JEERS to hackers and online criminals who steal user passwords and online accounts.

That was the misfortune of Press-Republican Night Editor Ben Rowe recently when he tried to log into his account on the video streaming website Twitch.

To his panic, he realized that his password and the email associated with his account had been changed.

Checking the email that he had used for the account, he saw that a log-in had been made into the account from India.

He emailed in to Twitch’s support team and gave them identifying details about his account and was told the case would be looked into.

That effort took more than a month before he finally regained access, but the frustration of the whole situation was a good lesson in not taking one’s online security for granted.

Ben immediately turned on two-factor authentication on the site, requiring a code be sent to his phone every time he logs in. If someone else has his password, they will now need that code as well.

We take for granted the few keystrokes it takes to log on to our favorite services, forgetting that there is a whole criminal industry working to steal those accounts from us.

Here’s a few tips from the Federal Trade Commission website on keeping your data safe:

• Use at least 10 characters; 12 is ideal for most home users.

• Try to be unpredictable — don’t use names, dates, or common words. Mix numbers, symbols, and capital letters into the middle of your password, not at the beginning or end.

• Don’t use the same password for many accounts. If it’s stolen from you – or from one of the companies where you do business — thieves can use it to take over all your accounts.

• Don’t share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email. Legitimate companies will not ask you for your password.

• Give Personal Information Over Encrypted Websites Only. If you’re shopping or banking online, stick to sites that use encryption to protect your information as it travels from your computer to their server. To determine if a website is encrypted, look for https at the beginning of the web address. That means the site is secure.

• Back Up Your Files. No system is completely secure. Copy your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. If your computer is attacked by malware, you’ll still have access to your files.

 

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