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May 31, 2015
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September 2, 2015

Hacked Account

I received the strangest email the other day. It said, “Your account might not be secure” in the subject and the preview went on to mention a password I have a habit of using. Now I’d have just ignored this email as one of those silly scams, but this one actually mentioned the exact password which no one should know except me (or so I thought).

The email goes on to explain what exactly is going on and I have a screenshot here showing it’s contents. It clearly mentions my email and the password I used in this format – [email protected]:password


Completely intrigued and a bit creeped out by this I quickly did some research on it. Well, a guy who goes by @atechdad decided to do an experiment by trudging through websites where passwords to compromised accounts are usually dumped by hackers and email all the people on that list informing them that their account had been hacked. Some might think this is creepy, but if you’re on this list, your account has already been hacked, there is nothing you can do about it than be more cautious in the future. It is more of an eye opener than anything else.

Check out his post.

The biggest problem one would have here is figuring out which account is the one that is compromised. Most online subscriptions require you to register with your email ID and a password. This could be any of those. It is time to secure your main accounts and even the smaller ones. Also do not use the same password on all sites as just one compromised account would open the door to all your other accounts.

Over the years we’ve been subconsciously trained to create passwords that are hard to remember but easy to crack. There are ways to make easy to remember passwords that are far more complex than just some numbers and symbols put together.

Here are a few ways to make effective passwords:

  • Size matters, ideally you want to pick a password that is over 12 characters long.
  • Use random words that could either make sense and relate or better yet, make no sense put together but just sound funny, like “Hold News Trash”.
  • Use varying case, to keep it simpler, just Capitlize your words
  • Add numbers before and after these words.
  • Add special characters before, after and/or between the words.

This sort of mixture makes it far more difficult for those trying to crack your passwords. Nowadays it’s not just a guy sitting behind a desktop with a list of popularly used password and common words cracker. Brute force applications are now VERY complex and can solve at the rate of billions of calculations a second. So increasing the complexity in the order of how things are placed is critical.

Here is a website that could help you make a really complex password that could take more than a few lifetimes to crack (based on current available technology).

And the comic that led to the above website being craeted: