Monday, November 21, 2016

Do You Use Two-factor Identification?

If you are like many people, your household has a couple of smart phones and perhaps two or three other digital devices that allow you to connect to the internet. It’s also a fairly safe bet that when you are shopping, you use free wifi to catch up with your email, spend some time on Facebook, or pay a bill or two.

Free wifi locations are not secure and, because everyone has access to them, increase your risk of having your digital device hacked. That is, someone else can access your device and view, edit or download your information. It’s possible for criminals to scan your device and pick up passwords as you enter them.

They can do this from outside your house or at free wifi points in shopping centres which means there is a weakness in your security system. Statistically, the chance that yours will be the device scanned, is probably remote, but it can happen.

Two-factor identification was designed with this security flaw in mind.

What is two-factor identification?

Two-factor identification occurs when you enter a password and then have to do something else before you can access your account. Banks and Centrelink use this system. When you log in using your password, some of them send an SMS message to your smart phone. You then enter the digits from the phone  into another field before gaining account access.

Because the second factor digits change every time you log in, someone scanning them on one occasion will find they cannot use them to access your account.

Creating your own two-factor identification

A company called Yubikey ( has designed two-factor identification we can use at home in devices with a USB port (not iPads or smart phones). It includes using a small wifi-enabled USB key from which you generate a second random password by placing a finger or thumb on the key. The sequence generated is long and changes every time you log in.


If you are concerned about online security, Yubikey might be the answer you are looking for.

I use a password management program called LastPass (free or $12 pa for premium version). ( Most of my passwords are stored in LastPass in an encrypted container that allows access with a master password. After I enter the master password, I use my Yubikey for second-factor identification.

The chances of someone accessing my LastPass program or my passwords is scant, even if they had access to my laptop because I do not leave my Yubikey with the laptop when I’m not using it.

Does password management and online security interest you? Get more information about these products from their sites.


PS: The author does not have a business interest in either Yubikey or LastPass and does not receive any payment from them

Friday, June 17, 2016

Smart Tips to Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster

Paying back student loans isn’t a very easy thing to do. Just the thought of it is terrifying. After graduating from college, it’s crucial to get a job, find a place to live in, try to settle, and make a healthy living. But having to pay back college loans slows down the process and makes it very difficult for one to refrain from stress and anxiety.

However, as unendurable as it may seem, it is not impossible. One should know the importance and the benefits of paying the loans off earlier than required. It helps save money, because when the time period of paying the loan back decreases, it causes the final principal amount that needs to be paid to decrease as well, since time is directly proportional to the principle amount. Thus, it enables one to save a certain amount that may be enough to fulfill the other necessities in life, such as a car, or, depending on where you live, a full year or two of rent. It also provides freedom and satisfaction.

If paying back the student loan isn’t taken seriously, it can have serious consequences, such as ruining your credit score, etc.

It is not an easy task, but the following tips may help speed up the process or make things simpler:

1. Make sure you don’t ignore the debt and always keep a positive mental attitude. This task requires a lot of determination and commitment. Thinking about the future, considering the fact that once paid off, a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders, will provide mental satisfaction and determination to not give up.

2. It’s also important to know the repayment guidelines and understand your loans according to a set plan.

3. One must be fully prepared to sacrifice anything in order to meet goals; needs should always come before wants. Make sure you save before you spend.

4. Make a monthly budget. Calculate all your expenditures beforehand and keep some money under miscellaneous expenditures to cover up for any unexpected expenses that may result from emergency situations, etc.

5. Try making payments while you’re still at college. This will not only help you pay off your loan faster, it will also help you get in the habit of paying off your loan before you spend on anything unnecessary.

6. Make use of your grace period. You’re likely to have one of up to six months if you’ve taken a federal student loan. Use this time to save up for when you don’t have enough money to make a payment.

7. Income Based Repayment Plans will allow you to pay based on what you earn and not what your payment is actually supposed to be. This will help you maintain financial stability while you still keep paying your student loan.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Managine Your Time Wisely

There was a time when I would find 24 hours in a day too little. I mean, there is so much to do and so little time! I used to be running behind tasks that needed to be done. That is how I spent my college time – always completing my assignments at the very last minute, rushing for projects and submissions – and this same issue faced me when I got a job. And then one day when it got too much I sat down and pondered over how others managed to balance their work, family and social life and yet have some me time as well.

How do they do it?

I decided to list the tasks I had planned for the day and whether I, without bias, thought they could be done within that time. I concluded that they were perfectly doable. And yet I had failed to complete them during office hours and had to take it home, something my wife absolutely abhorred. The problem was with me. My time management sucked big time. And that’s when I resolved to work out this problem for once and for all.

Now not only do I manage to get everything done on time, I am also left with enough free time at home to hang out with my family and friends, try new things and help my son with his homework. The best part? I am in my wife’s good books now!

If you are in this same position as I once was, allow me to enlighten you with my wisdom and strategies I used to get my time management issue in shape:

1. Organize: this is the most important and first thing you need to do. When you organize your tasks you will know how much you need to get done with. When you have goals of completing something by a particular time you will go ahead with it. Same is the case for managing other aspects of your life such as health and finances.

2. Prioritize: once you have organized your tasks set a priority level for each. When you do this you realize the importance they hold. If it is a high priority goal you will know that you just have to get done with it by hook or by crook.

3. Give your time value: if you value your time in terms of money you will be surprised at how much time you are wasting for no reason. If you give a particular amount for each hour you will realize your productivity level. If you complete your tasks on time you will feel good about it when you actually consider it in terms of how much you managed to earn.

4. Give yourself hard deadlines: if you think that you need an hour to complete a particular task, give yourself just 30 minutes for it. Set a timer. Work under pressure. You will realize how quickly you will get used to it and your work speed will improve drastically for good.

5. Delegate: if there is something that others can do it, go ahead and assign them the task. Your time is precious; you should use it only for things that others cannot do. Outsource your work.

6. Split up big projects into smaller tasks: when you do this the big project will not seem as daunting. The smaller tasks will take less time to complete and you will feel that you have accomplished more in less. And you will also be done with the project.

7. Learn to say no: do not take more tasks than you can humanly complete in the given time. It will just stress you out. Avoid outside work and distractions. Just plainly refuse them or defer them for later.

8. Do not procrastinate: you have to get the task done, now or later, so why not just do it right away and get done with it.

You have no idea how these tips have helped me get my life together. I remember during the last days of my high school I had joined guitar classes and with that and studies together I hardly used to find time for anything else. When it was time for me to start applying to colleges I kept procrastinating. So much so that, before I knew it,the deadlines of some had already passed and others were on the verge of saying goodbye. And that’s when my brother sat me down and gave me a talk. I hurriedly evaluated my college choices but obviously the last minute essays, that are a requirement when applying, turned out to be not as good as I believe I could write. That was a big lesson for me but once I got in one college I shrugged it off and started all over again. It was during my job when I had to turn over a new leaf for the sake for professionalism.

It is never too late for you to change. Again, the earlier the better. Save your time, complete your tasks and you will realize how much more you can achieve than what you are at the moment.

Author Bio:

Batool Ali is a passionate blogger who loves to write on finance and education. Her writings are inclined towards student welfare making students self-reliant.