Month: December 2013

Tech Tips: Guide to protecting Internet accounts

2015-02-24 21.43.18This is a great article about I saw at The Associated Press website by Anick Jesdanun. Great tips regarding internet password and more.

by ANICK JESDANUN (Published: Dec 4, 2013)

NEW YORK (AP) – Security experts say passwords for more than 2 million Facebook, Google and other accounts have been compromised and circulated online, just the latest example of breaches involving leading Internet companies.

Some services including Twitter have responded by disabling the affected passwords. But there are several things you can do to minimize further threats -even if your account isn’t among the 2 million that were compromised.

Here are some tips to help you secure your online accounts:

– ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER:

When a malicious hacker gets a password to one account, it’s often a stepping stone to a more serious breach, especially because many people use the same passwords on multiple accounts. So if someone breaks into your Facebook account, that person might try the same password on your banking or Amazon account. Suddenly, it’s not just about fake messages being posted to your social media accounts. It’s about your hard-earned money.

It’s particularly bad if the compromised password is for an email account. That’s because when you click on a link on a site saying you’ve forgotten your password, the service will typically send a reset message by email. People who are able to break into your email account, therefore, can use it to create their own passwords for all sorts of accounts. You’ll be locked out as they shop and spend, courtesy of you.

If the compromised password is one you use for work, someone can use it to break in to your employer’s network, where there are files with trade secrets or customers’ credit card numbers.

– BETTER PASSWORDS:

Many breaches occur because passwords are too easy to guess. There’s no evidence that guessing was how these 2 million accounts got compromised, but it’s still a good reminder to strengthen your passwords. Researchers at security company Trustwave analyzed the passwords compromised and found that only 5 percent were excellent and 17 percent were good. The rest were moderate or worse.

What makes a password strong?

– Make them long. The minimum should be eight characters, but even longer is better.

– Use combinations of letters and numbers, upper and lower case and symbols such as the exclamation mark. Try to vary it as much as you can. “My!PaSsWoRd-32” is far better than “mypassword32.”

– Avoid words that are in dictionaries, as there are programs that can crack passwords by going through databases of known words. These programs know about such tricks as adding numbers and symbols, so you’ll want to make sure the words you use aren’t in the databases. One trick is to think of a sentence and use just the first letter of each word – as in “tqbfjotld” for “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

– Avoid easy-to-guess words, even if they aren’t in the dictionary. Avoid your name, company name or hometown, for instance. Avoid pets and relatives’ names, too. Likewise, avoid things that can be looked up, such as your birthday or ZIP code.

One other thing to consider: Many sites let you reset your password by answering a security question, but these answers -such as your pet or mother’s maiden name- are possible to look up. So try to make these answers complex just like passwords, by adding numbers and special characters and making up responses.

– A SECOND LAYER:

Many services offer a second level of authentication when you’re accessing them from a computer or device for the first time. These services will send you a text message to a phone number on file, for instance. The text message contains a code that you need in addition to your password. The idea is that a hacker may have your password, but won’t have ready access to your phone.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are among the services offering this dual authentication. It’s typically an option, something you have to turn on. Do that. It may be a pain, but it will save you grief later. In most cases, you won’t be asked for this second code when you return to a computer you’ve used before, but be sure to decline that option if you’re in a public place such as a library or Internet cafe.

– ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

Change your passwords regularly. It’s possible your account information is already circulating. If you have a regular schedule for changing passwords for major accounts, you reduce the amount of time that someone can do harm with that information.

You’ll need to decide what counts as a major account. Banking and shopping sites are obvious, as are email and social-networking services. It probably doesn’t matter much if someone breaks into the account you use to read newspaper articles (unless it’s a subscription).

And strong passwords alone won’t completely keep you safe. Make sure your computer is running the latest software, as older versions can have flaws that hackers have been known to exploit. Be careful when clicking on email attachments, as they may contain malicious software for stealing passwords. Use firewalls and other security programs, many of which are available for free.

4 years ago No Comments Views

Christmas begins in February..

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For Programming and Worship & Arts ministries, Christmas begins a little early. This year at Mount Pleasant Christian Church, we will once again have great weekend celebrations and hopefully be inspired by the true message of Christmas.

For us, this conversation begins early in the year. This process begins with a lot of talk between our two ministries, our senior pastor, and few volunteers who help us design key elements for Christmas services.

 

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Back in February, we had our first conference calls to talk about some of the elements and possible stage modifications. At that point we did not yet have a title or song selections, but this conversation was really important because it helped the worship pastor to identify what direction he would take on the song selections and who would sing them. For instance, at this point during our conversations early this year, we considered having the choir in a different formation onstage, separated in groups. As we progressed with our planning, we figured that it would be possible but not needed after the final design was done.

 

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In June, we began to make final decisions on stage design and moved to planning the opening number animation and lighting design. This is a  process that involved a graphic designer, animation, and Orange Thread Media, who has had a great partnership with us for several years. They participate in the conversation as well, helping the planning and walking along us developing ideas and content for the services.

By mid-August, the song selections are at a point where we can begin developing some key animations and define what the service opening will look like, as well as make a final list of the lighting rentals needed for the weekend.

As rehearsals begin, things start to get in shape. New ideas may arrive, and that is ok. It is important to always be willing to adjust and change, but because we start planning so early, changes at this point are not that difficult to make, whereas if we were just planning the services now, we would not have time to adjust later.  If we start planning now, at this time of the year, we are running against the clock.

Volunteers play a huge role during planning and preparation, and planning ahead helps to coordinate and communicate with volunteers. Planning ahead helps to protect your volunteer’s time and encourages them to stay engaged.  Their involvement can result in great ideas during the process.

Between the programming team, band, choir, worship team, children’s choir and helpers, ushers, and greeters, Children’s ministry volunteers, and others, we will have over 400 volunteers serving during 6 services in one weekend.

 

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For 2014, we have already begun the conversations and initial planning. New things are already put in motion for next year’s celebration.

 

So I hope you join us for this year’s special Christmas services. Volunteers and staff have worked really hard for months, just to make sure that when you are here with us, you can enter into a great time of worship and hear the great Christmas message delivered through music, technology, and a sermon from the Word of God.  And remember to bring family and friends to celebrate with us.

 

See you there!

 

Special Christmas Services:

Worship Center:

Friday, December 13 @ 7 PM

Saturday, December 14 @ 3:45 and 6 PM (ASL available at 6 PM service only)

Sunday, December 15 @ 8:45 and 10:45 AM

 

Video Venue (SMC):

Sunday, December 15 @ 10:45 AM

For more information visit www.mpcc.info

4 years ago 1 Comment Views

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