Pssst…. what’s your password?

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“Okay, so my mate really, like, annoyed me so I, like, decided I would really, like, get back at her, so I, like, `borrowed` her Facebook page and, like, shared this picture I’d, like, taken with my phone of her, like, totally beefwazzled and wrote “Wot I really feel about 1D – gutted” and she was, like, really, really mad at me, but I was, like, LOL.”

Get the picture? Not quite “fraped” because the friend had logged in as someone else rather than using their opened page, but pretty sneaky. How do you do this? You simply know, or guess, the person’s Facebook password. And once you know their password the sky can be the limit.

So much on-line protection currently depends on a combination of user name and password that if you don’t exercise some caution you are leaving yourself vulnerable to a range of silly (`beefwazzled`?) and serious crimes.  Banks, government services, shopping, iTunes, games, utility bills – infact anything you “sign up” for and log in to will have password protection.

One of the most common ways of getting into password protected areas is using a technique called “social engineering”. That simply means asking the person (– sometimes in a sneaky way, for example the person that calls you on your phone and tells you there has been a breach of protocol at your bank so could you tell them your password so they can verify it -) and sometimes by simply reading the post-it note you have stuck to your computer screen reminding you of your password. Once they have one password – so understand a bit about how your mind works – it can be a fair bet that you will have used the same or similar passwords for other sites so the baddies can have a guess at the rest. Year after year the most popular passwords are “123456″ and “password”: and we are all creatures of habit.

You should never give another person your password – especially never if they have rung you up and asked for it. If someone rang and asked when the house would be empty because they fancied popping in to graffiti your walls and steal your jewellery you wouldn’t tell them – think of password security in the same way.

Of course remembering lots of different passwords isn’t easy – and thinking them up can be tedious too. Some handy hints include using your car licence plate number, or maybe your first ever car’s licence plate number. Another idea is to take a phrase you often use and combine the first letters, as in “I bloomin’ hate using bloomin’ computers” or “Ibhubc”, even better would be “Ibh!ubc!@6@”… and don’t use the same one for every account. Add in some numbers or punctuation to make it more complex. Having different passwords doesn’t necessarily provide total on-line protection, but it can be a step in the right direction.

Seeking would-be Tweeters…

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As part of a Masters Degree in computing I am doing a project on Twitter and older adults – what are the issues around getting started; do people prefer tablets, smartphones or pc’s; what topics really interest people; …and is it worth the effort anyway?!

I’m looking for people aged 65+ who would like to give Twitter a go but are not sure how to get started.  I am an experienced trainer and can explain what Twitter can do; what privacy issues to be aware of; who to follow; and how to send Tweets.

Depending on what suits best I can talk them through; meet them (need to be in Norwich) or send email support. All they need is an email account and access to smartphone or tablet or pc with internet. If you know someone who’d like to start Tweeting please send them my way – just email me for more information.

viv@reallifeskills.co.uk