Archive for the ‘online security’ Category


The Basics of the Digital Currency Bitcoin

Monday, April 1st, 2013

This past Thursday The Verge announced that the total value of the digital currency Bitcoin had surpassed $1 billion.

This news no doubt sparked a variety of reactions from “I wish I would’ve invested when it was $13 two and a half months ago” to “what is a digital currency?”

Bitcoin Surpasses Banks

Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency. In other words, it’s a currency that circumvents banks, governments and financial institutions by operating peer-to-peer. The thinking is that by surpassing banks, fees will be less and more control gained by Bitcoin users.

Bitcoin opponents cite hacking attempts as a vulnerability to the digital currency, while proponents see Bitcoin as more secure than traditional monetary systems because users have more control.

Where Can I Use Bitcoins?

After downloading the Bitcoin software and creatiting a digital wallet, Bitcoins may be purchased and used in several different platforms.

 +Use to convert Bitcoins into gift cards from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. 

+ Receive purchase codes for services like XBoxLive and  PSN instantly online at

+Buy music, ebooks, wallpapers and other downloadable content at CoinDL!

Users can also use sites like to search for local users who want to buy or sell Bitcoins with cash.

It Bitcoin a Safe Investment?

Seeing the currency rise so dramatically over the past few months may tempt would-be investors to purchase Bitcoins. Yet, on March 19, The Economist made this statement:

Online interest in the currency has spiked in recent months. Though an increasing number of legitimate businesses are adopting the currency—one Finnish software developer has offered to pay its employees in Bitcoin—it still has relatively few users. Its primary commercial use is probably to buy drugs from Silk Road, a sort of pirate eBay hidden in the “deep web”. This suggests that the new users are buying Bitcoin as an investment, not as a means of exchange. For any currency to thrive it needs users, not just speculators.

 Question: What do you think about Bitcoins? Will the be a passing fad or is it the next big thing?




Four Ways to Keep Your Passwords Secure

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Technology Cafe dubbed 2012 “The Year of Password Theft.”

+In 2012, password theft increased a whopping 300%.

+Cybercrime cost users $20.7 billion in the United States alone.

+Yahoo and LinkedIn experienced severe security breaches, affecting millions of registered users.

Ouch. What’s to be done?

The List

Make sure your password is not on this list, compiled by self-proclaimed password expert Mark Burnett. The top fifeteen offenders (and no, they’re not case-sensitive) are…

1. password

2. 123456

3. 12345678

4. 1234

5. qwerty

6. dragon

7. (to keep this site G-rated, we’ll leave #7 blank)

8. baseball

9. football

10. letmein

11. monkey

12. (another G-rated deletion)

13. abc123

14. mustang

15. michael

If you’re on this list, or the other 10,000 most common passwords found here, you’re ripe for a new password.

Basic Password Tips

1. Make Secure Passwords

A secure password is a password which contains a variety of letters, numbers, and sometimes symbols and is longer than eight characters. Why don’t most people use secure passwords? They’re difficult to remember. Exactly.

Good: gW92Rtp!pTw9

Not-so-good: see the list above

2. Change Your Passwords Frequently

If you’ve been using the same passwords for years, it’s time for a change. To help you out, check out Should I Change My Password. They “comb the depths of the internet to find email and password data sets that have been hacked, leaked or compromised.”

You can also sign up for their e-alerts list to be notified of any breaches in security.

3. Use a Password Manager

While there are many password managers available, one that has been around for awhile is eWallet.

Rick Broida of CNET says that “the wrong thing to do is stick all this data in a note or memo, where it’s difficult to organize and easy for an phone thief to find. The right thing: install a password manager, one that syncs with your PC so you can access your passwords just as easily there as you can on the go.”

Broida advises that eWallet is “a bit pricey at $9.99 (not including $19.99 for the Windows desktop companion), but the latest version includes built-in iCloud support, meaning it can automatically back up your password database and share it with any other iDevices you own.”

Even if eWallet isn’t your choice, using a password manager is a safer choice that the sticky note or  the “e-mail-to-yourself-of-all-your-passwords” method.

4. Stop the Same-Password-Madness

Perhaps this last tip goes without saying, but if you’re using the same password for all of your social media sites, shopping sites and other applications that require login information, you’re at risk.

Each password should be unique. For that reason, it might be wise to invest in a password manager as mentioned above.

 Question: What are your tips for keeping your accounts safe?