It's impossible to read tech journalist Mat Honan's tale of losing virtually all of his data -- iPhone, wiped; iPad, wiped; baby pictures of his daughter, potentially unrecoverable -- without feeling a chill. As he explains in Wired, security flaws at fly-by-night outfits like Apple and Amazon, combined with his own lack of extreme paranoia, all but invited a hacker who calls himself @Phobia to wipe Honan off the grid. Why did @Phobia do it? Just because he could.
Wired has posted a list of steps to avoid Honan's fate. Here are three that even cave dwellers can figure out:
Use Two-Factor Authentication with Gmail and Other Accounts
Gmail and other services offer two-factor authentication that help secure your account even if your password is stolen or cracked.
When you set up two-factor authentication, you get verification codes delivered to your phone, which you then enter, in addition to your username and password, when you sign into Gmail. Google also offers an application you can download to your phone to generate the codes locally. See the video above for an explanation.
Use Unique Passwords
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Pick unique passwords for personal email, work email, banking, social networking sites and shopping. If one site gets hacked and your username and password are exposed – as occurred in multiple hacks over the past year – hackers will attempt to use the exposed password with multiple accounts you might have. Don’t help them do one-stop shopping for all your credentials.
Back Up Your System
Honan’s pain was increased tenfold when he discovered the hackers had erased all of the photos from his daughter’s first year of life. Storage is so cheap these days and automated backups are so easy to set up that there’s no excuse not to keep copies of your important data.