It’s not high-tech, but simple password stealing is the main way that hackers access sensitive information. Humans are always the weakest link in any secure physical or cloud storage system – the 2015 Data Breach Industry Forecast found that employees cause around 60% of security incidents (source: Experian). Improving your passwords is the easiest way to dramatically reduce your likelihood of being hacked.
Fortify your password
Choose a password that won’t be vulnerable to brute-force attacks. Obscure but memorable words mixed with a string of numbers and characters would be a good choice. Words relating to your address, birthday, or favourite pets are not the best options, as they will be your hacker’s first choice if they know a few personal details about you. And, it usually goes without saying, but never ever use Password.
There are also browser plugins such as LastPass which generate ultra-secure random passwords for you and store them all in a vault.
Don’t use the same password more than once
If you use the same password for GerbilNewsUK and Amazon.com, any hacker that can get through the possibly questionable security of the former will also be able to help themselves to an Amazon spree in your name, despite Amazon having excellent security.
Be aware of common password snatching scams
Don’t give away whole passwords or security question answers over the phone or over email to people claiming to be tech support. A legitimate bank or financial service would never ask for that information – they instead would request the 1st and 5th characters of your password, for example. Not enough for a scammer to use, but enough for the bank to check you’re you. If you’re getting a suspicious feeling on a phone call, ask to call them back and use the number on the bank’s official website.