Well, it’s happened to many of my friends and I’ve joined a not-so-exclusive club of people whose emails have been hacked.
Yesterday, I received over 5,000 emails in my inbox from hackers who send out hundreds of thousands of emails using hijacked email accounts. The ones going to defunct accounts are bounced back to the sending email with a message: Mail delivery failed: return to sender. Today, the company that hosts my site, Hostgator, helped to stop another barrage of 10,000+ emails. So how did this happen?
Simple — I had a real easy password that I’ve been using for years. Of course, I’ve changed it. I’m finally following the advice of the experts. A lesson learned the hard way. So, if you, like me, have been too lazy to change the passwords on your important accounts, I urge you to do so.
Here is good advice from Microsoft’s Safety and Security Center:
Create strong passwords
A strong password is an important protection to help you have safer online transactions. Here are steps you can take to create a strong password. Some or all might help protect your online transactions:
Length. Make your passwords long with eight or more characters.
Complexity. Include letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers. Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often. The greater the variety of characters in your password, the better. However, password hacking software automatically checks for common letter-to-symbol conversions, such as changing “and” to “&” or “to” to “2.”
Variation. To keep strong passwords effective, change them often. Set an automatic reminder for yourself to change your passwords on your email, banking, and credit card websites about every three months.
Variety. Don’t use the same password for everything. Cybercriminals steal passwords on websites that have very little security, and then they use that same password and user name in more secure environments, such as banking websites.
Microsoft gives some good examples on their site so you might just want to hop over there. I’ve learned my lesson.