I’ve always considered myself to be pretty tech savvy. I’ve been able to navigate through some simple coding and am one of my family’s “go to” computer people. Questions get directed my way, most I can answer and some I’ve needed to research to get through. I’ve learned enough in the past to get this blog started, and I’ve learned a lot more, thanks to many other helpful bloggers, since I’ve started. I know all about internet safety and the importance of secure passwords and the like, though I typically am rather nonchalant, like most of the rest of the cyber world. I have a typical set of parameters I use to set up internet passwords so that I think they’re safe enough yet I can still remember them with relative ease. When logging into accounts, I may have to cycle through several different possibilities but I can typically figure it out.
I realize the risks taken by having my computer remember some of my passwords for me. I’ve had the thought about what is truly at risk if I were to lose my laptop or if it were to be stolen. Being mindful of this, I do not have my banking account password saved. I have also thought through things like not saving the password to my cell phone provider’s app on my phone. That way, if my phone is stolen, they couldn’t get in and change anything relating to my account before I am able to take the proper measures to secure that information further.
I’ve really given these types of things some deep thought and tried to safeguard my personal accounts. Upon starting this blog, I’ve needed to sign up with many new accounts and each have different login information and passwords. I have a secured spot where I keep record of my usernames and passwords but in a lot of instances, I find it much easier to let my laptop also keep track of some of those pieces of information for me. I can open my laptop and jump on my blog account to check to make sure the “Free” e-books I’ve chosen for my weekly free kindle books are in fact still free, just moments before the post is scheduled to go live. It doesn’t take me 15 minutes just to log in to those accounts because I need to look up and input all the passwords needed to get me through this process, especially if I actually need to delete a book or jump on amazon to find a replacement. They’re all saved and as soon as I pull up the website, they appear, so I am logged in with just the click of the mouse button.
I made this choice, knowing that it was a risk that I was taking, should I lose my laptop or should it get stolen. If that happens, as soon as I realize it, I can log into google through another source and shut down any other instance I’m currently logged into, rendering the finder of my laptop unable to get to the passwords that I have chosen to have google remember. I honestly thought that I had thought through this whole process pretty thoroughly. Not the case.
A couple of weeks ago, I killed the poor little refurbished laptop I had bought to get me started on this blogging journey. It was the victim of sitting on my lap too many times and I killed the fan – go figure – after all, it is called a LAPtop but that could be a whole other blog post! I was thinking of getting a new one soon anyway, so I bit the bullet and got one yesterday. I was lamenting having to go back through and sign in to all my accounts and remember which accounts I wanted my computer to save. I opened up my computer and the first thing I did was download Google Chrome. I opened it up and it promptly logged into my google account. I started pulling up some needed websites and lo and behold, it had my user names and passwords saved and pulled them right back up with ease. All at the same time, I was thrilled and terrified! Obviously I was thrilled because it was going to save me a considerable amount of time to get back up and running. I was also terrified at the thoughts that immediately came to mind.
As I said, I understood the concept that if my actual laptop were lost or stolen, I could really be in trouble until it was discovered and rectified. Here I was, sitting in the library (setting up my new computer on break from my awesome day job), a network I didn’t regularly use, on a brand new laptop that didn’t have anything personal from me saved to it just yet. It hit me square in the face. If one person manages to gain access to only my google username (which is all over the place and widely used by me) AND my password, I stand to lose A LOT!!! They can easily gain access to my email and through my email, they can easily find links to places I have accounts to and if I’ve got those usernames and passwords to those accounts saved, just like that, they’re in! They have my access to accounts that have my home address, accounts that have my bank card saved to them. They could add an address and drain what I have in my bank account while having items sent to another location, all while I’m still unaware. They could ruin the progress I’ve made on my blog and destroy my reputation with the businesses I’m currently an affiliate for. This could do a lot of damage to my life and my livelihood.
So.. what is there to be done? I could delete all those passwords and go through the cumbersome process of inputting them each time I go to log on. I could freak out and swear off of technology. Not going to happen. Instead, I’m only going to do one simple thing. I’m going to change my google password and I really think you should, too. As I said before, I use a certain set of parameters to set up passwords. Unfortunately, since I have come to the realization about how much is at stake, I’ve also come to the realization that I’ve used this same set of parameters when I set up my google password many years ago (and yes, that means I might be using the same password that I’ve been using for a very long time! YIKES!) In order to make my cyber life much more secure, this one very important password is going to have to change. It’s a simple change, really, but it’s very necessary for my own security. I also need to get out of my own brain, and for this important piece of information, the previous parameters used are going to need to become a thing of the past. If you’re on board with me, you need to make this password completely random with many different combinations of the characters allowable and as long as you can manage to make it. Obviously, you will need to write it down and keep it in a secure place because it won’t be anything that you can manage to “figure out” since it will be completely random.
With all of this being said, I figure some will ask, so I’ll go ahead and answer this one question. Will I keep my laptop logged into my google account as I have in the past? Yes, I will. As I stated earlier, if my laptop were to become lost or stolen, I can simply log in to google from another source, shut down all other instances of google logged into and change the password immediately. This is a chance I’m willing to take, as I’m a little lazy that way. I feel it would hinder my motivation to put my thoughts into words by way of my blog, if I had to log into many accounts every time I wanted to post or make a few tweaks. I hope this post will help motivate you to give your cyber security a little thought and maybe help you to make some positive changes for the sake of your own future. Don’t leave yourself out there for thieves to rob you of anything, especially when that could be your peace of mind or your dignity.
Do you change your passwords frequently? Do you, also follow a set of parameters using personal information that could possibly be figured out if someone tried hard enough? Won’t you take this opportunity to change your password along with me? Feel free to comment your feelings below. How secure are you?