Everyday we hear the stories and see the headlines about another online service being hacked, cracked and robbed of our precious credentials. The cyber thieves seem to be everywhere, just lurking for a weak moment to pounce and make our lives a miserable mess. This past Christmas season we all saw the articles describing the horror of Target getting hacked and the information of over 40 million credit cards being stolen. Year after year we see these stories and year after year we are all reminded to do the very best to protect ourselves in the digital maze we all live and function in. And for a few fleeting moments we promise ourselves we will be diligent and we will protect our precious private information better, but then once again we relax and do nothing to heighten our security. We obviously can’t control and protect everything but there are things we can do to make our information safer and the most obvious and easiest are our passwords.
In a matter of minutes a hacker can steal all of your private and personal information and end up ruining your life for quite some time, not to mention the financial damage that would go along with that. In a recent experiment by a senior technical writer the results and time required to steal a password, and then abscond with your information it was frighteningly fast. It took a mere 11 minutes to gain the password and after that the waterfall of information was flowing to the cyber criminal. In the first 2 minutes our cyber thief had the credit card information, phone numbers, social security number and home address of the victim. In another 5 minutes he had full access to the Amazon account, Best Buy account and Netflix. It took a whopping 10 more minutes and he had the long distance calling card information and during the final 3 minute the Paypal account. In a very quick 31 minutes the invisible criminal had gotten the password and stolen huge parts of the poor victims’ life and would soon be running up huge charges on the stolen credit information. Beyond the pain of the theft there is the lingering horror of trying to recover from a violation like this. The total time to get over this and get your cards replaced, accounts reset and your credit repaired could take years.
Take a look at the infografic below and I am sure you will appreciate the risks you are running if you have a short password, if you use it on multiple sites and if you don’t update it on a regular basis.