Five tech commandments to a safer digital life – The Denver Post


By Brian X. ChenThe New York Times Company

Tech is always changing, and so is the way we use it. That means we are always finding new ways to let our guard down for bad actors to snoop on our data.

Remember when you shared your address book with that trendy new app? Or when you posted photos on social networks? Those actions may all pose consequences that weaken security for ourselves and the people we care about.

Vijay Balasubramaniyan, CEO of Pindrop, a security firm that develops technology to detect fraudulent phone calls, said we should always remember that any piece of our identity we post online could eventually be used by fraudsters to hijack our online accounts.

“Your digital identity, which comprises all your pictures, videos and audio, is going to fundamentally allow hackers to create a complete persona of you that looks exactly like you, without you being in the picture,” he said.

So here are some of the most important guidelines — such as strengthening passwords and minimizing the data shared by your phone camera — to keep you and your loved ones safe for the foreseeable future. I refer to these as the five tech commandments in the hope that you will remember them as if they were gospel.

Thou Shalt Not Use Weak Passwords

Let’s talk about bad password hygiene. About 45% of Americans use weak passwords that are eight characters or fewer, according to a survey by Security.org, a research firm. (Fourteen percent used “COVID” in their passwords last year.) The majority of Americans also acknowledged reusing passwords across different sites.

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This opens doors to many security issues. Weak passwords can be easily guessed by hijackers trying to gain access to your account. And if you use the same password for multiple sites, such as your banking account, Target shopping account and Facebook, then all it takes is for one of those sites to be hacked to make all those accounts vulnerable.

For most people, the simplest solution is a password manager, software that helps automatically generate long, complex passwords for accounts. All the passwords are stored in a vault that is accessible with one master password. My favorite tool is 1Password, which costs $36 a year, but there are also free password managers such as Bitwarden.

The other option is to jot down passwords on a piece of paper that is stored in a safe place. Just make sure the passwords are long and complex, with some letters, numbers and special characters.



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