No Longer an Ostrich...My own credentials were exposed. 

by Jennifer Foth, Customer Champion

Technology is a race that most Americans can not possibly hope to keep up.  Just ask this 30 something woman caught between a generation of Millennial, tech savvy innovators and those of us who still prefer a pencil and spiral bound planner.  Until about 6 months ago, I was perfectly content living in a uninformed existence.  Everything was cupcakes and rainbows, my finances were safe in the bank and totally if not completely safe.  Then I started working at Applied Integration and my wall of confidence started getting chipped away, one webinar at a time.  


I would love to tell you that I was convinced of my cyber risk after Don's first webinar or even as I was writing our first news release about the most recent data breech.  But even throughout the countless hours researching the stats for cyber hacks, the millions in financial loss and small business closures that happen every day, is still was not a priority.   I just decided to bury my head in the sand, convinced that "it would never happen to me."   


And then it did. 


It took 6 months of this Ostrich type behavior before the inevitable happened, my personal data was exposed because of a massive data breech.  About 2 months ago, Under Armor, namely the MyFitness Pal app, was compromised and I had my data exposed along with 150 million other users, had their data exposed.  So what did this mean?  Well, to most people this meant nothing because they just don't understand the true ramifications.  To me...the person who has done the research, learned the stats, and at that very moment was listening to Don's webinar about the importance of password protection...I was like Chicken Little and the sky was falling!  I was thrust into a massive panic attack and as luck would have it, this is how Don found me. 


It's taken 2 dark web scans and about a month of dedicated effort but I can now sleep at night.  I am protected, I am prepared, and I am no longer waiting to get hacked.  I'm on the offensive and pity the bad guy that even thinks about trying to get me.  As I look back over my journey it's almost embarrassing to share what I discovered but here it goes. 


I used Facebook to log into over 50 apps without any other security requirement and 40% of those were attached to my debit card.  To make matters worse, the user name and password that I used to log into Facebook, you guessed it, was the one that had been exposed by the MyFitness Pal app breach.  So that meant there were about 20 ways into my finances for whichever hacker would buy my credentials on the Dark Web.  And that was just Facebook!  


How is did I let this happen to me? 


I was smart enough to have a different password for the obvious financial institutions, but all of those passwords included my daughter's name, the year she was born, or the favorite combination of numbers that I always used.  Heck, I'd even posted about that number combination on my social media accounts because it has meaning to me.  A little effort from the bad guys and I am an open book.  


In total, on top of the Facebook apps, I had 56 accounts that used the login user name and password that had been exposed, 29 of them attached to my bank card.  The other 22 online accounts used 1 of 4 other passwords I used and I have already discussed how strong my password history is, right? 


So what is the lesson here?  Technology is fantastic!  I am a working mom on the go and anything that will save me time it's aces in my book.  But we need to stop and truly understand what is happening with all of this convenience.  I'm not saying to go back into the dark ages, you know, the days before internet, but please be aware of the risk and take the actions to protect your future.  

My eyes are now open and my head out of the sand. 

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