As the Christmas shopping season hits full stride an expert says its time to be sure your online purchases are properly protected.
The spokesman for the Johnston-based SHAZAM, Patrick Dix, says you should review how you are buying items online. “This a great opportunity for consumers to take stock of where they shop on-line and make sure that they are changing their passwords. That they are not using passwords — they are using pass phrases,” according to Dix. A pass phrase is a familiar line that you can make a few adjustments to and still remember.
“A song lyric or a quote that you might like,” Dix explains. “And then what you do is you take letters out of the pass phrase and you use special characters. For instance, you might use a dollar sign for an S, a hashtag for an H or the @ symbol for an A.” He says this should easily give you a strong pass phrase that won’t be hacked.
“If you replace a couple of letters — two special characters at least — and then at least 12, probably 15 letters total in the pass phrase that you will always remember, that’s a really good way to make your password much more secure than your address, or your dog’s name,” Dix says.
Dix says your address and dog’s name and other personal information are not that hard for someone who wants to hack your accounts to find out.
“The fraudsters are using social engineering. They’ll get on your Facebook page and find out your mother’s maiden name very easily, or your old address, or the high school you went to or the college mascot or whatever it was” according to Dix. “All of those things are very hackable where random phrase or lyric from a song mixed with special characters is not.” Another key to preventing the theft of your identity online is to keep your devices current.
“Update the software on your computer or your phone to make sure that you have all of the latest security patches so you are protecting yourself,” Dix says. “These are the things if we are going to be shopping on-line — that old password that we’ve used forever on Amazon or Netflix –needs to be changed. And it needs to be changed about every 90 days.”
Dix says a lot of problems that people have with getting hacked are because they didn’t do enough to make their passwords secure.