This week, in an article titled Russian Hackers Amass Over a Billion Internet Passwords on the New York Times, it is estimated that over 1.2 BILLION (yes with a 'B') username and password combinations have been compromised across 420,000 websites. With these numbers, quick math shows that 17% of the world's population has been compromised...and knowing that not all of the estimated 7 billion people on earth are connected, this number is even higher. Further, this is only one single breach!
So what can you do to protect yourself? Obviously we use sites for their convenience to information and/or services, so abstaining is simply not an option. Some simple tips I often recommend can help strengthen your online security, but being careful to understand that nothing is 100% secure:
- Do NOT share your password with others
- Do NOT use the same password for more than one site
- Secure your password somewhere AWAY from your computer
- Change your password several times a year, no matter how inconvenient
- Combine capital letters, numbers, and symbols in your password
- When providing personal information via a web form, look at the web site address for a secure SSL encrypted connection. The padlock and address starting with httpS:// prove an encrypted connection.
There are other forms of securing yourself, however they are only starting to gain momentum now, have a cost associated with them, and therefore are not as common place. One method such as Multi-factor Authentication to validate identity utilizes technology such as facial/iris recognition, voice identification, and even fingerprint scanning. Two-factor authentication has become cheaper in recent years and combines user credentials along with another form of identification. An example is a site sending a security code to a personal mobile device for you to enter.
At the end of the day, if you do not feel good about entering some information online...DON'T. It is your information. Data integrity starts with you.
I'm Mike M.