Monthly Archives: October 2016

Ways to Create a Secure Password

You must definitely have come across at least one person in your life who wants to know everything about everybody – who is dating who, who broke up with who, who got promoted, who is going to be sacked, and who is getting a divorce. Such people are all over the world, and sooner or later one comes across them and has to face them. Worse is the case when such people are your superiors! Though at times we wish our whole life could have a password, we know that is not possible. However what we can do is create an absolutely unique and secure password for things that CAN be protected with passwords – such as your office user accounts, special files on your computer, your mailing account, your Facebook account and scores of other things…

Creating a Secure Password

Be Original
Your password is something that has to be absolutely original. Try to come up with something new altogether. DO NOT pick ideas from your friends, or from novels, books or movies and do not choose any of the commonly used passwords. I once had a friend who, inspired by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, used the Fibonacci number as a password for one of his mail accounts – I do not even want to attempt to explain the chaos and mayhem that followed! Your password has to be something that cannot be guessed easily, that cannot be deciphered even by the most clever people, or algorithm!

Be Creative
Never follow a set pattern or trend while creating different passwords for different accounts – otherwise someone who cracks one of the passwords (and thence the trend), will be able to crack them all! Always experiment with different types of passwords – one password could be only numbers, another could be only alphabets, another could be mixed characters, and you could even go totally random on one of the passwords! (Only make sure you don’t make it too random for you to remember it yourself!)

Be Discrete

Absolutely DO NOT share your password with anyone; not your best friend, not your companion, not your parents, NO ONE! DO NOT write down your passwords anywhere; and if you absolutely have to, NEVER write them down in the same diary/book or keep them all together in the same place! If someone comes to you for suggestions to create a new password, don’t give them your own idea/the idea you used to create your own password! They may be just bluffing, wanting to get you talking so they can pick up clues about what your password could be! Be discrete, and just keep them guessing!

Mix-n-Match
Try to use words from different languages in your password; that way no one can really guess what the word could be! Also do not just stick to one word from one language – let your password be a mix of words or phrases from different languages. The more obscure/weird your password, the more secure it is! Again here, go for a language that is less ‘popular’ – DO NOT go for Spanish, French, German, Russian words. And DO NOT go for common phrases like ‘I Love You’, ‘Have A Good Day’, ‘Goodbye’ and the like.

Change is the Only Constant

Change is the only constant in life – so keep ’em changing! NEVER stick to a single password for a single account. Keep changing your password regularly, but do not follow a pattern of change either! For example, do not change all your passwords on a set date of the month, in a set pattern. Also when I say change, it means ‘change’ and NOT ‘exchange’! Never switch between passwords of different accounts.

Some Clever Password Examples
Here are some examples of passwords created with a central theme in mind, and then going on to make it complex till it becomes undecipherable to a third person!

Based on Favorite Movie

e.g.: Autumn In New York

20aninnwyk00
This password was created based on the name and year of release of the movie Autumn In New York. The movie was released in 2000. So the password was created by choosing the first and last letter of each of the words in the name of the movie (autumn in new york); while the year was split so that the first two digits (20) preceded the password, and the last two digits (00) followed it. you could follow a similar pattern for any of your favorite movie.
00@n!nnwyk02
Here, the pattern of the year of release was reversed (0002 is 2000 written backwards!); while special characters were used in place of some of the alphabets (‘a’ became ‘@’, ‘i’ became ‘!’)

Based on a Phrase

e.g.: dog in the manger

godniehtregnam
Each word of the phrase has been written backwards.

G0dn!ehtregn@m
Following the same logic, special characters have been used to replace some of the alphabets.

@//!50nn!ethregnam
Again the same logic has been used, but with a twist! The word ‘dog’ in the phrase has been replaced with the name of an actual person (you could put in your colleague’s name too, or your neighbor, or anyone who lives up to the phrase!); to add to this, the name of the person has been written using special characters. I leave the name to be deciphered by you…!

Remember three important ‘S’s while creating a password – Strong, Safe, and Smart! Never let your password be something personally associated with you, the name of your first crush, your first pet, the last company you worked for, your favorite vacation spot, your favorite color. Try to make your password as complex as you can – but not so complex that you can’t remember it yourself! Go cryptic!

Ways to Protect Yourself from Internet Scams

download-9Bogus recruitment emails, 419 Nigerian scheme, work-at-home opportunities, fake lottery emails… the Internet is not only a storehouse of information and entertainment, it is also a dangerous realm, where you can get robbed. Along with defending your computer against viruses and ensuring your kids are safe online, you need to protect yourself from Internet scams, be they fraudulent online business schemes or identity thefts.

Protecting Yourself from Internet Scams

Step 1: Look for tell-tale signs in emails
The Internet can be a vast and infinite arena of knowledge. It can also be a great place to hide. For those seeking an anonymous mode of operation, the World Wide Web is an ideal location. From 40 year olds sneaking into kiddie and teen chat rooms to a scammer trying to pass off as your bank representative, the bottom line is that you should be vigilant. Look for tell-tale signs and be suspicious. An email can be fraudulent if:

  • It is full of spelling mistakes and has poor grammar.
  • It asks for sensitive personal or financial information like credit card numbers, passport details, etc.
  • It has a lot of capital letters, dollar signs and exclamation marks – “MAKE $$$$ Quickly!!”.
  • No official website or formal phone number or address is listed.
  • It has a “too-good-to-be true” scheme, “risk-free” plans or “get rich very quick” claims.
  • There is insufficient information about the offer or scheme.
  • The logo or symbol of the company looks fake or tampered with.
  • If the email informs you of free gifts and lottery winnings, it will ask you for money to deliver the prize or gift.
  • There are threats to perform an action, like “your account will be blocked”, “your account will expire”, “you will be terminated from the group”.
  • You are aggressively advised to subscribe or take part in the scheme immediately, else it will end and you will lose out on a great opportunity.
  • Anonymous email addresses like er1234@anon.com, xyz@domain.com are used.

Some of the above signs are not restricted to emails. Pop-up windows and webpages with a lot of dollar signs, arrows and capital letters are fake. Websites with poor grammar and language or spoofed logos, are bogus and should not be trusted. If not a scam, they might be dangerous sites, which can harm your computer through a virus or malware.

Step 2: Use the Internet smartly
There’s a way to handle or use things and there’s the right way. If you use a knife incorrectly, it can hurt you but if used in the right way, it completes its purpose. The same can be said for the Internet. Yes, there are a lot of scammers and hackers and “bad guys” out there, waiting around the corner. But you can get scammed only if you let down your guard. How to prevent Internet scams, you ask? Use the Internet smartly, here are some ways:

  • Do not perform sensitive data transactions and operations such as changing passwords, login information, accessing bank statements and online credit card transactions on public computers, like those in cyber cafes and libraries.
  • Set up spam filters in your email account and if possible, try to install an Internet security program along with an anti-virus software on your computer. Keep updating such software, to make sure it is up-to-date with the latest scamming practices.
  • If an email reads like spam and your gut feeling tells you it is spam, listen to your instincts and delete it from your inbox. Do not download any attached files or reply to the email. Do not click on any links in the email, even to unsubscribe from the mailing list. Just delete it.
  • Never ever enter personal information or any confidential data into pop-ups and small windows. Check links out by typing the address directly in your browser’s address bar. Avoid clicking on links in emails.
  • Enabling the ‘auto-complete feature’ on your browser will help you with passwords and login details but if you lend your machine to someone else, remember to delete cookies and turn off the feature.
  • Do not send login details of any account, be it email or bank, in emails to friends, co-workers or family. Your email account could get hacked and such information will land up in the wrong hands. Sensitive data such as credit card or social security number or any such information shouldn’t be sent by email either.
  • Always take a printout or a screenshot of any bill or transaction carried out online. Check your bank statements or account balance immediately, to see if the transaction has been reflected and if so, is it the right amount. If not a printout, you should be able to save the transaction’s record and access it on logging in at a later date.
  • The address bar in your browser shows a website’s URL as: http://website address. When financial transactions are being carried out or you are trying to access a secure site (like email), the URL should change to https://. This indicates a secure website address, i.e., no one else can access the page, as long as you are logged in. Some secure sites have a different icon near the URL, either a key or a closed padlock.
  • Avoid participating in chain letters and pyramid email schemes (“send $10 to 10 people and you will receive a surprise gift for each mail sent”). They always have some hidden trick or scam hidden in their text or at the least, will end up wasting your time.
  • Make sure you know who you are dealing with. If there is a phone number mentioned, call it up. Check local listings to see if that company exists at that number. Visit its official site to see if it is legitimate.
  • Do not base your financial transactions on advice received in chat rooms and online discussions or tips. If you are investing in a business venture, research, investigate and check out the agent and company. Do not pay any money in advance.
  • Insist on face-to-face discussions or meeting the company’s representative in an office. Check out the company’s legitimacy and see if there are any complaints or pending cases against it. You can use the Better Business Bureau site to carry out an online search.

In summation, the Internet can be a learning tool and aid, a good way to interact digitally and you can make money legitimately and honestly from it. So surf safe and be smart while using the Web.

Ways to Set Up Parental Controls on Windows XP

images-4The Internet can be a wonderful learning tool and a window into the world for children. On the flip side, it can be a parent’s worst nightmare. The Web does not differentiate between young and old, and what is right and wrong to see. Unlike a TV, adult content and violence is not shown during specific times and on certain channels. Warnings and disclaimers do hint of trouble ahead. But warnings can be ignored. As a parent, adult content sites and abuse sites, advertising drinks and drugs are definitely not part of your child’s learning experience. The answer to this problem are parental controls, features and options to block or prevent dangerous content online. In this article, learn how to set up parental controls on Windows XP operating system.

Setting Up Parental Controls on Windows XP

The issue with Windows XP is that it has no actual parental control features. Windows 7 and Vista are both equipped with a very secure parental control feature and management center, built into their respective OSs. But XP has no such features on the whole. However, some programs of XP have an optional parental safety feature. You can also opt for parental control software, which are programs designed specifically for monitoring and blocking unsafe content. First a look at which Windows XP programs can be customized for child safe browsing.

Internet Explorer
The default browser in XP is Internet Explorer. Using the Content Advisor feature, you block and allow various sites, based on their ratings. For example, you can decide that alcohol use is meant to be depicted, only in a mild context. But no instances of drug use should be allowed. Steps on how to use parental controls on Windows XP with content advisor.

☛ In the IE menu bar, click on Tools, then select Internet Options.

☛ Select the Content tab. The first pane is Content Advisor. Click on Enable.

☛ A new window opens up. In the small window, a list of categories are mentioned. Click on a category to highlight it, and use the slider to change what level of viewing is allowed. If you change a level, click on Apply, before moving on to the next category.

☛ From the tabs at the top of the window, click on Approved Sites. Here type the URL of a site, and click Allow, to make it viewable or Never to block it. This feature allows you to directly add which sites should be allowed and which should never be allowed.

☛ The General tab has 2 user options. The “users can see websites that have no rating” can be checked, based on your preference. This option allows unrated websites to be viewed, which is necessary, as some websites are not rated and are child viewership safe.

☛ The Supervisor Password is a rather important option. If you have learned how to use the Content Advisor feature, assume your kids will definitely know about it and will undo all your changes. To prevent such counter measures, set a password. That way, only those who know the password, can make any changes in the Content Advisor. Also if anyone tries to access a blocked site, they will be asked for the password.

Keep in mind, that the Content Advisor is only present on Internet Explorer. Other browsers have their own security mechanisms but most are not so specific. To make sure your kids use only IE, with your security mechanisms in place, uninstall any other browsers on your PC.

Windows Live
A free parental control software, as part of the Windows Live software applications is Windows Live Family Safety. Though this software is originally designed for Windows 7 and Vista, Windows XP has an older version. This free software add-on has the following features:

☛ Filter websites and pages, with SafeSearch option enabled in search engines.

☛ With the activity log feature, you can view which websites your child viewed and tried to visit, and when.

☛ It allows you to supervise and manage your child’s contact’s lists in Windows Live Messenger and Hotmail. So you can monitor and decide, who your child chats with and sends emails to.

The software is free for download from the official Microsoft site and has an easy user interface for management. But it needs to be installed on each computer your child uses, for the filtering to take place. Also make sure you are downloading the Windows XP version, as it is operating system specific. It will not work on any non Windows machine.

Limited User Account
User accounts in XP, allow for personalized settings and a sense of security as only the account holder can access the account settings and data. For a sense of total child safety, a smart idea to restrict what he/she can do on the machine itself. For instance, suppose your kid installs unsafe software and adult-related add-ons. What if the computer won’t allow any installation at all? This is possible using a limited user account. No new programs can be installed. Only what was originally installed by the administrator exists and can be used. Plus he/she cannot change the account type or details. This sort of user account restricts or limits what activities can be done on the computer. An ideal parental control for very tech-savvy kids.

Setting Up Parental Control Software on Windows XP

The limited filtering abilities in Windows XP can be frustrating, especially if you hate fiddling with your PC’s settings. There are different settings to be changed on different programs, and if you uninstall anything, the whole setting up process has to be repeated. For a one-stop solution on how to set up parental controls on Windows XP, check out external filtering software. It’s just like using an anti-virus tool. You can purchase software or download freeware, install it on your computer and let the program do the managing for you. Such software specializes in blocking adult content and is smart enough to “learn” what’s prohibited and what’s not. The more the features, the better, especially with paid software, so choose smartly.

Website filtering is a must, look for email, chat and social networking sites filtering. Usability of such a program is another key factor. It’s no use buying a software, if it’s difficult to use. Level of restriction should be adjustable, like stricter settings for older kids. Do not choose software that is browser dependent. Your kid will simply download another browser to use, bypassing your entire security program. Also check for browser compatibility. Here are some highly-rated parental control software:

  1. Net Nanny
  2. WebWatcher
  3. K9 Web Protection
  4. CyberPatrol Parental Controls
  5. Safe Eyes

Any parent can keep an eye on his/her child’s activities at school and at home. So why should the Internet be an exception? You can meet your child’s friends and peers socially, and decide whether they are good company or not. This cannot be done with chat contacts and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Hopefully the above steps have made setting up web filtering and blocking, a little easier for you on your XP machine.

Ways to Set Up Parental Controls on Mac

images-3In the recent years, there has been a steady rise in violence due to wide usage of Internet. Apart from the violence danger, there are other dangers, that parents have to protect their children from. Some children also simply spend their time playing different games on the computer. Therefore, it is important to have parental controls installed on the computer. It will help in monitoring the websites visited, emails sent to various people, chats, the duration your child spends on the Internet or also the amount of time the child spends on the Mac, etc. All this while, since the child was small and was not using the computer, you were not bothered about setting up different controls on the system. However, since the child has grown up and accesses the Internet, both when you are around and not around, you would want to know how to set up parental controls your computer. Before we read about setting up parental controls on Mac, we will see the advantages of having parental control on computer usage.

Advantages of Parental Control on Mac

Mac has one of the best parental control software. With this software, it is rather easier to create certain settings for Internet applications. A list of safe email addresses can be set up. It is only with these addresses will the user be able to exchange emails. Similarly, a list of ‘permitted’ websites can also be set up, so that the pornographic or harmful websites are out of bound for children. Parental controls can also be set to restrict the people the child can chat with. The applications that the child can use on the system can also be restricted. Having parental control in place also ensures, that the different settings are not changed even accidentally. Many times parents lose important data on the system, when the child deletes files from the system, however, once parental control is in place, this can be prevented.

Setting Up Parental Controls on Mac

We will now see how to set up parental control software on Mac operating system, namely OS X 10.5.x. Although parental control is also available on the previous versions of the operating system, the steps mentioned here are specifically for OS X 10.5.x. Before you can set up the parental control, you will need at least one managed user account on the system. If there is only one account, it will naturally be the administrator account. So that you can set up the parental control, you will have to log onto the system as an administrator.

  • Click on the Apple icon located in the Finder menu bar and scroll down to go to ‘System Preferences’ and click on ‘Accounts’.
  • If you see that some of the settings are dimmed, then you will have to enter the administrator name and password after clicking on the lock icon.
  • The next step will be to select the user account on which you would want to set up parental control.
  • Then click on ‘Parental Control’.
  • Now go to ‘Finder & System’ in the family controls list and then click on Configure.
  • Once you are in the ‘Finder & System’, you will also be able to configure other user accounts as well.
  • Then you will want to set ‘Limits’ for the operating system, which will help in making the interface a little more interactive, which the young children will find easy to go around with.
  • After which you will have to select each individual feature on which you will want to set parental control. Some of the features, where the parental controls are set is Safari browser, which will restrict visiting certain websites and ‘iChat’, by which the child will not be able to chat with all and sundry. Similarly, in the ‘Mail’ option email addresses can be filtered out.
  • After the limits have been set, click on OK, so that the parental controls will be applicable on your Mac.

I hope now you know what are the steps, you should take to install parental controls on Mac. It is best to set up a number of filters, so that your child is better protected. It is important to note that even if you block certain websites, email addresses, etc., at this stage you will be able to restore them and add them to ‘safe’ later. It is best to keep monitoring the parental controls from time to time to make changes as required.