question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

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LearningAlot
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question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by LearningAlot »

I am recently retired, when I was working and I had a PC / IPAD/ Cell phone/ or data security type question, I would seek out someone
at work who was way smarter than I and get helpful advice. I don't have that anymore and was hoping to bounce
things off of this group.

One of my projects this winter is to review the issues of identity theft / password management / data management, and
determine if I should make any changes in the way I currently do things.

In summary, here is my current process:
* significant use of google (chrome,email, calendar, contacts, sheets, slides, docs)- it is free and easy to use
* Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop PC
* apple iphone & ipad (found a way to have google contacts update apple contacts, so I only update one system)
* carbonite for PC backup (fee involved)
* Norton for PC anti virus (fee involved)
* I do use microsoft excel and powerpoint on a decreasing and very limited basis as I get more familiar with google sheets/slides
* I keep my IDs/passwords on a password protected excel spreadsheet and print off a hard copy and store in a safe location

My goal is to keep things safe and simple. Since this stuff does not come easy for me, I tend avoid change, even though
potentially safer and simpler solutions may exist. If anything jumps out to anyone, that I should consider changing, I
would greatly appreciate your feedback.

Thanks in advance!
PFInterest
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by PFInterest »

if you are using windows 10 you really dont need to pay for antivirus anymore. even the free version of avast is ranked highly.
make sure you turn on 2 factor auth for the accounts that support it (like google).
i would suggest a password manager like lastpass, etc. 1- you can create much longer passwords, 2- everything will have a unique password, and 3- very easy to use accross platform (windows, ios, etc), and 4- can change passwords instantly if needed.
gtd98765
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by gtd98765 »

My reactions:
- I don't know how old your PC is, but make sure it is running at least Windows 8.1. If it is old and still running Vista or XP, it needs to be replaced.
- Microsoft Defender/Windows Defender, which come free with Windows, are now good enough that you do not need to buy antivirus from Norton or anyone else. The most important thing to avoid viruses is to avoid sketchy websites and downloads.
- Get a password manager like Lastpass rather than using an Excel spreadsheet for your passwords.

Good luck.
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FrugalInvestor
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by FrugalInvestor »

Since safety and simplicity is your goal and you're already utilizing many Google products and services I'd strongly suggest taking a look at a Chromebook to replace your PC and possibly your iPad. Security and simplicity is what Chromebooks are all about. I moved from a Windows machine to a Chromebook after retiring and getting sick of keeping up with software and security updates and back-ups on both my and my wife's Windows machines. These are all now things of the past for me and although it may sound silly my life is better!

A nice side benefit is that Chromebooks are not only secure and simple but they are also typically quite a bit less expensive than Windows and Apple alternatives. We've also moved to Android phones and Project Fi (recently re-named Google Fi) cell phone service which ties our phones into the same Google ecosystem and simplifies our lives even further (contacts, shared calendars, photos, etc.).

You'll find many previous discussions about Chromebooks by doing a site search.
Have a plan, stay the course and simplify, but most importantly....Ignore the Noise!
togb
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by togb »

This is not my area of expertise either but I can chime in on Avast as being really good. I used the free version first but was so impressed and grateful that I ponied up for a paid version just because it was worth it.

Interested to see the recommendations for a password manager-- I have not crossed that bridge yet.
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tuningfork
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by tuningfork »

My advice, which echoes what some others have said:

First, get a Password Manager like Lastpass or Keepass. Storing your passwords in a password-protected spreadsheet may or may not be secure, depending on the version of Excel, the strength of your password, etc. A Password Manager will generate complex password for you (instead of the ones you're probably making up on your own in the spreadsheet, which will not be as secure as a proper randomly-generated password). A Password Manager will usually integrate directly into your browser, so you don't have to copy/paste using the clipboard (which itself could be a security problem) or open the spreadsheet to view your passwords, which could be vulnerable to shoulder-surfing.

Defender anti-virus built-in to Windows 10 is perfectly capable. No need to pay for Norton or use anything else, but if you're happy with Norton, no need to change either.

Everything else on your list seems fine.
mhalley
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by mhalley »

A couple of options if you are really paranoid.
1. Get a cheap chromebook for use as your financial computer, do nothing else on it except banking and investing.
2. Dual boot the win pc into a Linux build such as mint or Ubuntu and use it for your finances.
I like KEEpass for a pw manager, stores locally instead of online.
cheesepep
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by cheesepep »

Although google does a good job of protecting your dat through use of chrome, it is still and foremost an ad company. There is a reason why their products are free or super cheap. I make very little use of most google products myself. I still use some google stuff but I use alternatives when possible or use appropriate ad blockers and such.
LeanHogs
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by LeanHogs »

Keeping IDs and passwords on a computer connected to the internet sounds risky. If your computer ever gets compromised, your IDs and passwords are right there to be stolen. Even if the file is password-protected, it's possible that there could be a bug that allows an attacker to decrypt the file anyway.

Make sure you regularly install the security updates for your operating system and any other software you regularly use. If you don't install the updates regularly, you leave yourself open to being attacked.
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JoMoney
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by JoMoney »

I second the idea of considering a Chromebook. They're great, even better for someone who is not especially tech savvy.

I would not keep passwords stored on the computer. If you're keeping a hard-copy printed out/written down that should be good enough (but make sure you're storing that in a locked drawer or somewhere to keep out prying eyes). I would also suggest keeping a different list of what the passwords are for that isn't stored with the passwords.. i.e. you can keep a spreadsheet list of all your accounts on the computer (with no passwords), and you keep the list of passwords printed out in a locked drawer (and nothing on the password list that says what they're for)... you can number them to make sure you get them lined up if needed.
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Halicar
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by Halicar »

LearningAlot wrote: Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:58 am * I keep my IDs/passwords on a password protected excel spreadsheet and print off a hard copy and store in a safe location
Do an internet search for "how to open a password protected excel workbook" and you'll see that this is not a good idea. Password protection in Excel is not a security feature--it's to keep people in a multi-user environment from accidentally accessing workbooks. In other words, it's not a padlock, it's a sheet of paper with "authorized personnel only" written on it.
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LadyGeek
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (computer security).
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lightheir
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Re: question from "not the smartest personal computer guy in the world"

Post by lightheir »

JoMoney wrote: Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:36 am I second the idea of considering a Chromebook. They're great, even better for someone who is not especially tech savvy.

I would not keep passwords stored on the computer. If you're keeping a hard-copy printed out/written down that should be good enough (but make sure you're storing that in a locked drawer or somewhere to keep out prying eyes). I would also suggest keeping a different list of what the passwords are for that isn't stored with the passwords.. i.e. you can keep a spreadsheet list of all your accounts on the computer (with no passwords), and you keep the list of passwords printed out in a locked drawer (and nothing on the password list that says what they're for)... you can number them to make sure you get them lined up if needed.
If you use Keepass with a strong master password, it's fine to store your passwords in the Keepass vault on the local computer. Just make sure you hav a good master password and don't write it down!
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