Riverbank Ruminations

Observations From the Banks of the Technology River

Common Mistakes Leading to ID Theft and Cyber Attacks

Have you or your friends been a victim of ID theft or cyber attacks? If so, join the party.  If not, count your blessings.  Here's a list of common mistakes that people make which leave themselves vulnerable to attack, whether through online theft, identity theft, or other types of cyber attacks. It starts with sharing too much on social media, and also includes poor password choices and misconfiguration of technology.

  • Sharing too much on social media.
    • o Pictures of a birthday party saying “Today was Bill’s 50th birthday”
    • o Pictures of family pets with names and then using the name for a password
    • o Pictures of family members with names and then using the name for a password
  • Poor password hygiene
    • o Using the same password for multiple accounts
    • o Using easily guessed words or key sequences for passwords: password, password1, qwertyuiop, zxcvbnm, 123456
    • o Current password length should be 12 characters or greater
    • o Sharing passwords with someone else, ‘just this one time’
  • Poor configuration of technology
    • o Buying a new wireless router and leaving the default password in place
    • o Not taking the time to read instructions on how to make the default configuration of <insert device here> more secure.
    • o Buying on price and convenience and not proven security.
  • Lack of awareness
    • o Wi-Fi at the airport or Starbucks is NOT secure and sensitive transactions (banking for example) should NEVER be conducted there
    • o ATMs, gas pumps, checkout stands at stores are all subject to card skimmers that can be detected in many cases by just looking closely at the device. Does it have a seal (gas pumps at least in Ohio have them)? Can you pull the card slot off (skimmer covers have been found in many different locations)?
    • o ATMs are also subject to cameras pointed at the key pad. Covering this with your hand can protect data.


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