Freedom!

If you imagined pre-crazy Mel Gibson, half naked and about to be decapitated? Well played.

Now let’s talk about something a little more serious.

You are being watched.

You are being watched

Is that creepy? Because I think so. Everything you do. Everything you watch. Every website you visit. Every word you type is tracked. Sure the government may be reading your email. The NSA maybe be tracking your Skype chats. Homeland Security might even be keeping tabs on your shit. (I watch a lot of Person of Interest, and so I’m all engrossed in the world of government agencies spying on everything we do and say. Those red light cameras weren’t put up to ticket us, homies – more on that another time.)

But even creepier is that there are corporations out there. Watching you. Websites and internet spies watching your every move, ready and willing to send your information to the highest bidder. Do you check the permissions before you download an app to your devices? There’s a reason I don’t use the Facebook app or the Twitter app. I use browsers. Because if the apps are on your phone, they have access to your internet connection. Your personal information. Your user history. Your contacts. Everything.

Facebook

Basically, everyone’s trying to put a price on your information. But you can protect yourself, at least a little bit. I never download an app without looking at the permissions that it’s requesting. If I’m downloading a photo editing app, I check the permissions to see what it “needs,” because it probably doesn’t NEED much. In addition to checking permissions, I’ve been running F-Secure Freedome on my devices. This handy protective app blocks websites that could be tracking my information. It checks out my apps when I download them. It blocks tracking attempts. It basically protects me from myself and those “harmful” websites I visit.

Screenshot_2015-03-02-11-23-30When a site is harmful, F-Secure says NO. Bad. Don’t go to that site. Which happened when I went to check out a site that sent me referral traffic on my blog. I was appreciative. Screenshot_2015-02-28-06-40-28

It’s super easy to use and keeps you secure by encrypting your data on free Wi-Fi networks, keeping your virtual identity anonymous, changing your virtual location so you can’t be tracked, and blocking harmful sites and apps. This video sums it up pretty succinctly:

If you’re interested in trying out F-Secure Freedome for yourself, you can do so (and I’m loving it) by visiting Freedome VIP. I even have a special code for my readers so you can try it out for free for 90 days: qsf257

After the trial, the annual subscription is only $16.99, and the monthly subscription is $1.99. I spend more than that on a single nail polish. And it makes me feel better about being on the internet all the time.

As an added bonus, if you try F-Secure Freedome, you’ll have the chance to win an iPad mini and a free year of F-Secure Freedome to keep your privacy safe on your new device. You can enter via the Giveaway tool below.

Blog Friends, what do you do to protect your privacy online? Do you use any apps or tools to keep yourself anonymous? Are you going to try Freedome?

This post was sponsored by F-Secure. I received compensation and a free trial for Freedome to tell you about my experience. As always, I only work with brands and products that I wholeheartedly support.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I May Have Accidentally Given Someone My Password. Again.

I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Another quick cautionary story about passwords (because my first password fail wasn’t enough). Last week, the day I posted about my password fail, I was G-chatting one of my girlfriends while doing some stuff. I went to type an important password into the password pop-up box…and clicked enter. Thus sharing my BRILLIANT but top-secret password to my friend. And now I can never use that password again. Not that I don’t trust her or anything, but what if her e-mail gets hacked? So now I have to come up with yet another BRILLIANT and top-secret password.

Bummer.

We’ve all got passwords. Some of us (cough me cough) use variations of the same general password across a bazillion different platforms. And can never seem to remember the right combination of usernames/passwords…

Others are organized and efficient and (Um. Can you come to my computer and help me sort this stuff out?) really good with passwords. I recently started using F-Secure KEY to track my usernames and passwords – and yes…I’m STILL inputting them (stop laughing) because I’ve had to change passwords and have e-mail reminders sent left and right (no, really, stop laughing).

This handy-dandy infographic is actually SUPER helpful for creating passwords. I never would have thought of personalizing passwords for the different sites, but that’s a pretty neat idea.

Password Safety

Which of these tips do you think is the most useful?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tell Me Your Password And No One Gets Hurt…

The following story about password security is true and real and SCARY. So listen up. Don’t do what I did.

While we’re here, I figured I should mention that I’m a brand ambassador representing F-Secure KEY in the effort to change the way people think about passwords and security. While I have been compensated for my time, all opinions, stories, and ideas expressed are still my own.

Password Safety KEY app

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

A story about giving away my password

A while back, I committed the ultimate password sin. My then-boss called me on my personal cell phone, while I was at lunch. “Quick! What’s your work password?!” The panic in his voice and the anxiety in my system (which gets even more GAAAHHH! when I’m put on the spot) responded immediately and completely stupidly. I gave him my password.

Not only did I give him my password, I clued him into the type of password I was, at the time, prone to using. THANKFULLY it wasn’t the password that I was using at the time for anything but my work log-in, but it was MY password. The password that I’m not supposed to give to ANYONE.

Even worse? I found out later that he was on speakerphone.

Now, he didn’t think twice of it as something he was doing wrong. He genuinely did need my password to get into a computer for something. But he should have waited the 10-15 minutes it would have taken me to return and input my own password without giving it out.

After the chaos, I politely sent my boss an e-mail explaining how uncomfortable his request made me and that I felt it was a little inappropriate, and I would prefer not to be put on the spot like that ever again. It was then that he realized what he had done, and he did apologize profusely, promising not to compromise my personal security again.

Since that day, I’ve come to adopt a system of creating new passwords for different log-ins to ensure that I’m keeping myself digitally protected.

F-Secure KEY

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Let’s talk about F-Secure. I’ve been using the app for about a week and a half, and I still haven’t integrated all of my passwords yet. But I’m getting there. And oh-my-God, I’ve had to change 3 passwords already so that I could input them into KEY – but I’ll never have to change them because I forgot them again! Obviously, I’ll need to change them every 6 months or so, but with KEY, I’ll have access to all the up-to-date passwords without a whole heck of a lot of effort. THAT’S what I’m talking about.

I’m not going to lie, you guys. This app? Totally not sexy. Although I’m AM a huge fan of the delicious purple color. But what this app does? TOTALLY important. One might say necessary, depending on how many times you have to key in your password before you get it right…which for me is often quite a few. KEY stores all of your passwords in ONE place, so you never have to remember the 27 billion passwords for all the sites you utilize. With the free KEY app, you can store your passwords on a single device, but with KEY Premium, you can use the app on ALL your devices, whether you’re a PC/Mac/Android/Little i. You won’t have to try to remember all the passwords, as the app will keep them for you. You’ll only need to remember your KEY password.

So who needs another flashy app when the function is what keeps you safe?

Just for you, I’ve got a code to try KEY Premium for two months, so you can see if less than $2/month is worth it to keep your passwords safe across all your devices. Download the KEY app and use the code PREMIUMKEYOFFER14 to check it out.  And even better? A giveaway.

Free KEY Premium for a year & iPad Mini 16GB Wi-Fi Giveaway

Oh look! The lovely people at F-Secure want to share their wisdom (and give you another device for storing your passwords)! All you have to do is enter, and we’ll do the rest. The Giveaway Tools form below will be open until September 30 at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. Good luck!

Blog Friends, have you ever accidentally given out your password to someone? How would you have handled the situation if your boss asked for your password?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Get Where You’re Getting With Curb

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Curb. I received a promotional code to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I love it when an app makes my life easier. I love it even more when it involves me not having to walk a mile in my shoes or anyone else’s.

Curb_RGB

In case you were unaware, I live in suburbia and work in downtown Chicago. The Loop. Smack dab in the middle of everything awesome. And about a mile away from the train that brings me in and out of this beautiful city.

Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, is a super useful app that helps you get a cab when you need it. I’ve been using Curb, and their network of more than 4,000 taxis in Chicago, for several weeks and I’m never looking back. The drivers are licensed, commercially insured and have all completed thorough background checks. That’s a program I can stand behind.

In the past, I would hope and pray a taxi would show up where I needed it, when I needed it, and more often than not, cabs driving by were already full with people (the perks of working two blocks away from one of the biggest Chicago tourist traps – Millennium Park). When I’m in a hurry, I want to know that a cab is going to be there when I need it. Especially if I’m trying to make a train. Cue Curb, where I can order a cab to pick me up now or plan for later! The process is simple and made my life so. much. easier.

App_Map

Recent occurrences when Curb has been a lifesaver or just plain convenient:

  • When my train was 30 minutes late getting into the city. I was only 15 minutes late for work.
  • When I left work just a few minutes late. (I have my walk time scheduled to a TEE. Any later, and I’m usually out of luck.)
  • When I met Brian for drinks in River North after work.
  • When Brian and I left the aforementioned bar and went to an event hosted by my website host. I love them.

I have yet to plan my next Curb adventure in advance, but I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. As if you didn’t already know. You can get started with Curb, and as an added bonus for you, my lovely readers, you can get $15 dollars off your first ride! Just use the code: CurbMom14 To use this code, download the Curb app on your Android or iOS phone. Then, follow these instructions:

  • Open the Curb app
  • Tap the gear symbol in the top right corner
  • Tap “Promos and Credits” on the dropdown menu
  • Enter your code and tap the “enter” key on your keyboard
  • After entering the code, $15 will appear on your “Promos and Credits” screen.
  • Full details on using the Curb coupon code can be found here:http://bit.ly/1CnLGVc 

Do you take cabs anywhere? When? How do you call for cabs? Have you used Curb or as its previous name, TaxiMagic? Will you? Tell me all your secrets.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!