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Friday, April 25, 2014

What is encryption?

Since there has been so much news lately about the Heartbleed bug and other viruses I thought it would be a good time to talk a bit about encryption.

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Encryption is an important part of Internet Safety although it is something that you do not see or do anything about. It takes what you type on the computer (input) and puts it into a code so that while it is traveling over the wires no one can intercept it and steal that information. When your message arrives at the other end it is decrypted so that it can be read.

At this time most Banks, PayPal, and other Websites that involve money or information that needs to stay secure use strong encryption. It is also a major concern of Doctors and Hospitals as they put patient information online. 

Unlike most posts this does not end with something that you should do. Encryption is good to know about. It is automatically done at many sites.

Good security is an important part of doing business online. The good thing for us users is that the companies are possibly more concerned with safety than we are. They know that if they are unable to provide secure transmissions on their site they will lose customers. 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Password Management and the Heartbleed Bug

You may have heard of the Heartbleed Bug. Here is the article about it on Wikipedia

The Heartbleed Bug could allow a hacker to access all of your passwords. Experts in cryptography have called it catastrophic and rated it 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. Big companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are plugging that hole and taking care of the bug, but since the problem has been around so long (maybe 2 years) your password may already be compromised.

In order to avoid any problems you need to change your password on all of the sites that you use. That is an overwhelming thought. 


I looked into Password Management Software. This type of software is often called a vault because all of your passwords are stored behind one strong password which is the ONLY one you will need to use. The software automatically gets you into sites because it knows your passwords. NO ONE except you knows your Master Password. It is not stored on a server somewhere. Even the company does not know it so if you forget it you also lose all of your other passwords. 

I also decided to read about the safety of using this software. What if someone figures out my ONE difficult password?  Then they will have access to all of the others. The articles that I read said that this will not be an issue. Dealing with passwords this way is MUCH safer than using the same password for many sites. 


With Dashlane I first went to their site and downloaded the program to my computer. Next the program looked through my computer to find any passwords that were automatically saved in the computer. There were several. It automatically added them to the list. I tried out each one and found that some of them did not work or were for old things that I do not use anymore. 

It was easy to click on the gear icon and then delete these with the trashcan at the bottom of the window that popped up. 

On the other sites I followed the directions for "forgot my password" and then did what they said in order to reset my password. When I clicked on the space to put in my new password a window popped up and Dashlane offered to generate a strong password for me.
I clicked to indicate that a secure password should be generated and then I closed up the site and tried to access it again. It was great! Dashlane did everything and I was logged directly into the site!

It took a while and some trial and error, but now I am set up with Dashlane for several websites. Now each time I go to a different site where I need a password it will be generated and added to Dashlane!  I just have to remember the one difficult password that I start Dashlane with. It is not saved anywhere, so if I forget it I will loose all of my other passwords and need to start again! I am going to put it somewhere I will not lose it.

Here are several Password Managers to choose from:

Dashlane - So far I like this one. It was recommended on many sites.

LastPass - I think this one is the most common. It is very good and it is inexpensive to connect your accounts on your iPhone or iPad so that they all sync together.

Norton Identity

RoboForm Everywhere



Password Depot