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Many of us became acutely aware of vulnerabilities any IT company, large or small, encounters when the password security breach for Gmail, Yahoo, and Microsoft recently went public. Although many passwords were compromised, the amount of users who were affected is low a percentage in comparison to the overall number of members themselves. While Google and other major players tout the necessity of changing your password every 60-90 days to avoid password hacking, the average member may not recall upwards of 280 different variations of password combinations over their lifetime. I know I wouldn’t. Since online shopping has quickly risen in popularity, credit cards and other sensitive personal information have flooded servers globally only to be linked to a name, phone number, address, and/or, you guessed it, most commonly an email address. Keeping personal information personal nowadays is more difficult than ever. Betanews.com released an article just today excitedly reporting a UK company’s invention of the paperless driver’s license. Yes that’s right, they’ve created an App to eliminate hardcopy licenses. Furthermore, they’re beta testing the App to also digitalize passports (Click here for full article). Technology is the wave of the future, yes, but if we’re not careful our wave might become a tsunami. Preparing yourself as though your information has been compromised is the best defense, especially with every ounce of identification information stored on ones cellphone, tablet, and computer. Unfortunately there will always be a need for security, for every technological advance there will be someone eager to use it against you. As vulnerabilities are patched, larger hurdles are introduced within software and hardware which becomes tedious for hackers to crack. Although it might not be a 100% failsafe, there are preventative measures which can be taken to ensure your information’s safety:

  1. Two-Step Verification. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc. allow a verification process to occur when/if logging into an account from a unique device. If you are logging into an account from a device unregistered (never been used to access said account), you will be prompted to enter an identification code sent via text to the number you’ve previously setup. You will then be asked to enter the code given before gaining access to your account. Two-step verification is the best preventative measure to take for securing password(s).
  2. Changing Your Password. Although two-step verification dramatically decreases your odds of compromisation, nothing compares to the security of password modifications. While a password change every 60-90 days is a bit excessive, a password change every 9-12 months (after implementing two-step verification) is known to be sufficient. The strongest passwords usually contain uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and at least one symbol. Building an acronym of your favorite phrase, song, book, or movie title sometimes makes for the best password word as it’s highly improbable to guess a word which isn’t a word at all. Clear as mud? Here’s an example: if my favorite (recently read) book is ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, my favorite number is 14, and I’m overly excitable (!), I might make my password Atlwcs14! .

The advantages of taking preventative measures are protected by practicing safe browsing. Passwords should never be; 1) shared over email (including, but not limited to, email reminders to yourself), 2) used over open networks at any time, 3) cached/saved on any public computer (even if it’s your mothers), or 4) the worst of them all, writing it down on a sticky note which is stereotypically placed under the keyboard.

The safety and security of information in the age of technology might seem tedious during implementation stages but the end results speak for themselves.  Taking the time to utilize the tools created by email hosts and online shopping companies will help aid the fight against online pirating. Passwords should always remain yours and yours alone.

Although practicing these preventative measures will help reduce the risk of accounts breach, there can still be a chance your computer may become compromised. Because of this, it is always recommended to invest in a good tech support plan like My Computer Works to have a professional technician at your service 24 hours a day.