Have you ever wondered how your personal information could become acquired by identity thieves? If your identity has been stolen, it most likely was taken from an organization that collected your information but didn’t protect it properly. You probably didn’t do anything wrong but one of the organizations that lists you as a member was careless with your information.
There is an interesting website that will tell you if your email is associated with any big data thefts. Open your browser and enter haveibeenpwned.com. After the website appears, enter your email address and hit Enter. The website will search for your email account in a database of accounts that have been stolen during hack attempts at various big organizations. Was your account information listed as being stolen?
My email address was listed on two accounts that I hadn’t used in years. Even though the accounts haven’t been used in years, it is a good practice to change the passwords. Consider deleting any unused accounts if possible. It is not in your interest to keep information floating around about you. Keep your close control of your information.
There are guessing games where the players are given clues to the secret word. You should NEVER give any clues to your password. If you have ever worked on any secure government projects, you learned that EVERYTHING related to the project is classified. Spy agencies collect pieces of info from different sources to get the big picture. Consider your account name as sensitive as the password. Make it as difficult as possible to gain access to your account. Someone has to know your account name before they can attempt to guess your password. No one besides you and your designated agents needs to know anything about your personal information.
It is normal to hear about large organizations that have been hacked in the news. Are we becoming immune to news of data theft? “They didn’t get it from me…” If you follow good security practices, you should be proactive if you hear data theft news about a retailer that you use. Always log in and change your password. Sometimes the news isn’t really news, the data theft may have occurred years ago but you should act accordingly.
Always pick a password that is difficult to guess. Mix up upper and lower case for the password. Don’t use your significant other’s name or any other easily guessed word. Security experts will always tell you to never write down passwords but let’s be real. How are you going to remember a complex pattern of numbers, letters, and special characters? It is always amusing to find passwords on the bottom of the keyboard. At least be creative where you hide your passwords.