I am going to start this blog post off with a story time. So yesterday I received an email from an online glasses retailer, saying that if I ordered from them right away, I could get a free pair of PRESCRIPTION glasses for FREE!! Too good to be true? Of course I had to get some, if you know anything about me you would know that funky glasses are my weakness, and free is my favorite price. I have ordered from this website many times and they have never failed me, so my thought was why not?
I placed my order, and in efforts to not only keep track of my spending but also my security, I get alert texts and emails from my credit card every time I spend any amount of money. I also set this up since I’ve been in History 390 because of how much this class has made me realize my own problematic habits so this was one step toward damage control.
Instantly after placing my order, I received a text from the normal number telling me how much I spent, and another text from a different number claiming to be my credit card company, telling me to call and confirm my order because the source was questionable. I thought this was weird, but i decided to call and see what this was all about. Upon answering, they asked me to input my zip code, the last four digits of my social security number, and the last four of my credit card and ALARMS went off in my head.
I immediately thought of Matt Honan and feared that some angsty teenager somewhere was going to erase my whole life through the cloud with just that tiny bit of information.
I immediately hung up and called the number listed online for my credit card (the legit one) and basically asked if that was them, etc. and long story short, it was them but what if it wasn’t??
We live in a world that is very “that wouldn’t happen to me,” and after taking this class I have realized that that is the OPPOSITE mindset that I need to have right now.
At any other point in my life I would not have even thought twice about the source of the call or giving out my information. I give my information out constantly to online stores, websites, through job applications, and even on social networking.
I post my location constantly, use geotags to mark where I am, order things online to be sent to my home address, and much more.
Growing up in the digital age, I have often taken for granted the access that I have, and always have, had access to the internet and all of the services it provides. I have never had to memorize a credit card number, or a password even for that matter, because computers have always just stored the information for me. I have had an email address since I was maybe five years old, and honestly still use the basic password that five-year-old me created in 2002 for most things.
After reading Matt Honan’s story, and understanding how easy it is to take over someone’s digital identity, I realize that it is time to tighten up before it actually DOES happen to me.
Dan Goodin spoke on why passwords have never been weaker in this 2012 article, saying the average Web user maintains 25 separate accounts but uses just 6.5 passwords to protect them (less if you’re me), and that an average computer (in 2012, imagine now) can try 8.2 billion password combinations each second.
My conclusion to all of this is that my digital life currently is not super secure. I will say, since taking History 390 I have made strides towards changing that by making all of my passwords different and more complicated, and storing these passwords on paper rather than in ‘the cloud,’ so that a digital attack would be much harder to implement if someone were to hack.
Change your passwords often, set up account alerts, and do not use the same passwords for every account and you will be okay.
Thanks for reading!