Earn, save and protect your money

Archive for March, 2013

How to Protect Your Digital Legacy

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

We discussed about keeping your passwords strong and safe few days ago. It’s great that you choose a strong password and keep it secret. What if you suddenly depart this world and your loved ones do not know the passwords to your bank or stock accounts? Wall Street Journal published an article about this two years ago. You can find that here. If you can, follow the details in that article. Or share your passwords with your spouse or someone who is really really close to you. If you do share your passwords with others, do not just write down all the details in one sheet of paper. Write at least two sheets of paper. In one sheet, write down the usernames of the financial accounts. In another sheet, write down the passwords. Then, keep the papers in separate rooms. Ok, here is the important stuff. When you write down the passwords, do not write the entire thing. Keep it little cryptic and let the person you share with know how to decrypt it.

Let me give an example. If the password is “ILoveYouJane4Life1999”, write down the password as “ILoveYouJJJJ4LifeWEDDINGYEAR” and let your spouse/friend know the meaning of JJJJ and WEDDINGYEAR. You can play around with this basic idea. Come up with some words/phrases/numbers that are important for both you and the person sharing the password. Stick with pen and paper. Do not write down your plain text passwords in a document in your computer!

Unsafe Passwords

If you are bi-lingual, you can add more spice to your cryptic passwords. Sprinkle other language phrases in your cryptic password and let your spouse/friend knows about that too. I am assuming that your spouse/friend knows that language as well. For example, if you and your spouse knows Hindi, your cryptic password will be “IPyarYouJJJJ4LifeWEDDINGYEAR”. If someone breaks into your house and manage to steal both sheets of secret papers, that guy needs to know a lot before he can crack your secret code. Finally… remember to update your papers when you change your passwords for your online accounts.

If you are tech savvy, try tools like Password Safe and share just the master password with your spouse. I would personally stick with pen and paper rather than using Password Safe tool unless I have dozens of bank accounts! Password Safe tool recommends you to copy/paste the username and password from its database to web form. If someone is recording your keystrokes, you are out of luck. I prefer On-Screen keyboard that comes with most operating systems and anti-virus software products to enter the password in the online forms.

Whew… It seems to me that simplest thing would be to get rid of all online accounts!

Low cost internet access

Friday, March 8th, 2013

If you want cheaper or free internet access, check out FreedomPop. It is offering 1 GB/month free of charge to any user who signs up for service. There is a catch though… you need to buy FreedomPop’s $89 home WiMAX router. Not too bad, because it’s a one-time charge. If you want higher data plan like 10GB per month, it would cost $10 per month. “Freemium” is the new marketing mantra. Companies give you something for free and try to influence you to buy more stuff from them. FreedomPop hopes that free users would eventually convert to paid users.

If you watch Netflix at home, you will be better off sticking with your local provider. FreedomPop is only for the users who use Internet only for casual browsing and emails. For heavy users, 1GB data plan won’t last even a day.

Change your password and change it often

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

In the last 5 weeks, almost all major websites were hacked. Facebook and Apple included. There are serious attempts to hack into all leading banks in USA and other parts of the world. If you have online banking accounts, it’s wise to change your password every month. If you live in a country where you don’t have legal protection if your online banking account is compromised, you should seriously think about disabling online banking access. No kidding.

Security company Mandiant identified the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai-based Unit 61398 as the most likely driving force behind the recent hack attacks. In response to this allegation, China claims cyber attacks on its defense units originate from U.S. What the hell?!

This crap is not going to stop in the near future. If you stop using internet and emails, you may not need to deal with the spams and hackers. If your job or business or social life demands you to use internet, there is no escape. People like me deal with the spammers and hackers on day to day basis. One of the leading banks sent me email few weeks ago stating that someone used wrong password three times to log in to my account. So, the bank asked me to follow a link to reset my password. I think “someone using wrong password” is the drama staged by the bank. Their system was probably compromised and they were trying to save their face. Some companies like Evernote is very upfront and acknowledge the security breach.

It’s better to play it safe. Assume that the websites you frequently visit can be hacked. Be paranoid and change your password. When you change your password do not keep as “test1234”, “temp999” or “<yourname>123”. Keep your password really strong.

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