As a person who makes a living trying to help government and citizens protect themselves from hackers and criminals online, I spend A LOT of time talking about passwords. If you know me well, you are more than aware of my feelings in this area. See my other blog posts or chat with me in person sometime.
Today after a couple of days away working with one of those “government” clients mentioned above I opened the Delta Optimist newspaper to find an article that lit me up like and over pressured flamethrower.
I understand that lifestyle journalists (the column is called “Living Matters”) don’t spend all day thinking about IDENTITY THEFT and the protection of personal, financial and identity information, however I HIGHLY recommend not to do what this journalist did in the Delta Optimist by marginalizing the importance of strong passwords and actually looking like on the surface like she shared her new corporate password that was “forced upon her” with all readers. (She “must” be kidding or most definitely has changed it again by now after getting slapped by the companies Chief Information Security Officer).
WEAK passwords, REUSED passwords and OLD passwords are the feeding ground of “hackers”. Don’t think of a hacker as some “person” sitting behind a computer trying to guess your password for fun. We are well beyond that now. Identity Theft is operated and managed by ORGANIZED CRIME and syndicates operate worldwide that have very sophisticated mechanisms to essentially take over your identity and make your life a living hell.
This often starts simply by accessing your email because of lousy passwords. For a lot of people out there, their email opens up the window to their personal lives, thus the window of opportunity for organized crime.
There are databases bought and sold on the “dark web” with usernames and passwords which are only a problem for people who DON’T change there passwords from time-to-time and even more importantly REUSE PASSWORDS on all of the websites they use. With reuse, if a hacker has access to your email and you use the same password for email as banking (a common problem), they now have access to your accounts and financial information. Now that they have your financial info, they can start applying for fraudulent credit cards, loans, bank accounts all your name.
Go to my website at www.safeidentitycanada.com and look at this post on creating strong passwords that are easy to remember. If you end up being the victim of identity theft because changing your password or having to remember a complex one with 8 characters* is inconvenient, don’t say I didn’t tell you as you spend YEARS trying to cleanup the mess of identity theft.
There is no way to completely be 100% protected, but please for the sake of your own sanity (and mine) don’t help the “hackers”.
(*you should make it longer than 8 characters. Even 9 or 10 is better)