Thursday, August 6, 2020

9 rules for strong passwords: How to create and remember your login credentials

The security of your bank account, Netflix account and email inbox depends on how well you safeguard your many passwords.

The key to your online security is to have strong passwords, but the challenge is to create distinct passwords that you can actually remember -- or else you may fall into the bad habit of using the same login credentials for multiple accounts. According to LogMeIn, the company behind the LastPass password manager, you could very easily have 85 passwords for all your accounts once you count all of your social media, streaming, bank accounts and apps.

If your data is compromised, weak passwords can have serious consequences, like identity theft. Companies reported a staggering 5,183 data breaches in 2019 that exposed personal information such as home addresses and login credentials that could easily be used to steal your identify or commit fraud. And that pales in comparison with the more than 555 million stolen passwords that hackers on the dark web have published since 2017.

  • Use a password manager to keep track on your passwords
  • Yes, you can write your login credentials down. Really
  • Find out if your passwords have been stolen
  • Avoid common words and character combinations in your password
  • Longer passwords are better; 8 characters are a starting point
  • Don't recycle your passwords
  • Avoid using passwords known to be stolen
  • No need to periodically reset your password
  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA) ... but try to avoid text message codes
Get the details in Clifford Colby and Sharon Profis' article at

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Nasty malware could be hiding on your Android. Here's how to spot it

Swamped with ads? Don't recognize an app? Start here to deal with it.

Android malware can find ways to trick you. A mobile app called Ads Blocker, for instance, billed itself as a useful service for cutting back on pesky mobile ads, which can pop up to cover your screen just when you're about to access something important. But users would soon find the app was malware that just served up more ads, according to security researchers.

It's just one example of malware that can frustrate Android phone users, plaguing them with ads that the creators get paid to display, even when users are looking at unrelated apps. Malware often also harvests fake clicks on the ads, doubling up on the value for the makers.

"They're making money," said Nathan Collier, a researcher at internet security company Malwarebytes who helped identify the bogus ad blocker in November, "and that's the name of the game."

Researchers say adware like Ads Blocker is the most common type of malware on Android devices. Other malicious apps, however, can do worse things than make your phone so frustrating to use that you want to Hulk out and crush it -- like steal personal information from your phone. 

Malware can be disorienting, getting in the way of how you normally use your phone and making you feel uneasy even if you aren't sure what's causing the problem. It's also very common; Malwarebytes says it found close to 200,000 total instances of malware on its customers' devices in May and then again in June. So how do you know if you have malware on your phone, and how can you stop it? Here are some takeaways from mobile malware experts on what you can do.

  • How Malware on your phone works
  • Signs of Malware
  • Ransomware on Android Phones
  • What mobile malware is capable of
  • How to stop mobile malware on your Android phone

Monday, July 13, 2020

Shopping more online? Take heed to these 7 simple safety tips

While COVID-19 is hurting in-store traffic for most American retailers, e-commerce sites have experienced a huge surge in activity.

Amazon, for example, reported a 26% jump in revenue during the first three months of 2020, especially after stay-at-home orders were first introduced, compared to the same period a year ago.

The trend continued – nay, accelerated – well into the spring, with data from Adobe Analytics’ Digital Economy Index suggesting all U.S. online sales have increased by as much as 49% in April compared to pre-COVID-19 numbers.

But, as you might suspect, with this spike in online shopping comes a stark increase in problems from it, says the Federal Trade Commission.

In April and May 2020, the FTC received more than 34,000 complaints from consumers related to online shopping, many of which were tied to ordered items not received. The May numbers alone represent a nearly twofold increase over the number of reports received during the busy holiday shopping season last December. Other issues were tied to receiving an incorrect or damaged item, misleading product information and fraud.

And so, to ensure a smooth online shopping experience, take heed to these following seven safety tips:

  1. Look for the lock (a secure internet connection)
  2. Pay securely
  3. Update your software
  4. Do your homework
  5. Dig for the data
  6. Use good passwords; avoid scams [I don' think 7 characters is a strong enough password. I'd suggest at least 10 characters.]
  7. Don't shop in a hotspot

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Is your Google Home or Nest secure? How to find and delete your private data

With Google Home or Nest in your house, you've got an always-on voice assistant that regularly records audio and almost always sends it to Google. Are you OK with that?

Relying on Google Home to organize your digital life requires something of a trade-off with regards to your personal data, but that doesn't mean you have to give up your sense of privacy just to get your smart speaker to work for you. It's totally possible, through a combination of security settings and responsible privacy practices, to minimize the amount and kind of data you share with Google yet still take advantage of Google Home's hands-free conveniences. The key is knowing how much information your Google Home can live without without becoming useless.

Starting in June, new Google accounts will automatically delete private data for you. But only after 18 months by default. And only if you're a brand new Google user. That's great if you're setting up your first Google Home device or Gmail address or you just got your first Android phone, but if you're among the 1.5 billion people on Gmail or the 2.5 billion people using Android already, your account is set to hold onto your private data forever unless you tell Google otherwise.

If you love using your Google Home but want to control how many voice recordings or how much location information and other personal data Google keeps, these are the settings that you'll need to adjust to fine-tune your privacy controls.

  • Check which options you've enabled
  • Look up everything Google Assistant has on you
  • Delete some or all of your private data
  • Choose how often your private data will be deleted
  • The most extreme privacu option: Pause all activity

Thursday, May 14, 2020

This Is How Often You Should Restart Your Phone

We live and die by our cell phone, rarely giving it the chance to reboot and refresh. But are you harming the device without knowing it? We asked the experts.

For many of us, our smartphones have become a touchstone of life. It affects how we do our jobs, interact with our friends and family, and even how we access important information like our banking, and healthcare. But are you taking proper care of it? Experts say that knowing simple care tips, such as how often to shut it down, can drastically affect how well your phone will continue to perform the older it gets. That means the simple knowledge of when to turn it on and off, can cost you hundreds of dollars in prematurely replacing your phone.

But just how often do we need to shut off our smartphones? As opposed to how often you need to shut down your computer, your smartphone has a more hard and fast rule you should live by: once a week, shut it off, let it rest at least one minute, and then you can fire it back up.

Get all the details in A

Thursday, April 16, 2020

5 things not to do when coronavirus quarantine and lockdown end

When will the coronavirus quarantine, shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders end? This question has escaped countless lips as countries, states and cities shift to indoor living to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Some of us are getting restless, imagining the people we'll hug, parties we'll throw and places we'll travel.

Not so fast. As the first signs of easing are starting to play out around the world, it's good to remember this is new territory for everyone and there's much we still don't know about the long-term behavior of this particular coronavirus strain.

Different governments and agencies are sure to have their own cadence for reintegrating and going back to business as usual, including taking a phased approach that slowly relaxes some measures while keeping an eye out for spikes in new coronavirus cases.

One thing's for sure -- your lifestyle won't return to "normal" all at once. While we won't know for certain what will or won't be allowed until those measures arrive, there are some common-sense codes that we don't see going away any time soon.
  • Don't throw a party or hit the bars
  • Don't stop washing your hands
  • Don't immediately visit high-risk people
  • Don't plan a big international vacation
  • Don't sell your home office and home workout equipment
Get all the details in Jessica Dolcourt's article at

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

How to Avoid Germs When Grocery Shopping, According to Consumer Reports

Ridofranz/Getty Images

Stay healthy while grocery shopping

Avoiding germs is always a good idea, but never before has it seemed so important than right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, keeping yourself protected against the coronavirus could be a matter of life and death, which is why people are being more careful than ever before when they do basic day-to-day activities like going grocery shopping. "It used to be seen as a mundane weekly errand, but has become a task that requires more thought and preparation during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis," explains Lisa Larkin, MD, an internal medicine physician in Cincinnati, Ohio and founder and CEO of Ms.Medicine. The good news is that there are steps you can take to avoid germs and reduce your risk of infection or infecting others during this time. Read on for tips to shop for your groceries in as safe a manner as possible.
  • Go at times of day when it's less busy
  • Sanitize your shopping cart or basket
  • Avoid touching your face while shopping
  • Stay six feet away as you navigate the aisles
  • Be kind to others
  • Bring disposable gloves for checkout
  • Avoid paying with cash
  • Sanitize your hands
  • Leave bags outside upon returning home
  • Consaider delivery of pick-up
  • Clean packaging and fresh produce (see this post for detailed instructions/examples)
Get all the details in Jenn Sinrich's article at

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Michigan doctor says leave groceries outside for 3 days if possible, shows how to disinfect

Whether it’s groceries or a take-out meal, food and its packaging should be handled with care and disinfected before it’s put away in your home while the world grapples with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Jeffrey VanWingen, a doctor at Family Medicine Specialists in Grand Rapids, created a 13-minute video to show everyone how to bring food into their homes as safely as possible.

Read the complete articls and view the video at