Ryan Aghdam

Basic Internet Security

How does someone get hacked?

Here’s a common scenario which uses a sweet little old lady to toy with your emotions. You’re playing the role of the sweet little old lady in this one.

  1. You use your email address, littleoldlady@aol.com, to sign up for Bank of America, PayPal, and ArthriticKnitting.com.

  2. It’s hard to remember more than one password. Heck, it’s hard for you to remember what medication you’re supposed to take. So you’re using the same password, ilovemygrandson, for all of these websites.

  3. ArthriticKnitting.com is hacked. The attackers sell the list of email addresses and passwords to other hackers.

  4. Whomever buys the list of email addresses and passwords tries to login to PayPal with your email address and password and is able to send himself some money.

  5. The attacker has found a working credential and will try to use that information on other sites, too. He finds that it also works on BankOfAmerica.com.

Managing Passwords

Unique Passwords

Do not use the same password across multiple websites.

When a website is hacked a list of usernames and passwords are often sold. Hackers buy these lists to see which username and password combinations work on other websites. It’s not a big deal if your password on something like a car forum is hacked. If that’s also the password you use for online banking, then you must consider that account hacked as well.

Random Passwords

Use a randomly-generated combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use your name or any words found in a dictionary.

Try a random password generator, if you want help. You’ll end up with something crazy like this: }sKj^&@'>H<2}Qneq^mP% but it’s more secure.

Frequently used passwords are often tried when attacking an account. Hackers can attempt to automate attacks using lists of frequently used passwords and a dictionary.

Keep Track

Keep track of your passwords. There are many software solutions including 1 Password, LastPass, and Dashlane. You can even use a sheet of paper, if that’s what you’d prefer.

The best solution is the one that you’ll actually use.