I use email and the internet a lot, and I feel like I’m always looking over my shoulder. Just today I got three messages from good friends of mine who had been hacked and now scammers were sending out spam with their email address.
There are few easy ways to prevent getting hacked and protect yourself online, and you can do them all today:
- Passwords. This is how 99% of people get hacked. Its not Yahoo’s fault, it’s the users most of the time. People use simple passwords and hackers have tools that will try the top 500 most commonly used words and get in. So the main rule is: the longer and more complicated the better. Remember your email account is the gateway to everything else in your life so make this password the best. You can use a phrase from your favorite song (IwishIwasanoscarmeyerwiener, Haha) or try spell your name using symbols (Christian might be [email protected]). Or you can wrap a standard set up symbols around mnemonic device (every password could be a variant of [email protected]+6@). Or if you are a good typist, simply move your fingers one key to the left, and then pretend as if you are typing your name (so johnwilson would become higbqukaib). The resulting gobbledygook would be easy for you to remember and impossible to guess.
- Security questions. Increasingly scammers are doing web research on you (on places like Facebook) and then going to common email services and clicking the ‘recover password’ feature. Using things they know about you, like pet names and birth places, they then reset your password and freeze you out. To prevent this you can put fake answers into the security question spaces, or make them something hard to guess. Answer the questions backward, so Central High would be ‘hgih lartnec’. Make your pet’s name answer not just ‘Roofus’ but ‘Roofusthedogwegotin1997’. Choose the most obscure and hard to answer questions. And of course, turn on all the Facebook privacy settings like we discussed HERE.
- Be careful with your email address. Just handing out your email address can be an invitation to bad guys. If someone sees you have an email address that is [email protected], they know that you have a Comcast account and may be able to hack that account and get billing information easily. When visiting a website you don’t trust use a disposable email address you can get got free at places like http://10minutemail.com/10MinuteMail/index.html.
Remember, your email address is a huge part of your identity, and treat is as such.