BREAKING: When you post your passwords online, someone will use them to access your accounts and make you look like an idiot.
I know, I can hardly believe it.
But seriously, keep your passwords a secret. And by “secret,” I mean you shouldn’t post them in the comments section of a major news website, like a Washington Post reader did.
It seems he was trying to prove a point or something, saying people shouldn’t freak out about this “Heartbleed thingamajig.” Just because your password may have been exposed doesn’t mean it was exploited, he says. He then posted the two passwords he uses for most of his accounts, saying hackers could go ahead and read his emails, “Break-into my Facebook or Twitter profiles and change my hometown to Gas City Indiana, swap-out my avatar with a picture of your nads, make friends with people I don’t know.”
Someone enthusiastically accepted the invitation, according to a follow-up on the Post’s The Switch blog.
There’s no way to know if this commenter’s posts and the subsequent takeover of his social media is a scam or a true display of stupidity; regardless, I advise you treat your passwords like the keys to your house. I assume you don’t just hand them out to anyone or keep them on a hook next to your doorbell.
Maybe you don’t see what all the fuss is about. If someone breaks into your Facebook and changes your profile information, is it that big of a deal?
Think of the big picture: Your accounts, particularly your email, store a lot of personal information. Even if the information itself isn’t directly sensitive, it can help hackers figure out the more valuable stuff. For example, if you have a bunch of emails from Chase, hackers know where to focus their efforts in order to access your money. Based on the information you post to social media, they can probably guess the answers to your security questions and reset any passwords they don’t already have. In short: Handing over access to your bank accounts is dumb. It can lead to identity theft, which can wreck your credit and take years of effort on your part in fixing the trail of chaos it causes. If you’re worried about identity theft, you can monitor your credit scores for free on Credit.com.
Heartbleed has taught us that security isn’t always what it seems, but that doesn’t mean security efforts are futile. Passwords may not always keep the bad guys out, but they’re the first line of defense against intrusion. Don’t make it any easier for people to steal from you. It’s common sense.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?