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Use Stronger Passwords People, C’mon

Seems about once a month I get some random spam from a family member, friend, doctor, former employer, another doctor, multiple family members’ friends, aunt’s friend, Mom’s friend’s friend, Dad’s business partner just now… I flip open the email headers to see whether or not the email was forged from China or Eastern Europe or if it was relayed through Hotmail or AOL (usually AOL) whatever (if the mailer has full access to the account), then I have to advise the person of the situation and what to do, then I have to feel pissed off now that yet another spammer has my primary address because these people either didn’t use strong passwords or think LinkedIn is going to help them out. It’s aggravating. Man I wish I could still swear here.

In general with password selection your only excuse out of the really bad etiquette for not using a different password for every different service you use is because you are coming down with dementia or have some sort of amnesia. That’s all I can think of to give you a pass if you get hacked at both your expense and mine. And maybe even then you shouldn’t be driving on the web, you’re a liability to us all, go play bridge. It would be nice if you could go an extra mile and change passwords every now and then, but I concede that’s a tall order, but how about throwing in a random symbol or a capital in there at least? Have you thought about how hard it might be to assess the damage were your account to be hacked, and then what do you do? Identity theft, among other things that can come with the fallout, is a real bitch.

You are aware, right, that in your Hotmail account or whatever it is you use, in addition to your address book, a bot can sift through all of your emails to collect addresses, phone numbers and any numbers that match patterns of credit cards, socials and so forth, as well as extremely sensitive company information if you happen to work for a company that is concerned with privacy and you don’t think the IT rules about mixing work data with Hotmail accounts are any more serious than highway speed limits – you are potentially jeopardizing your company’s reputation if anything juicy flies out to Lithuania and someone manages to spot it as pertinent to their nefarious interests.

Are you technical? Netstat is your friend. Linux? SNORT, dnotify/fam, Tripwire among many others. Also try common sense, it’s been ported to most platforms. And update your php and mysql!! Update everything especially if you run your own server, even if it’s a hobby server.

All right so please use stronger passwords, for the sake of people belonging to your organization do not, do not use your company account’s password on any other service, … you know the drill, please follow it. Don’t like your company’s IT policy? Think your IT guys like to pretend they are running the CIA when sending company data to your Gmail account and Dropbox? Then ask them to either relax the rules, make an exception for you because you’re special and want to read PDFs on your iPad or give you a satisfactory answer as to why they won’t, and until then, cut the shit. Damnit these spammers drive me nuts. Your email account is suffering constant hacking attempts, you’ve got sensitive stuff in there, act accordingly. It is a real pain in your own balls, not to mention the people whom you expose when getting hacked, to mitigate the situation; make an effort to avoid it please and thank you.

Oh and watch out for keyloggers (thanks, China)…

Doug Simmons