Please protect my information- change your password

information resources

I own an Android phone. When I meet someone new, I am quick to add his/her information to my contacts. It’s just good practice. I might lose business cards, but I’m not likely to lose my phone. It’s not in my best interest. One of the cool features of Android is contact syncing. If I lose my phone, I won’t lose your information.

But there’s some inherent risk in that feature. This convenience means your information-your name, address, email, phone- is stored in the cloud. On the Internet. This means that if someone hacks my Google account, that person will have all of your contact info. How many times have you had friends or family get their email hacked (take a moment to remember those emails from your grandma advertising Cialis)? How many of those people have contact sync in place?

This gets me wondering about you. Have you ever received an email from me? Have you ever sent me one? If yes, my Google username is probably being stored in your mailbox somewhere. Once someone knows that (which, of course, will have my name attached), that person just needs to figure out my password. Is that person going to be able to figure out my password from our correspondence? Have I ever mentioned the names of my family members, a favorite movie, or beloved pets? Have I ever admitted to having terrible password practices, just tacking a number on to the same base word (such as taco1, taco2- have I ever expressed a craving for a favorite food?) in a revolving password scheme I won’t forget?

All of these questions have me wondering about you. Ask yourself a cutting question: Is your password stupid? You can be honest; now is the time. If it is, that’s okay. Just change it. Today. Right now. February 1st is Change Your Password Day. Don’t think about yourself. Who cares, after all, if your bank account gets drained. Think about me. I like my money. I like my privacy. I like to keep my friends’ information secure.

Read some of these articles:

How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords

Your Passwords Aren’t As Secure As You Think

How to Build a (Nearly) Hack-Proof Password System with LastPass and a Thumb Drive

Use This Infographic to Pick a Good, Strong Password

Once you’ve decided on some new ones, check to see how secure they are. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to update your weak-ass security questions.

Thank you.

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Reference: don’t be an asshole.

librarianship

I read an article on Lifehacker today entitled How to Know When You’re Wrong (and What You Can Do About It). Sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we’re arguing with people who insists they are right in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Dachis’s article explains practical steps to take when you find yourself being the unreasonable party.

One of his suggestions was to fight that drive to hold on to erroneous beliefs. Intuitively, we all know that something isn’t true simply because we believe it to be. Yet, we often find ourselves seeking out evidence to back up our own claims. This, obviously, is detrimental to good communication and, what’s worse, our own intellectual development. It got me to thinking, though, about reference service.

It has been about a year since I staffed a reference desk. At the time, I had lots of library experience and was a fresh library school graduate. Right before I left that position, I was helping a young girl and her mother find books for a report on evolution. When we made it to the stacks, the mother felt the need to clarify that, while her daughter was required to write the report, her family simply didn’t believe in something so silly.

Instantly, a switch was flipped in my head. I was no longer helping a girl find a book; instead, I was now tasked with educating these neanderthals. It was up to me to loose them from their shackles so they could see that their Intelligent Design beliefs were nothing but shadows flickering on the wall of a cave. So, instead of finding books on evolution, I started seeking out books that detailed why Intelligent Design is wrong and others that didn’t even acknowledge it as a possibility. As a testament to my folly, I sent a girl in middle school away with Richard fucking Dawkins.

And that’s just an example. Thinking back, I’ve done that tons of times. And I’ve seen other people do it, too. As librarians, we bring certain skill sets to the table and it’s hard to let them go. We should use our expertise to educate us in our research, but never as a rule book. When we provide our customers with materials that support the positions we personally hold, we are doing a disservice. It is in our best interest to be objective.

Think about that the next time a customer irritates you. Are you, in some way, being an asshole when providing research assistance? Are you being the Rush Limbaugh of reference?