Important Stuff – Securing Your Digital Lifestyle

If you weren’t following the horror story of Wired journalist Mat Honan’s personal hacking over the weekend, then do yourself a favour and read his article or watch his interview on This Week in Tech below.

It’s clear that Apple and Amazon’s security procedures were less than impressive.  They have already been changed as a result of this incident, however this will be of little comfort to Mat, or you if something similar finds you in the future.  Cloud services are becoming increasingly important in our digital lifestyle and we really should be paying more attention to their security.  Here are some tips on safeguarding your own accounts.

Turn on 2-step verification – Mat admits he could have done quite a few things better but top of his list is to turn on Google’s 2-step verification.  Enabling this option (from your Google Security settings) ties your account to your phone which receives a text or voice message code from Google when you sign in.

So even if someone has access to your email address and password they can’t access your account.  You’ll need to sign in like this every 30 days and everything that uses your google account (for example that RSS reader on your smartphone) will need a new single use Application-specific password.  Check out the video below.

Review Your Password Procedures – By now we all know the rules about using strong passwords, the longer the better and we should be using a mixture of upper and lower case letters plus numbers and symbols.  Read this interesting article to understand how this password – [PrXyc.N(n4k77#L!eVdAfp9may actually be weaker than this much easier to rememeber one – [D0g…………………]

We also know we should have a different password for every site we use, you don’t want your password to be obtained from one inherently less secure site (for example the comments system of your favourite blog) and then be used to access say your online banking.  But with so many logins to remember these days it seems impossible to stick to these rules.  Thankfully there is an answer and utilities like 1Password and LastPass will create secure individual passwords for each site and allow you to retrieve them using one super-strong master password.  They work across multiple OS’s and even on your mobile devices too.

1Password Manages Your Passwords Across Multiple Platforms

 

Gmvault : Two Days to go and Almost a Quarter of a Million Emails to Backup

Backup! – If you’ve got this far give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve made some important changes.

Now it’s time to back up your entire Gmail account. You probably have years of email in there and we use a great little open source utility to create a local backup incase the unthinkable does happen.

Gmvault works with Windows, OS X and Linux and will backup your messages and attachments which can then be viewed locally in your favourite email client or be restoring back up to your Gmail account in the cloud.

The Future – Ultimately there’s always going to be a compromise between security and convenience, but as Mat concludes in his article, this whole password thing seems to be pretty broken at this point.  Until someone solves the issue of proving our identity we hope you’ll find these tips useful.  We’re no security experts but you’ll certainly be more prepared than most even if you only use one or two of them.  Give us your top security tips in the comments below.

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3 Comments on "Important Stuff – Securing Your Digital Lifestyle"

  1. Very useful article. For some time now I have been using LastPass and can highly recommend it. I’ve also gone one step further and use a Yubicon Yubikey which gives two factor authentication on LastPass.

    Paul

  2. On a general note: If you’re into technology, and you’re not already doing it, watch TWiT’s shows.

    TWiG – This Week in Google (though it is really cloud related, not just Google)
    TWiT – This Week in Tech (Watch when John C Dvorak is on specifically, if there was a show Grumpy Old Men in Tech he would be worth watching every week.)
    TWiET – This Week in Enterprise Tech
    TNT – Tech News Today = Daily technology related news
    iPad Today
    iPhone5 – Short iPhone tips show
    AAA – All About Android
    WW – Windows Weekly
    MacBreak Weekly
    Home Theater Geeks
    Security Now (See a PDP11 working away in the background)

    and many more with good presenters (Leo Laporte, Sarah Lane, Tom Meritt, Iyay Akhtar, Andy Ihnatko, Mary Jo Foley).

    Those along with the VergeCast make up most of my evenings watching these days.

  3. Why don’t passwords lock out after say 3-5 attempts? An email or text could be sent to the genuine user. This would prevent brute force attacks or guessing of passwords.

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