* PasswordsCon: Live from the conference that’s all about passwords


It’s 99 degrees at about 9:30 pm here in Vegas, as I complete my first day at PasswordsCon, which is technically a “track” at a larger two-day hacker conference called BSides Las Vegas. (The mother of all hacker conferences, DEFCON 23, begins on Thursday and I’ll be sweltering at that, too.) My interest in passwords and […]


* Exposed: Behind the Brain Drain at Consumer Reports

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With the departure of its respected Managing Editor, how many professional journalists are still left at Consumer Reports? Virtually all of the major editors who produced the iconic magazine, as well as some of its best and most experienced reporters, have left CR in the past couple of years. (Disclosure: I am one of the editors who chose to leave, […]


* How to get a free Quicken upgrade–before your old version gets the ax

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If you’re a Quicken user, you probably know that unless you upgrade at least every three years, you’ll be cut off from all online services such as bill paying, and downloading banking or credit card transactions, by April 30 of the third year. If you didn’t already know, welcome to the club. Quicken calls this […]


* Stalked by a targeted ad

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At first, I thought it was just a coincidence that the banner ad on was for the same off-Broadway show to which I had just bought tickets.   Only after that same ad (for a show called The Nether) also popped up when I was on The New York Times site did it occur to me […]


* How Many of These Security Mistakes Are You Making?

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When it comes to Internet security, what you think you know can hurt you. A lot of what passes for common sense about this subject is just plain wrong—and often risky. Here’s a list of some mistaken beliefs that can get you ripped off or hacked, or your computer infected with something nasty. Which of these […]


* Your New Smart Card’s Dirty Little Secret: It Won’t Stop Hackers

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If you haven’t yet received a new credit card, the kind with a computer chip visibly embedded in it, you soon will. Card issuers are quickly distributing them to curb credit card fraud. The little integrated circuit on the front, whose encryption capability makes it nearly impossible to copy or forge the card, is a welcome […]


* Passwordgate: Thousands of websites have been openly exposing user passwords

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The big Sony breach is only the tip of the online insecurity iceberg, it turns out. Call it Passwordgate: Owners of thousands of websites—including big brands like AT&T, The New York Times, and Macy’s—have been openly exposing their users’ passwords over the past few years by placing them undisguised smack dab in the middle of e-mails to […]


* How to change your e-mail address without losing your mind

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“Change my e-mail address? No problem,” said no one ever. Why the reluctance to take on what can be an important chore? Because tracking down all the parties to notify and web sites to update can feel like a staggering task. Not to mention the nagging fear that, no matter what you do, someday some […]


* Fed up with Java ramming the Ask Toolbar down your throat? Try this.

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  Have you seen the above screen, or something like it, when you accepted an update to Java on your computer? Java updates are fairly frequent due to the regular need for security fixes. Maybe, like many, you didn’t pay much attention to this screen and clicked Next without unchecking the little box on the left […]


* The big password mistake that hackers are hoping you’ll make

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  You’re smart. You don’t use passwords like the perennial 123456 and qwerty. Or even slightly better ones, like Cassie86 or Cubs1908. Because you put some thought into them, your passwords are better than those, right? Maybe. But unless you avoid a little-known mistake recently uncovered by password researchers, there’s a good chance your passwords will […]


* Consumers to tech giants: All we’re asking for is R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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Heard about the latest big tech company pledging to finally end some infuriating mistreatment of consumers and make amends to them–without admitting any guilt and only after the Federal Trade Commission or a consumer group has put a gun to its head? This pattern has become all too familiar. Here are a few examples from […]