Cyber crooks have phony websites that masquerade as the legitimate site you want to log onto. They’ve spun their web and are just waiting for you to fly into it. Google now has Password Alert, which will tell you if you’ve landed into such a non-Google web.
When you change a password (regardless of reason) or sign up for a new account and it’s time to come up with a password…don’t just make up an easy word to remember or type.
- No part of the password should contain actual words or proper names.
- Each account, no matter how many, should have a different password.
- If allowed, use a mix of characters, not just numbers and letters.
- Use a password manager to eliminate the excuse of “I can’t remember a zillion passwords so that’s why I use the same one for multiple accounts.”
Even a strong password, when used for multiple accounts, can present a problem, because if that password gets in the hands of a cyber thief, he’ll then be able to access not just one—but all of your accounts with that password.
A different password for every account at least means that if any password gets into the bad guy’s hands, he’ll only be able to hack into one account per password.
And how might he get the password if it’s long, strong and full of different characters in the first place? By the user being tricked into giving it to him.
This is most often accomplished with a phishing attack: an e-mail that fools the user into thinking it’s from an account they have, such as PayPal, Microsoft or Wells Fargo. The message states there’s a problem with their account and they need to log in to get it fixed. The truth is, when you log in, you’re giving out your crucial login information to the villain.
However, Password Alert will intercept this process. And immediately, so that you can then quickly change the password and protect your account before the thief has a chance to barge into it.
Other Features of Password Alert
- Many sites are phony, appearing to be legitimate Google sites. Password Alert will spot these sites by inspecting their codes when you visit them. You’ll then get an alert so you can get out of there fast.
- Password Alert has a database that stores your passwords in a very secure way called a “hash.” This is the reference point that Password Alert uses every time you enter your password into the login field, to make sure you’re not entering it on a malicious site.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.