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Monday, April 29, 2013

Password Tips

Lately, several of my friends have had one or more of their social networks hacked. None of us are immune. The best we can do is to change our passwords often.

Back when I worked for a large company I had a dozen different places that required passwords before I could access the sites.  I got pretty creative coming up with passwords since the system wouldn't allow us to use even similar passwords to what we had used before.

Some of the things I've tried include:

• Foreign words
• Unusual names
• Words spelled backwards
• Made up words only me and my husband would know
• Code words or code numbers that mean something only to me

I have a lot of passwords. I keep them all in a nondescript notebook that's always within reach. While I was writing this post, I decided to count how many passwords I used. Apparently, I need passwords for a whopping one hundred and twenty-nine sites!

Scary, isn't it?

Do you have any tips for creating a secure password? Have you ever been hacked? What did you do?

:passing the fairy dust: Here's hoping none of us ever have to go through that nightmare.


Cate Masters said...

After my last FB hack attempt, I changed my password to nonsensical letters, symbols and numbers. Now I have to look it up every time!

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: I know! Even passwords I know how to spell I have to look up because I can't remember which site they belong to.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I have a notebook too of very odd combos but they make sense to ME. LOL
I still have to look up passwords too.
Never been hacked...yet.

Mike Keyton said...

My question is how would you know if your face book had been hacked - or blog for that matter? A supplementary question - I have had spam sent to me from my own email address. Does that mean my email account has been hacked, and is it a simple case of changing your password to solve it AFTER it's happened.

And yes, I have a little notebook too :)

Stacy McKitrick said...

I keep my passwords on a spreadsheet, which I need a password to open! Ha ha!

Lately, I've been getting really strange spam, though. The e-mail address is unknown, but the signature at the bottom is someone I do know (one was signed with my sister's name, but didn't come from her). I guess spammers must think enough people are dumb enough to fall for clicking on the link!

B.E. Sanderson said...

The worst that's ever happened to me was my email account started sending out random porn links. I changed my password and the problem went away. Then about a year later, I used that password again for that acct and it started up again. I guess hackers keep some kind of database. LOL

Now anything even smells like it's been touched, I change my password. Like you, they end being words and numbers significant only to me or my family (and never things I've talked about online).

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I suppose there are those who have been hacked and those who will be hacked. These hackers are relentless.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: When someone's FB account has been hacked, I've received emails via FB from my friend only to discover it's an email selling me something.

Other times I'll get emails from people I know with porn links or banks.

I usually contact them and let them know their account had been hacked.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: This is an argument I have with my husband. He likes to keep his passwords on a spreadsheet on his computer. I refuse to do that because I worry that my pc might crash or my internet is down.

If I have to go on another computer I won't have the spreadsheet available. Or what if I have to go to a public place for internet service? I open myself up for a clever hacker to piggyback on my signal and browse my files.

For me, it's paper all the way.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: I cannot understand how hacking our accounts can be useful to porn peddlers. Do people really click on those links? It's insane.

And you make an excellent point. The words I use in passwords never appear online--even casually.

Diane Carlisle said...

I hate changing my password. I should know better than to keep the same password.

I've had my Twitter hacked before, but never my Facebook. The Twitter account had sent out direct messages to all my followers with a link in it asking them to click to see a picture of me or something like that.

I had a few followers contact me and tell me I was hacked, because they knew it was not in my behavior to do such a thing. But I also had some people unfollow me after sending me scathing messages telling me that it was rude to do such a thing. :(

I think it's unfortunate there are people out there who think this sort of hack is beneficial to them in some way, but it's a huge pain!

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: I wish people would think before criticizing others. If it's someone you followed, you ought to know their basic tweet behavior. Even a quick check of their timeline can tell you that.

It was wrong of them to castigate you unjustly.

I follow someone on Twitter who get hacked. I emailed her to let her know, but I never unfollowed her. It wasn't her fault.

Jackie Burris said...

Hackers actually got into my account on my email once, my twitter account once and nothing else luckily so far Maria.

My passwords are very much things that only make sense to me, even my husband thinks they are kind of crazy if I have to tell him a password to get into something on my computer. :-)

Twitter sends me all kinds of nasty DM messages from people whose accounts get hacked, I just delete them after letting the poor user on Twitter know they have a problem. Same thing with folks whose email sends me things I know doggone well does not come from my contacts, they too get contacted but not unfollowed or deleted.

Maria Zannini said...

Jackie: It seems the decent thing to do and let people know that you got something out of character from them. How else would we know we were hacked?

Anne Gallagher said...

I think I was hacked once, but I changed my password after that. And 129 different passwords? That's amazing. I have 6 I use interchangeably. I shuffle them around and then back around again. But I like the foreign words one. Russian is my favorite language these days.

Shelley Munro said...

This is something that has been on my mind recently. There are sites where you can keep your passwords then you only need to remember the one password to get into it.

I've been using the notebook method myself.

Most of the hacking occurs after a user clicks on a link. Treat all links as suspicious and don't click blindly.

Angela Brown said...

Unfortunately, passwords are a security and a bane. I sometimes get confused which password goes with what site lol!!

I try to make my passwords a combination of letters, symbols and numbers since that increases the pool depth the "password thief" has to go to guess for me. But it still happens. And there are people who click those links. Paranoia tends to stay my mouse from clicking something remotely fishy.

Maria Zannini said...

Anne: Well, it's actually a list of passwords with variations. I still need my notebook to remember which goes to what.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: I've heard of those sites where you can file all your passwords with them and just use one master password, but I'm too paranoid to use them.

Re: clicking blindly
That's just common sense, isn't it? Or maybe not, since it must be lucrative for hackers to keep using that tact.

Paranoia has saved me from many a disaster. LOL.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Ha! That's what I just said to Shelley. I am never so curious as to click on anything suspicious.

It's not worth it. My hard drive contracted a virus while surfing legitimate sites. It was a nightmare. I take precautions and it still bit me in the you-know-where.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I was hacked once on my cell phone account. Verizon took care of it within hours after someone bought $1000 worth of phones.
I have a long list of passwords too. Sigh...why can't people be honest.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: Oh, I haven't even thought of the phone account. Jeez! It never ends.

Re: Sigh...why can't people be honest.

I often wonder this myself.

LD Masterson said...

I always let someone know if I think they've been hacked. I hope someone would do the same for me but so far I've been lucky.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: Exactly. The sooner we can change our passwords, the faster we can stop the spam.

Gwen Gardner said...

My twitter got hacked a few months ago and I had to change the password. Like you, I keep a list, otherwise I'd never remember.

Maria Zannini said...

Gwen: That's awful! I wish I understood how they can hack into a site.

Anonymous said...

Between passwords at home and work, well, I'm afraid to count 'em up! On top of that, the passwords at work HAVE to be changed every 60/90 days depending on the site. So I have created a base password with a number, a symbol, and a mix of upper and lower case letters, then I just change the last 3-4 digits.

And like everyone else...I have a list! Actually, two lists. One on paper and one in a password protected excel sheet, LOL

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: What happens if you forget your password to your Excel sheet? LOL.

I used to store passwords on my work computer, but then someone's laptop was stolen and we were ordered not to keep any passwords on our machines.