Do you use the same password on multiple computers? Have you kept using the same password for years? If the answer to both of these questions is “Yes”, then you’re asking to be hacked. But wait, you say, why would anyone want to hack me? I don’t have any secret information that anyone would want.
You’re right. You don’t. People could care less about the first picture taken of your newborn baby, your music folder, or the last episode of Mad Men you just downloaded and watched. You know who does care?
You do. And you would hate it if all of the stuff you love to save, a decade of photos, your entire music catalog, your banking information, your tax records, and your email archive went “poof” into thin air.
Forget about the rule of backing up. Few people really do it well, or do it at all. Apple’s Time Machine has helped, and now the cloud services from Google, Dropbox, Skydrive (and a slew of others) have made it easier to store things so you can get access from multiple machines and locations. Yet for all the advantages of simplicity, the only thing standing between you and someone whose main interest is wiping your devices clean is that password you thought up years ago. You know, the one that starts with the number 1 and ends with the number 6. Or the easiest password to remember — the word “password”. You’d be amazed how many people use “abc123”.
I’d like to say that my devices and online services have been completely secure for years. They haven’t been. I’d like to say that I’ve used distinct passwords. I haven’t. All of this changed today after I read this:
This is the story of one Mat Honan, a recent employee of Gizmodo. Mat’s iPhone was reset, then, one by one, his other devices were wiped. Then his Google account was deleted. Then, his Twitter account was taken over.
All in a matter of minutes.
Read his story. Then, run out and enable 2 Step Authentication for your Google account. Change the passwords in the services you use to something other than “monkey”. Do it now. If you’re an IT geek, read up on Two-Factor Authentication. The wikipedia article should keep you busy for awhile.
Don’t be Mat.
MORE: Gizmodo story