My e-mail was hacked – Creating a secure passwordBy
It’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.