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Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

Debunking The 5 Common Computer Security Myths

Computer security is a fickle thing. It’s convoluted and difficult to understand and it’s so much so that even professionals have problems simplifying the information. Thanks to the constant and ever-changing stream of information, there are a lot of myths about computer security. Here is the truth about some of them.

1. No one wants to hack me, I have nothing worth taking

This is so not true. Believe it or not, hackers don’t select people based on what they have or who they are. Websites store passwords in big, giant databases. Don’t worry, they don’t store the actual password. What they do is encrypt the passwords. The encrypted passwords are what gets stored. When hackers steal passwords, they grab a giant batch of those encrypted passwords from the database and then use a mixture of software and hardware to decrypt them. That means when a hacker gets your password, it’s a stroke of bad luck and not generally a targeted attack.

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Once they hack you, they can use your computer a number of different ways. They can use your hard drive to store questionable files, use your computer and your network as slave computers in a cyber attack (typically a DDOS), or even root around your temporary internet files looking for passwords to other websites like your bank. Just because you have nothing special doesn’t mean a hacker can’t use you and it doesn’t mean you’ll never be targeted.

2. Using a VPN and secure web browsers like Tor help me remain anonymous online

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    Friends, let me tell you the bottom line, ultimate truth about the internet. If you’re on the internet, there is a way to find out who you are and where you are. Granted, with VPNs (virtual private network) and Tor it makes it much harder for people to find out who you are and where you are. However, none of it is foolproof and if they try hard enough, government agencies and law enforcement can still find you. If you don’t believe me, just ask the world’s highest profile hacker group, ironically called Anonymous who used the latest in protection and still got caught.

    3. Incognito Mode hides my privacy

    We’ve all been there before. You want to look up something on the internet without leaving a trace so you use Incognito Mode. You check your internet history afterward and it all looks good. You’ve browsed the web without leaving a trace, right? Wrong! Incognito Mode wipes any traces of your browsing history but only from your computer. Your ISP will still know you went to those websites, the websites themselves will still have a record of your IP address, and trackers will still see that you’re there. Google Chrome’s Incognito Mode FAQ says so and so does does Firefox.

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    4. I don’t need malware protection because I don’t do anything risky

    Just because you don’t go surfing around on porn sites, torrent sites, or other risky websites doesn’t mean that you’re free from malware risk. The reason why is because of advertisements. Some advertisements are from shady companies and infect your computer if you go to a page where ads are present. Since about 90% of the internet are supported by advertisements, that means pretty much everywhere (including Facebook and YouTube) can be a potential threat. In fact, YouTube has actually had this happen to them before. If you want to be the most protected, you’ll have anti-malware installed. It won’t protect from 100% of threats but it’s better than walking around unprotected!

    5. My installed software is totally safe

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      Every single Java and Adobe Flash update ever proves this wrong immediately. All software has security exploits and when software companies update their software, they’re not just improving performance and fixing bugs but they’re also plugging up those security holes to make it harder for hackers to exploit them. Thus, you should always make sure to install updates to your software because they are not always totally safe. In fact, they’re never totally safe. When you update them, they become safer but eventually there will be other updates you’ll need to install.

       

      No matter what you do, you’ll never be truly anonymous or safe on the internet. That statement isn’t meant to scare you but simply give you a perspective on how things really are. If you change your passwords, update your software, keep some anti-malware and anti-virus software around, and just be safe then you should be okay. However, you should always be prepared for the worst case scenario because as soon as you think you’re invincible, that’s when the bad things happen.

      Featured photo credit: Open The Fridge via openthefridge.net

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      Joseph Hindy

      A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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      Last Updated on November 3, 2020

      20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

      20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

      Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

      There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

      This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

      What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

      Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

      • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
      • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
      • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

      1. Todoist

        Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

        Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

        If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

        Download: Todoist

        2. 1Password

          You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

          1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

          You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

          Download: 1Password

          3. Bear

            Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

            It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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            Download: Bear

            4. Hazel

              Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

              For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

              Download: noodlesoft

              5. Alfred

                Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                Download: Alfred

                6. TextExpander

                  TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                  For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                  An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                  Download: TextExpander

                  7. Backblaze

                    If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                    Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                    Download: Backblaze

                    8. Keyboard Maestro

                      Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                      Download: Keyboard Maestro

                      9. Snagit

                        There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                        Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                        10. Bartender

                          Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                          If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                          Download: Bartender

                          11. Otter

                          Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                          Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                          Download: Otter

                          12. Flux

                            Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                            Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                            Download: Flux

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                            13. PDFpen

                            If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                            PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                            Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                            14. OmniFocus

                              OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                              It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                              A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                              Download: OmniFocus

                              15. Franz

                                It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                Download: Franz

                                16. MindNode

                                  If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                  The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                  Download: MindNode

                                  17. Focus

                                    The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                    This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                    Download: Focus

                                    18. CleanMyMac

                                      Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                      Download: CleanMyMac

                                      19. Grammarly

                                        A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                        This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                        A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                        Download: Grammarly

                                        Focus To Do

                                          Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                          There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                          Download: Focus To Do

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                          Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                          More to Boost Productivity

                                          Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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