After eharmony and LinkedIn’s recent well-publicised losses of customer passwords we were left wondering in the Advent office if there was a Cyber criminal out there who was a bit lonely and had an unrequited penchant for professional types. Then we got real.
However delightful it is to imagine 007’s nemesis Ernst Blofeld and his cat sat at home with their shark pool, hoping to hack their way to friendship (possibly leading to more), I am afraid the reality is far more prosaic; too many of us use the same or very similar passwords for e-services like these and our online bank – or other internet service providers in which we trust sensitive personal and commercial information – and that is what they are really after. So here’s our guide to stopping this happening to you and foiling lovestruck super criminals everywhere.
- Don’t use the same or similar passwords for different things, whether they are personal devices, professional equipment, internet services or whatever. I know it makes life easier but you wouldn’t insist on the same key for your front door, your car, your garden shed and your office would you?
- And when you pick passwords, make them strong. Avoid using proper names, ensure they are at least 8 characters long, don’t use consecutive characters (e.g. Advent99), and use a mixture of upper, lower, alpha and numeric characters.
- Once you have your strong passwords don’t write them down (please!).
- Likewise, don’t tick check boxes saying ‘Remember me?’
- And finally, responsible and reputable organisations do not provide hyperlinks to their users to click on (usually in emails). If you click on one of these links it will probably bring up a really (and I mean REALLY) convincing mock-up of the service provider’s website asking you to give personal information or your password and, as you can imagine, if you do so the rest is history….
Mark, aged 35-45