August 06, 2012

Security Tip of the Week: BACK UP YOUR DATA

With all the news of hackers, crackers, viruses, worms, among all the monsters that hide under the bed... the one security tip that can not be stated too often or too loudly:


Back up your data!

I know there are people reading this who do back up, there are those reading who think, "yeah I should do that". And there are those who think... "well I'd like to, but who's going to pay for it?" And there are those who think we're all just paranoid losers.  Whatever.  I can only tell you, it's up to you to actually do it. 

First of all - go read this story.


Okay did you read it?  Do you see what I mean? The first line of defense against hacking is to back up your data.  In several places if possible.  

Apple and Amazon should have 2 factor authentication.  If google can implement such a thing, so can these guys.  But they don't have it and it doesn't look like it's coming soon.  Which means, if a hacker takes a liking to something you have or a company you do business with, you will be caught in the fall out to prove a point.  

So what to do.  

Let's start at the higher end.  If you can afford an online backup service, that's one backup type accounted for.  I use crashplan. I like them because you can get your first major upload of data to them via a hard drive.  Then you don't have to spend days, weeks, or months letting your stuff upload in the background.  You can also get your data returned in the same way.  They seem to be reliable and this is good. There are other plans out there, google to find them and certainly to read reviews! 

While that's a good option for some, it doesn't work for everyone for various reasons, so on to the next option.  Buy a couple of hard drives.  Yes, two of them.  Either clone your entire OS onto them, or get some backup software going (like time machine for mac or sync toy for windows) and backup the files you really want to keep.  

You wonder why I say 2 drives? Because you should have at least 2 backups and one should be out of your house (in a safe deposit box, with a family member or friend you trust) in case the house itself has a disaster, you can get most of your stuff back.  

Then we have the Cloud Storage type of places. This wouldn't be for full backups, it would be more in line with keeping copies of files you don't want to lose and/or want to access no matter where you are in the world.  Ars Technica gives you the details in this article.  You could open accounts at several of these places and have stuff stashed all around the web. Just make sure you remember where you put it.  Also, I would NOT recommend putting anything in any of them that is personal, private information.  No tax stuff, no banking stuff, don't do it!   These would be for stuff you don't want to lose, but is not private.  (Dropbox recently was hacked through an employee account - no matter how good you are about passwords, etc, it won't save you from hackers getting in the back end and getting at your data!)

Most of us though are concerned about our photos.  We have many many photos and we don't want to lose them.  This is where photo services come into play.  If you want to pay a provider, there are a number out there.  I prefer Smugmug because I like their management of photos stored on their site.  Flickr is about $25 a year for a pro account and is a yahoo company.  Free would be Picasa from google.  You have to keep an eye on where you store your photos (and maybe have them in a couple of places) in case the site disappears.  But your chances are better if you have your stuff in more than one spot (your computer or backup disk AND online too).  

I hope this gets you thinking of a backup strategy.  Being a blog post I didn't want to get too much into details of stuff, just point out what's there.   It's really sad to lose all your data, so try to fix things before it happens to you. 

*** yes I know I have "back up" and "backup" in this post but I'm too tired to go through and change it. heh.  If only spell check would decide it didn't like one of the spellings, life would be much easier.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 10:35 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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August 02, 2012

Outlook is the new Hotmail

So it looks like Microsoft has decided to ditch the Hotmail brand. 


I guess I'm rather surprised they stuck with it this long.  Hotmail does not have a good name among email clients going way back.  I think I had an account for a while about 10 years ago, but shut it down because I didn't like it.  

For anyone who was not aware the change was coming, it would be a shock to log in and have the page redirected.  (can we say - OMG I got a virus!!! anyone?).  No, not a virus.  Whew.  

It looks like new users won't be able to get a hotmail.com account, they'll be assigned an outlook.com account.  Not sure why anyone opening a new account would care about this. If they wanted a hotmail account specifically, I would think they'd have one already.  Current hotmail users can change to the new outlook.com if they want, sounds like it's optional. 

Although old users will be able to keep their current hotmail addresses, (so you won't have to tell everyone on your mail list that you have a new email and then worry half of them won't figure it out.  heh.)  I can see them making a force change in a few years to get rid of the old hotmail.com completely.  We'll see. 

As for the new domain, I foresee some problems with outlook.com.  I can see people who are not exactly tech savvy just adding outlook.com to everyone's name and mailing stuff out because the office they work in uses outlook... oh yes, I can so see this.  (Tech people prepare for the complaints!).  

It sounds like they are trying to give people the outlook experience on the web in hopes people will want to buy Outlook for their own machines. Or maybe it's all altruism... I don't know.  But if the tools work and you like them, it's all good. 

For anyone afraid they've lost their stuff - it should all still be there as the article explains.  I hope the less techy oriented hotmail users have enough tech savvy people around them to help them find it all.  

Only time will tell if this a change is useful, but as with all change, it will be painful for many.  In the meantime, Microsoft may end up improving the overall image of their email service.  We shall see. 

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 02:24 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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