Securing Online Accounts – Keeping your Digital Life Secure!

Over the last six months, I’ve had more and more friends come to me saying that either their; Facebook, banking or email accounts have had un-authorized access i.e. Hacked and they want to know how or why this happens.So I ask them to answer four simple questions, which you should answer for yourself too:

    • Do you have a complex password of at least 8 letters, with a capital, number and symbol of a non-dictionary word?
    • Do you have different passwords for different accounts?
    • Are you someone who does not post questionnaires about yourself on Facebook or any social media – questions which are similar to the security questions you are required to answer for banks, credit cards & the government?
    • Do you hide your date of birth from any social website? ie; Facebook, twitter, blogs etc.

If you answered YES to all above, fantastic! You’re making it very difficult for anyone to hack into any of your accounts!

If you answered NO to any of the questions, you are more vulnerable to unauthorized access to your accounts.

Below are some tips and reasons to follow the methods outlined in the questions above:

Complex Passwords

Many people find it hard to remember passwords, so they use a word, which they will remember easily, a child’s name, a city and some even use their own name. This makes it every easy for hackers to use dictionary password scripts, which keep trying to attempt to crack your password, the longer & more random the password, the harder & more chances they will have of being caught by Administrators.

Different Passwords

With social media making your life available for everyone to see, It doesn’t make it very hard for people to capture all aspects of your life, if they gain access to one of your weaker online accounts, they have the password which could be used to gain access to everything, its best to have multiple passwords for accounts.

Social Media

In another article written about Facebook, we’ve made mention that those questionnaires that you post about yourself are actually questions very similar to questions asked by Banks or Credit Card companies and even now the Government, if you post answers to these questions, you’ve giving away the answers and possibly making it available for people to reset your password, though these are fun and let you share your interests with family and friends, it would be wise to be selective to what you reply with.

Date of Birth

The one question that everyone will always ask, banks, phone companies, credit card companies, governments, everyone! Will ask to authenticate you over the phone is your date of birth.

It is never a good idea to have this displayed anywhere public, however if you wish to display your birthday for any reason, we suggest changing the birth year by a couple of years.

Keeping track of different passwords can be very difficult, so here are some helpful suggestions where you can store them:

If you’re the only one to use the computer at home, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned lock-box. You can write all information down and lock it away with a key and place it away somewhere hidden, keeping your banking and online information away and physically secure.

If you have a smart phone, there’s a mobile application called LastPass, which stores all your passwords in an online account. While there is a higher risk if this account is hacked, if you use a strong password as mentioned above you should be fine.

Another idea is to store them in the contacts of your phone under a different company name in the same industry, ie. Contact name: MasterCard, you would place your visa details and causes confusion if anyone takes your phone, providing enough time to change your details and let the correct people know what has happened.

My final suggestion is to use good antivirus and malware protection software. There is not point in doing any of the above if your computer has a key logger maliciously installed, and somewhere, someone is looking at everything you type to try and find your passwords, so antivirus and malware protection is a must to ensure you are secure!

Written By Steve Bakker