This article concerns all kinds of online accounts including email, social networking web sites, banks etc. The first step to prevent account hacking is, obviously, making a strong password. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, keep a simple password for the account. These can quickly be guessed.
The next, which is equally important (if not more), is taking care of the login information and ensuring it always kept away from prying eyes. And the final quick tip is to keep all the personal information correct and up-to-date. This includes the alternate email address, cell phone number and the security question and its secret answer.
Now let’s look at things in a little more detail.
How to take care of the account login information? Especially the password!
- Most of us hold different types of online accounts. Some are important and contain sensitive information while others are… well, frivolous. For instance, your email account on Gmail or Hotmail is much more valuable than one at an online forum. Though it’s understandable that a single password for all your accounts is easy to remember, it is the most dreaded mistake you can make. To prevent hacking of important accounts don’t use the same login information (esp. password) on shoddy and trivial web sites.
- For important accounts keep changing the password every few weeks. So if there were dedicated hackers working hard to crack into your account… they would end up working harder!
- Take care of your login details and keep them away from prying eyes. I’ve realized that noting these down in a “little black book” which is then locked safe in a 10 inch steel vault is a big help. OK, you don’t need to be so paranoid but I suppose to get the idea, right? Here is a secret – Yes, I use a little black book (mine is indeed of the same color) and keep it hidden in an inconspicuous jacket pocket tucked away in my closet. So if you want to completely ruin me, you know what to do!
- The fear of Alzheimer’s disease aside, I always advice people not to be so dependent on their brain cells. Do not trust your memory. This is especially true when you want to prevent hacking of important accounts. The little black book is a great help.
- Many online services such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo require you to protect your email accounts with one or two security questions (especially in lieu of an alternate email address). Make sure you know these questions and their answers. This extra level of security is for your benefit and further prevents account hacking. In case you forget the login information and want to recover the password, you would have to provide these answers. Just like the password, the security questions and their answers should not be what people already know about you or can glean from your online profile. Do not share this information and guard it as you would guard the password. Many services let you create your own questions instead of picking one up from a drop down – use this feature.
- Do not share your password with anyone – not even your dog! Don’t write the login information on bits and pieces of paper which can quickly get lost or fall in the hands of “bad” people.
- Be aware of phishing and phishing scams over email: I’ve known too many people who have been conned into revealing their account login information via phishing scams. The best protection against phishing is to avoid clicking on any link embedded in an email message. You can also download and use phishing tool bars.
That’s about it. If you have a little advice of your own on how to prevent account hacking, I would more than glad to put it on this page.