iCloud Breach and Security

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about the big celebrity iCloud breach and resulting photos flooding the internet. I’m not going to be talking about that, the implications it has, or why one shouldn’t go looking for those photos. I’m writing today to address security, and what you, as an end user, can do to increase your account security and decrease chances of a breach. As of this writing, Apple is still very mum on the subject and it hasn’t been confirmed that iCloud itself was breached. Enough about that. How can you protect yourself? Let me preface this by saying I’m no security expert, but these are some things I do, and you probably should too.

Don’t use the same password for all of your services
Easy enough. Think about this. If someone gets your email address and password for one service, they now have access to other services tied to that email address simply because you used the same password everywhere. I know what you’re thinking: it’s too hard to remember all of these passwords! There’s a few solutions for that. I use Lastpass. Lastpass is online, I know, but hear me out. Lastpass stores everything on their servers in an encrypted form. Any interaction with the service is encrypted, and as you add passwords to it, they get encrypted on your local machine before being sent to them. This post from the Lastpass blog explains how it works better than I can. Lastpass can generate new passwords for you, and includes browser extensions that allow you to automatically fill in login information, as well as save a new site and generate new passwords for sites you’re signing up for. You only need to remember one password, and for added security, you should enable two-factor authentication.

Use two-factor authentication when possible
What is two-factor authentication? In a nutshell, it’s the use of a password, plus another authentication method to log into a service. Usually the second authentication method is a physical authentication token or an app on your smartphone that generates a random number that you type into the service you’re logging into. The thinking behind this is that even if someone gets your password, they will not have access to the second piece of the login, which is that token or your phone, which (should be) physically on you. I’m currently working on making sure I’m using two-factor authentication on any service that offers it. For those of you that wonder “what happens if I lose my token?”, the services will provide you with a list of emergency passcodes just in case of such things. These should be printed out and stored securely.

Change your passwords
This one is also easy enough. I change my passwords usually once every three months or so, even with two-factor authentication. Lastpass makes that pretty easy for me to do, I just have it generate a new password and off I go. Whatever your method, make sure you change your passwords every so often.

Xannypix Returns!

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog here, or my photography site, so I’ve gone ahead and done both at once.  Xannypix (http://pix.xanny.us, or the link up top) is back online. I changed the name from Xanography because I like the sound of Xannypix better. Fear not, xanography.us redirects over to the new site. New content is being added to Xannypix. I had an issue with Lightroom where all of my edits disappeared, so I’ve had to go through and either re-edit or search for exported edits of my pics. I’m also trying to sort out what the best way to present my work is, so organization might change.

I’ve got a couple of photoshoots in the works for the near future. I’ll post about those here and of course and possibly share a teaser or two.

Stay tuned here, I’ve got a review coming up for OS X Yosemite that you might enjoy. I hope to have that ready to post on Monday.

On Being Colorblind

Some of my friends are aware of this and some of them might not be, but I am red-green colorblind. I know what you’re thinking. But Xanny, how do you see traffic lights? It’s okay, I’m used to that question. Thankfully it’s only certain shades of red and green that are affected, but it’s something I deal with almost on a daily basis.

Part of the Ishihara test for Color blindness

If you’re not red-green colorblind, you see 8.

The above image is part of the Ishihara test for color blindness. Most of you will see the number 8. Not me, I only see the number 3. I had a hard time with this in school, as once someone learned that I was color blind, the questions started. What color is X? Or Y? Or Z? Yeah, it definitely got annoying after a while, that’s for sure. I have problems with some pinks and purples as well. It’s hard for me to dress my daughter at times, and sometimes I need to ask my partner if she’ll take a look at the clothing I picked out for the minion, just to make sure the colors don’t clash. So if you ask me what color something is, and it’s a red, green or has red or green in it and I give you a weird response, now you know why. Video games for the most part are fine, and a few publishers are even nice enough to include a color blind mode if their game mechanics depend on colors.

This also affected my career path. I’ve always been into computers, but there was a time I wanted to get more into the electronics side of things. After looking into it, I realized my color deficiency would probably not be good for the field and I opted to move onto programming. One joke I like to tell is this. You’d never want me on a bomb squad. Reason? You tell me to cut the red wire, I may very well ask “Which one?”.