Things I hate about the airport: long security lines, surly TSA agents, sharing a public restroom stall with my luggage and shady Wi-Fi networks. While the chances of your laptop or smartphone getting hacked are moderately slim, it does happen. This commonly occurs when you are using an unsecured, free public wireless network to check your email or browse the Internet.
Have you ever received an email from a friend asking for money to help them escape a foreign country? Have you ever read an uncharacteristic post on your friend’s Facebook wall? If so, it’s probably because their account was hacked, or illegally accessed by someone other than the account owner.
One of the easiest ways to prevent this from happening to you is through password management. In honor of Choose Privacy Week, here are some simple tips to keep you and your mobile devices safe while you’re jet-setting across the globe.
- When creating a password for popular Web accounts like Facebook, Gmail or Skype, use a combination of letters (upper and lower case) and numbers.
- When traveling, create temporary passwords for your most heavily used accounts.
- Don’t use the same password for your all Web accounts. For example, if a hacker learns the password for your email, he or she may then attempt to break into your Facebook account as well. Having multiple passwords minimizes the damage should any of your accounts be compromised.
- Only use log-in pages that begin with “https” (instead of the usual “http”). This extra “s” indicates an added layer of encryption to secure your personal information. Learn how to make this a default setting on your Gmail and Facebook accounts.
I understand that a great deal of my advice requires you to manage several different passwords at once. To keep track of them all, consider using the app 1Password for your iPhone or Android device. An easier, low-tech method is to keep a written notebook with all your passwords and store it in a secure place like a locked desk drawer or safe. The minor inconvenience now can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.