Tag Archives: tips

Protecting Your Identity Online: Tips for Secure Passwords

Secure Passwords

The rules for password creation have changed in recent years, so you may have to unlearn some of the things you’ve been taught in the past about secure passwords.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the federal agency that created the original password guidelines, recently revised those guidelines. Its current recommendations are based on research on both the habits of users and the techniques of hackers. Here are some of their findings:

  • Length is a major factor in a password’s strength, so the longer the password, the better.
  • Complex passwords, with a mix of character types, are hard for people to remember, and do little to deter hackers.
  • Strong passwords can be created from short phrases that are easy for you to remember, but would be meaningless to anyone else.
  • Passwords may be used indefinitely as long as they’re strong and have not been compromised. Obviously, if you have an account with a company that just had a data breach, you’ll want to change that password.

Other Ideas on Secure Passwords

Changing passwords every 30, 60 or 90 days was recommended for thwarting hackers, but some security experts now question that tactic. Changing passwords on a regular schedule may have little security value and can lead to bad habits. Research has shown that people tend to make only minor changes when updating their passwords or create weak passwords that are easier for them to memorize. You’re better off creating a strong password, memorizing it and holding on to it.

While NIST has changed some of its guidelines, some of the old ones still apply. Don’t share your secure passwords with anyone, or leave them on sticky notes by your computer. Create unique passwords for important accounts, such as your bank account and your email, and avoid bad passwords such as “password,” “12345678,” “qwerty” and “iloveyou.”

Earth Day, Energy Saving and Retirement

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Image Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory

As Earth Day marks its 45th year in support of environmental protection, it’s a good time for members and retirees to think about their energy usage, and its possible added cost during retirement.

When you’re working, you may be more likely to turn off certain appliances or set your thermostat to a lower temperature while you’re out of the house. You do this to save energy and keep your utility costs low.

But, once you’ve retired, the time once spent at the office may now be spent primarily at home, resulting in an additional 40 hours of energy use a week as you use appliances, heating/cooling systems, and more. With some careful planning and changes in behavior, you can make sure your utility costs are manageable and fit your post-retirement budget.

Helpful Tips for Energy Saving

To help reduce energy consumption during retirement, we’d like to share some tips courtesy of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Here are some things you can do in your home right now:

In Your Kitchen

  • Set the refrigerator temperature between 38 Farenheit (F) and 42 F
  • Set the freezer temperature between 0 F and 5 F
  • Microwave whenever you can

Washing Laundry

  • Wash and dry only full loads
  • Wash with warm water instead of hot
  • Rinse with cold water instead of warm

In Your Bathroom

  • Install a low-flow shower head
  • Reduce the volume of water in your toilet tank
  • Shut off the sink while brushing your teeth

The DEC has more tips you can use to make environmentally-responsible choices in your daily life. You can also visit the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for information on making your home energy efficient.

NYSLRS Is Doing Its Part

Here at NYSLRS, we’re actively seeking opportunities to reduce our energy footprint and utilize renewable resources. Some of what we’ve accomplished includes:

  • Purchasing 25 percent of the energy we use from renewable sources.
  • Printing publications on paper that is at least 30 percent post-consumer waste (PCW).
  • Publishing newsletters that are now 100 percent PCW, and moving towards 100 percent PCW on all of our printed publications.
  • Moving toward using soy-based inks, rather than petroleum-based.
  • Transitioning to two-sided printing and expanding the use of environmentally friendly printers, and
  • Implementing a scanning system that has markedly reduced our paper files.