Jul
16

My e-mail was hacked – Creating a secure password

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making money on the internetIt’s a while since I wrote something on this blog but there has been so much going on that I simply have not had time. ( more about that soon!) But yesterday my e-mail account was hacked so I felt I should warn you.

Hacking is getting worse so it can happen to you too. I wasn’t the only one though. I heard that a lot of Yahoo and Google mail accounts were hacked even though Google mail uses https security.

It wasn’t too long ago that my computer doctor sent out a newsletter warning about this. Did I take his advice about creating a secure password ? Unfortunately not.

We all think it won’t happen to us but it can and it will. Hacking is getting worse.  My computer doc says that the majority of people don’t worry about their email accounts because there is not a lot in them but this misses the point.

He says “Hackers rarely care about the emails you send and receive. They care about the fact that people have built up trust in you personally. You may well have seen spam emails from people you know saying they are stranded in a foreign country having had all their money stolen and that they need you to forward them some cash so they can get home safely.

This is a well crafted scam that people are falling for all the time, it looks credible because it comes from someone you know and sounds like it could be true. It’s a good example, but just one example of why hackers want your email account.”

Fortunately no damage appears to have been done to my account. They didn’t lock me out or delete anything. The hackers sent an email to a number of people in my address book that only contained a website link, no other text.

I received the email into another of my email addresses so knew immediately that it was fake. The link was long and looked suspicious and I suspect that it got caught by my contact’s spam filters as many of the people I contacted about it had not received it.

I have now set a much stronger password for my email and other accounts. You cannot be too careful.

Creating a secure password

To understand how to create a strong, secure password you need to understand how a hacker works. The most common method is to use a program that tries to log into your email account using every word in the dictionary in turn.They can spin though tens of thousands of these in no time. Then they try every place name in the world. Then every person’s name.

If your email provider asks you to include an uppercase letter in the password, the hacker knows you will probably just set the first letter to a capita, so they try all the words again with that. If you are asked to have a number, the hackers know you will just put a 1 on the end. We are very predictable!

So when you are creating a secure password, don’t use a “word”. A better way to create your password is to think of a phrase. A few words strung together. You could use a line from a favourite song. Then you put some numbers in the middle or at the end. Part of your telephone number would work.

In many cases you are restricted to a certain number of letters so a another good trick is to think of a phrase and use the first letter of each word in the phrase for your password and then put your numbers in the middle or the end. Make some of the letters caps.

You can also use symbols such as ‘@’ or ‘*’in the password. That, if you can remember it, is a really strong password. Password hacking software automatically checks for common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “and” to “&” or “to” to “2.” so avoid those.

You can check the strength of your password with Microsoft’s Password Checker.

Ideally you should not use the same password for every account you have and you should change your password every 3 months .

If you have trouble remembering them Roboform is a good secure password manager that also fills out online forms with just one click. This is something I have heard about for years but never invested in it. It’s only $9.95 for the first year so it doesn’t break the bank. I have just downloaded the trial version. If you want to try it out you can get it here:   RoboForm Password Manager Trial

So, if you have a lame password you should change it right now. I was extremely lucky as my computer doc says that the trend is that once they get into your email account they can change your password and security question and delete all your stuff. Not only that but they can go on using your account sending out vile stuff in your name.

How would you like it if your friends received an email from you saying you had found a good supplier of those little blue pills that worked wonders for you and they should try them?

Have you ever had any of your accounts hacked? Please share your experiences and tips for passwords in the comment box.

Comments

  1. Terry Conti says:

    Hi Sandy,

    I’ve never been hacked but thanks for reminding us it can happen to anyone, explaining what hackers can do and what we can do to make it hard to get hacked.

    A lot of people think it’s a chore to do it right so to make it harder for hackers to crack into your account.

    You where lucky. As you explain- hackers can create havoc. Every one should not take this post for granted.

    I have no problems with passwords. I have all my passwords in a rolodex. All I have to do is take a second to look up the website and bingo there is the log in info.

    Terry Conti

  2. Nikki says:

    So far, I haven’t experienced my email being hacked but of course, I wouldn’t want for that to happen. I try to provide a strong password as possible however, sometimes, I tend to forget the password especially when it comes with different characters and numbers. Thanks for explaining what hackers are capable to do and for the reminder.

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Nikki,

      It’s not easy to keep track of all your passwords especially if you change them frequently as you should. It pays to have a good system for keeping track of them all. You certainly don’t want to have the same one for every site.

      Sandy

  3. Crukz says:

    E mail is now a identity of a person in the virtual world. This must be secured. Thanks for sharing the way to secured it.

  4. Becca says:

    Internet world is not at all safe for our personal information. Thanks for the reminder, I think we should change our password once or twice a month.

  5. Adam says:

    It is hard to find his email kacked ! One way is to have multiple emails, but it is not very practical. Nothing is safe !

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Adam,

      I have multiple email addresses but I don’t see how that helps. The solution is to have hard to hack passwords. But as you say nothing is safe!
      Sandy

  6. Richard says:

    In my case, I change my passwords more frequently, say at least monthly. There is also the case of choosing really reliable strong passwords. Although we can never totally prevent from getting any of our online accounts from being hacked, those simple steps can really mean a lot.

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Richard,

      It does pay to change passwords regularly but you have to remember to do it. The weeks go past so quickly it’s easy to forget and the software used by hackers is getting more and more sophisticated, but we can try.
      Sandy

  7. Elena Anne says:

    Yeah i think the use of characters such as @ or % is a useful way of having a strong password. Luckily, and partly down to strong passwords and regular changing, i’ve yet to be hacked. Touch wood!

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Elena,

      Some sites don’t allow characters such as @ or % but if you can they are good to use. Changing your passwords frequently has paid off so long may it continue.

      Sandy

  8. Alex says:

    I’ve never had email address beeing hacked, by thanks for remember me to put a stronger password.

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Alex,

      That’s the thing. No one ever thinks it’s going to happen to them. You hear about these things happening to other people but for some reason you think you are safe.
      It’s a huge wake up call I can tell you. I was very lucky that more damage wasn’t done. It really pays to have really good passwords in place for all your accounts, not only your emails.

      Sandy

  9. Alex says:

    @Sandy: yes, I’ve never think that my email will be hacked. Maybe because I don’t think I have really important documents. but you’ll never know …until it happens

    • Sandy says:

      That’s it exactly Alex. The majority of people think that because they have nothing of value inside their email account that no harm can be done.
      It’s only when your friends start to receive some dubious messages that appear to have come from you that you realize what harm can be done.
      Better to be safe than sorry.

      Sandy

  10. Sergio Felix says:

    Awesome advice Sandy.

    I used to remember all my passwords (around 50) from memory and using mnemotechnics to recall them but since I started with Internet Marketing, those 50 passwords quickly scaled up to 1K!

    Roboform is one of the absolute must-have tools not only for internet marketers but for anyone with the need to store hundreds of robust passwords.

    Great recommendation!

    Sergio

  11. Richard says:

    Thanks for the advise, the most important site which is password protected is my website, If someone hacks your website, I believe will or can do so much more damage especially if its your living. I’m changing mine now.

  12. Shane says:

    Wow. This is so helpful. I do agree about password security, a few of my friends got their emails hacked because of poor security. It is very scary when it comes to investments and business. Thank you for sharing this. Great article! :)

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Shane,

      I also had fraudulent activity on my Skype account recently too. I am not sure how that came about. I am still trying to get to the bottom of it but I had to change my Skype password. You can never be too careful.

      Sandy

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