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Online security: So many passwords, so many risks

Sean Holstege – The Arizona Republic

Let’s face it: The Internet is a great convenience, but all those user names and passwords can be a cumbersome pain in the caboose.

There’s work e-mail and home e-mail, then all the online accounts for the bank, a credit card or two, maybe a mortgage and the utilities. Maybe work offers online access to ever-changing medical, dental and vision benefits. Frequent travelers have accounts with airlines, car-rental firms and online travel-booking services.

Then, there are the chat groups and the eBays, PayPals, and Netflixes of the world. Not to mention subscription Web sites. It’s too much for anyone to remember.

That’s why, despite repeated recommendations not to do so, people typically write down their user names and passwords or recycle them from one site to the next. That means that if a thief gets hold of the list, or your core password, the Internet can become the world’s window into your computer, your finances and your identity.

Identity theft is a $55 billion-a-year concern, according to most leading estimates. Last year, Arizona had more victims per capita than any other state, according to data compiled by the Federal Trade Commission.

Mail theft and dumpster-diving are still the tools of choice for identity thieves, but cybercrime is a growing problem, and poorly protected are a key vulnerability.

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