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I feel the need to warn/remind readers that identity theft is big business. So big that a new profession has developed, as aggregators of stolen snippets of information can amalgamate data from different sources then sell or lease it on to the bad guys at a tidy profit.
According to Experian 12 million pieces of personal information were traded in the first 3 months of this year, a 300% increase over 12 months. This led to victims suffering credit card refusals, debts in their name, mobile phone contract problems and surprise visits from debt collectors.
As exemplified by the recent hacks that were made public (many are not) such as those at Yahoo, LinkedIn and several online forums, even if your own PC is secure one of your online accounts may not be. Microsoft has revealed that 20% of its account logins were found on lists of compromised credentials as a result of hacks into other websites. The correlation is clear: most people use the same password for multiple accounts.
Of course strong passwords are better than weak, but more important in my opinion is to use each password only once. This presents the problem of how to remember numerous passwords, but this is where technology can help: use a program to generate passwords that are both strong and unique. Best of all, use that program to remember them for you, then you only need to know one master password. Examples of programs (some free) to generate and manage passwords include
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