OT: A Friendly Public Service Announcement

Posted May 21, 2008 by Holly in Discussions | 6 Comments

Recently Wendy, our local Super Librarian, had her email account hacked. From there it got worse and expanded to some of her other accounts. Because we hear of this happening all too often, this is a friend public service reminder. I work in a field where I deal with very sensitive information and here are a few tips I’ve learned, not to mention some plain common sense things you can do to help protect yourselves.

1. Change your passwords often. Every 90 days is recommended, but at least twice a year would be better than nothing.
2. Do not use the same password for every account. I know it’s a pain to remember 15 different passwords, but remember, if one account is hacked, he then has your email address and password. Now think about all the accounts you have that use your email address and that same password. Scary the damage that can be done, no?
3. Use a random mix of numbers, upper and lower case letters for your passwords. Also, be as obscure as possible.

That should suffice for now. Although I highly recommend having a firewall in place. It’s just too easy for anyone with a computer to get your information nowadays.

I know it’s inconvenient, but think how much more your life will suck if you have to cancel all your credit cards, freeze all your bank accounts, etc, etc. The inconvenience now is worth it, no?

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6 responses to “OT: A Friendly Public Service Announcement

  1. LOL! Sorry if your feelers were hurt, Wendy, but I meant the stupid hackers who are the reason we have to go to all this trouble, not you.

  2. Here’s a tip for remembering what to an outsider would seem like random passwords.

    Think of a sentence. Make sure part of the sentence includes numbers. Now use the first letter in that sentence substituting the numeral for any instance of using a number.

    For instance, and this is really too short but I’ll use it as an example:

    “My dog has four legs”. Would generate the password “Mdh4l”. Just say the sentence as you are typing and it’s no biggie. If you have a good memory, you could even switch it up and use the last letters instead or the 2nd letter of every word, etc.

    Using this method, it becomes much easier to remember multiple passwords and you can, and SHOULD, create fairly lengthy and complicated passwords for your most sensitive data.

    Oh, and Wendy’s situation still has me baffled how it could be done, but this has served to remind me that I need to make a round of password changes because it’s been awhile. When I get good,and hopefully secure, passwords, it’s easy to get lazy and forget about coming up with new ones.

  3. Hmmm, I’m going to have to change my passwords. I’m guilty of no. 1 and 2… although I don’t use the same password everywhere… I have about 3 or 4 and I use them for all my accounts. Sigh. Thanks for the advice!

  4. Wendy

    I was guilty of #2. And I should have known better – that’s the sad thing. There’s an old saying: Reality is when it happens to you. Amen.

    And I’m not quite sure how to take the Stupid People Piss Me Off tag. Please, be gentle with my poor bruised ego……

  5. Your blog is so interesting and informative this week! Thanks for those tips!

    I have some good high security passwords, but I never change them. Bev, your idea is so smart!

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