Alison R Reed (also writing as Marianna Bell and Michael N Allison)

February 2012

Staying Safe on Line

Email Accounts

Keeping in touch with friends and family by email is quick and easy, but isn’t it frustrating when you have to change your address because it has been compromised?  When this happens, you have to contact everyone you know and you can guarantee that there will always be someone who doesn’t get round to saving your new details and you’ll only find this out months later!  A simple way to help protect your privacy is to keep a specific email address for friends, family and trusted contacts, and to have a separate one which you give out to companies and use for occasional enquiries.  Setting up a second address is very easy and of course, if you have problems, you can easily close it down.  There are such things as Disposable Email Addresses i.e. email addresses which are designed for one time use only, but as yet I can’t comment on how effective they are.

Passwords

When setting up email addresses and passwords, try to add unexpected characters such as _ # $ and @ as well as upper case characters and numbers.  It is also a good idea not to use the same password for all your accounts – I know it’s a pain having to remember so many passwords, but I have found a method that might help you.  Lifehacker (website address below) suggests starting off with several letters as a base code (don’t use family names or addresses), followed by a number and then something that will identify the site.  For example, my base code could be mnia which is based on a simple enough sentence: my name is Ali.  Of course you could use a different phrase, perhaps my dog is called rover (mdicr) or even my favourite town is Walsall (mftiw).  Some numbers should then follow this – I could use 47, which is from a previous telephone number, or 05, the house number of a friend.  

The first part of my password has now been created: mnia47, but I need to add something to identify the site.  On a book site I might use bks but a book title would be stronger – what about the title of a favourite book?  Treasure Island would give me ti but that’s a bit short so I could add the author’s initials tirls (R L Stevenson).  This gives me mnia47tirls but I can make it better by including some upper case characters – perhaps mniA47tiRls which is a pretty good Password.  On some accounts, this might be as far as you can go as they won’t accept other symbols.  This is a nuisance, but you’ll know straight away if your information isn’t right as you’ll get a comment to the effect that the Password is in an incorrect format.  However, if you get past this hurdle, you could add an underscore and change the s to $.  So now I have mniA_47tiRl$ which looks at first glance as something quite random and hard to remember but when you know the trick, it’s really quite easy!  Of course you can mix and match with your base code, numbers and clue and use them in a different order – perhaps 47_tiRl$mniA but now that you’ve got the idea, I’ll leave that up to your imagination… (and by the way – these AREN’T my real passwords!)

 Forwarding Emails

Do you ever receive emails that make you roar with laughter or coo at the cute kittens?  They’re the messages that you want to share with all your friends, but if you look carefully at them, you’ll often see stacks of email addresses from previous forwardings, so here’s a useful tip.  Keep yourself (and your friends and family) safe by deleting all the email addresses that are revealed at the top of the message when you hit the forward button.  Next, use the bcc (blind carbon copy) function to add your friends’ email addresses.  This is underneath the cc (carbon copy) function and means that you can forward the message to lots of people WITHOUT revealing their email addresses to anyone else – you shouldn’t even have to fill in the main ‘To’ box.  But make sure you ask the recipient to remove your email address from the message before they too hit the ‘send’ button.  That way, you won’t have your information floating around the internet just waiting for someone to receive a present of hundreds of viable email addresses – just think what they could do with that information!

Email scams/hoaxes to watch out for:

An email from Hotmail saying that apparently they are unable to verify your account details so you are requested to click on the link that they have provided…   Hotmail haven’t sent out any messages like this so don’t click on the link.

An email from American Airlines giving details of ‘your’ booking.  They show the flight number, airports, electronic number, date and time, arrival, total price and they also attach ‘your’ ticket.  To use ‘your’ ticket you should print it…  It goes without saying that you should delete this message without opening the attachment.

A message saying that you have won a lot of money in the UK Lottery Organization’s draw that was drawn in Malaysia – is there such a lottery?  Remember, if you haven’t bought a ticket then you won’t have won anything!

 

Useful Hint:

If you have trouble reading the text on your screen, pressing the Ctrl key while rolling the wheel on the TOP of your mouse will enlarge the print very quickly and easily.  Just press Ctrl and roll the mouse wheel the other way to return to the original size.

 

Scam info from snopes.com, latimes.com and hoax-slayer.com

http://lifehacker.com/184773/geek-to-live--choose-and-remember-great-passwords

http://www.comodo.tv/home-computing/how-to-set-up-a-strong-and-memorable-password/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength

 

Alison Reed