The technology community on the web has been abuzz over the last few weeks over a couple of new hacking cases on well-known sites. What’s this mean to you, the everyday user of the web? Well, it serves as a reminder that security online is just as important as locking your door at home.
We know online security can be overwhelming, so in this post we’ll provide you with two simple things you can do to add an extra coat of armor online, right now.
1. Strong passwords are the key (or the lock)
What would you think if the combination to the safe at the bank was ‘12345’? Using your first name, your username, or words like ‘password’ as your password is the online equivalent of a bad safe password. The one most effective step you can take to secure your accounts online is to use secure passwords.
At Sephone, we encourage our customers to use passwords that are at least six characters long and have at least one capital letter and one number. I’ll be honest: some of our clients are frustrated at first when we tell them our policy. Believe us, committing a new password to memory is a lot easier than what can happen if your password is discovered.
Bonus tip: Hopefully your house key, your car key, and your office keys are all different. Make sure your online keychain is the same way by using different passwords on different sites. If a hacker discovers the password on one service and feels like searching, using the same password is an open invitation to explore the landscape.
2. Pick a good secret question
Remember back when hackers managed to find their way into former governor Sarah Palin’s email? Yahoo – the service where her mail was hosted – is one of the many sites online that use a “secret” question feature to help you remember your password if you forget it. Her email hackers found the answers to her “secret” questions online. As more information is posted online (birth dates, death dates, and yes, even mother’s maiden names), these password recovery questions become less secure.
What can you do to prevent this? If the service allows you to type your own question, create a question that only you would know how to answer. (This could be anything from “What make of car did Andy’s father buy from Dad when we were kids?” to “What was the code word to our snow fort?”) If it doesn’t give you space to create your own question, lie with an answer you’d remember. If the question is, “What street did you grow up on?” and the answer is Summer Street, answer Winter Street. The service never checks the validity of your answers, so create an answer that only you will remember.
Online security can be a hassle, but with a few short steps you’ll be much more secure than ever before. What else do you do to beef up your online security?