If your password info is hacked and matched to a shopping or financial site, you may have some big charges before you know it. While it's true that some of the larger credit cards providers will notice a large purchase or cash withdrawal that seems out of the ordinary and notify you, not all do that. What's more, smaller purchases or cash withdrawals are easy to miss, but can add up. Some clown once charged $3.00 at a convenience store using one of my credit cards, but luckily the bank noticed it and changed my account number before he could buy something bigger.
Lesson Five: Instead of relying on your memory or stacks of sticky notes, use a password manager.
I like Roboform.com, which now works with multiple browsers including Firefox and Chrome. But remember, you still need to create a strong password for Roboform to remember. Don't want to buy a program? You can get some, but not all of the benefits, by using features built into most browsers that can automatically fill in passwords you have saved.
Lesson Six: Be wary of public PCs.
When using a public computer in a hotel or cafe, be absolutely certain that you've logged off and closed the browser or at least the tab linked to a sensitive site.
There's a lesson here for Gawker staffers as well. Be a little humble. Next time you start to pick on a site or a person who has done something dumb, take a look in the mirror before you post.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. He welcomes your comments and suggestions. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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