With Sony’s private emails becoming public information and attacks made to both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network on Christmas Day, it’s more important than ever to manage online passwords. Everything from laptops to Facebook pages to bank accounts could potentially be in danger, but there are many ways to boost your defenses.
“I always use something important to me [for passwords], like a number, or a name or an animal,” said English major Mary Jones. “Nobody else could know unless I told them.”
Sticking with information that only you are privy to would ease the process of making a password, though a completely random password could potentially ward off savvy enough hackers. It’s a difficult balance to achieve.
“[My passwords aren’t] personal at all, it’s almost random, but not quite,” notes communications major Katie Steuart.
One of the largest offenses to cyber security is password reuse. Banks are simply going to have more safety precautions than social networks like Twitter or Facebook. If someone were to ascertain a Facebook password, and it happens to match the bank password, the consequences could be disastrous. Diversifying passwords is crucial.
It’s inevitable that with the copious amounts of websites people sign up for, password management can be a confusing task. That shouldn’t stop passwords from being filled to the brim with numbers, spaces, and intercapped letters, however. Programs online are able to test the viability of your password.
“In certain circumstances, if I have to have a password that has to be so many characters long, needs a capital, a symbol and a number I’ll write it down,” said game developer and alum Branden Middendorf.
However, it’s difficult to recommend writing passwords on a notecard and calling it a day. With smartphones being so commonplace, there are apps such as 1Password that effectively do the same thing. Create a password for the app, and it will store passwords for websites, credit cards, even passports. The obvious con to such a program is that if the app gets compromised, literally everything else could, too.
Sites like Google employ two-step verification when dealing with sensitive information, meaning that to proceed, a separate email account or phone number is required.
Despite all the management and encryption at our fingertips, occasionally there’s a site-wide security breach, as was the case for PlayStation four years ago. Hackers are able to find faults in a company’s system and all of a sudden, millions of people’s information are up for grabs.
“I don’t keep credit card information saved on [Xbox or PlayStation]. I do change the passwords just to be safe, but I think it could happen to any company,” said Middendorf.
This sort of powerlessness doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to keep our information secure. The best pieces of advice for risks of identity theft are as simple as responding quickly to suspicious activity.
“Most systems have procedures in place for password recovery or stolen emails,” said NKU senior systems analyst Charlie Bowen. “Even here at NKU, we want to know as soon as possible.”
It may seem too confusing to keep up with a myriad of passwords, but there are people and programs at your disposal that are willing to help. Just don’t leave your password ‘password’.