Social Media’s Life and Death: The Importance of Your Password

By: Matthew Fils-Aime

In a string of database breaches that have left the likes of MySpace, LinkedIn, and Tumblr scratching their heads attempting to safeguard their users’ personal information, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the latest to see his social media account compromised.  Zuckerberg’s twitter account was recently hacked, and though he does not regularly use his competitor’s site, the breach still drew national media attention.

Of course for a hack seizing millions of usernames and passwords to be successful, intricate technical processes must be followed by someone skilled in the ways of the internet’s back doors. At the foundation, there is still the looming question for both social media sites and users: whose fault is it? After sites take the necessary security precautions to encrypt their databases, is it their job to implement stricter password requirements or should users be more careful when selecting passwords?  According to Gizmodo, the most common password in 2015 was “123456,” followed closely by “password.”  With these especially “clever” combinations of letters and numbers safeguarding the majority of users’ accounts, a hacker may not have any use for complex algorithms or need to take time breaking down mountains of code (a la The Matrix) for a hack to be successful.

Most users, as they excitedly input their personal information to, once again, debut themselves to the world on yet another social media site, are not cognizant of the dangers lurking.  As fearful as they are (albeit not consciously fearful) that someone could gain access to this information is precisely how tempted a hacker is to do so.  Even if a site boasts the latest and greatest in database security, it is still important for a user to do his or her part to ensure that their account will not be taken easily.  A combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters could be the difference between an enjoyable social media experience and your followers being subjected to the whims of a hacker.       

The repercussions of a social media hack only compounds when company and celebrity accounts are at risk, so being careful to always provide detailed passwords and using different passwords for each channel is vital to preserving the integrity of both a company and your own personal brand.

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