Over the last couple of years I have often reported to you about data breaches at major companies who have been hacked. The recent Target hacking although particularly large, was not particularly unusual. Two days ago, Kickstarter disclosed that it had been hacked. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that helps creative people raise fund for their projects by appealing to the public for funds. In the almost four years since it was launched, Kickstarter has helped fund more than 50,000 artistic endeavors. According to Kickstarter’s CEO, no credit card data of its customers was compromised, however user names, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and encrypted passwords were stolen. This information can readily lead to identity theft through a technique called “spear phishing” by which emails and text messages can be sent to the potential victims by name which may make them appear more legitimate. These texts and emails lure people into either providing personal information under various legitimate appearing pretexts or by getting the victims to click on links or download attachments riddled with keystroke logging malware that will steal all of the information from your computer or smartphone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft. In addition, people with weak passwords, such as the popular”123456″ or “password” may have their Kickstarter encrypted passwords easily unencrypted providing access not only to the victim’s Kickstarter account, but possibly other accounts where the victim uses the same password.
If you are a customer of Kickstarter, change your password immediately and everyone who uses the same password for all of their accounts should change their passwords to unique passwords for each account. You can get detailed information as to how to pick an easy to remember, complex password in my book “50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age,” but a simple rule is to use a phrase, capital letters, small letters and symbols, such as “ICan’tRememberit!!!.” This is easy to remember and hard to break. Also, make sure that you have the most current, updated anti-malware software and anti-virus software installed on all of your electronic devices including your computer, tablet and smartphone.