The recent Mitt Romney on Dropbox debacle has done nothing but remind us of how important it is to keep our data and information secure. Just because you’ve managed to create a strong password in no way guarantees that no one will ever get their slimy hacking hands on it. And in fact in some cases you could be the one putting your password and other sensitive information into the hackers hand directly, without them ever having to work for it.
Password Safety: The Don’ts
Don’t repeat yourself
Romney’s Hotmail password was compromised because he used the same password on his Dropbox account. While Hotmail may offer you the best in encryption and make it difficult for hackers to get in, doesn’t mean that every other site that asks you to signup will. Now this could get a bit tricky because on the world wide web it’s impossible to avoid signups on different sites, even more difficult is coming up with 50 million passwords that you can remember. But if you want to avoid a scenario where you get into trouble the best idea would be to have one basic password and develop slight alterations for different sites. And for sites where high level encryption is a fact your password could be looped.
Don’t Use Open Wi-Fi
Finders keepers losers weepers doesn’t apply to open Wi-Fi networks. You connect to the network expecting to find a world of free internet, unaware of all the other bad things you’re finding with it. Open Wi-Fi networks can be fitted with pc monitoring software which can record all your activity online. Even if they don’t get your password there’s a whole host of information that can easily be compromised on an open Wi-Fi within a matter of seconds. Software like Firesheep and Wireshark were tailor made to monitor users that link to an open Wi-Fi. So you may have the best firewall on the planet and your anti-virus could kill malware like nobody’s business but it’s possible that you’ll hand your own information to a hacker without realizing it.
Don’t Use Someone Else’s PC
Ever heard of a key stroke logger? They’re these annoying little programs (sometimes acting as malware) which can literally record every key that you hit on the keyboard… which encompasses your password. So if you’re using someone else’s pc there’s a chance you might become a victim of pc monitoring software. Public systems are always at risk and you should never sign in or enter any sensitive data no matter what. Surprisingly a large number of work places are now fitting in pc monitoring software on their systems; employees who would rather use Facebook than get some work done are finding themselves in a fix. Being careful on computers and laptops that don’t belong to you is important otherwise you could find yourself in the same fix that Romney’s landed in.
Keeping a hacker out is important and a strong password is only one part of the puzzle. One needs to ensure that one’s internet habits are such that they don’t land them into any trouble.
Jane Andrew has been hooked to social media for a long time. She writes about tweaks, tips and tricks for managing your social media presence. She can be reached @janeandrew01