Friday, January 2, 2015

Tech Advice for 2015

If you are reading this post, you are interested in genealogy. I know there are some folks out there that are still researching their family history the hard way - but most of us are using technology, not just for our research, but in just about every aspect of our lives.  I personally work with two laptops, a tablet, a Kindle Fire HDX and a smartphone.  I stream video content to my flat-screen televisions via blue-ray players and Fire TV.  I recently purchased an Echo from Amazon and am amazed at its capabilities.  All this runs on a wifi.  I, like most of you, are "connected" and ever more dependent on technology.

I have reviewed countless blog posts over the last week regarding "how to do things better in 2015".  It is, after all, the time of the year for resolutions, breaking old habits (and starting new, better ones), cleaning up, cleaning out, reorganizing, making lists, and changing the batteries in our flashlights and smoke detectors.

One of the best pieces of advice I have seen relates to the security of all that technology.  The news is constantly reminding us, via reports of some new hacking incident, of just how vulnerable our stuff is.  If you do nothing else this year to safeguard your personal information, I recommend you enable two-step authentication to safeguard your accounts as much as possible.  Yep, it can be a real pain in the neck.  It requires a bit of time to set it up.  You need a way to keep track of the passwords you have to generate in order to make it work.  But trust me when I say it beats the heck out of having your credentials fall into the hands of some nefarious hacker.

Make a list of all the on-line places you have entrusted with bank account and/or credit card information, or any other cloud-based tool you use that you wish to keep private and, one at a time, go through the process of securing your data.  Find a password management tool that works for you (I use Password Box and Universal Password Manager - but there are many, many others you might like better) and use it.  And while you are at it, the New Year is a great time to change your passwords.  Starting yesterday, every time I signed into a site, I changed my password - and this year I used a password generator to come up with ones that are harder to crack.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," or so the saying goes.  But if we are going to survive in the digital age, we need better ways to fend off the bad guys.

Gizmodo recently did a piece on how to enable two-step authentication on everything.  When you look at the security settings in most of the stuff you use (Google, Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Evernote, PayPal, banks, etc.) you will find a toggle for enabling two-step verification.  And if you Google "two-step verificaiton" you will get a list instructions for just about every web-based tool out there.

Come-on!  This is something you can do while watching football this weekend!  Really!

Be safe out there!

-- submitted by Denise Doyon

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