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April 30, 2014

Have You Been Hacked Yet?

Filed under: Main — Tags: , — admin @ 12:01 am

I hope you haven’t suffered the indignity of being hacked. Easy passwords are easy to steal. It doesn’t surprise me when I see some spam email from a friend’s account, but it does surprise me when that friend is someone I figure should know better.

The recent Heartbleed bug should have roused everyone’s attention: Change your passwords often. Use complex passwords. And don’t be a fool and use the same password for everything. That portends certain peril.

Here are my guidelines:

  • Have a password for your computer. If it’s a desktop, the password doesn’t need to be serious, especially for a home computer. For the office computer, yes: Use a nice, tough password.
  • Laptop computers all require a complex password.
  • Use a password or PIN for your phone or tablet.
  • Don’t use 1234, 0000, or 1111 as your PIN. These are most common PINs and they’re the first ones that the Bad Guys try.
  • Each online account should have its own, unique password.
  • It’s okay to tell the Web browser to memorize passwords for common accounts. It’s not okay to memorize passwords for your online banking or anything serious. For example, if you’ve saved your credit card information on Amazon, do not have the browser save your account password.

That last point is worth driving home: Consider your phone or tablet. Consider that it doesn’t have a password or PIN. If you use Google Chrome and it has memorized your Amazon password, then someone can lift your phone, visit Amazon, sign in, and buy lots of stuff. In that scenario, security is non-existent. That is, unless you tell Chrome not to save your password.

Or, of course, you have a password or PIN assigned to your phone in the first place. That’s the wise move.

2 Comments

  1. Dan- What is your opinion of password managers? My memory is not good enough to remember a bunch of difficult passwords and plus I am simply too lazy to have to enter passwords for commonly used stuff. People who I consider tech savvy use password managers so I figure they are a viable solution. As I mentioned to you in another blog post, my solution is simply to not use any email or social media at all on my cellphone. And I have a laptop dedicated to taking out of the house that has no email or social media on it. Social media is so interconnected now that I dont even trust passwords anymore.

    Comment by BradC — April 30, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  2. I’ve been too leery of password managers to use them. Instead, I have a list on my computer where I jot down password hints. It wouldn’t make any sense to anyone reading it, and sometimes I fail at interpreting my own notes, but it’s my backup.

    With a password manager, I could just see someone hijacking that and getting all the keys to all the kingdoms. Even if I had several of my most learned friends vouch for it, I’d still be leery.

    Comment by admin — April 30, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

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