Thinking ahead to my eventual retirement, I phoned Sallie Mae earlier this year, and spoke with a rep who was easy to chat with, and seemed well-informed and helpful. I asked her if there was any sort of discount or other concession made for student loan payments once the debtor retired and began drawing Social Security. Her answer was that, good news, once I provide Sallie Mae with documentary evidence that I am drawing Social Security, the balance of my loans would be waived. [more inside]
The latest password hack has me wanting to beef up my password security, but I keep running into problems. What should I do? [more inside]
Trying to understand what IT is doing with my workstation right now. Near-constant prompts to log in to Outlook (I am already logged in) and suddenly, for the first time, most websites (but oddly, not social media) are being blocked with EdgeWave iPrism. What's going on, and should I worry? Details inside. [more inside]
My small company is providing a web service for another organisation. One single username/password combo will be used to access the system. Either -- how should we distribute this combo to the 5,000 tech-illiterate members of the other organisation? Or -- what's a better solution? [more inside]
I got a new job (cool!) but have to turn in my MacBook Air from old job (oh well). Since I also used as my primary laptop for personal stuff, like banking and Facebook, it also has a ton of personal data on it. (I plan to buy my own laptop for next job. And no, I did not look at naughty stuff on it -- I do have a tablet.) The company wants the programs already installed left on the computer, which is reasonable -- so leave Photoshop and Word installed -- but I want to clear off any personal data. Is there a good way to scrub an Apple computer while leaving programs behind? Right now you could go to Twitter on my browser and log into my personal account without a problem. (I realize I can just Clear History on browsers, but also looking for deeper scrub, such as WiFi passwords and stuff on keychains).
I've been toying with the idea of getting some sort of CCTV or IPCCTV to keep track of what's going on around my house. Do you have CCTV? What should I be thinking about? [more inside]
One of many painful aspects to the James Foley tragedy is that the US attempted rescue, but was in error as to the location of the hostages. I wonder - is there not some geolocating device, maybe even a microchip, that could be required for journalists and tourists/hikers entering a war zone? I can understand that it would be an intolerable risk for soldiers and spies, but Foley was leaving an Internet café when he was abducted - not trying to live a hidden life.
Wifi is plentiful, but it is also more vulnerable than a wired connection. In the Bay Area, is there a library or other public or semi-public, trustworthy place, that allows users to connect directly to the router with an ethernet cable? Charging a fee is fine.
A few weeks ago, my bike lock left me stranded after the stupid plastic key handle broke off, leaving the rest of the key trapped inside the lock (and leaving me trapped four miles from home, in the rain). Similarly, the weird plastic key handles add a lot of unnecessary heft to my keychain. Are there any decent bike locks that use "normal" keys? Bonus points if I can get multiple locks that use the same key.
We just moved into a new home, and though you wouldn't know it from the neighborhood or the house, which are very nice aesthetically, the inside of our home is sparse and we don't have the latest technology or anything of real value. There is honestly nothing worth stealing in our home, and the expense of cleaning up after a home invasion/robbery would cost more than the value of any items that could be stolen from us. A coworker suggested putting up a sign. [more inside]
I am facing a huge question that I don't know how to navigate and don't feel like I can talk to anyone about. The short story is that I have a precarious-feeling academic job in the Midwestern U.S. and applied for a job in an English-speaking country in the Southern Hemisphere. Today, I found out that I am on the short list for the job. And now I'm just not sure what to do. [more inside]
There are two parts to this: I am locked out of hotmail; my computer can't read the support e-mail security instructions due to computer security. [more inside]
Let's say I need to send some personal data (e.g., full name, DOB, SSN, address history, etc.). I already know I should never transmit that information via email, but why? What are the risks, and where and when do they occur? At what point(s) during transmission is the info in that email in danger? Hit me with every worse-case scenario you can think of. [more inside]
I'm looking for some stats on how often wireless home alarms are disabled. Wired alarms are superior, but by how much? Do remote alarms get blocked 5, 10 or 50% of the time?
I have a payment showing on my bank statement from "MTEAhelp.com" for approx. £30. I don't remember buying anything online on that day, so I'm wondering if I've been scammed? [more inside]
So I recently completed a project, and was sharing the news with people on Facebook - but Facebook blocked the link to my website because it was apparently on some spammy/malware blacklist. I did some investigation, and my site comes up clean on every security scan thing I tried, except McAfee SiteAdvisor. It seems likely that it's a false positive, possibly due to my shared hosting. If there's a legitimate security issue, though, I'd like to find out what it is so I can fix it - but I don't know how I can do that. [more inside]
How do I know I’ve taught myself enough technical writing software (number of programs and my abilities therein) for potential employers to take me seriously? [more inside]
What sort of personal information would be stored on a newer model car's computer that was used for 2 or 3 years, totaled, and then sent to the junk yard? Has anyone researched or begun to address the security risks of more complicated car computers, if they exist at all? [more inside]
I live in a condo community. We have an in-ground swimming pool. The swimming pool is located in a secluded part of the property which is quite large and mostly undeveloped woods and ponds. The pool is surrounded by a chain link fence just under 6 feet tall. We have motion activated cameras and floodlights in the pool area. The gate is locked every night. But none of this deters drunk teenagers from climbing the fence and swimming at 3 AM, and sometimes they vandalize the pool. Is there a way to install an alarm in an outdoor setting? I am not up on the latest technology in this regard. My main concern would be animals or birds setting off such an alarm, which would obviously not be good. What are the best options here?
I get conflicted information about the browser extensions/add-ons Awesome Screenshot and Hover-Zoom. My university community uses browser extensions/add-ons extensively, in particular, Awesome Screenshot across Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Concerns? [more inside]
Technical writers: please share your experiences with me regarding offshoring and job security. I am considering technical writing as a career change and want to determine if it would be a good move to enter this field. Details inside. [more inside]
Recently I noticed a lot of controversy about whether Truecrypt is secure or not. It looks like their webpage is raising concerns about it, even to the point of suggesting that people migrate their data away from it. Arstechnica and others are following the story. What's going on? Might this be a hoax? Are truecrypt encrypted flashdrives not safe? If not, what level of security do they provide, if any? What would be a good alternative if we are to migrate away as quickly as possible?
I'm getting tired of the constant hacks, and I pretty much use the same passwords across multiple sites. Thing is, I can't keep up with eight dozen passwords. Seems like the answer is one of the password manager programs/apps out there. So which one is the one to use? How do I use it with multiple locations and computers (work/home/mobile)? I'm willing to pay upfront, but not a subscription. No one needs another monthly expense. Bonus points if you can explain it like I'm five.
My apartment building was sold in the past 6 months. The new owners have been completely gutting and renovating units as people have moved out; the work is going on for months. I'm planning to move out at the end of the month and wondering how much I need to worry about cleaning or repairing any minor damage if they're just going to do the same thing to my unit. Additionally, if they do charge me for any damages do I have any recourse to argue that they shouldn't have because they weren't preserving whatever it was any way? Obviously not expecting any binding legal advice on this, more curious if anyone has had similar experiences or any pointers to share.
I have an upcoming trip to and from Chapel Hill, NC. While there, we will be traveling to the Washington DC area. My return flight leaves RDU, near Chapel Hill and routes through IAD, Dulles, at DC. Skipping the flight from RDU would save about four hours of driving back to North Carolina and realistically provide another full day in the DC area. Can I do this? If so, what are the restrictions and gotchas? Can I roll the RDU-IAD flight revenue over into a seat upgrade? Personal experiences with trying to do this welcome. Direct experience from airline and travel pros also welcome. Speculative answers less welcome. Thanks very much! [more inside]
Is there anything smart and wireless, a la the Dropcam or Canary, but for outdoors? If not, what's the best alternative?
What is the current state of the art / recommended best bet in security and anti-virus software for Windows 8? Paid options are on the table. [more inside]
I have a jailbroken iPad. I need to study for computer certifications (A+, Security+, Networking+) in a remote location, but I'm having a hiccup. [more inside]
(Keeping this anonymous because I'm worried my security's compromised and don't want to make it worse.) So for about the past six weeks, the log-in process on the Bank of America site has been behaving strangely for me. When I go to the BOA site I see my online userID in the normal way and click on it. That then takes me to the sitekey confirmation page where --weirdly-- my password is now showing up in plaintext on the login page, above the sitekey image. The first time this happened it was displaying my then-current password, which I immediately logged in with and changed. Since then, every time I go to log in I see the old password in plaintext, above the sitekey. When I enter either my then-current or my actually-current password it's rejected and I need to go through the reset process before I can successfully log in. I'm not freaking out, because there's no strange activity in my accounts. But still, it's unnerving. So..... what might be going on here, and what should I do about it? [more inside]
I'm going to be stocking a small bookcase with 5 to 10 books, and placing it in a room inside a college. I need a way to prevent the books from being stolen. Options seem surprisingly limited. Any help? [more inside]
At work, I can digitally sign and encrypt emails using digital certificates on my ID (and a card reader attached to my laptop). It integrates decently with Outlook and Acrobat. It's 2014. What are my PKI options for personal use? [more inside]
I flew home through a major US airport a couple of days ago. I'd just put my carry-on stuff on the conveyor and lined up with several others for the dreaded bodyscanner when the TSA agent waved four of us around the machine and over to pick up our stuff. I was delighted not to have to go through the scanner, but I've never seen anyone just waved on through before. How often do they let people bypass the scan? [more inside]
I am still using Office 2003 for personal use. It meets my limited needs perfectly well, and I want to avoid learning curves and costs associated with alternatives if at all possible. I understand that Microsoft will no longer be issuing security patches for it soon, so there are potential risks in continuing to use it, but how serious are those risks given my actual pattern of use? And can they be easily mitigated by avoiding various features or behavior? [more inside]
My boss has asked me to help him find some introduction-level resources to understand modern IT industry fundamentals (cloud computing, modern storage technologies, security, system architecture, etc.) from a management standpoint. I have a good handle on the technical side, but I'm not sure where to look for the basics. What resources would be a good introduction? Web sites are most helpful, free or paywalled okay.
If one wanted to be paranoid about protecting access to critical accounts (bank accounts and the like) what are some steps that you can take short of building your own machine and never using it for any transactions at all other than those to the secure sites? I have used lAstpass and 1 Password for years but frankly all of the recent revelations of security breaches and key loggers and the like make me wonder if I should consider other options for critical accounts (wondering out loud: is it not likely that the password app manufacturers were not NSA's first targets?) Some accounts do not allow two step authentication.
Why do I suddenly have 4 requests to share a Google Drive folder with people whom I don't know? [more inside]
In light of revelations that some folks can look at me over the internet through my webcam without me knowing, I would like to have a solution to this problem. I was thinking that taping over the webcam would work well, but it might also look tacky, and might also add a residue to my computer that I would not like. Is there a kind of tape that would look good on a unibody macbook pro? How would I make that tape look good? What sort of tape would be suggested for its no residue, opaque characteristics? Is there a better solution than tape, like a well-thought out kickstarter project or something of that nature? Please help me with my paranoid bougie computer problem.
I'm interested in getting a few residential security cameras installed to cover our yard and car areas. Requirements are: ~40 feet night vision, decent motion detection, networked recording to central PC/DVR unit (either over WiFi or PoE power), no batteries, weatherproof, not easily stolen. There are plenty of cameras with good tech specs, but many of them look like warp engines. I imagine putting up giant cameras will not only piss off the neighbors, but serve as a giant ROB ME I HAVE STUFF sign. What exterior cameras are not only good but inconspicuous? [more inside]
My girlfriend and I have just gone under contract on a home in Atlanta, Georgia. It's in a safe neighborhood, ITP (Briarlake area) but plan on having a security system installed ASAP. [more inside]
Is there a book or a research article (or high quality speculation) to be found, which would ponder how frequent bombarding with "surveillance is a good thing" comments (appearing in media and made by some kind of authority) and "yet another security flaw appeared in a mobile application, in a web service or in a department of a company" news (which would happen to some high profile and well known company) affects kids and youngsters? I mean their mind is still shaping, so it would be interesting to know in advance, what kind of adults will they become? Naturally the mind of an individual is shaping throughout the whole lifetime, but it could be said that there are lots of people, who aren't or will not be very good at getting rid of their "old programming".
About ten years ago I signed up for gmail very early during beta when people were selling invites for up to 3 and 4 figures and lucked out on a very early, short email address. (See profile.) And it's not cool. Not only do I get a lot of spam but I get a lot of misdirected email. I've seen receipts, bank statements, tax returns, boobies, dozens or hundreds of pictures of different families, newborns, weddings, new cars, old cars, flight reservations, money wire recepits. And this isn't good, and I wonder about my liability, and I wonder about these known brands or services that don't include a button for "This is not my account or data." or any email validation step at all. [more inside]
I'm trying to help a relative who's in a full panic about computer security, brought on both by the alarmist mainstream reporting about the gotofail bug and by some coincidental hardware issues with her OS X machine. My reassurance isn't going to cut it this time -- is there somewhere online where she can read, in lay terms, that although the bug was severe in theory / in its implications, there's very little evidence of real-world exploits? [more inside]
My mother still gets her bank statements by paper mail. Her latest one failed to be delivered for 2 weeks now, and she verified the bank mailed it, so we assume it was delivered by the mail carrier to the wrong address, or dropped, or something. Nothing has happened yet, but it seems best to guard against the worst-case scenario, namely that someone else now has her home address, bank address, all account numbers (including retirement accounts), possibly other identifying information, and has the willingness to exploit it. What are the prudent steps we should take? [more inside]
How do I secure some files that need to be shared and be editable with several employees and also be able to immediately remove access to any version of those files from a particular person? [more inside]
I tried to install linux on a win8 laptop and failed although I tried everything to disable UEFI and security boot options in Bios. So I think there is no solution to install Linux on certain win8 Laptops. But someone told me of course I can install Linux on any win8 laptops by using virtualbox. So I'm wondering why can it be done? How exactly is virtualbox/virtual machine works for this issue? can anybody explain this to me in a easy to understand way? Thanks very much.
A couple of years ago I was flying across Canada and got randomly selected for an extended search of my bags and everything swabbed. They swabbed my cellphone, camera equipment, and bags. After a few minutes they told me the swab came up positive. I'm not sure what for. [more inside]
I've only worked in a small business (15-20 employees) since I got out of school, and I've handled the technological necessities since I started because nobody else could. I've handled things on an as-needed basis: troubleshooting problems, setting up new computers, maintaining an iron grip on software installations, setting up the network and administering simple network devices, etc. However, I'm completely self-taught, and I have no idea if my hacked-together system looks anything like a properly-implemented corporate IT system. So I want to know what one looks like. Specifically, I'd like to know if there are any resources I can check out on my own that paint the picture of what I should be trying to achieve. NOTE: I'm NOT averse to hiring an outside IT firm or consultant to help with specification and implementation. However, I don't want to be at the mercy of a firm's "knowledge" and my own ignorance; you can waste a lot of money that way, regardless of scenario. [more inside]
How can I set up Facebook from scratch with minimal spam/leakage into other accounts and minimal leakage from/to people I don't know? [more inside]
I'm currently living in a small apartment with two bedrooms and one roommate. My roommate has exhibited some odd behavior in the past, but in the last week things have gotten weird. Help me negotiate this situation. Details inside. [more inside]
I am looking for ways to browse securely over the internet, while not giving any data to corporations (including my ISP) that is unwarranted and also preventing malware (like the CryptoLocker ransomware epidemic in late 2012). [more inside]