The safe way to 'write down' your passwords

Following my post earlier this month on "Ten simple, common-sense security tips," reader John B. asked whether it was safe to store his passwords in a Word DOC file and then copy and paste them into sign-in screens to thwart keystroke loggers. John just has to remember to type in one password: the one he uses to encrypt and password-protect his Word password document.

Of course, John's passwords are vulnerable to clipboard loggers that capture the contents of the clipboard just as key loggers grab your keystrokes. That's why John has to add extra characters to … Read more

'Jesus,' 'welcome' join list of worst passwords

Despite the vulnerability presented by weak passwords, many Internet users continue to put their security at risk by using common words or number sequences that are easily guessable.

Unchanged from last year, the three most popular passwords for 2012 were "password," "123456," and "12345678," according to SplashData's annual "25 Worst Passwords of the Year" list. The list was compiled from files containing millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers.

But that isn't to say that our choices have stagnated; new entries to the list this year include "welcome,&… Read more

Disk monitoring and deletion protection utility

Disk Drill for Mac is a useful utility that creates a recovery disk volume with copies of your important files. If you delete a file by accident, you can then recover it from that vault. If the file is recently deleted, you can probably even recover it from the original volume. In addition, Disk Drill for Mac also monitors the state of your hard drive and notifies you of potential failures or capacity limitations. Disk Drill for Mac is a slimmed-down version available for free, with the Pro edition available for $89.99. With the free version, disk scanning and … Read more

Staying safe is simple with Online Armor

Windows Firewall and other free firewalls do a pretty good job of keeping threats away from your computer, but many users prefer the extra security and support of a premium firewall. Emsisoft's Online Armor is a shareware firewall suite that offers strong protection against malicious programs, hacker attacks, and other privacy and security threats, but it's also designed to be as unobtrusive as possible while doing it. Its real-time protection means no lengthy scans; instead, Online Armor evaluates each program as it runs. The program has plenty of configuration options, especially in its Advanced Mode. For instance, you … Read more

FTC settles with Bieber fan site over child data-collection claims

Artist Arena creates fan Web sites for artists including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Rihanna. Calling itself "the expert in captivating fans," it also managed to gain the attention of the Federal Trade Commission after allegations were made that the firm illegally collected information about minors.

The company is a division of the Warner Music Group after being purchased by the corporation in 2010.

In a complaint filed in a New York district court on Tuesday, the FTC accused Artist Arena of failing to obtain parental consent before collecting the names and e-mail addresses of children, according to Reuters. … Read more

Who controls your digital assets post-mortem?

Just as you choose where your money goes after you die, you should be able to control your "digital assets" -- your online data -- when you pass away, according to a University of Illinois law professor.

Professor Jason Mazzone has written a paper titled "Facebook's Afterlife," which argues that federal agencies are responsible for safeguarding "digital afterlives" in the same manner that a bank has a duty to properly bequeath a deceased person's assets.

Mazzone, an expert in intellectual property law, says the U.S. government should take a solid role … Read more

Protect yourself with SpywareBlaster

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that's especially true when it comes to spyware; wouldn't you rather protect your system than spend hours trying to rid it of malicious visitors? SpywareBlaster is a simple program that provides protection from ActiveX-based software and unwanted cookies for both Firefox and Internet Explorer users.

SpywareBlaster has a simple interface that will be easy for even novices to navigate. The main screen shows the protection status for Internet Explorer, restricted Web sites, and Firefox. By default, protection is disabled for each of these, but you can easily … Read more

Senate delays Netflix, e-mail privacy fix after cops protest

A Netflix-backed bill to update an antique 1988 privacy law, crafted a generation before social networks and cloud computing became popular, was derailed today because of last-minute opposition from law enforcement officials.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who heads the Judiciary committee, postponed discussion on the proposal to update the dialup-era privacy law, likely pushing a final vote into the new Congress that will convene in 2013.

The delay comes two days after a phalanx of law enforcement organizations objected to the legislation, asking Leahy to "reconsider acting" on it "until a more comprehensive review of … Read more

Senators prepare to vote on Netflix and e-mail privacy

In 1988, when President Reagan signed a video privacy bill into law, computer users were sipping bandwidth through the tiny straws of 2400 bps modems, IBM was selling mainframe databases for over $200,000, and musician Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" was topping the charts.

Well, it turns out that politicians are no better at prognostication than the rest of us are. The clutch of lawyers and their aides on Capitol Hill failed to anticipate the rise of Netflix and Facebook, and their well-intentioned but brittle video privacy law is now at odds with modern … Read more

Norton 2013 offers good Windows 8 support, but struggles on benchmarks

Review: Symantec has moved Norton 360 to the same release schedule as Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus, making them into a three-tiered strategy for consumer security. Norton AntiVirus is the entry-level product, with Norton Internet Security occupying the middle rung and Norton 360 aimed at people who want the most bang for the most buck.

Notoriously slow to respond to trends, the consumer security field is surprisingly not taking Windows 8 lying down. Norton and many of its competitors are optimizing their suites for Microsoft's new operating system ahead of its release, and Norton is combining that strategy … Read more