In the wake of the latest celebrity nudes scandal, one question has been circling many people’s minds: “Is my personal data safe?”
Sure, the average iCloud user isn’t a celebrity and was therefore exempt from this particular attack. But if someone as high-profile as actress Jennifer Lawrence could fall victim to a lone hacker from the depths of 4chan, what chance do the rest of us have if and when someone decides to make a more wide-scale data grab?
In truth, the crux of this whole issue is just plain bad user behavior.
The hacker behind this leak reportedly used a brute force attack tactic to gain access to these accounts. Such an attack runs through hundreds upon hundreds of commonly used and easy-to-guess passwords until it hits the right one.
It’s safe to assume that it might have been less successful if the passwords on these celebrities’ accounts were a little harder to guess.
So what can you, the average user, do to keep your accounts secure and your private information (photos, documents, financial data, etc.) out of the wrong hands? The NPG team has a few tips to make it a little easier for you.
Create random, complex passwords
This one seems like a no-brainer, but the truth is that most people don’t put much thought into the complexity of their passwords. A strong password includes letters, numbers, and symbols. But more importantly, it doesn’t contain words related to personal information or anything you might mention publicly online.
So sorry, folks with bad memories, but using the name of your favorite pet for your password isn’t as clever as you’d think. Just a single, innocent mention of Fluffy on social media and you’ve already given someone a chance to guess your password.
Don’t use one global password
Additional bad news for those with less-than-stellar retention skills: The easiest way to create vulnerability across your accounts is to only use one global password.
Since many sites don’t have the most stringent password recovery systems, it’s not impossible for a potential hacker to pose as you and gain access to one of your accounts. And if you only have one password across the Web, it’s only a matter of time before they figure out how to get into your other accounts with it. That’s why it’s important to create a different password for each account.
So if you’re worried about forgetting any of your passwords…
Use a secure password storage tool
Tools such as 1Password exist solely to make keeping track of multiple logins a no-brainer.
What is it exactly? 1Password is a password storage app that will not only store all of your passwords, but also sync across your devices to ensure that you’ll be able to log in anywhere at any time.
It even has a strong password generator so you don’t have to worry about racking your brain for twelve unique, complex passwords that don’t involve the names of all your cats.
Change your passwords regularly
A few months back, the Heartbleed bug left everyone scrambling to changes their passwords across the Web, but when there isn’t a massive security vulnerability being hyped up by the media, how often does everyone change up their passwords?
Consider changing all of your passwords regularly. It may take a while if you have a lot of accounts (and if you’re following the aforementioned rule of no global passwords), but the peace of mind that comes with knowing your information is secure is well worth the inconvenience.