Category: Social Media
Think you’ve got a clever, un-hackable password? You might want to tack on a few numbers to it. Global consulting firm Deloitte released a report Tuesday with an alarming prediction. More than 90% of user-generated passwords will be vulnerable to hacking, the report, prepared by Deloitte’s Canadian Technology, Media & Telecommunications arm, said. Even those passwords traditionally considered strong — with eight characters and a combination of numbers, letters and symbols — are at risk.
It seems like every other week a major company reports its site was hacked in some way. A year ago online shoe store was hacked, exposing the names, email addresses, phone numbers and partial credit card numbers of 24 million customers, the company said. In June networking site LinkedIn confirmed that a major security breach corresponding to LinkedIn accounts compromised users’ passwords. About 400,000 Yahoo email addresses and passwords were hacked last July. And in 2011, 77 million passwords were stolen from Sony’s PlayStation Network. And that’s just to name a few of the biggies.
Eight isn’t enough
Most of us have been told that a strong eight-character password — with a number or two and a random symbol — is sufficiently secure for even relatively high-value financial transactions. Such a password chosen from all 94 characters available on a standard keyboard is one of 6.1 quadrillion possible combinations. It would take about a year for a relatively fast 2011 desktop computer to try every variation, Deloitte says.
And because the longer and more @, * and % symbols are in our passwords, the harder they are to remember. So we end up using a very small subset of those possible combinations — which makes user-generated passwords susceptible to getting cracked.
“Most people put a capital letter at the beginning, and if you use a symbol, you probably use an exclamation mark,” says Richard Lee, national managing partner in Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecom group.
Deloitte cites a recent study of 6 million user-generated passwords; the 10,000 most common passwords would have accessed 98% of all accounts. For anyone who has struggled to memorize the digits of Pi in geometry class, remembering a long and non-intuitive string of characters taxes the human brain’s capabilities. (Deloitte cites a study finding that, in the short term, humans struggle to remember more than seven numbers, and over a longer time frame, the average person can remember only five numbers. Adding symbols and letters makes committing these kinds of combinations to memory tougher.)
The bigger problem, however, is password re-use, says Lee. A study by credit-checking firm Experian last year found that the average user has 26 password-protected online accounts but uses only five different passwords.
So if you use the same password for your bank account online as you do your PlayStation account, a security breach at the gaming site could expose the password that protects your bank account. Deloitte notes advances in the hardware used to crack passwords that have made sensitive information increasingly vulnerable. One of these includes so-called brute-force attacks, which applies each of the 6.1 quadrillion combinations for an eight-character password until one works.
“A dedicated password-cracking machine employing readily available virtualization software and high-powered graphics processing units can crack any eight-character password in 5.5 hours,” the Deloitte report said. Such a machine costs about $30,000 in 2012, but these days “crowd-hacking” lets hackers share the task over thousands of slower machines.
Dating apps literally take the uninhibitedness of the Internet and combine it with the horned-up vibe of a bar on Saturday night so… yes. Things can (and do) go awry, and polite flirtation can turn into harassment before you even realised you have a new match.
But which dating apps serve as breeding grounds for the most cases of harassment? According to a new survey conducted by Consumers’ Research, Tinder and OkCupid are the worst dating apps when it comes to harassment.
Of the several hundred dating app users polled, 39 percent of respondents reported harassment on Tinder, and coming in at a very close second, 38 percent reported harassment on OkCupid. The harassment also functions on gendered lines: far more women (57 percent) reported being harassed than men (21 percent). And of course these numbers come as a bit unsurprising, considering how Tinder and OkCupid are also among the most popular, free dating apps available, and also considering how Tinder basically feels like a men’s locker room that women occasionally wander into and OkCupid is a free-for-all, with zero boundaries in place to keep creepy dudes from messaging with reckless abandon.
This is just to say be careful out there and don’t hold back on using the block button. Or if it’s truly bad, and someone is making you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, report that shit. People who use dating apps to harass others are just ruining the experience for people who are using the apps to actually find something meaningful, whatever that may be.
Google’s newest project is finally out of the invitational period, meaning you can get your hands on it. What is it exactly? Meet Project Fi, the company’s own wireless network meant to remove all the pain and hassle from traditional wireless companies.
It works pretty simply: You sign up for the service and pick one of the three phones available — the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 6. You’ll then have to wait for the phone and SIM card to be mailed to you. Not to worry, you won’t be charged for any service until you activate the SIM card.
The basic package for Project Fi costs just $20 for unlimited domestic talk and text, unlimited international texting, and WiFi tethering. Currently, Project Fi is offering $150 off the Nexus 5X if you purchase the phone through them. Not a bad deal for a relatively new phone. Ahead, you’ll find other details about the service and our review.
Choosing a date plan
During the setup process, you get to choose how many GB of data you want to use.
It’s $10 per GB, so if you add 4 GB, you’ll be paying an additional $40.
If you end up not using most of your data during the billing cycle, Project Fi will then credit you back the amount of money you’re owed. Any data you use on a public WiFi connection is also secured through encryption.
The same idea applies to the basic talk and text package. If for some reason you end up using your phone for only half the month and then cancel the service, you’ll only be charged for the amount you used.
What Google hopes with this project
Google hopes you’ll choose Project Fi over all the other wireless providers for several reasons.
Firstly, the company boasts it has the best wireless connection around. It tries to find you the fastest network by bouncing back and forth between Sprint, T-Mobile, and WiFi networks. The idea is if you’re moving around and suddenly T-Mobile has a faster connection, you’ll seamlessly be transferred over to that network. This also means you can start a call on a WiFi network, walk outside, and still keep talking without any issues.
You can also use the phone internationally and not pay anything extra for data. Yes, you read that right. Project Fi will still only charge you $10 per GB, so even if you hop over to London for vacation, you don’t need to worry about any roaming data charges. This perk is available in 120 countries.
You can easily add more data to your plan on the Project Fi app or the website. It also only takes three steps to pause your service and only a few more to completely cancel it.
If you need any help at all, Project Fi does have 24/7 customer support via chat, phone, or email. The calls are answered in about 20 seconds.
Keeping old cell phone plan
We were given the chance to try out Project Fi with the Nexus 6P and were left slightly impressed.
If you’re converting from iOS to Android, there will be an adjustment period getting used to it. However, the phone is relatively easy to understand, and the fingerprint reader on the back of the phone is actually more useful than the home button reader on the iPhone.
As for Project Fi itself, don’t expect a totally seamless connection constantly. Several times my texts weren’t sent due to a poor or no connection — even in dense, open areas. You might even get connected to a 3G network.
Despite the cons, I’m staying optimistic on Project Fi — mostly for the ability to pay for only the data I use. I’m one of those remaining few lucky users who still has unlimited data, so I never think about it. With Project Fi, I still don’t have to. As it turns out, I don’t consume as much data as I think I do, and having the ability to check my data usage on the Project Fi app is a relatively anxiety-free way to see how I’m doing. I have nine days remaining in my plan, and I think I’ll actually get credit back. It’s almost like a treat from Project Fi.
So yes, I will keep waiting to see whether Project Fi completely improves and does not drop any phone calls or texts. Then, maybe I’ll consider switching over. Though to be honest, the service, while meant for millennials, is a good option for parents and grandparents who don’t need that much data and can manage it easily if they do.
Online dating isn’t the future of romance, it’s the present. According to new Pew findings, one-in-ten Americans and nearly 40% of singles on the romantic hunt have used an online dating site or app. It seems to be working: nearly a quarter of online daters have met a long-term partner or spouse through the sites.
While many folks still hold a low opinion of internet daters, the cultural tides are turning, and romances kindled online are increasingly mainstream. There are, of course, downsides to meeting people online, just as there are to meeting people in any other venue. But for better or worse, internet dating is revolutionizing how we find partners – and it’s making the dating process an increasingly gender-equal and progressive one.
Old rules of dating put men in charge. Men did the asking, the planning of the date, the paying, and the asking-out-again. Women waited, made ourselves presentable, and hoped flirtations with the object of our interest would lead to an ask-out. There have always been a small handful of women who would pursue men directly, but traditionally, dating has been led by the male of the species.
And women, not wanting to appear rude, have for decades accepted invitations for dates we simply were not interested in going on. It’s a well-documented social phenomenon that women are expected to be nice and accommodating, especially to men, including the ones who ask us out. It puts women in an awkward situation, it makes men feel resentful and it wastes everyone’s time.
Online dating upends that to various degrees. It’s just as acceptable in an online space for a woman to message a man she thinks is cute as it is for a man to reach out to a woman. Most sites also have a variety of functions to show your interest if you’re not quite ready to send a full message. You can “favorite” a person’s profile, for example, letting them see that you’re interested and encouraging them to go from there.
You can also reject someone politely and efficiently with no (or at least few) hard feelings. While there are folks who get bent of out shape when their message goes unanswered – newsflash: there are crazy people on the internet – most online daters recognize that every message is a shot in the dark, and no one is obligated to respond unless they’re similarly interested. For a lot of women, the ability to avoid unwanted dates without risking offense or breaking social norms is an incredible relief. And men benefit too, by going into a date with relative certainty that the person he’s going out with at least finds him attractive on “paper” and in pictures.
Online dating also cuts through some of the unnecessary confusion in “normal” dating. Critics argue that finding a mate online removes serendipity and organic connection. That’s true, sort of – you do need to interact with someone in person to really evaluate a connection or a physical attraction. But you don’t need to meet someone in the subway or at a bar to discern a connection.
Initial offline meetings come with their own set of perils: meet someone through a friend and you’re more likely to think they’re a good person who shares your general interests and perspectives, which simply might not be true at all. It’s easy to disrupt your social group if you go out with someone a few times and then one of you loses interest while the other feels a connection.
More troubling is connecting, dating and developing real feelings before realizing you aren’t fundamentally compatible based on factors that would have been deal-breakers if you read about your partner on paper – maybe common ones like religion, politics and life goals, or specific interests like needing someone who will tolerate your playing video games for eight hours a day.
By contrast, being clear in your own dating profile can filter out fundamentally incompatible mates. Are you, say, a liberal feminist Brooklynite who would never have sex with a Republican, considers dating someone in Queens a long-distance relationship and has actual nightmares about waking up in a suburban house with a Range Rover in the driveway? That can all be specified.
Up-front disclosure helps to find someone who fits your needs, whether you want to date someone who shares your religious values, or if you have a particular fetish that you may not want to mention on a first date but that you won’t be satisfied without. Perhaps most crucially, a dating website opens up a new universe of people to meet – far more than you’ll see out at the bar down the street.
Meeting dates online, just like meeting them off, comes with negatives. The most obvious is that people lie in ways large and small. My online dating profile says I’m 5’3″ when I’m actually five-two-and-a-half, indicates I’d date anyone in the New York region when, in fact, wild horses couldn’t drag me to Staten Island and fails to disclose that in terms of hours watched, Say Yes To The Dress might qualify as one of my favorite shows.
There is also the lack of agreed-upon rules and social conventions. After how many dates with someone do you both take down your profiles? How much information is too much? It took a week for that guy to message me back – is it because I’m a hideous beast, or is he just busy? With the seemingly endless supply of internet singles and without the accountability of overlapping social groups, it’s easy for a post-date week to consist of one party going on half a dozen new dates while the other sits home waiting for a call to be returned.
And for each person who seems great, there’s a sea of other possibilities just a click away. You may get along with the person in front of you, but maybe there’s someone else out there who shares your dedication to Crossfit or your penchant for Italian cinema, or who’s just a little bit taller, or has a more interesting job. It can be overwhelming, and too tempting to resist.
What’s most heartening about the Pew poll, though, is the recognition that the internet plays a crucial role in our “real” lives, and there isn’t such a clear dividing line between how we live digitally and how we live in the world. We do our activism online, signing petitions and emailing our politicians.
We do our learning online, having access to many more opinion and news pieces than we did in the pre-digital age, and even taking college courses. We’re even able to interact directly with writers, thought leaders and fellow interested citizens on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr just as we can remain connected to our family and friends near and far, seeing their pictures and updates on Facebook. We can keep in regular contact with our closest confidants, g-chatting throughout the work day or texting to make plans.
It makes sense that dating is part of that new world too. We can start romances through dating sites, get laid with apps like Grindr or Tinder, and flirt with our romantic interests or our long-time loves by sending racy Snapchats, or sexy texts. Or we can at least attempt to make our exes jealous by posting enviable Instagrams.
Is there something lost in this new world of dating? Of course. Is it often terrifying to tread new territory without the clear romantic rules our grandmothers knew? Yes. Is this universe with its dizzying array of options and increasingly equal playing field far better than the old model, even with the attendant fear of choosing the wrong thing? You bet.
At some point, there will be more dead Facebook users than living ones – and for those left behind, it is transforming how we experience the death of those around us.
Observing that phenomenon is a strange thing. There she is, the person you love – you’re talking to her, squeezing her hand, thanking her for being there for you, watching the green zigzag move slower and slower – and then she’s not there anymore.
Another machine, meanwhile, was keeping her alive: some distant computer server that holds her thoughts, memories and relationships. While it’s obvious that people don’t outlive their bodies on digital technology, they do endure in one sense. People’s experience of you as a seemingly living person can and does continue online.
How is our continuing presence in digital space changing the way we die? And what does it mean for those who would mourn us after we are gone?
The numbers of the dead on Facebook are growing fast. By 2012, just eight years after the platform was launched, 30 million users with Facebook accounts had died. That number has only gone up since. Some estimates claim more than 8,000 users die each day. At some point in time, there will be more dead Facebook users than living ones. Facebook is a growing and unstoppable digital graveyard.
Many Facebook profiles announce their owners have passed; they are “memorialised”. The profile is emblazoned with the word “remembering”, and they stop appearing in public spaces, like People You May Know or birthday reminders.
But not all Facebook users who have passed away are memorialised.
Kerry, one of my college dorm mates, killed himself a few years ago, and his wife and family and friends regularly post updates on his page, and when they do, Kerry’s profile populates in my Facebook feed.
Neither Kerry nor my Aunt Jackie are memorialised, which means, for all intents and purposes, their deaths haven’t been recognised by Facebook, or by the unwitting users who chance upon them. Their digital identities continue to exist.
Social media has taught us about the power of the moment – connecting right now with people around the globe over awards show, television programmes, football games, social justice issues, and whatnot. But now it may be time to consider what comes after all that: our legacy.
It used to be that only certain prominent people were granted legacies, either because they left written records for their forebears, or because later inquisitive minds undertook that task. But digital technology changes that. Now, each of us spends hours each week – more than 12, according to a recent survey – writing our autobiographies.
As I’ve told my mother, my grandchildren may be able to learn about her by studying her Facebook profile. Assuming the social network doesn’t fold, they won’t just learn about the kinds of major life events that would make it into my mom’s authorised biography.
They’ll learn, rather, the tiny, insignificant details of her day to day life: memes that made her laugh, viral photos she shared, which restaurants she and my father liked to eat at, the lame church jokes she was too fond of. And of course, they’ll have plenty of pictures to go with it. By studying this information, my grandchildren will come to know about their great grandmother.
We might think of our public social media record as some type of digital soul: those perusing my Facebook know my religious beliefs, my political reservations, my love for my partner, my literary tastes. Were I to die tomorrow, my digital soul would continue to exist.
In the past few years, several tech companies have extended the idea of a digital soul. Eterni.me, launched in 2014, promises to create a digital version of “you” that will live on after your death. Death is certain, admits the website — but what if you could live forever as a digital avatar, “and people in the future could actually interact with your memories, stories and ideas, almost as if they were talking to you?”
Visitors to virtually every major website are tracked, but you can limit the snooping.
Visitors to almost every major website are tracked online, a Journal investigation has found. But there are ways to limit the snooping. Web browsing activity is tracked by use of “cookies,” “beacons” and “Flash cookies,” small computer files or software programs installed on a user’s computer by the Web pages that are visited. Some are useful. But a subset (“third party” cookies and beacons) are used by companies to track users from site to site and build a database of their online activities.
Major browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari, have privacy features. To have the most privacy options, upgrade to the latest version of the browser you use.
Check and Delete Cookies: All popular browsers let users view and delete cookies installed on their computer. Methods vary by browser.
For instance on Internet Explorer 8 (the most widely used browser), go to the “Tools” menu, pull down to “Internet Options” and under the “General” tab there are options for deleting some or all cookies. There might be hundreds, so deleting all might be easiest. But the next time you visit a favorite site, you may need to retype passwords or other login data previously stored automatically by one of those cookies.
Adjust Browser Settings: Once you’ve deleted cookies, you can limit the installation of new ones. Major browsers let you accept some cookies and block others. To maintain logins and settings for sites you visit regularly, but limit tracking, block “third-party” cookies. Safari automatically does this; other browsers must be set manually.
Facebook is the virtual home to more than 800 million active users, so any change to how the network operates is a big deal. And nothing could be bigger for the social hotspot than completely revamping everyone’s front-facing profile page, and that is exactly what is happening today. Starting this morning, the new Timeline feature — that up until now has been an optional switch — is now mandatory.
The Timeline differs from the default profile pages we know and love in several ways. Now, rather than showcasing only your most recent posts, your personal front page can be scrolled back months or years at a time. Most importantly, this change can offer visitors a glimpse at your entire social networking past, all the way back to the day that you joined up. The revamp can be both a blessing and a curse for seasoned social networkers, as it can produce a bit of pleasant nostalgia, but also drag up some of your less proud public moments.
Left untouched, your Timeline may remind of you of breakups, job troubles, or even a few unfortunate party photos that you have long since buried. Depending on your settings, these black marks on your digital past could allow new followers — including friends or business associates — to see a side of you that was better kept tucked away.
Privacy is already a hot topic for Facebook users and the network’s litany of sharing options can be difficult to navigate, even for the most experienced users. The company isn’t oblivious to how the Timeline may drag up some unwanted past events, so a short buffer zone is in place to allow you to modify your online persona before making its new debut. You now have until Tuesday, January 31 to erase any past Facebook scars you’d prefer to hide.
The mandatory Timeline rollout will undoubtedly catch some by surprise, but you don’t have to fall victim to the ghosts of past updates. Take some time to review your social networking history and don’t hesitate to prune anything that you wouldn’t want on the front page of a local newspaper. Because as of right now, the clock is ticking.