Today I gave out 50 iPads on Twitter and sent a ton of FaceBook friends to a site that had a faulty billing system so they could just buy an ippad of their very own for cheap. Yup. Hacked.
Over the last fifteen years, I’ve managed to not click here to see Britney’s boobs, nor to see what THEY were saying about me. I have somehow not downloaded any porn which would infect my hard drive with a little digital STD. Nor have I fallen for the brilliant ‘I have a butt ton of money I want to transfer to you, dear unknown friend, just send me your bank account info and I’ll transfer it right in.’ And I certainly have not fallen for the ‘we need you to update your login and password at www.BankOfAmerika.com.’
But still, I spent the evening getting heckled by my friends and followers for allowing my social media sites to get hacked. The worst part is, I knew better. So, in the age old adage of, those who can’t do, teach, I’m going to tell you how to protect yourself from the type of hacking that got me.
When you think of hacking, you think of someone sitting and staring at a screen filled with 1′s and 0′s and super complicated code working diligently to break into your account. But realistically, the easiest way to hack someone is to simply ask them what their user name and password is. In this day and age, we give it easier then we realize.
Most of us have a set username we use for everything from banking to email to twitter. Then of course, we have a set password. If we are careful, we may change that password every six months… or year… or every couple of years…
So when at someplace, like say, a blogging conference, someone asks you to sign up for something. Create a free account and get a stuffed something or a tshirt or a chance to win. So you sign up with the same username and password that you always use. Because, you know, your brain is full and even though you have a toss away login and password, this site looks fine. Except, it’s not, and now some hacker has a username and password combo and they are pretty sure that it will work in two places. Twitter. And FaceBook.
So, how can we protect ourselves and not have a huge list usernames and passwords tucked away somewhere? Custom passwords. They will save you the back talk I received from twitter.
1.) Pick a word. A person, place or thing. Obviously not your husbands/kids/dogs name, but something you will remember.
For this tutorial I’ll pick something easy that we all like. Boobs. In real life I would suggest you go with something a bit longer. <Insert joke about long boobs here.>
2.) Pick one or more of those letters to replace with numbers.
We could replace the s with a 5, the o with a 0 or the Bs with 8′s. You get the idea. Let’s make it simple and go with 8oo8s.
3.) Begin or End with punctuation.
Most sites will allow passwords with .,! or ? This gives us 8oo8s?
4.) Append with the letter or two from the site you are logging into.
F?8oo8s for facebook, T?8oo8s for twitter etc. For an easy toss away password, you can end with a capital T for 8oo8s?T Or for your fabulous rotating selection of porno sites – 8oo8s?P
Pretty impressive how ‘boobs’ turned into something that actually looks secure isn’t it. Now you realize what a total and complete idiot I am for KNOWING this and NOT DOING it. You all owe me a spanking. Or I owe you all spanking. I don’t know. These sorts of debts always get rather complicated.
The trick is to pick a set of rules and stick with it. Had I done that, I would not have had to field 47 tweets today asking me when they would be receiving their iPads or, if they could get an android instead.