Aug 23, 2012 — by: Karl Johnson
Categories: iOS Applications, Mac Applications

SafeThe biggest fear of online users is getting their accounts hacked or ID stolen. The fear came true for Wired Magazine's Mat Honan. Hackers used the customer service systems at Amazon and Apple to hack into his Amazon, Google, and Apple accounts so they could access his twitter account. In doing so, they wiped or erased his Macbook, iPad and iPhone.

As online users, we are at the mercy of Internet corporations' weakest link. We need to keep pressuring them to secure your data. Yet, there are things we can do to keep our data more secure. Using the following methods will help keep your data safer.

  1. Backup, Backup, Backup: Mat Honan did not back up his computer and he lost photos and documents that he only had on his MacBook. The rest of his problems he can fix, but Mat cannot get his data back. If a file is worth anything, it has to be in at least two places.  Having it in three places is recommended, with one of those places being in a different physical location. The best way to backup is using a program called SuperDuper. SuperDuper can backup the entire hard drive or just the user files. One of the big advantages of SuperDuper is that it can backup the data to a 256-bit encrypted disk image file. These files can be easily created using the application Disk Utility that comes with your Mac. So if someone were to steal ones backups, they still can't access the data. 
  2. Secure Passwords: Using easy to guess passwords makes it easier for hackers to access your accounts. Secure passwords should be long, unique, and randomly generated for every account. This will make it much more difficult for hackers to access the account. Creating and remembering these passwords can be difficult, but there is software to help. 1Password can create, store, and fill in passwords in the browser. These passwords are stored in AES 128-bit bit file. 1Password also has phishing protection so users don't mistakenly fill in their passwords on spoofed sites. Users can have secure Internet passwords for every site and all they need to know is one long complicated password for the 1Password application. 1Password is available on the Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Windows. 
  3. Multiple Credit Cards: In Mat Honan's case, Hackers used the credit card they socially hacked from Amazon's customer service to access his iCloud account through Apple's customer service. If he had used multiple credit card numbers, they would not have accessed his account. It is difficult not to have the same information on most accounts, but one can minimize the information that can be linked together by using different credit cards. 
  4. Secure Privacy Questions: Many banks now ask for more than just a password when logging in. Even more accounts have questions for reseting one's password. If these questions are easy to guess, a strong password will be useless. These answers can be turned into passwords themselves, which can also be added to 1Password. Using very hard to guess answers strengthens the barriers helping to prevent hackers access to one's account.

Security is only as strong as the weakest link. Corporations need to do their parts in protecting our data that they store on their servers. We also need to do our part by strengthening the way we access our data over the Internet. While no method is without risk, we can greatly minimize risk by using the methods outlined above. The backup is the insurance in case something goes wrong. Always backup your data.


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