To keep hackers out of your systems, never click on suspicious links or attachments, even from friends. But it’s even more important to manage your passwords. Here’s what internet security experts say we should do:
1. Use nothing from the dictionary. If your password is in the dictionary, it’s no barrier at all. Even if you make changes to a real word, hackers can still breach it.
2. Use a “passphrase.” The longer the password, the harder it is to crack. One that’s 14 characters or more is ideal. But long passwords are hard to remember, so think of a phraseâa favorite song lyric, movie quote, or poem, then use only the first few letters of each word for your “passphrase.”
3. Try gibberish. Randomly run over your keyboard, hitting Shift and Alt/Option keys every once in a while. Copy each of these gibberish passwords into a text file and put it on an encrypted, password-protected USB drive. The best passwords have a random selection of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and keyboard symbols, like “%” and “+”.
4. Never use a password twice. Hackers love it when people use the same password for lots of sites. Once they get into your LinkedIn account, they’ll try for your bank account. Make sure it’s different.
5. Store passwords securely. Never store your passwords on your computer. If it’s hacked, all your accounts will be compromised. Store passwords on an encrypted USB drive with a long password you memorize, then copy and paste them into accounts to prevent keystroke logging software from getting them. Or simply keep password hints (not the passwords) on a piece of paper in your wallet.
6. Give crazy answers to security questions. It’s not hard for hackers to find the real answers to these questions. So when accounts ask, “What high school did you attend?” make your answer something like, “The sky never turns purple in Nebraska.” But be sure to remember it!
7. Use more than one browser. Pick one browser for casual surfing news, hobbies, forums, and blogs. Use another for social nets. Then choose a third to use only for the important stuff such as online banking, bill paying, and e-mails. Then close it when you’re done using it.
8. Pass on those password managers. There are password-protection and password management programs available, but, remember, they still reside on the computer. If it’s stolen, you’ve lost your passwords. Also, hackers have cracked some of this software.
9. Be careful about sharing. Try not to register for online accounts with your real e-mail address. You can get “throwaway” e-mail addresses at sites like 10minutemail.com, which self-destruct in 10 minutes. Consider everything you share online as public record.
DON’T FORGET THESE HOME SELLING POINTS
Believe it or not; homes are often undersold in their listings. When you sell your home, here are 5 things buyers like that your agent should be sure to mention in the listing description:
1. Features not found in apartments. If your home is attractive to first-time homebuyers, point out the features that upgrade their lifestyle. These could be large closets, an attached garage, extra attic and basement storage, a bonus room, an outdoor kitchen. Be sure to feature anything not found in homes in your price range.
2. Special features with broad appeal. These can be things like built-in desks, an over-the-stove faucet for filling a pasta pot, a kitchen recycling center, custom closet or garage organizers.
3. Convenience to activities people want. I f folks move to your area to hike, golf, ski, or go boating, point out any amenity your home has that goes with that lifestyle.
4. Features that don’t normally occur together in homes in your price range. These are features like: great views plus convenient shopping; vintage charm plus modern updates; an HOA that manages the outdoor space plus your own private yard.
5. Features that compensate for any drawbacks. If you have one less bedroom than other homes in your neighborhood, you might highlight a finished basement or bonus room. If you’re next to a school, perhaps you can point out a larger yard. If your home needs updating, you could offer a closing cost credit.
If you are thinking of selling your home, you’re probably thinking of buying another one. For information on financing that purchase, refinancing your existing home or funding home improvements, please call or email us as we’re always here to help…. Have a great day!
PS… The housing market is clearly recovering in many parts of the country. Home prices remain extremely affordable and mortgage rates are still near historical lows. But if you’re thinking about buying or refinancing, it’s smart to get the financing process started early. Please call or email us to talk about the attractive options available now.