For a number of years, I lived in the belly of the beast. That is, I lived in the heart of Washington, DC.
I lived just six blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
Still, even though I lived on Capitol Hill – one of the most heavily policed locations in the world – street crime was common.
More than once, as I sat in my living room, a wannabe burglar would giggle the front door knob to see if the door was unlocked. These pukes and punks would try this at all times of the day and night.
If you opened the door, they would pretend they were selling something or that they’d accidentally come to the wrong house looking for their “friend.”
Of course, what they were actually doing was looking for easy prey. They were looking for a door that was unlocked, or one that had a flimsy lock, so they could burglarize the home.
And believe me, they didn’t care if someone was home. If you left the door unlocked while you were upstairs or outside on the back patio, they’d walk in and steal as much as they could and run out the front door before you knew what happened.
In law enforcement circles, this type of burglary – where the door is unlocked or the lock is insufficient – is often referred to as a crime of opportunity.
Hacking is no different.
Hackers are constantly on the prowl looking for easy prey.
Hackers are cyber-burglars who use computer programs to constantly giggle the locks on the accounts that store our private financial and medical accounts and our most personal information.
That’s why we all need to use cyber-locks – passwords and multi-factor authentication – that are as strong as possible.
Given that this week another huge data breach was announced (Data: Nearly All U.S. Home Depot Stores Hit), and the use of targeted hacking to break into iCloud revealed the photographs of naked celebrities (The Police Tool That Pervs Use to Steal Nude Pics From Apple’s iCloud), it’s as good a time as any to review how to strengthen our cyber-locks – passwords – so that hackers move down the street looking for easier prey.
And believe me, it’s not hard to improve our personal cybersecurity enough so that we lessen the chances of being hacked.
Notice that I said “lessen.” That’s because if a hacker (or the government) is truly determined to penetrate your computer or your smartphone, they will probably succeed.
But, we can fend off the door knob gigglers of cybercrime. And, realistically, that is the main threat most of us are faced with on a day to day basis when it comes to cybersecurity.
So let me recommend a short article, “Three Essential Steps to Make Yourself More Hack-Proof,” as an excellent refresher on what we can quickly do to strengthen our personal cybersecurity.
The article walks you through three aspects of cybersecurity.
1) Don’t Reuse Passwords
2) Set Up Two-factor Authentication
3) Use a Password Manager
Personally, I use all three of these methods (and others) to protect my financial, medical, and other personal information that is within my control. I hope you do as well and that the article and this advisory serve as a refresher.
But if you don’t use two-factor authentication (I realize most people don’t) and a password manager, please – PLEASE – do not use the same password for different accounts. If you do, you are the equivalent of the homeowner who lives in a high crime area and leaves the front door unlocked.
So today, make it a priority to change the password on any accounts that share the same password.
While you’re at it, change all of your passwords.
You’ll sleep better tonight.
Be safe and secure,
Rob Douglas – Former Washington DC Private Detective, Information Security Consultant and Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist