Keeping everything secure: Pipe dream or possibility?

Keeping everything secure: Pipe dream or possibility?
privacy data online
Have you ever left your phone unattended on a table, come back and found that your friends had decided to send out a bunch of ridiculous messages from your Twitter or Facebook account? It’s all in good fun, but you’d be lying if you said you weren’t annoyed, right?

The good news is that, in all likelihood, the number of people who saw your friends’ shenanigans is likely pretty small. Imagine how much worse it could be if you were a celebrity or politician! Cases in point:

Mark Zuckerberg had his pride handed to him earlier this year when a hacker broke in to his Facebook account to prove that there really was a glitch in Facebook’s security that would allow any user to post on any other user’s page.

Colin Powell was forced to deny a lengthy affair with a Romanian Diplomat after the super famous hacker Guccifer got into Powell’s Facebook account and posted emails of a very personal nature between the former Secretary of State and Corina Cretu.

Jamie Oliver’s Twitter account was hacked and the hacker sent out a bunch of messages promoting a crash diet—potentially damaging the “eat healthy” celebrity’s credibility. Luckily, most people knew immediately that it wasn’t him.

Salman Rushdie’s Twitter account was hacked and used to send out a huge volume of spam to the novelist’s followers.

And then, of course, there was the scandal at New York City Comic Con this fall. The convention issued RFID badges (instead of the traditional laminates) to help speed entry and keep scalped passes out. Convention goers were given the option to connect their social media accounts to their badges…without being told (okay, there was undoubtedly some fine print buried in a terms of service for purchasing passes) that by connecting their accounts they were allowing convention organizers to hack into those accounts and post promotional passages for the convention. To say that convention attendees were angry when they discovered what was happening would be an understatement.

So what do you do? What do you do to keep your accounts and identity protected even when Chrome is doing things like displaying passwords in plaintext when you type them in?

1. Choose a really really good password. There are some great web based tools that you can use to test the strength of your passwords before you actually use them. Use all of the options available to you: caps, lowercase, numbers and symbols. Do not use “l33t speak” as a clever way of disguising your name or a real word. Hackers figured out how to get around that ages ago. Change your password regularly—every few months or so.

2. Turn on two step verification on all of your services and devices. Two step verification sends a text message to your phone in addition to asking you to answer security questions. You have to enter the code in the text message to prove to the service that you are you. You can set this up to be just for when you log in from a new computer or IP address or every time you log in—it’s up to you.

3. Protect your actual computer. Remember—there are all sorts of malware devices out there and hackers get smarter and more creative every day. It is important to install internet security software that keeps up with the trends and keeps your system protected from those who might want to steal more than your Twitter password. Believe it or not, software that protects your computer specifically against threats via social media exists. The big cyber security companies like started offering it a few months ago.

Yes, this level of vigilance might cost you a tiny bit of convenience. Trying to remember new passwords, having to enter codes, etc. isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time. But isn’t it worth a tiny bit of inconvenience to know that your information is safe?