, but we continuously have more new technology in different areas that create new risks to our identity, etc.

A recent article on Facebook being hacked easily in coffee shops or other public places that have free WiFi using Firefox’s free add-on “FireSheep”.  There’s more risks than just Facebook, but there’s Twitter and other social networks as well as other more critical information like banking online.  First off, if you ever bank online using a free, unsecured, public WiFi, you need to get Internet Security for Dummies.  NEVER bank online or shop online where you have to enter your credit card or banking number, including PayPal login, while you are online using a public WiFi.  Even the WiFi connection you pay for like at Chapters/Indigo, etc they are not necessarily more secure just because you have to pay for them or because you have to get a code since you are buying coffee at Startbucks, etc.  You are in a public location where anyone can join that network for a few bucks, and that’s all it takes for someone to hack into anything you log into.

A new service by Google is “Cloud printing”.  This makes a huge convenience for business travelers to print via the cloud, but it’s a huge convenience for someone else too.  Wanna take a wild guess?  …hackers….  The age old words of security still hold true today, and that is as follows: “The more inconvenient or harder it is for you (the user) to get access to something, the more inconvenient and harder it is for any hackers”.

Use this in any example; large corporation, one server, everything shared for everyone.  Easy to setup, easy to maintain, but also easy for wrong departments to get access to everyone’s payroll or accounting or HR data.  Not to mention, it’s also easier for outside hackers.

Another example, for personal use, you’re at home, you shop online to save money from big box stores, you bank online for convenience and you keep all your passwords for banking, paypal, ebay the same as your Facebook password.  It’s very easy for you to remember all your passwords, but it’s very easy for a criminal to hack your Facebook account and so they can easily just assume your passwords are all the same and when they try it, sure enough, they’re right.  Next thing you know your bank account is drained, your credit card is racked up and your credit rating is destroyed.

The bottom line…technology is cool and you shouldn’t be afraid, but don’t be ignorant.  Stay informed, read articles, don’t use the same passwords for social networking, games, etc. as you do for banking online.  Change your passwords every 6 months to 1 year.  Have complex passwords which use a combination of letters and numbers and/or symbols, never just use words.  Passwords should be at least 7 characters long to meet some corporate password policies.

Having strong passwords and avoiding logging in to anything in public networks is one thing, but you should always make sure you have a working and up to date anti-virus/anti-spyware protection that does regular scans.  Make sure you install all Windows updates and patches as they come out immediately including Java, Adobe and other software updates.  If you run a business, you should look into having monthly maintenance checks done from a trusted computer company.  Twinbytes provides monthly computer maintenance from as low as $45/month via remote control through the Internet.  Monthly preventive computer maintenance.