Sunday, July 06, 2008

Clarion West Update

The word from Jay Lake's Livejournal and other places is that the community rallied swiftly and the victims of the thefts are back to work.  I'm so glad.

I know if I was in that position and I took my main computer with me I'd have financial information compromised, passwords revealed, and I would have lost a heckuva lot of work.  So.  Let's all be security conscious from now on.

When you're robbed in your own home there's really not much you can do to protect the sensitive information on your computer.  (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)  Some programs allow you to have passwords required and such, but by and large, I think it's okay to trust your home environment and then deal with theft when it happens.  

When you're traveling, though, that's a whole 'nother ballgame.  Thieves are taking more and more advantage of the fact that people carry laptops everywhere.  They've taken to breaking into more hotel rooms (a family member of a coworker had this happen and lost a brand new laptop--it was a nice hotel, too) and watch for people being careless at restaurants, etc.  If you're traveling with your laptop I think it's wise to backup your data much more frequently than you normally would, protect any confidential information with password roadblocks (yes, I know it's a pain to have to type a password to get into Quicken or whatever but believe me, it's worth it) and to have a non-mental list (because after you've suffered a theft you're going to be very upset!) of what might be compromised and who to call about it.  Credit cards.  Checking and savings accounts.  Passwords/auto sign-ins to forums that are the same as or similar to the sign-ins for more important things like online banking, Paypal, Amazon, ebay, medical records and/or medical insurance sites, car loans/mortgage info, etc.  (BTW, thieves *love* it when you use the same password or even just the login for everything.  If they seize control of your email, even briefly, they can snag a lot of information in a very short time.)  

Life's too short to live in a state of fear that someone might snag your private info and steal your identity or your money or destroy your credit.  But do think about security when you travel, and do make that list of numbers you'll need to call to inform folks that your laptop was stolen so they can start suspending accounts and such and help you protect yourself.

There's a lot of poopyheads stealing laptops so take care out there. 


jaylake said...

The Macintosh OS has a password-to-login feature which is actually pretty damned difficult to defeat. I have my identifying info inside the battery compartment, so if a thief takes to an Apple store claiming they have "lost the password", it has a chance to come back to me. Who knows if it will help, but it cannot hurt.

Kami said...

Ooo, good one!

sophie said...

I saw the fall-out of hackers taking down a feminist forum - same sort of issue.

Everyone who had used the same password to log into the forum as they used for the e-mail registered to that forum lost their e-mails. For most, it was mere nuisance - sharing new addresses and regaining friends' addresse they'd lost and the fact that the hackers were spamming every address list with porn.
But for a few, their financial information and RL names and addresses were available to the hackers. Which takes it to a whole new level of sinister (and these guys were stalking at least one forum member in real-life).

Another concern is that I broke my own password on my laptop, simply by trying every password I commonly use until it gave up on me and asked me to create a new one. That's not security.

Anonymous said...

I have to blush and say that I do use the same login for most things I have to have a login for...but the financial and credit card sites have more challenging passwords (about 6 that I used to use when I managed systems.) and I try to rotate them occasionally...but I worry less now that my laptop is dead.

Kami said...

Aw man, poor laptop!

I have several that are pretty weird combos of letters and numbers. I've still got that limited but solid memory and since I don't have to remember peoples' phone numbers anymore, I put passwords in those memory slots. It's about time for me to create some new ones, though. I'll have to take a couple of hours and change passwords on my accounts.

Christopher said...

Thanks so much for the support, Kamila. All of us at Clarion West 2008 appreciate it. =)

-Christopher Reynaga

Kami said...

You're more than welcome. I'm sorry the thefts happened and I hope over time that everyone who suffered losses will get their feet back under them.