Happy New Year! Your Account Has Been Hacked!

That was the news my oldest son received last week from Zappo’s. Seems my son’s largess at Christmas time included buying my youngest son a pair of shoes from the online retailer, owned by Amazon, Zappos. Needless to say my son was shocked and a bit put off by the need to change his passwords for numerous websites scattered around cyberspace.  The good news was the  hackers did not get complete credit card numbers, but they did get enough information including email addresses and encrypted passwords for 24 million people.  With some simple effort it would not be inconceivable that the hackers could do some real damage by taking control of thousands of email accounts and by using the information obtained to perpetrate some sophisticated phishing attacks. 

To my regular readers this is not new news.  It seems like every week some seemingly hacker proof company gets hacked!  So if it is not too late, I would like to suggest another New Year’s resolution for you – Reset all your passwords with “strong passwords”.  We all know what makes a “strong @A66$i?+” from my previous articles.  I know what a pain it is to manage dozens of passwords but if you are going to keep doing business on the Internet, we need to stay vigilant and one step ahead of the bad guys waiting for chance to get their hands in our wallets. 

For those of you that have a difficult time remembering all your passwords I have a recommendation.  Give LastPass a try.  LastPass is a free password management site that manages all your passwords across multiple devices such as computers and mobile phones. Not only will it store your password and automatically log you in, it will actually generate a strong password for you.  There are other features such as having it automatically load memorized passwords but I don’t recommend you do that.  Just try it out on a few web sites and then as you revisit each site generate another password and LassPass will memorize it for you automatically.  You can even store credit card information and the program will complete online order forms for you.  I know you are wondering how they keep our information safe.  The answer is they encrypt all your data (Zappos only encrypted the passwords) which makes the information almost worthless to hackers.  Notice I didn’t say totally worthless.  Encryption is not a Silver Bullet but it is the next best thing. 

Let me know how you like this program.  I am a big fan after using it for only a week.