Change your password to stay safe from cybercrime

Globally, more than 1.5 million people become victims of consumer cybercrime every day

Data gathered from millions of stolen passwords in 2012 shows a disturbing trend: most of us continue to put convenience ahead of security when it comes to our cyber lives. That’s why initiatives like “Change Your Password Day” held on Feb. 1, are significant: Events like this give us a chance to take a closer look at how our habits and routines may be putting us at risk of becoming a victim of crime.

If you’re one of those “convenience first” people, Gizmodo’s initiative makes February a good month to change your priorities…and your passwords.  Here’s some facts, tips and stories to get you started on your journey to a more secure cyberlife.

The impact of cybercrime in 2012

Globally, more than 1.5 million people become victims of consumer cybercrime every day (Source: 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report).  Here’s some additional facts to consider:

• 2012, social media and mobile devices played larger role in cybercrime than ever but more than 76 per cent of mobile users don’t use security solutions on their mobile device.

• Ten per cent of social network users report falling victim to a scam or fake link through a social media platform and 15 per cent report falling victim to a hacker who took over their social media profile and pretended to be them.

• Two-thirds of online adults report having been a victim of cybercrime at some point and 46 per cent say they have been victimized online in the past year by hackers, malware, fraudsters, viruses or theft.

• Thirty-four per cent of online adults don’t know that malware and viruses can operate discreetly behind the scenes so that a user doesn’t know they’ve been hacked.

•  Thirty-eight per cent of online adults don’t use strong passwords and don’t change their passwords regularly.

Think hacking won’t happen to you because you are a savvy cyber citizen?

Mat Honan thought so to.  The journalist for’s Gadget Lab became the victim of an “epic hack” because of security flaws in his online service providers that he was unaware of until it was too late.  Read the story of how it happened and what he would have and could have done to prevent it: How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking

How can you reduce your risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime?

• If you use any of The 25 Most Popular Passwords of 2012, change them immediately.  Periodically check out other popular passwords lists and avoid using those as well.

• Don’t share passwords to your email, bank accounts or personal social media accounts with anyone.

• Don’t “daisychain” your important accounts like banking, email and social networking.  Use separate log-ins for each.

• If you can’t remember all your passwords, consider investing in a password management system that will securely store your existing passwords and help you generate strong passwords when you need them.

• Change your passwords regularly. Including the password or lock code for your cell phone.

• Only access password-protected websites from your own computer. You have no way of knowing whether a public computer, or a friend’s computer, has surveillance software installed.

• Learn more about two-factor authentication and other online security options that go beyond passwords by reading Mat Honan’s article for’s Gadget Lab Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore

What to do if you think you’ve been a victim of cybercrime?

• Notify the service provider for your hacked account.

• Contact your local police through their non-emergency reporting line.

• Get your computer checked for malware and viruses.

• Change the passwords to all of your important and high risk accounts like banking, email and social networking.


*Article courtesy of Coquitlam RCMP Media Relations