Tuesday, July 17, 2012

5 Everyday Tech Things You're Doing Wrong

It's weird the experiences that trigger some of my blog posts.  This entry comes because of a networked multifunction printer.  I'm not going to go into the details but in messing with this thing it brought to mind one of several no-nos that even tech savvy people seem to miss.

  1. Leaving On Your Default Password

    These days it seems like every device comes network ready and is plug and play.  The problem is nobody emphasizes that these devices actually have their own web accessible control panels that give you almost total control over the device.  It's there to make it easy to configure all the nooks and crannies of your device but most people never use it and thus leave everything as-is because hey, it works.  Wanna know how dangerous this really is?  One day I walked into an establishment that offered free WiFi access.  Simply by knowing the default gateway (not gonna explain, but this information is easily accessible once you join the WiFi network) I was able to log into their router.  Why?  Because their default password was still there.  If I was a bad sort I could have jacked up their settings.  Then they probably would have just chucked that thing and bought a new one because home routers are pretty cheap these days anyway.
    $29.99 bitches!
  2. Using a Common or Blatantly Obvious Password

    Check out this clip from Hackers:

    It's only 11 seconds.  See, painless.  Anyway, you'd be surprised how accurate that list is.  Don't believe me?  Check out this infographic based on the recent password hack of LinkedIn.  Three of the four mentioned passwords (ok ilove and iloveyou are variants but close enough) show up.  And this movie came out in 1995!  More silly passwords on the lists include number sequences (I actually cracked a copier once just by using all 5s as the password), the names of your spouse, kids and/or pets (anyone who knows you well enough will guess that first), and pretty much anything that you can look up directly in a dictionary (brute force crackers run through the entire dictionary first to crack passwords).  Want a safer password?  Toss in some numbers and/or special characters like & and $.
  3. Not Protecting Your Mobile Device

    I bet you just love your iPhone...or your iPad...or your Tablet.....or, well you see where I'm going.  You use it for EVERYTHING.  Checking email, bank balances, social media, there's apps for all that stuff.  The problem with mobile devices is that it rarely kills those connections when you decide to stop using them.  Your email is probably constantly checking for new messages right now.  Your social media app takes you to your account automatically.  All this stuff just sitting on your device all wide open like.  What if someone were to come along when you weren't looking and monkey with your stuff.  That wouldn't be possible if you turn on your default security option.  I feel you.  That extra typing in passcodes or drawing out pass sequences are annoying but it's a lot less annoying than someone jumping on your Facebook app and posting "I am a sexy beast right now"...err, not that that's ever happen to me or anything.

  4. Jumping On Any Old WiFi Signal

    Speaking of mobile devices, I understand 3G/4G isn't always in the budget.  The cell companies are making a killing on data plans but some people just say screw it and use whatever WiFi is available.  You really do need to pay attention to what network you're joining though because there are people out there who set up fake hotspots in hopes of collecting your personal information.  Remember those apps I mentioned earlier?  They'll start using that fake WiFi to communicate all now hackers have your login info.

    The best way to be safe: if you're on a mobile device don't use any old available signal.  If you're in an establishment that had WiFi be sure to ask what it's named and if there's a passcode for it.  If you're on a laptop, you can use that bogus WiFi just so long as you don't access any personal info (don't login to ANYTHING).  Also, make sure your firewall is on.  It's not foolproof but it'll prevent anyone trying to snoop around into the contents of your hard drive.

  5. Not Following Social Media Etiquette

    Some people need to go to rehab for this.  Social media is the evolved version of what us old heads used to refer to as message boards.  What evolved?  Anonymity.  On social media, you're you.  Period.  In the old days, you were whatever you imagined.  There are still places online for you to do that.  Social media's not one of them.

    That's where things get dicey.  You're no longer dealing with anonymous bits of 1s and 0s.  Chances are you know the people you're addressing VERY well and have actual met quite a few of them.  And just as hard it is to be friends with people in real life it's quadruply difficult online.

    Fortunately my pals over at PC World (we don't hang out or anything, I just like to call them pals) published a pretty accurate 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette that you should all read and take to heart.  If you don't know anyone who violates even a single one of these commandments then it's probably you who isn't following them.

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