Are We Still Using Weak Passwords?

In case you needed another reminder, your passwords should absolutely not be a single dictionary word.  The news that over 8 million user password hashes have been leaked from LinkedIn and eHarmony this week should be enough to convince you stragglers that you should protect yourself by always using strong passwords!  And if you’re like us, you’ll also make yourself far less vulnerable by never reusing the same password for multiple sites and services.  That helps, because when your password is leaked by a site like LinkedIn, that password can’t be used by hackers to log in to your Facebook, email account, etc on other popular sites to gain more control over your identity.  The price of security is often convenience, but you can make it easier on yourself than trying to remember all these passwords by using a password safe like KeePass or PWSafe that can remember them for you, or even automatically type them into websites for you.  The time to improve your password security habits is now!

You may also be interested in reading Ars Technica’s article 10 (or so) of the worst passwords exposed by the LinkedIn hack.

Or this article explaining how long it takes to crack passwords based on length.



How Thieves Steal Your Identity (and How You Can Protect Yourself)

Lifehacker has an interesting post about how badguys actually steal your identity and what they do with it once they have it, ranging from opening department store credit cards to securing medical benefits for illegal immigrants.  The article also mentions  the most important thing you can do is protect your Social Security number.  While your SSN isn’t the keys to the kingdom, it is an important piece of your identity that you should protect.




Spring Clean Your Finances

Last week NPR broadcasted an interview with life coach and expert organizer Gail Blanke about cleaning up your finances.

For many people, the arrival of Spring might mean cleaning out closets, the garage or the basement. But life coach and expert organizer Gail Blanke says the new season is a great time to tidy up your finances. Host Michel Martin speaks with Blanke about spring cleaning your financial life, which she says might also help get other parts of your life in order.

Read the transcript or listen to the interview online at NPR.org.



Hacked Inboxes Lead to Bank Fraud

“Hacked and phished email accounts increasingly are serving as the staging grounds for bank fraud schemes targeting small businesses. The scams are decidedly low-tech and often result in losses of just a few thousand dollars, but the attacks frequently succeed because they exploit existing trust relationships between banks and their customers.”

Read More »



Public Service Announcement: Use Different passwords for Facebook and Online Banking!

In case you’re behind the internet learning curve, this article is a good reminder that you should use unique passwords for different sites.  Facebook is a large target, with a shocking number of compromised accounts each day.  Don’t make yourself a target by lumping your Facebook authentication into the same basket as your important financial data.  Always use strong passwords!



Keep Your Browser Updated to Reduce Threats!

Still using Internet Explorer version 5 or 6? Not sure what version of Internet Explorer you’re using? You can find out by going to “About Internet Explorer” in the “Help” menu of your browser window.


The Internet is always changing and improving. New threats also surface regularly. It is important to keep your browser up to date to ensure a safe, straightforward, and hassle–free experience on the Internet.


We have provided links below to a few of the most popular current browsers.

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox


Available for most platforms including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Very customizable and extensible with Add-ons.

Internet Explorer 8 & 9

Internet Explorer 8 & 9


More secure and standards–compliant version of Internet Explorer.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome


An up and coming browser using the same standards compliant WebKit rendering engine as Apple’s Safari.

Apple Safari

Apple Safari


It renders web pages at lightning speed. It works on iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, and PC.

What if my computer won’t run these browsers?

Although it might be nice if that computer you bought years ago would keep working the same way forever, that’s just not the online world. The increasing need for better security and the constant improvements in features and capabilities require hardware and software that can keep up…and keep your important financial information safe and secure.



Email Fraud’s Latest Design

It’s easy to spot Nigerian scams, but an increasing number of credit union members are encountering more sophisticated frauds through email solicitations, phone calls and even text messages. In recent weeks, credit unions like SESLOC Credit Union ($526.7M, San Louis Abispo, CA) have reported that members are continuing to field these phishing scams, with an increasing number that are targeting the elderly. For example, one SESLOC member reported receiving a fake phone call about her grandchild being in police custody in Canada and needing money to be released. Another reported hearing that she’d won a prize by paying her utility bills on time, but she needed to give out her personal information to claim it.

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25 Worst Passwords of 2011

It’s coming up on that time of the year when you start to see the “End of Year” lists.  Mashable has the list of the 25 most common passwords based on SplashData’s records.

Check out the list.  If you use any of these passwords you should change it.  Also scroll to the bottom of the article for 3 easy tips on picking a better password.



How to Curb ID Theft

Identity theft is a growing a concern, though the roots of ID theft have been strangling us for years.

Now, however, fraudsters have perfected ID theft by connecting dots of consumer information from numerous sources, such as Facebook profiles, cell phone records, snail-mail addresses and e-mail accounts.”

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How healthy are your finances?

CNN Money has a fun calculator to help you determine how healthy your finances are.  In the current economy this is an important consideration to live within your means.  Check it out.



First Wave of Halloween Scares

Halloween is just around the corner, and, as expected, malware authors
have already concocted a brew of early scares: blackhat SEO, fake Adobe
Flash notification, and a malicious file download.

…(read more)

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The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has some good tips on reducing spam.  With the steady increase in the amount of email spam the average internet user receives, it may become harder to discern which messages are spam and which are legitimate.  Reducing the amount of spam you must receive may help protect you from phishing attempts, as well as make your email inbox easier to keep tidy.  Read the linked article for the tips.

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