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Managing your passwords
The importance of regulating and securing your credentials online By Joel | Tue 22 May 2012 08:19pm | Views: 2735
Managing your passwords
It seems like every month, a handful of companies disclose that their user database has been hacked, informing you that you should change your password and monitor your credit card statements for strange activity. It is now getting to the point where many no longer want to shop online or bank online. I myself have had 2 credit cards cancelled due to this issue.
It used to be that the sites hacked were small home made or open source websites, but his is not the case, with websites like SONY, Various Supreme Courts, Government Agencies and more. So gone are the days where these hacking attempts caused an annoyance for just a few members of these websites, now we are facing sites that have millions of users, with their email addresses, home & business addresses, contact details and credit cards all available.
When some of these hacks occur, they are just to annoy the company or agency they are hacking, other times and more often, it is to sell your information to others.
Some have reported being able to search for their email address and password through search engines as these were made public by the hackers.
What this hacking has revealed
Looking through some of the websites that were hacked, and viewing passwords and usernames that many were using, it is no wonder so many have their details taken, or, something that has become popular, taking over someone's Facebook page.
There are so many using passwords like password, 1234, ABCD and other obvious passwords.
These are the first things people will try, plus family members names, pets names, date of birth, anything they have managed to dig up on you. Remember, with social media becoming so popular, you have more personal details available than ever before for hackers to learn more about you.
What the experts say?
It is important that you have a different password for every site. You shouldn't use the same username everywhere, especially usernames on banking websites, or any place that has access to billing you.
You should use "strong" passwords that are at least eight characters (so they are immune to brute force "guessing" attacks) and those should be random characters with special characters mixed in like punctuation marks. You shouldn't fill out any required "security questions" with correct answers because most of that information (like your mother's maiden name) is available somewhere on the Internet.
Managing all your passwords
The reason we all resort to the same passwords is generally because, we just can't remember what password goes where and I myself have this problem.
There are various services that can take care of that for you like RoboForm. RoboForm stores all your passwords in a secure database (online or offline). When you are prompted to enter a username and password into a website, RoboForm can do this for you with the click of a button. It will ask you to enter your Master Password and then it will automatically enter the corresponding website's credentials and submit the form.
1Password is a password manager, but it's so much more too. It creates strong, unique passwords and stores them in an encrypted database on your local machine and stores just about anything else you need to keep safe.
1Password breaks down your information into Logins (website accounts), Accounts (things like your eBay, iTunes, email, Instant Messenger, and even your wireless router accounts), Identities (you know you have more than one), Notes (anything you want to jot down), Passwords (your general purpose list of passwords), and Wallet (bank account numbers, driver's license, passport, reward programs and credit cards).
1Password allows you to sync your database through Dropbox, a cloud-based storage and sync service (which you can easily create an Account profile for in 1Password). How is this useful? Any desktop system allows access to Dropbox and you can also access your passwords. The encrypted database that 1Password creates can only be read if you enter the master password, and you can choose to individually protect each account/login with an additional layer of security by requiring the master password to be entered for each one. Aside from the Dropbox sync, what makes 1Password so popular is the apps availability for iOS (there is also an Android version). The app syncs over Dropbox and gives you mobile access to all you sensitive data. The app itself is protected by a 4-digit PIN, so you can't get in without knowing that, and there is still master password protection.
So now is the time to assess your online security, before you become another innocent victim to the vast growing online hacking debacle.