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Russians Stole 1.2 Billion Passwords and I Don’t Care

Russian criminals have stolen 1.2 billion passwords and email addresses and I’m not worried and I’m not changing any passwords. Here’s two reasons why.

The bad guys have over a billion people to choose to hack, and the odds of my being one of them about equals the chance I’ll win millions in the lottery. I buy a ticket once a week, but my plans don’t include getting rich any time soon from my winnings.

This thievery of passwords and email addresses has been going on for years with no one knowing. How can changing passwords increase my security? Certainly, not enough to change the two hundred plus websites I have passwords for.

And, even if lightning strikes or meteors fall on me and I am one of the Russian’s targets, what are they going to get?

Not much.

The worst case scenario is they get into my bank accounts. Each of those have limits on how much business can be conducted online. So, at worst, I’m risking no more than maybe a thousand dollars. Maybe. I check my account daily, so I’ll notice any illegal activity almost immediately. My banks cover me for fraud, so I’d probably lose nothing.

But, a thousand dollars is still a lot to risk. Add in two-factor authorization, and the odds against my being a victim of the Russians go to pretty much zero. My financial institutions offer that service, and I take advantage of it. If I, or anyone else, tries to get into my accounts from a new computer, the institution sends a code to my phone. I have to enter that code to get into my account. Because I rarely do business on any other computer than my own, I seldom have to go to the trouble, and it keeps others locked out. Easy peasy.

The next bad thing is that someone will find my deep dark secrets. Guess what? I don’t have any. Even if I did, I’d never keep them on anything that’s accessible on line.

Years ago, when email was just starting, I sent an email with sensitive comments to a colleague at work. She didn’t grasp the significance of what I was saying, and forwarded the message to about half the school system.

Yikes!

Since then, I’ve never put anything in an email or online storage that I don’t want to see in the newspaper. If I have something dicey to discuss with someone, I do that in person, either face-to-face or on the phone. Nothing in writing. The most I’ll say in an email is, “I’ve got something to discuss with you. Call me when you can.”

Medical records? Who cares?

And on and on.

I am amazed by how many people freak out about online security, yet fail to take the most important step possible for securing our financial lives – freeze our credit with the three credit bureaus. Notice, a security freeze is NOT the same thing as a security alert. An alert does next to nothing. A freeze keeps your financial identity pretty much totally safe.

Yet very few people have frozen their credit. I’ll address how to do that, and the ramifications, in a future post.

It’s a shame crooks like those Russians exist, but they do and always will. They will, not, however, keep me from taking advantage of the incredible online resources available to make my life so much easier.

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