Yesterday morning, my Walmart.com account was hacked. I got an email addressed to “Jorge Borges”, letting me know that my password change had been completed.
Um, my name isn’t Jorge Borges.
And I didn’t ask to change my password.
A quick phone call to Walmart.com and I learned that yes, my account had been hacked, but fortunately, no charges had been made.
The service rep flagged my account for fraud and closed it – if I order from Walmart.com again, I will have to open a new account.
I placed a preemptive call to my credit card company listed on the account. All is clear, but I’ll continue to monitor it.
Twelve hours later, my Facebook account got hacked and some bogus Starbucks gift card offer got posted to my wall. I was busy getting kids to bed, but an hour later when I logged back in, I had a dozen emails from friends asking if that offer was legit.
Oh… that offer!
My first step was to change my Facebook password. Then I went into my apps and deleted everything that wasn’t currently being used (including the fake Starbucks one, which was connected under the “Tumblr” app.)
If you don’t know how to delete unwanted apps, read this post.
You should routinely do this, just to keep your account clean – and protect your privacy as much as possible in this virtual world.
But my vigilance didn’t stop there. Thanks to my FB friends, I decided it was high time that I get a password manager. The two most highly recommended to me were:
1Password – Originally designed for Apple products, 1Password is now available for Android and PC devices as well. It is a paid package, starting from $49.95. It gets excellent ratings for security and usability.
LastPass – This free service works on both Macs and PCs as well as all mobile devices with a premium membership ($1/month). You choose ONE master password, behind which all your other passwords are stored and auto-filled. It will also suggest randomly-generated passwords for new accounts, or those you want to change. LastPass has excellent reviews as well.
(This post from Life Hacker does a great job of describing 1Password and LastPass, as well as some other password managers – thanks for the link, Becky.)
After downloading my new password manager and installing all the add-ons for my browsers, I spent an hour going through all of my accounts and randomly generating new passwords.
Yes, I was one of those idiots who used the same password for every single one of her accounts. Actually, I had two that I toggled back and forth between. Security was clearly my middle name.
It was a bit of a pain to deal with all of that late last night – but not nearly as much of a pain as identity theft.
If you haven’t cleaned up the apps in your Facebook account in a while, take five minutes to do that this afternoon.
I strongly urge you to look at a service like 1Password or LastPass to keep your passwords safe and secure. And while you’re at it, create some randomly generated passwords – especially on your financial accounts.