Oh yes. It seems like every week I read where another friend’s email or Facebook account has been hacked. You’ve seen these apologies and frantic pleas. “I’m very sorry for all the emails. I promise I wasn’t trying to sell viagra!” or maybe “Please do not wire any money to Egypt….I am IN the US….my Facebook account was hacked!”
Such attacks are embarrassing, disruptive, and… almost 100% preventable.
Earlier this year, I wrote a fairly verbose series on passwords.
One point I tried to stress is that:
You may be unintentionally broadcasting your passwords via Facebook (or other social network).
In one of the posts, I tried to illustrate how easy it is to give away the keys to a thief unintentionally. I pointed out that if you have a password that seems unguessable but says something about you, it’s probably quite guessable. For example, suppose you’re a golfer and your password is lovetogolf…
Do you like to talk about golf on your Facebook page, Twitter, or other public sites? Do you tweet during golf events? Do you talk about Tiger Woods? If so, you’ve already told the world you “lovetogolf.” I bet it didn’t occur to you that you gave out your brokerage account password last Friday when you posted “I’d so rather be on the golf course today.”
I concluded that series by recommending a password manager, which is by far the best way to create and manage secure passwords. I still feel that way -- strongly. I also emphasized that password managers increase productivity by remembering and filling passwords for you.
My personal favorite password manager remains 1Password.
Why I’m rehashing this
Your password strategy is probably good. You’re probably doing the right thing.
But clearly, others aren’t.
So I have a simple request: If you understand the importance of using strong passwords to secure email, social networks, and bank accounts, then please educate others. Talk about it. Teach your friends, your family, and especially, your children.
People haven’t and won’t learn this stuff in schools anytime soon. But understanding how to protect your data in the 21st century is no less an essential survival skill than reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Remember that your data is in their email too.