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The reason NOT to remember your password

You might have heard in the news about the many celebrities who have had their “phones hacked”. Their personal information posted online including explicit photos. But what you never hear from the mainstream media is what really happened. They either don’t understand or don’t care and just want to post a sensational story to get viewers.

But here is what you need to know and why...

It appears that these celebrities had iPhones and it was actually Apple’s online backups and storage of these phones that was hacked. It also appears it was not any problems with Apple’s online service. So how did they get this information and what does it have to do with you?


Well in the past few months, perhaps going on for even much longer, Russian hackers have been breaking into many smaller companies and online sites. Small unknown sites that don’t have the resources of the big sites like Google and Facebook and therefor don’t have the security or knowledge or capability to have the lastest updates and security. As these hackers get into these lesser known sites, they get copies of the passwords used there. They have been building this online database of those accounts containing what appears to be over 1 billions user passwords.


The problem is people often use the same password on multiple sites because its easy to remember. So because of a little convenience people are willing to risk their bank accounts, their email...everything.  The hackers can now use that database and try logging into peoples accounts on more important sites by comparing the email address and trying the password to see if they used the same password elsewhere.


And when people answer the “security questions” many sites have as a backup if you lose your password such as “what is your favorite movie” or “what town were you born in” they actually give the real answers to these questions. Its trivial to find out those answers for celebrities and not much harder even if you're not a celebrity.

The answer is simple...You have to do a little extra work. You have to give up a little convenience for security. Here is what you should do:

1. Passwords should be at a minimum 10 characters, 12 is better, 20+ would be great!

2. Passwords MUST contain UpperCase, LowerCase, Numbers and Symbols whenever permitted by the website.

3. NEVER use the same password twice. Every site must have a unique password. (how will you remember them? more on that further down).

4. NEVER answer security questions with the truth!
  What town were you born in? Answer:  3rdCityOnPlanetMars

  What is your favorite movie? Answer: IDontWatchMoviesIRead

  Make things up!

Now since you will never remember the answers to all the different sites, you have to write them down. Either keep on them on paper, put them in a document or spreadsheet and password it (Word and Excel have password features!). Don’t store them in Google Docs or anywhere else online! If you're a more advanced user you can create a secure TrueCrypt file or Zipped Passworded file. But log them all!

Your email should be one very long password that you commit to memory because if you lose a password on most sites you can just request a password reset be emailed to you and you can reset it that way, but your email account must be very secure. There are also options like which very securly logs into each of your sites for you and all you need to rememeber is the lasspass pasword, which agian should be a very good long password.

And don’t assume this can’t happen to you. Those 1 billion+ passwords belonged to everyday people like you and me! If you own a business, have a bank account or credit card then your at risk. People always ask me “why do they do this?” The answer should be obvious...Money. Its a business for these hackers. Sometimes its to empty your bank account. Sometimes its just to order some expensive items online on your credit card and have them delivered to them.

They say you don’t get something for nothing. You want all the internet and technology has to offer? Then it can cost you a little inconvenience or a lot financially. Its your choice. I recommend the longer passwords. :)


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