Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boring Stuff That’s Important—Backups and Password Changes

DSC00843_zI’m hooking together two totally different things in my post today, but felt that they were connected because both topics bore me to death. :)

Password Protection

I was watching the news Monday night and one of the big stories is, of course, the Assange case. Specifically, the hackers that are bringing down websites that have cut off support to Assange or WikiLeaks.

What alarmed me most was this story (featured in the LA Times) that explains how hackers broke into the Gawker blog (a cluster of big-name blogs, if you don’t visit there) and, among other things, displayed a text file of 200,000 emails and passwords. Many of the users had used the same passwords over and over again on different websites—so hackers also took over their Twitter accounts, etc.

I think we all know that we shouldn’t reuse passwords. We shouldn’t have the same password for our Facebook account that we use for our online banking and for our blog. This article from ZDNet explains the reasons why we shouldn’t.

ZDNet said that the main reason people reuse passwords is for convenience—they simply can’t remember a variety of user names and passwords. The post advised using a password manager and not even trying to commit these passwords to memory. The post author mentioned free app Password Safe and Splash ID (which is available via subscription but is nice because it's also accessible from smart phones.)

While we’re doing boring things to protect ourselves, we should also make sure we’re:

Backing Up Our Data

Our computers work well—until, of course, they don’t. I know I’ve lost text before, and I think it’s practically inevitable if you write over a long period of time…unless you’re super-vigilant, like we all should be.

I save my manuscripts to our computer server and also take the easy route and email myself the drafts.

But there are lots of different choices and some of them only really require thought in the setting-up phase of the backup, and less in the implementing of it.

This article ,on the Query Tracker blog, has a nice overview of the different ways to save our data: from flash drives and external hard drives, to sync software, online hard drives (like the popular Dropbox, which is discussed in this post on the Slushbuster blog), and online document managers.

While we’re at it, we should be backing up our blogs. I’ve heard some real horror stories from bloggers I know about losing all the content on their blog. Considering the problems I’ve had with Blogger, I’ve been trying to be good about backing up the blog.

Here is an article on the Guide to Literary Agents blog that discusses how to backup a Blogger, WordPress, and LiveJournal blog.

Have you ever been hacked or lost data? How vigilant are you? I know I’m trying to do better. :)