Criminals hacking into global websites like AOL, Monster, Card Systems Solutions, PlayStation, Target Stores and even the Department of Veteran Affair stealing millions of usernames and passwords.
Over the past 10 years, there have been major hacks to over 100,000 different and significant websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn.
What do hackers want?
Your personal information.
In most cases to sell it on the black market.
They need your personal information to access your financial and other sensitive accounts and they do this by using the passwords they’ve stolen.
Some retailers / websites are quick to notify their customers when their is a security breach but others are slow to react.
Because of the recent Target Stores hack my bank sent me a brand new credit card and a year subscription to an online security system to protect my financial information.
The internet is a great resource but it can also be a very dangerous place to do business if you are not careful.
What do the experts recommend?
- Always and I mean always pay attention to your bank and credit account statements. Review them closely if they come monthly. If you are a "paperless" user then set dates on your calendar to check them at least once a month.
- If you use the same passwords on your financial, credit and banking websites as your social and email passwords then change them immediately.
- Never use the same password for more than one account. That prevents hackers from access to all of your accounts if they do successfully hack one you are on.
- Don't be stupid and use common passwords like "Password", "1234567" or your birthday. Never ever use obvious, easy to remember arrangements for your password.
Baby Boomers that live a good part of their life on the internet like me may have 50 or more different passwords and some have hundreds.
This may seem like a major "pain in the arse" but passwords are created for a reason.
Think of your password as a burglar-proof safe for your personal documents.
Your most important paper documents are probably in a nice, secure safety deposit box that requires two keys to open at your bank right?
Well, you online "documents" are just as important to protect so treat them the same.
Make sure they are in an online safety deposit box and to get into the box a hacker would need at least two keys to get at them.
It may not sound like a big deal if you have never had your personal information violated but talk to someone who has and you'll see what a great big, giant, frustrating and angst ridden hassle it can be.
So, even though you might be tempted to go with an easy-to-remember password because your poor aging memory isn't what it used to be or you want to save time when surfing the net it’s a much better idea to take your time and create passwords that will keep the hackers away.
Make it a habit.
Using the same password everywhere or using simple passwords aren’t only simple for you – they’re also the easiest ones for hackers to figure out.
Do you need some help in building a strong password and how to create easy to remember alternatives for each of your accounts?
Why not do what the experts do?
Here are some basic tips for creating strong and secure online passwords:
- Have at least eight characters, preferably more if you can handle it
- Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters
- Include a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation marks like *or $ or #
- Do not use a complete actual word
- Do not use any of your own personal information as the password like your birthday, license plate number or address
- Shy away from using the full names of relatives or pets
- Start with something memorable: a phrase, a date or a favorite vacation city.
Let's start with my favorite vacation destination Rocky Point in Mexico.
It's easy to remember and easy to modify.
- Replace the "o" with "0"
- Replace the "i" with "1"
- Add a "*" to the space
- Capitalize the first and last letter
- Finish it off with and exclamation point "!"
- Put together a group of names that are important to you:
- Your grand children’s names
- Your best friends names
- Your pet's names
- The cities you have lived in in the past
Once again, memorable and easy to work with.
Take the first 3 letters of each word and combine them to create your password.
Here's what I came up with using some of the first names of my grandkids in Missouri: "ShaGiaFra5"
That is created from the names Shaylin, Gianna and Frankie with the number 5 added because I have 5 grandkids in Missouri.
Pretty snifty huh?
And easy to remember.
How about "ChiChaAnaGle6" which is built from some of the 6 cities I have lived in during my lifetime: Chicago, Champaign, Anaheim and Glendale.
Let your creative juices flow.
Pick a word or phrase that is important or memorable to you.
You can use it as the base for multiple website passwords by:
1. Adding a few letters from each individual website to the front or back of it
2. Adding an important number to the front or back of it
3. Put an emoticon on the front of back as well
So, let's say my favorite color is "black".
We will use this base word for several websites like Google+, LinkedIn and Blogger so a password is created for each different site like:
Now add a number to the end of each like the year I lost my virginity, 1960 (just kidding).
Your passwords now look like:
Since you will always be remembering the year you lost your virginity and assuming that is a happy event then let's put a "smiley face" on the end of each.
Your finished passwords look like:
These are relatively strong passwords with a simple formula that allow you the safety of having a different variation for each new website.
If all else fails and your creativity pool is rather shallow or if it seems too confusing to create a password using the methods above, you can also have a use a password created by a password generator website.
These websites use computer algorithms to create random passwords and they don’t send or store the passwords.
Here’s how to use a password generator:
OK, so now you hopefully you have a few strong passwords.
The real tricky part,at our advancing years, is remembering them so you can actually access your accounts.
Most people write their passwords on a Post-it note and stick it to their computer monitor, under their mouse pad or under their desk.
Why not just slap them on your forehead or have a T-shirt printed with them on it so the entire world can see them.
Not a smart move.
Remember how you are supposed to treat your passwords like your important paper documents?
That's right, lock them in a safe place.
If you are going to write them down (I understand that some habits are tough for us Baby Boomers to break) then make sure to put that piece of paper in a place that know one knows about.
Here's a couple of suggestions:
- In the ice cream container that you hide your cash in in the freezer (you didn't think I knew about that hiding place did you?)
- On the inside cover of your favorite book that is on the top bookshelf in another room
- On the back of a picture in another room
- Inside the lid of your toilet tank
- Or if you can't think of any other creative places: on a piece of paper that you lock in a safe
There are actually password protected apps on your smart phone that you can use as well.
Mine is called "OI Safe" and it serves me well.
Every time I create a new password I tuck it securely away into this app so I don't have to fret later on down the road about trying too hard to remember it.
If you do forget it then all you need to remember is the primary password for the application.
Before I leave you today I wanted to offer a few more simple suggestions.
1.Don’t email your passwords to yourself or anyone else for that matter.
Remember, everything on the world wide web is unprotected and visible to all sorts of wandering eyes.
If hackers got into your email account, they will have access to all your accounts......and your life.
2. Don’t keep your passwords on a document on your computer’s hard drive.
That would be just the same as putting them on a Post-it on your computer screen.
Please forward it to them or tell them about it by clicking on the Google "G+1" and the FaceBook "Like" buttons.
The more Baby Boomers we can help the better place we make this world !!!
Thanks for joining me..........................................................