TWT Newsletter, Issue #044 – Make a password manager your new years resolution!
Welcome to another edition of the TWT Newsletter. Christmas is over, leaving us all a little plumper and a lot poorer! Moving into the new year, we look at one of Decembers biggest internet security breaches and what it means for you. Naturally, we still have our tip of the month and free utility of the month too.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Announcing our forum winner!
3) Lax security at Gawker Media proves password managers are essential tools!
4) Tip of the Month – Check your monitor cables
5) Free Utility of the Month – Unlocker
6) CES 2011 Roundup
7) Top-Windows-Tutorials.com in 2011
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Despite what some social networking advocates would have you believe, Instant Messaging is still popular and relevant today. Microsoft recently updated their Windows Live Messenger and we have updated our tutorials to cover the new version. You can view the first of our five new tutorials by clicking here.
Announcing our forum winner!
Last month we announced that anyone who used our forum was eligible to win a free one year subscription to ESET Smart Security. Congratulations to juice881998, whose post about Flash Player problems has won our competition. A free one-year ESET Smart Security licence is on its way to you now.
We would still like to see more of you join our forum. Remember that if you have a problem with your PC, a suggestion or request for a new tutorial or simply want to leave feedback on the site, using our new Site Forum is the best way to engage with both the Top-Windows-Tutorials.com staff and readers. Visit this link to learn more about the forums.
Lax security at Gawker Media proves password managers are essential tools!
We’ve talked a lot about password security before here at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com but nothing hammers the message home like a real world example. Gawker media, one of the internet’s bigger publishing powerhouses was forced to admit last month that its entire reader database had been compromised. Due to negligence within the Gawker Media company, servers and software was not updated to more recent versions, meaning that, according to the perpetrators of the attack, they actually had access to the entire customer database and program code for the site for three whole months before anyone noticed.
Before Gawker could plug the leak, a total of 1.3 million users details were posted online. This included user-names and passwords for their accounts on any of the Gawker media sites. While this is extremely embarrassing for Gawker, it’s also worrying for its users. First of all, the commenting system on Gawker was anonymous, this anonymity has now been broken. Anyone who used a personally identifiable e-mail address is now exposed. As Felix Salmon at Reuters said: “I can imagine more than a few commenters on Gawker and Wonkette and Fleshbot who would be mortified or possibly even fired if their identities became public.”
More importantly, the security breach at Gawker confirmed something that we’ve stated in the past, that people use the same password, or at best the same two or three passwords, for every site they visit on the web. After the password list was published from Gawker, a string of other attacks were launched on popular sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as nefarious individuals realised that the passwords they gained from the Gawker database would, more often than not, allow access into an individuals other personal accounts too.
As we’ve stated in the past, when you send information to sites on the internet, you are trusting that they will take care with your personal information. As we have seen with the Gawker security breach, this isn’t always the case. What can you do to protect yourself? Stop using the same password for every website and start using a password manager.
How does a password manager help Protect you online? Password managers, sometimes called password vaults, work in two ways. Firstly, they let you log into sites on the internet much quicker, just by the click of a button. Secondly, they safeguard and remember all your passwords (except one, your master password) Lets take a look at an example.
Bob, who doesn’t have a password manager, logs onto several of his favourite websites while using the internet. A couple of online forums for his stamp collecting hobby, his bank account, his mobile phone service page and his webmail. Bob can only remember a couple of simple passwords which are easy to guess and are transmitted over the internet for each site he visits.
Bob transmits the same easy to guess password to all his sites, because he can’t remember several different ones
Alice is also a member of the same sites but she uses a password manager utility. When she signs up for any site, she generates a random series of letters and numbers and uses that for her password. She doesn’t need to remember these passwords, because the password manager remembers them for her. All she has to remember is her master password, which is entered into the password manager and NEVER used or transmitted across the internet.
Now, if both Alice and Bob had been using Gawker at the time of the breach, then hackers would have had access to both their Gawker accounts. However, in Bobs case, the hackers would also have access to his Facebook, Google, Youtube, all his online forums and his mobile phone and internet banking too, since Bob used the same password for each site. Alice on the other hand, is not so concerned. All of her passwords are unique and they are all random sequences of numbers and letters. The hackers can’t ever get her master password (as long as she keeps her computer secure and memorizes her master password, without writing it down) because it’s never transmitted over the internet. Alice doesn’t need to worry about her other passwords being stolen since they are all totally different from each other.
As we’ve seen last month, the case described above isn’t a theory or a what if scenario, it’s something that has happened and will probably happen again. There really is no better time than now to start using a password manager. Our two favourite password managers are LastPass and Roboform. Lastpass can store an unimited number of passwords for free, while Roboform can store up to 10 passwords in the free version, and an unlimited number in the professional version. We prefer Roboforms more advanced interface and form-filling facilities, but we love all the power that LastPass provides for free. Either of these two excellent password managers will help you. You can view our tutorials for Roboform by visiting this link. We are working on tutorials and information for LastPass, you can also check out the official tutorials for LastPass here.
Tip of the Month – Check your monitor cables
If you were lucky enough to get a nice new, slim monitor for your PC for Christmas or even if you’ve been using one for some time, you might not be getting the most out of it unless you are using the correct connections. There are two types of connector that are commonly used when sending a picture from your PC to your monitor. The connectors are known as VGA and DVI. A VGA connector looks like this:-
While a DVI connector looks like this:-
(If you cannot see the pictures, you can see them on our website by visiting this link).
If your monitor and your PC has both kinds of connection, make sure to use the DVI connector rather than the VGA connector. Using the DVI connector will always result in a better picture, sometimes a vastly better one. DVI cables are inexpensive and can be purchased from all good computer and electronics retailers either online or on the high street.
Free Utility of the Month – Unlocker
Have you ever tried moving or deleting a file, only to be told that the file was in use? If you have, you will appreciate this handy little tool. Unlocker allows you to right-click on a file and see exactly which program or service is using the file, preventing you from deleting it. Even better, Unlocker allows you to ‘unlock’ the file, seizing control back from whatever application was currently using it and allowing you to remove or delete it as you see fit.
Unlocker is a fantastic tool for solving a common windows problem and an essential part of any Windows pro’s toolbox. You can download it by visiting this link.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has just closed its doors to visitors for another year. In 2011 there were several interesting developments for Microsoft. Most significantly, Microsoft has announced that it will be launching a version of Windows that will run on ARM computer processors. ARM processors are usually known for being small, power efficient CPU’s that typically sit at the heart of mobile phones or smaller, portable devices. Microsoft hopes that by bringing a fully-fledged Windows experience to ARM CPU’s that more portable devices will be able to enjoy the full Windows experience, rather than a cut down one. Critics of the plan pointed out that the desktop version of Windows is too closely tied to keyboard and mouse input and that existing software would still need to be specially converted to run on the ARM CPU’s. However, this announcement was greeted with much cheering from ARM who hailed it as a “significant milestone”, although it is likely that we won’t see a full version of Windows running on ARM devices for more than a year, probably not until Windows 8 in 2012.
More good news for ARM came from Nvidia. Nvidia are famous for making graphics cards that turn ordinary PC’s into console beating gaming powerhouses. In an announcement that surprised some, Nvidia said that they are licensing parts of the ARM processor design in order to design and build an entirely new, high performance processor for desktop PC’s. Normally ARM processors are associated with mobile devices but Nvidia intends to break this tradition and invent a computer chip that will power the most cutting edge desktop. There had been rumours for some time in the technical communities that Nvidia would design a processor, but most believed it would be based around the existing, intel designed x86 architecture, which is common in all Windows and Mac computers on the market today. One analyst said that this could turn out to be an important turning point in the computer industry as we know it.
Elsewhere at the show, there were plenty of new smartphones and thanks in no small part to the Apple iPad, plenty of new slate and tablet devices too. Dell revealed a new version of its Streak tablet, with a seven inch screen and gave a preview of an even bigger, 10 inch tablet device. Motorola showed of the Xoom, which weighs around 680g and has a 10.1-inch screen. Most of the tablets at the show ran the Android operating system, though more expensive and bulkier models are able to run Windows 7 too.
The big names in television were out to impress too, with a colossal 72 inch screen from LG. Panasonic showed off their personalised television, which allows streaming media and access to Facebook and Skype as well as multiplayer videogames. Most TV manufacturers were still showing 3D compatible sets, with Sony in particular showing their dedication to the technology. Along with a whole range of 3DTV’s, Sony also plan on selling 3D-enabled laptops and 3D cameras that will let you film your family in full 3D. If you bought a 3DTV and you’re struggling to find content to play on it, Sony’s announcement that it will launch a full-time 3D channel should be right up your street. Called 3Net, the station will broadcast 24/7 in 3D. Sony also announced they were working on glasses-free 3D for the big screen, but that could be several years away yet.
As usual for CES, there were hundreds of other products on show too, from the practical to the practically insane. Extreme sports cameras, huge iPod boom boxes and Wi-fi scales that beam your bodyweight directly to your phone, CES has it all and more. The announcement of Windows coming to ARM processors is an interesting one, but not one that will affect Windows users in the near future. We will of course, keep our readers up-to-date with any developments concerning Windows throughout the year, so stay subscribed!
Top-Windows-Tutorials.com in 2011
It’s amazing to think that Top-Windows-Tutorials.com has been online since 2007. What started as a part time hobby has grown into a full time job and that’s only possible thanks to our loyal readers. While we don’t have any dramatic plans for the site in the new year, we will of course keep adding great new content. We’d also love to see more of you take part in our site forums, though I’m sure you’re sick of us mentioning that now…
In 2011 we plan to release at least one new Superguide. The new guide will focus on advanced Windows 7 techniques for those of you who want to take your understanding of Windows to the next level. We’ll also focus on bringing you more free tutorials especially based on the feedback we get from our newsletters and on the forums. We’ll continue to keep updating and polishing our existing tutorials too.
We hope to keep serving our existing readers and also attract many more in 2011, so keep telling your friends and family about how great we are. If you use Twitter or Facebook, don’t forget to follow us or Fan us there too! See this page for the links to our Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds.
That rounds off our newsletter for January. We hope you had a fantastic Christmas and have a great new year too. We’d like to take this opportunity once again to send a huge thank you to all our readers for your support throughout 2010. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th February 2011 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7! We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page or by leaving us feedback in our forum. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!