Your Password is More Important Than You Think

A secure password is the equivalent of a good deadbolt on your door – it keeps the bad guys from getting in and stealing your stuff.  Most people wouldn’t think of leaving for the day without locking the house, and yet many people don’t give a lot of thought to creating a strong password.  The news is rife with tales of hacked websites and compromised information, and still, many people use “password” as their password.  (If you’re one of those people, keep reading.  This is information you need.)

password security

Don’t think it can’t happen to you, and don’t discount the seriousness of it.  Stolen or hacked passwords are the key that opens up a Pandora’s Box of problems and are a primary tool for identity theft, among other things.  Recently, Yahoo was hacked and over 400,000 usernames and passwords compromised, and prior to that, LinkedIn announced that their database had been hacked and millions of passwords were exposed.  Yes, millions.  Imagine the havoc that could be wreaked with a hack of that magnitude.

Checking Your Email Address

Even if the only online account you have is your email account, you would be wise to check it to see if it’s been compromised.  A simple check of your email address at will quickly assess the state of your email account and let you know if it’s one that’s been hacked.  If you’re one of the unfortunate many with a compromised account, you’ll be advised to change your password right away.  And if not, it’s still a good idea to change your password.  Online security experts recommend regular password changes, as often as every six months, no matter what.

No matter how careful you are about your online activity, there are hundreds of crooks and scammers out there looking for easy access into your personal information.  Don’t assume that every site offering to check the strength of a password or investigate your email account for hacking is on the up-and-up.  Many phishing emails and websites offering such checks are preying upon your concern about your online security.  Note that only asks for your email address – not your password, or your bank account number, or the name of your first pet.  Any site asking for more information than your email address in order to check its security should be viewed with suspicion.  Reputable sites do not ask for any personal information to perform such a check.

Whether your email account has been compromised or not, take a good look at the passwords you’re using for your various online activities.  Now may be the time to create new, stronger passwords and get into the habit of changing them frequently.  It can make the difference between secure online activities and a disaster.

{photo by killrbeez: flickr}