2015 is here! In terms of our interactions concerning your computers, mobile devices, and related technology — I want to define this year by the 4 P’s:
Passwords, Privacy, Protection, and Personalization.
Passwords: If you aren’t using a password manager yet, I am going to be on your tail about using one in 2015. You need to have a set of secure, randomized passwords for all of your important sites. You may be thinking, but I can’t remember all of those passwords! That’s the point. It’s the job of the password manager to remember them. Any good password manager will allow you to print out a hard copy list once in a while.
Briefly, the password managers I am best equipped at helping you with….
Last Pass: Free for computer use, $12 per year if you would like to keep these passwords on your tablet or Smartphone. Last Pass integrates very nicely with the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus’s touch ID system. http://lastpass.com
1Password: sold as a license, not a subscription. $50 for one computer (family discounts available); the license should be good for a couple years before an upgrade is needed. $9.99 for iPhone / iPad or Android access. 1Password integrates very nicely with the iPhone 5s, 6, and 6 Plus’s touch ID system. http://1password.com
Dashlane: Dashlane is a newcomer, but they are really trying define their product by ease of use. Dashlane is free for use on one device. For use on multiple devices it will run you $40 per year, with premium support as well. http://dashlane.com
Other Choices: Some of my clients have had success with Robo Form Everywhere. Although I am not as familiar with them; I am willing to offer this this product as a possibility because they offer phone support. $20 per year. http://roboform.com
Finally, I know some of you use browser based password managers such as those provided by Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. These solutions are all OK, but I have provided 4 better solutions above. Unless you are willing to use a 2nd tool, like https://www.random.org/passwords/ to help you make secure passwords — it would be better to use LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password or Robo Form Everywhere.
Privacy: Some of you really want or need to browse the internet with the utmost in privacy. Do you not want your internet service provider or a hacker to know the sites you are visiting? Do you spend a lot of time with a laptop or smart phone on the road, while connected to WiFi in coffee shops, hotels and libraries? Do you know that cell phone carriers like Verizon are snooping on the websites you visit while on 4G-LTE or 3G data? Do you want to block them from doing this? You need a personal VPN. There are several outstanding solutions I could recommend and set up for you, with the cost being $4 to $6 per month. You can cover multiple devices.
Protection: First and foremost, you need to engage in defensive computing. The first 1 to 3 results in a Google search are typically advertisements . The result you are looking for is below the ad listing(s). When you click YES to install something on your computer, no anti-virus software in the world will stop you if this was a foolish decision. The better programs will auto update without bothering you, but occasionally you will get pop ups from legitimate software prompting you to update. Make sure they are real before clicking OK (especially when using Windows). The reason Macs are safer is because users are faced with a “password prompt” each time they are asked to install new or updated software. This feature, called UAC (User account control), is turned off be default in Windows. Ask me to turn it on for you!! This will cut down on 90% of viruses / malware infections. For simple needs, Chromebooks are a great option. They can be reset in 5 minutes if they get messed up.
Personalization:I’ve told this story before, but it is worth repeating for new clients. Exactly two years ago, I had a chance to work as an apprentice and potentially take over an established, walk-in computer service shop. The owner was very rigid and believed in setting up all computers exactly the same. He also wanted Windows customers to use Internet Explorer. I walked away from this opportunity because it violated what I am all about as a computer service provider — providing personalized solutions. With personalization, there is another P to consider. Performance. The solution has to work. It has to work on as many of your devices as possible, taking into consideration that smartphones and tablets may have some limitations computer to computers. For some of you, a Windows computer is best. For others, a Mac is the right choice. Some of you with simpler needs would be best served by a Chromebook or a Chromebox (desktop version of a Chromebook). I don’t see you from a one size fits all perspective.