Pssst…. what’s your password?


“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.

Frozen eggs really the answer to diversity?

frozen dollIt appears that corporate giants Apple and Facebook are now offering to pay for women to have their eggs frozen so that they can delay having children, giving them a chance to advance further up the career ladder before reproduction interferes.

I appreciate the issues of when, how and whether a couple can have children are complex. I’m also not qualified to know what the success of such an intervention might be – though I’m not concerned about using medicine and technology to alter the odds. It’s the overlap between employer expectation and individual freedom that seems worth challenging. We, that’s society, that’s us, should be asking if this is really the best way to encourage women to stick with a career and industry.

Encouraging diversity isn’t meant to entail encouraging women to be more like men because their reproduction window has been extended. Diversity is about embracing differences; extending opportunities for corporate growth; overcoming social, cultural and gender inequality; and being mindful of finite natural resources. A solution that tries to intervene at gender/age is bonkers. Suggesting that women can have jam (babies?) tomorrow in return for advancement on the greasy bread of corporate life today isn’t a solution at all. Women and men are different – particularly when it comes to reproduction (duh! as Bart Simpson might say) and, I would suggest, it is these real, or potential, different life experiences which enrich us all.

Employees of a corporation work for that corporation. They are paid to do a task in order to create a profit which ultimately benefits the shareholders of the company. That’s the deal. It is good business for companies to encourage employees to be healthy in body and mind. An expensive gender specific intervention, however, may create additional obstacles to employing women.

People come in different shapes and sizes – and we are all subject to the laws of gravity and nature. It would be better for people, companies and nature if we could find a way to embrace the range of humanity, not try to subvert it.



Time to leave high school or college this summer? Time to get Linkedin!

linkedin_logo_11 (2)If you are a student leaving high school and most definitely if you are leaving college, it is time to get a Linkedin profile.  You might already have Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram or Deviantart, but Linkedin means business.  There are already 225 million members from every corner of the world – and the fastest growth is in student / college leavers so it is definitely the place to be seen now for Generation Y.

It’s really simple (and free!) to create a Profile – but I want to offer a few top tips to get you looking your best.  Start by making sure you have your sensible, grown-up, purposeful head on when filling in the profile. This works as an on-line resumé so you want it to be as timely, accurate and clear as any CV.  Linkedin uses text based searches so getting your language / jargon  spot-on is important: for example “Quite good at using the writing bits of Windows” probably won’t ever come up in a search compared to “Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite particularly Microsoft Word”. (Of course you can go back and correct and edit so don’t panic yourself into inertia).

You can, and should, join Linkedin Groups depending on your interests. Lots of schools and colleges have alumni groups and it makes sense to join them from the beginning. Groups can be a key way of keeping up with areas you are interested in and, by contributing to the discussions, you can begin to have your own input.  Presence: that’s what you can create and drive on LinkedIn.

Connections, however, are probably the most important feature of Linkedin. As the old adage has it, it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters. And Linkedin is a perfect forum for showing who you know – and for finding who knows someone that you’d like to know.

My super top-tip as term ends and people head off, is to commit to linking with your peers. Peer to peer links created now will begin by being cheering – you’re not Norman-no-mates, you have connections. As time passes and people’s working lives develop, the insights and opportunities those links offer will become invaluable. You won’t lose track of each other and amongst your generation are the next captains of industry, movers, shakers and money makers. Second super top-tip is to ask to connect to “grown-ups” who know about you and your career ambitions.

Finally, on the top-tip theme, do make sure you include a photo of yourself looking friendly, clean and employable. The photo helps people identify you – there are over 56,000 John Smiths already on Linkedin and you wouldn’t want to get the wrong one!

To start any youngster off: if you read my Blog, like the Real Life Skills Facebook page and send me a short email telling me your job and career plans, I’ll connect with you because I know that you have any eye on the future