Archive for January, 2011
If it works don’t fix it. How often have we heard that in our lives. From the time we were kids our Mom and Dad would tell us this when as you geeks we would take something apart to figure out how it worked. They’d say it worked before you took it apart! Ahh yes it did but we learned! We learned how to do it to a point and then we messed it up and learned not to do that again. If it works don’t fix it. Yet this is something that cleanly does not always apply to computers. Why? Well let me tell you a story first:
Went down to my parents house for the holidays and had a grand time, but on the first day I learned just how much my parents don’t really know. I asked my Dad for the password for his wifi router so I could connect to it, but he did not know. Now this is because Cisco/Linksys implemented Wifi Protected Setup. My laptop and my wifes both had trouble connecting until I assigned a WPA password. WPS attempted to make setup easy, but it actually made it harder than it should be. Anyway, in resolving the solution, I discovered that my parents still had the default password for the router and one of their machines as being logged into only with the Administrator sign on and they had NO PASSWORD on the account! When I attempted to explain to them how bad that is, they didn’t care. They said: if it works don’t fix it and it works boy! Leave it alone!
Now, you Linux people know why these things are bad. Now I am going to attempt to explain why this is bad in layman terms. If it works, don’t fix it doesn’t apply here. Why? Well not doing anything is just like not doing regular maintenance on your car. If you don’t change the oil, your car might blow up. If you don’t patch your router, some mischievous individual may make your computer a slave to his wishes, not yours. They don’t even have to be in your house or even on your street. they can be in your neighbors house or on the other side of the world. This is why you must always do your maintenance.
What maintenance should home users do? Well here’s what I suggest to do and when:
1. Windows, Mac or Linux System Updates.
2. Antiviral or Spyware Updates.
3. Browser updates if you use something other than Internet Explorer or Safari on Mac OS X.
4. Other program updates.
1. Visit your router’s website to see if a firmware update has been released. If it has, update it.
Every 90 Days
1. Change Passwords.
Now I know what some will say, but these are my suggestions on how to stay safe. Some of these might be scary for you, but after you’ve done it once, you whoudl feel more comfortable. The most onerous one is probably the password changes since everything requires a password. My suggestion isn’t to use an algorithm, but it helps. If you just can’t seem to remember your password, I highly suggest writing them down if you are a home user. In a corporate space, this is a nono, but at home you don’t have a choice unless you want to reset your router again. Besides, if a stranger is in your home, you have a bigger problem than having your password discovered! If you are afraid to write it down on paper, I suggest using Keepass which is a multi platform password storage program.
This is just an overview of what a every day Joe should do and it not meant to be a comprehensive guide. If you or your parents aren’t capable of this, then I highly suggest getting them a iPad since it’s very easy to use and hard to mess up.