Just how hackable is your digital life?

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World |  Security, privacy

Prioritize accounts: You may not be able to remember complex passphrases for every account you have, and that's okay. According to Doug McLean, senior director of product marketing at McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence, the average online American has more than 100 accounts, not all of which are important.

Instead of creating different passwords for every account, create unique ones for only the important accountsemail accounts, online banking accounts, social networks, and other accounts that contain sensitive information. For relatively trivial accounts, such as message boards, it's fine to use an insecure, hackable password.

McLean also suggests creating a "junk mail" email address for accounts that you don't really care about. You can use this junk email address to sign up for message boards, contests, and newsletters. Then, if one of the junk accounts is compromised, hackers won't have your real email address or your real passwords.

Lie: Speaking of junk accounts, be careful about what information you give away to random websites. Sure, your bank needs to know your home address, but does a message board really need to know your zip code or your full birthday? If you can't get past a screen because the website wants you to give up too much information, Harrison suggests that you make things up. After all, he notes, message boards are notoriously hackable, and they really just want to verify that you're over a certain age.

Protect yourself offline: According to McLean, offline identity theft is still much more common than online identity theft. The reason: Email addresses have passwords, while mailboxes, dumpsters, and lost wallets do not. To protect yourself offline, McLean suggests that you get a locking mailbox (if you don't already have one), shred all important bills and documents before you throw them away, and never carry your Social Security card with you.

Use a password manager: Though password managers require a little setting up, they're worth it if you're worried about the integrity of your passwords or passphrases. Password managers such as Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass not only store all of your passwords in a neat little encrypted program that you can unlock with a master password; they can also create secure, computer-generated passwords that even you don't know.

In choosing a password manager, it's important to pick one that's compatible with all of your devices, including your phone and tablet. Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass are compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android; and LastPass is also compatible with Linux, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, WebOS, and Symbian. Password managers can store form data, so you don't have to park credit card information on the Web.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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