Giving people the keys to your internet castle

When you hear about a data breach at a credit card company or a retailer, do you immediately wonder why the company wasn't more careful with the information of the customers? I bet most people do. But as concerned as they are about others protecting their information, many people don't even take minimal steps to protect their own data.

A survey of 800 people in the U.S. and the U.K. found that 88% of people use one password for all of their online accounts. That's right... one. The implications of that are insane. If a hacker gets your information on one site, he can possibly get into every site you're on because he has that one password.I wonder if people consider how serious this is. While I think they recognize that criminals out there are trying to steal via the internet, I don't think they really take their own password security very seriously. Just as bad as the "one password" policy is when that password is something like the dog's name, a child's name and birthdate, or some other easy to guess variation.

It's best to have multiple passwords that you change often. The passwords should also be something obscure that can't be guessed or linked to you or your family . Include both numbers and letters in your password for added security. And don't keep them all on a sticky-note on your computer monitor. That's like leaving the front door of your house wide open while you're gone.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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