March 27th, 2011 by fastmikey
It seems like a month doesn’t go by without another story of a website getting compromised and the site’s user passwords being splattered all across the internet. The latest big, publically exposed occurrence was with the Gawker group of websites (Lifehacker, Gizmodo and a number of others) where the entire user database was exposed to the darker side of the internet. Unfortunately, this had a large flow-on effect, as a large number of people who had accounts that were compromised had followed two fundamental flaws when setting their passwords – they had both used easy passwords, and had reused the same password all over the place. This resulted in a far more wide reaching problem then just silly comments being posted on a website with a limited audience.
The lesson to be learnt here is it’s really important to follow good password practice. Here’s some key tips:
a) Use strong passwords – firstly, where possible, use passphrases (sentences) as passwords wherever possible. These have the benefit of both being easy to remember and also being very difficult to break by the bad guts using brute force methods. If your service doesn’t allow this, other useful ideas include taking the first letter of each word in a sentence to create gibberish that also is meaningful to you. See http://bit.ly/GoodPasswords for some more ideas.
b) Use different passwords – the easiest way is to have a good base password and then add something for each site to change that password – for example, add something financial to your internet banking password, something about shopping to your trade me password, etc. With this in place, if the worst happens and one site does get hacked, the bad guys will only manage to get one of your passwords.
Try following some of these suggestions, and help make sure that only you can say who you are online!
Posted in Community, News commentary, Technology overview | No Comments »
March 13th, 2011 by bigjim
The recent tragic earthquake in Christchurch provided many unfortunate opportunities for social media to shrug off the somewhat unfair stereotype of only being useful for people sharing inane information with nobody in particular. On that terrible Tuesday, and the days and weeks following it, Twitter and Facebook in particular moved into a different level of awareness in New Zealand.
In the hours after the quake struck, the first place many people outside of Christchurch turned to see if their friends and family in the garden city were okay was Facebook. This was because people around the country were able to turn to the social network to update hundreds of people at a time as to their status and location. The updates soon became focused more on supporting and caring for each other, however, and continue to show the country connecting as one community affected by this tragedy.
After the quake, as the need for information started to hit fever pitch, Twitter was flooded with second-by-second updates from around New Zealand and the world: everything from enquiries as to the whereabouts of loved ones, to rallying calls to encourage people to donate money to the rescue effort, to news and emergency announcements. The site and its users has become such a valuable window into the collective consciousness of the country, that mainstream news radio and television stations supplementing their official updates with tweets has become commonplace!
I hope that initiatives such as the Library of Congress’ attempts to archive social media content continue, because I would like my children to be able to look back on that day and see the digital evidence of a country united behind helping, supporting and caring for our community, using whatever technologies were available to us. A proud moment arising from a very terrible one.
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