September 05, 2012

How many accounts do you have that are password protected? The average person easily has at least 20 accounts or more. That’s a lot of information being protected from emails and social networks to credit card information and beyond. Online security is more important than ever as more of our information is being stored online and hackers are becoming more advanced daily with new ways to steal our information.

If you haven’t already heard, Wired reporter, Matt Honan, was recently the victim of an incredible hack that essentially shattered his digital life. Matt’s security mistakes, along with Apple and Amazon security flaws, allowed these hackers to wreak havoc. His Gmail account was taken over and deleted. His Twitter was hacked and insulting tweets were posted on his behalf. Finally, his AppleID was accessed and every last piece of information on his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook was erased. What a nightmare! Read more about how the harrowing details in Matt’s blog post, How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.

In his post, Matt admits that he should have taken better security measures and that he possibly could have prevented all of this from happening. In fact, he was lucky in that their mission wasn’t to hack his banking or credit accounts as they easily could have. While we can’t control company security flaws, we can do our best to make our accounts as secure as possible. Here are 5 tips to consider when creating online accounts.

  1. Choose Your Password Wisely. Make your password somewhat complex. Use at least 8 characters and use a combination of letters (both capital and lowercase) and numbers. When allowed, use special characters such as ! or @ to increase the complexity. Don’t use birthdays, a pet’s name, or easy numerical sequences like 123456. And absolutely NEVER commit the cardinal sin of using the word “password” as your password. Now that’s just lazy! Important: Change passwords every few months to decrease risk of people having access to your accounts.
  2. Use Google’s 2-Step Verification. If you have a Gmail account, you have the option to activate this 2-Step Verification process which requires you input a new 6 digit code that is sent to your phone every time you try and access your account from an unrecognized device. I actually use this feature and while it can be annoying at times, I don’t plan on removing the feature anytime soon after reading Matt’s crazy story.
  3. Create Separate Email Addresses. If you are very active on social networks or have your own blog/website, create a separation between your public and personal accounts. Use a different email address for public accounts and don’t link them to each other at all.
  4. Don’t Use the Same Password For Multiple Accounts. If one of your accounts is hacked, don’t make it easy to access the rest. Use different passwords for each account to maintain separation. Remembering 25 different passwords? Yeah, that seems impossible, but there are plenty of options when it comes to password managers that encrypt or securely house all of your passwords.
  5. Don’t Choose Easy Security Questions. Security questions are an extra step that some online accounts use to verify your identity. Choose questions that YOU can easily answer, but that others would not be able to guess the answers to by simply running your name through a Google search.

These are just 5 tips of many to increase your online security. Do you have any other tips for increasing online security? Please share them in the comments below.

I’m off to change my passwords and you should too!

Posted By: Briana Perrino

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