My older brother has considered himself a tech guy since he was 12 years old. He was in charge of managing our home’s electronics for as long as I could remember. I have always trusted his advice regarding computers and I’m not about to stop now. Recently, he wrote an excellent blog that caught my attention, and finally motivated me to change my crappy passwords and get serious about internet security. You can start by reading that here.
Ok, I’m assuming you’re done now. If you didn’t read it, and you skipped ahead, go back now and read it.
So, do your passwords suck too? Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
I’ve never been very good at locking my doors at night, I have left my keys and wallet in my car for weeks at a time, and (although I’m ashamed to admit it) I was using the same password for my Gmail, Facebook, Banking, and all other forms of online payment. It would take SECONDS to break in to all of my accounts and take me for every penny I have. 5 years ago, I would have told the hackers to have at it. At that time, stealing my identity probably would have been a good thing for my credit! HA! Today, we definitely have a different perspective. Our online accounts contain tons of private information about ourselves and our kids. So, I set out to lock it up!
The first thing I did was download and app called LastPass from the Google Play Store. I used the advice found in my brother’s blog to come up with a lengthy but memorable master password. Mine looked something like this Pup23_#newdogbed_eggplantemoji. LastPass allows you to use the app on 1 device for free. Any additional devices require a premium membership which is $12 a year.
Once you create your account you can begin securing your online accounts.The app is fairly easy to use. You enter the web address and your username, then click a button to generate the password so that you can copy and paste it on the website. You can set any of the parameters given by the website (only 12 characters, no numbers or symbols, etc) I set mine to 20 random characters, symbols, and numbers. My main concerns were Facebook, Gmail, and my online banking. While I did this, I made a few notes:
Facebook and Gmail have a similar process. I logged in to my account, followed a series of steps and after I verified my identity, I was able to change my password. I used my LastPass account to generate a new password, then gave the app permission to log me in to these sites without constantly having to remember. Within minutes of making these changes I got text alerts and email alerts from Google and Facebook informing me of the changes to my account.
The alarm came when I changed my banking password. Red flags were as follows:
- There was no verification process before changing my password
- There was a 14 character limit on the password
- No text or email alert regarding the change
What? How? Why? I’m pretty concerned that my bank, the main reason why I’m securing my other accounts, has such crappy security. I can only do so much!
The process of changing all my accounts hasn’t been as hard as I expected. I’ve been dragging my feet on this for at least a year! There is no reason for it! All I have done is secure my major guys, and then change my passwords as I use these accounts day to day. I started this on Tuesday and have secured the three mentioned before, my 2 car financing companies, Hulu, Nationwide, and Amazon. I want to assume that anywhere I’ve made payments is an immediate task. The rest can wait.
I’m going to post more next week about securing your home network and what I do to keep my kids safe online.