The news is spreading today that LinkedIn’s database was hacked, and millions of users accounts have been compromised. I keep hearing over and over again to “change your password.” That’s smart. I changed mine this morning. Something that people aren’t saying though is that your other social networking accounts could be at risk as well thanks to LinkedIn’s poor security policies. Here’s why:
If you’re one of the majority of people that use your password on more than one social network (yes, I’m looking at you, because you’re likely one of them – there are even security professionals that make this mistake), the first thing I would do as a hacker once I decrypted the digested passwords obtained is not target your LinkedIn account. Instead, I’d start going through Facebook, Twitter, and even Google and start trying it there where I could do more damage.
Is it the same as your Gmail account? Sweet! I get some LOLz on your behalf, and I can now start making password requests, without your knowledge, to all of your other accounts. Now I can post to the Google+ Pages you manage. I can post to the Facebook Pages you manage. See where I’m getting?
If you were using the same password on LinkedIn as anywhere else important on the web, you need to go now and change your password there as well. Here are some quick tips as you do so:
- Make it more than just a word and numbers. Make it a sentence, preferably with letters, spaces, numbers, and even non-alphanumeric numbers (like $ and * and others).
- Keep it at least 10 characters long – if you take my above recommendation, that should be easy because sentences are easy to remember.
- Use a different password for each social network. You could use a similar password, but add a different set of numbers or words to the end to help you remember which is which. Figure out a system that works for you and that you can remember.
- If you can, rotate your passwords every so often. Change the numbers or words added to the end. Add a character or two. It’s up to you. That will prevent this from being a problem in the future.
These tips should keep you safe, and they really aren’t very difficult to do. You just have to build a system, and do it!
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