Password Security, Have You Been Pwned (Owned)?

Password and Internet Security Tips

Last night I attended a presentation about internet security.  The presenter said his main goal was to scare us. It worked! Here are a few points from the meeting and a site where you can see if your email and its associated data have been stolen.

  1. You are the weakest link in online security. Because we really don’t do well with passwords often people use the easiest and most guessable password possible. Some, even use the word password. Which is beyond crazy. Often, people use the same password on multiple accounts, which makes a data breech so much more profitable for those stealing the information.
  2. Don’t look for the Russians. Major companies that you trust like Adobe, Linkedin and Tumblr to name a few, have had their data compromised. This information (your email passwords and password hints) is then sold on the dark web so that people with simple computers can try to break sites and accounts with the information obtained from the companies you trust.
  3. Six character password  “security”. By using a home computer, a six numeric password can be identified in less than 6 seconds. The best security is using upper and lower case, numerals and special characters. Those take a little less than nine hours to break.
  4. See if you have been “Pwned”.  This simple website cost nothing to see if your data has been stolen, just enter your email address.  This site identifies know cases of data breeches and identifies the company responsible for the loss of data and the date. I would highly suggest if your email comes up as pwned you should begin changing email passwords and account passwords immediately.  Pwned is an internet slang word that derived from an accidental misspelling of the word “Owned” that appeared in a video game.
  5. Be vigilant and protect your passwords and email address. Pay attention to emails that request a change of password when you haven’t initiated one. You may even want to consider a password manager like Lastpass. .
  6. Be careful what you send over public wi-fi. That free wifi at your local coffee shop might not be so cool if someone in there is using a program to steal your unencrypted information. I’m sure they won’t mind logging into your bank account and checking your balance for you.
  7. Don’t use the same password. Don’t reuse your passwords. To limit the potential harm to your data and financial accounts use a unique password for each account. Yea, I know, see #5 above, it’s free, or $12 a year for premium.

I hope this information will help you have safer interactions on the internet.