My friend who works for British Telecom as a Network technician actually mentioned this to me the other day over a fine cool pint of Beck's.
The usual discussions over technical aspects turned into the one of the 'Password'. The ongoing struggle to retain memory of various passwords without resorting to the same one each time. We actually got onto this subject because of a worrying trend in the spammers, phishing, and other nefarious types who try to 'steal' your personal information from you, the password being the holy grail.
They now target the less sophisticated sites, such as your social networks, your blog etc. If they can steal your password from these sites, then they betting that at some point, they will find someone who uses the same password for their bank accounts, eBay, PayPal etc. Which is worryingly a very valid gamble. Up to quite recently, I was not particularly varied with my passwords. Although my main one was in itself 'very strong' it was often used time and time again.
This news became the reason why we just talked about the best ways to manage your passwords without relying on 3rd Party software applications that claim to manage all your passwords. Any application like this poses some threat. I don't like the idea of keeping all my 'passwords' in one place.
Simple solution is thus.
Create one main password, upwards of 8 characters, with numbers and letters, lower case and uppercase. The usual suspects. This you can then remember as you will be using this as the foundation for all subsequent passwords.
This next bit is the icing on the cake and will make sure that you can create a unique memorable password for EVERY site, bank account, eBay, PayPal, Blog, Social Network that you have and will continue to add to.
For example, if you need a new password for say, a new bank like First Direct use any combination of letters from those two words. You could use the first 2 letters 'FI'. Then you decide where these letters will sit on your main password.
So for example, if you main password was 'ImReally28YearsOldNot36' then you could add 'FI' to the beginning, the end or the middle, thus for example: 'ImReally28YearsOldNot36FI'.
Then apply the same logic to each new site. So if it's a new WordPress Blog, it would become 'ImReally28YearsOldNot36WO'. How you arrange the additional letters is up to you, you could choose any number of letters depending on how 'strong' you want it to be.
This way you create a unique password for every new site and it's dead easy to remember, as long as you keep to the same format. Each time you log on, your reminder is the name of the site you are logging onto. Magic. You should never ever forget a password again, and you will not have to rely on using the same exact password for everything any more or reliance on the many password applications designed to 'manage' your passwords.
Ensure that you start changing your really important passwords first.
Online Banks and Credit Card websites. And anything else that relies on super sensitive information: eBay and Paypal. Just incase that in the past your previous passwords might have bee compromised. Even if at any previous point your various Web passwords have been 'grabbed' then as long as you have made the above changes to the crucial sites, then all 'should' be well. Mine have been 'stolen' and it's not a pleasant experience in the slightest.
Once you have done the most important then really the main threat is over. Then you can make the laborious task of changing all your existing passwords etc if you really want to.
I'm pretty sure I am not the only one to have noticed that many Twitter follow requests are not entirely as they seem. Spam I think in this context is a slight miss understatement.
I have personally been inundated with Follow Request from users with seemingly genuine Twitter names. I have always check-up on these new requests, just more out of curiosity than anything else. But now it's become a necessity.
Recently, these seemingly genuine Twitter users are turning out to be fronts for sex shows and various other sexual activities. Now heck, I am not a boring old fart. Far from it. But this really crosses the line for me.
On further inspection, the URL's take you to sites such as huge WebCam Porn sites, or ahem, 'Night Entertainers'. Yes, I did spend a few moments on one of these sites. I spent about 10mins on one of these ‘web cam sites’ yesterday, not pleased that I did, but I was morbidly curious as to if these girls were actually doing it because they ‘wanted to’ or more specifically to see if they were ‘forced into performing for whatever reason’. Very clear that most were not wanting to be there at all.
Which makes me really very angry and horrendously upset. Young girls in cages performing on demand. Where are we going?
But I can honestly say that it was because if was just utterly appalled at what I saw and just felt a huge wave of sympathy for these 'girls' that were sat in front of these camera's trying to smile and look happy. Im pretty good at recognizing facial expressions, even micro expressions, and these girls are anything but happy.
My point is that by allowing yourself to automatically Follow out of a 'you follow me so I will follow you' attitude, you are opening yourself and your Web Site to be linked to these awful 'institutions'.
It would be reasonable to assume that they just automatically Follow due to the insane number of requests that they get. I'm not a celebrity Twittlet and I sure as heck don't want to be associated with these sites, so I don't think it's a far leap to come to the same conclusion for more famous Twittlets.
Simply, take time to check out any new Followers that you get. Don't allow yourself to get hooked on getting a high Follower number at the expense of some common decency. Don't allow these 'spammer's to propagate their message and sordid sexual slave perversions. They are easy to spot even if you don't check out the URL, they are the ones usually Following 100's even 1000's whilst only a few are actually Following them.
Here is a great site on Twitter Spam, the site is effectively called 'Stop Twitter Spam' and is a very useful site to visit. It's not just full of 'you shoulds' 'you musts' 'you oughts', it highlights steps you can take to reduce spam, gives you insights into how other power Twitter users manage their Twitter experience to eliminate unwanted Followers etc.
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