Monday, February 22, 2010

10 ways on to how to secure (partially) your digital life, from Facebook to your Bank Account

Facebook, Inc.The Facebook virus are spreading around the platform, and I was almost going to fall for one when a friend of mine sent me a message on facebook asking me to check a photo of us with a shortned url (the, or kind of urls).

I'm wondering how many people did fall for this kind of message, when a friend of yours gets his account hijacked and start sending emails asking to visit a website with cross site scripting (XSS)...

So basically, this is a message for my friends: I'm not an IT specialist, but I know 2 or 3 tricks to make your web-life safer.

1. Try not to use Internet Explorer. Google Chrome or Firefox are a safer bet. Not because Microsoft's browser is the worst (they are getting better day by day), but it's much more tied to your windows OS than the others.

2. When using Firefox, install Adblock plus extension to have no more ads on facebook (and google, gmail etc...). But so far, the ads on Facebook are not very well controlled and a lot of spammer and hackers are using that to send the users to suspicious sites.

You also have adblocking for Google Chrome through the extensions, but my experience was not that great and Chrome started crashing.

3. If you have a genuine windows Vista or 7 (it's a little bit slow on windows XP for the scan), install the free antivirus AND firewall from Microsoft. If you don't have a genuine one or you want an alternative, Avast Home Edition is a very good and lightweight antivirus.

4. A firewall is a good add-on on top of an antivirus: it filters your connections to prevent someone to access your computer. It's free to use Comodo Home Firewall.

5. An Anti-Malware is a good tool to clean your computer from other things that are not specifically virus (like adware etc...). Spybot Search & Destroy is free and efficient.

6. A step further is to install Lastpass, it's an online password manager with local encryption, they also offer one time password to print in case you use a public computer, to increase security, you can  have a confirmation matrix to add to your password for identity control (it's a figures/letters matrix that you print), so even if your master password is stolen, the person won't be able to login. Finally you can also have a usb version to use it on the go.

7. Check your facebook privacy settings, or get more info about facebook's privacy settings here. Basically you HAVE to make sure not EVERYONE ONLINE can see you photos/profile/infos etc... now you can tailor what you post (status, links, photos album...) and make sure only the persons you want to see them, actually see them!
Also Please create friend lists to make your life easier. Start by doing something like that: a list for your actual friends (and let them see your tagged pictures etc..), a "casual friend" list for your acquaintances you meet at conferences etc... (and only let them see the photos you post, or only some of them as now you can do that for each album you post), and a "professional friends" for people who ad you randomly (and only let them see your basic profile and studies, jobs)

8. Alway click the log-out button. Even on your computer! Do you know friends who post "stupid" status messages on your behalf? Yeah, that's funny! But imagine someone who change your email settings to add a filter to forward automatically all emails to another address he has control on, he could change your Facebook password or whatever password with this forward.

9. Always change your password, and don't use the same. At least try to have 4 or 5 different passwords and change them time to time across your accounts. Worst case scenario, if you don't remember them, you'll have to try 4 different ones. (and if you have installed Lastpass) you don't have to!!!

10. Finally: always shut down your computer. Why would you leave it on? It uses energy (and we are all green today, right! ;) and more importantly, some people could put sniffer/keylogger on your password, or at least check your files! And don't assume that your friends/colleagues won't do it, because at least a jealous friend will.

And not I'm not paranoid....I just try to abide by these rules. You can try them, and if you need any help, just let me know, I've configured this for my friends a dozen time...

What do you think? What are the most important ones? What would you use. Personally, there is one that I do not follow... ;)
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

No buzz for Google buzz? Was it a smart idea for Google to launch the buzz quitely?

Google Buzz Is SimonImage by Vincent J. Brown via Flickr
Funny how when a new communication tool is available, it's uncluttered and full of non-fake people and posts. It reminds me of Twitter back in 2007 or Facebook in 2005...Good ol' times! Hope it stands long for Google Buzz.

But I think that the good strategic move here is by not playing the "big-launch" game, Google is smart by letting Google Buzz be more like an "app" service to its already pretty large plateform (starting with Gmail, but who knows where it will stop: Blogger, wave, google maps, Reader etc...) instead of a new plateform (like all the other Twitter wanna-be that lost ground and had to change like Tumblr, or one from Northern-Europe that was bought by Google I while ago I think). It is just like an extension of the already wide services that Google offers and may lead to a seamless adoption of the service, while a big "tada" launch might have made people think too much about adopting or not the service.

It uses the already pretty wide user-base and delivers slightly a well differentiated approach (Porter would love to hear that!;) where the service mixes the "large spectrum" possibility of Twitter with the the narrow-tweaking of privacy and reach of Facebook, and with an added layer of media interaction that Twitter too often makes it hard (read more-clicks) to use even with all the tools that uses its api, it's still not for the average user who just want to share a couple of thoughts/advices/comments and links/pictures/video (I might look like bellow-average as I almost never use any picture/video/data sharing web services).

I think the two main challenges would be:

1. retaining the control on the user-experience without giving away the flexibilty brought by apis for added layers of web-services built upon Google Buzz without being a plain plateform very slow to move but that lets people do whatever they want with the api. Not in an Apple-Store-style-I-control-everything service, nor in a Windows-Mobile-free-for-all type (before Marketplace but even then...), perhaps more in the style of the Android plateform with a balance between control and freedom.

2. keeping the differentiation approach strategy, perhaps by keeping a more personal flavor to the service more in line with the 2005 Facebook's era, and giving a good control over the balance of private/public life.

What other challenges would they have, beside the obvious entry-barrier that Twitter and Facebook have set to the "personal-social-sharing" services?

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Monday, February 01, 2010

The iPad: a little too hyped for what it is... & The JooJoo: the first full cloud computing experience...if only software/services providers follow....

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27:  Apple Inc. CEO St...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
I'm not a blogger, I don't really post all my thoughts, but I need some insights on this one, that's why I'm back from hibernation...

I'm not a big fan of the closed system of apple, but there is one thing they know how-to do is the media attention. It really amazes me when i see big names like OM Malik saying that the Ipad is going to kill anything else (Kindle, HP Slate or whatever), because that leads to self-fulfilling prophecy. And the analysts are not supposed to do that I guess, because the kinds of OM are not financial analysts, they built their fame on the analysis of gizmos etc... so their loyal fan base kinda trust them. I understand from a financial point of view that probably the Ipad is going to kill whatever is on its way, just like the iPhone did it for Nokia which still needs to give a real direction for the open-sourced (now) Symbian, but that's only because of the sex appeal (and form-design & accessories microcosm) of Apple and any "i"-stuff they bring to the market. Common guys, even the big media houses seemed so thrilled about the device, we saw it all over TV. I mean, I watch TV perhaps 20min a day, and I was able to have a glimpse of it.

For me that really leads to misinformation. Let me explain, if mainstream media wants to talk about technology and gizmos, fine. But to publish only one side is really a bias that should be. Have you heard about the slate? What does the Ipad do that really deserves that kind of attention compared to say the joojoo or the slate? Apps? Ok with more that a hundred-thousand apps already compatible (or with a minor reprogramming tweak), it's obvious that soon you will be able to buy the iKitchen accessory that will let you hang your ipad on the oven with your favorite receipt on while you are cooking, then turn it and watch the latest clip on Haïti, or on Michael Jackson while you are waiting....that's true! But still, you see the Ipad on TV and the guys there don't even say that there is any competition out there?? Wtf? Really, no other device? Really, they even quote Steve Jobs marketing b.s. (and I'm not an apple hater) by calling it a "magical (?) and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price"...waw!!! Apple does not need any advertisement fund anymore, they got it free! Don't let me start on the "magical" harry-potter-ish statement....

Everyone is talking about the 140 000 or so apps that are compatible with the Ipad. That's true and obvious. But, Joojoo might be on the verge of bringing a whole new internet experience through digging deap inside Macromedia Flash and all the cloud-hosted apps. That's funny how everyone is calling that device dead or so with no added value (well for the price I would agree, but the Ipad would probably bring the price down now that we know the market price of the "high-end" tablet). That's unfortunate that they do not have the name/money of some, and if I were Adobe, I would really support the initiative to counter HTML5's video support and Apple claim that Flash is "dead" in a a way by not supporting it for the last 3 years on its Iphone/Ipod touch. There would be a real win-win deal there: Joojoo gets the media/investors attention after Mike Arrington chocked on the deal, and Adobe would get a technology showroom for flash....and....why not think big: get their own Adobe AppStore (is there any on the web? please enlighten me)! That's the deal today, no? We saw Nokia sinking because they changed the OS Software only when the hardware changed leaving people looking for apps all over the web just to realize they were incompatible, and Ovi is really a "too-late-with-no-added-value innovation" to really bring something to the table.

So, imagine that:

1. Adobe funding and bringing the attention on the Joojoo.
2. Adobe hosting a flash app-store.
3. Finding a solution for data retention of the flash apps on the cloud (and not only the social-media services that are already doing that).
4. Having a real OS with Google-gears style local on-device data retention for all the apps.
5. Calling me a say thanks! ;)

I do believe that this is a killer/not seen yet combination of device and cloud computing (let me know if I'm wrong, I study pretty hard, so no time to stay aware about all what's going on the web2.o stuff). It could really be the first full cloud computing experience with a usable local aspect, just like you have to sync your Iphone with your computer every now and then to get, you would synchronize your Joojoo Tablet/Slate with the cloud when you are back home/at the office/at a friend's house/at a starbucks etc...

And just to finish: hey Adobe, if you don't do a bold move like that, you'll keep losing market share for you flash format toward html5 (I mean less sales of Adobe flash CS, and more of Dreamweaver CS!;) or you'll keep wooing Apple to get it adopted on Iphone/Ipad platform until perhaps one day it will. But just a hint: do you remember the floppy disk on the first i-macs, Apple never put a player on them even with all the controversy....

Well, that's only my 2 cents, what about yours?

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