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Lifehack Digest for November 7th

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Lifehack Digest for November 7th
  • How to Write a Great Term Paper in One Evening | studenthacks.org
    Student Hacks outlines a strategy for writing a good-enough paper in one night. Obviously this isn’t the best way to go about your studies, but if poor planning leaves you in the lurch, this approach might be just the thing your fat out of the fire.
    student writing termpaper hack research timemanagement
  • Getting Things Done… Faster
    OrganizeIT suggests that not only can you Get Things Done but you can do it faster by following a few tips: set a time limit, avod distractions, stay healthy and alert, use the right tools, and create habits.
    gtd advice howto efficiency work business system
  • The 5 Rules of Writing Effective Email
    Edith Yeung lists fice questions you should ask about your email before you send it to make sure it gets read and acted on.
    email communication writing business howto
  • Conquering your fear of public speaking
    I’ve seen students literally trembling with fear before making a presentation, so Steve Trobak’s advice at CNET is well appreciated. In short: face your fear, know your material, don’t worry so much, interact, and spell out your worst case scenario.
    speaking tips presentation business education advice
  • How to Be Interesting
    Russell Davies shares some tips on how to attract and hold the attention of others. What t boils down to is being interested — in others, in the world around you — and sharing what interests you, freely and openly.
    interesting inspiration advice Howto Development creativity
  • 64 Interview answers you need to know
    64 common interview questions and answers, including possible reminder on traps from the questions. A great start to prepare for interview.
    interview, career, job
  • 150 Resources to Help You Write Better, Faster, and More Persuasively
    An exhaustive list of sources, references, and guides for writers of all kinds. Perfect for journalists, business writers, students, and any other writer looking for authoritative sources and help on mproving their written style.
    writing reference resources tools education
  • 8 Steps to running your business on (mostly) free apps
    Found|Read discusses the practical and psychological aspects of running a business using free/low-cost applications. This help small and new companies save money and offers greater flexibility as new technologies and services become available.
    soft software free tools entrepreneurship business

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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