Just a few months ago, Yahoo! stated that over 500 million of their user accounts had been hacked and that in an earlier instance, over 1 billion accounts had been stolen. Verizon had account information stolen from over 1.5 million customers. LinkedIn had email and passwords to over 117 million of their users stolen, then posted online. Dropbox had over 68 million logins and passwords compromised. The adult dating website, AdultFriendFinder.com had 412 million of their user’s personal information stolen.
Hacking is in the news nearly every day and people constantly reach out to ask me if their information is safe. Are they at risk? What can they do to be more protected? Should they get a VPN or use Tor?
The best thing to do is to start simply. Begin with your passwords. Do you have good passwords on your accounts?
Now, I’ve been doing this for over 25 years. You’d think that there’d be very little that could surprise me after all this time. You’d think that with people being online since the 90’s that they’d know what a good password is and how to keep their passwords private and safe.
So when someone comes to me to ask for professional advice on how to keep their accounts safe, you’d think they’d know at least the most basic rule of account safety; don’t share your passwords with anyone.
However, when I ask them that first question; “Do you have good passwords on your accounts?” and they tell me ‘Yes, I use Fluffy123! for all of my accounts with my email address as my login!’ My head nearly explodes from the screaming of my inner voice urging me to smack the stupid out of them. Oh how I want to listen to my inner voice.
But, instead of listening to my inner voice goading me to cause physical harm, getting me into trouble, I’m going to draw a line in the sand, first with a declaration: There is no such thing as a completely secure account or computer. Period. And even if there was, you wouldn’t be willing to do it.
You know how I know this? Because people complain that their passwords are too complex as it is. They don’t want to use as many as eight characters in their passwords, nor use numbers, nor to have to use a special character. They don’t want to change their passwords every 30, 60, or 90 days, and they want to reuse old passwords. They don’t want to be bothered with having to put in a number they get texted with when they login with 2FA (two factor authentication).
You’re right. It sucks and it’s annoying. You know what else? Too bad.
Your data is only as secure as the level of effort you’re willing to put into it.
I get it. It’s a pain in the ass to remember all your passwords. I have to go through it too, just the same as you do. But it’s really not that big of a deal. So in an effort to help you get past the stress of trying to figure out how to secure your information, here are the things I do to help protect myself against hacking. Just remember, if you think it’s stressful to remember your four, six, or dozen accounts, keep in mind that in my job, I’ve needed to keep thousands of accounts secure.
Here’s some tips I use to help me with securing my accounts, creating good passwords, remembering them, and how to make sure my data is protected.
Do you have some tips or a story to share? Did you or a friend have this experience? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.