Weak Passwords may place you at Risk of Impostor Tweets and Identity Theft

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Over the last few weeks I've received a couple different email notifications confirming my request to reset my password on Twitter. Trouble is, I hadn't made such a request.

As I did a search of my screen name, I found quite a few tweets that appeared to be in response to my Twitter screen name, DRich. Trouble is, I hadn't posted those tweets either.

Whether or not these questionable Tweets were posted by a hacker impersonating me, or simply tweets meant for a similar screen name, it demonstrates the importance of regularly updating your passwords. As the below video indicates, "impostor Tweets" are caused by hackers who access personal and corporate passwords.

If you haven't updated your passwords lately, take the time to do so now.

And, btw, if you received or read a vulgar and inappropriate tweet that appears to come from me or my screen name --it didn't!

Here are a few key tips to keep in mind while social networking;

 1. Prevent thieves from cracking passwords. Pick Passwords and profiles carefully. Pet names, birth dates, interests such as favorite sport team or band, favorite hangouts, hobbies, spouses, street addresses and childrens names are often compiled in passwords and thieves know this. They use these bits of information to crack your password and then get into bank accounts or other online sites you frequent such as Amazon, itunes or anywhere you utilize that password, including email accounts, to purchase goods and services.

2. Profiles and posts are never private. Criminals often Google a prospective victim's name to see what they can learn about them and what others post about them. What you post online can be used against you, your family and friends. Use care when posting personal information. If you wouldn't put that same information on a billboard, think twice about posting it online.

3. Don't provide any personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account numbers or credit card data to anyone who contacts you via email or through social networking sites. If you receive a notice from someone instructing you to verify your account information, provide personal identifying information, or click on a link -don't do it! Some emails will ask you to dial a provided number, -don't do it!   Remember, legitimate companies or government entities will not ask for this information through emails. Only dial a phone number you have confirmed to be legitimate.

4, Never use the same password for multiple accounts. If a cyber thief cracks your password and is able to access one account -the rest of your accounts will be in jeopardy too.

5. Change passwords often. Diary the dates you last changed your password so that you will remember to update them often.  

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I had the same thing happen to me. A friend alerted me to it after seeing my user name soliciting men for sex on line. It was an embarassment for sure and taught me to be more careful when selecting my password. I will never again use the same password for multiple logins. All in all it was a good lesson to learn. Thank you.

I use a secure online password manager called Mitto (http://www.mitto.com). It lets me create different unique passwords for all of my websites, and because it's so easy to log in to my services, I can check my accounts more regularly to make sure there is no suspicious activity. They also integrate security with your cell phone, so that nobody can log into my Mitto account without a unique code that is sent to my phone, so even if my password is compromised, someone still can't get to my passwords. Mitto is great!

Unique passwords are key to protecting your identity on social networks.

Amazingly, passwords like '12345' and 'password' are still quite common.

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