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Sunday, September 9, 2012

How To Keep Your Passwords Secure

My Facebook account was hacked this week.  Again.  That’s the third time now.  This time someone posted some rather rude comments about the size of certain female body parts.  Which isn’t like me.  Though I do appreciate the female body, and all its parts, I specifically like them on MY WIFE, and find it very rude when people talk about them in public.  So my password was definitely hacked.  And trust me, I use very secure passwords.

So I decided that, in all probability, this post is justified.  Here are a few ways to make (and keep) all of your online accounts secure.

  1. Don’t “Keep me logged in”.  EVER.  Most sites have the ability to do that these days, which could be very convenient.  It uses cookies on your system that “remembers” your username and password and the fact that you’re logged in, so the next time you connect it automatically takes you into your account.  The problem is, many people tick that box out of habit, and then they tick it at work, at school, at a friend’s house, etc.  Quite a few people have found their Facebook statuses changed to “I’m gay” because of this…
  2. Always log out.  This is just an extension of the first tip.  If you are no longer logged in, people can’t gain access to your account to manually reset your password or change anything.
  3. Don’t use the “Log in using Facebook / Twitter / Google / Whatever” feature.  Many websites allow you to log into their own sites using your social networks’ login details, saving you the trouble of creating yet another account (, for example, does this).  But this is a big security risk.  Do you really know who the people at the other end are?  Or how secure their server is?  You can never be too safe.
  4. Create a secure password.  Make your password as long as you can, with a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters.  This doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds.  You can take a word or phrase and make some subtle changes to it.  For example, let’s say you use the phrase “Lourens is an awesome guy” (yes, I know, I’m incredibly humble).  Change that slightly and make it “l0ur3n5!5@n@w3s0m3guy”.  There’s a 21-character password that won’t be too difficult to remember, but a nightmare to hack!
  5. Remember that no password is ever 100% secure, so change it regularly.  How regularly?  That depends.  My previous Facebook password was 16 characters long and very strong, a combination of letters, numbers and characters.  It was hacked after about 12 months.  So don’t EVER think that you’re safe!  The hackers are always working, so to quote Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody: “Constant Vigilance!!”

There you go.  Five very simple steps to keep your online accounts and profiles safe and private.  A secure password is the first step to a secure online presence.  Make sure that you’re safe!

Until next time, BE the miracle.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ridiculous Apple Lawsuits?

I don’t know about you guys, but I am starting to find Apple’s lawsuits ridiculous.
No, I’m not dissing the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iMac, or iAnything.  They are all good products, if possibly a bit overpriced (and in some cases slightly impractical in South Africa).
For those who don’t know, let me share a bit of background.  Apple as a company are notorious for their lawsuits.  And I mean they’re notorious even by American standards (and that’s saying something).  Back in the days of the big PC boom (almost 30 years ago) this all started when Apple sued Microsoft for “stealing their design” (the graphic user interface and mouse), but in fact both Apple and Microsoft got those ideas from Xerox, who designed it.  Later Apple changed their approach and sued Microsoft for stealing their GUI design and violating their working agreement (because Microsoft had secretly been developing Windows).
This just carried on and on and on.  Some of the companies in Apple’s list of targets over the years include AT&T, Apple Corps (a record label founded by the Beatles), Cisco, New York City (“The Big Apple” – yes I’m serious!!), Woolworths, Amazon, Hewlett-Packard, eMachines, HTC, and most recently Samsung.
Over the last few months some people have even been saying that Apple can’t come up with any original ideas anymore, so they decided to rather start making money through lawsuits.  Though it’s usually said as a joke, I’m afraid that there is an undertone of “it’s not impossible” in there somewhere.  Let’s face it, they haven’t really come up with anything exciting since Steve Jobs’ death.
Yes, I understand that Apple Inc. is known as an aggressive protector of its intellectual property rights.  But could there be a fine line between intellectual property and craziness?  The internet is full of jokes about the subject these days.  This just proves how ridiculous it has become.
I will end off today’s post with some of my favourite “Apple Lawsuit Memes”.  Enjoy!
And one of the bests, that’s a bit to big to post here: