6/20/12

Passwords, Protection & Prevention - No Hacks

Best Practices (Part 9)


With the recent press about Linkedin's hacking debacle (it isn't often that a social media platform tells you that you'd better change your password) there's been another rise in privacy concern. 

Ever since social media became a buzzword there have been concerns and complaints about security and privacy. For the most part, it has been left up to the individual to maintain a level of vigilance in order to maintain a secure status quo. When the big platforms (especially Facebook) make changes, most of us know to take a look and verify our privacy settings are correct and proper.

That being said, even the most digitally savvy amongst us fall prey to laziness and curiosity, the two main ways hackers battle our defenses and get into our data.

We have to create, remember and use an awful lot of passwords in our day to day digital dealings. We all know the mess it makes when we fail to remember a password and have to go through the process of getting it reset. Many people, unfortunately, combat this by using one password for everything. Bad idea. Why? Because when one platform gets hacked, another might be just around the corner. So, when someone sorts out your Facebook password, do you really want them to test it out to see if you use the same password to access online banking or your retirement funds? We think not.

Even if we do have separate passwords for different accounts, we often keep that same password for far too long. Most tech security experts recommend you change passwords every 3-6 months, the shorter period if you often log in via public computers (work, the library, etc.). This is especially important with shopping sites like Amazon.com where your credit card details are stored. Same goes for both business and personal banking and financial accounts. Your social media accounts? Every six months is probably fine, unless you see something odd or notice something amiss. The most secure passwords are a combination of letters and numbers, with differing cases on the letters, and the occasional special character like an exclamation point or question mark (if allowed).

You've heard the curiosity killed the cat, of course...but did you know that curiosity is one of the main ways hackers connect with you and corrupt your accounts and data? Ever see a Twitter post telling you that people are saying horrible things about you? Don't click on the link. If you do, you're account will start sending the same message to every one of your followers. You're then forced to change your password to stop the barrage of spam you are sending to people who trust you're passing on viable information.

So, how do you know if it's spam and you shouldn't share, how can you prevent sharing information that could lead to hacks? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is - so don't click the link and don't share. If the grammar is off or the syntax is strange - don't click the link and don't share. If you hover over the link and see that it's nothing like what the link text states - don't click and don't share.

Part of engaging in digital business is keeping yourself and those with whom you do business secure and safe. Simple precautions and some careful thought and calculation before you click will help you do so.


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