Weak Passwords

What is your password? Just kidding, don’t tell me, I will just guess and maybe get it right. Or I will easily hack into it with any number of programs available on the internet. We live in an age where one can search for anything on the web and receive information like how to build a bomb. ?Breaking passwords is easier, so be prepared.

Here at Computer Geeks we see it happen all the time. People call in asking for help recovering their email or even their log-in so they can access the computer, because the evil hacker guessed “monkey” and got it right. Stop these weasels before they really do some damage to your email or computer.

A computer security company called Duo Security ran a decryption of hundreds of thousands of passwords and was able to crack everyone of them, simply because they were “weak”. A weak password contains only letters and numbers, sure mixing them up with alphanumerals is good, but not enough.

Passwords seem like something to get it out of the way so you can sign up or log in fast. This attitude can prove to be fatal, as hackers can just as easily decrypt passwords like Duo did, but with evil intentions reek havoc on your personal files.

Some of the accounts that Duo cracked into were from federal and state government agencies, with employees providing weak passwords, anyone with a knowledge of hacking could have access to confidential information that is very valuable. If you think your email was one of the ones tested, go to this?Web-based tool to find out just type in your email address.

Personally I used to just put in a funny name or something relevant to my life that I could remember. I learned quickly that it is not what I can remember, but what someone who wants to access my files remembers. Now I am being safe by using letters, a symbol or two, and a number. This is the safest bet to ensure that hackers will at least have a harder time trying to get in.

The most common ways of hackers is to guess:

  • the user’s name or?login name
  • the name of a?significant other, a friend, relative or pet
  • birthplace or?date of birth, or a friend’s, or a relative’s
  • automobile license plate number, or a friend’s, or a relative’s
  • office number, residence number or most commonly, their mobile number.
  • a name of a?celebrity they like
  • a simple modification of one of the preceding, such as suffixing a digit, particularly?1, or reversing the order of the letters.
  • a swear or curse word

If you use the last one on this list, you might as well deserve to be hacked into and destroyed. But for the rest of you out there enjoying the a small sense of security when you login to accounts such as PayPal, online banking, or online stores with saved credit card information, it is time to open your eyes to the big picture. You know, the one where you are hiding in the corner because all your information was hacked into and used to buy all sorts of lewd and unexplainable items. This is something you could have avoided if you had heeded the advice given at Computer Geeks Blogs and changed the password to something like: ilovegeeks@123

It can’t hurt, but it will if you are not smart and leave the password at: “iamamonkey”

‘Tis the Season to Shop Online

It does not come soon enough, this holy holiday, when depression rates soar and stress doubles during a a few months in the winter; yes, Christmas is here!

We all know shopping is done and the gifts are bought for our kids, friends, and loved ones, but this year it seems everyone is going online to shop. This brings up new threats to your security and new ways for those pesky thieves to get your money. Here are ways to protect against them and make sure the season is as jolly as it should be.

If you have kept on the blogs at Computer Geeks, you are one step above everyone who has not, because you know about phishing attacks. These are fake websites that grab your info without you even knowing it, usually by clicking on a link that goes to a website set-up by a hacker. During the holiday season, these attacks increase ten fold because people are ignorant to phishing, thus making it easy to hack into your credit or debit card information as they surf and shop. Be careful, be aware, check the URL that loads from a link on website or email-make sure it matches what the address bar says.

While you are looking for the coolest toy or newest video game that your kid just has to have, before you fill out the form of payment with your credit card information, check the website for signs that verify that it is secure. First look at the address bar, look at the beginning of the address: if it has HTTPS you are good. Also look on the bottom of your browser, it usually has a locked padlock to show that it is secure. Most big sites like?Amazon, EB Games, and Best Buy?actually have certificates of security on their sites.

Here is a good one, forget using debit cards unless you are okay with putting information such as access to your bank account. Use credit cards.

There are certain security questions that a site might ask you, like where you have previously lived, answer them. These are designed to make sure you are who you say your are.

Attacks happen all the time on the internet, you may think it won’t happen to you, until it happens and ‘what are you gonna do’ is all you can say. Don’t be that schmuck, take action. Arm yourself with sufficient facts that will keep you safe this holiday season. When you are spending all that money on things that will probably become trash in a couple years, remember that there are people out there with the means and the will to access your information. But they cannot if you know what to look for.

That is our goal, my goal in this blog, to educate the masses of people out there of the risks posed by the internet. It is a scary world today, and today’s world is online, so what are you doing to protect yourself?

Privacy Threats: What Privacy?

Turn on the computer, wait a couple minutes for it to load up, click on your internet browser, and enter into a world where anyone can see where you are and what you are doing. Sure, we keep our business and personal life separate right? That is why we have “personal” and “work” computers, but there is a big difference as to how the meaning of “personal” actually is true. You cannot go anywhere now without being taped, you are tracked by purchases and paper trails, and now it seems that the little privacy you had left is gone.

Wish you could put the “History” behind you? After you click on your internet browser and start to surf around the web, everywhere site you visit is recorded and saved, making it very easy for people to find out what you are up to. You might be saying to yourself, “Yes this may be true, but not for me because I am a virtuous person, there is no need to worry about someone finding out my History!” That’s nice, but what we are talking about is the fact that people can get into personal files that could hurt you regardless of the porn sites or other personal adventures that might make you look bad.

Let us say that you use a payment service online that transfers money to your bank account. By the hackers finding out this information, regardless of the fact that reloading the page won’t work, they may have the means to get into that site with your personal log-in information. Feeling scared yet? I am, because I use this very system and preventing something like this is crucial.

Luckily, Google Chrome,?Mozilla? Firefox, and Apple’s Safari have taken these preventive measures by not allowing for JavaScript to run in your browser. Phew!

There is a name for people who snoop around your personal information: history sniffing.At University of California, San Diego, researchers have discovered 485 of the 50,000 of the most popular websites are exploiting a flaw that allows them read your browser’s web history.

Notice how you click on a blue link, revisit the site and the link has turned purple, marking that you have already clicked on this link. What hackers can do is hide links on a certain website, say for example to Facebook or Twitter, then use the spying sites to use JavaScript code to find out the color of the links are.

JavaScript coupled with the use of Cascading Style Sheets, a common website language, make it very easy to track where you have been on the internet. Some of those 485 sites actually download your entire web browsing history! Whether you are doing illegal activities or you are a saint that only uses the internet to write emails, the fact that people can find out this information is kind of creepy. There is no privacy anymore, especially in the computer world, where history hackers are getting into the “trash” and checking out personal files.

Stay protected out there.

Privacy Protection: What Privacy?

They do not call it the “World Wide Web” for nothing. It is a spider-web, and it is world wide the information that is about you and is out there for everyone to see, if they really wanted to. The spider on the web is anyone who searches your name using different programs or services provided online, and it is amazing what comes up.

Say someone wants to know what you are up to. By tracking the electronic foot prints left behind by email, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or even just account activity, they can learn a lot about you in a short amount of time, about the time it takes to load a page. The world of today where there are no walls and information is out there flying around can be a dangerous one, if you are not careful.

The information that is out there can be grabbed by people search engines like Pipl, Spokeo, and CVGadget. It is not illegal, they are doing nothing wrong in the eyes of the internet police, but it does invade our privacy even if the information is out for people to see. It is like putting your dirty laundry out in front of the house, even clothes with small stains, the fact remains that our personal stuff can be easily accessed by anyone. Creepy.

So what can you do about it?

Put a stop to the mountain of information on you that is being collected by these search engines as you read this. First check out for yourself how much is out there by searching your name. Rapleaf is a provider with an open tool to let you see everything, while the other search engines only let you see bits and pieces. By going to that site you can actually manage what people see about you. No more spying from your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, no more parental espionage, no more privacy pillaging! By ‘Opting-out’ on Rapleaf’s website, you can permanently delete all that saved information that Rapleaf has on you.

Another way to stop prying eyes is to adjust the privacy settings. This means going to all the sites connected to your email address and changing them individually

  • Amazon: Wish Lists are made public by default. To change that setting, go to this page and select the option to sign in. You can then view any Wish Lists associated with your account and designate them as private.
  • Facebook: Once signed in, look under the ‘Settings’ tab at the top of the page to find the privacy control panel. Click the Profile option to set parameters regarding who can view your content.
  • MySpace: Click the My Account button at the top of the page after logging in, then click Privacy to adjust your settings. Bear in mind that your age and location are typically displayed publicly even if your profile is set as private, as was the case in one of the examples cited in “They Know Your Dark Secrets…And Tell Anyone.”
  • Pandora: Your playlists are public unless you specify otherwise. Once logged in, click Account at the top of the page, and then follow the option to edit your profile info. From there, you’ll see a checkbox that you can select to make your profile (and thus your playlists) private.

By doing this, you prevent search from sites like Pipl and Spokeo from getting into your private information like what music you like, who your girl or boyfriend is, where you live, the list goes on and on. Take back control of your privacy. Don’t let weirdo’s or people who do not need to see your personal life get the best of you. Who knows what people will do with information like that. You can protect your privacy even when you are on the web, these are ways to catch those spiders crawling around looking for trouble.

The RockYou Database has been hacked (important if you use Facebook, etc.)

Of critical importance to any of you who use social networking sites such as Facebook and the various applications to which you can subscribe while using them (think Mafia Wars, etc.) is the recent news of the RockYou Database being compromised by hackers.

Occurring on December 4th, the RockYou Database was infiltrated by the nefarious types who scour the internet for penetrable networks from which sensitive information can be retrieved and used for criminal purposes. Username and passwords were stolen, along with any other information that the RockYou application retrieves upon your use of it.

If it?s any consolation to those of you who might have fallen prey to this theft, none of the usernames and passwords have been published, but there?s nothing stopping the thieves from making them publically available ? or selling them, even — when they?re so inclined.

The company behind the RockYou app is largely to blame, carelessly storing the information in an insecure text format. In addition to Facebook, other social networking sites that use the application have seen their users? information hijacked, including Myspace and email services such as Gmail.

If you use any of these social networking sites, we strongly suggest that you change your password immediately, particularly if you?re someone who uses the same password for every site on which you?re a member.

Computer Geeks works hard to stay on top of the latest security issues to help keep your computers safe. If you have any questions about the RockYou hack and how it affects you, or if you’re concerned that your web accounts or computer may have been compromised, give us a call at 1-800-GEEK-HELP (433-5435) and our techs can help.





Computer Geeks Now Offers No-Contact Service
We offer two types of service: 1) Online remote 2) No-Contact at your Curb Service