Take Control of your Personal Online Security

The Nature of Online Accounts

Your personal data is everywhere on the internet. It's necessary to utilize the services you rely on daily; your Gmail, Twitter, and Amazon accounts are all associated with your name, email, password, and phone number (not to mention credit card information for online shopping). But the very data that's stored with your online account can leave you open to exploitation when one of your favorite online sites experiences a data breach.

When you use weak passwords, or use the same password for many online accounts, you're making yourself more vulnerable to sophisticated hackers. "Me?," you may be thinking, "why would someone want the personal data of little old me?" Hackers can exploit your credit cards and bank account, steal your identity, or even resell your online account credentials for profit.

 
You sort of leave these little traces of yourself all over the internet, and as time goes by those traces just get larger and larger. And the chances of one of the places you’ve left your data being breached and that data then being leaked continues to go up.
— Troy Hunt, on Reply All
 

How to Maintain Personal Security

We recently listened to an episode of Reply All, a podcast about people and the internet. In the latest episode, hosts PJ and Alex search for an explanation about a hacked Uber account. Even with the help of a couple security experts, they can't find an exact answer. While the exploits can be sophisticated, keeping a simple, regular security practice can keep your personal information secure. A couple pieces of advice for regular users:

  1. Use a password manager. 
  2. Do not use common passwords. Consider randomly generating a password or using nonsense phrases.
  3. Use a different password for every account.
  4. Change your passwords on a regular basis.
  5. Enter your email address(es) on haveibeenpwned.com to see if any of your accounts have been compromised in a data breach.
 
It is password reuse that is the main threat to ordinary users of the internet.
— Joseph Cox, on Reply All
 

Go ahead, take 5 minutes to change your passwords.
Stay vigilant.