How to secure your online accounts and passwords

Last month saw Yahoo announce they were the victim of one of the biggest known hacks, losing up to 500 million user details. This caused quite a stir within the tech world but amongst the everyday users they barely paid attention to the story and the vast majority will have done nothing about their password security or their online activity. So why should you be paying attention to what’s happening with these online hacks and what should you have done in the wake of the announcement?

These announcements from online companies are becoming ever more frequent and has reached a point where the everyday online user just don’t care about the how it happened, who did it or how much information was taken. What matters to these users is what they need to do to protect themselves from the next hack and the one after that because it will happen again and the impact of such hacks needs to be minimised.

For those of you who think your online data is safe and there’s nothing to worry about, have a look at the site Have I been pwned? (https://haveibeenpwned.com). On this site you can put in either your email address or username and it will tell you if your details were contained in any hacks. Putting in one of my own addresses showed that I appeared in 5 attacks with one for the attacks getting my Email addresses, Password hints, Passwords and Usernames. If like most people I used the same username and passwords for all sites that information could unlock a lot of information on me and cause all sorts of trouble.

Luckily for me I don’t use the same passwords across sites and I don’t fill out password hints and security questions so the information obtained about me would only let them access the site it was taken from and would only work there until I changed the password. Here I’m going to share with you the information I use to try and lock down my online accounts and keep any loose of information to the bare minimum.

Multiple Passwords

It sounds so easy when people discuss it online or on TV and Radio, “use a different password for each account”. These days most people have more online accounts than they can remember and the easiest way to access them all is to use the same details across all accounts. It’s hard to come up with with new passwords and then have to remember which password goes with which account so here’s my tips.

Create a memorable password using whatever method you like. I always advise people to use acronyms like BbBShyaw? (Baa baa Black Sheep have you any wool?) they’re easy to remember and if you can add a number or special character in there all the better. You can use anything from nursery rhymes to movie quotes just so long as you can remember it. The next step is to link the password to the site you want to use it with for example adding a G to the beginning or end for Gmail or Sc for Snapchat. It’s not as safe as creating a new password for each account but at least they’re different.

If like me you need to keep track of more passwords than just your own then I suggest using a tool either local on your computer like KeePass or one of the online companies like 1Password or LastPass. These tools integrate with your browser to remember your passwords and autofill them for you when needed. The other thing they can do is generate passwords, which means that you have a different password for each account and since the tool remembers the password for you, you don’t have to.

Security Questions

I think, like me, most people hate the security questions when creating a new account online. You end up looking for the same questions on each site and giving the same answers. The thing is these questions are the locks for your account and if someone can guess the answers then it doesn’t matter how strong and secure your password is they’ll get access to your account. The first thing to know is that the answers to the questions don’t matter, all they’re used for is to match against the answers you give if you’re locked out of your account. Therefore if the question asks Where were you born? you can give the answer The Moon just so long as you remember the answer you gave whenever you’re asked to verify your identity. Knowing that, I suggest coming up with random answers for the questions so that you don’t answer the questions correctly and only you know the “secret words” given.

The other security feature that most people skip over is the option to put in alternative email address or phone number to use if anything goes wrong with the account. These become very helpful when you are locked out of an account, most sites will send a 6 digit code to either the email address or phone number and you can use that code to gain access to the account again, making it very straightforward and secure.

Going Forward

I hope what I’ve written here will help people in the future when they need to create a new account or change a password. If you follow the tips I’ve given then you’ll go a long way to securing your online accounts and hopefully you’ll not run into any trouble. Always pay attention to any mention of large hacks to see if your account might be involved and what information was taken. It’s a good plan to change your passwords every so often as proven by Yahoo who didn’t mention the hack until 2 years after it happened and it was too late to be doing anything about it then.

Finally if you notice any suspicious activity or you just think there’s something funny going on with one of your accounts go through them all and update your security information and create new passwords.

As always if you have any questions contact me or leave a comment below.

joe | October 3, 2016

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Contact MeContact Me

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Main Street, Glenties, Co. Donegal

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WHAT I CAN DO

IT Consultancy

Need help with your business or personal IT requirements, contact me and let me help you make the right decisions.

I can offer my full skillset in helping whatever your IT problem is from simply buying the right PC/laptop for your home or office to selecting the correct process and equipment for your business project.

Web Services

Looking for a complete website design and built or someone to maintain your site and social media I can help.

Packages for all sizes of websites can be put together from small single business sites to large complex ecommerce sites. Or if you would like to just chat about the possibilities for your business then contact me.

Having trouble with your social media? Don’t have the time? or you want to build your business profile? Contact me and see what I can offer. I will take you through the options for maintaining your social media or help you put together the strategy needed to achieve your goals.

Equipment Repair

PC or laptop giving trouble? Need data recovered? or need a screen repaired on your phone? All can be fixed

Your tech will give you problems from time to time but most of it can be fixed so if you are having issues with something then contact me.

About MeAbout Me

Who is Joe

I’ve worked in the IT industry in the North West of Ireland for over 15 years and within that time I have worked in and helped all sizes and types of businesses. My roles have spanned a wide and varied list of tasks including dealing with the public, organising demos of products, training staff, helping schools and businesses plan and maintain their IT offerings. If this sounds like someone that can help you then feel free to contact me.

Mar 13 - Aug 152013 - 2015

Ecommerce Manager

The Ecommerce Manager role involved the daily running and maintenance of The Cope’s online shop (www.thecope.ie), which was designed and built by myself based on an open source platform. The day to day tasks include monitoring the website’s health and security, analysing data produced by website traffic and sales, matching product offering with the analysed data and supporting the customers with any sales.

Apr 2012 - Aug 20152012 - 2015

IT Technician

The IT Technician role involved working on all IT matters within The Cope company, which includes offices and retail premises spread over 4 locations. It also includes working in the IT sales and repair department which deals with IT repairs from the public and on-site support contracts with businesses and schools within the area. Within this role I help to manage the IT needs for several large schools and businesses by planning future IT requirements, maintaining current IT setups and supporting individuals with their IT problems.

Jul 2010 - Apr 20122010 - 2012

Web Developer

Development of online reservation software for the accommodation industry. Along with building and maintaining the products, training was done with the clients to help them improve their business and get the most from their new IT solution. Technologies used include vs2010, ASP.Net, SQL Server, XML, Web Services, JavaScript, Cloud Servers both Windows and Linux based.

Sept 2009 - May 20102009 - 2010

NUI Galway

Post Graduate Diploma in Education

Oct 2008 - Spet 20092008 - 2009

Web Developer

Developing websites for event and entertainment companies to sell tickets online.

Mar 2008 - May 20082008

Tutor

Web Authoring Tutor. A 10 week (50 hours) course for people in employment. Course covered the basics of creating a web site and putting it online to fulfil the individual needs of each student.

Oct 2005 - Dec 20072005 - 2007

Web Developer

Developing database driven websites using Asp.Net. Key roles were building custom controls for use on various sites, integrating CSS and front-end pages with the database backend, support for an online booking engine product and creating mobile versions of the projects. I have taken team lead roles on several projects seeing them through from initial planning to final release

Sept 2004 - Sept 20052004 - 2005

University of Ulster

Computing and Intelligent Systems – Masters

Sept 1999 - May 20031999 - 2003

University of Limerick

Computer Systems

BlogBlog

My Latest News
Tech Tip #1 – Be careful what you agree to

Many of us will see the window below when we do an update of the Java software after being prompted for the 100th time but do you look at it close enough to see what’s going on or do you just click “Next” until it’s done?

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Some of you eagle eyed people may have noticed changes on Instagram lately especially when viewing profiles. A new “Contact” button has appeared on some profiles that when clicked can give you the options to Call, Email or Get Directions. But where did this button come from and how do you get it for your profile?.

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Something I see more and more of late is ads offering me the chance to free myself from TV subscription bills like Sky but how do these systems work and what are they really offering? These are the questions most people are asking me and although I try to stay away from this whole area since as you’ll read later it’s a very murky subject legally speaking.

Get Facebook working for your business

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A problem a lot of homes and businesses have these days is poor WiFi. This can be caused by several factors but there are a few things that can be done to fix it.

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This is something I get asked to do frequently and the conversion usually begins with something like “my laptop is running very slow” or “there’s strange windows with ads appearing on my screen”. Both these scenarios happen to everyone at some stage from the novice to the experienced user. The difference being the experienced user knows the few simple things to do to get their computer running right again.

Joe’s Christmas 2015 Buying Guide for Tablets

Over the past number of years tablets have become a gift on most home’s Christmas list and this year will be no different. Here I’ve put together a guide on how to choose your tablet, what to look for and I’ve given my recommendations on what to buy.

Playstation 4 or Xbox One?

This is a decision that many households are going to be making over the next few weeks. The Playstation 4 has the slightly better specs and has become the more popular console but Xbox One sales have been growing and will catch up. Really no matter which you end up getting you will be happy but here a few points to consider that might sway you one way or the other.

Contact MeContact Me

Get in touch

GET IN TOUCH

Address

Main Street, Glenties, Co. Donegal

Facebook Messenger

WhatsApp

CONTACT FORM

My ServicesMy Services

WHAT I CAN DO

IT Consultancy

Need help with your business or personal IT requirements, contact me and let me help you make the right decisions.

I can offer my full skillset in helping whatever your IT problem is from simply buying the right PC/laptop for your home or office to selecting the correct process and equipment for your business project.

Web Services

Looking for a complete website design and built or someone to maintain your site and social media I can help.

Packages for all sizes of websites can be put together from small single business sites to large complex ecommerce sites. Or if you would like to just chat about the possibilities for your business then contact me.

Having trouble with your social media? Don’t have the time? or you want to build your business profile? Contact me and see what I can offer. I will take you through the options for maintaining your social media or help you put together the strategy needed to achieve your goals.

Equipment Repair

PC or laptop giving trouble? Need data recovered? or need a screen repaired on your phone? All can be fixed

Your tech will give you problems from time to time but most of it can be fixed so if you are having issues with something then contact me.

About MeAbout Me

Who is Joe

I’ve worked in the IT industry in the North West of Ireland for over 15 years and within that time I have worked in and helped all sizes and types of businesses. My roles have spanned a wide and varied list of tasks including dealing with the public, organising demos of products, training staff, helping schools and businesses plan and maintain their IT offerings. If this sounds like someone that can help you then feel free to contact me.

Mar 13 - Aug 152013 - 2015

Ecommerce Manager

The Ecommerce Manager role involved the daily running and maintenance of The Cope’s online shop (www.thecope.ie), which was designed and built by myself based on an open source platform. The day to day tasks include monitoring the website’s health and security, analysing data produced by website traffic and sales, matching product offering with the analysed data and supporting the customers with any sales.

Apr 2012 - Aug 20152012 - 2015

IT Technician

The IT Technician role involved working on all IT matters within The Cope company, which includes offices and retail premises spread over 4 locations. It also includes working in the IT sales and repair department which deals with IT repairs from the public and on-site support contracts with businesses and schools within the area. Within this role I help to manage the IT needs for several large schools and businesses by planning future IT requirements, maintaining current IT setups and supporting individuals with their IT problems.

Jul 2010 - Apr 20122010 - 2012

Web Developer

Development of online reservation software for the accommodation industry. Along with building and maintaining the products, training was done with the clients to help them improve their business and get the most from their new IT solution. Technologies used include vs2010, ASP.Net, SQL Server, XML, Web Services, JavaScript, Cloud Servers both Windows and Linux based.

Sept 2009 - May 20102009 - 2010

NUI Galway

Post Graduate Diploma in Education

Oct 2008 - Spet 20092008 - 2009

Web Developer

Developing websites for event and entertainment companies to sell tickets online.

Mar 2008 - May 20082008

Tutor

Web Authoring Tutor. A 10 week (50 hours) course for people in employment. Course covered the basics of creating a web site and putting it online to fulfil the individual needs of each student.

Oct 2005 - Dec 20072005 - 2007

Web Developer

Developing database driven websites using Asp.Net. Key roles were building custom controls for use on various sites, integrating CSS and front-end pages with the database backend, support for an online booking engine product and creating mobile versions of the projects. I have taken team lead roles on several projects seeing them through from initial planning to final release

Sept 2004 - Sept 20052004 - 2005

University of Ulster

Computing and Intelligent Systems – Masters

Sept 1999 - May 20031999 - 2003

University of Limerick

Computer Systems

BlogBlog

My Latest News
Tech Tip #1 – Be careful what you agree to

Many of us will see the window below when we do an update of the Java software after being prompted for the 100th time but do you look at it close enough to see what’s going on or do you just click “Next” until it’s done?

Is your marketing plan ready for 2017?

As we all settle down again and look forward to the coming year it’s time to plan. You did plan your marketing for 2017 right? Like last weekend the Golden Globes were on and you had all your content ready to go out on Sunday and Monday and you were able to ride the hashtags with all the aftermath from the speeches… right? OK, so you missed that one… but you’re ready for the next big trending day? That’s it Friday 13th this week #Friday13th will be trending from Thursday to Saturday. What?… You didn’t think it had anything to do with your business?

Have you created your Instagram Business Profile?

Some of you eagle eyed people may have noticed changes on Instagram lately especially when viewing profiles. A new “Contact” button has appeared on some profiles that when clicked can give you the options to Call, Email or Get Directions. But where did this button come from and how do you get it for your profile?.

Alternatives to Subscription TV

Something I see more and more of late is ads offering me the chance to free myself from TV subscription bills like Sky but how do these systems work and what are they really offering? These are the questions most people are asking me and although I try to stay away from this whole area since as you’ll read later it’s a very murky subject legally speaking.

Get Facebook working for your business

Most businesses these days agree they have to be on Facebook. The problem is most can’t agree to what level they have to be seen on it. The following are a few tips and points I’ve picked up that will help your Facebook page gain exposure and increase it’s marketing value.

Solving Your WiFi Woes

A problem a lot of homes and businesses have these days is poor WiFi. This can be caused by several factors but there are a few things that can be done to fix it.

How to do a basic PC clean up

This is something I get asked to do frequently and the conversion usually begins with something like “my laptop is running very slow” or “there’s strange windows with ads appearing on my screen”. Both these scenarios happen to everyone at some stage from the novice to the experienced user. The difference being the experienced user knows the few simple things to do to get their computer running right again.

Joe’s Christmas 2015 Buying Guide for Tablets

Over the past number of years tablets have become a gift on most home’s Christmas list and this year will be no different. Here I’ve put together a guide on how to choose your tablet, what to look for and I’ve given my recommendations on what to buy.

Playstation 4 or Xbox One?

This is a decision that many households are going to be making over the next few weeks. The Playstation 4 has the slightly better specs and has become the more popular console but Xbox One sales have been growing and will catch up. Really no matter which you end up getting you will be happy but here a few points to consider that might sway you one way or the other.