Protecting your information online from getting hacked

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Tuesday was Safer Internet Day. It was a reminder to protect your personal information online. Even if you delete information on your end of the computer, others may have already saved it.

It’s easy to enter your personal information online, but it’s much more difficult to protect it.

Westfield Vocational High School Information Technology teacher Jeff Richardson recommends only sharing info on websites with an “HTTPS” address.

“When you have HTTPS, it’s encrypted. There’s an algorithm that translates your clear text into something scrambled that can be intercepted,” said Richardson.

Even still, he said, all codes can be broken. That’s why your online passwords should be unique: if one account is hacked, the others will still be protected.

Richardson suggests using a song title or phrase from a song as a basis for all of your passwords. We chose the Beatles song, “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine.” He suggests taking the first letter from each word. In that case, your password would be W-A-L-I-A-Y-S. He advises to then put some of those letters in uppercase and add a symbol or number to it.

For each account, add a different prefix to the password. For example, for Facebook, add “FB” in front of the password. It would look like this: fbWALIAYS.

“Well you want a fairly long string of characters. Something that isn’t readily identifiable. Not a dictionary word,” added Richardson.

If you think it’s too late, this website will check for you.

“This stuff is put out there in the public and there are websites that actually take all that information, compile a database and then you can search by username to see if you were included in that breach,” said Information Technology instructor, Kevin Grimsley.

If you have been hacked, you may still be safe. Often, data breaches impact outdated information. You may have since changed your password, or don’t even have that account anymore.

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