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You Need a Password Manager

Another day, another security breach.

It wasn’t even hackers this time, just the gang at Facebook who can’t shoot straight.

Update: 4/4/2019. It just keeps getting worse.

You Need a Password Manager

Facebook exposed your FB and IG passwords to its 20,000 employees. You need to change both, now.

But this is just one example of a much larger problem. Both consumers and providers are subject to hacks and leaks, and they happen all the time.

It’s likely that at least one of your accounts has been compromised at some point. Don’t believe me? Check here.

The problem isn’t going away, so you need to take responsibility for holding up your end. Unfortunately, you probably suck at security.

How many of the following are you guilty of?

  • Reusing passwords.
  • Using simple passwords – yourfavoritenoun76, qwerty14, my$t3r10u$.
  • Writing down passwords, or storing them in a text file.
  • Not using multi-factor authentication (MFA) where available.

Passwords are both an annoyance and prone to hacking. But despite advances in and wider availability of various biometric protocols, we’re stuck with passwords for the foreseeable future and we need to do better.

 


What you can do

Use MFA/2FA where you can. It’s not perfect, but you’d be a fool to have any meaningful data behind a login without it.

Use complex passwords, 16+ characters where you can. Complex phrases are at least as good as a long string of random charters.

And since you probably have 100+ accounts, you need a password manager (PM).

(Chrome now does a nice job of recommending and saving passwords, but you still need a password manager.)

 

If you know how PMs work and aren’t using one…shame.

If you don’t know how they work, let’s review the basics.

A password manager helps you to generate, store, and retrieve passwords.

Thus, your accounts are more secure, you’re less likely to be hacked, your information is protected, and your life is better.

 


Which password manager?

Doesn’t matter.

Why not?

Because adopting any of the decent ones and using it the right way will be massively better than whatever else you’re doing today.

 

Personally, I’ve been using 1Password for years and it’s been great. But I chose it at a time when I could “own it” for about $30. Naturally, it’s offered on a subscription basis today.

If I were starting into a new one, I’d give LastPass a go. There’s a free tier and it offers a 30-day test of the premium version.

 

Secure your accounts. Start today.

Stay safe out there.

Momo Challenge – Be Smarter

Only you can stop viral hoaxes

Last week, I was warned by the school principal about the dangers of the “Momo Challenge”. It had not been reported by reputable news outlets and had already been debunked by some. Still, schools, police departments, and well-meaning adults worldwide were sucked into the fake news vortex and shared their fears with their friends online.

Context:

Yes, parents must monitor their kids’ online activities. Yes, an image of this very sculpture appeared in an otherwise benign Minecraft video, triggering several nights of bedtime fears right here at home. Yes, there are many ways kids can get themselves in trouble through what they share and whom they engage with, online.

But the Momo Challenge, clearly defined as violence and self-harm inspired by this character who was alleged to have infiltrated WhatsApp, YouTube, etc, is a hoax. Full stop.

 

These fears began last fall when images of the sculpture by the Japanese artist Keisuke Aiso began circulating online. The hoax gained much more momentum earlier this month.

The ‘Momo Challenge’: A sinister threat to young people or an urban myth?

 

Hoaxes like this exist only to the degree we give them life, so why was it so successful?

Fear.

We often fear things we don’t understand. For many well-intentioned adults, social media, and particularly WhatsApp, is a black box.

Media illiteracy.

Smaller news organizations, desperate for eyeballs, often lead with blood and fear. Many people read only the headlines. They then share foolish stories, uncritically.

Media literacy has never been more important. The success of fringe media and comments sections everywhere prove its non-existence.

Kids, and the virtue signaling mob that surrounds them.

We all want them protected, of course. But what sets this hoax apart from some others is the opportunity to virtue signal.

While Tide Pods were eaten, and condoms being snorted, by, per the urban myth, large numbers of teens, this one was coming for your elementary school children. Alerting your friends to this scourge makes you better than everyone else, a better parent. Schools sharing this demonstrably fake news must have made administrators feel better.

Worse still, many defended the decision to spread this misinformation, even after the hoax was debunked. Parents pivoted to the broader risks social media and communications platforms can present. While true, this obfuscates the point of the matter at hand. Our Superintendent defended the department’s sharing of it by suggesting it was best to “err on the side of caution.” That’s too low a standard for me. We must seek the truth before we can assess risks and how to mitigate them.

 

How we can do better.

Social media is full of scams and hoaxes. Some are benign “free vacation” offers seeking likes, followers, and your data. Trust me – you’re not going to win a Disney vacation by liking and sharing, not even if you type “done”. Fake news hoaxes, as has been well-documented in recent years, are widespread and pernicious. They don’t point to specific harms, but they are meant to inflame and divide.

We can do better. Thinking persons must do their part.

  1. Don’t spread misinformation. Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re not the problem. Still, use Google or Snopes for a quick fact check before you share.
  2. Fight fear and misinformation with cold hard facts.

Here’s an excellent take on this topic: Don’t fall for it: a parent’s guide to protecting your kids from online hoaxes

 

You and your kids have never been safer. Take a breath and check the facts. Let’s do better next time.

 

Latest: ‘Momo Challenge’ Sculpture Has Been Destroyed

Mark Zuckerberg, Global Editor-in-Chief

 

Mark Zuckerberg, Global Editor-in-Chief

Not a hot take:  Facebook is a media company

 

Not just a “social” media company. Simply put, they’re the world’s biggest media company.

What about Google?  Not a media company.

But Google Plus?  Irrelevant.  Google News?  Curated differently, and far less — professional media only, promoted based on preferences and relevance.

 

So why Facebook?  Curation.

The day Facebook started curating our feeds is the day it became a media company. I’m not complaining or even suggesting there’s an alternative. Whatever the underlying exact metrics that govern our feeds, they are critical to our use of the platform and FB would be a noisy shit-show without these smart, useful measures.

The fact that these decisions are being made by computers and on the fly doesn’t absolve Facebook of editorial responsibility. The algorithms report to the engineers and the engineers to Mark. So now, as has been the case for a while but was forcefully exposed this fall, he’s got significant editorial responsibility.

Facebook stands alone in its reach, relevance, and responsibility. Mark Zuckerberg is now the world’s Editor-in-Chief.

Think that’s hyperbole? Not with 1.8B MAUs. Not with a market cap over $300B. And not when you’re the founding CEO who is the face of and wield significant shareholder voting control over, the company.

This isn’t simply about fake news, or silos, confirmation bias bubbles and the like. It’s much bigger than what’s trending, how, and why. As the world’s preeminent news organization, Facebook is going to have to figure out all of this and more.

This is a huge, complicated problem. Balancing their business objectives and this enormous responsibility will be difficult, but it’s in their interest, and their customers’ interests, to make the necessary investments in this area. Fortunately, they have billions in cash and many smart people on the team.

 

So Mark — years ago, you probably did imagine yourself in Bill Gates’ shoes. You’ve done that. Awesome. Congrats. Now welcome to a whole new level of responsibility you may never have considered.

Best of luck. The fourth estate may depend on it.