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Fri Sept 23 2016 22:05:42

Should You Worry About Old Accounts?

By: Ina Steiner

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After revelations that at least 500 million Yahoo accounts were hacked, the Wall Street advised readers to close old accounts.

"No good comes from leaving details of your identity - alternate email addresses, date of birth and, yes, passwords - floating around the backwaters of the internet. Hackers who find their way into one account, dormant or still in use, can exploit details such as PINs or security-question answers to get into other accounts. That's right, your old AOL Instant Messenger account could compromise your Facebook account."

Amazon, eBay, and PayPal made it onto the Journal's "most popular (or formerly popular) online services" list of accounts that readers might want to cancel.

You can read more on the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required), or just do a search for "should you cancel your old internet accounts" for articles about the issue. Some of the articles contain reminders that you need certain accounts to access other services ("Your Hotmail email address could be your login for Xbox Live, Office 365 or Skype," the WSJ reminds us) and that deleting an account is permanent and can't be undone.

Many EcommereBytes readers have been on the Internet a long time, and likely created accounts with services they no longer use.

In addition, as sellers, you may have accounts where you stored sensitive data about your business or your customers - it's not a bad idea to take a look at old shopping-cart, store-hosting, and email-hosting accounts.

My first (non-work) email account was with Prodigy in the mid-1980s - when did you create your first Internet account, and is the service still around?

Do you even remember all the services you've used over the years?

Comments (4) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Should You Worry About Old Accounts?   Should You Worry About Old Accounts?

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 23 22:59:49 2016

An interesting question that probably can not actually be answered totally in a positive way.

My first accounts were in the 70s, and no, I do not remember all of them.

The part that can not really be totally answered is that just because you canceled an account does not mean in any way that you can know positively, or not, that your data was deleted from the various hard-drives it was stored on. Probably not. Whether still on line -- or still reachable in some way, impossible to know.

NSA could probably answer some of those questions but I would not hold my breath waiting for an answer from them.

In the same vein I seriously doubt that Google (you know the company that will do no evil--ha, ha, ha) has or will ever scrub any data it has stored.

Perminate Link for Should You Worry About Old Accounts?   Should You Worry About Old Accounts?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Sat Sep 24 02:49:04 2016


When you have an account with anyone it will be there until it is scrubbed from their servers. Who ever wrote that Wall Street article does not understand anything at all about the internet and how and why things are stored.
The only way you can get an account truly closed and wiped off of a server is to send it in writing to the company requesting the removal. That is the only way and they have to legally remove it or get into trouble with the feds and a possible law suit. The info you give a company is theirs and they will keep it in case you decide to comeback to them.
Myself I have been on the internet on my own for over 30 years. I could not even begin to remember who and what I have given but I do not worry about it since anything that I ever gave to Prodigy, CompuServe , AOL etc. did not involve my SS number or date of birth. There was no reason to.
Shopping carts will delete after a period of time since it is of no use to them and all it does it take up space. Emails are a different story and we always go to whatever email provider we have used to delete them from their servers since we already have it downloaded on our system and filed away. That is just common sense and good business practice. I came to that decision back in the 80's after I met my first hacker and learned all that I could from him.

Perminate Link for Should You Worry About Old Accounts?   Should You Worry About Old Accounts?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Sat Sep 24 12:04:54 2016

Great points about whether cancelled accounts equal scrubbed data!

Perminate Link for Should You Worry About Old Accounts?   Should You Worry About Old Accounts?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sat Sep 24 15:28:38 2016

I would have trouble remembering the user name and passwords to these various accounts. Looking into this I would be worried about disturbing these zombie accounts. Another old saying "let sleeping dogs lie".

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