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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 May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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