Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the nation ― especially in the suburbs, Melissa Bean.
“Identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, usually as a method to gain access to resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name,” Wikipedia, Identity Theft.
Thieves obtain personally identifiable information by many means: hacking computer networks, information leakage, social engineering, brute-force attacking weak passwords, using malware, such as spyware, Trojan horses or keystroke logging programs, etc.
What should your password be like?
- Passwords are meant to be secret and personal. Do not share it with anyone for any reason, and if you have done it, change it.
- Passwords should not contain your username, your first, middle or last name, your spouse or child’s name, your pet’s name, etc. Some hackers use social engineering techniques to find out our passwords.
- They should not be short and simple; rather, 8-10 characters should be the minimum size. Remember that long passwords are harder to guess and crack than short ones.
- Don’t use common words, phrases, or reverse spelling of words (“hello”, “olleh”), important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), phone numbers, your home’s street name, acronyms, names of famous people or fictitious characters, etc.
- Use uppercase (A, B, C, D, etc.) and lowercase (a, b, c, d, etc.) letters, numbers ― at least two ― and special characters, such as @, !, #, $, etc.
- You should not reuse your password on many different websites.
- Watch what you say online, do not post or share personal information, such as your address, date of birth, telephone number, credit card number, etc. Do not answer any email or text messages that ask you for confidential information, such as your bank account, name, Social Security number, password, etc. even if it appears to be from Google, your bank, or a relative.
- Use password generators like Secure Password Generator, Norton’s Password Generator or LastPass.
- Use our password strength checker. You may also want to try How Secure Is My Password? to find out how strong your password is.
- Use password managers like LastPass, KeePass (the free, open source, light-weight and easy-to-use password manager) or Sticky Password (they are all used to store and manage your passwords) and virtual keyboards (they are more difficult to hack than monitoring real keystrokes) to prevent keylogging (it is the act of recording key presses on a keyboard).
- Use antivirus (Free AVG Antivirus, Avast), anti-spyware and firewall (ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, Comodo Firewall Free). Backup your personal files and folders. Read our entry about Security and free software.
- Protect your router by changing the default user name, password, and network name (also known as the SSID), using a high level of wireless encryption (WPA 3, WPA2-PSK AES), and a firewall.
- Browse only ‘safe’ websites. URLVoid.com is a free service that “allows users to scan a website address with multiple website reputation engines and domain blacklists to facilitate the detection of possible dangerous websites, used to distribute malware and spyware or related to fraudulent activities.”
- I also recommend that you use browsers like Brave, Waterfox, Iridium, Firefox or Google Chrome. Do not install unnecessary extensions or plugins to the web browser.
- Attachments in emails and messaging can come from unreliable or unknown sources. They can contain viruses or spyware. Don’t open any attachments without first scanning them for viruses.
- Don’t download things you don’t know, be careful with pen drives or don’t use them at all.
- Ask yourself if you need to use P2P networks and pirated software. Many viruses and spyware use P2P sharing tools to spread everywhere. Are you sure that you cannot use free software? There are many legal, competitive and free alternatives for proprietary software: GNU/Linux (operating system), OpenOffice/LibreOffice (office suite), VLC (media player), Gimp (photo editing), 7-zip (package manager), etc.
- Always keep both the operating system and all your applications updated. Set automatic updates on the operating system of your choice.
- Use PayPal or Amazon to make purchases on-line so you don’t have to trust other parties with your credit card details.
Using these passwords is a very bad idea: password, passw0rd (the old trick of changing the vowel “o” for a zero is not enough); 123456 or any consecutive numbers; iloveyou; 111111, 000000, admin, qwerty, shadow, password1, etc. Please be more creative!
Strong Password Generator
Do not answer any email saying you have won or inherited a large amount of money and that you need to pay a fee or provide your banking details or other information to access or receive the money.
You can also use Google to get to know more about the scam.
If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is a scam.
Introduce your password:
I am a social activist. I have two Bachelor's degrees, Maths and Computer & Software Engineering. I also have a Ph.D. in Psychology. I have written nine published books, four scientific articles, and five scientific presentations. I simply want to contribute to making a difference where it counts, so that we make the world a better, more sustainable, prosperous, and fairer place. I am always willing to give free talks and lectures about the social problems that exist in our world today. View all posts by Anawim