On Saturday 25th January, arts and crafts retailer Michaels revealed that it is investigating a possible credit card leak.

 

The news comes in the wake of recent high profile security breaches at Neiman Marcus and Target where it is thought personal details of as many as 110 million Target customers were leaked.

While the full details of the Michaels breach are not yet known, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie has revealed that it is investigating the matter.

With so many recent high profile attacks, and with Data Privacy Day just past, stories like this should serve a warning for us all that protecting our personal data is a modern day essential.

If you are concerned that your credit card details or online account details may have been compromised in this attack, or are looking for ways to protect yourself in the future, here are three things NOT to do when using your account online.

 

Don’t use a debit card or direct transfer

Whenever you sign up for an online service or purchase goods from a website or even in a store, think twice about handing over your debit card or your bank account details.

Instead, try and pay using a credit card or secure online payment services like PayPal or WorldPay.

This means that if your personal details fall into the wrong hands your bank account details will not be exposed.

 

Don’t Always Use the Same Account Details

I know it is tempting to use the same user account details for all of your online accounts, but don’t.

It may be convenient, but if your username is always the same, you’re opening the door to potential identity theft.

Having shared usernames makes it easier for any potential cybercriminals to quickly compromise multiple accounts.

I would suggest subtle changes to usernames so that each one is completely unique. For example, adding the first three characters of where the account is held:

Amazon: BrianThompsonAma

eBay: BrianThompsonEba

 

Don’t have a weak password

Having a strong password is one of the easiest and most effective ways of securing your online data and we should all take the time to develop one.

Much like usernames, passwords are even stronger when they are unique to a service so that one breach does not compromise every account.

Here are some examples of strong, unique passwords for each site.

Amazon: Ashl3yluvs2Read!

Twitter: Ashl3yluvs2Tweet!

Skype: Ashl3yluvs2Chat!

They are strong, long and easier to remember than a string of random characters and symbols.

A train of characters or words that are meaningful to you yet unrelated make for better and more complex passwords.

 

You can follow me on Twitter as @TonyatAVG and you can find my Google+ profile here.