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Thread: Essential Software

  1. #1
    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    Essential Software

    My new laptop is on its way. I have to say I'm astonished, when I brought up the package tracker it actually shows me where it is on a map. I could currently walk to my package from here. Amazing.

    Anyway, part of the reason I'm getting this is I want a fresh and secure start, this old laptop is so loaded up with junk and I'm feeling like there are leaks somewhere; I'd put a better virus program on it but the performance is so slow as it is, a lot of virus programs make it unusable. Two related questions:

    1. What do you use for computer security? Does it slow things down? How much does it cost?

    2. Do you trust programs like LastPass, that hold all your passwords and input them automatically? Or possibly go with the password fill-in option offered by your browser? On one hand that would be delightful, and on the other, I shudder to think what might happen if that got compromised.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    1) I don't use any computer security add-on products other than what the operating system manufacturer provides. I have found that 3rd-party products cause me more irritation and bother than they are worth. I protect myself by not engaging in Unsafe Computing Practices. I also don't keep much data on my physical computer, so it if were to be compromised, I would just wipe it back to its factory configuration and start over.

    2) I don't use automatic password managers or password generation schemes. I have an in-the-brain password generation scheme I use, and I have a single encrypted file with especially tricky passwords and data in it to consult as-needed, and have the key to that file memorized.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    I have a book with all my passwords. If my computer runs slow I wipe it clean and it’s fast again. I bought it 7 years ago when I started teaching. Like bae anti virus software causes more problems than it solves.

  4. #4
    Senior Member kib's Avatar
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    Maybe I need some virus software for my brain. I had something of a system, tweaking the same password - pR for purchases, eM for email and so on. But I've found for every account that works on, there's another saying it has to be at least 12 characters, or it can't be more than 8, or it has to contain a symbol but that symbol can't be &, or some other stipulation that makes my system pretty useless in practice. And every time I do something dumb, like leave the caps lock on by accident, I wind up being told I have to choose a new password that doesn't fit my system. I currently have a four page printout.

    So you trust your cloud account that much? I have kept my sensitive docs on a flashdrive which is not engaged unless I'm using the file, and do a sweep of my recycle bin at least daily.

  5. #5
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kib View Post
    1. What do you use for computer security? Does it slow things down? How much does it cost?
    I really don't worry about it on the MacBook Pro. Not that Macs can't catch/transmit/act as a vector for viruses; I'm just aware of not visiting sketchy Web sites, I tend not to load unnecessary remote content on Web pages, I verify what I'm downloading (and from where) before I click 'yes', and I don't run Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat Reader; Flash has been banished from my computers for years. I do have the free version of Avast anti-virus and I periodically run the free version of MalwareBytes for malware/adware, but I can't recall either one of them ever coming up with anything I had to be concerned about.

    On the new ThinkPad, since the primary operator is not going to be as fastidious about computer hygiene as I am (and insists on running Office and Acrobat Reader), I'm using Microsoft's Windows Defender (built into the OS) and have downloaded MalwareBytes for the occasional sweep of malware. Regular applications of "Patch Tuesday", too.

    Both machines have a backup schedule/scheme that makes it almost painless to wipe the machines, if necessary, and reinstall. Well, painless from the standpoint of not losing data.

    Quote Originally Posted by kib View Post
    2. Do you trust programs like LastPass
    Well, LastPass recently had a huge outage that made getting to their cloud version -- umm -- interesting/impossibe. But I do use 1Password, which is similar. Yes, I trust it. I've read white papers about computer security and how 1Password, LastPass, KeyPass, Dashlane, etc. manage encryption and server access and syncing, etc., and I'm satisfied that I'm as well off (or better) using 1Password to generate random passwords/phrases than I am maintaining a file by myself. The best password management system imho is the one that stays out of the way and doesn't make it the least tempting to say, "Chuck it, I'm going to use a short password I can remember". Like you, I had a general format that I customized per Web site, but eventually that became untenable, with too many exceptions to the rule. Now I don't even know my passwords. Fine with me. I can reset if I need to.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  6. #6
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Whoah. Why shouldn’t I buy Ms Office for my Mac Pro? This is a security concern?!!???

    What am I supposed to use in its place, then? I was under the impression that the simple word processing program that came with it is too simple. I don’t want to have to learn something entirely new and then find it inadequate.

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    1. My brain, good habits, and if I want to even think about something questionable, I try that on a bootable OS disc/USB key, so it doesn't stick around. Since most things are aimed at Windows, I don't have to worry, generally.
    On the limited Windows machines I have been asked to do something with, years ago the onetime I got a virus, it attacked the installed antivirus program. My backup (and it still exists) was to google online antivirus, which allowed remote scanning. I still get asked by my dad to do that to mom's machine at times, because she doesn't like him messing with her computer (because he knows what he is doing).
    2. I agree with the encrypted file with your passphrases, sentences in it. Heck, it could even be a piece of paper as long as it only contains clues that make you remember.

  8. #8
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post
    Whoah. Why shouldn’t I buy Ms Office for my Mac Pro? This is a security concern?!!???
    Office, for many years, was a vector for malware through its macro/scripting language. Didn't matter if you used that language; it still presented a risk.

    Between that and because I did not have access to Office for free, I went with (free) open-source software that can work with most Office files. I use NeoOffice, which is a Mac optimization of LibreOffice. I have had no issues with opening simple Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, making changes, and sending them to others for collaboration purposes. However, I probably would not risk, say, using NeoOffice's document app to create a heavily-linked document that would then go on to professional review for publishing. Your money, your choice. Microsoft has plugged the leaks steadily (though there always will be more) and many anti-virus software packages can be set to scan for mischievous code in Office documents.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

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