Encrypting Files, Volumes, and your Entire Computer: TrueCrypt

Encrypting Files, Volumes, and your Entire Computer: TrueCrypt

The need for protection of our files and personal computers (PC) against unwanted intruders is increasing at an alarming rate every day. Luckily there are free open source software programs such as TrueCrypt that allows for file encryption, and even for entire disks and volumes of information on your computer system. With this innovative software, huge chunks of documents, applications, and programs can easily be hidden from view. Users can even encrypt their entire operating system.

*** TrueCrypt discontinued in 2014. Here are some free alternatives.

Choosing a nondescript WiFi name (SSIDs)

Choosing a nondescript WiFi name (SSIDs)

Many people proudly proclaim to the electronic world their WiFi network name as the name of their business or family name.

This makes sense if you are Starbucks or McDonalds and you are offering free public WiFi access.

However, I think it is a mistake to be doing this if you don’t have a good reason other than not knowing what else to choose. It would be better to not attract attention to your network with a name such as Banana or Gone Fishing.

One of the best SSID’s I have seen was “Surveillance Van”. Definitely got a good chuckle out of that one.

Unfortunately Wireless technologies are generally insecure and these signals go well beyond the physical boundries of your walls. Someone could be sitting in a surveillance van across the street connected to your network.

Another mistake I commonly see is that WiFi passwords never get changed. Employees come and go but they still have access to connect to the corporate network.

Now go be creative and change the name of your Wireless network.

Opening your Passport can Lead to Identity Theft

Opening your Passport can Lead to Identity Theft

Over 100 countries in the world use e-passports. The US has for a number of years. Canada is just coming on board as one of the last G8 nations to do so.

ePassports contain embedded computer chips. More specifically an RFID chip (Radio Frequency Identification). These chips can contain information such as name, date of birth, gender, and digital photograph. They can also contain biometric information such as iris scans and fingerprints.

Simply opening up your passport and being in the vicinity of an RFID reader opens you up to the possibility of having your information scanned.

Unfortunately passports need to be frequently taken out and opened when traveling for customs, hotels, car rentals, etc.

It is recommended that you store these new passports in a special sleeve to block RFID signals.

Many other cards now being issued contain RFID chips, example Nexus.

Do you agree with storing personal information in RFID chips?

4-Digit Codes

4-Digit Codes

It is unfortunate that many organizations have instituted basic 4-digit codes to be used for a variety of security applications:

  • bank and credit card pins
  • luggage tags
  • garage door opener
  • home keyless locks
  • safes
  • briefcases
  • padlocks

Almost everyone uses some form of their birthdate, combination of their birthdate (month, year), or other family members.

Interesting I read recently that the top ten 4 digit codes are:

  1. 1234
  2. 0000
  3. 2500
  4. 1111
  5. 5555
  6. 5683
  7. 0852
  8. 2222
  9. 1998

It is estimated that the above 10 codes represent 15% of all user codes being used. Even worse is that once you know someone’s user code, they tend to use it everywhere, even for email accounts and computer passwords.

Certainly 4-digit codes have limited variations, but if you must use only 4-digits, please try and make the deterent a bit more difficult to overcome. Shake things up and use different codes in different places. And most of all, don’t be part of the 15%!

Are you guilty as well?