Even before our collective blood pressure shot through the roof this week over LinkedIn’s password breach, I’d been thinking about creating a unique username and password for each online account I own.
Well, this week forced me over the edge, and I took two hours furiously doing just that: dreaming up and inputting a unique password for every … online … account … I … own.
In the words of a client who responded after I sent an alert through my e-newsletter: “A different login for every account? H. E. double hockey sticks!” (I couldn’t have loved her response more if she’d ended it with “Batman.”)
By the way, LinkedIn’s Vicente Silveira published Taking Steps to Protect Our Members on the professional network’s blog. Don’t miss it.
So a question I’ve been mulling, “How many passwords are enough?” obviously hit home this week.
Here’s what I’ve wanted to share with my friends and clients, but have left sitting in a drawer until now.
A real life horror story, or at least I think so.
“They took control of my email account. Then they eliminated my address book, severing my connection to friends, family, colleagues, and everyone else from as far back as 1997!”
Can you imagine the feeling?
Unable to really do much of anything meaningful to mitigate damage that you’ll never really know the full extent about?
I was as passive as the next guy when it came to password management until my virtual assistant recently shared a horror story from one of her connections.
A tale with far-reaching implications, and we should all be aware.
Here’s what went down.
Kandace got an email from a colleague saying that she was in Paris. Her wallet had been stolen and while she and her husband had a place to stay, they needed money to get home.
While concerned, Kandace immediately felt like something was awry and emailed back.
By then, however, the email account had been under someone else’s control — not her friend’s control — for more than 24 hours.
Her friend was not abroad. The family didn’t need money.
But the person or people now in control of the email account were helping themselves to gutting more than a decade of contact information and email history from the friend’s email account. Irretrievable forever.
A matrix of other atrocities followed, but the lesson was clear to me at “lost every contact from 1997.” I’d never considered how complex a compromised email account might be.
End of story.
We all hear about how important it is to create unique passwords for our online accounts. To not use passwords like “password,” “1234,” of “abcd.”
But let’s be truthful, we always think, “Bah, it won’t be me.”
Until it is.
If you agree that the idea of losing control of your online accounts is unimaginable — and if you got a jolt this past week when you heard about the LinkedIn breach (again, good on LinkedIn for jumping in and addressing it quickly) — then may I suggest that you TODAY set aside two hours to give your username and password a strategic overhaul.
Until next time!
Postscript: I left my story unedited in terms of tense. Meaning, yeah, I wrote that article thinking, “I’ll get to it before this post publishes.” But the reality was that the article sat in development as I met the deadlines of my regular life. Sitting there like a time bomb. I’m grateful, I suppose, for having the importance of this slapped in my face. It’s all-too-human to put things off until its too late. So now I can truly say, DO IT TODAY.