You can have the best security software and hardware deployed in your home and office, but if someone can easily guess your passwords, you’ve left the worst possible hole open to hackers.
Strong passwords should be the norm. Too many people do not take password selection to heart and leave themselves open to the easiest method that hackers use to compromise your data. You may laugh when you read that numerous people use the word password, as their account password. If you are one of those people that do use “password”, I’m sorry, but keep reading. Another common one used is the series of numbers: 123456. A lot of sites that don’t require strong passwords will at least require six characters, so that’s the reason for some to lazily pick the six number sequences.
Systems are broken into by hackers that easily guess some passwords and for others, they will run password cracking software. A password cracking program will run through a dictionary, common password phrases, and birth date combinations. Once a password is cracked, you are vulnerable to loss of privacy, identity and financial theft. Your computer could be used by the hacker to victimize other computers.
Here are some tips for better password use.
1. The longer the password the better. You may worry about remembering a longer password but there is a trick that you can use. Try to create phrase that you will easily remember and use the first letter from the phrase. If you throw in some numbers, or characters, you will really have boosted the strength. Here’s one example of that technique. Say you love your mom’s cooking and who doesn’t? “I love my mom’s cooking no matter what she makes!” Ilmmcnmwsm! If you capitalize the letter I, followed by lower case letters and throw an exclamation on the end, you’ve built a pretty hard to crack password.
2. Do not use text found in the dictionary. A password cracker program can run through millions of words in seconds. I have seen them work, as part of my computer forensics training. Some password cracking programs are freely available on the internet and others are sold, that can crack specific programs.
3. I know you may not want to, but change your passwords on a regular basis. Some recommend that you do so every two to three months. Set a reminder on your calendar program.
4. If a hacker gets sent to a password reset link, then they will guess the answers to your security phrases. If you pick simple ones, then you have just made the hackers task a little easier. It was reported that the Vice President nominee, Sarah Palin’s email was hacked, because the hacker had done some research on her. The report said that he knew her zip code, birthday, and where she met her husband.
There are some software tools and hardware devices that can help you secure you passwords. I will write about some of those in a future article. For now, use the best passwords you can and make them strong.