Last spring I was getting a flood of emails from hacked email accounts 🙁

Because we are regularly emailing close to 10,000 Instructors, my email address is in all those contact lists. When an account is compromised, the first thing the hackers do is send an email to everyone on your list. That email typically includes a nasty link that, when your mom/dad/babysitter or club department head clicks, could infect their computer with a virus or worse... like taking complete control of your computer.

It even happened to me - an old email I haven't used in years started sending out spam emails. Embarrassing to say the least.

I wrote two posts here & here about the importance of using a good/strong password to prevent this from happening to you. Here were my suggestions.

... take your existing password (if it has 8 or more letters) and add one capital letter and two special characters.

So “password” would be greatly improved by changing it to “@Password!”

Another option would be to combine three easy to remember words, separated by special characters. The three girls in my life are Amy, Abby and Carly so a reasonably secure password could be Amy&Abby&Carly. You can use your first name, your dog”™s name and your city or any other three words and special character combination.

One more suggestion — You may have heard you should have a different password for every website — unrealistic. But I personally use a few different passwords, depending on the type of website where I have a user name.

  1. One simple password for sites that don”™t matter (No email or financial data) Here”™s where you can use “password” :)

  2. One password for important sites (No financial data)

  3. A complex password for each website that has financial, medical or credit data. Create a prefix password and add the name of the institution at the end like; @Password!=visa or @Password!=bank or @Password!=401k

To be clear, my example of @Password!=visa would in actuality be: @Password!=FirstBankVisa but please don't use "password"  instead use an easily remembered root word. Password is the number one, err - password and it's the very first word the hackers try.

But how do you know what you've created is really a good/strong password? This online password strength checking tool can tell you the relative security of any password you dream up. Suggest testing a slightly different version of your password - change one digit-just in case this site is an elaborate scam to actually steal passwords. It did come to me from a trusted source... but you never know. 

So "password" (without the quote marks) returns:

Please don't use this password.

Please don't use this password.

Which is pretty much like posting your password online, but @Password!

Much better

Much better

Is a big improvement, while @Password!=FirstBankVisa should be pretty secure.

Now you're talking :)

Now you're talking 🙂

So until we all have the new iPhone 5S with fingerprint recognition, please protect yourself and change your passwords.

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