Tag Archives: dictionary

Should You Forget About Password Safes and Write Down Your Passwords?

image There are days when Surfing the Internet, it seems to me,  is like skating on thin ice – one wrong move and you’re in trouble. I know – this past weekend I got hacked. After 20+ years – BAM!

There are any number of possibilities as to what happened, but one of those possibilities is not unauthorized access to my online saved Passwords. I don’t save passwords online. I never have, and I never will.

Instead, I write my passwords down, and record them in a special book; a book which I keep ultra secure.

There are some who disagree, for many reasons, with this method of password control, but I’m not about to change my mind on this issue, and here’s why –

The world is full of advice that on the face of it seems reasonable, responsible and accurate. You know how it is – if you hear it often enough then it must be true.

One piece of computer security advice that you’ve probably heard over and over again is – don’t write down your password/s. The problem is; this piece of advice couldn’t be more wrong, despite the fact it seems reasonable, responsible and accurate.

Here’s the dilemma we face. Complicated, in other words, safe passwords are hard to remember, whereas easy passwords, in other words unsafe passwords, are easy to remember. No surprise then that most computer users’ employ easy to remember, and unsafe passwords.

You know the kind of passwords I’m talking about – obvious passwords, like your first name, or your wife’s name, child’s name, date of birth date, etc. – passwords you’re not likely to forget. And that’s the problem – there’s no point in having a password at all if cyber-criminals will have no difficulty in figuring it out.

Cyber-criminals use simple processes, all the way to highly sophisticated techniques, to capture online passwords as evidenced by the Hotmail fiasco last year, in which an anonymous user posted usernames, and passwords, for over 10,000 Windows Live Hotmail accounts to a web site. Some reports indicate that Google’s Gmail, and Yahoo Mail, were also targeted. This specific targeting is one possibility that might explain how my Gmail account got hacked.

Not surprisingly, 123456 was the most common password captured, followed by (are you ready for this?), 123456789. Some truly brilliant users used reverse numbers, with 654321 being very common. Pretty tricky, huh? I’m being a little cynical, but..

I know that on the face of it, writing down your password seems counter intuitive and flies in the face of conventional wisdom, since the issue here is one of security and safety.

But, ask yourself this question – is your home, office, wallet etc., more secure than your computer? If the answer isn’t “yes”, then you have additional issues that need to be addressed.

While it may be true that you don’t want your wife, lover, room mate, or the guy in the next office, to gain access to your written list of passwords – and writing down your passwords will always present this risk; the real risk lies in the cyber-criminal, who is perhaps, thousands of miles away.

image Computer security involves a series of trade-offs – that’s just the reality of today’s Internet. And that brings us to the inescapable conclusion, that strong passwords, despite the fact that they may be impossible to remember – which means they must be written down – are considerably more secure than those that are easy to remember.

Here are some guidelines on choosing a strong password:

Make sure your password contains a minimum of 8 characters.

Use upper and lower case, punctuation marks and numbers.

Use a pass phrase (a sentence), if possible. However, not all sites allow pass phrases.

Since brute force dictionary attacks are common, keep away from single word passwords that are words in a dictionary.

Use a different password for each sign-in site. This should be easy since you are now going to write down your passwords. Right?

You are entitled, of course to disregard the advice in this article, and look at alternatives to writing down your passwords, including Password Safe, a popular free application. As well, a number of premium security applications include password managers.

Guest writer, Glenn Taggart’s article from yesterday – LastPass Password Manager – Secure Your Passwords and User Names, offers a terrific review of another free password application.

If you have difficulty in devising a strong password/s, take a look at Random.org’s, Random Password Generator – a very cool free password tool.

As an additional form of protection, you should consider the Firefox add-on KeyScrambler, which will protect you from both known and unknown keyloggers.

For additional info on password management, checkout Rick Robinette’s “PASS-the-WORD”… Basic password management tips” Many regular readers will remember that Rick is a very popular guest writer on this site.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

28 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Email, Freeware, Gmail, Google, Internet Safety, Online Safety, Personal Perspective, Software, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Yahoo

WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary – Helps You Say What You Mean

It would be hard to argue, that a picture is not worth a thousand words. On the other hand, there are times when the appropriate word will convey the intended message far better than a picture. I can think of a few words that have the power to do just that, and I’m sure you can as well. Even words that mean the same thing, can covey very different messages.

If  you’re a writer, a student, or you just want to find the right word to get the right message across, then the free WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows application will be invaluable.

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 150,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.

image

Features of the free version include:

Definitions and synonyms

Proper nouns

Related words

Pronunciations

150,000 root words

120,000 synonym sets

Look up words in almost any program

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of nine different variations of English: British, Irish, American, Canadian, Australian, Indian, and global English.

I have used this neat little application for many years, and I find it invaluable. If you’re serious about improving your communication skills, installing this free application will be a positive step in that direction.

I was quite surprised to see that this small application averages over 33,000 weekly downloads at Download.com. It looks as if proper word usage might be coming back into style after all. Now that would be a pleasant and positive step.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some very interesting ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

Alternatively you may go to WordWeb’s online international dictionary and word finder, which can handle more than 300 000 possible lookup words, and phrases.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under dictionary, downloads, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Student Help, thesaurus, Utilities, Writing Aids

Be Safe – Write Down Your Passwords

The world is full of advice that on the face of it seems reasonable, responsible and accurate. You know how it is – if you hear it often enough then it must be true.

image How many of us are ever likely to forget our Mother’s advice – dress warmly in the cold, or you’ll get sick? Advice, as it turns out, that has been debunked by the medical community. Despite this, most people, that I know, still believe Mom’s advice.

One piece of computer security advice that you’ve likely heard over and over again is – don’t write down your password/s. The problem is; this piece of advice couldn’t be more wrong. Just like Mom’s advice though, it seems reasonable, responsible and accurate.

Here’s the dilemma we face. Complicated, in other words, safe passwords are hard to remember, whereas easy passwords, in other words unsafe passwords, are easy to remember. No surprise then that most computer users’ employ easy to remember, and unsafe passwords.

You know the kind of passwords I’m talking about – obvious passwords, like your first name or your wife’s name, child’s name, date of birth date, etc. – passwords you’re not likely to forget. And that’s the problem – there’s no point in having a password at all if cyber-criminals will have no difficulty in figuring it out.

Cyber-criminals use simple processes, all the way to highly sophisticated techniques, to capture online passwords as evidenced by the Hotmail fiasco earlier this week, in which an anonymous user posted usernames, and passwords, for over 10,000 Windows Live Hotmail accounts to a web site. Some reports indicate that Google’s Gmail, and Yahoo’s Mail, were also targeted.

Not surprisingly, 123456 was the most common password captured, followed by (are you ready for this?), 123456789. Some truly brilliant users used reverse numbers, with 654321 being very common. Pretty tricky, huh? I’m being a little cynical, but..

I know that on the face of it, writing down your password seems counter intuitive and flies in the face of conventional wisdom, since the issue here is one of security and safety. But ask yourself this question – is your home, office, wallet etc., more secure than your computer? If the answer isn’t “yes”, then you have additional issues that need to be addressed.

While it may be true that you don’t want your wife, lover, room mate, or the guy in the next office, to gain access to your written list of passwords – and writing down your passwords will always present this risk; the real risk lies in the cyber-criminal, who is perhaps, thousands of miles away.

image Computer security involves a series of trade-offs – that’s just the reality of today’s Internet. And that brings us to the inescapable conclusion, that strong passwords, despite the fact that they may be impossible to remember – which means they must be written down – are considerably more secure than those that are easy to remember.

Here are some guidelines on choosing a strong password:

Make sure your password contains a minimum of 8 characters.

Use upper and lower case, punctuation marks and numbers.

Use a pass phrase (a sentence), if possible. However, not all sites allow pass phrases.

Since brute force dictionary attacks are common, keep away from single word passwords that are words in a dictionary.

Use a different password for each sign-in site. This should be easy since you are now going to write down your passwords. Right?

There are alternatives to writing down your passwords of course, including Password Safe, an excellent free application. As well, a number of premium security applications include password managers.

If you have difficulty in devising a strong password/s, take a look at Random.org’s, Random Password Generator – a very cool free password tool.

As an additional form of protection you should consider the Firefox add-on KeyScrambler, which will protect you from both known and unknown keyloggers. Personally, I wouldn’t think of signing on to the Internet without KeyScrambler being active.

For additional info on password management, checkout Rick Robinette’s “PASS-the-WORD”… Basic password management tips” Many regular readers will remember that Rick is a very poplar guest writer on this site.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

10 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Email, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Safe Surfing, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tip – Be a Better Writer with WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows – Free

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 120,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.

image

Features of the free version include:

Definitions and synonyms

Proper nouns

Related words

Pronunciations

150,000 root words

120,000 synonym sets

Look up words in almost any program

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of several English variations, including nine different variations of English, including British English, Irish English, and American English.

I have used this neat little application for many years, and I find it invaluable. If you’re serious about improving your writing skills, installing this free application will be a positive step in that direction.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some very interesting ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

System requirements: Windows 98/2000/Me/XP/Vista

Download at: Download.com

1 Comment

Filed under dictionary, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Student Help, thesaurus, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids

Free Windows Dictionary and Thesaurus! – WordWeb Free Version

Looking for a powerful, but free, English Thesaurus and Dictionary that can instantly find definitions, synonyms, sets of related words, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program?

Then checkout WordWeb, a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that includes a data base of over 150,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program. What’s more, it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in web reference encyclopedias and dictionaries including Wikipedia, Chambers Reference Online, Encarta, and OneLook.

The straightforward interface has the look and feel of your word processing program’s dictionary tool, so there’s no learning curve involved here. Simply launch the application and you’re good to go. A great feature is the hot key function which allows you to find definitions from within virtually any application, with a single keystroke.

I have been using this neat little application for ages and I find it invaluable. If you’re a student, a writer, a Blogger, or you just want to choose a better word in your correspondence, then download and install this neat little freeware utility.

Features of the free version include:

  • Definitions and synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Proper nouns
  • Related words
  • Word types and parts
  • Spoken pronunciations (love this feature!)
  • Translation support – French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Hot key support
  • USB compatible

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

Download at: Download.com

14 Comments

Filed under Free Word Processors, Freeware, MS Word Alternatives, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, Uncategorized, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids