Tag Archives: cybersecurity

Secure Your Data with a Password Manager

By Tracey Dowdy

Still using your birthday as your password? Your child’s birthday? Your anniversary? That’s what a friend of mine that works in online security refers to as “One, two, three, four, come on hackers, open the door” kind of protection. 

During this season when so many of us are working from home, secure passwords are more important than ever. If you’ve been online for years, the prospect of securing all those accounts may seem daunting. But, the risk of leaving your personal information vulnerable to hackers far outweighs any potential cost or inconvenience. That’s why you need to start using a Password Manager which serves as an encrypted database of all your passwords. Instead of writing them on post-it notes you’ll lose or saving hem in a note or memo on your phone which could be lost, stolen, or hacked, do yourself a favor and remember one – the one that unlocks the vault – your password manager. 

Here are three of the best options out there. 

LastPass remembers all your passwords across devices for free. It’s particularly useful for online shopping as once you’re logged in, LastPass auto-populates all the necessary fields, and allows you to store more than just passwords to your online accounts – you can store insurance cards, memberships, and Wi-Fi passwords and safely share passwords and notes with sensitive information with anyone via encrypted text. There are paid versions, but the free version offers everything the average user will need. 

Zoho Vault is great if you have to share access within a workgroup. Passwords are encrypted with the strongest encryption standard (AES-256); enables you to provide passwords to users and groups in bulk while instantly denying access to any user who is removed; enables direct connection to websites and apps without having to manually enter login credentials; allows you to grant different access privileges to select individuals; and generates reports to keep track of which users have access to various passwords. There are free and paid versions with a 15-day free trial on paid editions.

Dashlane syncs across all your Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices, provides all the essential and advanced password management features of many pricier versions, includes VPN protection, and will even scan the Dark Web for compromised accounts and capture your online shopping receipts. The biggest downside is the cost. Though there is a free version, some of the features users really want are only included in the paid versions, and there is limited support for Internet Explorer users. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

The Hard Truth About Sexting

By Stacey Ross   

I recently met a mom who was taken back when she found out that her 15 year-old son had received a photo from a classmate – namely a nude selfie that was circulating around the school. Sadly, the photo was of a young teenage girl, who was also in the boys’ class.

Had her son intended to forward or share the photo? Doubtful. Did the girl and those circulating the photo all contribute to the ensuing mess? Yes. Did everyone understand the ramifications of their actions? A big fat NO!

A sexting expert speaks

As the school year begins, Chris Duque, a cybersecurity specialist based in Hawaii, gathers parents together to enlighten them about the stark realities of the Internet, and how they can become more involved in their kids’ online worlds. He also diligently educates families of young teens about the life-changing consequences of sexting.

“Parents and teens don’t understand the ramifications of sexting until they get personally involved, but by then, the damage has already been done. My recent talk to parents revealed that most of them didn’t know the criminal liabilities their children face when sexing, but also the impact on their reputations and futures,” Duque said.

Here are a few of the points that he emphasizes:

1)     Children can face criminal penalties, as the photos or videos can be construed as child pornography.

Child pornography laws were originally designed to protect children against adult predators, but in the present digital age both consensual and non-consensual sexting can be deemed criminal when the person in the photo is under 18 years of age.  Depending on the state, consequences can include felony charges, mandatory sex offender registration, and even a prison sentence.

2)     Because of the permanence of the Internet, the photos can continue to haunt a child for life.

The internet is merciless and, sadly, what goes online is likely to stay online. As celebrities, musicians, and other online enthusiasts continue to reveal personal content at an increasing alarming rate, children run the risk of being desensitized, deeming images shared as playful and innocuous.

Duque urges everyone to take precautionary measures by steering away from images that are sexually provocative or are compromising to one’s character.

3)     Photos and videos might be used to bully the child or lead to ‘sextortion.’

Predators are very skilled at posing as teens on social media and gaming sites. They are also skilled at luring in vulnerable victims, who eventually grow to trust them enough to willingly send lewd photos of themselves to the predators. These people then reach into their bag of tricks to find crafty ways to extort money or additional images from their victims, who are trapped in the insidious racket.

Duque recommends that parents look at the sexting legislation where they live and have regular heart-to-heart chats with their kids about responsible behavior. He stresses the grave consequences of circulating compromising photos and asks students to think twice about the content of their posts. And that’s the naked truth!

Stacey_Ross_50Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.