If you’re like most online users, you have hundreds of accounts for websites, apps and services with each requiring a password. And, if you’re like most people, you use an easy-to-remember password (or several) for more than one site.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone: Medium.com reported that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg used the password “dadada” on his LinkedIn account which was compromised earlier this year when hackers released 117 million email-password combinations. Hackers then used his email and password to gain access to both his Twitter and Pinterest accounts.
Add to that, an eagle-eyed news watcher noted on an Instagram post that Zuckerberg was using a simple — and utterly inexpensive — trick to protect himself from unwarranted remote access: adhesive tape placed over his personal computer’s webcam and microphone.
According to the New York Times, “covering photo, video and audio portals has long been a basic and cheap security safeguard.”
“Covering the camera is a very common security measure,” Lysa Myers, a security researcher at the data security firm ESET, said in an email. “If you were to walk around a security conference, you would have an easier time counting devices that don’t have something over the camera.”
Following Zuckerberg’s lead, former FBI Director (and incoming Howard University lecturer) James Comey said he also puts tape over his computer’s webcam.
“I saw something in the news, so I copied it,” Comey said according to NPR. “I put a piece of tape — I have obviously a laptop, personal laptop — I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.”
Certainly, these are high-profile users, but they face an everyday problem: avoiding remote access to your computer from an outside hacker who may trick you into clicking a malware link allowing access to the device.
Maintaining computer privacy may require additional, and paid for, precautions. One easy and free step is to a activate two-factor authentication on your Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook email accounts.
“You should also set two-factor authentication for social media accounts and other sites where it’s available,” advises the Times. “But email is the most important account, since many sites use email for password recovery, a fact that hackers have exploited. Once they have access to your email, they can get access to banking, social media, data backups and work accounts.”
CodeCamp.com instructor Quincy Larson’s advice is to the point: “Use different passwords for each service [because] passwords are inherently insecure.” Larson recommends using a subscription password manager, such as LastPass, which allows users to use one master password to access their online accounts.
Larson’s online guide security guide, “How to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour,” is available at Medium.com.