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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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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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