Our third TidBITS Presents event on 22 August 2012 was a bit different from the previous two, more a panel discussion than a solo presentation. Rich Mogull and Joe Kissell joined me to talk about the well-documented case of technology writer Mat Honan having his digital life hacked (for a summary, see our intro at “TidBITS Presents ‘Protecting Your Digital Life’ on 22 August 2012,” 20 August 2012). But instead of zeroing in on the specifics of Honan’s situation, we used it to recommend the best practices for protecting your online identity from evildoers. We’re not so much concerned with what he did wrong as with what you can do right.
In particular, we focused on the problem of reusing passwords, the importance of protecting your primary email account, the best way of dealing with security questions, what information about us is available online, the absolute necessity of backups, and who is most likely to suffer from hacking. If you have an hour to spare, check it out!
Where our previous TidBITS Presents events drew about 200 live viewers, this one was more sparsely attended, with 65 people joining us. Perhaps our promotion for this event was too close to the actual event, or perhaps security is just one of those topics that people don’t want to think about. I suspect that most people need to implement better security practices, but it’s easy to believe that you won’t be targeted. Unfortunately, as Rich pointed out in the discussion, anyone who participates in an online community can end up as a target. Plus, many instances of hacking are related to password disclosures that are no fault of your own — if some large company’s password files are stolen, you could suffer if you don’t take appropriate precautions.
If you chose not to watch this TidBITS Presents (and particularly if you did watch either of the previous ones), please let us know why in the comments. We’re very much feeling our way into this world of live online presentations, and we’re happy to receive constructive criticism about what we could do better. In this event, for instance, we intentionally kept the presentation to about 45 minutes and then took questions for another 15 minutes at the end — much tighter than the last one, which exceeded two hours. We’re still working on what to do for the first few minutes, since we don’t want to start until people have had a chance to load the video, and they can’t do that until I click the Start Broadcast button.
A few products and services were mentioned in the presentation — here’s a list so you don’t have to hunt them down manually. TidBITS members can save 25 percent on 1Password and 30 percent on “Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac.”