How to secure your online accounts
Keep your passwords safe
Guessing a victim's password is one of the most common ways a stalker access information about victims. So, changing your password is one of the most important things you can do to keep safer online. Most people don't want to be bothered with changing a password but for stalking victims it is absolutely necessary.
Using good passwords are the most important thing you can do to secure yourself.
- Create different passwords for different accounts. If the perpetrator doesn’t have physical access to your home then you can write them down and store them in a secure place, or keep them in your purse or your wallet. Using password management software can make this much easier (see the section below: How to store your passwords)
- Use passwords that aren’t associated with you - ones that someone who knows you very well wouldn’t be able to guess or figure out.
- If your e-mail or other account supplier has enhanced security features (such as sending alerts to a mobile phone as part of the password recovery process, or a requirement to type in the text from an SMS when you log in from somewhere unusual) then activate these features
- If the perpetrator may have access to your computer don’t use FireFox as a browser (because it can be asked to show all your saved passwords) or set up a Firefox Master Password.
- If you are sharing a computer using Firefox then delete your passwords by going to the top of the browser, click Tools, Options, Security, and Saved Passwords; it will give you a list and you can delete the ones that concern you. Remember not to use the autosave option.
- If your abuser has access to your computer remember not to use the autosave option because then he can access the account.
- If you suspect your stalker may be someone at work, never leave your desk with your computer logged on.
Never reply to e-mails claiming your ‘account has been locked out’; it could be the perpetrator sending you a fake e-mail to get you to give away your password.
How to store your passwords so it easy and secure Use a password manager!
Password Managers are the easiest way to create secure passwords and use them. This is an app that works on computers and your mobile so it keeps them synced. A word of caution. Your password manager account has all your passwords in it, so it must be secured by a very powerful password that your abuser can't guess. Passwords managers are available for free download at http://download.cnet.com Some popular ones are Last Pass, KeePass, Password Depot, Password Prime
- If the stalker doesn’t have access to your home (this won’t work in an open environment like an office), you can write down the passwords or write a clue that will mean something to you such as S**B***. Try using an address book and file these clues under the website name. Put the address book out of sight.
- Password management software securely stores all your passwords and automatically fills in your password when you visit a website. You create a master password and then the software stores all your other passwords in an encrypted file.
How to create secure mater password for password manager
- Use three random words run together e.g. ‘cow & dandelion & rain’, so the password would be: cowdandelionrain.
- Think of a quote or saying and remove all the vowels e.g. ‘flat as a pancake’ so the password would be: fltspncke.
- Try using a long, random sentence e.g. ‘I love red shoes and pink handbags in the spring’ so the password would be: iloveredshoesandpinkhandbagsinthespring. Password recovery questions are not usually very good. People that know you may be able to guess your answer. Create a random answer for these questions e.g. if they ask your mother’s maiden name use something like ‘gorilla’. Remember, for most websites, these are not questions where you have to give a truthful answer; all you need to do is repeat the answer you originally gave them
- Or use the first letter of each word in a long sentence e.g. ‘I love red shoes and pink handbags in the spring’ yields the password: ilrsaphits.
Create a pattern password
If you don't use a password manager another way to create unique passwords is to create a pattern or algorithm. An algorithm is just a set of rules that can be applied the same way to different sites, and will result in a different password for each.
For example, my algorithm could start with my hamstersname name using some special characters (jeb=j#b). I could then add the second and third letters of the website name (capitalized), and my favorite number backwards (6771). If I was creating a password for paypal.com using this alogorithm, my password would be j#bAY6771. Using the same set of rules, my password for Amazon j#bMA6771.
Using personal alogrithms will help you create strong passwords that are different on each site. And the best part is you don’t have to remember each password - all you have to remember the algorithm.
What not to do
- Don't use the name of your pets, children, dad, grandma or initials or use places where you lived or went to school, or your favourite colour, or your children’s date of birth or your anniversary. Ex-partners know these facts and stalkers can use social networks and other online information to find out this type of information.
- Don’t just change letters to numbers or symbols – they are easy to guess.
- Avoid websites which require truthful answers, for example your real date of birth, as part of the log-in process.
- Email providers have a problem when people take over accounts and change the passwords and the account recovery information, to lock out the rightful owner. Some providers solve this problem by allowing the security questions to be reset to old values, but the abuser may be able to answer the old security questions – that’s one the reasons that the advice we give is to set up new accounts from scratch rather than trying to hang onto old accounts.