The Importance of Unique Passwords

This is a topic that Brian and I have spoken about in several posts, but take a minute to think about it: what could happen if a hacker cracked just one of your passwords? You may not think your information is really very special… so what if someone reads your email to your mother, right? Well, let’s think about this a bit…

I just read Parmy Olson’s We Are Anonymous, and one of the most devastating hacks carried out by the hacker group Anonymous was against the cyber security firm HBGary Federal and its CEO, Aaron Barr. One exploit gave the hackers password hashes, which were then cracked, so suddenly hackers had Aaron’s passwords out in the open: “kibafo33”.

But here’s where things get nasty: Aaron (who should have known better), used the “kibafo33” password on multiple sites including Twitter, Yahoo, and World of Warcraft. So with a single weakness in a single web page, suddenly, his whole digital world unraveled. The hackers were not gentle: Aaron basically lost his job, his reputation, and had to move to a new house just because some juvenile hacker-pranksters were out for a laugh. It’s not much consolation that the Anonymous hackers were eventually discovered and arrested.

So just think: what juicy bits of info could someone read in your emails? Are there naked photos in there? Do you have emails in there you’d prefer your wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend don’t see? Did someone ever email you a password to some other site? What’s on that other site?

It doesn’t take much imagination to realize how thoroughly you can be screwed over by losing control of just one of your online accounts. If you have used the same password more than once, then take the time fix that now. We’ve mentioned it before, but LastPass is a great browser plugin to help you store passwords securely and make the task of managing multiple passwords much easier.

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Unique Passwords

  1. I still like and use KeePass (see article). I’m warming up to LastPass’ convenience, but the open-source nature of KeePass is more appealing. Plus, you stay in control of your data and are not relying on a third party.

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