October 25, 2012

Hackers And Passwords: Don’t Leave Yourself Unprotected

As I was perusing the redOrbit website, I came across an article about the 25 most commonly used passwords. The redOrbit article listed and discussed these passwords compiled by SplashData, which found its information from hackers who had posted the most used passwords from their hacking experiences. I have two reactions to this data.

The Ease of the Passwords

Okay, so I had not expected that people really used “password” as their password to their private accounts. I have heard others talk about this. I have even heard television shows reference this (The Office did it when Nick, the IT Guy who came in when Sabre first bought Dunder Mifflin, left the show.). But I really just thought that it was a joke.

I mean, I’m no password savant or anything, but I do think about how easy my passwords are. I also change them regularly. I’m not some high official who would even be worth hacking into, but I’m also not going to just leave myself open to hackers. There are hackers out there who do what they do simply to show the ease with which someone can get into our accounts. I don’t want complete strangers perusing my stuff that easily. If they are going to hack into my accounts, then they should at least have a little bit of a challenge.

I’m sure hackers have been in something of mine. I had to change an email password for just this reason. But I can take pride that it was not “password” that allowed them into my account. They did have at least a little bit to work to get in. And it did make me hyper-aware of their presence. Now I really think about my passwords.

What the redOrbit article on passwords did was to make me continue thinking about my own passwords. Thankfully, none of my accounts had any of the top 25 passwords, but I do not want to be victim, even ever so slightly, to a hack again. What the article should do for other readers, especially those with any of the listed passwords, is inspire them to change those passwords…right now.

I Don’t Understand Hackers

My second reaction to this article and its information was I just don’t understand hackers. Let me get the one part of their interest that I do accept and partially understand out of the way. As I mentioned in my earlier segment, I know that some hackers out there do what they do to make people like me more aware of their online activity. This is almost altruistic, almost something I can totally get behind.

But most of my reaction to hackers is why? Why hack into to regular people’s lives? I am just a regular, boring ol’ person. I do not have nor do I do anything that is worth hacking into and learning about. Yet, I have had to change an email because someone did just that. Why? I have nothing, and I mean nothing, worth looking at. I know many people who have had their email or Facebook accounts hacked, and they are just regular, boring ol’ people like me. No offense, friends. I just mean, why us?

I just don’t get what the excitement is. I guess that’s why I am not a hacker.

Back to Passwords

Right, so what the redOrbit article, and hopefully my blog here, should do is make us all think about our passwords. Just because we have nothing to hide, just because we don’t have anything truly worth hacking, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to protect our accounts. And even though I don’t understand hackers, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect what they do and learn from their exposure. I know I have. Thanks to redOrbit for posting this article. Thanks to hackers who seek to make all of us aware of our protections, or lack thereof.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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