How To Protect Your Online Accounts
Updated: Jan 30
Anthony McDaniel - Author of Blind Spot: Smartphone and Computer Personal Security Guide [Link]
Carl, who is a client of mine recently encountered a problem. His social media account was breached. He discovered that someone was posting random content from his timeline and generally, his social media was behaving strangely. His friends were getting strange messages directing them to other sites some asking for credit card information right AWAY! he knew something was wrong. So after a few questions, I discovered that Carl wasn't mindful of some security problems his account faced. Let's take a look to see what exactly were some of these problems.
For good measure, we looked at Carl's security questions and answers. Carl's questions were very easy for the guest.
"What year did you graduate high school?"
"What city did you grow up?"
I recommended that Carl change his answers to answers that do not directly address
What year did you graduate high school? “one nine eight six instead of 1986.”
What city did you grow up? “Eagles Philadelphia.”
Doing this will make it hard for someone who is intending to breach your account from grabbing information from off the internet to get into your account.
See "Social media and your data" to learn more about how a hacker can breach your account. [Link]
Setting Up MFA
Multi-factor authentication is when access to your account is dependent on two or more ways to authenticate the user. Social Media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram allow some form of MFA. Online Banking from major banks and credit unions support MFA to better secure user accounts. It's worth exploring to see if the site you sign up for supports MFA.
Setting Strong Passwords
Passwords are our keys to log in to our local and online accounts. When we create passwords we want to make sure that they are secure so that it is difficult for others to guess the password or for a more seasoned hacker, make the password much more difficult to crack.
See "See How To Improve Your Passwords" for more information about creating strong passwords that are difficult for cybercriminals to crack. [link]
How Do I Know If I Have A Good Password?
Password length is 8 characters or longer
Password has character variety featuring a combination of special characters Upper and lower-case alphabetical letters
Use of numbers, but not passwords that are mostly numbers
Create original passwords
Avoid reusing old passwords on your accounts.
Avoid making your passwords, mostly dictionary-based.
How Do I Know If I Have A Bad Password?
Opposite of a good password is a bad password. What is a bad password? A bad password can be the result of anything of below or some combination of them.
Password length is short
Password has no character variety
Password is the same password shared across multiple accounts
Password is derived from information that is publicly available
Password is a dictionary word or String of numbers.
Using Passwords that were already compromised account either online or offline.
After our conversation, Carl was definitely in a better position from a data standpoint and now has the tools to better protect not only his social media but his online accounts in general.