Clint Davis contributed to this article.
I did the dumbest thing a savvy digital project manager could do: I had the same password on multiple accounts (to be specific: my personal email, my Amazon Prime account, and my Instagram) for years. Lo and behold – and to no one’s shock – I was hacked. And boy, was I hacked! To make matters worse, this all happened the week before Christmas.
This spammer sent out hundreds of emails from my personal account that were definitely X-rated. I can’t lie; that was pretty amusing. The hacker then locked me out of my Amazon Prime account, my email and even my Instagram, going so far as to change my Instagram handle and profile picture. If anyone has ever dealt with Instagram’s support, you know it’s basically non-existent and you get stock replies, so I was lucky to get my account back. Even so, my account was permanently deleted a day after I regained access, probably due to the inordinate amount of people that helped me report the hacker. Too little too late, Instagram!
If Christmastime wasn’t stressful enough, having all of this happen within a day was thoroughly frustrating. I think I heard the question, “Did you change your passwords?” probably about 100 times. Shame on me for not changing my passwords more frequently. It was one of those situations that I thought would never happen to me, and it did due to my own laziness and stupidity. But it won’t happen again!
In an effort to use my story for the greater good, I spoke with Clint Davis, our IT director. He offered some helpful tips for protecting your personal and business privacy.
Here’s Clint's advice for protecting your accounts:
Use a password manager like 1Password. It’s only $2.99 per month, and it creates long, random passwords for each site and keeps track of them for you. Desktop and mobile versions make it easy to log into sites while only having to remember one strong password.
Change your passwords at least every three months if you don’t use a password manager.
Use two-step verification for all logins that offer it. It may be perceived as a hassle to have to wait for a text with the verification code to come through, but it’s a lot less of a hassle than dealing with shutting down and regaining control of multiple accounts or, worse, having money taken or purchases made.
Try to avoid logging into your accounts while using public Wi-Fi networks; they're an easy way for personal information to be mined.
For businesses: Whenever possible, don’t share an account among two or more people. Each user should have their own unique login and password.
It may seem tedious, but digital security is always worth it. I won’t make the same mistake twice!