So, I’m sitting here eating sushi and watching Frasier (yes, Steve’s out of town) and I thought I’d tell you a story.
End of story.
A few years ago — like when I had free time at work — I wanted to comment on one of the Gawker sites. Naturally, as with everything on the world wide web, you had to create a log in and a password. Because, you know, god forbid you be able to just do something online. [Side note: yes, that was the site I was eventually banned from commenting on. No, not because I commented frequently, but rather with incisor-like sharpness.]
I haven’t really gone back since that whole banning incident, so I didn’t even remember that I had a log in, couldn’t tell you what my password was, though I’d probably be able to guess it eventually. Then I got an email telling me my security had been compromised, a number of usernames and passwords had been hacked, along with the emails connected with them. I was advised to change my password on Gawker.com, and on all my other online accounts if I use the same password for other accounts.
Which, obviously, is sort of ridiculous, because of course I have the same password for some of my other accounts — who would be able to come up with different passwords for every single online account?
So, then I go to change my password, but of course I can’t, because I don’t remember it. And, of course, I use variations of the same few passwords for everything, because otherwise I can’t remember them. So, I start trying to change my passwords on other things that might be compromised if some hacker somewhere knew my email and a password and a username.
Then, I realize I have a lot of accounts.
There’s five email accounts. Online bank accounts and credit card accounts and work credit cards. Accounts for Paypal and eBay and craigslist and amazon. Accounts for every social media service, sometimes multiple accounts per service — one time I went to create a twitter account only to realize I already had one. All my healthcare services and utilities are always encouraging me to go paper-less, so I guess someone could hack in and order medication or turn off my electricity. And everytime I want to read something, I have log-ins for newspapers and magazines. I have a half-dozen accounts and passwords that change every three months and usernames and id numbers that don’t match the other id numbers for work.
So, my tracks on the information superhighway are basically skidmarks that stretch miles.
So, I got all worried, because exactly how much information can someone get from a username and password to a random news website with an email address? Could they steal my identity and why would they want to?