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9 Major Tech Mistakes You Need to Immediately Stop

9 Major Tech Mistakes You Need to Immediately Stop

We live in a society fully saturated by technology. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t live without my tech – it’s both my passion and a necessity for my way of life. As Ben Parker always said, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” and the power of technology is so easy to obtain and wield that we often forget that. It’s time to be responsible and stop making these common tech mistakes.

1. Using the Same Password for Everything

Target, Adobe, Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat are among the large companies whose databases of private customer information have been compromised. If you use the same username/password for all of your accounts, changing your password on one site doesn’t do you any good. I could find your login credentials in one of those hacks and use it to access any accounts you have with the same info.

Mix-up your passwords, and never reuse the same password twice. It sounds harder than it is – all you have to do is take your basic passphrase (i.e. “password”), and change it up. Your Google password can be “pA55w0rd1!” and Facebook can be “pA55w0rd2!” so you can remember both easily without compromising your security. Find more password tips in this Lifehack.

2. Not Using 2-Step Verification

Speaking of passwords, even those aren’t very secure anymore (check out this infographic). If I have access to any of your devices (either physically or through a network), I can install a keylogger and harvest all of your passwords. Enabling 2-step verification makes this much more difficult.

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All major services (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) allow some form of 2-step verification, and you’d be remiss not to utilize them. Set up your accounts to send you a text, require an authentication code, etc. when accessed outside of your personal devices and home network.

3. Connecting to Public Networks without a VPN

Many businesses and organizations offer public Wi-Fi networks, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, airports and gyms. Using these networks opens your computer to anyone else on the network – it’s like leaving your wallet open next to you while sleeping on a park bench.

A virtual private network (VPN) secures your information while using these public networks. If you wouldn’t participate in an orgy with strangers without a condom, don’t connect to a public network without a VPN.

4. Not Updatin­g Software

In 2011, the Sony PlayStation Network was hacked, and the personal info of every PlayStation user (which was stored in an unencrypted database) was exposed. It happened a month after Sony missed an important Apache server upgrade.

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Updating your software is vital, as the companies that created it are constantly fighting to fix security vulnerabilities. If you’re not updating your software at least once a week, your data has a higher chance of being compromised.

5. Disabling Your Firewall and Antivirus

Sometimes your firewall can be a pain – this is especially true for gamers and those who use streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. It can be tempting to disable your security software to make it easier to access the sites you love, but that’s only making things worse.

Instead, set individual rules for each site. This is time-consuming for the first couple of days, but the protection it provides over the life of your computer is beyond worth it. My recommendations for security software are AVG (desktop/laptop antivirus), ZoneAlarm (desktop/laptop firewall), and Lookout Security (smartphone/tablet antivirus/firewall), all of which have free versions available.

6. Ignoring Social Media Privacy Settings

Facebook tells you to use your real info, as do LinkedIn and Google+. It’s ok to use some of your personal info (basic demographics, work history, etc.), but don’t give away the entire farm.

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Privacy is a cloudy concept these days, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution. The last thing you need is someone using your personal info on social media against you, and this is especially dangerous for women, who are stalked online at alarming rates.

7. Ignoring App Permissions

Speaking of using your personal information, you should pay very close attention to what types of permissions you agree to give when either installing apps and games on your mobile device or using a social media account to sign in to ANY service.

Candy Crush doesn’t need your (Global Positioning System) GPS location; Huffington Post doesn’t need to know who your friends are; and Flappy Birds has no business seeing your contacts. Learning to say “No” is one of the most important human skills you can have – start with software, and work your way up to other people.

8. Not Encrypting Your Email

Do you remember the U.S. Post Office? When I was your age, in order to send someone a message, our mailman had to walk barefoot, uphill in the snow both ways. These days we send emails, but it’s important to keep the mailman imagery in your head.

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An email isn’t a letter – it’s a postcard, and the message is visible to anyone. When you encrypt your email with Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption, you’re sealing that postcard in the same secure envelope used by every government and corporation on this planet. If they’re doing it, so should you. And it’s 100% free. There’s literally no reason for you not to be doing this.

9. Not Protecting Your Smartphone

Smartphones are so ubiquitous in our lives these days that we take them for granted. They’re computers, filled with all your private and personal info. When you trade your phone in for a new one, you need to erase your personal info first. It’s not as simple as just deleting it, however – you need to use the “One Pass Zero” method, which not only erases the data, but overwrites it with a series of zeros (remember digital data in its purest form is 1s and 0s).

Think of it in terms of writing a note with pencil and paper. When you erase the pencil marks, you can still see what you wrote, but if you scribble over the part you erased, it’s much harder. With enough time and effort, even a one-pass deletion can be overcome, but the “geniuses” at the Apple store don’t have those kinds of resources. If you don’t do it, however, you’ll end up being one of these Apple horror stories.

The Internet is an amazing place, but it can also be dangerous. Before heading out into the web, make sure to protect yourself and your data. The last thing you need is to have your rent or mortgage payment declined because someone hacked the servers of an app you downloaded and used for five minutes, dumping every user’s personal info online for everyone to use.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

1. Duolingo

    Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

    Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

    The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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    Download the app

    2. HelloTalk

      HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

      There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

      What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

      Download the app

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      3. Mindsnacks

        Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

        You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

        Download the app

        4. Busuu

          Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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          The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

          When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

          Download the app

          5. Babbel

            Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

            Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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            If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

            Download the app

            Takeaways

            All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

            Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

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            Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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