Is your online identity safe?

Finding out that one of your accounts has been hacked will cause huge headaches.  It can be just as bad if your passwords have been compromised by a data leak.  If you use the same login email and password for Salesforce as you do for your online banking then you could find yourself in even more trouble.

Passwords

The normal way for a system to check that you are who you say you are is for you to enter a user name and password.  If you don’t know the username or password you can’t access the account.  However, hackers have developed sophisticated ways to find out your password.

If your password is an English word comprised of six lower case letters then it can be cracked in seconds.  This gets more secure if you use a 9 digit password including lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers and symbols.  Using a full phrase as a password can be even more secure, especially if it is difficult to guess.  The stronger the password the more difficult it is too guess.

Ideally what you want to do is create individual, strong passwords for all your accounts.  Then if one of your passwords is hacked your other accounts aren’t as vulnerable.  Creating and remember secure passwords can be difficult.   An option is to use a password manager, like 1password, LastPass or mSecure, to set up very secure passwords.   You would need to make sure you had a very secure password for this though!

What is two factor authentication?

To keep applications secure, and make sure your data and identity is secure, many applications now allow two factor authentication.  This is also known as 2FA and 2-Step Verification.  This is a system that uses two different methods to verify your identity.

Usually they are different types of evidence.  Often it is your password and something else.  This can be something you know, like a password or passphrase, a memorable piece of information.  It could also be something you have, like using your mobile phone to receive a text or use an authentication app (i.e. duo or authy), or a bank security device like HSBCs secure key.    They could also be something specific to you, like your fingerprints or retina scans.

The more factors needed to verify your identity the more secure your account will be.  It will be difficult to hack into your account if you need to know your password and have your mobile phone.

You will be able to set up two factor authentication with most major applications, but you may need to navigate the settings menus to find the option.

Solution

Ideally you should have strong passwords or passphrases, different passwords for every account and have two factor authentication enabled where possible.  Even this doesn’t make you immune to a hack, but it will make it a lot more difficult for to access your accounts.

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