The password is…

Strong. Complex. Varied. Robust.passwords image

No, we’re not talking about wine. We’re talking about passwords. Do the descriptors above describe your passwords? Or would they be more aptly described as weak or insipid?

Wine may be more fun than passwords, but privacy and security cannot be ignored.

In her upcoming Privacy Literacy course for Infpeople, Rita Gavelis shares:

Every year SplashData comes out with their “Worst Passwords List.” The five most-used, bad passwords are: 123456, password, 12345, 12345678, qwerty. If you are using any of these (or similar) as your password, change them. Creating a strong, yet unique, password is quite simple. A strong password is one that contains numbers, letters (both upper and lower case), as well as special characters or symbols: !@#$%^&*. The longer the password, the more difficult it is to crack.

Gavelis recommends:

If you are interested in having a password generated for you or testing the strength of your current passwords, go to: Test Your Pas$w0rd or the Microsoft Safety & Security Center.

Passwords are important, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to steps we can take to protect privacy. In the Privacy Literacy course, Gavelis will discuss password managers, securing data on mobile devices, uncovering data leaks, encrypting data on computers, using virtual machines, two factor authentication, and more!

Registration for this 2-week course is now open!










Teaching privacy?

With the word “privacy” appearing in both online and offline discussions of how we live in 2014, how do we make time to analyze and consider, and then put into use, the very best practices we can in libraryland? Here are a few signposts from recent weeks that limn the current thinking:

Back in May, Barbara Fister wrote a “Peer to Peer” opinion piece at Library Journal taking up that issue; to date, the online piece has received a total of four comments, including one from Ms. Fister acknowledging the points made to her original post and summing up for the next question. 

At the OCLC Symposium held at ALA’s Annual Conference, in June, several audience members pushed back against Daniel Obodovski’s suggestions that data collected as libraries do business might prove useful to harvest to support the expansion of knowledge afforded by the Internet of Things. Expanding local library awareness of user needs, wants, and satisfaction levels, done anonymously, was agreeable; suggesting that libraries become purveyors of data collected from our communities drew a resoundingly negative reaction.

The day before Independence Day, Cory Doctorow published a summary of findings that indicate NSA surveillance seems to be keyed to those online who actively seek privacy information there. That would suggest that as librarians, with a duty to explore as well as maintain privacy standards, we stand to put ourselves in the path of having ours exploited.

So, how do we approach a topic that is getting hotter in the public mind even while we become increasingly aware of how slippery the “it” of privacy is? In essence, how do we teach good online privacy hygiene without introducing the kind of damage hand washing efficacy has suffered with the overuse of antibacterial scrubs for frequent use? 

How are you broaching privacy with your staff? With kids in your community? With adults seeking technical assistance? What tools might be useful for digging our way to daylight? Let us all hear!

Big week for all (library) things net

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released yesterday  its 2014 report on Who Has Your Back –a quick, clean way to see which online company platforms protect user privacy to what degree. It’s essential reading and a good guiding document for discussing privacy issues, advocacy, concerns, and practices with your library community, including students, the general public, and library boards.

This week also saw the FCC hold hearings on how making regulatory changes that affect net neutrality might be received by stakeholders. Hey, you’re a stakeholder. You can review the hearings, the current outcome, and make a response by following the #NetNeutrality hashtag on Twitter. (That feed includes links to formal documents published by the FCC in the immediate wake of the hearings).

It’s also been just over a week since the Gates Foundation made its formal announcement that the long-standing program that gave many American, as well as worldwide, libraries their first internet connectivity possibility, the Global Libraries project, will wind to a close across the next three to five years. That’s another indication that we need to step up, as library service providers in the 21st century, to evaluate and advocate for what’s good for our communities and what our communities need to have assured as sacrosanct when it comes to online access, privacy, and best practices for government and for us.