I recently got an email from a friend of mine who was vacationing in London. They were writing to tell me that they were mugged at gunpoint and their wallet, cell phone and all their money was taken. Now they were stuck in London with no way to pay the hotel bill and no way to get home.
I was shocked and felt bad for them. What could I do to help? If they had asked, I’d donate money to get them back home as I knew I’d get paid back.
A few hours later, his wife sent out a Facebook message saying that they weren’t in London and that his email account was hacked. They had no control over the messages that were going out.
I felt much better that the story wasn’t true, and that I didn’t fall for any scam that could have very easily gotten money out of me. I had no reason to believe that it was anything but the truth as it was his email, his signature and the message was well written.
Even though that situation wasn’t real, having his email compromised was very real. Now someone was emailing all his friends and no one was the wiser.
And what’s connected to your email? Everything.
After the hackers got the email, they then took his Facebook account. It’s easy to do because you can click the ‘Forgot Password’ link and they’ll email you instructions on how to rest your password.
Think about it, nearly every service does that. They use your email as verification that you are who you say you are. Once someone has your email, they can then easily take over your digital life. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, iTunes, everything!
And when you don’t have access to your own email, how do you get it back? How do you stop it?
My friend followed Facebook’s instructions which outlines what to do if you lose access to your account and your email. They then erased his account. All photos, all friends, gone.
This serves as a great reminder that we need to change our passwords!!
Good passwords are:
- At least 6 characters long, and longer if possible.
- Contains a mix of upper and lower case letters.
- Includes numerals, special characters, and punctuation.
- Is not based on any personal information.
- Does not include any words found in the dictionary.
- Is unique to the account it’s used for, not shared between all your accounts.
I know that it’s easy to say, and hard to do. I for one use to have most of my passwords the same across everything; and it wasn’t that great of a password either. Remembering multiple passwords suck, especially the harder they are, but it’s important that you take your security into your own hands.
What would you do if your email, Facebook or Twitter account was erased and you had to start over? That’d suck more than trying to remember a new, secure, password.