Change your passwords. Yes, really.
I know as journalists we face multiple deadlines and constant pressure so sometimes our digital habits get sacrificed as a result. But we need to understand our choices about safety online don’t just impact us. They’re about protecting our sources, our stories, even our newsroom.
If you can’t remember when you last changed your password, you’re not only risking your cyber safety, you’re putting everyone who connects with you online at risk too. The fact is, someone with bad intentions might have been watching you type a password, it might have been saved on a public computer, your password could have been captured as it passed through cyberspace, or a cyber criminal may have already cracked your password using brute-force.
It takes time for a malicious operator to figure out a password, even with the modern technology of today. But passwords still get cracked. The process can take weeks, months or years depending on how it’s done. But there is some good news—there is often a delay between when a password is cracked and when it’s used. That means if you change your password often you can beat the bad guys.
So resolve to make yourself a moving target and as a result more difficult for cyber criminals to attack. Change your passwords on a regular basis. Think of it this way—if the account is very valuable to you—like your bank, email or social media—change the password more frequently than other accounts. Be sure to use two-step verification or multi-factor authentication on your most valuable online accounts, especially those housing your financial information.
Cyber criminals don’t only want your money. Data can be valuable too. And sometimes instead of trying to steal your passwords they simply set up online scams. Does that offer sound too good to be true? Do you really need to share your entire birthday to get a $1 coupon? As a journalist, you have a lot of data others might want, especially those looking to target you with phishing attacks.
And don’t use the same password for every account, especially when it comes to your banking, investment, insurance and retirement accounts. That’s just cyber silly.