Most of us like to think of the Internet as a place where people connect, share thoughts, opinions and experiences, and entertain themselves. But the World Wide Web is not just dank memes and cat videos. There are users out there that have really bad intentions and profit from other users’ ignorance and lack of good online security practices.
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever for hackers to access your accounts. It has been reported that over 2,200 cyberattacks happen each day, which means one every 39 seconds. Most of the time, they go underreported by big companies because they fear the bad publicity the controversy brings.
When the news come out about data breaches from prominent companies, the public finds out how their most trusted corporations have accidentally exposed millions of passwords belonging to their users. And guess what? Said users are not even aware or notified of that! In fact, one of those users might be YOU. So, should you worry? Is ignorance bliss in the world of cybersecurity?
Those who are aware of how things work on the Internet, of how dark its underbelly can be, know for a fact that knowledge is power. But if you’re like Alfred E. Neuman and your attitude toward the issue of online safety is nonchalant at best, then I’ve got bad news for you. You are the perfect victim of cybercrime. Me worry? Yes. And so should you. You would have to be mad not to.
Here is why you should worry, and why this should concern you. Scammers and other online criminals perpetrate elaborate cyberattacks using your personal identifiable information (PII). They use your emails and passwords to gain access to social media and bank accounts, steal money and information, or even valuable IT resources you might own (websites, servers, etc.).
It’s highly possible that the passwords you currently use were leaked and are out there in a decrypted database somewhere, visible to any dweller of the Dark Web. Even if there is no simple solution to this issue, there is something you can immediately do to prevent further data breaches and password theft: get a password management system. Here are six signs it’s time for you to get one.
Your Passwords are Weak
If you’re not sure how to create a password that’s complex enough to make it harder for hackers to crack, don’t worry. This problem is pretty common. It’s hard to come up, off the top of your head, with a combination of more than 8 characters of which at least one must be uppercase. And if you are using personal identifiable information in your password (your birthday, pet names, etc.) because that way it’s easier to remember, you need to change it as soon as possible.
But before you change any of your passwords, consider using a secure password generator app or browser extension. These will do the hard work for you and produce complex passwords in seconds.
You use the Same Password for Multiple Accounts
Most online platforms require users to create accounts before they are able to fully access and use them. So, there is a chance that most of us have multiple passwords. But, if you don’t use a different password for each platform, you could be at a higher risk when it comes to cyberattacks. If your password gets leaked and a hacker has your password, then they will be able to access your accounts.
Your Password was Leaked in a Data Breach
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, a data breach is “the loss of control, compromise, unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized acquisition, access for an unauthorized purpose, or other unauthorized access to data, whether physical or electronic.” In 2020, despite an estimated 50% decline in breach events, the total number of records compromised in 2020 exceeded 37 billion, almost 150% more than in the previous year. If those numbers are shocking, consider the tangible costs of data leaks: a whopping $4 million per breach!
So, you see why it’s imperative that you change your bad password creation habits and free yourself of the vicious cycle that is cybercrime. You can check for yourself whether or not your info was leaked in a data breach using sites like HaveIBeenPwned using your phone number or email.
You are (or Have Been) a Victim of Identity Theft
While most people don’t realize the seriousness of identity theft, others will tell you that it’s not a victimless crime. The lack of violence and life-threatening scenarios don’t mean that name fraud can’t ruin your life. Identity theft, as it turns out, is the fastest-growing white-collar fraud scheme in the United States and the world. And the criminals behind these schemes are smart, make no mistake. They know exactly what they’re doing.
Scammers don’t even need to be that skilled at hacking. They just need your personal information to get started with their social engineering exploits. Phishing, vishing, and shoulder-surfing can be done by anyone with the minimally required hacker skillset. But what do all these attacks have in common? What is their main purpose? Believe it or not, they just want to steal your login credentials to gain access to their target platforms. That includes your password!
You know from experience that these cyberattacks are not showing any signs of slowing down. In fact, have you noticed how the amount of phishing emails has increased in these last few years? If so, you know you can’t let your guard down. If you’ve already been a victim of identity theft or suspect that you are being targeted by a scammer, then implement stronger passwords all across your most data-sensitive online platforms.
You Want to Protect your Business or Family
If you are looking to prevent the most important possessions and people from cybercrime, you can use a password manager with a family plan or business plan. It’s safer if everybody’s online privacy is protected in your home or workplace by software that’s easy to use and manage. That’s a big responsibility for any business owner or head of household, and one that should not be neglected!
By not knowing how vulnerable systems are to password attacks and by not using strong passwords, you give hackers the power. For example, if you install an indoor camera system and don’t change the default password, any hacker with the right tools could see anything that goes on inside the privacy of your own home. They might literally catch you with your pants down, all because you didn’t think about changing the passwords of your camera system or home network.
You’re not Already Using a Password Manager
If you’re not currently using password management software, now it’s the perfect time to start. You will be able to easily change and store the login credentials of all your accounts. You’ll have hacker-proof passwords in no time!
The right password management software can help generate and store all your new, complex passwords for you, keeping them safe and encrypted in their digital equivalent of a vault. You’ll only need to remember one password –a master password– from then on!
“One password to rule them all, one password to find them. One password to bring them all, and in the password management software bind them!”
It’s Time to re-Think Password Security.
Cybersecurity is more than a practice; it’s a mindset. You can protect yourself simply by playing good defense: keeping online safety in the forefront of your mind. Using tools that help strengthen your password security practices could save you from embarrassing data leaks and gnarly cyberattacks.
Be smart and use password management software. This can be your first line of defense against the most experienced and nefarious cybercriminals.