Why Your Twitter Login And Password Should Not Also Unlock Your Firm’s Proprietary Information

Last month, Sweden experienced the worst data leak in the country’s history when a hacker released details of more than 90,000 private e-mail accounts, including many prominent members of government.

First victims were political journalists. Their e-mails and information were tweeted from the Twitter account of William Petzall, who was, at the time, a far-right wing party MP. Those were not the sole targets, however, and shortly after the hacker broke into popular Swedish website, Bloggtoppen.se, reports The Guardian.

Unfortunately, the hacker has neither been identified, nor been stopped from reeking digital havoc on 57 other websites, compromising an estimated 200,000 people’s privately stored information, continues The Guardian.

The hacker’s goal? “I dumped this information to let people know that they handle their information wrongly,” he said in an interview with Expressen newspaper, writes The Guardian.

“It’s a story about the possible naivety of Swedish internet users who log into their bank account and the New York Times web pages using the same password,” Expressen journalist Micke Olander said about the hack job, according to The Guardian.

This type of naivety should not be new to Sweden. And, it should not be a pervasive ignorance here in the U.S. either.

In 2010, roughly 8.1 million people, or 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, were victims to identify theft, according to data compiled by Javelin Strategy & Research. Luckily, that number was down 28 percent from the previous year, and the lowest since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007, reports Reuters.

One reason for the dramatic decrease in identity theft could be the counter cyberwar waged by consumers. SplashData via Mashable, for example, published a list of the top stolen passwords as posted by online hackers, as a reminder to keep alert and avoid:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football

As the two biggest holiday shopping weekends approach (Black Friday and Christmas Eve weekend), online shoppers are more aware of how to create retailing passwords that will ensure the safety and timeliness of their gift packages.

Within law firms, the stress of the New Year and bringing in new clients can be lessened by the confidence that proprietary information is secure. And, at your desk, ensure that confidential documents and logins remain that way with a unique 8-character password with numbers, letters, and special symbols.

Unfortunately, despite all these precautions, “friendly fraud”—when the victim is known to the criminal—increased by 7 percent in 2010, with those aged 25 to 34 most likely to be victims, reports Reuters.

So, even though it may be convenient to give your legal assistant, friend, or neighbor the codes to your computer, not all fraud comes from an individual with an unidentifiable screen name and mission-impossible-like skills.

As such, be cybersmart on all levels. Your login and password for Amazon.com’s holiday shopping should not also unlock the firm’s confidential client information or your personal bank account.

Consider yourself warned.

-WB

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