Every day, I struggle to remember all the passwords I need to keep my life in order. It feels like I'm going crazy at times, but I've walled off the part of my brain that tells me to take the easy way out. I can't start thinking that way. Why? I know the difference between being hacked and being smacked.
When you get hacked, another person gathered information about you and uses that information to fish out the data they want. Most fraud attempts start far away from the target, gathering up all the information there is to get around the edges of the victim's life. It's done that way because the information you give away can say a lot about the kind of passwords you use and the barriers you have to build for yourself to protect your pertinent info.
When you get smacked (my own term), you use an easy-to-guess password that comes back to haunt you when a potential identity thief guesses it in mere seconds. I call it getting smacked because you'll be smacking your forehead afterward, wondering where you went wrong.
SplashData, an app developer, just released their 2012 list of the worst passwords. These are passwords most frequently found in hacker-space, stolen by a malicious programmer and posted for the world to see. They will shock you or just make you shake your head.
The fascinating thing is that the top three worst passwords in the world (which are "password," "123456", and "12345678", respectively) are the same passwords with the same list position as last year. Apparently, not enough people learned their lesson.
Why should we care? Well, there are the obvious reasons. We want everyone in our organization to have strong passwords that change regularly. But for one moment, consider the member and how crucial this advice is for their sake. Trust is an interesting and ever-shifting thing online. For the longest time, buying something over the Internet seemed foreign. Now, it's commonplace.
Members should be instructed to create good passwords, to maintain them, to never share them or email them to anyone, and to change them periodically. Identity theft affected 11.6 million people in 2011, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. As organizations that pride ourselves on service, teaching our members to avoid getting smacked should be one service we're more than happy to offer.
Jimmy Marks is creative media director at DigitalMailer Inc.
Contact 703-733-0339 ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots organization composed of several hundred young credit union professionals. Its activities include meetings, mentorships online collaboration and development projects. Opinions expressed are the personal views of the author.