It wasn’t that long ago that things were so much simpler! Before you may have only had to worry about your password for your email account. In today’s brave new world, you have passwords for your phone, your WiFi (at home and at work), your banks, your utilities, your magazine subscriptions, etc. etc. It’s a lot of accounts to keep track of! This series of articles over the next few weeks will give you some practical ways to manage this headache.
Sadly, all these wonderful tools to help manage your life also have a nasty dark side: with the exponential rise in computer crime, they can be used by other people to manage your life for you. Or, at least, drain your bank account and use your identity to commit fraud. The best way to combat this is to start with a change in mindset: you can no longer think of your password as just a way to check email from your family. Your passwords are your life! A competent criminal can do just as much damage to your life with access to your electronic records as they can with your Social Security Number. No sane person would give up their SSN to a stranger, and you should think THE SAME WAY in regards to your passwords.
Many institutions dictate that any activity done with your account is your responsibility. The reasoning is that ONLY YOU should know the password to access your account, thus any activity on your accounts MUST have been authorized by you. This has resulted in several tricky legal scenarios in both civil and criminal court.
The moral of the story: PASSWORDS ARE CRITICAL! This is important so I will say it again – Passwords are like underwear:
- Change them often;
- NEVER share them with others;
- Leaving them out in the open is something kids do;
- It can be really hard to part ways with one you are used to, but it needs to be done.
Next time, I will share some tips on how create good passwords. In the meantime, feel free to use the comments to ask questions or share your thoughts!