Following close on the heels of the hacking of British telecom company TalkTalk, it has just been announced that 1,827 customers of British telecom company Vodafone also had their accounts hacked with the hackers stealing personal information including the last four digits of their bank account numbers, their names and their cell phone numbers. No credit or debit card information was compromised in the hacking. However, what particularly distinguishes the data breach at Vodafone from that of TalkTalk is that unlike at TalkTalk, the data breach was not caused by any failure of Vodafone to provide proper data security. In the Vodafone data breach, the accounts were able to be accessed because the hackers had purchased the email addresses and passwords of their victims on the black market where cybercriminals sell stolen information such as this along with credit card information, debit card information and other stolen personal information that can be used for purposes of identity theft. What often is the key in situations such as this is that many people make the mistake of using the same password for all of their accounts so that if their password is stolen from one company with lax security, it can be used against the victim at other companies including banks where the victim uses the same password.
The essential lesson here is that you should always use a separate and unique password for each of your online accounts. Many people fail to do so out of a concern about remembering a large number of different passwords, but this does not have to be the case. There is a simple way to make your passwords strong. Start off by taking a phrase that is easy to remember, such as “IDon’tLikePasswords.” This can be the basic element of all your passwords. Then for added security add a few symbols, so it reads, for example, IDon’tLikePasswords!!!. This is a strong password that is long and combines small letters, capital letters and symbols. Now all you need to do is to adapt that basic password for each of your accounts to make it unique for each account. For example, you could adapt this for your Amazon account by making it IDon’tLikePasswords!!!Ama. That is a strong password that is easy to remember.