Regarding the LastPass Data Breach
You should always use a password manager. There is no question that the combination of a password manager with a strong master password and long, random, unique passwords for each online account is one of the best things you can do to protect your data. My favorite password manager is Bitwarden.
A couple of years ago, I used to recommend a different manager called LastPass. For a long time, LastPass was the simplest and most convenient password manager, and I know that many of my clients have used it. However, when LastPass changed its free tier to restrict accounts to a single type of device, I switched to Bitwarden and haven't looked back.
LastPass recently disclosed a cyber attack that resulted in a devastating data breach. If you have a LastPass account, even if you haven't used it recently, your password vault has been stolen by a threat actor. Although your passwords are encrypted, it isn't entirely unrealistic that they could be cracked and accessed by the threat actor.
Actions to Take Immediately
If you haven't already, create a free Bitwarden account. Make sure you use a long, complex, unique master password. Write it down and keep it someplace secure.
Follow these instructions to import your data from LastPass. Once you have verified that your data has been accurately imported, follow these instructions to delete your LastPass account.
Now for the hard bit. Because your vault has been stolen, it is imperative that you change all of your passwords. That's right, for every account that you kept in LastPass, you should change the password to a new, long (at least 12 characters), complex, unique random password in Bitwarden. Every website will have a different procedure for this, and there is no easy way to automate it.
You may be wondering what the point of continuing to use a password manager is in light of this data breach. The important thing is that you are using randomly-generated passwords that are effectively impossible to remember, and the password manager is remembering them for you. Despite this setback, your accounts are still significantly more secure when you use a password manager than if you use easy-to-remember passwords or, heaven forbid, you reuse the same password on multiple websites.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
To My Clients. . .
The last two years have been fascinatingly enigmatic. As the pandemic progressed and most of the world seemed to pause, my life and work continued with little change other than a few disruptions. COVID caused my church to start meeting online, and then there was the fire which forced my family to be evacuated for two months. I got a new job and continued my college education. Through it all, I kept offering friendly tech consultations to my lovely clients.
You’ve been there with me throughout this journey. I’ve been in your homes, assisted with recalcitrant printers and dead batteries, loose connectors and software gremlins. You have all shown me such kindness that I can only hope to be able to adequately pay forward. I thank you for your loyalty and your custom.
Inflation has become a fact of life, and so this letter of gratitude comes with the announcement of an overhaul to my service pricing. I’ve always charged less than half the market rate for my services because consulting was more of a hobby than a business for me, something to put the skills I’ve learned in school to practice. The cost of operating this business have continuously increased, as web hosting and email, Zoho Assist, and insurance prices are through the roof. In order to continue offering you my best, it has become necessary to adjust my rates.
Effective November 1st, 2022, my pricing will be as follows:
In-home or on-site consultations will be billed at $100 per hour, with a minimum charge of $100.
Remote consultations will be billed at $100 per hour, with a minimum charge of $50. Don’t worry, I will continue to offer free consultations, but they will be limited to 15 minutes in length. I am proud to be your trusted source of technical expertise, so I will never charge to answer your questions. I will always perform diagnoses for free.
Again, I am so grateful for your continued loyalty and support.
Like everyone in our mountain community, I have been evacuated from my home, with the prospect of losing it forever. This is a frightening and stressful situation for all of us, and we must come together to help one another get through it.
I would be remiss if I did not offer the aid of my services as well, and so all remote services will be free to those who have lost their houses to wildland fires through the end of 2021.
Thank you, and stay safe.
Pickup Services Now Available
As local shelter-in-place restrictions are eased, I am now beginning to offer pick up of computers for repair in my workshop again. In-home services remain on hold, so feel free to make use of my remote support options if you have any problems!
Remote Support Options Available
Many people are frightened and panicked by the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County. Technical frustrations can take a heavy toll on your stress levels, especially for people working remotely at this time.
I am offering a 66.6% discount on my remote consultation services and discontinuing house calls until further notice. And don't forget, chat and phone consultations are free up to 30 minutes, so feel free to give me a call or send a message if you need advice! I also offer remote control sessions, where I can remotely service your computer and solve problems without you taking a step away from your desk. This is a secure and easy way to keep your work machine functional when the gremlins strike!
Keeping your Computer Cool
Does your computer tend to suddenly turn itself off without warning? Has it been running sluggishly lately? You may be the victim of overheating.
Computer systems of all types, from smartphones to desktops, require to be kept within a specific temperature range to function properly. Your CPU (central processing unit, the “brain” of your computer) will generally idle between 84 and 106 degrees, spiking to over 140 degrees when under heavy load. When your machine senses that it’s getting too hot, it’ll shut itself down to protect itself from damage.
What to Look for in a New Computer
On April 18th, 2019, systems running Windows 7 began to receive notifications for the end of life for that venerable operating system. The successor to the generally despised Windows Vista, 7 has been supported for ten years, which in technology is a very long time. Like all great software it was beloved by many, but the time has come to let it die in peace.
Those of you still using Windows 7 are likely annoyed by these prompts to upgrade, and may be wondering why it’s important to do so. Among many other reasons, the most crucial is the lack of security updates going forward. I’ve written elsewhere about the implications of this (https://www.techno-literate.com/2019/03/21/time-to-leave-windows-7-behind/), but in short, your data and Internet usage will be at risk if you continue to use Windows 7 after the end of 2019.
If you’re still using a computer that you purchased with Windows 7 preinstalled, you may find your Windows 10 experience to be sluggish. Very old computers from the last decade are definitely not powerful enough for modern software, so you may need to consider purchasing a new system. Here’s some basic information that you’ll need to know as you shop.
How to Back Up Your Computer
Have you ever accidentally deleted a folder on your computer? I know I have! Keeping backups of your data can protect you from these kinds of silly blunders, as well as ransomware, hard drive crashes, or anything else the universe throws at you. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of supremacy that comes after successfully restoring data from a backup and knowing that you can’t be stopped!