Sunday, July 26, 2009

Taking a break

The Safe Life is going on hiatus while I concentrate on my home business of distributing greeting cards. I encourage you to join me on TheSenderofCards.com.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dog Attack




Photo: Tudor


In the US alone, nearly 5 million people are attacked by dogs every year, and 1,000 people go to emergency rooms every day as a result of a dog attack. Most dog's live up to the term "man's best friend." Others on the other hand, are dogs which belong to irresponsible owners who have neglected their dogs or who intentionally encourage aggressiveness can be truly dangerous. Even properly trained domestic pets can attack under certain conditions. Old dogs can be grouchy, females may be defensive about their litter, and others just do not fancy strangers and children. Some dogs might snap if subject to rough handling or play.

Dogs through millenniums of evolution are cunning, swift, agile, strong, territorial, and voracious predators despite domestication; even small ones have large, sharp teeth and claws and powerful muscles in their jaws and legs, and can inflict serious injuries. Large dogs can knock people down with the usual effects of falls from other causes.

If a dog does not have a connection to you as far as liking or respect or if the dog has been conditioned to be aggressive, or should you invade what the dog considers their territory, then the dog's natural predatory instincts will come out.

Warning Signs of Attack

Here is description of canine body postures.

  • Fear Aggression - a fear aggressive dog will have a tucked tail between it's legs, move stiffly, freeze still and have widely opened eyes.
  • Threat Aggression - this dog will growl, bark very much, raise their hackles (hair on back) to appear bigger, carry their tail low toward the ground diagonally or pointing it down vertically between it's lags. These are all signs of a very unsure and unconfident dog. Leave this dog alone as it will likely bite you if you go closer.
  • Extreme Fear & Threat Aggression - this dog will attempt to appear smaller by crouching down, tucking it's tail between it's legs while growling, snarling* and barking. These dogs are extremely unsure and unconfident of the situation. They very likely to bite, if confronted further. *Snarling is a dog scared stiff with their mouth closed while it growls and the dog may pull up it's lips, which makes a nose (snorting like) sound to the growling.
  • Moderate Fear & Threat Aggression - These dogs will also crouch down with barks and growling without any snarling. They aren't as unsure and unconfident as the one above, but they are still very dangerous to approach.
  • Low Fear and Low Aggression - A dog which is trying to appear bigger by raising their hackle (hair on back) to appear bigger, and carry their tail high (level with their body or higher) with a slow wag. These dogs will not likely be a threat toward people. They will only appear to be threatening toward people. They are confident and very educated about human behavior. They will usually bark continuously with a monotone bark, stand their ground and will attack only when they are provoked by a stranger who shows threatening behavior with anger and/or hitting the dog. The high tail is a sign that this dog has confidence. If your dog doesn't have a tail, you can only go by their constant bark with no growling.

How to Avoid an Attack

From Duhaime.org, here are some excellent suggestions to deter or defend a dog attack.

  • Avoid eye contact with an aggressive dog.
  • If you are jogging, stop jogging and walk by the dog, avoiding eye contact and sudden movement. Avoid the temptation to rebuke the owner of an aggressive dog for allowing their menacing and unleashed dog to remain in your direct path. Aggressive dogs are often a reflection of their owner's character. If you notice the aggressive dog unleashed again, contact the police with a good description of the dog, the owner and time of day. Try to remember the dog's name if it was called during your presence.
  • If the dog runs towards you exhibiting aggressive behaviour (growling or barking), stand your ground without sudden movement. Brace yourself and command the dog as if you were its owner: "No!" "Down!" "Sit!" "Stay!" Do this repeatedly. Do not raise your hands in a fight stance prematurely as this may antagonize the dog and you might lose your one chance at stopping the attacking dog through commands.
  • If the dog is small and presents no danger for your neck area you may want to try to kick it. A good blow to the nose or to the body will stop most small dogs.
  • If a large dog attacks, take a fight stance with one leg in front of the other to maximize balance and protect your inner body. If you are athletic, you may want to use your foot as a primary weapon. This response could mean jeopardizing your balance. Should you fall, you lose your height advantage to a dog.
  • A large dog may lunge for your throat. Protect this area of your body first and foremost with your arm tucked into your throat as far as you can without pulling back.
  • Punch the dog on the nose as hard as you can. Twist or pull the dog's ears. The dog's eyes are another soft spot which you should attack if required to defend yourself. Another strategy is to kick the dog in the rib cage. This will wind it and could stun it enough to ward off any more attacks. Yell for help. Yell "Call 911, I am being attacked by a dog."

Children and Dog Attacks

Normally children a child's first best friend is often the family pet. Yet we often forget that dogs are natural pack animals that obey certain rules and expect others around them to follow the same rules. We have to teach children to follow certain rules around dogs.

First rule for adults to remember is to properly supervise children around dogs. Unsupervised children are far more vulnerable to a fatal dog attack. From Safety Around Dogs the reasons for attacks against unsupervised children:

  • Dogs are much less likely to attack a child in the presence of an adult, particularly in the presence of the owner.
  • In the event that a dog does attack a child in the presence of an adult, the intervention of the adult often prevents the attack from becoming a fatality.
  • Children, because of their small size, are usually not able to sustain an attack until help arrives. Many adults survived severe dog attacks simply by virtue of the fact that they were able to sustain and fend the dogs off to some degree until assistance arrived.
  • Children often engage in dangerous behavior (approaching too close to a chained dog or trying to hug/kiss an unfamiliar animal) that a supervising adult would have prevented.

Go over these rules from doggone safe with your children.

  • Do not hug a dog, put your face close to his face or lie on him. Do sit beside your dog, rub his chest or scratch him on the side of the neck.
  • Do not play chase-me games with a dog. Do play hide and seek - where the dog has to find you or an object that you hide.
  • Do not play tug-of-war games with a dog. Do play fetch with the dog - teach the dog to trade the object for a treat so he won't try to tug.
  • Do not lean over or step over a dog. Do respect a dog's resting place - go around him or ask an adult to move the dog.
  • Do not bother a dog who is sleeping, eating, has a toy or bone, is hurt or has puppies. Do wait for the dog to come to you for attention.
  • Do not dress a dog up in play clothes. Do dress up your stuffed animals.
  • Do not hit a dog or poke him with a stick. Do be gentle with dogs.
  • Do not pull a dog's ears, tail or fur. Do scratch the dog's chest or the side of her neck - most dogs enjoy this.
  • Do not stick fingers or hands into the dog's crate. Do ask an adult to let the dog out of the crate if you want to pet her.
  • Do not play in the dog's crate. Do play "in and out of the crate" with the dog - toss a treat in - dog goes in to get it - dog comes back out - toss another treat in etc (with adult supervision).

Download the AKC Handbook about Safety Around Dogs. It offers games and discussion topics that you can go over together with your children.

Man's Best Friend

Dogs are truly man's best friend. By some estimates there are over 52 million dogs in the United States and the majority are loyal, loving pets owned by responsible, caring owners. However we still have to remember that dogs are animals that operate with a different set of rules than we do.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Carjacking





Photo: Hazel Mote




There was a high profile violent carjacking locally lately. The carjackers led the police on wild chase, with one being killed in the crash and the other escaping on foot. It seems that there are almost daily reports of cases across the nation of carjackings.

Carjacking is really nothing new. Since the automobile came into existence, there were people who forcibly took the vehicle away from its driver. I watched the new Dillinger movie yesterday and there was a scene of Baby Face Nelson taking a car away from a FBI agent. You can imagine, it didn’t go well for the agent. What we call carjacking became noticeable in the 1980s after the media published stories of bizarre situations and the violence associated with the crime. There were cases of infants in the carjacked vehicle or the driver was abducted and either raped and or killed. The media coined the phrase "carjacking" and the crime of auto theft was elevated to something almost, I hate to say more hip. With this publicity, other criminals "copied" the crime of carjacking. Another reason carjacking has become more widespread, is that it is harder to steal a parked car. With auto alarms, wheel locking systems such as “club” type devices, and engine starter disabler, it has become far easier to wait until someone opens the car up and take it from them.

The Scout

As in most other crimes, there are two parts to the event. First the criminal is scouting for a victim. He is going to look for an easy target. The criminal is going to look for a lone victim, the car will probably be in a parking lot with a lot of coming and goings so there are plenty of victims to choose from, the lot will have an exit on a busy street. Being near a freeway ramp is also a good location. Sometimes they will stake out an intersection with a stop light as to go for the car when it is at the red light.

How to avoid being chosen as a victim

Wear a seat belt – Besides being good safety practice that will save your life in an accident, a seat belt makes it hard to pull you out of the car. For a carjacking to go smoothly, they want to get you out and them in as quickly as possible. A carjacker will go for someone not wearing a belt over someone with a belt because it is less hassle.

Immediately Lock Your Doors When You Get In Your Car – Once again, their aim is to get you out and them in as quickly as possible. If your door is locked this will maybe cause them to go onto someone else.

Look around before You Put the Key into the Lock – Always have a sense of presence around you, especially in the before mentioned high risk areas. Don't park in isolated or visually obstructed areas near walls or heavy foliage. Make sure you can see around you when you park the car. If it is dark or will be dark when you return, make sure it is well lighted. If someone tries to approach, change direction or run to a busy store. As you enter the car, you are most vulnerable and that is when they will make their move. Watch out for young males loitering in the area (handing out flyers, etc). If there are people hanging around the area, go back to where you came from and ask for an escort.

Get In and Out of the Car Quickly - Make it your habit to always start your car and drive away immediately. Don't be a target by turning your back while loading packages into the car. Don’t rearrange the packages in car. Put them in and go. Children tend to take awhile to get into the car. You should teach and practice with them, getting into the car quickly.

Drive with a Sense of Presence - In the city, always drive with your car doors locked and windows rolled up. Do not open the door or roll down the window to talk to anyone. There is nothing important that someone coming up on the street is going to tell you. If it seems to be an honest emergency, only roll down the window two inches. When stopping at a light or a stop sign, leave yourself maneuver room. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see the back tires of the car in front of you. This will give you enough room to pull away. You might need to go over the curb, but given the choice of a violent carjacking and driving over some lawns you should choose the lawns.

The Attack

If you are unfortunately are chosen by a criminal as a victim and he attacks you, you need to remember that this is not usually a professional, high brow criminal. These are violent predators that will do what it takes to get what they want. Your car is not your life and you should make every effort to get away. Let them have the car.

How to Minimize the Attack

Throw Your Car Keys – Make them choose between you and the car. Most of the time, they are after the car and will take it and go. If they are after you, at least this gives you the knowledge of their true motives and can shape your defense from that point on. It is best not to throw the keys at the attacker. First, it gives them the keys relatively easily. Secondly, you could anger them and even if they were originally only after the car, they could become violent towards you.


Beware of a Bump in Traffic - If you are bumped in traffic, by young males, be suspicious of the accident. If there is an accident, wave to follow, drive to a gas station or busy place before getting out.

If your car and belongs are taken – Immediately cancel your credit cards. Do not go home alone. Have people (more than one) accompany you home. Change the locks before doing anything else. Sign up for an Identify Theft watch service. Most of the criminals who steal cars are tied into identity theft rings and your belongings will go instantly into the hopper.


If it starts to go bad, by this I mean if they look like they are taking you, you first need to try to get away. Don’t threaten or attack them. They typically do not work alone and will in most cases be able to overpower you. Never agree to be kidnapped. Drop the cars keys and run and yell, “Call 911, I’ve been carjacked.” If you are taken and are forced to drive, consider crashing your car near a busy intersection to attract attention. Try to get away at every opportunity. Let bystanders know what is happening so they can come to your aid and call the police. . Once you get away, yell “Call 911, I’ve been carjacked.”

Hopefully, this has made you more aware and you will see a potential scene before it becomes one. The important piece to take way is to be aware of your surroundings and go with your gut if it feels wrong.

As a final item, carjackings do not always end badly. Below is a clip of an attempted carjacking where the victim was able to get away and summon help. In this case, it did not go well for the carjackers.





Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Keep Your Child Safe

There is a child missing in the local area. She left a friend’s house around eight in the evening for a short walk home. The search has been going on for a few days. I hope that she will be found safe, but as each day passes, hope fades. My son is beyond the age of worrying whether he could be adducted, but my wife and I tried to make him as a safe as possible while he was growing up.

MissingChildren.com has some good steps for parents of younger children on keeping them safe:

· Know where your children are. Have your children tell you or ask permission before leaving the house and give them a time to check in or be home. When possible, have them leave a phone number of where they will be.

· Help children learn important phone numbers. Have your children practice reciting their home phone number and address, and your work and cell phone numbers. If they have trouble memorizing these, write them down on a card and have them carry it at all times. Tell your children where you will be and the best way to reach you.

· Set limits on where your children can go in your neighborhood. Do you want them crossing busy roads? Playing in alleys or abandoned buildings? Are there certain homes in your neighborhood that you don't want your children to go to?

· Get to know your children's friends. Meet their parents before letting your children to go to their home and keep a list of their phone numbers. If you can't meet their parents, call and talk to them. Ask what your children might do at their house and if they will be supervised.

· Choose a safe house in your neighborhood. Pick a neighbor's house where your children can go if they need help. Point out other places they can go for help, like stores, libraries, and police stations.

· Work together with your neighbors. Watch out for suspicious and unusual behavior in your neighborhood. Get to know your neighbors and their children so you can look out for one another.

The constant theme is to be involved in your child’s life, to know where they are at and take part in activities. Besides keeping them safer, it will pay dividends in the building your relationship with them.

If believe your child is missing, MissingChildren.com suggests these steps:

· If your child is missing from home, search the house checking closets, piles of laundry, in and under beds, inside old refrigerators—wherever a child may crawl or hide.

· If you still cannot find your child, immediately call your local law-enforcement agency.

· If your child disappears in a store, notify the store manager or security office. Then immediately call your local law-enforcement agency. Many stores have a Code Adam plan of action--if a child is missing in the store, employees immediately mobilize to look for the missing child.

· When you call law enforcement, provide your child's name, date of birth, height, weight, and any other unique identifiers such as eyeglasses and braces. Tell them when you noticed that your child was missing and what clothing he or she was wearing.

· Request that your child's name and identifying information be immediately entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person File.

· After you have reported your child missing to law enforcement, call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children toll free 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Warriors of the Net

Warriors of the Net is a Swedish group that creates educational material in form of animations and illustrations that explains technical or abstract concepts. They have some excellent movies on how the Internet works. It is easier if you download the clips to your computer and watch them from there.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Voice Mail Telephone Fraud



Photo: higetiger



The FCC tells of an ongoing scam can hit people who don’t change the default password on their voicemail boxes. Most people receive a voicemail box when they sign up for phone service. Many times people leave the default password on the box instead of changing it.

The hackers call into voicemail systems and search for boxes with the default password or easily guessed ones like 1-2-3-4. They then change the greeting to something like - “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, operator, I will accept the charges.” Then, they places a collect call to the number. When the (automated) operator (which is usually programmed to “listen for” key words and phrases like “yes” or “I will accept the charges”) hears the outgoing “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, operator, I will accept the charges” message, the collect call is connected.

The hacker then uses this connection for long periods of time to make international calls. Sometimes they take over the number completely and set up a forward to another number. This is usually targeted over weekends or holidays, when people don’t check their voicemails for long periods of time. Most of the calls go overseas and can rack up big charges.

To counter this:
To avoid falling prey to this scam, the FCC recommends voice mail users do the following:
· always change the default password from the one provided by the voice mail vendor;
· choose a complex voice mail password of at least six digits, making it more difficult for a hacker to detect;
· change your voice mail password frequently;
· don’t use obvious passwords such as an address, birth date, phone number, or repeating or successive numbers, i.e. 000000, 123456;
· check your recorded announcement regularly to ensure the greeting is indeed yours. Hackers tend to attack voice mailboxes at the start of weekends or holidays;
· consider blocking international calls, if possible; and
· consider disabling the remote notification, auto-attendant, call-forwarding, and out-paging capabilities of voice mail if these features are not used.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kids Flying Solo



Photo: Ma1974

Rick Seaney has some excellent tips for kids flying by themselves. The airlines call the kids UM for Unaccompanied Minors (usually considered ages 5-11 or 5-14). There has been a rash of children being put on the wrong flight and ending up in the wrong city. Both of the recent cases involved Continental and were caused mainly by the airlines using the same gate for two different flights.

As Rick states to reduce the risk of having the airlines “losing “your child is not to have him or her fly alone. By having a family member fly with the child you reduce the probability of a loss occurring to zero.

However, this is not possible all of the time so here are some tips from Rick’s site to reduce the chance of a loss.

1. Cell Phone: Give your child a cell phone. Practice with them on how to use it. Have all important numbers preprogrammed inside. Make sure they have a charger with them in their carry on bag.

2. Write a Note: Have them carry a note with their name, telephone number, destination and flight number. Have them show it (but not give it) to any airline employee who asks. Rick suggests pinning a note on the shirt of younger ones stating that they are flying to “Hartford.” While I think this is okay, do not put their name on their shirt. This could be used to lure them by a predator.

3. Ask THE Question: Train them to ask if this is their flight to “Harford” or wherever they are going. They should ask their escort, the person at the gate and the attendant once they get on the airplane.

4. Don’t Wander: Train your child when they disembark from the airplane, they should go to the gate agent and tell them who they expect to meet. Tell them not to wander from the gate without an escort.

5. Strategic seating: Request a seat close to the galley so flight attendants are always within view.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Snooping on Keyboards


While I don't consider a particular danger for the average person, I thought it might be interesting to see how powerful spy versus spy and business intelligence gathering capabilities are. Here is a study on detecting the electromagnetic waves that are emitted by wired and wireless keyboards.


They were able to retrieve keystrokes from keyboards up to 20 meters (sixty feet) away. They were even able to distinguish between different keyboards in the same room.


The reason I don't believe that the average person has much risk is due to the specialized nature of the equipment necessary. A national espionage organization or a large business concern definitely would have access to such equipment. One scenario that I could think of is a setting up in a hotel room next door to the intended target.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shred your Documents


It’s a good idea to shred any document that has your name or any other sensitive information on it. All the credit card applications that make it to my house go through the shredder before being thrown out. Simply ripping it in half is not good enough. Some credit card companies have accepted applications torn up and taped back together.

Invest in a decent machine. Cross cut shredders are far better than the cheap ones that only cut the paper into strips. It is possible to piece the long strips back together. Just ask the people from the US Embassy in Iran almost thirty years ago. I would also invest in a shredder stout enough to handle credit cards and CDs/DVDs. Office supply stores offer lubricating sheets that you run through every once in awhile to keep it in good working order.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TSA Going to More Stringent Name Requirements


As part of the Secure Flight program, travelers are now required to provide the name to the airlines that they will use while traveling. Before Secure Flight, airlines themselves were responsible for matching passenger information to the federal watch list. As Secure Flight is implemented, TSA will begin to assume responsibility for the security program. What this means is that when you purchase an airline ticket your name will be compared to the “No Fly” and “Selectee” lists, which are distilled from the FBI’s terrorist watch list.

Also when you present an ID at screening it needs to match the name on the ticket. There has been a lot of discussion on different websites as to what will constitute and not constitute a match. The general consensus is that the first and last names should be the same on both the IDs and the ticket, e.g James Doe on both, not Jim Doe and James Doe. Middle names shouldn’t matter according to TSA. I would not advise taking any chances with grumpy TSA screeners and make sure the ticket and ID match exactly.

The next part of Secure ID comes in August when domestic airlines will be required to collect (and passengers will be required to provide) date of birth and gender in addition to name. The idea behind this is to eliminate the six year olds from being identified as being on the terrorist watch lists.

The Transportation Security Blog has a good discussion of this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Schneier - The Psychology of Being Scammed

Schneier has a good article on the Psychology of Being Scammed. I come from the report "The psychology of scams: Provoking and committing errors of judgment" was prepared for the UK Office of Fair Trading by the University of Exeter School of Psychology. Schneier does a good analysis and points out some interesting aspects that it appears that victims tend to over analyze the scam and then hide their participation in the scam.

...it was striking how some scam victims kept their decision to respond private and avoided speaking about it with family members or friends. It was almost as if with some part of their minds, they knew that what they were doing was unwise, and they feared the confirmation of that that another person would have offered. Indeed to some extent they hide their response to the scam from their more rational selves.

...scam victims report that they put more cognitive effort into analysing scam content than non-victims. This contradicts the intuitive suggestion that people fall victim to scams because they invest too little cognitive energy in investigating their content, and thus overlook potential information that might betray the scam. This may, however, reflect the victim being 'drawn in' to the scam whilst non-victims include many people who discard scams without giving them a second glance.

This points to the fact that they intuitively know that something is wrong but disregard the prompting to stay away. This goes back to my theory that you need to trust your instincts. If you feel it isn’t a good deal or is even dangerous, stay away.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chain Letters and Hoaxes

I don't get particularly upset about spam email. I just delete it and move on. Chain letters and hoaxes can fall into this category. Lot's of times you also get them from well meaning people you know. These are dire warnings about devastating new viruses, Trojans, and malicious software. Often you get messages about free money, children in trouble, and other items designed to grab you and get you to forward the message to everyone you know. You have to be careful not to perpetuate a hoax, especially when that tells you to do something, especially something that might damage your computer.

Here are some tips from an old Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) website story that I had in my files.

How to Recognize a Hoax

Probably the first thing you should notice about a warning is the request to "send this to everyone you know" or some variant of that statement. This should raise a red flag that the warning is probably a hoax. No real warning message from a credible source will tell you to send this to everyone you know.

Next, look at what makes a successful hoax. There are two known factors that make a successful hoax, they are:

(1) technical sounding language.
(2) credibility by association.

If the warning uses the proper technical jargon, most individuals, including technologically savvy individuals, tend to believe the warning is real. For example, the Good Times hoax says that "...if the program is not stopped, the computer's processor will be placed in an nth-complexity infinite binary loop which can severely damage the processor...". The first time you read this, it sounds like it might be something real. With a little research, you find that there is no such thing as an nth-complexity infinite binary loop and that processors are designed to run loops for weeks at a time without damage.

When we say credibility by association we are referring to who sent the warning. If the janitor at a large technological organization sends a warning to someone outside of that organization, people on the outside tend to believe the warning because the company should know about those things. Even though the person sending the warning may not have a clue what he is talking about, the prestige of the company backs the warning, making it appear real. If a manager at the company sends the warning, the message is doubly backed by the company's and the manager's reputations.

Recognizing a Chain Letter

Chain letters and most hoax messages all have a similar pattern. From the older printed letters to the newer electronic kind, they all have three recognizable parts:
· A hook.
· A threat.
· A request.

The Hook

First, there is a hook, to catch your interest and get you to read the rest of the letter. Hooks used to be "Make Money Fast" or "Get Rich" or similar statements related to making money for little or no work. Electronic chain letters also use the "free money" type of hooks, but have added hooks like "Danger!" and "Virus Alert" or "A Little Girl Is Dying". These tie into our fear for the survival of our computers or into our sympathy for some poor unfortunate person.

The Threat

When you are hooked, you read on to the threat. Most threats used to warn you about the terrible things that will happen if you do not maintain the chain. However, others play on greed or sympathy to get you to pass the letter on. The threat often contains official or technical sounding language to get you to believe it is real.

The Request

Finally, the request. Some older chain letters ask you to mail a dollar to the top ten names on the letter and then pass it on. The electronic ones simply admonish you to "Distribute this letter to as many people as possible." They never mention clogging the Internet or the fact that the message is a fake, they only want you to pass it on to others.

Chain letters usually do not have the name and contact information of the original sender so it is impossible to check on its authenticity. Legitimate warnings and solicitations will always have complete contact information from the person sending the message and will often be signed with a cryptographic signature. Many of the newer chain letters do have a person's name and contact information but that person either does not really exist or does exist but does not have anything to do with the hoax message.

It is best not spread chain letters and hoaxes by sending copies to everyone you know. Sending a copy of a cute message to one or two friends is not a problem but sending an unconfirmed warning or plea to everyone you know with the request that they also send it to everyone they know simply adds to the clutter already filling mailboxes.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Street Smarts for Travelers


When traveling out of town and you don't know the area, you need to take extra precautions. Plan your routes out of your hotel to your destination. When going out, tell a friend where you're going and the approximate time you expect to return. Whenever possible, travel with a friend, or better still, with a group of friends.

Think about these items when out and about:

-If you think you are being followed, walk towards areas with other people and well lit areas.
-Trust your instincts. Get out of situations you don't feel comfortable in.
-Walk with confidence on the street and at a good, steady pace. Keep your head up and observe your surroundings, don't look down at the ground. Your attitude and posture repel trouble.

-Don't respond if someone calls out to you.
-Don't hesitate to join a grop of strangers is you feel threatened.
-Don't walk around with an Ipod or headphones on because it distracts you.
-Don't use ATMs at night.
-Don't enter public transportation, elevators, etc if the occupants don't look safe.

Have a plan of action. It is always best to try to think ahead of how to handle situations before you actually encounter them.

If someone threatens you, don't provoke them. Try to speak gently, but firmly, never weakly. Keep calm, don't show fear. Back away from trouble. Don't scream, it tends to make the situation worse. Try to carry a whistle or a personal siren. If you need help, yell "Call 911!" and then start to describe the situation and the attacker(s).

If you are being robbed, give them what they want and get away. Money or possessions are not worth your life.

Don't let anyone corner you. Flee to a crowded area. Only strike and flee as a last resort.

Most importantly, remember to trust your instincts. If it doesn't feel right, it isn't right. Get out of the situation and back into crowds of people. You can travel safely but keep your head about you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Seattle Times - Software targets password pickle

The Seattle Times has a good article on managing passwords. I particularily like their password tips:

1 Use at least seven or eight characters, with numbers, symbols and letters. Random arrangements are stronger than words you can find in the dictionary.


2 Think of a phrase or sentence that you'll remember but others won't know and then take the first letter of each word and substitute numbers or symbols for some of them. "My favorite jacket is at the cleaners" becomes MFJIATC or MFJ1@TC.


3 If you really want to use your dog's name, save it for news sites or accounts that don't contain sensitive information. Use a stronger password for more critical accounts or financial services.


4 If you store your passwords, use an encrypted file or password manager. Don't leave them on your hard drive in an open file labeled: "passwords.doc."

There is a good discussion on password managers available to include browser password managers, OpenID, information cards, CardSpace, and others. I happen to like an application called RoboForm. RoboForm manages passwords, identities, generates random passwords and quite a bit more. One key is to make sure that you do use a master password, otherwise all of your information is open if someone gets access to your computer.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Travel Safety


Travel should be a fun experience whether for business or for pleasure. Travelers are, however, sometimes victimized by crime and violence, or experience unexpected difficulties. Criminals, terrorists and the run of the mill thugs are all dangers when traveling. There are certain actions to take which can minimize your risk.

Appearance
- You want to look your best, but you don’t want to attract attention. Jewelry and flashy clothes attract criminals. Don’t wear provocative clothes, either sexually or with hot button political statements on them.

Jewelry – Stick with the weeding band. If you wear other rings, turn them band side up in risky areas. Wear inexpensive watches. The rule is to keep it simple.

Be inconspicuous - Don’t look like a tourist. Don’t flash cameras, maps, travel brochures.

Shoes – Wear comfortable shoes that you can run away in if needed.

Bags – Wear bags across your body so they can’t be yanked off your shoulder. Backpacks are better.

Don’t wear headphones – Be aware of your surroundings. Thieves look for distracted people.

Home address – Hide your address tags on your luggage. Use tags that require being taken off of the bags to be read. Thieves often will call accomplices in your home town to sack your house while you are away.

Laptops – Carry your laptop in a backpack. It is more inconspicuous and easier to carry meaning that you will have a harder time forgetting it somewhere.

Hotel Safety


Hotel Security Features - Look for magnetic cards, instead of keys. Keys are harder to control and usually have the room number on them. Refuse the room if it doesn’t have a phone, deadbolt, and window locks. Make sure everything is in working order.
Hotel Room Safety – Make your room always look occupied -Always put out the do not disturb sign, play the TV when away and never put out the maid service requested sign.

Hotel Personal Safety- When checking in, ask the bellhop to escort you to the room. Check the closets, under the bed and in the bath to make sure it is empty. If the bellhop is not available, prop the door open with your bag and check the room. When someone knocks on your door, be sure of their identity. Ask for a receipt under the door if room service or a delivery. Call the front desk if not sure.

Always remember; never feel foolish when asking for verification. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right. Trust your instincts.

The US Department of State has more good tips for when traveling abroad.


Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dangerous Web Search Words

ZDNet has an interesting article on words that are dangerous to search on. The top one is “screensavers.” By searching on this word, you have the greatest chance of stumbling on a malicious or fradulant website. “Lyrics” or anything with “free” in it is run a close second and third. The safest searches are associated with health related topics.

The idea behind the study is that blackhats (people intent on doing harm over the Internet) use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to direct their attacks on those most likely to either fall for fraud or open their computers up to exploitation. They will use current topics to direct traffic to their sites. For example, the swine flu epidemic triggered related key words to bring up sites preying on people worried about the pandemic.

As the article states, in reality there are thousands of malicious sites and even legitimate ones can be hijacked and carry harmful code. The best protection is to not wander around in the “dark reaches of the Internet” and keep your computer up to date with virus protection, anti malware and updates.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Webs from Connect Safely - Kate's Very Public Party

Connect Safely has a great series of eduational videos - The Webs. ConnectSafely is for parents, teens, educators, advocates - everyone engaged in and interested in the impact of the social Web. The videos discuss net safety in a fun, yet intelligent manner. I recommend them for the whole family.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

National Cyberspace Policy Review

President Obama released the nation’s new cyberspace policy review. This is the result of a sixty day review that call for a number of measures to improve computer security for both the government and private network. Obama said, "Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient." Obama said. "We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage."

Obama will create a cyber security coordinator "responsible for orchestrating and integrating all cyber security policies for the government; working closely with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure agency budgets reflect those priorities; and, in the event of major cyber incident or attack, coordinating our response." This is new from previous administrations. Prior “Cybersecurity Czars” were low on the access list to the President. This position should have "regular access" to the President, will be a member of the National Security Council, and will work with the federal CTO and CIO. In politics, importance and attention is given to those with regular access to the chief executive. This should raise the focus on information security at the highest levels.

From the Executive Summary:

· It is the fundamental responsibility of our government to address strategic vulnerabilities in cyberspace and ensure that the United States and the world realize the full potential of the information technology revolution.

· The Federal government has the responsibility to protect and defend the country, and all levels of government have the responsibility to ensure the safety and well­ being of citizens. The private sector, however, designs, builds, owns, and operates most of the digital infrastructures that support government and private users alike.

· The United States needs a comprehensive framework to ensure a coordinated response by the Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, the private sector, and international allies to significant incidents. Implementation of this framework will require developing reporting thresholds, adaptable response and recovery plans, and the necessary coordination, information sharing, and incident reporting mechanisms needed for those plans to succeed.


· The government, working with key stakeholders, should design an effective mechanism to achieve a true common operating picture that integrates information from the government and the private sector and serves as the basis for informed and prioritized vulnerability mitigation efforts and incident response decisions.

· The Nation’s approach to cyber security over the past 15 years has failed to keep pace with the threat.

Some basic analysis of the document is that the government is moving to more a leadership role as in the "coordinated response “term. In previous discussions terms such as "information sharing" and "public-private partnership" were used. The general consensus is that that the government needs to assist in improving industry's cyber security posture, by either legislation blocking liability, spending money improving infrastructure or forcing security standards on industry through regulation. Simple market economics won’t resolve our security problems, and it appears that Obama is open to use other means as necessary.

Bargaineering.com on F-Secure Internet Security 2009


Bargaineering.com has a very good review on F-Secure Internet Security 2009. The price is comparable with some of the bigger competitors. F-Secure costs $59.99 for 12 months and 3 computers. Norton Internet Security 2009 retails for $59.99. AVG, has a fantastic free antivirus product, also has an AVG Internet Security product that costs $54.99 for one computer for 12 months. The free version of AVG can be a bit of a hassle to set up and keep running.
Go over to the Bargaineering.com site. The review is very comprehensive and there is a product giveaway.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Medical Identity Theft

Eight or nine years ago, I used to pooh-pooh identity theft. It was very prevalent and the media tended to hype the story. They tended to call every instance of credit card fraud an act of identity theft.

I don’t pooh-pooh it anymore. It is a serious problem and can affect almost anyone. While the cases of pure credit card theft still occur, a lot of cases of identities being taken over and used for nefarious purposes are definitely increasing. One such manner is medical identity theft. The World Privacy Forum labels medical identity theft as occurring when someone uses a person's name and sometimes other parts of their identity -- such as insurance information -- without the person's knowledge or consent to obtain medical services or goods, or uses the person’s identity information to make false claims for medical services or goods.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that approximately 3,000 – 5,000 cases occur each year. Where this is especially distributing is that the people who have their identities stolen are most often seriously ill and in no place to fight back.

The World Privacy Forum states that is very important to find out about medical identity theft, because fraudsters who use your identity for medical care or services can introduce changes to your medical record that can be nearly impossible to undo. These changes can range from small things that do not pose a risk to you to substantial erroneous information that can pose a medical risk to you.

Discovering medical identity theft is not like discovering financial identity theft: it can be harder to detect medical identity theft, and sometimes you need to look in different places. For example, some people find out about medical identity theft when a debt collector sends a letter or calls. But others only find out after an insurance investigator alerts them to the problem, or after they notice errors in their medical file, or after they get a strange bill for medical services they did not receive.

Here are links to the World Privacy’s Forum page on how to prevent and fight back on medical identity Theft.

Closely monitor any "Explanation of Benefits" sent by an public or private health insurer
Pro-actively request a listing of benefits from your health insurers
Request a copy of current medical files from each health care provider
File a police report
Correct erroneous and false information in your file
Keep an eye on your credit report
Request an accounting of disclosures

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Protecting You and Your Spouse on the Internet

Harassment

• Always select a gender-neutral username for your e-mail address or for chat, etc. Do not pick something cute, such as misskitty@someisp.com or use your first name if it is obviously female. Since the majority of online victims are female, this is what harassers look for.
• Keep your primary e-mail address private. Use your primary e-mail address only for people you know and trust.
• Get a free e-mail account and use that for all of your other online activity and be sure to select a gender-neutral username. There are many free e-mail providers, such as Hotmail, Goggle, and Yahoo!.
• Do not fill out profiles. When you sign up for an e-mail account, whether it is through your Internet Service Provider (such as Comcast) or a free provider (such as Yahoo!), fill out as little information about yourself as possible. The same goes for personal profiles in Instant Messenger programs and chat rooms as well.
• Do block or ignore unwanted users. Whether you are in a chat room or using Instant Messenger, you should always use the block and ignore options available to you. It is always better to ignore an harasser than to confront them.
• Do not defend yourself. Yes, this is the most common reaction when someone begins harassing you online. Most people naturally want to defend themselves, but a reaction from you is just what the harasser wants. The perpetrator is searching for someone to harass, so do not fall for their bait. When you reply to them, you are letting them know that you are upset, which is exactly what they want. Even though it might seem difficult to do, ignore these perpetrators. When they realize that they are not bothering you, they will go on to the next chat room, newsgroup, etc and try to find another victim.
• Never give your password to anyone. Your Internet Service Provider will never ask you for your password.
• Never provide any identifying information(full name, address, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc)
• Be very cautious about putting pictures of yourself, your children, or anyone else you are close to.
DON'T
• Type anything online that you would not say to someone in person!
• Delete harassing messages, IM conversations, etc. Either print a copy or place them in a folder on your hard drive or disk. WHY?? This information can be helpful in finding the identity of your harasser (if unknown) & be evidence in a case (criminal or judicial).

Shopping Online


· Use a secure browser. This is the software you use to navigate the Internet. Your browser should comply with industry security standards, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). These standards scramble the purchase information you send over the Internet, helping to secure your transaction. Most computers come with a browser installed. You also can download some browsers for free over the Internet.
· Shop with companies you know. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. If you're not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper catalog or brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise and services. Also, determine the company's refund and return policies before you place your order. These should be posted on the company's Web site.
· Keep your password(s) private. Be creative when you establish a password, and never give it to anyone. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date, or a portion of your Social Security number. Instead, use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. Use a passphrase that has been described before. Don’t use the same one for all accounts.
· Pay by credit or charge card. If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, consumers have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them. In the event of unauthorized use of your credit or charge card, you are generally held liable only for the first $50 in charges. Some companies offer an online shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may provide additional warranty, return and/or purchase protection benefits.
· Keep a record. Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order and confirmation number for your records. Also, you should know that the federal Mail/Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers online orders. This means that unless states otherwise, merchandise must be delivered within 30 days; and if there are delays, the company must notify you.
· Pay your bills online. Some companies let you pay bills and check your account status online. Before you sign up for any service, evaluate how the company secures your financial and personal information. Many companies explain their security procedures on their Web site. If you don't see a security description, call or email the company and ask.

Privacy

· Keep your personal information private. Don't disclose personal information--such as your address, telephone number, Social Security number or email address--unless you know who's collecting the information, why they're collecting it and how they'll use it. If you have children, teach them to check with you before giving out personal --or family-- information online.
· Look for a company's online privacy policy. Many companies with privacy practices post their privacy policy on their Web site. This policy should disclose what information is being collected on the Web site and how that information is being used. Before you provide a company with personal information, check its privacy policy. If you can't find a policy, send an email or written message to the Web site to ask about its policy and request that it be posted on the site.
· Make choices. Many companies give you a choice on their Web site as to whether and how your personal information is used. These companies allow you to decline--or "opt-out" of--having personal information, such as your email address, used for marketing purposes or shared with other companies. Look for this choice as part of the company's privacy policy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Protecting Your Children on the Internet

Let’s talk about the risks to your children. We have to put these in context of the child’s age nd maturity level. I would encourage my son when he was younger to look at some of the political cartoons and commentary, but he was definitely not ready for some other types of material out there.

Exposure to Inappropriate Material

Normally when you think of inappropriate material you think of pornographic images. These definitely exist in abundance, but there is a lot of other stuff that is inappropriate depending on age and maturity level. It’s not all just photos. There is erotic written material, hate sites, radical religion, and violent images or ideas.

There are sites based on Japanese anime’ and have cool cartoon that attract kids. Just because you see your child just reading text, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check the material. On some hate sites, it might take a bit of digging before the real message comes through.

Physical Molestation


Predators do exist. They exist on the streets and on the Internet. The Internet makes it extremely convenient for them to screen out potential victims. They will seduce the victim chat, email and instant messaging. The predator will attempt to drive a wedge between the victim and their family, moving control to the predator. While not every mail your child receives is from a predator, you need to be aware of who your child is communicating with.

Harassment

There are mean people. Your child might stumble on one these during their web surfing. These people can say and do some very hurtful things. Your child needs to know that these people exist and how to keep their anonymity on the Internet.

Legal and Financial Exploitation

Children can be tricked into giving out information that can lead to identity theft or credit card abuse.
Also your child might engage in illegal activity. The courts have become more and more un accepting of such behavior. You or child might suffer civil or criminal fines or even jail time.

Danger Signs

· Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night.
· You find pornography on your child's computer.
· Your child receives phone calls from men you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize.
· Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don't know.
· Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
· Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.

How do I Protect my Children

The computer needs to have monitoring software on it and/or be in a room where the parents are most often. Otherwise this is negligence! I will keep harping on this. You need to talk to your child and supervise their activities. I know the last statement is a bit draconian. It is meant to get your attention and start some thought processes that might help your children. A good monitoring program is Spector. Spector provides screen shots of what the child is viewing a given point in time. You can set it for every five seconds and up. Content filtering is based on either web ratings or a commercial developed list of acceptable sites. Once again, you can set for the child’s age and maturity level.

Tips

· Place home computers in the family room or kitchen where the screen is in view of a parent for much of the time.
· Supervise! Supervise! Supervise!
· Do not allow children to use adult chat room and instant messaging services such as MSN Instant Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and IRC. Even "child-safe" versions of these services should only be used under parental supervision.
· Do not allow children to use inappropriate handles or ID's for email or chat forums. Anything ending in 69 (very commonly seen) or xxx_name_xxx, for example.
· Do not allow children to have email accounts on web-based free email services such as Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Netscape Mail, etc. Restrict email usage to conventional email accounts provided by your internet service provider.
· Teach children not to pass personal details such as their name, address, school or other information to strangers by email, via web forms, or in chat rooms.
· Do not allow children to perform Web searches without adult supervision. Use Google, with the Google SafeSearch option turned on.
· Review the history of web sites viewed in a web browser, as well as the contents of the "Bookmarks" or "Favorites".
· Do not allow children to register at web sites without carefully checking the site's privacy policy.
· Do not allow children to download and install programs without parental supervision, virus scanning and knowledge of what the program will do.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Privacy and the Web - Scalia

Students at Fordham Law School taught Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a lesson on privacy on the web. The New York Times reported in a story that Scalia who has been dismissive of privacy on the web cases in the past was the “target” in that the students would attempt to gather as much online material about him as possible. They were able to create a dossier of 15 pages. Some of the material included his home address and telephone number, his wife’s personal email address, and the TV shows and food he prefers.

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse reports that the main ways to get information online about you are:

- Marketing
- Official use: Court Records / employer / government (law enforcement and foreign intelligence)
- Illegal activity and scams
- Other common scams

To keep your activity as private as possible, make sure you understand a site’s privacy policy before you give it your information. Read the policy. If you can’t find it, it is better to pass on the site rather than to have your information sold for mass marketing.

Keep your computer secure. Use a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware applications. Use an auto update program and update your computer with security patches as soon as they become available.

Once again, as we have discussed before, no one is looking to give anyone free money over the Internet. Do not open or even look at emails that promise riches.

I remember when I was a child there was a 60 Minutes story how someone could profile a person by their cancelled checks in their bank account. They could tell if they were married, what kind of products they bought and how pretty much they lived. We are much more beyond that now.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Book Review - “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker

One of my favorite books to introduce people to thinking about personal safety and security is “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker available from Amazon. Gavin De Becker runs a consulting firm that consults with celebrities and others that might be threatened. He was twice appointed to a Presidential Board dealing with security, is a senior fellow at UCLA and is an advisor to the Rand Corporation.

The basic premise of the book is that fear is a protective mechanism that has developed over eons of evolution. Most times when we feel fear, there is a reason for this. A good example is a woman at lone at night in a parking garage walking to her car. Current thought is to dismiss the fear. It is a normal reaction to be scared of this scenario. Being alone, at night, in a parking garage where predators are known to look for victims are all items that make the probability of something happening higher (remember our talk about risk). Basically what he is talking about is harnessing intuition.

De Becker shows you how to spot the small signs of dangerous behavior and what to do about it. He spends a lot of time talking about stalking and how to handle it. This should be required reading for anyone going through a situation such as this.

De Becker uses a lot of case histories and techniques for dealing with similar situations. He talks about a cycle of violence and how to spot it before it fully develops. I definitely recommend this as a first time read on safety and security.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Measuring Risk

Before we get to far into a discussion of security, we should talk about measuring risk. Risk Analysis is a term you hear often in business and IT circles. But do you realize that Risk Analysis is a process that you follow in your daily life?

First you have to understand what constitutes risk. Risk normally comes from some sort of threat or danger. A good example is the threat of a flood to your house. Next you have to determine how often are the chances of this occurring in your neighborhood. This called the probability of occurrence. Let’s say in this example, that your house is on a hill. Being on a hill means the chances of a flood in your neighborhood is improbable.

Back to the house, now you have to look and see what the possible damage would be. This is termed severity. While a flood would be devastating, it most likely would not totally destroy your house or cause a loss of life. So we can classify the severity of a flood as high, but not extreme. Generally speaking, you might then think of this as a medium risk.

Once we have the overall risk to us, we have to decide how much we are willing to accept. In this case, you could say that you are willing to accept a medium risk. If you couldn't’t sleep at night because of flood worries, you could transfer the risk– this time to an insurance company for a fee of course. Or you could avoid risk by moving to someplace like Arizona.

Another way to manage risk is to mitigate it. You either try to reduce the severity or probability of it. For example, hopefully when you ride a bicycle you wear a helmet. You are reducing the severity of an accident in case you are hit. To reduce the probability of a bicycle accident you might wear a fluorescent band so that drivers can see you.

You are probably saying that will this is all well and good , you don’t practice it in your life. But you do. Take your children for instance. You would not leave a young child alone on the sidewalk by a busy street. The probability of them running out into the street is high. If they were hit, the severity would be extreme. When your children get older, you don’t have as much risk. The severity is still extreme, but the chance of them running in front of a car is much lower, hence lower risk.

As we live our lives, we should incorporate risk assessment and management into our daily practices. On large life events, the risk assessment process needs to be a formal process. Buying a house, going on a vacation to a danger filled place in the world should have some risk management involved. In the choices you make everyday, you should look at the chance of something occurring and the severity of the action if it occurs. Only then can you make an informed choice.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spam

WAR! SEX! MONEY!

“Did one of these words get your attention? This is what virus writer, con artists, and identity thieves use to get your attention and tempt you to open an email. They offer you stimulating photos, current events or incredible proposals. They might want to take over your computer, add your name to spam lists, or try to steal your money. Whatever you do, don’t follow up on their offers. Definitely don’t open attachments from unknown people. Don’t open these Spam messages and definitely don’t reply to them. Just remember no one will give you a lot of money for nothing.
Spam makes up close to 100 percent of all e-mail traffic on the Internet, according to Microsoft. Just delete them and forget about it.

Reducing Spam

•The primary rule: Never make lists of e-mail addresses, and if you do, do not e-mail the list. Only send out individual emails
•Never respond to a spam email.
•Never respond to the spam e-mail's instructions to reply with the word "remove." This is just a trick to get you to react to the e-mail.
•Never sign up with sites that promise to remove your name from spam lists. These sites are of two kinds: (1) real, and (2) spam address collectors. The first kind of site is ignored (or exploited) by the spammers, the second is owned by them -- in both cases your address is recorded and valued more highly because you have just identified it as read by a human.

Passwords

Your password is a lot like your credit card. Your credit card is how your bank or credit union determines whether you are who you say you are. This is a called authentication. The same principle is used with logging in on your computer or account.

Normally when the authentication process takes place we need a combination of two of three factors, either who you are, what you have, or what you know. With credit cards, when you are in the store they require the card (what you have) and your signature (what you are). When you use the ATM, your card is required (what you have) and a PIN (what you know). Most accounts online use only a password (what you know) to authenticate you. No, your user id is not what you are (we could use biometrics for this). This makes it extremely important that you use a strong password.

If someone else steals your password, it is basically the same as giving them your credit card and PIN. When someone uses a credit card at a bank ATM, they are
accountable for the withdrawals. When your user id and password is used to access an account, you are accountable for the actions performed.

Passwords can be guessed if you use information from yourself or family. There is software that is very effective at cracking passwords. The reason that a lot of accounts require you to change passwords regularly is to defeat ever-increasing processor capability. All passwords can and will be cracked. However if you have a strong password, it may take over six months to crack. If you use a strong passowrd, most password thieves will move on to someone else. You can see that it is important that you create strong passwords and protect them as much as you would protect your credit cards.

How do I create a strong password?

It does no good if your password is so complex that you have to write it down to remember it. Our present standard for passwords is that they be eight characters and contain a mix of alphabet and number characters. You can also use upper and lower case and special characters
to make it even stronger. Special characters include the space bar, all the characters above the
numbers, and brackets.

The best way to remember all this is to use a pass phrase. Simply create a sentence to remember. However, don't pick a well known phrase like `An apple a day keeps the doctor
away' (Aaadktda). Instead, pick something like `My dog's first name is Rex' (MdfniR) or even better `My sister Peg is 24 years old' (MsPi24#yo). Once you have your password, change it and lock your workstation. Then practice logging in and out. If you mess up, you won’t lock yourself out. Keep your password in your wallet (next to your credit card) for a few days before
destroying it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Intro

There is an old saying “you don’t know what you don’t know.” These days with warnings over pandemic flu or Teflon pans, carjacking or improperly installed car seats, you really don’t know what is truth and what is not. Some things have been hyped in the media far beyond what is really hazardous, others have been ignored when they really do present a danger to you and your family. This blog is an attempt to sort out the hype from the truth on topics dealing with security, safety, privacy and other related issues.

I bring to the discussion a twenty-year military career with the majority of it as a commissioned Special Forces Officer. My training and experience range from bodyguard work, recovery and rescue, competition shooting, risk management and interpersonal negotiations. I lived over thirteen years in Europe and traveled extensively across the continent. I also have traveled to the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

After the military, I was able to leverage my experience, along with degrees in Computer Science and Information Technology and worked as a computer security expert. Over time, I have worked physical security, safety and computer privacy issues of many different types. I am a husband, father, homeowner, and manager. We will talk about how to keep ourselves and our family safe and secure.