News for November 17-21 2014

 

Mozilla Enters 5-year Partnership with Search Provider Yahoo Makers of the Firefox browser have dropped Google as their default search page in favor of Yahoo. Yahoo is also stepping up its game with a new streamlined user interface, available Firefox users first then rolling out to all users early next year. Read More >> Facebook […]

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News for November 17-21 2014

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Powerful USB chargers

 

If you’re a geek like me, there’s probably a bank or cluster of micro USB chargers somewhere in your house for recharging phones, tablets, Kindles, headphones, etc. Lately I’ve been playing with a couple USB chargers that I really like.

One is a USB charger with 3.5 amp (!) output. Just for context, a typical micro USB charger might be one amp. So this adapter has the potential to charge USB devices much faster than a conventional charger.

The other USB charger is 4A, but with dual micro USB plugs. So each micro USB plug puts out 2 amps–which is still quite a lot. I especially like this charger because it only takes one power outlet, but provides two very capable outputs.

If you haven’t levelled up your USB chargers recently, it might be time to take a fresh look. Or this could be a good gift or stocking stuffer for any geeks on your holiday shopping list.

Come to think of it, what other geek gifts would you recommend?

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Improving your account security

 

Every year or so, it’s worthwhile doing an audit of your online security. The most important accounts to protect are your bank accounts and your email accounts. Here are some things to consider doing:

– Choose strong passwords. Just as important: don’t re-use the same password across web services.

– Add two-factor authentication to your important accounts. Certainly your Gmail account, but also your Twitter account, domain registrar, etc.

– Put a PIN or unlock code on whichever phone has Google Authenticator or would receive two-factor SMS texts. Consider enrolling your phone in Find my iPhone or Android Device Manager.

– Let’s get specific on your Gmail/Google account now. Click into your account’s security settings. For Google, print out backup codes for your 2-step verification and put them somewhere safe. Add a recovery email account and phone number to your account. Check to make sure that everything looks locked down tight, e.g. no app passwords that you don’t remember.

– Make sure you put a PIN on your phone number or cell phone voicemail. Why? If Google or another service leaves a recovery code in your voicemail, you don’t want hackers to access your voicemail easily by spoofing caller ID.

– In Gmail, check for any unexplained filters or forwarding rules where a hacker could be forwarding your email to a different email address.

Advanced techniques

If you’re a CEO, high-profile individual, or at much greater risk of being hacked, consider these additional steps:
– If you already enabled two-factor authentication, consider getting a Security Key. Why? Because a Security Key should stop almost all phishing, even extremely targeted “spearfishing.” Security Keys are still new, but the protection they provide against phishing is extremely good.

– You might actually want to remove your phone number from Google or other account recovery systems. Why? Humans and customer service are usually the weakest link in a security system. Hackers may use social engineering to convince your cell phone provider to add a forwarding number, then attempt to hack your account by sending a recovery code to your phone number and listening on new/additional number.

To be clear, the vast majority of users will be more protected by adding a recovery phone number to their account. I would only remove the recovery phone number if 1) you are tech-savvy and 2) you believe that someone is likely to attempt to hack or stalk you.

Those are my major tips. What am I forgetting, or what advice would you give to protect your online accounts?

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One-Click Professional Certifications Now Live on LinkedIn

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Twitter Users Can Now Share a Tweet Through Direct Message

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