I just watched the pain and suffering a fellow blogger on the web went through after someone stole their domain names from within the GoDaddy. The “hacker” in this case most likely either hacked the person’s account on his computer or brute force attacked GoDaddy to break into the system and then transferred the domain somewhere else. Then they tried to extort the person for a fairly large sum of cash to get them back. At least this story has a happy ending and they have their domain names back!
Special Note: I don’t know what the root cause of the example I provided was. If the bad guys just managed to hack the user’s GoDaddy account or hack the victim’s computer to get the password. You can see how vulnerable we all are potentially to this though!
But this got me to thinking. Are Your Passwords Secure Enough? Is that enough to protect you from someone stealing your data? Read on as I go through some common best practices to try and keep the bad guys away from your data!
The above scenario is pretty scary sure. But imagine if it were your credit card data, bank information, social security, birth certificate, or anything else identity or money related? So what can we do to try and prevent this from happening? Keep reading and I’ll tell you exactly how to protect yourself!
First of course is passwords. And although the XKCD Comic I have posted below here is humorous. It has a lot of truth in it. A computer doesn’t care about what you are using in a password. If you use a bunch of special characters, numbers replacing letters etc. This only affects the human factor. A computer uses brute force calculations. And the only thing stopping a computer from eventually figuring your password out is length.
Are they a pain to enter though all the time? Sure they are – especially my smartphone. But that is sort of the point. Oh and I will make it even worse. You should change your password to something completely different at the very minimum once a year. Now this changes immediately if you lost your wallet, purse or phone.
One last thing to do? DO NOT MAKE ALL OF YOUR ACCOUNTS THE SAME PASSWORD. Although this might suck. I have to remember 55 different passwords in my job alone. So, no I don’t feel bad for you for the 10-12 you might have 🙂
Of course this isn’t enough though to protect your data.
Anti Virus | Spyware/Malware
If you do anything online today if you don’t have a good anti virus installed and updated (daily) then you are leaving yourself open to attacks. A good antivirus will actively scan your system for any potential threats and remove them. If it can’t remove them it will at least warn you of them. I wrote an article awhile back on how to protect your computer so I suggest reading it as I offer not only great tips about anti virus and spyware – but also some great habits to learn while on the web!
Use a Password Manager
If you are like me and just got tired of trying to remember all of those login and passwords you have stored everywhere? Then it was time to get a password manager to handle all of it. For about 5 years now I’ve been personally using LastPass. And so far its been fantastic. Its simple to use interface helps me not only manage my passwords but can do so much more. From scanning my accounts for duplicates, offering to randomize the passwords for a particular site based on its specific requirements, and so much more. It’s also available on all popular platforms such as Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.
Now I wasn’t trying to scare you here. Honestly I’m not. You do need to be aware of the dangers of being online nowadays and what you can do to prevent them from occurring to you! Plus it’s a good reminder for me as well!
So – with that being said – off to go change my passwords (Yeesh)!
Did I leave anything out? What else do you do to protect yourself online? Leave a comment below with your own tips, tricks, and how to!