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23 posts from February 2009

The 500 Worst Passwords Consumers Use

Prior posts have emphasized the importance for consumers to use robust passwords. Unfortunately, for their online accounts many consumers still use passwords that are easy for identity thieves to guess. Boing Boing lists the 500 worst passwords. Here are the top 25 worst passwords:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. 12345
  5. pussy
  6. 1234
  7. dragon
  8. qwerty
  9. 696969
  10. mustang
  11. letmein
  12. baseball
  13. master
  14. michael
  15. football
  16. shadow
  17. monkey
  18. abc123
  19. pass
  20. fuckme
  21. 6969
  22. jordan
  23. harley
  24. ranger
  25. iwantu

I used to work at Harvard Business School, and during the five years I worked there a coworker never changed his password. For another five years after I had left HBS, this coworker still had not changed his password. A word to the wise: change your password periodically -- like every 3 months.

Identity thieves are smart and persistent. So, if your sign-in credentials include any of the above passwords, you can basically say bye-bye to your identity, sensitive personal data, and the money in your bank accounts. Consumers should use strong passwords. Here is one example of what happens consumers don't use strong passwords and identity thieves take over your e-mail account.

Consumers Beware! Your ISP May Be Paid To Spy On You

The C/Net Digital Media blog reported:

"Jerry Scroggin, the owner of a Louisiana Internet Service Provider, says he's skeptical of a service that proposes to pay ISPs to police their networks for pirated music and movies... Scroggin argued that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) should help pay the costs incurred when they ask ISPs to chase down suspected music pirates. Days after the story was published, antipiracy firm Nexicon contacted Scroggin about a plan to share money collected from accused file sharers with ISPs."

Previously, small mom-and-pop operated ISPS argued that they couldn't afford to perform the file-sharing policing work requested by the RIAA -- work which large ISPs could afford. So far, any policing work by ISPs has been free of charge. If the RIAA pays ISPs for this policing work, then that could represent a fundamental shift in getting ISPs to participate.

"Film studios and the major music labels frequently ask ISPs to crack down on copyright violators... Under the RIAA's new plan, ISPs would also be asked to suspend the accounts of chronic offenders. That means an ISP might be forced to wave bye-bye to paying customers without receiving any compensation. If ISPs could somehow be compensated, it might encourage them to become copyright enforcers."

For consumers who are wondering who Nexicon is and what they do:

"... tracks those people who infringe on intellectual property and sends take-down notices to their ISPs... As part of Nexicon's "Get Amnesty" service, the company tries to obtain fees from those it claims are guilty of violating copyright law. Nexicon sends e-mails to those accused notifying them that they must "settle" with the copyright owners, which typically means paying a fee. After opening the email, the infringer clicks a link to visit, where they can settle their infringement to avoid legal action and receive a legal release from the copyright owner"... Nexicon then offers to help ISPs manage the take-down notices they receive from, well, Nexicon and competitors."

Well, this is just peachy. This represents another way for ISPs to make money besides monthly fees from their Internet subscribers. Last year, Congress uncovered behavioral advertising programs by ISPs who both didn't inform their customers and didn't provide their customers with opt-out mechanisms. And the near future may include money-making optons for ISPs by enforcing music copyright protection.

All of this is enough to make consumers wonder if their ISPs operate in their best interest. Consumers pay a monthly fee and expect, in return, that their ISP will meet their Internet-access and data security needs. If ISPs begin to make more money from file-sharing policing and behavioral advertising programs than from monthly Internet-access subscriptions, then the situation seems ripe for ISPs to stop meeting the needs of their paying consumer customers.

It's pretty clear that many ISPs want a share of the advertising dollars they seeing going to Google and to other advertising networks. Will this growth come at the expense of consumers' personal data? Some ISPs vow to do better, but will they?

I’ve Been Mugged – Why It’s Important in Your World Today

[Editor's Note: While I am on vacation, today's blog post is by guest author William Seebeck. I've known Bill for decades, going back to our time working together at Lexis-Nexis in Dayton, Ohio during the 1980's. Bill has a wealth of experience in online systems, banking, publishing, and public relations.]

By Bill Seebeck

George Jenkins’ “I’ve Been Mugged” blog reports on consumer experiences and independent views about identity theft and corporate responsibility. As a result, it also reports to you about corporate irresponsibility, greed, failure to protect the public and things that we can do to fight for change so that we aren’t “mugged” in thousands of different ways each day.

It’s also home to articles that suggest new ways of doing or reviving things that worked in the past. It’s about new attitudes, and standing your ground to make sure that actions by institutions ill-formed or placed don’t harm you or anyone else.

If we notice that the price of gas doesn’t make sense, we’ll say so. Or if no one is watching our food supply, or spending the people’s money wisely, we’ll say so.

Sometimes we’ll talk about something inspirational because it might give you a lift in hard times or offer you a light message because we hope it brings a smile to your face.

We know, as you do, that the system is not working the way it should and that hurts us all.

We want your input and comments about what we write about. Please share with us your own experiences. Tell us below what is bothering you each day, or just today.

So, the next time you feel that you have been “mugged” by anyone, visit and tell us your story, and let’s see what together we can do about it.

© 2009 WBSeebeck