Social Sites and Why You Need to Change Your Passwords Regularly
by Sarah Orrill
13/06/12 in Identity Fraud/Theft |
In the space of about 24 hours, users of Last.fm, LinkedIn and eHarmony have been the victims of password theft, which has once again raised concerns over online security and identity fraud.
In response, all three major websites requested that their users change their passwords following apparent heists of millions of credentials.
On June 6th, LinkedIn users were targeted by email scams after hackers leaked more than 6,400,000 user passwords on a Russian web forum, accompanied by a message encouraging other hackers to help decrypt the "hashed" data.
Soon after the targeted LinkedIn members also received emails designed to look like they were sent by the social-network website which asked users to confirm their email address by clicking a link. However the link too unsuspecting recipients to a dubious website selling counterfeit drugs.
Meanwhile, approximately 1,500,000 million passwords from the US based dating website e-Harmony were also posted online.
And most recently UK-based music website Last.fm released a statement announcing that “As a precautionary measure, we're asking all our users to change their passwords immediately.”
The passwords for all three websites, which were protected by an easily crackable encryption format, were posted to a Russian forum by a hacker who was seeking assistance in decoding them.
LinkedIn users have been informed that they will receive instructions in an email on how to change their details, meanwhile eHarmony stated on its blog that it had reset the passwords of the affected users, who would receive an email with instructions on how to set new passwords in the meantime. Last.fm made no further statements.
Why Passwords are the first line of defense
On a positive note, none of the social profiles had been used maliciously or fraudulently. However, the threat of online identity fraud is real, which is why passwords are such an important first line if defense against cyber criminals.
This is why Google recommends that you pick strong passwords that are different for each of your important accounts and that you change them regularly (about once a month).
Criminals tend to target sites that lack strong security so they can harvest usernames and passwords to test against other popular sites. So if you have the same username and password across numerous accounts, a cyber criminal only needs to crack one account to have access to all of them.
So having different passwords for different accounts is a great way to help keep them secure. Another way to improve your online security is to make sure your password is at least 8 characters long while being hard to guess.
It’s also recommended that you create a password with a mixture of letters, numbers and even symbols to increase the difficulty of guessing or cracking your password.
This is why so many websites now ask for an 8 character password with numbers, symbols, and mixed-case letters, because there are 6 quadrillion (6,000,000,000,000,000) possible variations.
So keep your passwords long, with a couple of numbers, symbols, and upper case letters while changing them every month to help avoid problems like account hacking.
Be the first to comment
In this section
This October saw members of the CPP team taking part in two community challenges to help local projects
In the space of about 24 hours, users of Last.fm, LinkedIn and eHarmony have been the victims of password theft,
Here are some helpful tips on how you can be careful with your personal information online and when mobile …
Social and professional networking sites are a great way of connecting with friends and like minded people. However
Identity fraud using information from social media
There are, apparently, over 500 million Facebook users worldwide
You’ve squashed a week’s worth of your belongings into a suitcase, rushed to the airport in the middle of the night,